27 April, 2016

Exodus Evidence, Part 2: The Biblical Connection to Lower Egyptian Dynasties XIV and XV

In my previous post, I made a rather strong case against the habit of looking for Exodus evidence in the wrong time period. Towards the end of the post, however, is a claim that refers to Khamudi as being the Exodus Pharaoh, as opposed to someone from Dynasties XIII (Rohl) or XIX (mainstream). Little do people realize, however, that the archaeological pattern from Avaris and other associated sites matches much more closely with the chronology of the lower kingdom of Divided Egypt than anything else. So, I'm using this post as an explanation for why I personally think that the Lower Egyptian dynasties are far more important, Biblically speaking, than the dynasties from Upper Egypt or from a unified Egypt.

A very important discovery was indeed made, right at the beginning of the earliest possible Avaris settlement. A Syrian-style house, very similar to the kind of house that Abraham, Isaac, and/or Jacob would have built in their hometown of Harran, Syria, was found at this location, and was subsequently flattened. On top of this flattened house, a palace was constructed. This palace was huge. It contained courtyards, speech chambers, a robing room, a front entrance with 12 pillars supporting it, and a garden in the back containing 12 tombs. Note this interesting pattern of 12's here: There was only one Semitic culture at this time, bar none, that considered 12 to be a number of cultural significance, and that culture was ancient Israel.

The one tidbit that *really* gets interesting, however, is that one of these 12 tombs behind this Avaris palace was shaped like a pyramid. Extremely unusual, why? Because only Pharaohs and queens had pyramid tombs at this time — not even viziers had pyramid tombs! Imhotep certainly didn't. Neither did any other highly important vizier in ancient Egypt, before this period or after. The person buried in this tomb, however, was a foreigner. His cult statue shows him with red hair (!), yellow skin (!), a throwstick (!) across his shoulder, and painted to look like he's wearing a multi-colored coat(!). Either this is indeed Joseph himself, or his career is identical to Joseph's.

The Pharaoh who was ruling at the exact same time that this palace and tombs were constructed in Avaris was Amenemhat III. His statue is a much more drab complexion compared to Joseph's: he's depicted with ears turned out so as to listen to people's concerns, and with a facial expression that is much more indicative of worry than of prosperity. It was during his reign that "Bahr Yussef" — the "Waterway of Joseph" — was constructed to divert half the water from the Nile into the Faiyum, a marshy lake that was used to grow crops like rice and wheat during times of plenty. Making it bigger means it's possible to grow more, and according to the Bible, Joseph interpreted the dreams of Amenemhat as seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, correct? During a time of drought (definitely a famine-causing phenomenon) on the Nile, the Faiyum would have still been large enough to hold water for much longer than 7 years.

After Amenemhat III, however, something really interesting happens: One kingdom becomes two. Dynasty XIII (the one that Amenemhat was a member of) rules Upper Egypt, and a brand new Dynasty XIV — Joseph's dynasty — rules Lower Egypt. Amenemhat was probably *so* impressed with Joseph's famine-foiling tactics that he decides to give half of his kingdom to Joseph and his descendants as a gift — the fact that he's buried in a pyramid tomb, the *only* vizier throughout Egyptian history to do so, seems to suggest exactly this.

But wait, what about the "Pharaoh who knew not Joseph"? Skip forward about 200 years to the reign of Upper Egyptian pharaoh Djedneferre Dedumose II. During his reign, Egypt goes from two peacefully coexisting kingdoms — Upper and Lower — to civil war. How did this happen? Right around this time, Dynasty XIV is replaced with Dynasty XV. A coup d'├ętat occurs in Lower Egypt, and this new dynasty, instead of being friendly to the Upper kings, is hostile to them. This dynasty is also Semitic, but not Jewish. It was a dynasty of pagan Semites, who worshipped not Yahweh but Baal, Har, and other idols along those lines, and the first king in that dynasty was a powerful one indeed: Sheshi. He certainly would have a motive to enslave the pious Jews, and it's to persecute them for worshipping one God instead of many.

Supporting this hypothesis is what happens when the Israelites reach the border with Canaan but decide to grumble instead of conquer (Numbers 14:33), then conquer 40 years later. If they had absolutely no prior contact with this region, why did the Israelites grumble? It was the promised land! How did they know about the Canaanites and how horrible they were if they went through that land hundreds of years earlier and found no one there? The only feasible explanation for this is that Dynasty XV, which began with Sheshi and ended with, that's right, Khamudi, happened to be of either Canaanite origin.

Making Khamudi the Pharaoh who confronted Moses (and, by extension, Apepi II as the Pharaoh that instituted the drowning policy and whose daughter adopted Moses, according to Exodus 2:23) would also make perfect sense from a standpoint of how this powerful Lower Kingdom was able to get overrun and how this bloody civil war ended so abruptly: The plagues and the Red Sea crossing would mean that Khamudi would suffer the loss of his slave force, the loss of his crops, the loss of his firstborn, and the loss of his army. The Exodus would weaken the Lower Kingdom, sure, but the Upper Kingdom? The Upper Egyptians would be saying "You know this Lower king, Khamudi? His slave force is free, his army is under the Red Sea, and all his firstborn are dead — here's an opportunity for us to take him out." Right after the Exodus, this is exactly what happens: Khamudi is killed by an Upper Egyptian Pharaoh by the name of Ahmose I, who conquers the now largely abandoned Lower Egypt and founds the reunified New Kingdom on top of the Lower Kingdom's plagued, pillaged, abandoned, tattered ruins.