Aye succeeded Tutankhamun as Pharaoh, but ruled only a few years before he too mysteriously disappeared.(1) The army commander, Horemheb, married a surviving heiress (believed to be Mutnodjme, a sister of Nefertiti) of the royal line and became Pharaoh in his place.(2) It was during Horemheb's reign that Ramses was appointed commander of the Egyptian army. Ramses had formerly been the mayor of Zarw, and upon his appointment as army commander, he began to expand the fortress city of Zarw which was renamed Pi-Ramses (the House of Ramses) in his own honor.(3) Renewed building at Zarw was later inititated by Ramses II.
When Horemheb died without heir and was succeeded by Ramses, the Egyptian 18th Dynasty came to an end. In the Sinai desert, at the location known as Mount Sarabit, there are the remains of an ancient Egyptian temple. It was here that the archaeologist Flinders Petrie found an exquisite statue of Akhenaten's mother, Queen Tiye.(4) It was also here that a stele set up by Pharaoh Ramses I was found which declared that the Aten and all its dominion were now under his rule.(5) What more logical location would there be for such a stele than at the very spot where Akhenaten (Moses) would have spent much of his time in exile? What other reason would Ramses have had to place this monument in such a remote area?
Osman deduces that if Akhenaten were still living, Ramses I, the erstwhile underling of Akhenaten, would not have been allowed to make such a bold proclamation, or to ascend to the throne without a challenge. The description of Moses' return from the wilderness, found both in the Bible and the Koran, includes appeals which would have been used by Akhenaten to convince the elders of Egypt that he was indeed the exiled Pharaoh and should as the only remaining Thutmosid be duly reinstated as king.(6)
Despite the former glories of the 18th Dynasty, Akhenaten was not welcomed back. Ramses had already taken firm control over both the military and the government of Egypt. Akhenaten was forced once again to leave Egypt. Perhaps, as the Bible describes, Akhenaten and the rest of his "chosen" ones who had not accompanied him into exile, would have been sent away with due respect and with rich gifts (Exodus 12:35-36), but nonetheless they were sent away. As the Book of Psalms records, at this final departure of Moses and his followers, Egypt was truly glad (Psalm 105:38), for in their minds, the reign of Akhenaten was a mistake, and the reason Egypt had been so severely afflicted by plague. In the 19th Dynasty Akhenaten, Semenkhare, Tutankhamun and Aye were excised from the king lists. They were considered to have never ruled and the lengths of their reigns were added to that of Horemheb's!
The reign of Ramses I lasted only one full year, and correlates well with the death of the Pharaoh during the Exodus as described by the Bible.(7) Josephus, quoting Manetho, states that those responsible for Egypt's 13 years of trouble were attacked by "Rampses" and driven out of Egypt.(8) At the time of the death of Ramses I, his son Seti I, was involved in a military expedition in the Sinai,(9) because "the foe belonging to the Shasu are plotting rebellion."(10) The Karnak Temple mural from which this record is quoted also states, "the rebels, they know not how they shall [flee]; the vanquished of the Shasu [becoming like] that which exist not."(11) It stands to reason that an attack on a tribe of bedouins(12) could have waited at least until Ramses' burial ... unless Seti believed that they were considered a threat to the throne, or assisting the people he considered responsible for his father's death. (The name Seti is derived from the Nile Delta god Set. Set, in Egyptian legend was the murderer of Osiris. Later in Hebrew/Christian beliefs he became namesake of the Biblical Satan.)
The following is a direct quote from "Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times" by Donald Redford.(13) "Shasu [literally meaning "a people who move on foot"](14) are found in Egyptian texts from the 18th Dynasty through the Third Intermediate Period. They most frequently occur in generalizing toponym lists where the context helps little in pinpointing their location. But lists from Soleb and Amarah [in Nubia], ultimately of fifteenth century [B.C.] origin [circa 17th/18th Dynasty] suggest that an original concentration of Shasu settlements lay in southern Transjordan in the plains of Moab and northern Edom. Here a group of six names is identified as in 'the land of the Shasu' and these include Se'ir (i.e., Edom), Laban (probably Libona, south of Amman), Sam'ath (cf. the Shim'ethites, a clan of the Kenites: 1 Chron. 2:55), Wrbr (probably the Wady Hasa) [, Yhw, and Pysps].(15) Elsewhere in texts of the 19th and 20th Dynasties, the consistent linking of Shasu with Edom and the Arabah (Timna) places the identifications on the earlier lists beyond doubt."
"The localization of the 'Land of the Shasu' in the mountainous districts of Se'ir ... has an interesting consequence for one name in the mentioned lists from Soleb and Amarah - 'Yhw (in) the land of the Shasu.' For half a century it has been generally admitted that we have here the tetragrammaton, the name of the Israelite god, 'Yahweh'; and if this be the case, as it undoubtedly is, the passage constitutes a most precious indication of the whereabouts during the late fifteenth century B.C. of an enclave revering this god. ... Numerous passages in later Biblical tradition ... depict Yahweh 'coming forth from Se'ir' and originating in Edom."
Donald Redford goes on to state that the Shasu "burst with especially grievous force just before the beginning of the 19th Dynasty across ... northern Sinai, cutting off Egypt's coastal route ... though Sety I had little trouble in beating them back ..." But why had these descendents of Laban (uncle/father-in-law of Jacob and great-great-great-grandfather of the Biblical Moses, Genesis 28:2) and adherents of Yahweh (i.e., Jehovah), whose homeland was in and around Mount Se'ir in Edom, suddenly appeared along the Via Maris (Mediterranean coastal route and main artery between Egypt and Canaan) at the same time that Moses and the Israelites are said (according to Manetho) to have been driven from Egypt by "Rampses?".
A reasonable deduction is that they were requested by Akhenaten to assist in his return to Egypt, either to reclaim his throne, or to extract the remainder of his followers ("speak to Pharaoh about bringing the Israelites out"). The size of the Shasu force (200,000 by the Karnak account), which may have included the Exodus party ("the foe belonging to the Shasu"), and their actions (possibly raiding two Egyptian garrisons along the Via Maris in order to obtain water)(16) were likely used as justification for a counterstrike by Seti.
The attacks on the Shasu were continued in the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II who succeeded Seti, and were again considered important enough to be recorded on the walls of the Karnak temple, and at the Nile Delta city of Tanis(17) as well. Moreover, Ramses II's son and successor Merenptah lists another group (in lieu of the Shasu) as being a victim of his father's campaigning in Palestine, namely Israel itself (Israel stela account), indicating that by Merenptah's time Israel was recognized as a separate people apart from the groups recorded by the Egyptians as living in "the land of the Shasu."