Positive Progress Through The Benevolent Use Of Knowledge

Monday, December 1, 2008

Pharaoh Mereneptah

The 19th DynastyThe Reign of MerneptahThe Lybian ConflictThe Cyrenean Thorn of MerneptahThe Israel SteleGrain or Seed?Other Textual Hints
Comparing Independent SourcesWho Destroyed Boghazkoi?Comparing the End of the 19th & 26th Dyn.Bridging the Time - 19th/26th to the 20th Dyn.The 21st DynastyPersian LettersApis Bulls
The reign of Merneptah/Hophra/Apries
Ramses II's successor was Pharaoh Merneptah whose throne name was Binere-meramun Merneptah-hotphi(r)mae. `Hotphirmae' should be repaired to read `hophramae'. The letter `t' in `hotep' (beloved) was not sounded just like in `Amenhotep' as compared to `Amenophis' in Greek. This way `Hotphir' was transliterated `Hophra' in Hebrew and `Apries' in Greek. Jeremiah said of this pharaoh:
"Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give Pharaoh-hophra king of Egypt into the hands of his enemies ... as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of ... his enemy." Jeremiah 44:30. According to both, Herodotus and Jeremiah Hophra/Apries followed Ramses II closely but Herodotus has Psammis in between for 6 years. [Herodotus, Book II, Sec. 161; For images of the `Merneptah Museum' see KMT, Spring 2003, Vol. 14, p. 29]
Since we date Necho II/Ramses II from 605-569 followed by Merneptah/Hophra how could Jeremiah refer to Hophra who was no primary king at the time of the fall of Jerusalem?
Young's Concordance states it this way:
"Pharaoh Hophra, priest of the sun. A king of Egypt whose overthrow by Nebuchadnezzar was foretold by Jeremiah the prophet. BC 570. Herodotus reports his death by a rival king [or a general], Amasis."
Perhaps one full year or else a number of months close to a year before Merneptah became ruler, Jeremiah must have penned the above words in Jeremiah 44:30. By that time it must have been clear to him that Hophra/Apries/Merenptah was the new king in waiting and projected the demise of this new king and compared it to the demise of Zedekiah some 17 years before. It stands to reason as the end of the life of Ramses II was approaching people may have been aware that whatever was the illness afflicting Ramses would in time be the cause of his death and a new ruler was chosen for a smooth transition - this new ruler was Hophra/Apries/Merenptah.
Since the campaign against Kadesh is dated to the 5th year of Ramses II, counting from his date as sole ruler after the death of his father, but the overall length of his reign would often include the coreign with Seti perhaps in classical, oriental fashion of exaggerating, and an effort to impress. In other words, he could date his regnal years in two different ways, a method not unknown from ancient times.
The Papyrus Anastasis III dates from the 3rd year of Merneptah and describes the Egyptians as possessing strategic places in the highlands of southern Palestine; it also tells of the arrival of a military commander at `Sile', coming from "the Wells of Merenptah-hotphima'e which are in the hills."[See Caminos, `Late Egyptian Miscellanies', p. 108; and Wilson, `Journal of a Frontier Official', ANET, p. 258 and n.6]
This 3rd year of his sole rule would be about 566 BC, Egypt was at this time not challenged from the northern countries. Nebuchadnezzar was getting close toward the end of his life. It is entirely possible that Egyptian troops felt save in setting themselves up in the region.
The evidence for Merneptah's Palestinian ventures come from Karnak where Frank Yurko found the cartouche of Amenmesse (Amasis II, about 558-525 BC) superimposed over that of Ramses II and his again superimposed by Seti II (Psammetichus II, for 6 months in 525 BC ) The battle scene of Kadesh/Carchemish carved by the artists of Ramses II also was replaced by those of Merneptah/Hophra against Ashkelon by plastering over those of Ramses II and carving his own there. But the most telling detail of the covered up battle scene of Ramses II are the remaining wavy lines indicating water which Amasis and Seti II did not destroy in their changeover. These wavy lines represent the river against whose shoreline the Egyptian troops were pushed which was a significant barrier to their escape. It hardly fits the description of the Orontes but is well suited for the wide Euphrates river. These recurring wavy line patterns representing water in the `kadesh' scenes of Ramses II in our opinion stand for a larger body of water than the Orontes ever had. That is why it impressed the Egyptians so much to keep representing it. [BAR, Sep/Oct 1990]
As can be imagined F. Yurko's article was not without a challenger. Anson Rainey wanted to call the inhabitants defending Ashkelon Canaanites instead of Israelites. In Yurko's reply he defends his identification of the defenders as more likely to be Israelites. We would remind the reader that during all of the reign of Pharaoh Merneptah Israel was in Exile in Babylon and their land was occupied largely by a mix of Arabs, Syrians and many other peoples, they were neither Canaanites nor Israelites. Their appearance is a typical appearance which fit many populations at this time in the Middle Eastern countries. The men have beards, they wear head bands and clothing reaching to their feet held together with a girdle. The hair do is similar to the style shown on the king of Hatti, Hattsulis/Nebuchadnezzar.
The lingering question we may have is, if these changes in the cartouches from Merneptah to Amenmesse to Seti II was really instigated by these kings, why are they so faint and not deeper carvings? Could these be just changes made by others at later times without the involvement of these rulers at all? Perhaps we should allow the possibility that Yurko's claim of these changes made by these kings is not unfalsifiable. On the other hand, it was not the kings themselves who took hammer and chisels into their hand. Reliefs such as these were made by workmen who may have just been too disinterested to do a more permanent job. If they are contemporary changes they may represent chronological interdependencies, if not, chronological conclusions should perhaps not be based on them.
The other observation we should mention is that the nomen of Amenmesse shown in the article by Frank Yurko does not feature the double sign but instead employs . Similarly in the case of the nomen of Seti II the changeover leaves out the commonly seen . The particular kings may still be meant since it is not uncommon that cartouches use some variant glyphs or even leave out a glyph.(?) On the other hand could it also open up the possiblity that other individuals are meant.(?)

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