Bible Bending Pharaonic Egypt. Part One: Abraham to Exodus



 Damien F. Mackey


Colleague in France: Damien, Is that a fair treatment ? …. [ref. to article, “Ancient Israel in Egypt and the Exodus”:]….


Damien: …. I don’t know why they always try to align the biblical Exodus with what they consider to be the 1200’s BC era of Egyptian history, Ramses II and his son, Merenptah, of Egypt’s 19th dynasty. For one, the biblical Exodus is more like C15th BC, so about 2 centuries before the conventional era for Ramses II ‘the Great’. Secondly, the 19th dynasty (Ramses II, etc.) follows the famous 18th dynasty (Thutmosides; Hatshepsut; and on down to Akhnaton and Nefertiti, and Tut), which I believe began at the same time as Israel’s Monarchy era (Saul, David and Solomon), Hatshepsut being the biblical Queen of Sheba. Akhnaton and Tut belong to the time of the Divided Monarchy, of Ahab and Jezebel (= Nefertiti), Elijah, Elisha, Jehu. Now, the 19th dynasty is even after all that, so we are now about 600 years from the Exodus. ….


Colleague in France: …. I am at a loss with Egyptian chronology… Where may I find a CLEAR table showing the successive dynasties with the corresponding BC dates ? something like the list of the French kings ! I know you don’t agree with the “official” chronology, so if you could give me both versions things would be a lot clearer to me ! Thanks.


Damien: I’ll see if I can come up with something for you soon ….



Well, this is it, my tentative model of how to accommodate, to biblical history, a revision of ancient Egypt. Below I contrast the Textbook History with my own Revised History.


(All dates are BC and approximate only. Conventional dates are now totally irrelevant).

Legend:          Blue indicates that about which I am extremely confident.

Orange is for possible to likely.

Green is for still highly tentative.


Textbook History



  • Egypt’s Archaïc Period: Dynasties 0-2 (c. 3100-2650 BC)

Taken from:


Early Dynastic Period. The Archaic or Early Dynastic Period of Egypt immediately follows the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt c. 3100 BC. It is generally taken to include the First and Second Dynasties, lasting from the Protodynastic Period of Egypt until 2686 BC, or the beginning of the Old Kingdom. With the First Dynasty, the capital moved from Abydos to Memphis where an Egyptian god-king ruled a now unified polity that extended from the Nile Delta to the first cataract at Aswan. Abydos remained the major holy land in the south.

The distinctive hallmarks of ancient Egyptian civilization, such as art, architecture and many aspects of religion, took shape during the Early Dynastic period.

Before the unification of Egypt, the land was settled with autonomous villages. With the early dynasties, and for much of Egypt’s history thereafter, the country came to be known as the Two Lands. The rulers established a national administration and appointed royal governors. The buildings of the central government were typically open-air temples constructed of wood or sandstone. State formation in Egypt was primarily indigenous in character, and it is likely that a common language, namely Egyptian, was spoken in Upper and Lower Egypt in variant dialects, which facilitated the unification. The earliest hieroglyphs appear just before this period, though nothing is certain about the spoken language represented by the writing at the time.

According to the historian Manetho, the first king was Menes (likely reign circa 3100–3050 BC). However, the earliest recorded king of the First Dynasty was Hor-Aha (reign c. 3050–3049 BC), and the first king to claim to have united the two lands was Narmer (the final king of the Protodynastic Period). His name is known because it is written on a votive palette (the Narmer Pallette) used for grinding minerals for kohl, used by ancient Egyptians to outline the eyes. Funeral practices for the peasants would have been the same as in Predynastic times, but the rich demanded something more. Thus, the Egyptians began construction of the mastabas which became models for the later Old Kingdom constructions such as the Step pyramid. ….


My Revised History:

  • Abraham


Narmer can now confidently be re-dated from c. 3100 BC to c. 1870 BC.

Narmer a Contemporary of Patriarch Abraham

Narmer may well be the mighty Mesopotamian king of Akkad, Naram-Sin, who was a contemporary of Egypt’s first pharaoh, Menes.


Narmer a Contemporary of Patriarch Abraham. Part Two: Narmer as Naram Sin.

Menes was possibly the same as Hor-Aha, who is my choice for:

Pharaoh of Abraham and Isaac

Hor-Aha (Menes?) is to be re-dated similarly to Narmer.

This constitutes a lowering of conventional Egyptian history by more than a millennium!

Whilst Abram (Abraham) is found to be fixed firmly in the Late Chalcolithic Engeddi, he is, according to textbook history, amongst the wandering Middle Bronze I people (see 2.B).



Table 1:


Archaïc Period (Conventional)                                            Archaïc Period (Revised)

(c. 3100-2650 BC)                                                                  (c. 1900-1750 BC)

Early Bronze Age I-II                                                                                        Late Chalcolithic/Early Bronze I

Narmer: 3100 BC                                                                    Narmer: 1870 BC

Hor-Aha (Menes)                                                                    Hor-Aha (Menes)



Textbook History



  • Egypt’s Old Kingdom Period: Dynasties 3-6 (c. 2650-2150 BC)

Taken from:


The Old Kingdom (2649-2150 BC) – The Time of Pyramid Building

Kingdom periods in ancient Egyptian history were times when the people of Lower and Upper Egypt were unified under the rule of a single pharaoh. Kingdoms were also periods when Egypt reached peaks in achievements. During kingdoms it was not uncommon for one family to rule for many years. The rule was passed on from father to son and then to grandson, this is called a dynasty. A dynasty is a succession of rulers from the same family. Dynasties Three through Six made up the rulers of the Old Kingdom.

Ancient Egyptians believed in many gods and goddesses, they also believed in life after death. The Egyptians believed that, when they died, their spirit needed to recognize their body in the after-life. Most Egyptians were buried in pits in the desert sands, in this way the body was naturally dried and mummified. In pit burials, the body would be recognized by the spirit.

The mudbrick mastaba acts as a marker, the burial chambers are below ground.

Important Egyptians were buried in a mastaba. Mastaba is an Arabic word that means “bench of mud.” A Mastaba is a bench-like structure made from mudbrick, marking the grave site, with a crypt underneath to hold the body and materials needed for the after-life. Bodies buried within crypts were cut off from the dry desert air. These bodies needed artificial mummification. Egyptians devised a means of drying and preserving bodies before burial, otherwise the body would decompose within the crypt.

One of the pharaohs of the Old Kingdom was Pharaoh Djoser. Djoser ruled from about 2630-2611 BC. Djoser belonged to the family that ruled in Dynasty III (Three), in other words, the third family to rule as pharaohs. Djoser wanted his tomb to be the grandest ever built in Egypt. Djoser wanted something different from the mastaba burials of former pharaohs. Djoser’s architect, named Imhotep, came up with a grand idea. Imhotep decided to stack one mastaba on top of another, with each additional story of the tomb slightly smaller than the last. Unlike mastabas of the past, Imhotep used stone for his construction. This structure became Egypt’s first Pyramid, called the Step-Pyramid …, because of its shape. It resembles a Mesopotamian ziggurat, and some people believe Imhotep got his idea from the Sumerians, but unlike Sumerian ziggurats, Imhotep’s structure was made from stone. Imhotep created Djoser’s burial chamber below the ground of the Step-Pyramid.

Imhotep shows pharaoh Djoser plans for the Step-Pyramid, a stone structure that stacked one mastaba on top of another.

The Old Kingdom was the time when the Egyptians build most of their pyramids. Pharaohs would commission the building of these great monuments so that they would be ready for the pharaoh’s after-life. Pyramid comes from a Greek word that means “wheat cakes.” When Alexander the Great, a Greek-speaker, came to Egypt with his army, his soldiers marvelled at the sight of the pyramids. They called them pyramis, because they resembled the same shape as the pyramis, a pointy-topped wheat cake baked in their homeland.

After Djoser, Pharaoh Snefru (reign 2575-2551) of Dynasty IV (Four) was the next great pyramid builder. Snefru commissioned the building of not one, but three pyramids. The first is called the Maidum pyramid, it is named for its location in Egypt. Snefru abandoned this pyramid after the outside casing fell off of the pyramid. The Maidum pyramid was the first to have an above-ground burial chamber.

Next, Snefru built the Bent Pyramid. The Bent Pyramid is named for its shape. The Pyramid started with a steep angle and about half-way to the top, it was built with a less severe angle, giving it a bent shape. Snefru must have been disappointed with this pyramid, because he set out to build another.

Snefru’s final attempt was his best effort. Many consider the Red Pyramid (Shining Pyramid), built by Snefru, to be the perfect pyramid. It is not Egypt’s largest, but it certainly is very pleasing to the eye.

The last pyramid builder from the Old Kingdom we will study is Pharaoh Khufu. Khufu (reign 2551-2528) of Dynasty IV (Four), also known as Cheops, created the largest pyramid in Egypt, called the Great Pyramid. The Great Pyramid, along with the pyramids of Khufu’s son, and grandson, still stand in Giza, just outside of the modern Egyptian city of Cairo. …. All of these pyramids have been robbed through the ages.

Farmers harvest fields of grain as pyramids glisten in the background.

In the next chapter, we will learn about the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom.


My Revised History:

  1. Joseph, Moses, Israelites





Djoser And His Genius Vizier, Imhotep (= biblical Joseph), of Egypt’s Third Dynasty, can now confidently be re-dated from c. 2600 BC to c. 1750 BC.


Connecting the Biblical Patriarchs to Ancient Egypt


One will find plenty of interest shown on the Internet about Imhotep as Joseph.

For Joseph/Imhotep’s intellectual contribution, see e.g. my:

Joseph as Thales: Not an “Hellenic Gotterdamerung” but Israelite Wisdom





The Third Dynasty era of Joseph is followed by the Fourth Dynasty era of the Israelite Captivity, and Moses. The Fourth Dynasty is famous for the three main Giza pyramids. And, though it goes against the conventional wisdom to say this, the Hebrews, now enslaved, would have been involved in this massive work, along with canal digging, agriculture, etc. The Jewish historian, Josephus, well knew this: “They [the Egyptian taskmasters] set them [the Israelites] also to build pyramids” (Antiquities, II:9.1).

The Early Fourth Dynasty Must Be re-dated From c. 2550 BC to c. 1600 BC.

Now, the monarch who inaugurated the Oppression of the Israelites prior to the birth of Moses is described as “a new king” (Exodus 1:8-14):

Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. ‘Look’, he said to his people, ‘the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country’.

So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

I think it logical to conclude that the “new king” was the progenitor of a brand new dynasty, and that he was – in my context – pharaoh Khufu (Greek Cheops) of the Fourth Dynasty.


Khufu (Cheops) is, despite his obvious might, so poorly known. This suggests to me that he must have a more prominent alter ego (or two). (See 2. B). William R. Fix goes so far as to question the validity of the Fourth Dynasty as a whole, in his 1978 book, Pyramid Odyssey:


There are just not enough historical markers for anyone to describe that era. There is no clear and solid evidence of any kind that there was a pyramid building 4th Dynasty King called Khufu…The entire pattern of evidence suggests, on the contrary, that if there ever was a King Khufu he lived long after the Pyramid was built and was named after the pyramid – not the other way around.

Whilst I would disagree with thiss radical conclusion, the skeleton does need to be enfleshed. This revised scenario nicely accommodates the tradition of Artapanus (in Eusebius, l.c. ix.) that the foster-mother of Moses was named “Merris”, who was the wife of “Chenephres”, because the daughter of Cheops was called Meresankh (i.e. Meres- plus the ankh element). Now her husband was the powerful Khafre, or Chephren, the successor of Khufu, and this fits fairly well with the tradition that Moses’ foster father-in-law was one Chenephres (a plausibly fair Greek rendition of Chephren/Khafre).

It is Chephren, of course, who is believed to have been the builder of the Great Sphinx.

The Exodus and the Conquest


The Old Kingdom in Egypt, that great and splendid age, came to its end in a natural disaster. According to G. A. Wainwright: “At the conclusion of the Sixth Dynasty . . . Egypt is suddently blotted out from our sight as if some great catastrophe had overwhelmed it.” (The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 16 (1930), p. 43).

Dr. Donovan Courville (The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications, 1971), accepted this catastrophic end to the Old Kingdom as the time of the biblical Plagues and the Exodus.

The three centuries or more conventionally estimated from Cheops (c. 2550), Fourth Dynasty, to the end of the Sixth Dynasty (c. 2200 BC) are far too long for the period recorded in the Book of Exodus from the Oppression by the “new king”, to the Exodus, when Moses was 80 years of age.

Admittedly, this is highly problematical. Most revisionists (Drs. Courville and David Down included) do not even entertain the Fourth Dynasty as being the era of Moses. My tentative proposed solution, for reasons to be given further on, is that the Fourth and Sixth dynasties were, at least concurrent, and possibly even the same.

The Old Kingdom is followed in Egyptian history by the anarchic First Intermediate Period, or “dark period” (c. 2180-2050 BC, conventional dating). This phase is basically thought to have included the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and part of the eleventh dynasties.

In a revised scheme, this “dark” phase would have begun in approximately the C15th BC, after the Exodus (c. 1500 BC).


Archaeologically, in Palestine, the end of the Egyptian Old Kingdom coincides with the late Early Bronze Age (EBA).

The Widespread destruction of the EBA civilisation in Palestine, including the city of Jericho, was the work of  Joshua and the Israelites.


Dame Kathleen Kenyon told of it in Archaeology in the Holy Land (1960):

The final end of the Early Bronze Age civilization came with catastrophic completeness. The last of the Early Bronze walls of Jericho was built in a great hurry, using old and broken bricks, and was probably not completed when it was destroyed by fire. Little or none of the town inside the walls has survived subsequent denudation, but it was probably completely destroyed for all the finds show an absolute break, and that a new people took the place of the earlier inhabitants. Every town in Palestine that has so far been investigated shows this same break.


By no means, of course, have conventional scholars (such as Kenyon) been able even to entertain the notion that the fallen EBA walls at Jericho (which they would date to the late C3rd millennium BC), could have any connection with Joshua and the Israelites in c. C15th.

But wait, there’s more!

This is where things become somewhat complicated, for, what I have written so far above in both parts of My Revised History is only about half of the story. For, whereas, the conventional Egyptian history follows this sequence:

Archaïc Period

Old Kingdom

First Intermediate Period

Middle Kingdom

Second Intermediate Period (Hyksos invasion)


my revision, basically following the pattern (though not the details) of Dr. Courville, greatly streamlines this as follows:

Archaïc Period

Old Kingdom/Middle Kingdom

First Intermediate Period/Second Intermediate Period

This is a reduction in time of half a millennium or more!

And it means that the eras of Abraham; Joseph; Moses; Exodus and Conquest, that I have identified in the Archaïc and Old Kingdom periods of conventional Egyptian history, now need to be found all over again in what convention has designated the ‘Middle’ Kingdom.  


This is easier said than done.

Dr. Courville, who I believe was quite right in his arguing the need for the Middle Kingdom (and the Middle Bronze Era) to be tucked up into the Old Kingdom (and Early Bronze Era), himself made very little progress with actually integrating the two.

I have, in a general fashion only, using quotes from N. Grimal’s A History of Ancient Egypt (Blackwell 1994), proposed that:

Egypt’s Old and Middle Kingdoms Far Closer in Time than Conventionally Thought

Some may claim that Courville must be dismissed because EBA artifacts supposedly cannot be found in MBA levels, or vice versa.

But this is a problem of methodology.

Certainly Courville did not go very far at all with integrating the Old and Middle kingdoms, or in showing how they could be fitted together archaeologically. He had thought that the so-called Middle Kingdom’s Twelfth dynasty was concurrent with only the Sixth dynasty of the Old Kingdom. My own view is that the Fourth dynasty, too – {remember Josephus: Israel was involved in pyramid building} – was concurrent with the Sixth and the Twelfth. See 2. B. Now, Dr. John Osgood took Courvillean matters further, archaeologically, when he pointed out, with reference to Edwards, the great similarity in mortuary temple styles between the Sixth dynasty and the Twelfth; a most unlikely coincidence, he thought, if these dynasties were, as convention would have them, many centuries apart (“The Time of the Judges – The Archaeology: (a) Exodus to Conquest”, EN Tech J., Vol. 2, 1986, p. 76):

Edwards certainly opens the possibility unconsciously when referring to the pyramid of Sesostris the First [of the Twelfth Dynasty]:

“… and the extent to which its Mortuary Temple was copied from the Mortuary Temples of the VIth dynasty, as illustrated by that of Pepi II, is clearly evident.”

The return of a culture to what it was before … after some three hundred years must be an uncommon event. The theoretical possibility that the two cultures, the Twelfth and the Sixth Dynasties were in fact contemporary and followed a common pattern of Mortuary Temple must be borne in mind as real.

Obviously, there is yet much more work to be done towards integrating the history and archaeology of Egypt’s Old and Middle Kingdoms.


A definite difficulty with my own revision for this particularly complex period of history is that these mighty dynasties, Fourth; Sixth; and Twelfth; are just too long, as they currently stand, to accommodate comfortably the biblical (Moses-Exodus) scenario. I suspect, however, that, just as historians have (wrongly, I believe) multiplied the kingdoms of Egypt here (Old and Middle), and have also created a one-dimensional archaeology – see my article on this (which may now need some updating):

Comparing One Dimensional Biblical Stratigraphic Models with Multi-Dimensional Models

so, too, may they also have duplicated pharaohs (e.g. the Sixth dynasty repetition of the names, Pepi and Merenre; also the Twelfth dynasty repetitions of Amenemes and Sesostris). But so far I have not been able to support this suspicion of mine with really firm evidence.


Table 2:


Old Kingdom (Conventional)                                                           Old Kingdom (Revised)

(c. 2650-2150 BC)                                                                              (c. 1700-1500 BC)

Early Bronze Age III-IV                                                                           Early Bronze II

Djoser: 2600 BC                                                                                 Djoser: 1700 BC

Imhotep                                                                                               Imhotep



Early Bronze Age III-IV                                                                           Early Bronze III

Khufu: 2550 BC                                                                                 Khufu: 1600 BC

Chephren                                                                                             Chephren


Early Bronze Age IV                                                                               Early Bronze III/IV

End of Sixth Dynasty: 2150 BC                                                        End Sixth Dyn: 1500 BC


Exodus and Conquest


So far, we have: Abraham at about dynasties 0-1; Joseph at dynasty 3; Moses at 4 (5) and 6; the Exodus and Israelite Conquest running into the dark age, dynasties 7-10, and part of 11. Now, I want (most tentatively) to add to this the ‘Middle’ Kingdom scenario, including Abraham at 10; Joseph at 11; Moses at 12 (13); the Exodus and Israelite Conquest running into the ‘second’ dark age, dynasties (13) 14-17.


My Revised History:

  • B. Abraham


In my article, “Connecting the Biblical Patriarchs to Ancient Egypt”, I wrote, regarding pharaoh Khety III of the Tenth Dynasty as a possible candidate for Abraham’s pharaoh:

…. There is a somewhat obscure incident in 10th dynasty history, associated with pharaoh Wahkare Khety III and the nome of Thinis … that may possibly relate to the biblical incident [of Pharaoh and Sarai].

It should be noted firstly that Khety III is considered to have had to restore order in Egypt after a general era of violence and food shortage, brought on says N. Grimal by “the onset of a Sahelian climate, particularly in eastern Africa” …. Moreover, Khety III’s “real preoccupation was with northern Egypt, which he succeeded in liberating from the occupying populations of Bedouin and Asiatics” ….

Could these eastern nomads have been the famine-starved Syro-Palestinians of Abram’s era – including the Hebrews themselves – who had been forced to flee to Egypt for sustenance? And was Khety III referring to the Sarai incident when, in his famous Instruction addressed to his son, Merikare, he recalled, in regard to Thinis (ancient seat of power in Egypt):

Lo, a shameful deed occurred in my time:

The nome of This was ravaged;

Though it happened through my doing,

I learned it after it was done.

Cf. Genesis 12:17-19: “But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai …. So Pharaoh called Abram, and said, ‘What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’? so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her, and be gone’.”

[End of quote]

David Rohl [The Lost Testament] gives other reasons in relation to his Khety IV (my Khety III), including the view of Pliny that Abram’s pharaoh had a name that Rohl considers akin to Nebkaure.

A possible link between Hor-Aha (Menes?), whom I proposed in 1. as Abraham’s Pharaoh, and now the Tenth dynasty’s Wakhare Khety, is Manetho’s name of “Athothis” for Hor-Aha (, and the relatively similar name of “Akthoes” for Wakhare Khety.


Table 3:


                                                (Middle Kingdom)

  1. 3100 BC c. 2150 BC c. 1870 BC

Narmer                                    Sahelian climate                                     Narmer

Hor-Aha (“Athothis”)  =         Wakhare Khety III (“Akthoes”)         Hor-Aha





My Revised History:

  1. B. Joseph, Moses, Israelites




If the Tenth dynasty (Khety III) was contemporaneous with Abraham, and the Twelfth dynasty with Moses – as I shall be proposing under “Moses” below – then there is quite a good chance that Joseph, in between these two, may have been a contemporary of the Eleventh dynasty. This is another dynasty of repetitive names, in this case of the name of “Mentuhotep”. So it may be that it will need to be streamlined. It is also an age of famine, including “seven empty years” (see quote below). Cf. Genesis 41:54: “… and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread”.

Thus I wrote, tentatively, again in “Connecting the Biblical Patriarchs to Ancient Egypt”:

The famine ‘eras’ of the 11th dynasty may need also to be taken into consideration for Joseph and all be properly co-ordinated. For example, we read at:


When Mentuhotep [II came] to the throne an uneasy peace lay between the two kingdoms of Thebes and Herakleopolis. However, Mentuhotep had inheritated a kingdom plagued with famine, during this period the Herakleopolitans tried to re-take the city of This [or Thinis], in turn Mentuhotep then attacked the more northerly nomes, and captured Asyut. Once he had passed through the 15th nome without resistance, Mentuhotep had effectively finally defeated the Herakleopolitan dynasty ….

And at:


Though overall, Mentuhotep III’s reign seems to have been very positive, we do learn from some correspondence from a man named Hekanakht, who was the funerary priest under the vizier Ipy at Thebes, that towards the end of the king’s reign, there was apparently the onset of famine in the Theban region…..

And at:

…. Contemporary records refer to “seven empty years” following the death of Mentuhotep III, which correspond to the reign of  Nebtawyra Mentuhotep IV.

[End of quote]

  1. Clarke has located Joseph (and his given name) to Egypt’s Middle Kingdom, opting for the Eleventh dynasty pharaoh, Mentuhotep II, as Joseph’s Pharaoh (in “Joseph’s Zaphenath Paaneah—a chronological key”) (

Archaeologically, Dr. John Osgood has pointed to the Early Bronze II Era’s “constriction of population” in Palestine as possible evidence for the Great Famine that sent Jacob’s family to Egypt (“From Abraham to Exodus”:

EB II information is in short supply. The period is ill understood. However, the evidence available suggests a boom in civilization which came to an abrupt constriction, and the great famine would be a satisfactory solution to the problem. Therefore, we should consider dating the end of EB II to around 1660 B.C. It can be seen that there was a constriction of population (in terms of cities inhabited) at the end of EB II. Particularly was this so in the Negev, and in central Trans Jordan.

Conventional historians – those who would at least give any historical credence to the Joseph narrative in Genesis, would tend to assign the Hebrew Patriarch to an Egypt dominated by the foreign “Hyksos”, in the Second Intermediate Period.

But this phase, in my revision, is the period of anarchy and chaos in Egypt following the Plagues and Exodus of Israel from Egypt.




As we are going to learn, there is abundant evidence for the Israelites in Egypt; the Oppression; more pyramid building, and sphinxes; slaughter of babies, all during the Twelfth dynasty. Revisionists tend to favour this (and/or the Thirteenth dynasty, which was partly contemporaneous with the Twelfth, anyway, but continued on after the latter’s demise) as being the true era of Moses. Though they can disagree as to when, during the Twelfth dynasty, the Oppression of Israel actually began.

Conventional history favours, as the time of the Oppression and the Exodus, the Nineteenth Dynasty (which it dates to the C13th BC) that includes Ramses II ‘the Great’, because of Exodus 1:11: “They forced [the Hebrews] to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centres for the king”. But, since Ramses II was, according to any serious revision, many centuries after the Exodus, the mention here of “Ramses” can only be, I suggest, a later editorial insertion.

One thing that Ramses II ‘the Great’ did have in abundance, though, was chariots!

A major problem: chariots. Surprisingly, unlike the case of early Mesopotamia, there is virtually no evidence of the Egyptian use of war chariots for the period covered by this present article (Protodynastic to Middle Kingdom Egypt). And yet, according to the Book of Exodus, the Pharaoh was able to gather together 600 quality chariots, plus others, with which to pursue the fleeing Israelites (Exodus 14:7): “He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them”.  Now, though these came to grief in Yam Suf (“the Sea of Reeds”), it is highly surprising that documentary evidence for chariots in this period of Egyptian history is so sorely lacking.

Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, following David Rohl (in Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 285), has put forward the following explanation


Since no evidence of chariots had been found in pre-Hyksos Egypt, tradition has held that the Hyksos were able to defeat Egypt because they possessed chariots. Therefore, since Exodus 14 describes Pharaoh’s pursuit with chariots, many have thought that the Exodus occurred after the Hyksos conquest. However, discoveries in recent years have confirmed the use of horses and chariots in the 12th and the 13th dynasties, prior to the Hyksos invasion. For example, an engraving from the 13th dynasty shows Khonsuemmwaset, a pharaoh’s son and army commander, with a pair of gloves, the symbol for charioteer, under his seat. ….

[End of quote]

Prince Moses, brought up as a thorough-going ‘Egyptian’ (cf. Exodus 2:19), must have been Chenephres’ (Chephren’s) loyal subject. “Now Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a man of power both in his speech and in his actions” (Acts 7:22). Tradition has Moses leading armies for Chenephres as far as Ethiopia. Whilst this may seem a bit strained, perhaps, in a 4th dynasty context, we shall see that it is perfectly appropriate in a 12th dynasty one, when we uncover Chephren’s alter ego. For he, like Khufu, stands in need of one.

Moving on to the Twelfth Dynasty, and skipping over the Sixth just for the time being, we seem to discover certain further elements that may be relevant to the early career of Moses.

Egypt’s 12th Dynasty

Filling Out the Founder-King

Once again we have a strong founder-king, pharaoh Amenemes [Amenemhat] I, who will enable us to fill out the virtually unknown Khufu as the “new king” of Exodus 1:8. This new ruler “knew not Joseph”, not in the sense of never having heard of him: the great Imhotep, see my:

The Bible Illuminates History


Hebrew Foundations of Pythagoras

still ‘known’ about a millennium and a half later in Ptolemaïc times, but in the Hebrew sense of ‘not knowing’, presumably, that is, ‘not recognising’ what Joseph had done for Egypt. (Or perhaps, more simply, meaning he had not been born while Joseph was still alive). The reign of Amenemes I was, deliberately, an abrupt break with the past. The beginning of the 12th dynasty marks not only a new dynasty, but an entirely new order. Amenemes I celebrated his accession by adopting the Horus name: Wehem-Meswt (“He who repeats births”), thought to indicate that he was the first of a new line, that he was “thereby consciously identifying himself as the inaugurator of a renaissance, or new era in his country’s history” (

Amenemes I is thought actually to have been a commoner, originally from southern Egypt. Further on, I shall attempt to track down his beginnings via the 6th dynasty, which too will be found to be contemporaneous with the 4th and 12th.

The ancient Egyptian discourse “The Prophecy of Neferti”, relating to the time of this particular Amenemes, exhibits the same concern in Egypt for the growing presence of Asiatics in the eastern Delta as was said to occupy the mind of the new pharaoh of Exodus, seeing the Israelites as a political threat (1:9). That Asiatics were particularly abundant in Egypt at the time is apparent from Encyclopaedia Britannica (1964, volume 8, page 35): “The Asiatic inhabitants of the country at this period [of the Twelfth Dynasty] must have been many times more numerous than has been generally supposed …”.

Sir Flinders Petrie, working in the Fayyûm in 1899, made the important discovery of the town of Illahûn [Kahun], which Petrie described as “an unaltered town of the twelfth dynasty” [Ten Years’ Digging in Egypt, 1881-1891, rev. 2013, p. 112, 2013]. Of the ‘Asiatic’ presence in this pyramid builders’ town, Rosalie David (who is in charge of the Egyptian branch of the Manchester Museum) has written (The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt: A Modern Investigation of Pharaoh’s Workforce, Guild Publishing, London, p. 191, 1996):

It is apparent that the Asiatics were present in the town in some numbers, and this may have reflected the situation elsewhere in Egypt. It can be stated that these people were loosely classed by Egyptians as ‘Asiatics’, although their exact home-land in Syria or Palestine cannot be determined … The reason for their presence in Egypt remains unclear.

Undoubtedly, these ‘Asiatics’ were dwelling in Illahûn largely to raise pyramids for the glory of the pharaohs. Is there any documentary evidence that ‘Asiatics’ in Egypt acted as slaves or servants to the Egyptians? “Evidence is not lacking to indicate that these Asiatics became slaves”, Dr. D. Down has written with reference to the Brooklyn Papyrus (Digging Up the Past, October, 1986), p. 5). Egyptian households at this time were filled with Asiatic slaves, some of whom bore biblical names. Of the seventy-seven legible names of the servants of an Egyptian woman called Senebtisi recorded on the verso of this document, forty-eight are (like the Hebrews) NW Semitic. In fact, the name “Shiphrah” is identical to that borne by one of the Hebrew midwives whom Pharaoh had commanded to kill the male babies (Exodus 1:15). “Asian slaves, whether merchandise or prisoners of war, became plentiful in wealthy Egyptian households [prior to the New Kingdom]”, we read in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1964), vol. 8, p. 35).

Amenemes I was represented in the ‘prophecy’ – as with the “new king” of Exodus 1:8 – as one who would set about rectifying the problem. To this end he completely reorganised the administration of Egypt, transferring the capital from Thebes in the south to Ithtowe in the north, just below the Nile Delta. He allowed those nomarchs who supported his cause to retain their power. He built on a grand scale. Egypt was employing massive slave labour, not only in the Giza area, but also in the eastern Delta region where the Israelites were said to have settled at the time of Joseph. Professor J. H. Breasted provided ample evidence to show that the powerful 12th dynasty pharaohs carried out an enormous building program whose centre was in the Delta region. More specifically, this building occurred in the eastern Delta region which included the very area that comprised the land of Goshen where the Israelites first settled (A History of Egypt, pp. 189-200). “… in the eastern part [of the Delta], especially at Tanis and Bubastis, … massive remains still show the interest which the Twelfth Dynasty manifested in the Delta cities”. Today, archaeologists recognise the extant remains of the construction under these kings as representing a mere fraction of the original; the major part having been destroyed by the vandalism of the New Kingdom pharaohs (such as Ramses II). The Biblical account states that: “… they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar and in brick” (Exodus 1:14).

According to the Book of Exodus, not only did the Egyptians enslave the Israelites, to keep them in check, but Pharaoh even gave orders for all their male babies to be slain at birth, to stem the numbers (1:15-16). In the light of this grim episode, an intriguing aspect of Sir Flinders Petrie’s discoveries was the unusual number of infant burials beneath the floors of the houses of Illahûn. Rosalie David thus describes Petrie’s find (as quoted in Digging Up the Past, October, 1986, p. 8. Emphasis added):

Larger wooden boxes, probably used to store clothing and other possessions, were discovered underneath the floors of many houses at Kahun. They contained babies, sometimes buried two to three to a box, and aged only a few months at death …. Internment of bodies at domestic sites was not an Egyptian custom, although such practices occurred in other areas of the ancient Near East.

David Rohl (A Test of Time, London, Random House Century, 1995, p. 271), moreover, has noted multiple graves in the Delta region, at Tell el-Daba during the same approximate period, had an excessively large proportion of babies:

… it was discovered that there was a higher percentage of infant burials … than is normally found at archaeological sites of the ancient world. Sixty-five per cent of all the burials were those of children under the age of eighteen months. Based on modern statistical evidence obtained from pre-modern societies we would expect the infant mortality rate to be around twenty to thirty per cent. Could this be explained by the slaughter of the Israelite infant males by the Egyptians?

[End of quotes]

Chephren/“Chenephres” Re-visited


Amenemes I assumed a co-regency with his son, Sesostris I, who acted as the king’s deputy and was entrusted with the control of the army, responsible for Libya and Ethiopia. Also, late in his reign, Amenemes undertook campaigns into Ethiopia (Nubia), opening up to him the diorite quarries at Wadi Toshka (N. Grimal, op. cit., p. 161). And he campaigned against the Bedouin in the Sinai, thereby safeguarding the turquoise mining operations at Serabit el-Khadem.

It is at this point in history that the 4th and 12th dynasties can really be found to converge, thus seeming to vindicate Dr. Courville’s view of the contemporaneity of the two kingdoms. For instance, Sesostris I had, as another of his names, Kheper-ka-re; a name containing the exact same elements as in the name of pharaoh Khafre/Chephren. As far as names go, Sesostris I (Kheper-ka-re) is as equally likely as Khafre/Chephren (Kha-kheper-re) to have been “Chenephres”, the traditional f/father-in-law of Moses.

Courville (op. cit. I, pp. 189, 214), also found the name “Sesonchosis” common to these two pharaohs.

Then there is the further seemingly identifying element of Sphinx obsession in the case of, now Chephren, now Sesostris I. This is quite obvious with Chephren, in his building of the Great Sphinx of Giza. And it is again obvious in the case of Sesostris I, from his building works, because he was an obsessive builder of sphinxes. For example, Grimal writes (op. cit., pp. 164-165): “Gold was brought also from mines east of Koptos and hard stone from the nearby Wãdi Hammãmãt, where, in Sesostris I’s thirty-eighth year, an expedition of more than seventeen thousand men quarried the blocks for sixty sphinxes and one hundred and fifty statues”.

There is also the fact of the 12th dynasty’s extension of empire into Ethiopia, where tradition has prince Moses playing so important a rôle.

But the most likely reason for Sesostris I’s being the pharaoh whom Moses last served before his flight is that the high official Sinuhe, the ‘Moses’ of Egyptian folklore, was the servant of Sesostris I.


Sinuhe, a Candidate for Moses

Professor Immanuel Anati is amongst many who have perceived what are in fact quite startling likenesses between the Exodus account of Moses’s flight to Midian/Arabia and Egypt’s account of Sinuhe (The Mountain of God, Rizzoli, NY., 1986), p. 158. Emphasis added):

The account of Moses in the land of Midian [Exodus 2:15-25] describes how he settled there for several years and formed a family …. Apparently the biblical account also corresponds quite closely to an Egyptian text … which tells the story of Sinuhe, an officer of Pharaoh Amen-em-het [Amenemes] I who lived in the harem and served the hereditary princess. It seems that he committed a violation of some sort, and when the Pharaoh died Sinuhe feared his successor [Sesostris I]. He fled into Asia, ‘in the land of Yaa near the desert’, where he was welcomed by a local chieftain.

He took the chieftain’s eldest daughter as his wife, raised a family, and tended his father-in-law’s pastures and flocks. Finally he was called back to Egypt and returned to his homeland from exile. The chronicle of Sinuhe contains many elements in common with the biblical account of Moses, who escaped to Midian, and his father-in-law, Jethro. It is hard to believe that these similarities are pure coincidence. It seems, instead, quite legitimate to hypothesize that the two accounts have a common matrix that cannot have originated later than the twentieth century B.C. [sic].

I accept that this famous Egyptian tale is based upon a real biblical event. The semi-legendary Sinuhe may at least provide us with the time of the flight of Moses from Egypt to Midian, during the early reign of Sesostris I.

Sinuhe had impressive official titles such as: “… hereditary prince, royal seal-bearer, confidential friend … follower … of the house of the hereditary princess, the greatly favoured, the royal wife”. Petrie (Egyptian Tales, Methuen and Co., London, p. 133) claimed that these titles were “of a very high rank, implying that Sinuhe was the son either of the king or of a great noble. And his position in the queen’s household shows him to have been of importance, quite familiar with the royal family”.

That someone like Moses could realistically have become a prince of Egypt is affirmed by archaeologist J. Hoffmeier (Israel in Egypt, as referred to in TIME’s “Who was Moses?”, December 14, 1998). The Egyptian court, he says, did rear and educate foreign-born princes, who then bore the title “child of the nursery”. Hoffmeier believes that Moses was one of these privileged foreigners, some of whom went on to serve as high officials in their adopted land.

We can now tabulate our 4th and 12th dynasty synthesis around Moses so far in the following basic fashion:

Fourth/Twelfth Dynasty Integration

  1. Khufu (Cheops) = Amenemes I = Moses’s foster/grand-father;
  2. Meresankh III = Moses’s foster-mother;
  3. Chephren = Sesostris I = Moses’s foster/father-in-law;
  4. Sinuhe = Moses.

We can now complement all of this with the inclusion of the Sixth Dynasty, in which we find some most intriguing parallels.

Egypt’s 6th Dynasty

Pharaoh Teti Reflects Amenemes I

We may well be able to trace the rise of the 4th dynasty’s most obscure Khufu to the 6th dynasty, to the wealthy noble from Abydos in the south, called Khui. The latter had a daughter named Ankhenesmerire, in whose name are contained (in reverse order) all the elements of our Meresankh, daughter of Khufu, who I say became Moses’s adopted mother and who married Chephren/“Chenephres”. This family relationship may again be duplicated in that Piops I (Cheops?) had a daughter Ankhenesmerire whom his ‘son’ Merenre I (Chephren/Sesostris?) married.

These characters may have, it seems, been dupli/triplicated due to the messy arrangement of conventional Egyptian history.

Further most likely links with the 6th dynasty are the likenesses between the latter’s founder, Teti, and Amenemes I, as pointed out by historians. Despite the little that these admit to knowing of pharaoh Teti – and the fact that they would have him (c. 2300 BC) pre-dating the early 12th dynasty (c. 1990 BC) by about half a millennium – historians have noted that pharaoh Teti shared some common features with Amenemes I, including the same throne name, Sehetibre, the same Horus name, Sehetep-tawy (“He who pacifies the Two Lands”), and the likelihood that death came in similarly through assassination.

This triplicity appears to me to be another link between the ‘Old’ and ‘Middle’ kingdoms!

But there are other historical anomalies that would suggest the need to bring together the Fourth and Sixth dynasties.

  1. Gough recounts the puzzling case of the dwarf, Seneb (Who Was Khufu? 2009):

Intriguingly, on Seneb’s right leg is the inscription, “He who pleases his majesty everyday”. Might Seneb have lived in the Fourth Dynasty, as his titles suggest, and not two Dynasties later, as a high official of the Sixth Dynasty King, Pepi II; a king who ruled for 94 years, longer than any known monarch in history? References to Pepi II in Seneb’s tomb have led to speculation that Seneb was of his court. Might Pepi II have been venerating Khufu, as part of the popular Cult of Khufu that had formed, and might his interest in Seneb have come from his own fascination with dwarfs? Might the ‘majesty’ referred to on Seneb’s inscription have been Khufu?

This possibility is reinforced by a letter that the young Pepi II wrote to one of his court, an explorer called Harkhuf, who had discovered a dwarf in a land called Lyam. The letter clearly reflects Pepi II’s enthusiasm for dwarfs:

“Come north to the Palace at once! Drop everything – hurry and bring that pygmy you have brought, alive, happy and well, for the divine dances, to gladden the heart, to delight the heart of the king who lives for ever! When he goes down with you onto the boat, get trusty men to stand around him on the gangplank – don’t let him fall in the water! When he goes to bed at night, get trusty men to lie all round him in his hammock. Inspect him ten times a night! My Majesty longs to see this pygmy more than all the treasures of Sinai and Punt!”

Might Pepi II’s curiosity with dwarfs stem from the cult of Khufu and the important role that Seneb had in Khufu’s court?

[End of quote]

I would ask, instead, might Khufu and Pepi (Piops) have been contemporaneous?

There is a famous Sixth dynasty official, Weni (or Uni), who may be the parallel of the Twelfth Dynasty’s Sinuhe as a candidate for the elusive Moses.

I have previously written on this:

Now, given our alignment of the so-called Egyptian Middle Kingdom’s Twelfth Dynasty with the Egyptian Old Kingdom’s Sixth Dynasty (following Dr. Donovan Courville), then the semi-legendary Sinuhe may find his more solidly historical identification in the important Sixth Dynasty official, Weni, or Uni. Like Weni, Sinuhe was highly honoured by pharaoh with the gift of a sarcophagus. We read about it, for instance, in C. Dotson’s extremely useful article (“…. The Cycle of Order and Chaos in The Tale of Sinuhe) (

“…. The king gives Sinuhe a sarcophagus of gold and lapis lazuli as a housewarming gift. The gift of a coffin by the king was considered a great honor and a sign of respect.

In the Autobiography of Weni from the Old Kingdom, Weni records that the king had given him a white sarcophagus and “never before had the like been done in this Upper Egypt.”

The highly detailed Autobiography of Weni, conventionally (though wrongly) dated to the late C3rd millennium BC, is classic proof that sophisticated writing well pre-dated C. 1000 BC (when JEDP theorists imagined that writing developed and that oral tradition had prevailed prior to that date). According to my revision, the Autobiography of Weni would date to approximately half a millennium before c. 1000 BC. And Weni would have been at least contemporaneous with Moses. Consequently, I have written on this


Moses was, according to my reconstruction of ancient history, a contemporary of both the so-called Old and Middle kingdoms of Egypt. He would have been a contemporary for instance of the 6th dynasty character, Weni, whose famous autobiography has been, according to N. Grimal, “expressed in a perfect literary form”. Here is a sample of Weni’s autobiography ….:

His majesty sent me to Hatnub to bring a great altar of alabaster of Hatnub. I brought this altar down for him in seventeen days. After it was quarried at Hatnub, I had it go downstream in this barge I had built for it, a barge of acacia wood of sixty cubits in length and thirty cubits of width. Assembled in seventeen days, in the third month of summer, when there was no water on the sandbanks, it landed at the pyramid ‘Merenre appears in splendour’ in safety ….

Compare this description with Pentateuchal writings attributed to Moses himself:

“And Moses built an altar and called it, ‘The Lord is my banner’.” (Exodus 17:15).

“They shall make an ark of acacia wood; it shall be two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high” (Exodus 25:10).

“In the third month … the Israelites … came into the wilderness of Sin” (Ex. 19:1).

Yes, narrative writing was sophisticated enough in those days for Moses to have used it.

[End of quotes]

Shortening the Twelfth Dynasty

According to my revised scenario, supported by Exodus 4:19 (“Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, ‘Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead’.”), there would be no room for the conventional 12th dynasty sequence of pharaohs Amenemes and Sesostris (3-4 of each name).

The name Kheper-ka-ra is common, in variant form, to Sesostris I-II-III.

And Courville refers to the “striking discrepancy between the latest monumental inscription of Sesostris II (10th year) and the total figure as given by Manetho (48 years)”, as indicating that there was “something unusual in the situation at this point”. The ‘unusual situation’, I suggest, is simply that Sesostris II stands in need of his alter egos.

I was hopeful of merging the founder-pharaoh Amenemes I with the mighty Amenemes III; whilst I had thought that Sesostris I might be equated with the equally mighty Sesostris III. But so far I have not managed to establish any real sort of connection between them. What is certain is that the grim-faced pharaohs, Amenemes III and Sesostris III, had their pyramids built from brick mixed with straw, just as is recorded in the Exodus 5:6-7: “So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters over the people and their foremen, saying, ‘You are no longer to give the people straw to make brick as previously; let them go and gather straw for themselves’.”

The grim-faced depictions of the 12th dynasty kings, Amenemes III and Sesostris III, have been commented upon by conventional and revisionist scholars alike. Thus CAH has noted with regard to the former: “The numerous portraits of [Amenemes] III include a group of statues and sphinxes from Tanis and the Faiyûm, which, from their curiously brutal style and strange accessories, were once thought to be monuments of the Hyksos kings”. For revisionists, these pharaohs can represent the cruel taskmasters who forced the Israelites to build using bricks mixed with straw (Exodus 5:7, 8). This combination of materials can clearly be seen for example in Amenemes III’s Dahshur pyramid.

Along with Weni, and the semi-historical Sinuhe, there is another powerful Twelfth dynasty character under pharaoh Sesostris I, who may be a candidate for Moses. I refer to the Vizier, Mentuhotep, on to whom Courville and others have fastened, instead, as Joseph (thereby missing out on the Joseph = Imhotep synchronism). Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell (op. cit.), writes briefly about him, following Courville:


Mentuhotep had such power. James Breasted in his History of Egypt wrote, “When he also held the office of chief treasurer, as did the powerful vizier Mentuhotep under Sesostris I, the account which he could give of himself . . . read like the declaration of the king’s power.” ….

The Exodus and the Conquest


Regarding whether the Egyptians recorded the Exodus, professor I. Anati has written (

In the last 100 years, many efforts have been invested on finding some hints of the Israelites and their exodus in the Egyptian ancient literature. In the many Egyptian texts that date to the New Kingdom … there is no mention of the flight from Egypt or the crossing of the “Red Sea”.

Not even the general historical and social background correspond. … If all of this tradition has a minimal basis in historical fact, then it cannot have been totally ignored by the Egyptians.

Nor, according to Professor Anati, did they ignore it:

… The relevant texts do not date to the New Kingdom at all, but to the Old Kingdom. In other words … the archaeological evidence …, the tribal social structures described in the Bible, the climatic changes and the ancient Egyptian literature all seem to indicate that the events and situations which may have inspired the biblical narrations of Exodus do not date to the thirteenth century BC but … to the late third millennium BC.

[End of quote]

Professor Anati still accepts the conventional dating of the Old and New Kingdoms. But this only means that his discoveries are all the more meaningful, because he has not set out to make a chronological statement.

The story of the Exodus, M. Lemonick wrote, “involves so many miracles” – plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven, the giving of the Ten Commandments – that critics take it for “pure myth” (“Are the Bible’s Stories True?”, Christmas, 1995). In this regard he referred to Fr. Anthony Axe, Bible lecturer at Jerusalem’s École Biblique, who has claimed that a massive Exodus that led to the drowning of Pharaoh’s army would have reverberated politically and economically throughout the entire region. And, considering that artefacts from as far back as the late Stone Age have turned up in the Sinai, Fr Axe finds it perplexing that – as he thinks – no evidence of the Israelites’ passage has been found.

Indeed Fr Axe is right in saying that an event such as the Exodus would have had widespread political and economic ramifications; but because he has been conditioned to thinking according to the Sothic-based time scale, Fr. Axe is unable to see the wood for the trees, so to speak. For, contrary to the conventional view, the Egyptian chronicles do give abundant testimony to a time of catastrophe reminiscent of the Exodus, and archaeology does clearly attest the presence of an invasive people sojourning for a time in the Sinai/Negev deserts.

And the reason why the Israeli archaeologists of the 60’s-80’s “… didn’t find a single piece of evidence backing the Israelites’ supposed 40-year sojourn in the desert”, as M. Broshi, curator emeritus of the Dead Sea Scrolls, claims (as referred to by Lemonick, op. cit.), is because they were always expecting to find such “evidence” in a New Kingdom context. The error of looking to the New Kingdom for the Exodus scenario has already been pointed out by Anati, and will become even more apparent in our discussions of Stratigraphy below.

Dr. R. Cohen, who was Deputy Director of the Israeli Antiquities Authority, when asked by Dr. Down which Egyptian dynasty he considered to be contemporaneous with the Exodus events, nominated the Middle Kingdom’s 12th dynasty (Down, D., “Dr. Cohen Identifies the Mysterious MBI People”, Diggings No. 9, September, 1992, p. 7. See also the article by the same title and the accompanying colour images in BAR, Vol. IX, No. 4, July/ August 1983, p. 16-29).

In this regard Cohen referred to the Ipuwer Papyrus as describing the conditions in Egypt that could be expected as the result of the ten devastating plagues (cf. Exodus 7-12).

Cohen is not the first, of course, to have suggested the relevance of the 12th dynasty, or of the Ipuwer Papyrus, to the situation of the Israelites in Egypt and the Exodus. Dr. Courville (op. cit., Vol. 1, esp. ch’s IX, X, XIII.) had discussed in detail its suitability as the background for the enslavement and ultimate deliverance (Exodus 1:8-5:22). More recently, Down has developed this view. And Dr. Velikovsky had presented a compelling case for both the Ipuwer and Ermitage papyrii’s being recollections of the plagues and devastation of Egypt (Ages in Chaos, Vol. I, pp. 35-29).


It is difficult to pinpoint the precise time of the Exodus in a Middle kingdom context. Some revisionists favour the end of the Twelfth Dynasty, whilst others would proceed beyond that, further into the Thirteenth Dynasty. A progression from the Twelfth Dynasty rulers to the Thirteenth might account for Exodus 4:19, Moses’ return from Midian after the death of those who had been seeking his life.

If evidence from the town of Illahûn has been rightly interpreted, then Rosalie David can point to a precise moment in Thirteenth Dynasty. Despite what might at first seem to be a dearth of positive archaeological data from this truly dark moment in Egyptian history, the collapse of the Old/Middle Kingdom, there is clear evidence that the ‘Asiatic’ labourers in Egypt departed suddenly and unexpectedly. The archaeology at Illahûn for example (where these foreign labourers had been living in numbers) reveals the exact time when they abandoned the town. Up to the time of Khasekhemre-Neferhotep I of the mid-13th dynasty, there was evidence of a continuous occupation. But then, as Rosalie David, explains, it was deserted (‘Source’, xxx):

There is every indication that Kahun [Illahûn] continued to flourish throughout the 12th dynasty and in to the 13th dynasty …. It is evident that the completion of the king’s pyramid was not the reason why Kahun’s inhabitants eventually deserted the town, abandoning their tools and other possessions in the shops and houses. The quantity, range and type of articles of everyday use which were left behind in the houses may suggest that the departure was sudden and unpremeditated.

Here is a possible scenario, combining the late Twelfth with the Thirteenth Dynasty:

We may now presume that Khasekhemre-Neferhotep I, the 13th dynasty prince in charge of Illahûn when the desertion occurred, was a ruler contemporary with the Exodus. This data enables us now to synchronise the 13th dynasty as well with the Exodus scenario so far ascertained. Neferhotep’s full name is not unlike Nofer-ka-ra (Nefer-kare) of the 6th dynasty referred to above. Quite possibly this was the same person; death having come as a result of the tenth plague.

David Rohl describes the archaeology at Tell el-Daba (ancient Avaris, in the eastern Nile Delta), which he thinks may be evidence for this plague (A Test of Time, p. 279):

At the end of stratum G/1 … [Manfred] Bietak and his archaeological team began to uncover a gruesome scene. All over the city of Avaris they found shallow burial pits into which the victims of some terrible disaster had been hurriedly cast. These were no careful internments of the deceased. The bodies were not arranged in the proper burial fashion but rather thrown into the mass graves, one on top of the other. There were no grave goods placed with the corpses as was usually the custom. Bietak is convinced that we have here direct evidence of plague or some other sudden catastrophe at Avaris.

Rohl next tells of a mass exodus from Avaris (loc. cit.): “What is more, analysis of the site archaeology suggests that a large part of the remaining population of the town abandoned their homes and departed from Avaris en masse”.

This was followed at some point by a foreign invasion:

The site was then reoccupied after an interval of unknown duration by Asiatics who were not ‘Egyptianised’ like the previous population of stratum G. Stratum F marks a new beginning in the settlement of purely Asiatic (Canaanite) people … The inhabitants of stratum G seem to have left the site before the arrival of [this other] wave of Asiatic immigrants, who settled and remained there until the be-ginning of the New Kingdom.

According to Rohl, the Asiatics who had dwelt in Egypt during this Middle Kingdom period were thoroughly ‘Egyptianised’ (just as one would expect the Hebrews to have been on the eve of the Exodus). It appears that these ‘Egyptianised’ foreigners fled Avaris at this time of plague, only to be replaced some time afterwards by other Asiatics (stratum level F) who show no evidence of their having been ‘Egyptianised’. These latter would therefore be the ‘Hyksos’ invaders. They began at Avaris, during the reign of Neferhotep’s brother, Sobekhotep IV.

From Avaris, the Hyksos foreigners gradually moved towards Memphis, following the eastern ridge of the Delta: “This progression took place over a period of almost half a century, until about 1675 BC [sic]. The Thirteenth Dynasty had by then reached its thirty-third or thirty-fourth king, Dedumesiu I”; almost certainly to be identified with Manetho’s unfortunate “Tutimaius”.

The MBI Conquest

This segment is taken from my article on stratigraphy at which needs to be read in full for a complete picture:

For this section I shall be sticking to the simple idea that the Middle Bronze I people were the Israelites who destroyed the major EBIII Canaanite sites. The situation is actually more complex than this, as we should expect from our previous comments that stratigraphy does not follow a neat, linear pattern. Of necessity too would the MBI Israelites, because of their abrupt departure from Egypt and their nomadic circumstances, reflect quite a rudimentary form of MB culture; more basic than the stable, urban civilisations that they conquered. These latter should largely reflect a sophisticated Middle Kingdom/MBA culture.

In fact, to arrive at a full archaeological picture of the Conquest and early Judges period is quite a daunting task, because we might expect these variations:

  1. Some Canaanite EB III sites where inhabitants had not updated early towns or forts, continuing as such where the MB I people had not chosen to settle. Others would have given way to MB I culture, or mixed. (E.g. Kadesh-Barnea and Karkom).
  2. EB IV in Transjordan perhaps corresponding to a Moabite (as opposed to Canaanite) culture.
  3. MB II (often 12th dynasty inspired) additions, enlargements to EB III (as I shall argue was the case at Jericho), superior to – though perhaps earlier than in some cases – the necessarily poorer nomadic MB I culture.
  4. MB II forts or cities built anew by the MB I people as they settled in the land and prospered (perhaps e.g. at Shechem, whose mighty MB II level could not have been what the Israelites encountered on entering the land, since they occupied Shechem almost immediately).
  5. A continuing nomadic style MB I culture (also called Middle Canaanite I) well into Judges period, when many lived in booths. Thus Vaninger …:

… tribal organization and feeling was at its peak during the period of the Judges and should be evident in the archaeological remains from the EBIV/MBI strata. …the book of Judges indicates that throughout the era the people of Israel lived in tents or booths – temporary dwellings more suitable to a non-sedentary life style (Judges 4:11-22, 5:24-26, 7:8, 13, 20:8) – although Judges 5:7 may be an indication that town life began to revive during the latter part of the period: “Village life in Israel ceased, ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother of Israel” (NIV).

Vaninger …goes on to quote Aharoni in regard to this Judges era situation of booth dwelling (emphasis added): “The [MBI] settlements [Aharoni calls them Middle Canaanite I] were poor and temporary, and their houses are more reminiscent of sheds and booths than real buildings”.

So, the situation is extremely complex.

[End of quotes]

Table 4:


                                                            (Middle Kingdom)

(c. 2650-2150 BC)                              c. 2000 BC                              (c. 1700-1500 BC)

Early Bronze Age III-IV                           Middle Bronze I                          Early Bronze II

Djoser: 2600 BC                                 Eleventh Dynasty                   Djoser: 1700 BC                                                                     Mentuhoteps

Imhotep                                                                                               Imhotep




(Middle Kingdom)

  1. 1900 BC

Early Bronze Age III-IV                           Middle Bronze I                          Early Bronze III

Khufu: 2550 BC/Teti                          Amenemes I                            Khufu: 1600 BC/Teti

Chephren                                             Sesostris I                                Chephren

Weni                                                    Sinuhe (Mentuhotep)




(Middle Kingdom)

  1. 1800 BC

Early Bronze Age IV                                          Middle Bronze I-II                          Early Bronze III/IV

End of Sixth Dynasty: 2150 BC        End Twelfth                            End Sixth Dyn: 1500 BC                                                                                                       Exodus

Exodus and Conquest




The conventional dates for the eras discussed in this PART ONE are all now entirely useless. Moreover, the Egyptian Kingdoms need to re-named, and the corresponding Archaeological Ages re-defined.

Ash Wednesday 2015


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