Why Hatshepsut can be the ‘Queen of Sheba’



 Damien F. Mackey



Hatshepsut: Whose name means “foremost of noble women”.



Damien Mackey BPhil (1985), MA (1994), MA (2007) has two Master of Arts Degrees, from the University of Sydney (Australia). His first thesis ‘The Sothic Star Theory of the Egyptian Calendar’ (preceded by the study of Hieroglyphics at Macquarie University), scrutinized the documentary and astronomical basis of the conventional Egyptian dating. Mackey’s second thesis, ‘A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah and its Background’ (preceded by a year of ancient Hebrew study), was his attempt to develop a more acceptable alternative to the conventional chronology.





Patrick Clarke has recently written for the Journal of Creation two articles claiming that, contrary to Drs. Immanuel Velikovsky, Donovan Courville and David Down, and also Emmet Sweeney, the 18th dynasty pharaohs, Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, could not have been, respectively, the biblical ‘Queen of Sheba’, and ‘King Shishak of Egypt’.


Clarke has devoted a fair space in his ‘Hatshepsut’ article to pointing out Velikovsky’s apparent deficiencies, his lack of belief in the Scriptures (“who would not call himself a Bible-believer”), and his shortcomings in regard to ancient languages. But more suitably qualified scholars since (e.g. J. Bimson, P. James, D. Rohl) have also, basing themselves on Velikovsky’s



(i) rejection of Sothic theory, and


(ii) his lowering of the secular dates by several centuries,



arrived at revised systems more akin to Velikovsky’s original than to the conventional structure. Along the way, though, some of them, seemingly embarrassed by any suggestion of having been influenced by Velikovsky, will drop terms like ‘maverick’ and ‘wayward polymath’ with regard to him. Some will even claim their revision as a ‘New Chronology’.


Two points here. Firstly, ‘give credit where credit is due’; and, secondly, no need today to waste precious article space pointing out Velikovsky’s well-known deficiencies.



However, to dispose satisfactorily of Velikovsky’s 18th Egyptian dynasty reconstruction, complemented by that of Courville and others – all looming as a vast elabo-structure by now – it does not suffice for one simply to take pot-shots at three supposed ‘pillars’ (Clarke’s ‘all these pillars’ ) supporting this combination (namely, Hatshesput/Sheba and the sub-set of Punt, and Thutmose III/Shishak). There is to be considered a significant whole (some 200 years revised), with an underlying methodology. Thus:



(a) the significant Sothic theory, with resultant ‘Dark Ages’, that all leading revisionists reject – these, coupled with the ‘collection of rags and tatters’ admission of honest conventional Egyptology. And


(b) the correlations between the early 18th Egyptian dynasty and early Monarchy of Israel. Then, after


(c) the detailed theses of Hatshepsut, and


(d) Thutmose III, we arrive at


(e) the El-Amarna [EA] period with all of its many correlations with the Divided Monarchy (e.g. ‘Bit Šulman’, ‘House of Solomon’; ‘son of Zuchru’ and ‘son of Zichri’; captain Ianhamu as Syrian captain Naaman, the succession of Syrian kings, etc., etc).



Before some of the sharpest minds of the ‘Glasgow’ School to which Clarke refers went their own ways, some teaming up but then separating, they had, by modifying Velikovsky, brought the revision of the 18th dynasty to an impressive peak. Peter James showed that an excellent fit could be achieved by newly identifying EA’s idolatrous king of Jerusalem, Abdi-hiba, with King Jehoram of Judah, rather than with his pious father, Jehoshaphat, as according to Velikovsky. And Bimson, who had written impressively on the need for a revised stratigraphy, would later add a third Syrian king to Velikovsky’s EA succession of



(i) Abdi-ashirta = biblical Ben-Hadad I, and


(ii) Aziru = biblical Hazael; namely,


(iii) Du-Teshub, the post-EA son of Aziru, as Ben-Hadad II, thus further consolidating Velikovsky’s Syrian sequence for both EA and the mid-C9th BC.



And I still fully concur with James’s 1977/78 view re Abdi-ashirta and Aziru, that:



“With [these] two identifications [Velikovsky] seems to be on the firmest ground, in that we have a succession of two rulers, both of whom are characterised in the letters and the Scriptures as powerful rulers who made frequent armed excursions – and conquests – in the territories to the south of their own kingdom. In the letters their domain is described as “Amurru” – a term used, as Velikovsky has pointed out … by Shalmaneser III for Syria in general, the whole area being dominated by the two successive kings in “both” the el-Amarna period and the mid-9th century …”.



– so much so that these two kings became the very foundation of my thesis on the ‘Background’ section of the era of King Hezekiah of Judah.


Dr. Eva Danelius would also correct Velikovsky’s unconvincing geographical reconstruction of Thutmose III’s first campaign, which Velikovsky – though identifying it as the biblical foray, Shishak’s, nonetheless had it ending up at Megiddo in the north – by her showing that it was actually directed right at Jerusalem itself.



This (a-e above) is by now already a formidable package (and I have only just touched upon it). Some very solid ‘pillars’ indeed to be found here with a modified Velikovsky.


By contrast, the conventional chronology with its underlying stratigraphy has led to archaeologists systematically deleting ancient Israel (Moses; Exodus; Conquest; David, Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, etc.) from the history books … the leading Israeli archaeologist, Israel Finkelstein, was quoted as saying: “Now Solomon. I think I destroyed Solomon, so to speak. Sorry for that!” Not only Solomon, but all the others as well. That is because the likes of professor Finkelstein and his colleagues are always constrained by the erroneous Sothic chronology to look at the wrong strata for the Conquest, David and Solomon (Iron Age instead of Late Bronze Age in the latter case). Thanks to the conventional scheme, it is biblical history that is currently losing just about every battle.


And to set the 18th Egyptian dynasty back to somewhere near where the text books have it, in the c. C16th-C15th’s BC, then one is forced also to return to the standard view that it was Egyptian thought that had influenced the c. C10th BC biblical writings, instead of the other way around.



Clarke refers to “Liberal Christianity” in connection with Egyptologist Budge. Is it not this liberalism that always gives precedence to the pagan nations (e.g. the Mesopotamians and the Egyptians), by claiming that their myths and literature supposedly influenced the biblical texts? Thus we are told, for instance, that King David drew his inspiration for Psalm 104 from the ‘Sun Hymn’ of the heretic pharaoh, Akhnaton. All agree that these two texts are very similar in places. That is the wrong conclusion, however, if David preceded Akhnaton by more than a century as according to a Velikovskian context. Or they say that the Bible-like and sapiential writings of Hatshepsut, and the love poems of the 18th Egyptian dynasty, had influenced King Solomon’s writings. Some of Hatshepsut’s own inscriptions are clearly like those of Israel’s – especially Genesis, the Psalms and, most interestingly, the writings generally attributed to Solomon (Proverbs, Wisdom, Song of Songs). But that is just a further argument, I would suggest, in favour of the view that this great woman had visited him and had drunk in Solomon’s wisdom – Israel influencing Egypt, and not the other way around.

Here are just a few examples of:




Scriptural Influences on Hatshepsut




(i) An Image from Genesis




After Hatshepsut had completed her Punt expedition, she gathered her nobles and proclaimed the great things she had done. Hatshepsut reminded them of Amon’s oracle commanding her to ‘… establish for him a Punt in his house, to plant the trees of God’s Land beside his temple in his garden, according as he commanded’. At the conclusion of her speech there is further scriptural image ‘I have made for [Amon-Ra] a Punt in his garden at Thebes … it is big enough for him to walk about in’. J. Baikie noted that this is ‘a phrase which seems to take one back to the Book of Genesis and its picture of God walking in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening’. This inscription speaks of Amon-Ra’s love for Hatshepsut in terms almost identical to those used by the Queen of Sheba about the God of Israel’s love for Solomon and his nation.


Compare the italicised parts of Hatshepsut’s




‘… according to the command of … Amon … in order to bring for him the marvels of every country, because he so much loves the King of … Egypt, Maatkara [i.e. Hatshepsut], for his father Amen-Ra, Lord of Heaven, Lord of Earth, more than the other kings who have been in this land for ever …’.




with the italicised words in a song of praise spoken to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba ‘Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne as king for the Lord your God! Because your God loved Israel and would establish them for ever …’ (II Chronicles 98).




(ii) An Image from the Psalms




When Hatshepsut’s commemorative obelisks were com¬pleted, she had the usual formal words inscribed on them. However, Baikie states that, in language that ‘might have come straight out of the Book Psalms’, the queen continues:




‘I did it under [Amon-Ra’s] command; it was he who led me. I conceived no works without his doing …. I slept not because of his temple; I erred not from that which he commanded. … I entered into the affairs of his heart. I turned not my back on the City of the All-Lord; but turned to it the face. I know that Karnak is God’s dwelling upon earth; … the Place of his Heart; Which wears his beauty …’.




Baikie goes on, unaware that it really was the Psalms and the sapiential words of David and Solomon, that had influenced Hatshepsut’s prayer:




‘The sleepless eagerness of the queen for the glory of the temple of her god, and her assurance of the unspeakable sanctity of Karnak as the divine dwelling-place, find expression in almost the very words which the Psalmist used to express his … duty towards the habitation of the God of Israel, and his certainty of Zion’s sanctity as the abiding-place of Jehovah.




‘Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids. Until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.




– For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it’.’




(iii) An Image from Proverbs




In another related verse of the Punt reliefs about Amon-Ra leading the expedition to ‘the Myrrh-terraces … a glorious region of God’s Land’, the god speaks of creating the fabled Land of Punt in playful terms reminiscent of Solomon’s words about Wisdom’s playful rôle in the work of Creation (Proverbs 8:12, 30-31). In the Egyptian version there is also reference to Hathor, the personification of wisdom: ‘… it is indeed a place of delight. I have made it for myself, in order to divert my heart, together with … Hathor … mistress of Punt …’.




(iv) Images from the Song of Songs




In the weighing scene of the goods acquired from Punt (i.e. Lebanon, see below), Hatshepsut boasts:




‘[Her] Majesty [herself] is acting with her two hands, the best of myrrh is upon all her limbs, her fragrance is divine dew, her odour is mingled with that of Punt, her skin is gilded with electrum, shining as do the stars in the midst of the festival-hall, before the whole land’.




Compare this with verses from King Solomon’s love poem, Song of Songs (also called the Song of Solomon), e.g. ‘My hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh; Sweeter your love than wine, the scent of your perfume than any spice; Your lips drip honey, and the scent of your robes is like the scent of Lebanon’ (4:10-11; 55). (cf. 4:6, 14; 5:1, 5).




This Hatshepsut’s saturation with Davidic and Solomonic scriptural imagery is further strong support for the Egyptian queen’s visit to Jerusalem.



About the Woman Herself



…. from Josephus Flavius we learn that she was the ruler of Egypt and Ethiopia, as Queen Hatshepsut was, who is the only woman to have remained on the throne of Egypt for an extended period of time. ….

And Metzler adds that (as Velikovsky had already noted): ‘In Ethiopian tradition, her name is Makeda, which is derived from Hatshepsut’s prenomen Maatkare [Makera]’.



Bimson had argued, though – and Clarke would affirm this – that the biblical description had an Arabian, not Egyptian, flavour, with camels, gold, spices and precious stones. But, again, all the monarchs who came to hear Solomon’s wisdom brought ‘silver and gold … myrrh, spices …’ (cf. I Kings 10:25 & II Chronicles 10:24). Ever since the time of Joseph, an Arabian camel train had operated between Egypt and northern Palestine, carrying similar types of gifts (Genesis 37:25).


Still, Bimson had suggested that the biblical queen was from Yemen in Arabia. Likewise, Clarke has her from “somewhere around modern-day Yemen”. G. van Beek, however, has described the geographical isolation of Yemen and the severe hazards of a journey from there to Palestine. And none of the numerous inscriptions from this southern part of Arabia refers to the famous queen. Civilisation in southern Arabia may not really have begun to flourish until some two to three centuries after Solomon’s era, as Bimson himself had noted – and no 10th century BC Arabian queen has ever been named or proposed as the Queen of Sheba. If she hailed from Yemen, who was she?



Creating a Vacuum


Clarke is certainly right that: ‘The chronology debate is a serious issue’. But he is also mindful that: ‘There is always the risk that believers may base their thinking more on secular history rather than the Bible’. He is ‘very sympathetic’ towards revisionists. And in his Shishak article, Clarke tells: ‘I support the need for chronological revision …’. It will be very interesting, though, to see for whom Clarke opts in the future as Shishak, now that he has rejected Thutmose III as a candidate. And with what secular history will he align the Monarchy of Israel? And, with what biblical era, EA?


Critics who only take pot-shots at Velikovsky’s ‘pillars’, but who do not offer any sort of substitute system, are creating the sort of vacuum which allows free rein to the conventionalists and which must bewilder readers. Neither Bimson, nor Rohl with Ramesses II as his Shishak – and I suspect that Clarke will run into the very same problem – can propose any appropriately situated woman to take Hatshepsut’s place as the Queen of Sheba, who, surely, must have been a woman of some significance. Alasdair Beal, editor of SIS in 1997, wrote of the effect that Bimson’s 1986 critique had had on readers:


“Probably few articles caused more disappointment in SIS circles than John Bimson’s 1986 ‘Hatshepsut and the Queen of Sheba’, which presented strong evidence and argument against Velikovsky’s proposal that the mysterious and exotic queen who visited King Solomon was none other than the famous Egyptian female pharaoh. This removed one of the key identifications in Velikovsky’s Ages in Chaos historical reconstruction and was a key factor in the rejection of his proposed chronology by Bimson and others in favour of the more moderate ‘New Chronology’. It also took away what had seemed a romantic and satisfactory solution to the mystery of the identity and origins of Solomon’s visitor, leaving her once more as an historical enigma. …”.



Such efforts that offer no replacements cause ‘disappointment’ amongst readers who at least know enough to mistrust the conventional system. It is not even sufficient to do as some have done after having tossed aside certain ‘pillars’, and pick in isolation a few historical characters as biblical candidates (e.g. for Shishak). One needs at least to replace any set of discarded ‘pillars’ with a revised system, complete with a basic stratigraphy, that can accommodate major biblical events and persons – most notably, the Conquest (and Jericho), but also David and Solomon, the Queen of Sheba and King Shishak, and later ‘So King of Egypt’ (2 Kings 17:4). And definitely one must be able to find a suitable place for the very long-reigning (66-67 years) Ramesses II of Egypt’s 19th dynasty.


In 1997, about a decade after Bimson’s critique, I wrote an article for SIS, in which I acknowledged the excellent points that Bimson had made, but I also endeavoured to answer them. I fully concurred with Bimson that the Punt expedition could not have been the same as the biblical visit. Whereas the latter was made by a ‘queen’, Hatshepsut was then no longer a queen. She was now in her 9th year as Pharaoh. The title of Clarke’s article is thus suggestive by its juxtaposing of Pharaoh Hatshepsut and the biblical Queen.



The Punt Expedition



Bimson, from an in situ study of Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s Punt inscriptions at Deir el-Bahri, concluded for various reasons – and rightly so – that these texts could not be referring to the celebrated visit by the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon in Jerusalem. Clarke has again raised some of these objections. Bimson’s analysis of the Punt expedition constituted his most formidable argument against Velikovsky’s thesis. However, on the basis of P. Dorman’s chronology of Hatshepsut’s era, I suggested that the Punt expedition was a venture entirely separate from the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Jerusalem, undertaken years later, after Hatshepsut had made herself Pharaoh. Its chief purpose was to obtain myrrh trees for the garden (or park) surrounding the temple of Amon-Ra at Deir el-Bahri, to provide a continuous supply of this rare plant in Thebes. Hatshepsut, recalling the magnificent parks and gardens she had seen in Jerusalem, wanted to create the same for her capital city. Hatshepsut would also have noticed Solomon’s magnificent fleet (I Kings 10:11), and the parks and gardens in Jerusalem with their exotic myrrh trees (Song of Songs 5:1; 6:2). Presumably these were what later inspired her Punt expedition. Furthermore, Bimson had noted most significantly that Hatshepsut herself did not accompany this trip, as the Queen of Sheba obviously had hers. The purpose of the Punt venture was not to partake of the wisdom of the King of Jerusalem – we have found above that she had already done that years before.


And the miserable ‘gifts’ given by the Egyptian party to the reception committee at Punt, ‘an axe, a poignard in its sheath, two leg bangles, eleven necklaces and five large rings’, obviously bore no comparison with the lavish gifts brought by the Queen of Sheba: ‘The poverty and meanness of the Egyptian gifts’, wrote Mariette, ‘are in striking contrast to the value of those which they receive’.


The Egyptian inscriptions show Punt as a land of trees – e.g. the c-s tree that A. Nibbi equates with the pine. This is consistent with the view that Punt was Phoenicia/Lebanon; Lebanon being the most noteworthy place for trees in the ancient Near East. Solomon had a free hand building in Lebanon (I Kings (9:19, 20), where he used forced labour. The Song of Songs refers to a ‘mountain of myrrh’, apparently in Lebanon (cf. 4:6 & 4:8). Solomon’s palace was actually called ‘The House of the Forest of Lebanon’, because it was ‘built upon three rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams upon the pillars’ (1 Kings 7:2). All this priceless timber could have been obtained from the Phoenicians.


Accordingly, Velikovsky had referred to Mariette’s view that Hatshepsut’s fine building betrayed ‘a foreign influence’, possibly from ‘the land of [Punt]’. If the Puntites were the Phoenicians – and (according to the Bible) Phoenician craftsmen had assisted Solomon in his building of Yahweh’s Temple – then it is most interesting that Mariette had observed that Hatshepsut’s temple ‘probably represents … a Phoenician influence’. From this, Velikovsky had concluded that the design of the latter was based on the Jerusalem model.


According to the Bible, the Queen of Sheba made at least the latter part of her journey to Jerusalem by camel train …. The gifts she brought were of enormous value but Solomon allowed her to take them all back with her (II Chronicles 9:12).


Bimson – whilst favouring Velikovsky’s chronological view that Hatshepsut’s Punt expedition dated to about the time of King Solomon – had argued that the expedition had travelled southwards on the Red Sea, to NE Africa (modern Eritrea). Clarke gives ‘Ethiopia [as] the probable location of Punt…’. Bimson claimed that myrrh trees were to be found there, and he explained how the fauna and flora of the Punt reliefs reflected a NE African location. Interestingly, in Solomon’s own naval expeditions to Ophir (which certainly were southward bound voyages on the Red Sea) his servants brought back mainly gold (1 Kings 10: 11), and there is no mention at all of myrrh trees.


I would consider the logistics of the Punt expedition in the light of points raised by Nibbi, especially her insistence that the Egyptians did not travel on the open seas. This helps solve a problem with which both Velikovsky and Bimson had grappled: namely, that the Punt reliefs provide no evidence that the Egyptian fleet had at any stage been transported overland, from the Nile to the Red Sea. And this affects Clarke also, of course, with his Punt as Ethiopia. This led Bimson to assume that something must have been left out of the reliefs. In my scenario this would no longer be a problem, as the Red Sea was not involved at all. If Hatshepsut’s fleet had never left the Nile, there would have been no need for overland transportation of boats. I suggest that Hatshepsut’s expedition was northward bound, for Lebanon, but it was an expedition ‘on water and on land’. The fleet simply sailed northwards to the Nile Delta. There, Nehesi and his small army disembarked and marched northward through friendly territory to Lebanon. ‘Sailing in the sea, beginning the goodly way towards God’s Land, journeying in peace to the land of Punt …’; the naval leg being only the ‘beginning’ of the trip to Punt.


Early Egyptian expeditions to Punt were generally connected with a place they called kpn; commonly thought to be Byblos on the Phoenician coast. Nibbi has disputed this and has identified this kpn with a port in northern Egypt. She first mentions Canopus but prefers El Gibali in Sinai. Canopus, though, would have been an ideal place for the Egyptian fleet to have dropped anchor, close to the Mediterranean.


Hatshepsut stressed that the travelling was peaceful.


Any maritime venture would have needed the co-operation of the Phoenicians, making King Hiram of Tyre a third important power. And Velikovsky had claimed that King Hiram’s men had figured in Hatshepsut’s Punt inscriptions as ‘the chiefs of Irem [Hiram]’. The Phoenician ports were international marts where all sorts of exotic merchandise could be acquired – all that Hatshepsut did in fact acquire from Punt. I suggest that Hatshepsut’s fleet would have laid anchor at the mouth of the Nile, awaiting the outcome of Nehesi’s negotiations with the Puntite/ Phoenicians, who then transported the goods via barges or rafts to Egypt, to be loaded on to Hatshepsut’s ships. It is clear from Hiram’s own words to Solomon (I Kings 5:8-9) that the Phoenicians did transport cedar and cypress timber in this fashion to southern ports.


It seems that, today, everyone wants to create his own ‘New Chronology’. This article urges those who at least take the Bible seriously to pause and consider all that has gone before, to modify by all means wherever the evidence demands, but to be extremely wary about barging off in a completely new direction that means abandoning some by now very well established biblical and historical connections.



This thesis can be accessed at: http://hdl.handle.net/2123/1632


This thesis can be accessed at: http://hdl.handle.net/2123/5973


‘Why Pharaoh Hatshepsut is not to be equated to the Queen of Sheba’, Journal of Creation, 24/2, August 2010, pp. 62-68.

‘Was Thutmose III the biblical Shishak? – Claims of the ‘Jerusalem’ bas-relief at Karnak investigated’, Journal of Creation, 25/1, April 2011, pp. 48-56.




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