Dynasty XIIa & IIa
Now we will backtrack three centuries, and turn our attention to
Dynasty XIIa [b] (1918-1780 [-1705-1684]/ º1991-1786)
Dynasty XIIa was an extension of the Middle Kingdom culture founded during Dynasty XI. It is a profound mystery that no direct correlations are found between Palestine and the culture of the Middle Kingdom (as we saw in Chapter 5), until we realize that there was indeed contact between these neighbors, but it is all assigned to the (contemporaneous but misplaced) culture of the so-called "Archaic" period. For 250 years following Chedorlaomer's invasion and the
The tradition preserved by Manetho tells us that “The Twelfth Dynasty consisted of seven kings of
The Turin Papyrus records that this dynasty lasted “213 years, 1 months, 17 days.” Given that this line started in 1918 at the end of the seven years of unrest, then it ended in 1705, the very year of the death of Joseph. Another source says it lasted 160 years, thus ending in 1758 bc — at which time in the nome of Thinis there was grave civil unrest — after which a rival claimant to the throne, warlike Khasekhem, won out (c. 1758); Jacob had died the year before, in 1759 during the reign of Lamares of Dynasty XII. Yet another length was given as 245 years, but this may be an error, where some scribe added up the reigns without recognizing coregencies; again, the higher value may include the years of Amenemhet I as vizier, before he gained control of the Middle Kingdom. Or, most probably, it included the initial king of Dynasty XIII.
The various lengths of reigns are quite confused, and the best I have been able to do for some of these kings is to estimate. For the first three kings, the two sets of numbers — those calculated from the monuments, and those preserved in the Turin Papyrus — both add up to 94; and Manetho's numbers add up to 94 plus 6, which we may take to be the seven years of civil war. Amenemhet I, then, ruled from 1918 to c. 1898, Sesostris I from c. 1898 to c. 1856, and Amenemhet II from c. 1856 to 1824; for the sake of simplicity, I will round off the estimates.
We have seen that Amenemhet was an official of Mentuhotep III, and that he finally won out in the unrest which brought down the first Theban dynasty. Amenemhet I (Ammenemes, Sehetep-Ib-Ra, 1918-c. 1900/ º1991-1962) seems to have won the throne with the support of the nomarchs. Manetho says, “In succession to [the kings of Dynasty XI], Ammenemes [Amenemhet I] ruled for 16 years.” Whether this refers to his years as vizier, or to the beginning of the seven years of unrest, or the end, is not stated. But we know that he controlled much of
Because of the expedience of his close relationship with the nomarchs, “he reinforced the nome system by securing provincial boundaries and re-establishing powers and privileges. With their positions enhanced in this way, the nomarchs became influential and, in time, dangerous.” He worshipped Amon of Thebes, who was prominent in Dynasty XII. With his son, he built the new capital — Itj-Tawy, "Seizer of the Two Lands" — near al-Lisht, where his pyramid tomb is surrounded by the mastabas of his courtiers. He built walls in the eastern Delta, the "Walls of the Ruler", against Asiatics and their incursions. In his day, northern
To those who may be wondering how it is that the change of dynasties in Thebes had no immediate effect in terminating the reigns of the vassal nomarchs, I would give the simple analogy that the election of an American president need have no immediate effect on the term of a State office. There is a real difference between local and national concerns, which fact must be recognized for ancient
We find a clear picture of these times in The Story of Sinuhe — the "crown jewel" of Middle Kingdom literature. Sinuhe was an attendant of the wife of Sesostris I, and he tells of his adventures in
Sesostris was summoned from his campaign in
The term ‘Asiatics’ is a translation of Ammu, which shares its root with ‘Amorite’, the restless Western Semitic tribesmen of the Arabian and Syrian deserts. In Egyptian literature however, the term need not imply any specific race.
In the desert, Sinuhe suffered grave thirst, but an Asiatic leader recognized him and gave “me water, and boiled milk for me. I went with him to his tribe. What he did for me was good.” Sinuhe moved on to
Sinuhe was made an official of this Amorite of Canaan, king Ammunenshi. “He set me at the head of his children. He married me to his eldest daughter. He let me chose for myself of his land, of the best that was his, on his [northern] border with another land. It was a good land called Yah. Figs were in it and grapes. It had more wine than water. Abundant was its honey, plentiful its oil. All kinds of fruit were on its trees. Barley was there and emmer, and no end of cattle of all kinds. Much also came to me because of the love of me; for he had made me chief of a tribe in the best part of his land.”
The name of this "
Sinuhe continues, saying “I passed many years, my children becoming strong men, each a master of his tribe. . . .When Asiatics conspired to attack the Rulers of Hill-Countries, I opposed their movements. For this ruler of Retenu made me carry out numerous missions as commander of his troops. Every hill tribe against which I marched I vanquished, so that it was driven from the pasture of its wells. I plundered its cattle, carried off its families, seized their food, and killed people by my strong arm, by my bow, by my movements and my skillful plans.”
Who are these "Rulers of Hill-Countries"? The Egyptian term is heqau khasat (kh3w h3swt), “the term from which the name 'Hyksos' was derived.” This has the effect of identifying the Hyksos with the Amorites of Canaan, who were the ammu. From Sinuhe's account of his exploits, we gain some insight into the culture of pre-Exodus
Archeology recognizes the evidence of this period in the (post-Sodom) unwalled settlements of the seminomadic population of Middle Bronze I — built at least in part, we know now, by Amorites. Contemporaneous to this, albeit unrecognized as such, are at least some of the artifacts identified as Early Bronze II, consisting of settlements with mud brick or undressed stone walls, some with defensive towers.
Sinuhe was not always the aggressor in his conflicts. He relates in a poem that “There came a hero of Retenu/ To challenge me in my tent./ A Champion was he without peer,/ He had subdued it all./ He said he would fight with me,/ He planned to plunder me,/ He meant to seize my cattle,/ At the behest of his tribe.” Sinuhe laments to king Ammunenshi that the personal challenge was due to envy: “'Is an inferior beloved when he becomes a superior? No Asiatic makes friends with a Delta-man.'” He prepared himself for the fight: “At night I strung my bow, sorted my arrows, practiced with my dagger, polished my weapons. When it dawned Retenu came — it had assembled its tribes; it had gathered its neighboring peoples; it was intent on this combat.” We are reading here not of politics and conquest, but of the social customs of personal combat. The "champion" was some tough guy, who had fought and won many duels.
“When I had made his weapons attack me, I let his arrows pass me by without effect, one following the other. Then, when He charged me, I shot him, my arrow sticking in his neck. He screamed; he fell on his nose; I slew him with his axe. I raised my war cry over his back, while every Asiatic shouted. I gave praise to
But despite his victory and all his prosperity, his heart yet longed after the black soil of his homeland. “What is more important than that my corpse be buried in the land in which I was born! . . .Would that my body were young again! For old age has come; feebleness has overtaken me. My eyes are heavy, my arms weak; my legs fail to follow. The heart is weary; death is near.”
Sinuhe journeyed southward to the beginning of the Horusway (the Egyptian road to
In the throne room, Sinuhe
“found his majesty on the great throne in a kiosk of gold. Stretched out on my belly, I did not know myself before him, while this god greeted me pleasantly. . . .his majesty said to the queen: 'Here is Sinuhe, come as an Asiatic, a product of nomads!' . . .'He shall not fear, he shall not dread! He shall be a Companion among the nobles. He shall be among the courtiers. Proceed to the robing-room to wait on him.' . . . I was put in the house of a prince. In it were luxuries: a bathroom and mirrors. . . .I was shaved; my hair was combed. . . .I was clothed in fine linen; I was anointed with fine oil. I slept on a bed. I had returned the sand to those who dwell in it, the tree-oil to those who grease themselves with it. I was given a house and garden that had belonged to a courtier. Many craftsmen rebuilt it, and all its woodwork was made anew. Meals were brought to me from the palace three times, four times a day, apart from what the royal children gave without a moment's pause. A stone pyramid was built for me in the midst of the pyramids. . . .A funerary domain was made for me. It had fields and a garden in the right place, as is done for a Companion of the first rank. My statue was overlaid with gold, its skirt with electrum. It was his majesty who ordered it made. There is no commoner for whom the like has been done. I was in the favor of the king, until the day of landing [death] came.” And here the tale of Sinuhe ends.
To return to the pharaohs, it is said that Amenemhet ruled for 20 years, and then appointed his son Sesostris I as coregent, to share the throne for 10 years. The practice of coregency seems to have been the norm for Dynasty XII, which is the major cause of the conflicting numbers of the various king lists. Be that as it may, Amenemhet I died, perhaps assassinated, while his son and heir was fighting in the western land of the Tjemeh and Tjehenu — Libyan tribes which eventually merged. We have read from Sinuhe of the fomenting of unrest, but the transition was resolved with Sesostris firmly seated on the throne.
Sesostris I (Kheper-Ka-Ra, c. 1900-c. 1860/ º1971-1928) sent punitive forces to
Sesostris II (Kha-Kheper-Ra, c. 1836-c. 1818/ º1897-1878) follows in modern lists, but was omitted in the lists of Manetho — from which we may deduce that this king had no independent rule, but rather acted as coregent with both Amenemhet II and Sesostris III. In any case, he and his elder, Amenemhet II, set about to reclaim the wilderness of the Fayum, a project closely associated with the crocodile god (Sebek) at the nome capital of Shedet; this reclamation culminated in the time of Amenemhet III (commencing c. 1780 bc). A statuette of the wife of Sesostris II (and daughter of Amenemhet II) was found at
As for Sesostris III (Senwosre, Kha-Kau-Ra, c. 1829-1780/ º1879-1842), he was the greatest conqueror of his dynasty, ruling immediately before the advent of Joseph. Manetho records the startling detail that this king “was said to have been 4 cubits 3 palms 2 fingers' breadths in stature” — that is, 7'2". It may be that he was even more boastful and blasphemous than all his predecessors, if such a thing were possible. He usurped the titles of the ‘god’, and called himself by the religious title "King of kings and Lord of lords"; he also styled himself on his many monuments as the "Judge of the dead", proclaiming that all must face him in the afterlife.
Now, according to the Palermo Stone and a temple inscription uncovered at Edfu, there was a great war which took place 363 years after Menes started to rule in
From Table 1-1, Biblical Chronology, we can see that it is exactly in that pivotal year of 1829 that Jacob started to dwell in the land of Padam Aram, and so away from the unrest of the Great War of Sesostris, and its consequent dangers in Palestine. This is why the Bible does not mention it: it was not relevant to Jacob's story. Only in 1809 did Jacob returned to
From archeology we learn that Sesostris's relationship with
At this time (c. 1829-1780/ º1879-1842),
At home in
The common Egyptian name for
With regard to Rezenu, it has been suggested that this term originated as an attempt to pronounce Arzenu, which is Hebrew for "Our Country". As for M‑n‑tyw, this name is found in later Egyptian documents to refer to Menashe — that is, King Manassah of
The author of the report of the raid finds himself acting against someone, or some group, who shared the name of Joseph's son. In telling of this, he refers to the land promised to Joseph's father as "our land" — not a name, but a description which became the common way of describing
Dynasty II 1940/39-c. 1638/ º2980-2780, contemporary of Dynasty XII
The fragmentary Palermo Stone has been reconstructed in a variety of ways, so that the duration of Dynasties I and II is supposed by various scholars to have lasted 295, 444, 419 or 453, 520-545, or finally 544 years. From Manetho's data, we calculate the termination date of Dynasty II to have been 1638; so his account of the two dynasties of Thinis has them lasting 554 years, all together only nine or ten years longer than the longest of the Palermo Stone reconstructions. This slight discrepancy can easily be accounted for by assuming that coregencies were mishandled by the Egyptian scribes who gathered this historical information. Standard chronologies simply ignore the ancient historians, since the data cannot be made to fit the modern paradigm. (Remember that Dynasty VIII ended 955 years after Menes started to rule, which leaves only 401 years for the remaining six dynasties, if they all ran end to end — and by no means can either Manetho's nor the modern Egyptologists' dates be made to fit into such a constricted period.)
Dynasty II started up in the last decades of Dynasty XI. The available information on this second and last dynasty of Thinis, as with most of the others, is quite scanty. We have the enigmatic tomb inscriptions and perhaps a few monuments, and we have the epigrams of historians. This dynasty is included in the Palermo Stone, the Turin Papyrus, and in Manetho, who tells us that it lasted either 297 or 302 year. As we have already noticed, the different authors who summarized Manetho did not add wrong, but rather took different starting or ending points for the dynasties. They may have considered some king too obscure or unimportant to include, or may have counted an ascension to power from one event or from some later event.
With the demise of Qay-A, last king of Thinite Dynasty I, it would seem that Mentuhotep II, suzerain of Dynasty XI, appointed or confirmed a new noble house in this nome. The first king of the new line is known from archeology as Ra-Neb; perhaps he started as a vizier or a coregent of Qay-A. From the histories, we have Ra-Neb listed as Boethos or Bochos, ruling for about 38 years, from 1940 to 1902/ c. º2980-2950, contemporaneous with the Thebans, Mentuhotep III (1937-1925), and Amenemhet I (1918-c. 1900) of Dynasty XII.
Manetho tells us that in the reign of Ra-Neb “a chasm opened at Bubastus in the Delta, and many perished.” Using arcane calculations from the theory of cyclic catastrophism, which I will discuss in another place, I have dated this upheaval in the autumn of 1926 bc; it was caused by a process similar to that which created the Dead Sea during the
The next king was called Hetepsekhemui ("The two powers are at peace"); Manetho gives him as Kaiechos (Chechous, Choos, or Kakauy) ruling for 39 years (1902-1863/ c. º2920-2890), and he says this king was involved in instituting goat- and bull-worship at
The third king of Dynasty II was Netery-Mu (Ny-Neter), known to have ruled for over 22 years. Manetho calls him Binothris, Banutjeren or Biophis, and lists him as ruling for 47 years (1863-1816/ c. º2890-2860), contemporary with Amenemhet II (c. 1860-1824). His reign was remarkable for the fact that at this time it was decided that women may rule; considering that queens had already ruled, starting with Isis/ Semiramis, we must suppose that what is meant here is that women may rule even locally.
The fourth king is known as Peribsen (Sekhem-Ib Per-En-Maat; in Manetho, Tlas and Wadjnas), ruling for 17 years (1816-1799/ c. º2860-2840). It has been suggested that he was a usurper, presumably because he is unique in calling himself a "Seth-king", rather than a "Horus-king". As such, he might be aligning himself with that faction which had opposed Nimrod, favoring the cause of Shem. There is no comment from Manetho about his reign, and his relationship with the Theban suzerain Sesostris III (1829-1780) is unknown, but it is around this time, c. 1810, that Dynasties III and IV start up. It may be that this usurper was somehow connected to the rise of these new houses. Let's remember how Sesostris had suppressed the older noble houses, as too powerful.
I will break off the account of Egyptian history here, because the 1700's have a particular character, which requires a separate chapter. We have seen that Dynasties XII and II were contemporaries, although they are separated by about a thousand years by the standard construction of history. Dynasty XII ruled during the high culture of the "Middle Kingdom", and the more provincial culture of Dynasty II is called "Archaic". Finally, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Joseph, lived during the 20th to 18th centuries bc.
.Africanus, in Waddell, p. 63.
.T.G.H. James, "
.M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol. 1, p. 223; all the follow quotations of Sinuhe are from these pages.
.AEL, Vol. 1, p. 224; paragraph ignored after "traveler."
.AEL, Vol. 1, pp. 226-227.
.AEL, Vol. 1, p. 234, note #7.
.AEL, Vol. 1, p. 228; the dash replaces a period for clarity.
.AEL, Vol. 1. p. 228; paragraph break ignored after "his arms."
.AEL, Vol. 1, pp. 229-230.
.AEL, Vol. 1, p. 231.
.AEL, Vol. 1, pp. 232-233; paragraph breaks are ignored.
.W.S. Smith, Ancient
.Eusebius, in Waddell, p. 71.
.In Hoeh, p. 91.
.Africanus, Waddell, p. 67.
.This is another one of the independent validations of my reconstruction: I did not manipulate these dates to arrive at such correspondences.
.James, p. 470.
.James, p. 470.
.The term does appear in the literature of the Middle Kingdom, as we saw in the Tale of Sinuhe, but this is taken as the emendation of a scribe who sought to clarify the text for later readers.
.Velikovsky (1952), p. 163.
.See the relevant section on the Chronological Table. This brief period for the birth of Joseph's sons was derived from the data in Bible, not from any demands of theory — the correspondence is real, not a manipulation of data.