Damien F. Mackey
According to Dr. I. Velikovsky (Ages in Chaos, I, 1952, p. 155):
The treasures brought by Thutmose III from Palestine [Israel] are reproduced on a wall of the Karnak temple.
The bas-relief displays in ten rows the legendary wealth of Solomon. There are pictures of various precious objects, furnishings, vessels, and utensils of the Temple, of the palace, probably also of the shrines to foreign deities. Under each object a numerical symbol indicates how many of that kind were brought by the Egyptian king from Palestine: each stroke means one piece, each arch means ten pieces, each spiral one hundred pieces of the same thing. If Thutmose III had wanted to boast and to display all his spoils from the Temple and the Palace of Jerusalem by showing each object separately instead of using this number system, a wall a mile long would have required and even that would not have sufficed. ….
But was Velikovsky right about this?
In the opinion of Creationist P. Clarke (“Was Thutmose III the biblical Shishak?—Claims for the ‘Jerusalem’ bas-relief at Karnak investigated”: http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j25_1/j), Velikovsky got all of this badly wrong. Lacking the necessary Egyptological knowledge, Velikovsky – and those who have followed him in this (Clarke’s “VIC”) – have wrongly identified the items that appear on the Karnak bas-relief. Consequently Clarke writes (p. 51): “It appears that one of the major weaknesses of a number of the VIC revisionists is that they are not competent in the ancient Egyptian language, or the rules governing Egyptian art”.
That is understandable, of course.
Not everyone can be a specialist in such arcane knowledge.
Now, whilst I shall be agreeing with Clarke’s conclusions about the few items that he does in fact discuss – using his knowledge of Egyptian Hieroglyphics against the Velikovskian thesis – that will in no way affect my previous findings in this series, “Did Thutmose III Really Lay Siege To Megiddo?”.
Similarly, Dr. J. Bimson’s important argument (in “Hatshepsut and the Queen of Sheba: A Critique of Velikovsky’s Identification and an Alternative View”, SIS Review 8, 1986), in which Bimson completely shipwrecked Velikovsky’s romantic idea that Hatshepsut’s maritime expedition to Punt was the same as the visit by the Queen of Sheba to Solomon’s Jerusalem, does not affect the well-founded identification of Hatshepsut with Sheba. See my:
Solomon and Sheba
In this article I also advanced the completely new view that Solomon may have been the ubiquitous Eighteenth Dynasty person, Senenmut (Senmut), thereby tying the Egypt of that glorious era to the Kingdom of Israel.
With the wise Solomon as a mentor, it would not be surprising, too, if Thutmose III himself had exhibited skills as a Lawmaker. After all his campaigns came to an end and steady streams of imposts, gifts and tribute were received, the scribes of the king turned their attention to the ‘Wise Administration’ of the king (Records, Sec. 568):
“Behold, my majesty made every monument, every law, (and) every regulation which I made, for my father, Amon-Re, lord of Thebes, presider over Karnak, because I so well knew his fame. I was wise in his excellence, resting in the midst of the body; while I knew that which he commanded to do, of the things which he desired should be, of all things which his ka desired that I do them for him, according as he commanded. My heart led me, my hand performed (it) for my father, who fashioned me, performing every excellent thing for my father [Amon]”.
It sounds rather Solomonic, doesn’t it? Cf. e.g. I Kings 3:10-13:
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings’.
Other of Thutmose III’s statements would suggest that the pharaoh was quite at home when it came to giving moral guidance and a philosophical foundation of government.
Plunder Taken by Thutmose III
The Egyptian records, according to H. Breasted (Records, II, Sec. 435), specify:
…. 340 living prisoners; 83 hands; 2,401 mares; 191 foals; 6 stallions; … young …; a chariot, wrought with gold, (its) pole of gold, belonging to the chief of `M-k-ty’ (as the land around Jerusalem was called); …. 892 chariots of his wretched army; total, 924 (chariots); a beautiful suit of bronze armor, belonging to the chief of Jerusalem; …. 200 suits of armor, belonging to his wretched army; 502 bows; 7 poles of (mry) wood, wrought with silver, belonging to the tent of that foe. Behold, the army of his majesty took …., 297 …., 1,929 large cattle, 2,000 small cattle, 20500 white small cattle.
[End of quote]
Given the significant cultural interchange on practically every level between Israel and Egypt at this time (refer e.g. to my “Solomon and Sheba”), it is hardly surprising that the likes of Dr. Danelius, and more recently P. Clarke, have referred to the Egyptian element in the Karnak bas-reliefs. Thus Danelius (“Did Thutmose III Despoil the Temple in Jerusalem?”, SIS Review, vol. ii, no. 3, 1977/78):
The problem of the provenance of the spoil is further aggravated by the observation that some of the objects pictured in murals were unquestionably of Egyptian workmanship … pieces of furniture decorated with the royal uraeus, the serpent of the pharaohs; vessels are formed like the lotus flower, symbol of Upper Egypt; others are decorated with the ram’s head of the Egyptian god Amun, and those of other Egyptian animal-gods.
[End of quote]
Not surprising at all, I would say, from a Solomon who had apostatised under pressure from foreign influences (I Kings 11:1-4).
Clarke, in turn, refers to (op. cit., ibid.): “The frieze of ureai (a bas-relief of rearing cobras) [that] represents potent occult magic, for the cobra-goddess Wadjet was considered a deadly protectress of the king in both life and death”, and this description (e.g. ‘cobra’, ‘uraeus’, and ‘magic’) resonates well with the following description of the statue of a kneeling Senenmut (http://arthistory.about.com/library/weekly/sp/bl_hatshepsut_rev.htm):
The intact and relatively unscathed portrait statue of Senenmut Kneeling with Uraeus Cryptogram was carved from a grayish green stone called metagraywacke. As he gently kneels, Senemut holds a large cryptogram or emblem with hidden meaning. A cobra’s head supports a solar disk and cowhorns. The serpent rests on two upraised arms, the hieroglyphic symbol for the ka or soul. In its entirety, this mysterious composite image was meant to support life and protect one from evil magically. Also, the cobra, arms and sun disk together hieroglyphically spell Hatshepsut’s coronation or throne name, Maatkare. Possibly after her demise or by priests hostile to the cult of Amun, Senemut’s name was carefully and intentionally erased from the sculpture’s inscriptions. ….
Clarke continues (op. cit., p. 55) ‘… the offerings on the Thutmose bas-relief were not at all unusual, being quite normal in this period … [the high priest] Hapuseneb listed:
“ … a shrine of ebony and gold …offering tables of gold and silver, and lapis lazuli … vessels … necklaces … two doors of copper …’’. . .
Hapuseneb also mentioned that there was a ‘great name’ upon the doors “Okhepernere [Thutmose II]-is-Divine-of-Monuments”. Everything listed was Egyptian, right down to dedications on doors; this consistency in offerings which covers three Pharaohs’ reigns overturns Velikovsky’s argument’.
[End of quote]
Not only, however, is this just what we should expect now, in a revised context – as already noted – but the situation becomes perhaps even more compelling still if Dr. Ed Metzler is correct in his theory (fully logical in his context) that Hatshepsut’s husband, pharaoh Thutmose II (the above-mentioned “Okhepernere”), the son of Thutmose I (= David, according to Metzler), was King Solomon himself (“Conflict of Laws in the Israelite Dynasty of Egypt”: http://moziani.tripod.com/dynasty/ammm_2_1.htm).
Clarke’s Critique of Velikovsky
Firstly, a general comment regarding the plunder taken by Thutmose III.
Clarke, on pp. 48 and 49, considering the Hebrew word qol (קוֹל), will make these ‘global’ statements:
Since this Egyptian ‘took everything’ (Heb. … qol), … included in his looted inventory would have been the Ark of the Covenant, along with many other valuable items of precious metals and gems mentioned in the biblical narrative. God allowed Shishak to plunder his people for their disobedience. ….
Velikovsky believed that the Ark [of the Covenant] was left unwanted in Jerusalem and did not depart until the Babylonian exile. …. But the Hebrew word qol indicates that the Temple and palace were stripped bare; “all” meaning “everything that one has; entire possession.” ….
[End of quotes]
Previously, though, I have had cause to disagree with this view as espoused by ‘Creationists’:
I wrote in “The Location of Paradise” that Canaan was the hub of the ancient world even down to the time of Alexander the Great (C4th BC). Indeed for Jesus and his fellow Jews it was, as I am going to suggest, still the point of reference as late as the C1st AD. And the mediaeval Crusaders considered Jerusalem to be the centre of the world in their day. ‘Creationists’ though, making much of the fact that the Genesis Flood narratives use language that they say unequivocally indicates totality and universality – and indeed they surely do when read at face value, from a modern (western) point of view – are forced to situate Noah and his family in the same sort of vast global environment, virtually, as now inhabited by 3rd millennium man. Ham et al. (op. cit., pp. 141-143), for instance take such Hebrew phrases from the Flood narrative translated as e.g. “all flesh”, “all the earth”, “every living thing”, “under the whole heaven”, etc., as clearly implying a global Flood. Though they do note (ibid., p. 143), at least in regard to the word ‘all’ (Hebrew kol), here, that:
Some have argued that since ‘all’ does not always mean ‘each and every’ (e.g. Mark 1:5) the use of ‘all’ in the Flood account does not necessarily mean the Flood was universal. That is, they claim that this use of ‘all’ allows for a local flood.
Again, the co-authors are adhering to a true literary principle – applicable to both ancient and modern writings – when they insist that the meaning of any word (such as ‘all’) needs to be determined according to its [geographical] context; that: “From the context of ‘all’ in Luke 2:1, for example, we can see that ‘all the world’ meant all the Roman Empire”. D. Hochner … though, having also considered these same sorts of ‘total’ Hebrew phrases in the Flood narrative, concludes that the Flood was not global. Here is what Hochner has to say, for instance, about the key word “earth”/“land” (Heb: eretz/erets):
Erets (#776 in Strong’s), the Hebrew word that [is] translated “earth” throughout the flood account and it does not require a world-wide meaning. This word translated “country” (140 times) and “land” (1,476 times!) in the Bible. Many of them are often of limited land areas.
Hochner then proceeds to produce a list of Old and New Testament usages of this word, eretz, to show that its meaning is often localized, and certainly never globalized in our modern sense. To give just one of his examples (his point e):
… Acts 11:28 speaks of a similar famine throughout all the world, yet it is not likely it really meant over the whole globe including the New World.
One encounters again, later in the Old Testament, a phrase very reminiscent of the Flood narrative, namely, ‘spread over the face of the earth’ (Numbers 22:5,11): ‘A people has come out of Egypt; they have spread over the face of the earth’, complains the Moabite king, Balak, of the Israelites on their way to cross the River Jordan. But how far ‘spread over the face of the earth’ were the Israelites at this particular point in time? A few verses earlier (22:1) we are told just how far: “The Israelites …camped in the plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho”.
Not very far at all according to a global context!
Thus, certain Semitic geographical phrases that would seem to us to imply ‘total’, or ‘global’, do not necessarily mean that!
[End of quote]
I have my own personal copy of Sir A. Gardiner’s Egyptian Grammar (Oxford, 1973), and, whilst not professing to be a fluent reader of the hieroglyphs, I have been able at least to verify that the following matchings by Clarke are all correct.
On p. 49, Clarke tells that what has been presented by VIC as the Ark of the Covenant (fig. 76), is actually in Egyptian nbw hbny pds n mnkht, which translates “a gold and ebony clothes chest”.
Most important are the gold shields, since 1 Kings 14:26 specifically mentions that ‘Shishak’ “took away all the gold shields which Solomon had made”. Velikovsky claimed to have identified these, as Clarke say (p. 53), “… shields made of “beaten gold” in row seven of the bas-relief”. But Clarke goes on to tell that, except for Figures 127 and 128 there, “all the objects in the row are clearly marked as being silver”, with Fig. 127 being “described as nbw w hen n mnw (my gift of a gold chest)”; and the rest being basins, not shields, “which are rendered differently in Egyptian art”.
On p. 50, Clarke tells that Velikovsky claimed that collars in row 4 of the bas-relief (54-57) are evidence of priestly apparel, some having “breastplates”. But Clarke says that they are not “breastplates”, but just a functional ornament. In a vertical column between items 80 and 81-88, the hieroglyphs describe their use, he says: “Jewellery for the Appearance Festival of the god”. “Such collars, called usekh … were worn by royalty and the privileged elite”.
Pp. 50-51. Here we meet the uraeus, referred to by Danelius, but that we also found adorning statues of Senenmut (our Solomon). Dr. David Down of whom Clarke is also critical, had claimed in his DVD “Unwrapping the Pharaohs”, that “it looks like a fire altar”. But Clarke replies that: “The frieze of ureai (a bas-relief of rearing cobras) represents potent occult magic, for the cobra-goddess Wadjet was considered a deadly protectress of the king in both life and death. There is no example from Scripture for such an artefact being found in either the Temple or residence of Solomon and the claim that it is a ‘fire altar’ is not tenable”.
But it is exactly what we would expect from Solomon in his late career as Senenmut. Recall what we included above: The serpent rests on two upraised arms, the hieroglyphic symbol for the ka or soul. In its entirety, this mysterious composite image was meant to support life and protect one from evil magically.
- 51. Here Clarke quotes Velikovsky as identifying figure 35 (and by association 36-38) as being “candlesticks with lamps”. “One of them (35)”, writes Velikovsky, “has three lily lamps on the left and three on the right”. But Clarke claims that, here, “Velikovsky missed an important detail …’. [He includes Dr. David Down here, too]. A text accompanies figure 35 on the bas-relief, he says which reads … nbw-ddt (gold bowl). Clarke also compares it with Wreszinski’s Fig. 35 for clarification.
“Six Nile lotus blossoms and a human figurine cannot be equated to branches and almond blossoms no matter how hard one tries”, Clarke says, before concluding: “… the bowl (Egy. ddt) is not the same as altar (Egy. khawt)”.
- 52. “Row seven on the bas-relief may contain predominantly silver objects but the choice of Egyptian text for 138 leaves no doubt about its nature: ‘white … bread’. Velikovsky’s ‘silver bread’ is deduced only by its position in the register. Had it really been silver its label would have included the Egyptian … hdj nb, where the two hieroglyphs combined translated as hdj white, and nb gold”.
Pp. 52-53. “As for 138”, Clarke writes, “the subject is described as ‘white bread’ (ta hdj): the full description being: ta hdj hnk f kat; ‘dedication offering of white bread’. From where does Velikovsky derive his idea that 169 is of colored stone (malachite)”?’, Clarke asks.
The likes of Bimson and Clarke have done a real service to the revision by applying their specialist knowledge to the Velikovskian theses, and showing where these are inadequate or just plain wrong. Others have sometimes followed Velikovsky into these traps, either due to too much idealism or just plain laziness.
Clarke has given a good lesson in why revisionists really need to scrutinise everything and not just take matters for granted.
Unfortunately, neither Bimson nor Clarke has been able to find substitutes for those in the Velikovskian revision (Hatshepsut, Thutmose III) whom they have discarded – having ‘thrown the baby out with the bathwater’ in my opinion.