(i): Dr. I Velikovsky’s Identification
Damien F. Mackey
Dr. Velikovsky’s 1945 “Theses”
Here Velikovsky outlined, in point fashion, what he would elaborate upon later, in his series Ages in Chaos (http://www.varchive.org/ce/theses.htm):
THESES FOR THE RECONSTRUCTION
OF ANCIENT HISTORY
OF ANCIENT HISTORY
FROM THE END OF THE MIDDLE KINGDOM IN EGYPT
TO THE ADVENT OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT
TO THE ADVENT OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT
81. Amenhotep II lived not in the fifteenth but in the ninth century, and was the scriptural Zerah.
82. The theory that the Ethiopian Zerah came from Arabia is wrong; equally wrong is the theory that he is a mythological figure.
83. The battle of Ain-Reshet, referred to by Amenhotep II, is the battle of Mareshet-Gath, which was lost by Amenhotep II and won by Asa.
84. This intrusion of Amenhotep II-Zerah is also narrated in the poem of Keret found in Ras Shamra.
85. The theory that Terah of the Poem, who invaded the south of Palestine with millions of soldiers, is the father of Abraham, is wrong.
86. The Shemesh-Edom of the war-annals of Amenhotep II is the Edomite city of Shapesh (Shemesh) referred to in the Poem of Keret.
89. The texts found in Ras Shamra are not of the fifteenth, but of the ninth century.
90. The close resemblance of the texts of Ras Shamra with diverse books of the Scriptures repudiates most of the assertions of the Bible criticism (late origin of the texts), as well as the modern theory about the Canaanite heritage in the Scriptures (early origin of the texts).
91. The theory that alphabetic writing was perfected in the sixteenth century cannot be supported by the Ras Shamra texts of the ninth century.
92. As the alphabetic writing of Hebrew in cuneiform of Ras Shamra is contemporaneous with the stela of Mesha written in Hebrew alphabetic characters, the alphabet most probably did not originate in Phoenicia but in Palestine”.
Dr. Velikovsky’s Ages in Chaos, I (1952)
Here (Chapter 5: “Ras Shamra”) Velikovsky elaborated upon his choice of the physically strong pharaoh, Amenhotep II, for the biblical “Zerah the Ethiopian”:
Syria-Palestine of the period we are discussing was a region coveted by the pharaohs and striving for independence.
When the long and successful reign of Thutmose III came to its end, Amenhotep II (his royal name is usually read Okheperure) took the scepter. To the Asiatic provinces the death of Thutmose III was a signal for insurrection and the casting off of the Egyptian yoke. Amenhotep II marched at the head of a vast army of chariots, horsemen, and foot warriors to suppress the rebellion in Syria and Palestine. His Majesty “went against Retenu (Palestine) in his first victorious campaign, in order to extend his frontier.
... His Majesty came to Shamash-Edom and devastated it. ... His Majesty came to Ugarit and subdued all his adversaries. . . .”97
On the way to Syria Amenhotep II displayed his ability to use the bow in a demonstration before the local princes in order to impress and intimidate them.
He returned to Memphis with a few hundred nobles as war prisoners and a booty of some hundred horses and chariots or war carriages. On his return to Egypt he hanged some of the prisoners to the mast of his ship on the Nile with their heads down.
In his ninth year he repeated his expedition to Palestine, his goal being Aphek in lower Galilee. He plundered two villages “west of Socoh,” and after pillaging other unimportant localities, he returned to Memphis with more prisoners. His harassing visits made him a common enemy of the kingdoms of Palestine and Syria. When he came again to Palestine, the main, and seemingly the only, battle was fought at a place called “y-r’-s-t”. Various solutions have been proposed for the identification of this locality.98
However, it is an important fact that according to Amenhotep’s annals he reached the place one day after his army left the Egyptian border.99 Thus the place of the battle could have been only in southern Palestine.
Amenhotep called himself victorious, and it is accepted that this campaign was a victorious one. But was it really? What was the booty in the battle of y-r’-s-t?
List of that which his majesty captured on this day: his horses 2, chariots 1, a coat of mail, 2 bows, a quiver full of arrows, a corselet and –100 some object the reading of which is no longer possible. But whatever may have been that last object, the complete spoils were pitiful indeed if all the king of Egypt could count after his victorious battle were one chariot, two horses, two bows, and one quiver “full of arrows.” It was a defeat.101
After a victory an army usually marches deeper into the enemy’s territory. But the lines directly
following the enumeration of the spoils say that, “passing southward toward Egypt, his majesty proceeded by horse.”102 Immediately after the battle, the king turned toward Egypt.
When a king returns from a successful campaign of restoring order in the provinces, the cities located on his triumphal route home do not choose that moment for revolt. Vassal cities rebel on seeing their oppressor in flight, and this is just what happened, for the war annals relate that Asiatics of a city on the way to Egypt “plotted to make a plan for casting out the infantry of his majesty.”103
During the remainder of his reign, for some decades, Amenhotep II did not return to Palestine, and there is no mention of any yearly tribute from there.104
To ascertain whether his expedition was a defeat, his subjective evaluation of the campaign must be compared with the scriptural record.
The son of Rehoboam, Abijah, king of Judah, succeeded in winning a decisive battle against Jeroboam, king of Israel (II Chronicles 13). This must mean that Egyptian domination was already declining.
After the short reign of Abijah, Asa, his son, followed him. “In his days the land was quiet ten years.”
He built fortified cities in Judah, constructed walls and towers, gates and bars. He said to Judah: “We have sought the Lord our God, and he hath given us rest on every side” (II Chronicles 14:7). So they built and prospered.
The destruction of the images of the pagan gods was in itself a rebellion (II Chronicles 14:5), for among them the first place surely belonged to the Egyptian gods, as the land since Shishak (Thutmose III) had been subject to the Egyptian crown. By fortifying the cities of Judah and recruiting his warriors, Asa clearly rejected Egyptian rule.
II CHRONICLES 14:8 And Asa had an army of men that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valor.
The cities were fortified, the army stood ready.
II CHRONICLES 14:9-10 And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with a host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah.
Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.
Asa prayed to God for help.
II CHRONICLES 14:12-13 So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.
And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar; and the Ethiopians were
overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the Lord, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.
Zerah the Ethiopian, who led an army of Ethiopians and Libyans (II Chronicles 16:8) from the southern and western borders of Egypt (like the army of the pharaoh Shishak), could be none other than a pharaoh.
The way from Ethiopia to Palestine is along the valley of the Nile, and an Ethiopian army, in order to reach Palestine, would have had to conquer Egypt first. Moreover, the presence of Libyan soldiers in the army leaves little doubt that the king was the pharaoh of Egypt.
In the opinion of the exegetes (Graf, Erbt) the story of the Chronicles must have a historical basis in an Egyptian or an Arabian invasion.
The description of the battle of Mareshah or Moresheth105 reveals why the pharaoh turned his back speedily on Palestine and his face toward Egypt, why from the field of this battle his army carried away “one bow and two horses,” and why the population of the cities, presumably in Edomite southern Palestine, plotted against his garrisons.
It is a token of defeat when an Egyptian king recounts his own personal valor and fierceness on the battlefield, fighting himself against the soldiers of the enemy. It means that, when everyone had fled, His Majesty fought alone. In bombastic phrases, which do not refer to any special encounter, the inscription glorifies the ruler who battled alone: “Behold, he was like a fierce-eyed lion.”
He was pursued only to Gerar. So he still had the satisfaction of taking with him on his return to Egypt a few chiefs of some villages, whom he burned alive in Egypt: his Memphis stele records this holocaust.
Amenhotep II was not a great man, but he was a large one. He was proud of his physical strength and boasted that no one could draw his bow. A large bow inscribed with his name was found a few decades ago in his sepulcher.
“There is not one who can draw his bow among his army, among the hill-country sheiks [or] among the princes of Retenu [Palestine] because his strength is so much greater than [that of] any king who has ever existed,” says the Elephantine stele.106
“It is his story which furnished Herodotus with the legend that Cambyses was unable to draw the bow of the king of Ethiopia.”107 A modern scholar saw a common origin in this story, which survived in legendary form in Herodotus (Book III, 21ff), and in the historical boast written on the stele of Elephantine by Amenhotep II, who lived many centuries earlier. The story of Herodotus has an Ethiopian king as the bragging bender of the bow of Amenhotep II. Was Amenhotep II an Ethiopian on the Egyptian throne?
With the rout of the Egyptian army in the south of Palestine, all of Syria-Palestine naturally was freed of the Egyptian yoke. The pharaoh had previously laid Ugarit waste and threatened all the kingdoms in this area; it is conceivable that the king of Judah had some help from the north, and the sympathy of the Syrian maritime peoples must certainly have been with Asa. The inscriptions of Amenhotep II reveal his ambition to dominate, in addition to the land of the Nile, the lands of the Jordan, Orontes, and Euphrates, which had rebelled after the death of Thutmose III. The great victory at Mareshah carried a message of freedom to all these peoples; the repercussions of the battle should have been heard in many countries and for many generations. But only once again does the Book of Chronicles pay tribute to this victory, and this in the words of the seer Hanani: “Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim (Libyans) a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen?” (II Chronicles 16:8.) It is also said that the population of the northern tribes went over to Judah because of the high esteem this country enjoyed after it had successfully repelled the pharaoh and his army (II Chronicles 15:9). Is no more material concerning the victory of Asa over Amenhotep II preserved? Such a great triumph should have had a greater echo.
Part Nineteen: “Zerah the Ethiopian”
(ii): Conventional estimate of Zerah
“The name "Zerah" is a "very likely corruption" of "Usarkon" (U-Serak-on), which it closely resembles … and most writers now identify Zerah with Usarkon II, though the Egyptian records of this particular era are deficient and some competent scholars still hold to Usarkon I …”.
Camden M. Cobern
“Zerah” as a king Osorkon
C. M. Cobern explains the standard estimation of “Zerah the Ethiopian” (in ISBE) as follows (http://biblehub.com/topical/z/zerah_the_ethiopian.htm):
“ZERAH (THE ETHIOPIAN)
(zerach ha-kushi (2 Chronicles 14:9); Zare): A generation ago the entire story of Zerah's conquest of Asa, coming as it did from a late source (2 Chronicles 14:9-15), was regarded as "apocryphal": "If the incredibilities are deducted nothing at all is left" (Wellhausen, Prolegomena to the History of Israel, 207, 208); but most modern scholars, while accepting certain textual mistakes and making allowance for customary oriental hyperbole in description; accept this as an honest historical narrative, "nothing" in the Egyptian inscriptions being "inconsistent" with it (Nicol in BD; and compare Sayce, HCM, 362-64). The name "Zerah" is a "very likely corruption" of "Usarkon" (U-Serak-on), which it closely resembles (see Petrie, Egypt and Israel, 74), and most writers now identify Zerah with Usarkon II, though the Egyptian records of this particular era are deficient and some competent scholars still hold to Usarkon I (Wiedemann, Petrie, McCurdy, etc.). The publication by Naville (1891) of an inscription in which Usarkon II claims to have invaded "Lower and Upper Palestine" seemed to favor this Pharaoh as the victor over Asa; but the chronological question is difficult (Eighth Memoir of the Egyptian Exploration Fund, 51). The title "the Cushite" (Hebrew) is hard to understand. There are several explanations possible.
(1) Wiedemann holds that this may refer to a real Ethiopian prince, who, though unrecorded in the monuments, may have been reigning at the Asa era. There is so little known from this era "that it is not beyond the bounds of probability for an Ethiopian invader to have made himself master of the Nile Valley for a time" (Geschichte von Alt-Aegypten, 155).
(2) Recently it has been the fashion to refer this term "Cushite" to some unknown ruler in South or North Arabia (Winckler, Cheyne, etc.). The term "Cushite" permits this, for although it ordinarily corresponds to ETHIOPIA … yet sometimes it designates the tract of Arabia which must be passed over in order to reach Ethiopia (Jeremias, The Old Testament in the Light of Ancient East, I, 280) or perhaps a much larger district (see BD; EB; Hommel, Ancient Hebrew Tradition; Winckler, KAT, etc.). This view, however, is forced to explain the geographical and racial terms in the narrative differently from the ordinary Biblical usage (see Cheyne, EB). Dr. W. M. Flinders Petrie points out that, according to the natural sense of the narrative, this army must have been Egyptian for
- after the defeat it fled toward Egypt, not eastward toward Arabia;
- the cities around Gerar (probably Egyptian towns on the frontier of Palestine), toward which they naturally fled when defeated, were plundered;
- the invaders were Cushim and Lubim (Libyans), and this could only be the case in an Egyptian army;
- Mareshah is a well-known town close to the Egyptian frontier (History of Egypt, III, 242-43; compare Konig, Funf neue arab. Landschaftsnamen im Altes Testament, 53-57).
(3) One of the Usarkons [Osorkons] might be called a "Cushite" in an anticipatory sense, since in the next dynasty (XXIII) Egypt was ruled by Ethiopian kings. …”.
Critical assessment so far
Chronologically, Velikovsky’s placement of the biblical “Zerah the Ethiopian” during Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty must inevitably (according to our revision) be far closer to reality than the conventional version, somewhere during the Twenty-Second Dynasty.
Biblically calculated, we must still be in the reign of pharaoh Thutmose III. For, a comparison of P. Mauro’s spacings (The Wonders of Bible Chronology) with the estimate for Zerah’s invasion by Peter James and Peter van der Veen, would yield approximately 25-30 years after the Shishak incident.
James and van der Veen have written (“Zerah the Kushite: A New Proposal Regarding His Identity”): https://www.academia.edu/13445553/Zerah_the_Kushite_A_New_Proposal_Reg
“… Shishak invasion in Year 5 of Rehoboam … when would the Zerah episode have occurred in Egyptian terms? Chronicles records that there was peace in the land for the first ten years of Asa’s reign; also that some of the livestock captured after the defeat of Zerah were sacrificed in the year 15 (2 Chron. 14:1; 15:11). This places the Zerah episode in a fairly narrow window, between the years 11 and 14 of Asa. With 12 years for the remainder of Rehoboam’s reign and 3 for Abijah, the invasion of Zerah would thus have fallen 26 to 29 years after that of Shishak”.
Now if, as we have calculated, Year 5 of Rehoboam had coincided with Year 23 of pharaoh Thutmose III (“Shishak”), then 30 years (the maximum possible figure) after that would bring us to Year 53, the penultimate year of Thutmose III’s long reign (54 years).
According to most estimates, Amenhotep II would by then have been co-ruling with his father. The length of the co-regency varies wildly from 4 months to 24 years. The uncertainty surrounding the reign of this pharaoh is apparent from Wikipedia’s article, “Amenhotep II” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amenhotep_II):
“Amenhotep's coronation can be dated without much difficulty because of a number of lunar dates in the reign of his father, Thutmose III. These sightings limit the date of Thutmose's accession to either 1504 or 1479 BC. Thutmose died after 54 years of reign, at which time Amenhotep would have acceded to the throne. Amenhotep's short coregency with his father would then move his accession two years and four months earlier, dating his accession to either 1427 BC in the low chronology, or in 1454 BC in the high chronology. The length of his reign is indicated by a wine jar inscribed with the king's prenomen found in Amenhotep II's funerary temple at Thebes; it is dated to this king's highest known date—his Year 26 …. Mortuary temples were generally not stocked until the king died or was near death; therefore, Amenhotep could not have lived much later beyond his 26th year. There are alternate theories which attempt to assign him a reign of up to 35 years, which is the absolute maximum length he could have reigned. In this chronology, he reigned from 1454 to 1419. However, there are problems facing these theories which cannot be resolved. In particular, this would mean Amenhotep died when he was 52, but an X-ray analysis of his mummy has shown him to have been about 40 when he died. Accordingly, Amenhotep II is usually given a reign of 26 years and said to have reigned from 1427 to 1401 BC.”
Point 1, “Zerah” invaded the Judah of Asa right towards the end of the reign of Thutmose III.
This was well before the emergence of the pharaohs Osorkon.
Point 2. Now against the opinions of both convention and Velikovsky, who make “Zerah” a pharaoh, the invader is never once designated as such. (Their ethnic arguments are also weak).
Biblically whenever a Pharaoh is involved - from the time of Joseph of Egypt all the way down to Necho during the late C7th BC (conventional dating) - the Bible specifies either “Pharaoh” or “King [so-and-so] of Egypt”. We also have (Isaiah 37:9): “… Tirhakah king of Ethiopia …”.
Thus, whilst I would flatly reject convention’s era, designation and ethnicity for “Zerah”, I would also have to - whilst accepting Dr. Velikovky’s approximate era - reject his designation for “Zerah” as a pharaoh. If he had been a pharaoh, biblical consistency would demand that he be designated either as “King Zerah of Egypt” or as “Zerah king of Ethiopia”. He is neither.
Part Nineteen: “Zerah the Ethiopian”
(iii): Rohl, James and van der Veen estimates
“In choosing Rameses II as Shishak, Rohl has failed however to follow up and identify a candidate for 'Zerah the Ethiopian' (II Chronicles 14:9) who followed soon after Shishak …”.
Dr. John Osgood
Halfway versions of “Zerah”
We might expect that the likes of David Rohl and Peter James, having abandoned Velikovsky’s Eighteenth Dynasty revision for a more middle course - or version situated ‘halfway’ between Velikovsky and convention - would find their “Zerah the Ethiopian” somewhere between the era of Velikovsky’s pharaoh Amenhotep II (late C15th BC, conventional dating) and convention’s Osorkon I (c. 900 BC, conventional dating) or II (c. 850 BC, conventional dating).
And that is just what we do find.
David Rohl has located Zerah to the time of his “Shishak”, pharaoh Ramses II (c. 1300 BC).
Whilst Peter James has, in league with Peter van der Veen, located Zerah to “the final years” of pharaoh Ramses IV (c. 1150 BC).
On a positive note, neither of these moderate versions has identified “Zerah the Ethiopian” as a pharaoh, but, instead, as an officer of a current pharaoh, be he Ramses II or Ramses IV.
On a negative note, both choices suffer for their failure to accept the Thutmose III = “Shishak” Velikovskian equation (according to my previous arguments).
Commenting on this, a blogger has written (“Who was Shishak?”)
“Any revised chronology must identify a plausible candidate for the “Shishak king of Egypt” who plunders the Temple in the fifth year of King Rehoboam. Conventionally, Shishak is identified with Shoshenq, founded of the 22nd Dynasty. The names are a good match and Shoshenq did campaign in Palestine, but otherwise the match is implausible. The stela recording his campaign does not mention Jerusalem, thought to be the center of his attack David Rohl proposes Rameses II under his nickname “Sheshi” as the Shishak who sacked the Temple. Still, the larger chronological framework proposed by Rohl is not workable: within a few decades, Asa decisively defeats “Zerah the Ethiopian.” On Rohl’s chronology, Ethiopia is not under Egyptian jurisdiction at this point in time: Asa would be fortifying Judah right under the watchful eye of the powerful 19th Dynasty of Egypt, and Zerah would have to move through Egypt to battle Asa. Peter James has proposed Rameses III [or IV] (again, under the nickname “Sheshi”) as the Shishak who sacked Jerusalem. Yet again, however, the chronological framework does not work. David would be establishing the kingdom of David right under the nose of the powerful Rameses II. The only way James can work this is by denying the figure of 80 years for the reign of David and Solomon and reducing it to 40 years. This is the theory driving the facts”.
“Zerah” for David Rohl
Dr. John Osgood would, in his review of Rohl’s A Test of Time (Vol. I), both praise Rohl for having at last located King Solomon to a plausible archaeological setting, but criticise him for not having followed up his Ramses II as “Shishak” with a candidate for “Zerah the Ethiopian” https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j11_1/j11_1_33-35.pdf
“In chapter 8 Rohl then attempts to date the Solomonic period presently assigned to Iron Age IIA, and rightly concludes, as he must, that 'the cultural wealth of the era of Solomon . . .is not
reflected in the archaeology of Iron Age Palestine . . .'. (page 175)
He puts forward the Late Bronze Age as the era of Solomon — the only period consistent with the Solomonic milieu. At last a member of the archaeological discipline begins to make archaeological sense of the Palestine archaeological strata!
In choosing Rameses II as Shishak, Rohl has failed however to follow up and identify a candidate for 'Zerah the Ethiopian' (II Chronicles 14:9) who followed soon after Shishak, nor an explanation for the Queen of Sheba”.
Eric J. Aitchison would comment similarly (now including Peter James as well) in his book, Revisiting Velikovsky: An Audit of an Innovative Revisionist Attempt:
SO; WHO WAS ZERAH?
“It is of some moment that I draw to your attention that neither in “A Test of Time”, (David Rohl), nor in “Centuries of Darkness” (Peter James) is any attempt made to identify this historical character; this is subsequently rectified in Academia posts …. The word, “Zerah” is not in either book’s index. Each author identifies who might be Shishak and thus a relationship with Rehoboam, but neither goes on to identify whom [sic] Zerah might be in relation to an activity that occurs those twenty-eight years later …. In his later book, “The Lost Testament” David Rohl … offers the suggestion that Zerah was a general under Ramesses II. Thus Velikovsky was the braver scholar over his identification of Zerah as Amenhotep II. Murphie … in his work on “A Test of Time”, draws to our attention that under Rohl’s scheme Zerah must be active under Ramesses II, and then points out to us the resultant incongruities that flow there from”.
Whilst I must reject David Rohl’s proposed era for the biblical Zerah as too late, I think that his later suggestion that Zerah the Ethiopian was a “general” is preferable to Velikovsky’s view that he was a pharaoh.
“Zerah” for James and van der Veen
Era-wise for Zerah, James and van der Veen are even further away from the mark than is Rohl.
What can be gleaned from their choice for the biblical Zerah, though, is that they have, like Rohl finally did, accepted that Zerah was an official rather than a pharaoh.
In “Zerah the Kushite: A New Proposal Regarding His Identity”: https://www.academia.edu/13445553/Zerah_the_Kushite_A_New_Proposal_Reg James and van der Veen have chosen for Zerah an official of pharaoh Ramses IV, Userḫau.
Whilst this choice suffers further from the fact that there appears to be nothing to suggest that Userḫau was an “Ethiopian”, it does have in its favour that the name Userḫau is compatible with Zeraḥ. “The resemblance of his name to that of Zeraḥ prompts further investigation”.
Part Nineteen: “Zerah the Ethiopian”
(iv): Zerah: one million men, 300 chariots?
“Asa had an army of three hundred thousand men from Judah, equipped with large shields and with spears, and two hundred and eighty thousand from Benjamin, armed with small shields and with bows. All these were brave fighting men. Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and came as far as Mareshah”.
2 Chronicles 14:8-9
One million men?
Common sense ought to tell us that this is a ridiculous figure for that time and that the text, in order to make sense, must stand in need of a more reasonable translation.
The writer of the following blog is therefore entirely correct in mounting this direct challenge, though wrong in attributing it to a fault of the Bible, “the bible is false, it is all false”.
“The Bible is Wrong About
1,000,000 Ethiopians Being Murdered
…. I am using the murder [sic] of one million Ethiopians to represent all of God’s murders in the Old Testament. Steve Wells documents the 158 separate instances where God either commands, condones or participates in the murder of approximately 25 million people in his book, Drunk With Blood. He also provides a complete listing and description of each of the 158 murderous events …. I will leave it to his website to describe each event; I will just look at the one with the highest toll. I will show beyond a doubt that it never happened. That is, I will provide yet another biblical story that is falsified. One can conclude that if any story of the bible is false, it is all false.
Population of Ethiopia
The story of killing 1,000,000 Ethiopians is an example of the ridiculous nature of all of the old testament. In order to mount an army of one million, the population would have to be at least 4 million. There were nowhere near four million Ethiopians alive at that time. Only Egypt came close to those numbers in those days. According to Colin McEvedy in his reference book “Atlas of World Population History”, Ethiopia had a population of 200,000 in 1000 BC. McEvedy makes the case that the entire continent of Africa had a population of only 6.5 million in 1000 BC with 3 million of those living in Egypt. There was no Ethiopian dynasty of over 4 million back in the times of King David.
What About Egypt?
To get to the land of the children of Israel, the Ethopians would have had to march through Egypt. Just how would this have been accomplished? How were 1 million soldiers supplied? Where did the water come from?
In addition, do you suppose that Egypt would have stood still while one million Ethiopians marched through their land. Or, did the Lord change the hearts of the Egyptians, his hated people. Remember, he was going to show them (the Egyptians) who was Lord with his plagues. He failed to do so. They still worshiped many gods, Ra chief among them. So, the Ethiopians would not even have been able to get to the Children’s promised land.
No Other Accounting of This Event
The real proof is in the total lack of any corroborating stories about the murder of 1 million Ethiopians. If their culture was advanced enough to support 4+ million people, they would be capable of recording their history. It is not there. In fact, there is no corroboration of any of the 158 murderous events that god commanded, condoned or participated in. …”.
We actually have the same problem here as with the numbers involved in the Exodus event, which have, owing to unreasonable translation of the texts, been inflated to millions.
The above questions: “How were 1 million soldiers supplied? Where did the water come from?”, are similarly applicable to the Exodus event. They are entirely relevant questions.
The solution to the numbers of Zerah the Ethiopian’s army and of the inflated Exodus numbers - and even of King Asa of Judah’s massive army of upwards of half a million, which would have made him potentially a world conqueror - is in the proper interpretation of the key Hebrew word, eleph (אֶלֶף), common to all three situations (Exodus; Asa: and Zerah).
Dr Bryant Wood (a conventional archaeologist) explains the situation in his answer below, in “The Number of Israelites in the Exodus”: “At the heart of the issue is the meaning of the Hebrew word eleph …”: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/04/16/The-Number-of-Israelites-in-the-Exodus.aspx
“In several places, the Bible seems to suggest that the Israelites involved in the Exodus and Conquest numbered more than two million people (e.g., Ex. 12:37; Num. 1: 46; Num. 26: 51).
This figure seems extraordinarily large and skeptics often cite it as proof of the biblical account's inaccuracy. I know that various solutions have been offered, by James Hoffmeier amongst others, but there appears to be insurmountable difficulties with taking the texts at anything other than face value.
Is there archaeological evidence that the Promised Land received such a large influx of people during the period under discussion?
I would appreciate any perspective you might give me on this problem.
Thank you for the question: “Is there archaeological evidence that the Promised Land received such a large influx of people during the period under discussion?”
The number of Israelites who left Egypt at the time of the Exodus is a vexed problem. It is possible, however, to make a rough estimate. Following the Conquest, 1406–1400 B.C., in the subsequent Late Bronze II period [sic] (14th and 13th centuries), the urban population in the highlands where the Israelites settled remained approximately the same as it was prior to the Conquest (Gonen 1984: Table 4). Based on highland burials, however, which includes both urbanites and non-urbanites, the population seems to have increased from the pre-Conquest period to the post-Conquest period (Gonen 1992: Table 5). The overall population is difficult to access. We do not have estimates for the Late Bronze I and II periods, but an estimate of the highland population for the previous Middle Bronze II period is ca. 65,000 (Broshi and Gophna 1986: Tables 1, 2, 6, 7,10, 11). Another possible way to estimate the number of Israelites who left Egypt is by means of the number of captives the Egyptians acquired in Canaan four years after the Exodus, which amounted to ca. 100,000 (Wood 2008:105–106).
At the heart of the issue is the meaning of the Hebrew word eleph. It is usually translated “thousand,” but has a complex semantic history. The word is etymologically connected with “head of cattle,” like the letter aleph, implying that the term was originally applied to the village or population unit in a pastoral-agricultural society. From that it came to mean the quota supplied by one village or “clan” (Hebrew Mišpāḥā) for the military muster (Malamat 1967: 135). Originally the contingent was quite small, five to fourteen men in the quota lists of Numbers 1 and 26, as shown by Mendenhall (1958). Finally the word became a technical term for a military unit of considerable size, which together with the use of the same word for the number 1,000 has tended to obscure its broader semantic range. See also Humphreys 1998 and 2000, and Hoffmeier 2005: 153–59.
I hope this helps.
Bryant G. Wood”
Obviously, to reduce the “thousand” to, for instance, Bryant’s “five to fourteen men” would make a considerable difference to the overall sum of fighting men involved.
Translations whose outcome is to defy common sense make the Bible very easy pickings for hostile critics. Here is another such example, “God killed 27,000 Syrians with a falling wall”: http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/gods-83rd-killing-god-killed-27000.html
“In his last killing, God killed the 100,000 Syrians for calling him a hill god. But some of the name-calling Syrians escaped. God took care of them by having a wall fall on them, killing 27,000.
But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. 1 Kings 20.30a
It was a really big wall”.
Once again, we encounter that Hebrew word, eleph:
וַתִּפֹּל הַחוֹמָה, עַל-עֶשְׂרִים וְשִׁבְעָה אֶלֶף אִישׁ הַנּוֹתָרִים
Falling walls, especially those relatively small ancient ones, do not tend to kill 27,000 men.
Common sense ought to tell us that straight off.
But a falling wall might flatten, say, 27 “chiefs” – a possible translation of eleph.
Era of Zerah
Our first critic above is right to argue for a lesser population estimate at the approximate era of Zerah the Ethiopian (give or take the conventional 500 years of error): “There were nowhere near four million Ethiopians alive at that time. Only Egypt came close to those numbers in those days. According to Colin McEvedy in his reference book “Atlas of World Population History”, Ethiopia had a population of 200,000 in 1000 BC”.
We have firmly fixed Zerah the Ethiopian’s invasion, during the early reign of King Asa of Judah (c. 900 BC, conventional dating), to Asa’s 11th-14th year “window” (following James and van der Veen).
And we have estimated that this must have occurred whilst pharaoh Thutmose III (whose Year 23 corresponded with Rehoboam’s Year 5) was still ruling Egypt, to very late in his 54-year reign. At this stage, he was considered to have adopted his son, Amenhotep II, as co-regent.
Hence, chronologically, Amenhotep II was a co-ruler of Egypt at the time of Zerah’s invasion.
Despite this nice coincidence, I am not inclined to accept Dr. Velikovsky’s identification of Amenhotep II as “Zerah the Ethiopian”.
There is no strong evidence at all to indicate that Amenhotep II was an Ethiopian.
There is no biblical evidence at all that Zerah was a pharaoh of Egypt.
The names are quite un-alike (though that also applied with Thutmose III as ‘Shishak”).
As David Rohl has correctly discerned, this was the Late Bronze Era.
Dr Bryant Wood is quite wrong above in locating the Conquest era to this approximate archaeological phase: “Following the Conquest, 1406–1400 B.C., in the subsequent Late Bronze II period (14th and 13th centuries) …”.
Dr. John Osgood, our reliable biblico-archaeological guide in earlier parts of this series, makes favourable reference to Rohl when considering the archaeological era of King Solomon that immediately preceded Thutmose III:
“In chapter 8 Rohl then attempts to date the Solomonic period presently assigned to Iron Age IIA, and rightly concludes, as he must, that 'the cultural wealth of the era of Solomon . . .is not
reflected in the archaeology of Iron Age Palestine . . .'. (page 175)
He puts forward the Late Bronze Age as the era of Solomon — the only period consistent with the Solomonic milieu. At last a member of the archaeological discipline begins to make archaeological sense of the Palestine archaeological strata!”
And Dr. John Bimson had, in his fundamentally important article, “Can There be a Revised Chronology Without a Revised Stratigraphy?” (SIS Review, VI, 1-3), pin-pointed the archaeological phase for Thutmose III (which must also be the age of “Zerah the Ethiopian”):
“Although an exhaustive study of the LBA [Late Bronze Age] contexts of all scarabs commemorating Hatshepsut and Thutmose III would be required to establish this point, a preliminary survey suggests that objects from the joint reign of these two rulers do not occur until the transition from LB I to LB II, and that scarabs of Thutmose III occur regularly from the start of LB II onwards, and perhaps no earlier . Velikovsky’s chronology makes Hatshepsut (with Thutmose III as co-ruler) a contemporary of Solomon, and Thutmose III’s sole reign contemporary with that of Rehoboam in Judah . Therefore, if the revised chronology is correct, these scarabs would suggest that Solomon’s reign saw the transition from LB I to LB II, rather than that from LB I A to LB I B.
Placing the beginning of LB II during the reign of Solomon produces a very good correlation between archaeological evidence and the biblical record of that period. It is with this correlation that we will begin. In taking the LB I – II transition as its starting-point, the present article not only takes up the challenge offered by Stiebing, but also continues the revision begun in my previous articles, and will bring it to a conclusion (in broad outline) with the end of the Iron Age”.
As we move towards the east, to Babylon for instance, we must at this time encounter the Hammurabic dynasty – given that we have revised Hammurabi of Babylon as a close contemporary of King Solomon.
For almost four decades after Hammurabi’s death, his son Samsuiluna is said to have ruled Babylon (c. 1750-1712 BC, conventional dating). His reign must, therefore, have run alongside that of the long-reigning Thutmose III.
This necessitates that Samsuiluna must now be shifted downwards by some eight centuries.
He must be now dragged out of the Middle Bronze Age II
1750 BCE – 1650 BCE
and re-located to Late Bronze II.
No longer a contemporary of Egypt’s Thirteenth Dynasty, Samsuiluna now becomes, as he was, a contemporary of Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty, the New Kingdom era.
What was going on at this time in the east?
“In the 9th year of Samsu-iluna's reign a man calling himself Rim-sin (known in the literature as Rim-sin II, and thought to perhaps be a nephew of the Rim-sin who opposed Hammurabi):48–49 raised a rebellion against Babylonian authority in Larsa which spread to include some 26 cities, among them Uruk, Ur, Isin and Kisurra in the south, and Eshnunna.:243:48–49:115 in the north.
Samsu-iluna seems to have had the upper-hand militarily. Within a year he dealt the coalition a shattering blow which took the northern cities out of the fight.[Note 1] In the aftermath the king of Eshnunna, Iluni, was dragged to Babylon and executed by strangulation.:243 Over the course of the next 4 years, Samsu-iluna's armies tangled with Rim-sin's forces up and down the borderlands between Babylon, Sumer and Elam. Eventually Samsu-iluna attacked Ur, pulled down its walls and put the city to the sack, he then did the same to Uruk, and Isin as well.:48–49[Note 2] Finally Larsa itself was defeated and Rim-sin II was killed, thus ending the struggle.:243
Unfortunately the floodgates had opened. A few years later, a pretender calling himself Ilum-ma-ili, and claiming descent from the last king of Isin, raised another pan-Sumerian revolt. Samsu-iluna marched an army to Sumer, and the two met in a battle which proved indecisive; a second battle sometime later went Ilum-ma-ili's way, and in its aftermath, he founded the First Dynasty of Sea-Land,:243[Note 3], which would remain in control of Sumer for the next 300 years. Samsu-iluna seems to have taken a defensive approach after this; in the 18th year of his reign, he saw to the rebuilding of 6 fortresses in the vicinity of Nippur:380–382, which might have been intended to keep that city under Babylonian control. Ultimately, this proved fruitless; by the time of Samsu-iluna's death, Nippur recognized Ilum-ma-ili as king.:48–49
Apparently, Eshnunna had not reconciled itself to Babylonian control either, because in Samsu-iluna's 20th year they rebelled again.:48–49 Samsu-iluna marched his army through the region and, presumably after some bloodshed, constructed the fortress of Dur-samsuiluna to keep them in line. This seems to have done the trick, as later documents see Samsu-iluna take a more conciliatory stance repairing infrastructure and restoring waterways.:48–49
As if this weren't enough, both Assyria and Elam used the general chaos to re-assert their independence. Kuturnahunte I of Elam, seizing the opportunity left by Samsu-iluna's attack on Uruk, marched into the (now wall-less) city and plundered it, among the items looted was a statue of Inanna which wouldn't be returned until the reign of Ashurbanipal 11 centuries [sic] later.:243 In Assyria, a native vice regent named Puzur-Sin ejected Asinum who had been a vassal king of his fellow Amorite Hammurabi. A native king Ashur-dugul seized the throne, and a period of civil war in Assyria ensued. Samsu-Iluna seems to have been powerless to intervene, and finally a king named Adasi, restored a stable native dynasty in Assyria, removing any vestages of Amorite-Babylonian influence:section 576 apud:243
In the end, Samsu-iluna was left with a kingdom that was only fractionally larger than the one his father had started out with 50 years prior (but which did leave him mastery of the Euphrates up to and including the ruins of Mari and its dependencies).:115[Note 4] The status of Eshnunna is difficult to determine with any accuracy, and while it may have remained in Babylonian hands the city was exhausted and its political influence at an end”.
Pharaoh Amenhotep II himself appears to have continued a peaceful relationship with Babylon and Mitanni in his time (http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/amenhotep2.htm):
“Yet these stele, erected after year nine of Amenhotep II's rule, that provide us with this information do not bear hostile references to either Mitanni or Nahrin, the general regions of the campaigns. This is probably intentional, because apparently the king had finally made peace with these former foes. In fact, an addition at the end of the Memphis stele records that the chiefs of Nahrin, Hatti and Sangar (Babylon) arrived before the king bearing gifts and requesting offering gifts (hetepu) in exchange, as well as asking for the breath of life. Though good relations with Babylon existed during the reign of Tuthmosis III, this was the first mention of a Mitanni peace, and it is very possible that a treaty existed allowing Egypt to keep Palestine and part of the Mediterranean coast in exchange for Mitannian control of northern Syria. Underscoring this new alliance, with Nahrin, Amenhotep II had inscribed on a column between the fourth and fifth pylons at Karnak, "The chiefs (weru) of Mitanni (My-tn) come to him, their deliveries upon their backs, to request offering gifts from his majesty in quest of the breath of life".”
Part Nineteen: “Zerah the Ethiopian”
(v): A possible candidate for Zerah
“Usersatet was an Ancient Egyptian official with the titles king's son of Kush (Viceroy of Kush) and overseer of the southern countries. He was in office under king Amenhotep II and perhaps in the early years of the reign of Thutmosis IV. As king's son of Kush he was the main official in charge of the Nubian provinces”.
Whilst I had written previously, regarding the proposed identification of Zerah as the official, Userḫau, according to Peter James and Peter van der Veen, that “… this choice suffers further from the fact that there appears to be nothing to suggest that Userḫau was an “Ethiopian” …”, it has since occurred to me that biblical practice may use such a term geographically, rather than ethnically. For instance, we have considered that Ruth was only a “Moabite” (Ruth 1:22) in terms of where she lived. For she was, by race, an Israelite.
So it may also be that “Zerah the Ethiopian” was simply dwelling in Ethiopia, though he may not necessarily have been an Ethiopian by race – may not necessarily have been black.
More definitely, I think, can we say that the “one million men” who supposedly constituted the army of Zerah is an unrealistic translation.
We discussed this previously.
For, the largest armies of this time were probably more like 10,000 men – the number some have estimated for the size of the army employed by Thutmose III in his First Campaign.
Tightening the historical context
We have calculated that the latest that the invasion of Zerah could have occurred would have been “… Year 53, the penultimate year of Thutmose III’s long reign (54 years)”, using that “fairly narrow window, between the years 11 and 14 of Asa” (James and van der Veen).
Year 50 would have been the earliest possible date for Zerah’s invasion.
What was happening around this time with Thutmose III?, with Amenhotep II?
Interestingly, as I think, Thutmose III would, in his Year 50, complete his final campaign.
“Thutmose took one last campaign in his 50th regnal year, very late in his life. He attacked Nubia, but only went as far as the fourth cataract of the Nile. Although no king of Egypt had ever penetrated as far as he did with an army, previous kings' campaigns had spread Egyptian culture that far already, and the earliest Egyptian document found at Gebel Barkal in fact comes from three years before Thutmose's campaign.”
Why this campaign may be ‘interesting’ for our purposes is (i) that it sits right at the beginning of the “fairly narrow window” of possible years for Zerah’s campaign, 50-53 of Thutmose III; it (ii) concludes Thutmose III’s military activity; and it (iii) involves a conquest of Nubia (Ethiopia) which provided soldiers, “Cushites”, for the large army of Zerah.
2 Chronicles 16:8: ‘Were not the Cushites [Ethiopians] and Libyans a vast army with many chariots and horsemen? When you depended on Yahweh, He handed them over to you’.
Although the extent of the recognised co-regency between Thutmose III and his son, Amenhotep II, is disputed, the general estimate is of a co-regency of about two years.
That would place Amenhotep II’s beginning around Years 52-53 of Thutmose III.
Hence Amenhotep II’s 7th and 9th Year campaigns - the ones favoured for Zerah’s invasion, including by Velikovsky - would be well outside the range of possible dates for Zerah.
With Thutmose III having ‘faded out’, and with Amenhotep II yet to emerge, then the suggestion by some revisionists that Zerah the Ethiopian was an official rather than a pharaoh (supported by the scriptural description of him) becomes an attractive one.
Peter James and Peter van der Veen had favoured the official, Userḫau, whose name is compatible with that of Zerah.
But I believe that he is far too late for Zerah.
However, we may be able to identify an important official who has the same name element User, but who belongs to the approximate time range that we have established above for Zerah.
Usersatet Viceroy of Kush
Hence he also has the advantage over Userḫau of having ruled Kush, or Ethiopia, from whence Zerah the Ethiopian and his army will emerge.
“Usersatet was an Ancient Egyptian official with the titles king's son of Kush (Viceroy of Kush) and overseer of the southern countries. He was in office under king Amenhotep II and perhaps in the early years of the reign of Thutmosis IV. As king's son of Kush he was the main official in charge of the Nubian provinces.
Usersatet was perhaps born in Elephantine or at least the region around this island. The name Usersatet means Satet is strong; Satet being the main deity of Elephantine. Usersatet's father was Siamun, and his mother was Nenwenhermenetes, king's ornament, both of which not much is known.
It seems that Usersatet grew up in the royal palace and followed the king on his military campaign to Syria. He cleared 5 canals in the region of Aswan. The canals were already more than 700 years old and most likely had been filled with sand earlier in the 18th Dynasty. Usersatet is known from a high number of monuments, especially in Lower Nubia. Near Qasr Ibrim, he erected a chapel in honour of king Amenhotep II. A stela found at Semna bears a copy of a king's letter to Usersatet. However, no biography of this official survived.
Therefore there is not much known about his life and career. His name had been removed from many monuments, therefore it seems that he fell into dishonour at some point in his career. His tomb has not yet been identified.”
It is highly unlikely that Zerah’s embarrassing defeat at the hands of Asa king of Judah would have been recorded in any of the Egyptian records.
Velikovsky had, as he thought, found vestiges of the debacle in Ugaritic (Ras Shamra) literature - this having been, like the El Amarna archives, grossly mis-dated.
We shall look at that briefly next.
Part Nineteen: “Zerah the Ethiopian”
(vi): Ugarit (Ras Shamra) mis-dated
“The discovery was startling: hundreds of years before the Israelites entered Canaan, the Canaanites not only used Hebrew … but wrote it in an alphabetic script”.
Dr. I. Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos, I
Ugarit in Chaos
Just as Dr. Velikovsky had (in his Ages in Chaos series) completely revised and re-written the history of the El Amarna period (soon to be considered in this series), so, too, did he turn upside down the current understanding of the abundant Ras Shamra (Ugaritic) archives, all of this greatly affecting our knowledge of the Minoans and the Mycenaean Greeks as well.
Here follows a summary of Velikovsky’s Chapter V (“Ras Shamra”)
“The Timetable of Minoan and Mycenaean Culture
… The place was tentatively identified as Ugarit of the el-Amarna letters … and written documents found there confirmed this conjecture. In gray antiquity the city had been repeatedly reduced to ruins. The levels at which dwellings were dug up are numbered from I to V starting at the surface. The first or uppermost layer is the most explored, but in the first nine archaeological seasons only about one eighth of this level had been unearthed. Digging in deeper strata has been confined to very small areas …. The second layer yielded a few objects of Egyptian origin of the time of the Middle Kingdom; during the Middle Kingdom the north Syrian coast was in the sphere of Egyptian influence.
When a few Egyptian objects were found in this layer, too, the experts' identification of them as belonging to the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties … gave fair support to the time determination made on the basis of the pottery; the period during which Ugarit enjoyed prosperity was placed in the fifteenth century, and the fourteenth century was recognized as the one that saw the sudden decline of the city. As two different methods had been applied and both led to similar conclusions, there was no further questioning of the age of the site, and all publications dealing with Ras Shamra-Ugarit … are based on thr premise that the literary and cultural remnants from the excavated layer were products of the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries. Before going further, we must appraise the real value of ceramics and other objects of art from Mycenae and Crete in dealing with time reckoning. In the course of this discussion I shall also have a few words to say on the age of the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures.
In Knossos on the northern shore of Crete, in Phaestus on the southern shore, and in other places on the island, remnants of a culture were found which is called Minoan, from the name of the semi-legendary king Minos. The remains belong to various epochs. The palace at Knossos and other buildings were suddenly destroyed, giving place to a new palace and buildings, which were again destroyed and again rebuilt. Many reasons led the explorer of these antiquities to the belief that a natural catastrophe was the agent of destruction, which marked the end of one period and the beginning of another. …. The ages are divided into Early, Middle, and Late Minoan, and each age is divided into three parts, I, II, and III. Another culture recognizable by its characteristic pottery had its center in Mycenae on the mainland of Greece. It, too, is divided into Early, Middle, and Late Mycenaean or Helladic Ages, which correspond roughly to the Minoan Ages of Crete. The Minoan and Helladic Ages begin with the end of the Stone Age and are subdivisions of the Bronze Age. There is no internal evidence that would help to fix the dates of the Minoan-Mycenaean Ages. The scripts of Crete have not yet been deciphered, despite some promising efforts, and the contacts with Egypt are regarded as the only source for establishing a timetable in the Minoan Mycenaean past. …. With some deviations, the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms of Egypt are held to be the counterparts of the Early, Middle, and Late Minoan and Helladic Ages. At Knossos of the Early Minoan period were found vases similar to pottery unearthed at Abydos in Egypt of the First Dynasty. Seals of the type of the Sixth Egyptian Dynasty were found in Crete. During the Middle Minoan period there was active intercourse between Crete and Egypt. At Abydos, in a tomb dating from the Twelfth Dynasty, a polychrome vase of the Middle Minoan II period was found, and at Knossos a statuette dating from the Twelfth or Thirteenth Dynasty was discovered.
The dating of the Middle Minoan Age “of course depends upon that assigned to the Twelfth Dynasty”. ….
At Mycenae on the Greek mainland also were unearthed a few Egyptian objects bearing the cartouches of Amenhotep II, Amenhotep III, and his wife Tiy, of the Eighteenth Dynasty (New Kingdom); vases of the Late Mycenaean style were dug up in large numbers in Egypt, in Thebes, and especially from under the ruined walls of Akhnaton's palace at el-Amarna, "which thus gives a fixed date (about 1380 B.C.) for this style of vase-painting” …. The present research endeavors to bring to light a mistake of more than half a millennium in the conventional Egyptian chronology of the New Kingdom. If Akhnaton flourished in 840 and not in 1380, the ceramics from Mycenae found in the palace of Akhnaton are younger by five or six hundred years than they are presumed to be, and the Late Mycenaean period would accordingly move forward by half a thousand years on the scale of time. It is my contention that the glorious Eighteenth Dynasty, the Kingdom of David and Solomon, and the Late Minoan and Late Mycenaean periods started simultaneously, about the year 1000 before the present era.
Greek Elements in the Writings of Ras Shamra
Ras Shamra was not merely a maritime city that traded in arms of Cyprian copper and in wine, oil, and perfume: jars, flagons, and flacons were found there by the hundreds; it was also a city of learning: there was a school for scribes and a library. In the school the future scribes were taught to read and to write at least four languages. Tablets of clay were found in the dust under the crushed walls of a building, destroyed by human hand or by the unleashed forces of nature. The entire collection is written in cuneiform, in four different languages. Two of the languages were easily read: Sumerian, "the Latin" or the "dead language" of the scholars, and Akkadian, the tongue of business and politics in the Babylonian world. Business letters in Akkadian, commercial receipts, and orders were read. Two tablets very similar to those of the el-Amarna collection were also found … and with them the connection of Ras Shamra with Egypt at the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty was firmly established. Some large tablets are lexicons, bilingual and even trilingual. On some of the tablets there is a "copyright" mark: it is a statement that these tablets were made at the order of Nikmed, king of Ugarit. Nikomedes is an old Greek name. … The similarity between the name Nikomedes, regarded as originally an Ionian name, and the name of the Ugaritian King Nikmed, is so obvious that, after deciphering the name of the king, two scholars … working independently, related it to the Greek name. Other scholars, however, rejected this equation of the name of the king Nikmed (who also wrote his name Nikmes and Nikmedes) with Nikomed (Nikomedes) of the Greeks, asking how an Ionian name could have been in use in the fourteenth century before this era. Those who made the identification were unable to defend their position against the mathematics of conventional chronology. …. Ugarit was a maritime commercial city; its population was composed of various ethnic groups. One document found there describes the expulsion of King Nikmed and all the foreign groups in the city. Among them were people of Alasia (Cyprus), Khar (explained to be Hurrites), and Jm'an.
The last name was identified by the decipherers as Jamanu, which is well known from the Assyrian inscriptions, and means lonians. …. This interpretation of Jm'an was disputed for no other reason than that in the fourteenth century a reference to lonians would have been impossible. In the same inscription, at a point where the names of the expelled are repeated, the name Didyme appears. The decipherers took it to be the name of the city of Didyma in Ionia. …. This city was renowned for its cult of Apollo Didymeus. Again, the name of the deity Didymeus (Ddms) was inscribed on another Ras Shamra tablet; the decipherers … turning neither left nor right, translated it "Apollon Didymeus." Now antiquities have been brought from the site of Didyma, originating from the eighth century. …. But in the fifteenth or fourteenth century neither lonians nor the shrine of Apollo Didymeus could have been mentioned. Chronology could not square with the Ionian names of Nikomed, or the name of the Ionian city of Didyma, or the Greek cult of the god of that city, or the very name lonians in the Ras Shamra texts but all these were there, and no explanation was put forth in place of the rejected theory about an Ionian colony from the city of Didyma near Milet in Ionia that came to Ugarit and was expelled together with the king of Ionian origin, Nikmed. …. It could only be stated that there was not a grain of probability in such a reading of texts belonging to the middle of the second millennium.....
Two Cities and Two Epochs Compared
The third language of the Ras Shamra tablets in cuneiform (Sumerian and Akkadian being the first two) did not long retain its secret. The large tablets were apparently written in an alphabetic script. Their cuneiform could not be an ideographic or syllabic "script, for a syllabic script like Akkadian uses hundreds of different signs, but alphabetic script only a few; and in this third script there were only thirty different characters. An example of the simplification of the cuneiform script was … already known to the scholars: the Persians in the sixth century had used cuneiform for an alphabet of thirty-six characters. …. The bright idea came simultaneously to more than one scholar … that it might be ancient Hebrew written in cuneiform. An attempt to substitute Hebrew letters for cuneiform signs was successful, and before the scholarly world were tablets in a legible language. Some of the texts were even re-edited by modern scholars in Hebrew characters. …. Reading was facilitated by strokes placed after each word by the scribes of Ras Shamra-Ugarit The Cyprian script of the sixth century has the same characteristic stroke after each word, and this similarity was stressed, but it was asserted that, before this peculiarity returned, more than six hundred years had passed. …. Again six hundred years! As in the case of the sepulchral chambers, it required six hundred years of latency before the Cypriotes started to imitate their neighbors only sixty miles away. With an eagerness comparable only to the avaricious excitement of discoverers of a hidden treasure, scholars kindled their lamps and read the messages in ancient Hebrew. They thought they knew, even before they began to read, that the tablets were some six hundred years older than the oldest known Hebrew inscription. The discovery was startling: hundreds of years before the Israelites entered Canaan, the Canaanites not only used Hebrew … but wrote it in an alphabetic script ….
…. "Since these documents date from the fourteenth or fifteenth century, the Ras Shamra alphabet is among the first alphabets to be composed, and actually is the earliest yet known”. …. The Hebrew-cuneiform alphabet of Ras Shamra is not a primitive pioneer effort; it has features that indicate it was already in an advanced stage. "The Ras Shamra alphabet is already so advanced that it implies the existence of a still earlier alphabet yet to be found." …. What the aborigines of Canaan wrote down was even more unexpected. In the mirror in which, in conformity with biblical references to the Canaanites, it was expected that the face of a wicked generation and of a low spiritual culture would be seen, the face of a dignified people was reflected. In the Book of Leviticus and in other books of the Scriptures iniquity and vice were attributed to the Canaanites: the country "was defiled by them." This appeared to be a "biased attitude of Israelite historians. ... As it is, the Ras Shamra texts reveal a Literature of a high moral tone, tempered with order and justice. ….
…. The Hebrew texts of Ras Shamra are mostly poems describing the exploits and battles of the gods and the adventures and wars of heroes. The pantheon of Ras Shamra … was composed of a number of gods; Baal was one of them, but the supreme deity was El. …. The land of the Canaanites is sometimes called "the whole land of El … and the supremacy of this deity ("no one can change that which El has fixed"), known by the same name in the Bible as the Lord of the Israelites, is regarded as "a clear indication of a monotheistic tendency in the Canaanite religion."
…. Besides the name El, which is predominant in the poems, especially in the poem of Keret dealing with exploits in Negeb, the name Yahu (Yahwe) is also encountered in the Ras Shamra texts. …. A few rare expressions or names found on Ras Shamra tablets are found also on monuments of the seventh century before the present era. …. A very unusual expression on one of the Ras Shamra tablets "Astart, name of Baal" appears in the epitaph of Eshmunazar, the Phoenician king of Sidon of the fifth century. …. The mythological pictures of the Ras Shamra poems often employ the same wording as the so-called mythological images of the Scriptures. Leviathan is "a crooked serpent*' (Isaiah 27:1); it has several heads (Psalms 74:14). Lotan of the poems also is "a swift and crooked serpent" and has seven heads. There is, in one of the poems, an expression put into the mouth of El which sounds like a reference to the great feat of tearing asunder the sea of Jam-Suf. And the verb, "to tear asunder," used there and in Psalms (136:13) is the same (gsr). The conclusion drawn from the similarity was this: long before the Exodus and the passage through the Red Sea, the Canaanites of Palestine knew this myth. ….
…. The language of the poems of Ras Shamra is, in etymology and syntax, "surprisingly akin" … to the language, etymology, and syntax of the Scriptures, and the characteristic dual and plural forms, both masculine and feminine, are cited as examples. The meter of the poems, the division into feet of three syllables or three words, and the balancing of the theme (parallelism) are also found in the Scriptures. …. ''These rules are precisely those of Hebrew poetry, and even the language from some of our Ras Shamra texts is entirely Biblical." …. It was therefore concluded that Hebrew and Phoenician alike derived from the Canaanite, which could be called an Early Hebrew dialect. …."There are striking similarities in the vocabulary, many words and even locutions being identical" … in the Ras Shamra texts and in the Old Testament. Here and there is found a turn of speech known from the Psalms, as, for instance, "I watered my coach with tears." "The style resembles most the poetic books of the Old Testament, and especially the Book of Isaiah." …. "We see that the Phoenicians of the fourteenth century before our era used rhythm and poetical forms that have all their development in the Song of Songs. . . . In short, "there are innumerable parallels with the Old Testament in vocabulary and poetic style," … and an "intimate relationship existing between the Ras Shamra tablets and the literature of the Old Testament”."
Mackey’s comment: A similar case of Hebrew-like writing and idiom is apparent in some of the El Amarna [EA] letters, like the Ugaritic writings dated by historians centuries before their actual era. Thus I have previously observed, following Rohl and Newgrosh:
“The language of the EA letters is Akkadian, but one letter by Lab’ayu, EA 252, proved to be very difficult to translate. ….
Albright … in 1943, published a more satisfactory translation than had hitherto been possible by discerning that its author had used a good many so-called ‘Canaanite’ words plus two Hebrew proverbs! EA 252 has a stylised introduction in the typical EA formula and in the first 15 lines utilises only two ‘Canaanite’ words. Thereafter, in the main body of the text, Albright noted (and later scholars have concurred) that Lab’ayu used only about 20% pure Akkadian, “with 40% mixed or ambiguous, and no less than 40% pure Canaanite”. Albright further identified the word nam-lu in line 16 as the Hebrew word for ‘ant’ (nemalah), נְמָלָה, the Akkadian word being zirbabu. Lab’ayu had written: “If ants are smitten, they do not accept (the smiting) quietly, but they bite the hand of the man who smites them”. Albright recognised here a parallel with the two biblical Proverbs mentioning ants (6:6 and 30:25).
“It is a pity”, wrote Rohl and Newgrosh … “that Albright was unable to take his reasoning process just one step further because, in almost every instance where he detected the use of what he called ‘Canaanite’ one could legitimately substitute the term ‘Hebrew’.”
Lab’ayu’s son too, Mut-Baal ... also displayed in one of his letters (EA 256) some so-called ‘Canaanite’ and mixed origin words. Albright noted of line 13: … “As already recognized by the interpreters, this idiom is pure Hebrew”. Albright even went very close to admitting that the local speech was Hebrew: ….
“... phonetically, morphologically, and syntactically the people then living in the district ... spoke a dialect of Hebrew (Canaanite) which was very closely akin to that of Ugarit. The differences which some scholars have listed between Biblical Hebrew and Ugaritic are, in fact, nearly all chronological distinctions”.
But even these ‘chronological distinctions’ cease to be a real issue in the Velikovskian context, according to which both the EA letters and the Ugaritic tablets are re-located to the time of the Divided Monarchy”.
Velikovsky continues, now turning to the religious aspect:
“…. The religious cult, as reflected by poems and other texts of Ras Shamra, also bore a certain resemblance to the cult of the Israelites. There was a Rav Cohanim, a high priest; adzes with engraved dedications to Rav Cohanim were unearthed. The offering called mattan tam, known from the service in the Temple of Jerusalem, is mentioned in the Ras Shamra texts. Circumcision was also practiced at Ras Shamra, judging from stone phalli found in this Phoenician city. …
The Jewish law forbidding the people to boil a calf in the milk of its mother was directed against a definite custom and a culinary dish. This dish was enjoyed at Ras Shamra, as its writings reveal. From all this the following conclusion was drawn: "The traditions, culture and religion of the Israelites are bound up inextricably with the early Canaanites. The compilers of the Old Testament were fully aware of this, hence their obsession to break with such a past and to conceal their indebtedness to it". …. Even in minute details the life in Ras Shamra of the fifteenth century and the life in Jerusalem some six or seven hundred years later were strikingly similar. Isaiah, on a visit to the gravely sick king, Hezekiah, ordered a debelah, a remedy made of figs, to be applied to the inflamed wound. Debelah is registered in the pharmacopoeia of Ras Shamra's medical men and is found mentioned in a veterinary treatise. The deduction was therefore made: "The prophet made use of a very old-fashioned remedy, known previously to the veterinary surgeons at Ugarit in the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries." …. This case of correspondence between the medical tablets of Ras Shamra and the Scriptures is not unique: "In the same [veterinary] treatise we also find some technical words corresponding exactly with similar expressions in the Bible, which further emphasize this contact between the Ras Shamra texts and the Old Testament." …. And the generalization concerning medicine was: "They [the exactly corresponding technical words] establish a very striking similarity in the medical knowledge of the Canaanites or Proto-Phoenicians, and that of the times of the kings of Judah." …. The weights and measures of Ras Shamra were also those known from the Scriptures. In the Sumero-Babylonian system a talent was divided into 3600 shekels, but in the Scriptures (Exodus 38:25-27) the talent is composed of only 3000 shekels. Was this an erroneous statement? In the Ras Shamra texts, too, the talent is divided into 3000 shekels. …. Jewels of gold to adorn the maidens of Ras Shamra are mentioned in the texts and were unearthed. …. "Now in the texts three kinds of gold pendants are mentioned by the name of ‘Astarte’, ‘suns’ and 'moons’ …. The word used for a sun pendant is 'shapash’. …. 'Shapash’ is identified with the word ‘shebis’ mentioned in Isaiah 3:18. The same prophet alludes to crescents or pendants in the form of the moon. So at Ras Shamra we find not only mention of these pendants in the Canaanite texts but also the ornaments themselves that Yahwe, in the passage cited in Isaiah, will take away one day from the haughty daughters of Zion”. ….
Bible Criticism and the Documents of Ras Shamra
For the past seventy years the doctrines of Bible criticism have been taught from most cathedras of modern exegesis and are at last being preached from many pulpits. Two of the fundamental concepts have been: (1) before the time of the Kings (or before 1000) there were no written documents among the Israelites, and (2) most passages of the Scriptures are of a later origin than the Scriptures themselves suggest or rabbinical tradition ascribes to them. Since 1930 when the tablets of Ras Shamra were deciphered, they have been regarded as proofs (1) that already in the fifteenth century Hebrew was written in a highly perfected alphabetic script that had a long period of development behind it, and (2) that many biblical traditions and legends were alive, and biblical style, poetic form, and ways of expression were in use some six hundred years before the biblical books were composed, even according to rabbinical tradition. The confusion became great. …. For three generations famous scholars, to whose lectures students traveled from afar, writers for encyclopedias, and authors of commentaries, all were moved to decrease the age of the Old Testament and even to assume a post-evangelical editing of various parts of the Old Testament. The whole argument was supported by linguistic considerations and by a general theory of the natural development of religious thought. It could be shown expertly that one or another expression in Psalms or in Proverbs could not have been employed in the days of David or Solomon in the tenth century, but was a product of the sixth to third centuries. Now, in the Ras Shamra tablets of the fifteenth or fourteenth century, the same expressions were found.….
In face of the striking parallels between the language, style, poetical forms, technical expressions, moral ideas, religious thought, temple ordinances, social institutions, treasury of legends and traditions, medical knowledge, apparel, and jewelry as reflected in the Ras Shamra tablets and in the pages of the Scriptures, the logical conclusion would have been that the tablets and the Books of the Scriptures containing; these parallels are of the same age. But such a deduction was not thought of, owing to the obstacles of chronology already explained. The revision of chronology requires the leveling of the time of Ras Shamra (Level I from the surface) to the time of the kings of Judea until Jehoshaphat. The presence of parallels in the life of Palestine and of a contemporary Syrian town, where the languages of neighboring peoples were learned, appears to be only natural. If this reconstruction of world history by a correction of five to six hundred years puts a strain on the customary notions of history, how, then, can one's scientific conscience bridge a gap of double dimension and reconcile the results of the industrious efforts of Bible criticism with the archaeological finds of Ras Shamra? The span is twelve centuries.….
Troglodytes or Carians?
The fourth language written in cuneiform on the tablets of the Ras Shamra library is called Khar. Words in Sumerian were accompanied by explanations in Khar. It appears to have been the local language, the language of the government and of a large part of the population. Despite the help of the bilingual syllabic dictionaries used by the scribes of Ras Shamra, the reading of Khar is not final. Had the words in Khar been explained in Sumerian, the task of the philologists would have been easier; but the translation and explanation of Sumerian words in Khar did not give all the necessary clues to the decipherers.
Before the excavations of Ras Shamra, frequent mention of "Khr" had already been encountered in various archaeological documents. Akkadian texts speak of "Khurri," and in Egyptian documents a part of Syria is often called "Kharu."
It had long been held that these Assyrian and Egyptian designations referred to the Horites or troglodytes of the early chapters of the Scriptures.
With the discovery of the Tell el-Amarna archives in Egypt it was found that one of the letters of the archives was written, apart from the introduction, in an unknown tongue. This letter, written by Tushratta, king of Mitanni, dealt in its six hundred lines with some matters interpreted with the help of other letters, and the language was deciphered. At first it was called Mitannian, but later changed to Subarean.
Then in the state archives of Boghazkeui in eastern Anatolia letters were found in a similar tongue, and its name was given as Khri. The people who spoke this language were called Khr. Scholars read the word differently Khar and Khur but finally they decided on Khur as the acceptable name, and accordingly the people are called Hurrians or Hurrites.
Despite the fact that the language of this people was found to have been put into writing, the identification of the Hurrians with the biblical Horites or troglodytes was maintained by a number of scholars.
A definite vestige of the association of the Humans with Palestine has been discovered: on tablets from Tell Taannek, in the valley of Jezreel, Human names were found.
With every new discovery it became increasingly obvious that the Hurrians exercised great influence on the civilization of the Near East. It was even stated that with the arrival of the Hurrians in this part of the world a new era in civilization had dawned. …. In a sense they became the leading power, and "the story of their enormous expanse, from Armenia down to southern Palestine, and from the shores of the Mediterranean up to the borders of Persia, constitutes one of the most amazing chapters in the ancient history of the Near East."
The language of this people has been studied by linguists in an endeavor to unriddle it, but the historians know nothing of their history, "Hurrian" seemed therefore to be a tongue without a people. Those who spoke it were not Semitic, but neither were they Indo-Iranian. ….
Then the writings in alphabetic Khar of Has Shamra came to light. Translations from other languages into Khar proved that at least a part of the population used Khar as their daily speech. Who, then, were these Khar that impressed their name on Syria, their tongue on Asia Minor and on Mitanni, occupied a fortress in Palestine, were everywhere and nowhere in particular, were neither Semitic nor Indo-Iranian?
It became apparent not only that Khar was expressible in writing, but that the scribes who wrote in Khar were versed in a number of other languages as well, and wore themselves -out in lexicographic study ("several rooms'* in the library of Nikmed "contained only dictionaries and lexicons" ….). Consequently the idea that the Khar were cave dwellers or troglodytes (the biblical Horites) appears wholly untenable.
Most probably the Hurrian people is but a creation of modern linguists. If we bring the scene five to six hundred years closer to our time we begin to wonder whether the Khar of the inscriptions are not the Carians often mentioned in classic literature. In Egyptian the Mediterranean Sea was called the Sea of Khar(u). Was it the sea of troglodytes or the sea of the Carians?….
Inasmuch as the Carians were inhabitants of northern Syria early in the first millennium before this era, it is only reasonable to look for a mention of them in the Scriptures. In the eighth century Athaliah daughter of Ahab and daughter-in-law of King Jehoshaphat of Jerusalem the queen-mother who usurped the throne when her son Ahaziah was killed by Jehu on the road to Megiddo, had a bodyguard composed of "Can." This bodyguard later participated in a revolt against Athaliah, when Jehoiada, the priest, made a covenant with "the rulers over hundreds, with the Cari, and the runners" (II Kings 11:4,19) … and brought before them Jehoash, the boy
who was secretly saved when Athaliah killed the royal family.
It is more than probable that the Kreti of the "Kreti and Pleti" (Cherethites and Pelethites) bodyguard of David (II Samuel 8:18), led by his marshal Benaiah, were the same Kari In one place in the Scriptures (II Samuel 20:23) it is said that Benaiah was in command of Kari (or Kre) and Pleti. The Philistines, since days of old, have been considered the Kreti-Pleti. The word "Pleti" is generally regarded as a shortened form of "Philistines," and without sufficient ground they have been presumed to be the same people as the Kreti, and thus originated the theory that the Philistines came from Crete.17 Pleti cannot be identical with Kreti or Kari, because whenever they are mentioned the two names are always connected by "and." …. The origin of the Kreti in Crete heard even in the name is also attested to by the Version of the Seventy, who translated "Kreti" by "Cretans”. The Carians came from Crete. The Kreti also came from Crete and were identical with the Kari. It is obvious that Carians and Kari and Kreti were the same.….
Mackey’s comment: Dr. Velikovsky will now proceed to attempt to connect the military leader, “Terah”, of the Ras Shamra Poem of Keret with the biblical “Zerah the Ethiopian”.
Thus he wrote:
The Poem of Keret
Among the epics unearthed at Ras Shamra, one contains some historical material. The poem of Keret the archaeologists call it by the name of its hero has a historical setting. It was first translated and interpreted by Charles Virolleaud. …. Later a very different meaning was given to the text. Virolleaud read in the text of the danger threatening the country of Keret, king of Sidon. The invasion of Negeb (south of Palestine) by the army of Terah aroused Keret's fears; he wept in the seclusion of his chamber. In his great distress he was encouraged by a voice heard in a dream, and he went to meet the danger and joined the army of the defenders. The names of Asher and Zebulun, two tribes, appear according to Virolleaud, in the poem. It is not clear from the poem whether the role of the tribe of Zebulun was that of an enemy or a friend. Asher is mentioned repeatedly in a refrain, and the poem gives a vivid feeling of armed tribesmen hurrying to join the main army opposing Terah. Asher, two and two are gone, Asher, three and three are gone, shut the houses, marched together. Volunteers joined the thousands of Hasis. Men of Hasis went by thousands, and by myriads, as a flood [t/r]. They marched to meet the army of Terah. And Terah came into Negeb with a great force: "a great force of three hundred times ten thousand [rbt]" which would mean if the translation is correct three million men. Then the poem tells that the huge invading army, having been defeated, was in full retreat. Who was Terah? asked Virolleaud. In Genesis the father of Abraham is called Terah. The theory was advanced … and found followers in France that patriarchal migrations and wars are described in the Phoenician poem of Keret. It was found to be a very illuminating addition to the legends about the sojourn and wandering of the patriarchs in Negeb southern Palestine as found in Genesis. The patriarch Abraham came to Negeb; so did Terah of the poem. In the Scriptures it is said that Terah, Abraham's father, migrated from Ur of the Chaldees on the lower flow of the Euphrates to Harran in the northwest, and ended his days there (Genesis 11:32). A correction was introduced with the help of the poem, and it was agreed that Terah did not die in Harran but prepared the conquest of Canaan from the south and also accomplished it in part, and that Abraham capitulated when he met difficulties and left Canaan to seek refuge in Egypt. …. Abraham and his two brothers, sons of the scriptural Terah, are not mentioned in the poem, and it was conjectured that this was because of the leading role played by Terah and the inconspicuous role of Abraham, the latter becoming an anonym in the multitude of the Terahites. And if the tale is very different from the scriptural legend, still the combination Negeb, the scene, and Terah, the invader seemed to be a convincing parallel to Negeb, the scene, and Abraham, son of Terah, the invader. Consequently, the conclusion was drawn by Virolleaud that Terahites invaded the south of Canaan, meeting resistance on the part of the population, although in the Scriptures nothing is said about Abraham's war with the Canaanites, and in fact the peacefulness of his sojourn there is stressed. An unexplained unconformity is the huge number of soldiers in the host of Terah: three hundred times ten thousand is very different from the number of persons in Abraham's household, servants included. The occurrence of the names Asher and Zebulun also presented a difficulty. Asher and Zebulun were sons of Israel of the Scriptures; these tribes were descendants of Abraham, son of Terah. How could Terah have battled with children of Asher and Zebulun, his descendants of many generations? To meet this situation it was said that originally the names of Asher and Zebulun belonged to cantons inhabited by Canaanites. At a later date these places were conquered by the tribes of Israel, who did not give their names to, but received their names from, the cantons. …. Another translation and interpretation of the poem of Keret was presented. It rejects Terah, Asher, Zebulun, as proper names, finding for them the meanings: bridegroom (terah), after, behind (atur), sick man (zebulun)…. It also denies the predominant martial theme of the poem, regarding it as a love romance. Thus are explained away the names of tribes not to be expected in Ugaritic times. Numerous other changes and corrections were offered. It seems to us, however, that Virolleaud's translation was not far from the truth. Terah of the poem was, indeed, not the father of the patriarch, but the names of the tribes and the martial plot appear to be consistent with history. It is, in fact, undisputed that Ugarit and the entire Phoenician coast were threatened by Amenhotep II in the period with which we are concerned. Free from the limitations imposed by an incorrect estimate of the age of the Ras Shamra tablets, we pose this question: Is an unsuccessful invasion of southern Palestine by a large host known to us from the Scriptures? …”.
Whilst Velikovsky may possibly have been right in his view that “Terah” reflected the biblical Zerah the Ethiopian, this does not mean (as I think) that Zerah was pharaoh Amenhotep II – Velikovsky’s conclusion which I consider to be unlikely, though closely contemporaneous.I personally have favoured for Zerah the influential Eighteenth Dynasty official at the time, Usersatet, viceroy of Nubia, hence “Ethiopian”.