"At the Side of My Father"
The Birth and Succession of Pharaoh Thutmose III
(Covenant of Isaac)
In the previous essay, the story of "the Lord and Gideon" in Judges 6-8 was shown to mirror the account of Abram and his ally Mamre found in Genesis 14. In Genesis, the next important figure in the Abram narrative after Mamre is Abimelech, King of Gerar. Likewise, in the Book of Judges, the exploits of Gideon are followed immediately by those of King Abimelech. The two accounts of Abimelech, one in Genesis and the other in Judges, are also complementary. This is further indication that the association between Mamre in Genesis and Gideon in Judges is also correct.
Genesis 12-16 describes the relationship of Abram with Mamre (Sequenenre Tao II). Together they had saved Canaan from the Kassites and the Hurrian Horde. Nevertheless, Abram, the "Lord of Peace," was disturbed because he did not have a suitable heir. An attempt by Tao II to give him a son by Sarah had failed. The ruse of a plague being inflicted on this pharaoh's harem was introduced into the account as a diversion, and may also reflect an ancient artifice used to lend social acceptability to the liaisons of the royal court. (This smoke screen has proved to be equally effective in concealing the actual meaning of the narrative in modern times!) In exchange for the opportunity to sire a child through Sarah, Tao II provided Abram with a royal princess to produce an heir of his "own bowels." (Gen. 15:4) This princess, Hagar, was undoubtedly a daughter or sister of Mamre. Abram would have accepted nothing less.
Hagar entered the harem of Abram. However, Abram respected the role of Sarah as "Mistress of the Harem" and would not sleep with Hagar against her wishes. After an unspecified period of time, Sarah relented. Sequenenre Tao II had promised an heir through Abram's own body. In this covenant, Ishmael was the child of promise. The pride of Hagar was for good cause. She was royalty of the highest degree, and her son Ishmael would have been a prince of the highest order. Ishmael would have been a leading candidate for the throne of Egypt. Hagar was mistreated by Sarah due to the standing of her son Ishmael. A word play in the Hebrew of Genesis 16:14 indicates that Hagar returned to Mamre (Sequenenre). The name of the well, "Roi," and the Hebrew word mareh (related to Mamre) are derived from a common root raah. Despite her protests, the Biblical account states that the "Lord" (Sequenenre Tao II) required her to go back to Abram and Sarah.
After the brutal death of Mamre (Sequenenre Tao II), his junior ally named in Genesis 14 as Eshcol (Thutmose I) became the dominant prince by appointment of Terah (Tao I). As the senior living Patriarch, and "living god," Tao I mandated the terms of a new covenant between himself, his designated successor Thtumose I, and with Abram. The prior agreement of Tao II and Abram was respected, however the covenant of Tao I required a new heir to be produced through Sarah. Genesis 17-26 is a single narrative with a singular focus - the birth and succession of this heir, Isaac (Thutmose III).
|Biblical Name(s)||Egyptian Name(s)|
|Terah||Shua, Abiel, Tou/Toi||Senakhtenre, Tao I, Apophis I|
|Abram / Abraham||Abdon, Eliab||Djehuty, Teti, Ibrim|
|Gideon||Mamre, Baal, Jerub-baal,||Sequenenre, Tao II, Apophis II|
|Nahor II||Zur, Zohar, Caleb II||King of Nahrin/Mitanni|
|Eshcol||Abimelech, Nadab||Thutmose I|
|Thahash||Shelah, Nahash||Ahmose I|
|Sarai||Sarah||Isis, mother of Thutmose III|
|Pharez||Perez, Ephron, Jotham||Thutmose II|
|Isaac||Levi (the elder)||Thutmose III, Yii, Parsatatar|
|Rebekah||Beketre, Hatshepsut-Meryetre, wife of Thutmose III|
|Reumah||Bathshua||Queen Ahhotep I|
|Tamar||Maaca (II)||Queen Mutnofret, Hatnofer|
|Zerah||Esek, Ahuzzath||Senenmut (Senu)|
|Tahpenes (Ta-Perez)||Hatshepsut, daughter of Thutmose I|
|Sitnah||Nefrure (Sityah), dau.of Hatshepsut|
|Esau||Saussatar son of Parsatatar|
There is an explicitly defined thirteen-year gap between the last verse of Genesis 16 and the first verse of Genesis 17. Numerical figures, and especially year numbers and ages given by the Bible cannot always be taken literally. However, in order to maintain consistency with the overall Biblical narrative, the founding of the Egyptian New Kingdom must have taken place entirely within the childbearing years of one woman, Sarah. This could have been no more than about 25 years. Although the current model suggests a much longer period, there are no hard constraints that would preclude the sequence of events outlined here. Egyptologists recognize that compression of the early New Kingdom chronology is appropriate, however there is not enough information from archaeology alone to merit abandonment of the existing model. Chart 16 shows the proper chronology of the Hyksos Period and early New Kingdom.
Although not of interest to the Genesis author, there was a great deal of Egyptian history that took place in the silent thirteen years of Ishmael's youth. This volatile and violent interlude is described with great detail in Kings/Chronicles narrative, as discussed in the previous chapter. It was during this period that Tao II was disinherited by Tao I and then executed. This effectively nullified the covenant of Tao II with Abram. Their covenant is first described in Genesis 12. It is re-confirmed in Genesis 15, and fulfilled with the birth of Ishmael in Genesis 16. However, it was followed by thirteen years of bad luck for Ishmael.
After the disinheritance and death of Tao II and then Kamose, Tao I named Thutmose I as his next co-regent. At this time, a new covenant is also offered to Abram. In Genesis 17:1, the Lord announces to Abram, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you." The author of the first covenant (Genesis 12) with Abram was now dead. The "Lord" who now appears to him is called "God Almighty," which indicates he is the senior ruling Patriarch. He has come primarily to renew his own relationship with Abram. Abram was the first co-regent of Tao I (Terah). When the throne was lost in Babylon, Abram also lost his inheritance. Although he helped establish a new kingdom in Canaan and Egypt, his birthright was not restored. In recognition, Tao I belatedly extended to his eldest son a consolation prize. That prize was to be named as the legal founder of a new dynasty. An heir born to his wife Sarah would be named as successor to the throne.
Tao I agreed to honor the previous covenant between Abram and Tao II. He promised to make Ishmael into a great nation with 12 rulers (verse 20), which are enumerated later in Genesis 25:16. However, the covenant of Tao I was to be enacted through an heir produced through Sarah, and not from Abram's own body. Genesis 17-26 describes the birth and succession of the son that Tao I was determined to give Abram and Sarah. This covenant was not to be fulfilled by the later Kings of Judah and Israel, but in Isaac (Thutmose III). There was a much more immediate purpose in mind.
The status of Sarah may have been equaled by a few of her sisters, but could not have been surpassed. Her own standing could however be raised through a child by her father. As "God Almighty," her father Terah (Tao I) decided to invoke the custom of the royal court in reverse. Sarah was childless. It was the duty of a close male relative to provide an heir on the behalf of the husband. Like it or not, Terah was determined to produce that heir for Abram. As a "courtesy," the Lord (Tao I) "appears" to Abram and announces his decision. It is an offer Abram cannot refuse.
The Lord (Tao I) opens the dialog of Genesis 17 (NIV):
As for me, this is my covenant with you. (verse 3)
I will bless her [Sarah] and will surely give you a son by her... kings of peoples will come from her. (verses 15-16)
Abram responds, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing." (verse 18)
"I will establish my covenant with him [Isaac] as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him." (verse 19)
Ishmael ... I will surely bless ... but my covenant I will establish with [my son] Isaac, whom Sarah will bear this time next year. (verses 20-21)
The phrase "my covenant" is found eight times in the narrative of Genesis 17. This clearly demonstrates that it is not to be yet another confirmation of the covenant of Genesis 12-16. In that covenant, Sarah was asked to go along with the plan of Abram to produce an heir through Hagar. In the new covenant, Sarah has the active role. From Abram, it requires only cooperation. Abram did not necessarily still desire an heir through Sarah, however he does not seem to have any choice in the matter. Sarah earlier protested the marriage of Abram to Hagar. Abram now protests to "the Lord" regarding a new dynastic liaison. He argues that he already has an acceptable heir. He pleads with his father for Ishmael to be named as successor. Ishmael receives a blessing, but not the anointing Abram desires for him.
In the very next chapter, Genesis 18, a reunion takes place of war veterans from the epic battle of "four kings against five" described in Genesis 14. The appointed place for the meeting is named as the "oaks of Mamre." In preparation for that earlier conflict, Abram had traveled to this same place near Hebron (of Egypt) and formed an alliance with his "brothers" Mamre (Tao II), Eschol (Thutmose I) and Aner (Amenhotep I). Together they fought for the honor of Tao I and defeated the invading army of their Mesopotamian rivals. Considering the tragic nature of Tao II's later death, this could not have been an entirely joyous occasion. The great oaks were still standing, but Mamre was not. However, the memory of him would have still been very much alive in his former haunt. It was Terah (Tao I) who arranged for the gathering, not to reminisce, but as an attempt at reconciliation, and as always, renewed domination.
From his humble station, Abram (now called Abraham) must look up to the "three men standing before him." This phrase can also be translated, "three mortals appointed by him," or even "over him." The Genesis author is informing the astute reader that these three men may have held superior offices to Abraham, but they were not his equals in character. They also owed their status to Abraham on account of his cunning heroism in the battle of Genesis 14. The Hebrew word used for "men" is enosh, which connotes "bloodthirsty," and is derived from anosh, meaning "desperately wicked, sick." In the culture of the court, Tao I was "God Almighty" and the crown princes Thutmose I and Amenhotep I were his "angels." However, it is implied in this narrative that they were also natural born killers. Explicitly, there is respect for authority in the narrative. Implicitly, the author of Genesis is deeply cynical of divine kingship, and expresses reproach for murderous men who coveted kingship.
In Genesis 14, Thutmose was called King Bera of Sodom. Amenhotep was identified as King Birsha of Gomorrah. We learn in Genesis 19, that these two angels of death (Thutmose & Amenhotep) were on their way back to Sodom and Gomorrah. They had a genocidal score to settle there. Genesis 14:10 tells us that it was actually the kings Bera and Birsha who took flight, and that their men on foot were left trapped between the army of the invaders and the nearby tar pits. In spite of this, the men of Sodom and Gomorrah were accused of cowardice and fleeing in the face of battle. For their lack of manliness they were to be burned up as in a furnace, including all their crops. In Genesis 19 they are "visited" in wrath by the kings who formerly depended upon them in vain.
Like the god Thoth, the wise Abraham rushes out to wait on his manic masters. Prior to destroying life at Sodom and Gomorrah, the group stopped to create life among the "oaks of Mamre," and establish a new covenant with Abraham. Sarah is instructed to "knead bread." A meal is prepared and eaten. The Lord then inquires as to the whereabouts of Abraham's wife. Abraham obediently informs him that she is in the tent. There is a partial break in the tension when "the Lord" reasserts his intention to father an heir for Abraham through Sarah. Veiled by the tent, Sarah bellies a strained laugh. She and her own "master" Abraham were old, but "the Lord," he was truly ancient! As Abraham did in the previous chapter, Sarah indirectly calls attention to the old age of her father by mentioning her own maturity. Irrespective, with two "angels" as witnesses, her father determines to follow through on his plan. Sarah is to have a child by the will of a god, even if it is not a divine pleasure.
After this "social call," the company departs and Abraham speeds them on their way. Out of earshot of Sarah, the Lord (Tao I) seems to mention the covenant between Abraham and another Lord, evidently that of Tao II. The Lord acknowledges in the company of the other men that he will honor that agreement, which secures the future of Ishmael.a The two angels (Bera and Birsha) took their leave to travel on to Sodom and Gomorrah. As noted in the previous chapter, Thutmose would later attack and kill Amenhotep. While Tao I was alive, the two remained at least on cordial terms. On this day in particular they had a mutual grudge and mission of revenge.
Meanwhile, the Lord tarries with Abraham. Abraham intercedes on behalf of the two condemned cities. He is not so much concerned about their survival as he is the well being of his nephew Lot who was still living there. Abraham had already rescued him once, and he succeeds in doing the same again. However, the cities were not to be spared. As in the days of Noah, only one "righteous" man and his family are delivered from destruction. The rest are doomed to die. The lips of great gods had already sealed their fate with silence. Ea had acted to save his favorite son and sent Thoth to assist him. Therefore, Abraham does not plead with the Lord (Senakht-en-Re Tao I) to save the cities on account of a single man. He knows that this is futile, but the eleventh hour rescue of a good soul was in keeping with "tradition." In the next chapter of this book, the Egyptian namesake of Abraham will be shown to be Thoth. It was also the namesake of one of Abraham's leading allies, pharaoahThutmose I (Eshcol/Bera).
"Thoth appears in the Horus legends and was depicted in every age as the god who 'loved truth and hated abomination.' "b The violent overthrow of the two cities by Thutmose I by command of Tao I is not condemned, but justified as righteous indignation. Neither does Abraham try to prevent it. Their decadence and sudden destruction is compared to that of earlier peoples who lived in the carefree ease of the fertile Jordan Rift Valley. This was before living conditions were abruptly and permanently altered by the sudden shift of underlying tectonic plates. The siege in Abraham's time of two cities called (figuratively?) Sodom and Gomorrah is depicted in Genesis as a repetition of an earlier destruction by fire. In the Epic of Erra and Ishumc we learn that many terrors befell the people of the ancient world all at once. Multitudes drowned, starved or were killed by beasts, but others were destroyed by fire when the "heavens were shaken" and the Deluge came.
The dialog between Abraham and the Lord in Genesis 18 is adapted from the Epic of Erra and Ishum.d Abraham is typecast as the patient counselor Ishum (Thoth)e and the Lord (Terah, father of Abraham) plays the role of the god Erra ("servant of Re"). As in the time of the gods, Abraham succeeds in saving a few from destruction. We may reasonably assume that the earlier cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were wiped out at the time of the Great Flood, or as a collateral effect occurring shortly thereafter. (See discussion in Chapter 1.) In the narrative of Genesis 19, the deliverance of Lot is likened to that of Noah, except that he is not saved from flood but fire. In that earlier time, "fire and brimstone" literally spewed out of the angry earth and consumed them. Although the cause was entirely natural, the event was considered to be part of the plan of the gods to annihilate the people for their wickedness and rebellion. The tar from the earlier disaster still polluted the ground of that place at the beginning of the Egyptian New Kingdom.f
These far more ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah of the Jordan plain became a metaphor for two contemporary cities. It was not fiery lava, but the flaming arrows of "the Lord's" archers that rained down upon them. The massacre of Abraham's time by "the Lord" is likewise proclaimed fitting judgment because of their "evil imaginations." However, the greater "sin" of the cities destroyed by Thutmose would have been their failure to recognize his authority and sacrifice their lives under his command. Exactly where these more recent cities were located is a subject of debate. Possibly, they were near or under what is now the Dead Sea. In the Kings/Chronicles narrative, it states, "And David [Thutmose I] became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt."g
Father of the King
In Genesis 20, Abraham sojourns in Gerar of the "Philistines," and tells the townspeople that Sarah is his sister. This deception allows her to be taken into the harem of Abimelech King of Gerar without arousing suspicion. Sarah's biological clock was not only loudly ticking, but the alarm was sounding. Three months after kneading bread among the big oaks at Mamre, Sarah was not pregnant and needed transport to the next court of conception. It is remarkable the pains to which the Genesis author goes in order to both preserve the actual nature of Isaac's birth and simultaneously conceal it.
The name that Sarah chose for herself in Egypt was Isis (see below). In Mesopotamia, the goddess Isis was called Ishtar-Inanna, and was known for her endless pursuit of a child. The aggressive wife of Etana was also called "Ishtar." It was she who initially approached Gilgamesh (Cush). This suggests that the idea to have a child by Thutmose I (the Gilgamesh of his day) was probably Sarah's. Thutmose had already been appointed successor. He had many wives and sons. He did not require one through Sarah. At the age of about 40, Sarah was evidently no longer considered eligible or capable of motherhood. Nevertheless, Tao I supported her ambition, and exercised the prerogative to give her a child himself before deferring to Thutmose. Out of concern for hygiene and sexually transmitted diseases, Sarah may have petitioned "the Lord" Tao to have circumcision reinstated in the Egyptian court. As the "incarnation" of Re, it was the role of her father Tao to require it. This rite appears to have been initiated by Re,h the leading god of Egypt, and does not seem to have been practiced outside of the traditional jurisdiction of Re in Egypt and Nubia. Alternatively, the reintroduction of circumcision may represent the growing power of Thutmose. There is a strong prejudice against "uncircumcised Philistines" in the Kings/Chronicles narrative of David.
The naming of Thutmose I as the King of Gerar (Gen. 20:2) was a bit of misdirection and understatement, which helped to disguise his identity to outsiders. Thutmose was an extremely controversial person. Genesis does not say Abimelech was a Philistine, only that he was their king. Gerar was a city of the "Philistines," but their king was not a Philistine. In the previous chapter it was shown that another son of Tao I (Terah) was king of the Philistines before Thutmose. The previous ruler Achish (Haran/Kish) either died or vacated the throne in pursuit of a greater dominion. Thutmose was given permission to attack the Philistines and become king there in his place.i In the Kings/Chronicles King David also "defeated the Philistines and subdued them."j
Years earlier, Tao II had tried but failed to produce an heir for Abraham through Sarah.
Tao I offered a covenant of his own to Abraham. He would first attempt to give Sarah a son himself. When this was not successful, he deferred to Thutmose I, who was not only co-regent but also the newly crowned king of the Philistines. Through this contract, Thutmose I became the controversial father of the most renowned warrior of the ancient world, a "miracle" son who overcame the odds and his oddities to establish Egypt as the foremost imperial power of the Near East. This symbolic name of Abimelech was chosen to emphasize that Thutmose became the father of Isaac and the administrator of the second covenant with Abraham.
This deal further required that the heir would become the adopted son of Thutmose II. Thutmose II was a prominent son of Abraham's brother Nahor.1 Hatshepsut, the daughter of Thutmose I, was the Chief Royal Wife of Thutmose II. They had a female heir Nefrure/Sityah, but were unable to produce the required male heir. Thutmose III (Isaac), the son of Thutmose I by Sarah would be paired with Nefrure. Through adoption by Thutmose II, this son would effectively unify two of the three royal houses within the clan of Tao I (Terah). The third line through Haran had already been eliminated upon the death of Kamose. Another alias of Thutmose III (Isaac) was Levi, which means "attached, united." Thutmose III was "attached" to the line of Nahor by virtue of being adopted as the heir of Thutmose II.
God and King
The association of the "Sovereign Lord" of Genesis 12 with Tao II, and the "God Almighty" of Genesis 17 with his father Tao I is not to be construed as a statement of theology. The kings of the ancient world presented themselves as incarnations of the gods. It is hard to say exactly how seriously they took themselves in this role, however they actively promoted this perception among the so-called common people. It was taken for granted that they were. The history in the Torah and Kings/Chronicles narrative simply reflects that culture. Emperor worship and ancestor worship were rejected by the Jews of later times, therefore these former practices were handled with subtlety by Biblical authors.
The suggestion that "appearances," "visions" and "words of the Lord" are those of mortal men no doubt prick the sensibilities of modern readers, however the divinity of earth's great kings was completely accepted in ancient times. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that these are mere men posing as gods. They had no more power than any leader today to guarantee anything everlasting. Moreover, recognizing that the Patriarchs were considered ancient divinities is critical to unlocking the historical significance of the Bible. It may also be a means of mending and ending the senseless strife caused by religions ordained not by any universal God, but by long deceased kings.
The claim of God's rebuke of Abimelech in a "dream" was the standard ploy used to disguise a delicate situation and to preserve social acceptability. (Gen. 20:3-7) Deliberately misleading statements and actions would have been the modus operandi of the royal court. Their sexual protocol was quite simple in practice, therefore it had to be well disguised. This helped prevent the na´ve and unprivileged from perceiving the true family relationships. And if popular opinion needed to be adjusted, royals had no reservations with using other forms of influence, including brazen propaganda. Despite the fact that we are told that God had inflicted plagues on Abimelech's household, Abimelech desires that Abraham and Sarah live close to him in the choicest land within his kingdom. This is a further clue that the "sister-act" and "plague story" are not to be taken at face value.
The account of Isaac's birth is placed immediately after the tryst of Sarah and Abimelech. A similar pattern was employed to indicate that the birth of Ishmael was to be understood as a fulfillment of the Lord Sequenenre's covenant. Therefore, it is correct to conclude that Abimelech is the father of Isaac, and that Isaac's birth is a fulfillment of his covenant. More specifically, it was fulfillment of the covenant Tao I imposed on both Abraham and Thutmose I. The meaning of the name Abimelech ("father of the king") would also tend to confirm him as father in this paternity suit. Abimelech was not merely the father of a king, but literally "Father of THE king. That king was to be Thutmose III!
After the birth of Isaac, Abraham (renamed Abraham) and Thutmose converted their covenant into a formal treaty. Abraham presents seven female lambs (harem girls?) to Thutmose as a witness that the well (i.e., mother and child) are legally his. The treaty is made at Beersheba, which is "well of the seven." Seven is the number of the god Thoth,k and therefore of Thutmose I. As a younger prince, Thutmose is earlier called Eschol in the Genesis narrative. He is called Abimelech in association with the birth of Isaac. Abimelech is also his pseudonym in the Book of Judges. However, in the Kings/Chronicles narrative Thutmose is called David and Abraham is called Eliab.
Seven is the number of the Biblical David, who is said to have been the seventh son of Jesse.l Seven is also the number of Abraham, whose Egyptian name was Djehuty (Thoth). The treaty of Beesheba is a treaty between two brothers named Thoth, Thutmose I (Abimelech-David) and Djehuty (Abraham-Eliab). When Abimelech (Thutmose) departs, Abraham (Djehuty) plants a "tamarisk tree" in Beersheba. The Hebrew word translated as "tamarisk tree," or "grove" in English Bibles is "eshel." Eshel is a word play on Esh'kel,2 the Chaldean form of the name Thutmose. The symbolic act of planting an Eshel was meant to indicate that Abraham had helped to bring another Thoth into the world - Thutmose III to be precise.
The son sired by Thutmose was of course his own natural son. However, according to custom and prior agreement, the child would be considered the legal son and heir of Abraham. Abraham is assured of this by Thutmose, and after the birth of Isaac, Abraham demands further confirmation from him of this distinction (Genesis 21:22-31). The covenant between Thutmose I and Djehuty/Thoth (Abraham) was not voluntary. It had been forced upon them by their mutual father Tao I. After the birth of Thutmose III (Isaac), the Genesis narrative interjects another "appearance" of "the Lord" to Abraham. This indicates the continued involvement of Tao I in order to bring his plan to pass. Gen. 21:11-13 (NIV) states:
"The son of the handmaiden [Hagar] ... is your offspring."
"I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring."
"Through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned."
From the perspective of Archaeology, the identification of Thutmose I as the biological father of Thutmose III also makes infinite sense. Thutmose III refers to Thutmose I as his father in inscriptions as often as he does Thutmose II. Hatshepsut built a tomb for herself and her father Thutmose I in the Valley of the Kings. However, Thutmose III was intensely jealous over Thutmose I. After the death of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III had a new tomb built for his natural father. He then removed his father's mummy from Hatshepsut's tomb and placed it in the new private tomb.
Tolerance is Better than Sacrifice
The "sacrifice of Isaac" in Genesis 22 represents the acquiescence of Abraham (Djehuty) not only to his father Tao I, but also to his younger brother Thutmose I and nephew Thutmose II. It must indeed have been a grievous test of Abraham's patience to endure his demotion and the condescending treatment he received from former subordinates within the extended royal family. After Isaac is delivered over to the "Lord" (Tao I), Abraham goes home with his servants. His son and Sarah are no longer with him. Isaac has been taken along with Sarah to the royal court in Thebes as heir apparent, and Sarah is made a queen. Earlier in the narrative, the Lord (Tao I) declares, "Sarah shall be a princess." Genesis 22 is the poetic closure. Sarah was a royal princess from birth. However, it must be kept in mind that the Patriarchs are never explicitly revealed as kings in the Book of Genesis. Consistent with this, Sarah is only called a princess. Sarah chose for herself the Egyptian name of Isis, which is highly consistent with her domineering personality and her perseverance to have a royal child and become a great queen.
Egyptologists have uncovered little about this Isis other than that she was the mother of Thutmose III, and was considered to be a minor wife of Thutmose II. According to the Genesis account, Sarah was not associated with the royal court of Thutmose II until after the birth of Isaac. Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Isaac to the "Lord." After Isaac's life was "spared," Abraham and his servants returned home. However Isaac and Sarah went to the court of Thutmose II. Sarah as Isis, and mother of Thutmose III, was only in Thebes for a very brief time. She accompanied her young child there, however the Bible indicates that she died shortly thereafter. It is remarkable that there was any record of her in Thebes at all.
Upon the death of Sarah, Abraham goes to mourn for her. (Gen. 23:1:2) This is confirmation that she had gone with Isaac and Thutmose II so that she could care for her young son at the royal court in Thebes. The place of her death is given as Hebron of Canaan, and "near Mamre." This is traditionally identified as the Hebron in Israel. However, the Bible provides further clarification of the site's location. It is designated first as Kirjath Arba, meaning the "city/founded of the four." However, Arba is probably the Biblical recollection of an earlier king named Ir-Ba, that is, pharaoh Montuhotep I who helped found a new dynasty in Upper Egypt (see Chapters 5 & 7). The collective description and the historical context presented here indicates that this city was not in Palestine, but in the vicinity of Thebes in Egypt. Misinterpretation of the Bible's own definition of Canaan is primarily responsible for the confusion. The Bible defines the furthest extent of Canaan to be "even unto Lasha," which has the meaning "careless security." (Gen. 10:19) The Canaanites had dispersed "throughout the tents of Shem," i.e., to the furthest extent of the occupations of Shem's own descendants. The Genesis definition was intended to envelope all of Egypt. Therefore, Lasha stands for Thebes in Upper Egypt, or possibly a point even further to the south.3
In Thebes, Abraham found himself among the "Hittites" (literally the "sons of Heth"). Heth means "terror," not Hittite, Canaanite or Egyptian. Abraham is proclaimed a "mighty prince" among them. In fact, Abraham was himself also one of these same "sons of Heth." This was the fearsome extended family of Senakhtenre (Terah), who were themselves of the line of Sargon/Maru-yamina, "the rebellious, terrifying lord of the south." This epithet reveals that the sons of Terah were already patterning themselves after the sons of the stilted prince Sargon. In this time of tragedy, the ever-feuding family supports Abraham. The sons of Heth offer: "None of us will refuse you his tomb." The leader of the "Hethites" resident at the place of Sarah's death is of course Thutmose II, named in the account as Ephron son of Zohar (Nahor).4
It is with Thutmose II that Abraham negotiates and purchases the burial ground of Machpelah. Of course, Thutmose II is more than willing to provide Abraham with a fine tomb at no expense in order to bury Sarah. She is the mother of his successor. He says to Abraham, "Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs." However, Abraham's royalty demands that he purchase the tomb and "field." The plot that Abraham purchased became known as the Valley of the Kings. The Valley of the Kings IS the royal burial ground of Abraham's descendants!!! The mysterious tomb KV39 is likely the chosen resting place of Abraham and Sarah. This study offers the tantalizing possibility that Sarah and Abraham are to be found among the unidentified royal mummies in the Cairo Museum, or an even more intriguing thought - they could still remain in state in the Valley of the Kings (See Chapter 13).
At the Side of My Father
The birth of Thutmose III was the result of a brilliant accord reached by three of the world's most powerful men. Unfortunately, these men overlooked one small detail. They did not get the full support of one very strong woman - Hatshepsut, the daughter of Thutmose I, and the Royal Wife of Thutmose II. Even before the death of Thutmose II, Hatshepsut had made her own resolution. As Sarah had previously done to Hagar, one can hear Hatshepsut declare, "That woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my daughter Nefrure/Sityah." It was necessary for the great gods to sheepishly arrange an alternative dynastic marriage for Isaac in order to secure his succession.
Most significantly, in the tomb of Thutmose III's Royal Wife Hatshepsut-Meryetre was found an inscription reading "king's adornment, Baketre [Rebekah]."m Hatshepsut-Meryetre is attested at the royal court in Thebes early in the reign of Thutmose III.n Rebekah, the daughter of Nahor's youngest son Bethuel, was brought from Aram Naharaim. In the Biblical account of Genesis 24, Rebekah is brought to Isaac. Rebekah was considerably older than Isaac and became both wife and mother to the bereaved child. As the Bible states, after the death of his mother Sarah, "Isaac was comforted." The age of Isaac was changed from four to forty, and the description of Isaac as a mature man meditating "in the field" was added after the original context of the account was forgotten.
Very shortly after the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah came the death of pharaoh, Thutmose II (Ephron/Jotham). Thutmose III (Isaac) was anointed king according to the will of Tao I. Egyptologists estimate that Thutmose III was about five years of age upon his succession. Thutmose II had designated Thutmose III successor in the Karnak temple just prior to his passing. Thutmose III later commemorated that moment of destiny in an inscription at Karnak:
'My father Amen-Re-Harakhti granted to me that I might appear upon the Horus Throne of the Living ... I having been appointed before him within [the temple], there having been ordained for me the rulership of the Two Lands, the thrones of Geb and the offices of Khepri at the side of my father, the Good God, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Aakheperenre [Thutmose II], given life forever.'o
Propaganda portraits made during the first few years of Thutmose III's reign depict Hatshepsut submissively in the background. However, it was not long before Hatshepsut would garner the support needed to have Isaac's "blessing" revoked. Her father Thutmose I had eliminated all other contenders to the throne. Isis (Sarah) and Thutmose II were now dead, and Thutmose III was still a child. More importantly, Tao I evidently also had passed away. The family was no longer obligated to honor his decision to make Thutmose III successor. This provided the opportunity for Hatshepsut to regain the throne, this time not as a Queen, but as Pharaoh. The Bible describes a famine in the land, which forebodes a reversal in fortune for Isaac. In a physical sense at least, Isaac had not turned out to be all that his three fathers had hoped for. Something about Isaac's appearance even evoked laughter. As an adult, he was a small man, at least by kingly standards, and possessed the most "prominent" nose of all his clan. The Thutmosid proboscis is but one of many lasting legacies left by them to their descendants the Jews!
Hatshepsut either convinced her father that the decision to name Thutmose III as successor was a mistake, dared him to overrule her, or demanded that a more acceptable suitor for her daughter be produced. Thutmose I had many eligible sons besides Thutmose III (Isaac). Yet, they were not acceptable to Hatshepsut (see Chatper 14). As mother of the heiress, she held formidable leverage. In her mind there was only one attractive alternative. The hereditary prince Senenmut was summoned from abroad. The Bible indicates (see Note 1) that Senenmut (Zerah) was the twin brother of her late husband Thutmose II (Perez/Pharez). He would have been in his thirties upon the death of his brother, and undoubtedly felt capable and fully entitled to produce a son through Hatshepsut on behalf of his dead brother. Would this not have been in keeping with custom?
Egyptologists assert that Senenmut was a commoner, however Senenmut himself claims the title of "hereditary prince."p Either there is deception in Senenmut's own inscription, or a refusal on the part of Egyptologists to accept a plain attribution of royalty. Senenmut's Hebrew nickname Zerah means "arise, or rise up," and "to appear (as a symptom of leprosy)." His sudden rise to prominence was certainly a blight upon Sarah's son Isaac. It is not clear whether Perez or Zerah actually possessed the birthright. If the boys were born to Nahor in Aram Naharaim, which is the likely scenario, then Zerah was considered the heir and Perez was sent away to Egypt where he was married to Hatshepsut. As the favored twin son of Nahor, Senenmut likely was being groomed for kingship in Aram while his weaker brother was sent to find his fortune abroad. As it turned out, Senenmut did not inherit Nahor's kingdom in Aram, or was ousted by conditions as treacherous as those in Egypt.
The mummy of Senenmut's mother Hatnofer was richly embalmed. Hatnofer corresponds to the Biblical Tamar/Maaca. It is also an alternate name of the Egyptian Queen Mutnofret. The name Senenmut has the general meaning, "brother of mother." However, in this context it can be translated as "child of Mut(nofret)." According to the Biblical account, the first two husbands of this Tamar were killed. She was denied marriage to a third husband, and the twins Perez (Thutmose II) and Zerah (Senenumt) were sired by the father of her late husbands instead (see Chapter 15). Tamar evidently did remarry after the birth of the twins. The Egyptian name of her final husband was Ramose. A room had been prepared in the mortuary chapel of Thutmose I for Ramose, therefore he may have been a patron of Thutmose I. He would have only been a step-father of sorts to Senenmut.
Within seven years of her own husband's death, Hatshepsut had put on the pharaonic crown. The appointment of Senenmut as her personal "steward" was no doubt also the talk of the town. The election of Thutmose III was probably not annulled, however he was denied marriage to Nefrure the heiress daughter of Hatshepsut. According to Genesis 26, the young Isaac was sent back to Gerar in "Philistia." The account reveals duplicity in Abimelech's actions, and the resulting alienation with Isaac after the death of Sarah. Evidently the brilliant Senenmut had won Thutmose I over as well, at least initially. The sons of Biblical Zerah (through one or more wives other than Hatshepsut) have symbolic names that suggest the creativity and skill that they inherited from their father.
Abimelech (Thutmose I) decreed protection for Isaac and Rebekah, and Isaac is offered a minor kingdom. (Gen. 26:3) After Isaac begins to prosper again, Abimelech asks Isaac to move "away," however it is clear that he did not go far. As Isaac grew older he no doubt learned of his canceled coronation. He must have been told about the decision of his grandfather Tao I to make him successor, and began to feel betrayed by his biological father Thutmose I. It can be deduced that Tao I passed away while Thutmose III was still young. Thutmose I had other leading sons (see Chapter 14), and no longer felt obligated to honor the election of the "funny looking" Thutmose III. Given his father's aggressiveness, and that his mother's Biblical name Sarai meant "domineering," Isaac undoubtedly developed a doubly strong personae of his own, and began to resent what was taken from him in Egypt. The friction between Isaac and the men of Gerar echoes the continued frustration of Thutmose III's denied claim to the throne.
The wells of Abraham had been "plugged." (Gen. 26:18) The sacrificial efforts of Abraham were all for naught, or so it must have appeared. Isaac reopens the wells, but cannot drink. He is told, "The water is ours." That is, inheritance and kingship were usurped by Hatshepsut and Senenmut, and Thutmose was condoning their actions. The well Esek (verse 20) represents Senenmut, the steward of Hatshepsut. It has long been suspected that he became her consort. The root Ese/Esh is equivalent to Senen/Semen. Esek is also a variant of Eshcol, a pseudonym of Thutmose I. Esek means "bitter." Isaac became understandably bitter over the decision of Hatshepsut and Thutmose I to appoint Senenmut for the express purpose of siring another male heir to replace him.
The well of Sitnah (verse 21) represents Hatshepsut and Nefrure. Hatshepsut's patron god was Seth. A block from Karnak shows Hatshepsut "being offered life and dominion by Seth."q It was through support from the Temple of Baal (Seth) in Shechem that her father financed the coup that made her first a Queen and ultimately Pharaoh of all Egypt.5 Another of her inscriptions reads: "All lands are bound up in my grasp ... My power reaches the limits of the Two Lands, I have attained the strength of "Him-with-the-Mighty-Voice" (Seth) ..."r Hatshepsut opposed the succession of Thutmose III (Isaac). As Seth opposed Osiris, Hatshepsut was perceived as opposing Isaac. The Hebrew word Sitnah derives from the same root as Satan (the Hebrew equivalent of the Egyptian god Seth). Hatshepsut's daughter Nefrure also went by the nickname Sityah (Seth-Yahweh). Sitnah is an obvious corruption or play on the name Sityah. Hatshepsut had opposed Isaac in a practical sense by withholding Sityah from him in marriage.
There Ought to be a Law
The well of Rehoboth (a word play on Rebekah and meaning a "double widening") represents the break that Isaac had been waiting for (verse 22). Hatshepsut and Senenmut had failed to produce a male heir after many years of trying, and Rebekah had delivered not one son, but two, Esau and Jacob! As it is written, "wisdom is justified by her children." Senenmut and Hatshepsut had failed to produce a son or provide a husband for Nefrure, therefore the advantage was now with Thutmose III. A summit meeting was called, and Beersheba ("well of the oath/seven") was again the chosen location to enact a new treaty. Thutmose I (Abimelech) and his general Phicol were accompanied by the "personal advisor Ahuzzath." The name Ahuzzath means "to seize and hold back." With the help of her advisor Senenmut, Hatshepsut seized and held back the throne from Thutmose III.
Thutmose I had been chosen by his grandfather, but did not at first gain the favor of his father. He must have realized that this same pattern was playing out among his own sons. The new agreement presumably required Hatshepsut to again share power with Thutmose III. Although Senenmut was present, Hatshepsut evidently boycotted the meeting and resisted the return of Thutmose III to Thebes. When the will of the elder Thutmose was not honored, it became necessary for him to impose it in person. Thutmose I may not have maintained a consistent presence in Thebes. He had "cleared the pool of hippos," which was the traditional means of securing a new dynasty. Nevertheless, it would not have endeared him to the nobility of Thebes. According to the account in Judges 9, the final act of Abimelech (Thutmose I) was an assault on Thebez (Thebes). Abimelech died when he attempted to set fire to a tower filled with Theban citizens and "a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull!"s
Genesis 25:11 states, "After Abraham's death, God blessed his son Isaac." This could refer to the childhood coronation of Thutmose III. However, the Bible states that Abraham had many more children through another wife Kenturah, presumably after the death of Sarah. The Biblical account implies that Abraham lived many years longer, but that he did not live to see Thutmose III become sole ruler of Egypt. Sometime before the birth of Amenemhet and the demise of Hatshepsut, Isaac and Ishmael laid Abraham to rest beside Sarah at Machpelah (Gen. 25:8-10). In the following essay, the Egyptian name and titles of Abraham and Ishmael will be identified. It will also be confirmed through archaeology that Abraham remained active in the Egyptian administration well into the co-reign of Thutmose III and Hatshepsut. The transition between the end of Hatshepsut's reign and beginning of the sole reign of Thutmose III is discussed more fully in Chapter 14.
In Year 22 of Thutmose III (also Year 22 of Hatshepsut), Nefrure finally became his consort and they became parents of a son. His name was Amenemhat. This son would have been conceived immediately after the death of Hatshepsut early in that same year. This provided further affirmation of Thutmose III as "rightful" successor to Thutmose I! The original plan and promise had finally been fulfilled. Nevertheless, it is abundantly clear why Thutmose III spent much of his remaining 32 years of rule away from Thebes with the military. Ahmed Osman made the case for the association between King David and Thutmose III in his title, House of the Messiah. However, it is apparent from this study that the Biblical King David also included events from the life of Thutmose I. This resulted in a history in the genre of King Sesostris, which also originated as a composite of two great pharaohs by the same name, Senusret I and Senusret III of the 12th Dynasty. The legend of Sesostris is also based primarily on Senusret III.
- Genesis 18:19
- Margaret Bunson, A Dictionary of Ancient Egypt.
- An on-line translation of the epic can be found at: www.piney.com/Baberraishum.html
- Especially the appeal made by Abraham to the Lord in Genesis 18:23, "Will you destroy the righteous along with the wicked?" Compare with phrases found in Tablet IV of the Epic. See also discussion by Zecharia Sitchin, The Wars of Gods and Men, p 327.
- The Akkadian epithet Ishum is a variant of the Isimud, counselor of Enki in the Sumerian Paradise Epic. Isimud was identified as Thoth in Chapter 2.
- Genesis 14:10
- 2 Samuel 8:13
- Sia, god of divine knowledge and protector of the genitals, came into being when the penis of Re was cut (circumcised?).
- Similarly, Tao II was not an Amalekite, however he was remembered in at least one tradition as having been a king of the Amalekites.
- 2 Samuel 8:1
- This was demonstrated in Chapter 3.
- Chronicles 2:14
- Nicholas Reeves, Complete Valley of the Kings, p102.
- Joyce Tyldesley, Hatchepsut, p 86.
- Translation in Joyce Tyldesley, Hatchepsut, p 95.
- T. Dorman, The Monuments of Senenmut.
- Donald Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, plate 17, p 150.
- Donald Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, p 152.
- Judges 9:53 (NIV)
For the association of the nickname Sityah (Seth-Yah) with the princess Nefrure, see Tom Dorman, "The Monuments of Senenmut," p 78. This title is a comprehensive and highly readable treatise on the archaeology related to Hatshepsut's Steward Senenmut
In the Bible, Thahash has a younger "brother" Maaca. Maaca can be a boy's name or girl's. Therefore, Maaca may have actually been a sister of Thahash (Ahmose I) and not a younger brother as the Bible implies. The Egyptian Mutnofret (Maaca II/Tamar) is then possibly the sister of Ahmose and not his daughter as is commonly believed by Egyptologists. She would have been the half-sister or cousin of Queen Ahmose-Nefertari. Maaca (also corresponding to one of the Biblical Tamar's) had been married to the two eldest sons of Nahor, but had not produced children. Instead of giving her to the third son Thahash/Shelah (corresponding to Ahmose) when he came of age, Nahor slept with her and produced "twin sons" Pharez and Zerah.
This act of Nahor (a.k.a. Zur/Tyre, Caleb the elder, and Judah the elder) may have earned him the nickname Zuwr, i.e., "Adulterer."
Pharez corresponds to Pharaoh Thutmose II, and Zerah corresponds to Senenmut, who became the "Steward" of Hatshepsut upon the death of Thutmose II.
The throne name (praenomen) of Thutmose II was A-kheper-en-re. Perez/Pharez is a contraction/adaptation of the final part of the praenomen, i.e., Per-en-re.
In Egyptian, Thutmose literally means "man/child/born of Thoth," the god of wisdom and patron of scribes. The word for wisdom in Chaldean is sekel. The Chaldean equivalent of "mose" is "ash/ish/esh." Therefore, Thutmose would equate to Esh-sekel, and would have been abbreviated/contracted as Esh'kel. One of King Saul's sons was referred to as both Eshbaal and Ishbosheth. Their meanings, respectively, are "Man of Baal" and "Man of Shame." Therefore, Esh'kel would have carried the meaning "Man of Wisdom."
Other connotations of the root Esh/Ish/Ash would be "out pour" (793), "to flow out" (7640), to "grow out" (7641, 7644), to "branch out from" (7640), "foundation" (787, 803), "sacrifice" (801), step forth/out (838), "split into a forked tongue as a flame" (7632), "seventh" (7637), "black" (Ashur), and "burning, fiery, flaming, hot" (esh) (784).
The connotation of "seventh" may be highly significant.
Iysh (376) = champion, great, mighty, high, worthy, steward.
The Hebrew word eshcol means "a bunch of grapes or other fruit." However, the man Eshcol was no "Mr. Fruit of the Loom" by any means.
Possibly we can perceive a fuller or "amplified" picture of Thutmose I's character as a mighty champion, lover of wisdom, dark skinned and liberal, but very hot tempered, even brutal. He was no doubt one of the "great oaks of Mamre," and a divine Lord by ancient standards with whom Abram made an "everlasting covenant." "Eschol" may further connote that he was the seventh of a group of seven sons (of Jesse-Tao I). After the passing of Tao II, he became the primary partner of Abram as a result of their agreement at Beersheba (having the dual meaning of "well of the oath" and "well of the seven").
In Genesis 14 Eschol is named as a "brother of Mamre and Aner," however brother may signify a "male relative." In Judges, he is Abimelech, son of Gideon, but the term "son" may also denote "junior relative." His blood relation within the royal court has yet to be discovered from Egyptology. However, from this study, he was clearly a royal son of Tao I. Of the sons of Jeiel/Jesse (Tao I) listed in 1 Chronicles 8, Nadab is the most senior of them that is so far unspoken. Nadab means "liberal" and "volunteer." This meaning has some correspondence to that of Eshcol (see above).
Eschol appears to either be a corruption of Esh'kel, or yet another subtle play on words. The word eshek, from which eshcol derives, means a "stone," and may allude to Thutmose's infamous act of murdering 70 princes on a single stone. It may also refer to the way Thutmose died, i.e., having had a stone dropped on him from the top of a tower in Thebes. (Judges 9:50-53)
Definition of Canaan, Genesis 10:19:
"And the border of the Canaanites reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha." The locations of Admah, Zeboiim and Lasha are unknown, however it is abundantly evident based on this study that they are to be identified as places in Egypt. Admah could correspond to the "Red Land" of the eastern Nile Delta. Alternatively, it may refer to the desert that lines the fertile "Black Land" beside the Nile, and which extends from the Delta all the way into Nubia. Zeboiim corresponds to the capital of Lower Egypt, Memphis. And Lasha, meaning "careless security" corresponds to Thebes, the capital of Upper Egypt. Thebes was protected from the south by the cataracts of the Nile, and from the North by killing desert.
In ancient times, Egypt was referred to as the "Two Lands." This is exactly how it is portrayed in the Bible. Within the extents of the non-political boundaries of Canaan was the traditional Egypt of the Pyramids and Sphinx in Lower Egypt, and the enclave of Thebes in Upper Egypt. The region between and around these two Egypts is referred in the Bible as part of Canaan.
Zohar is a fuller form of Zur (an epithet of Nahor). Cf (2114)
Zohar meaning "whiteness" may indicate a skin disease, or characterize him as light-skinned.
Ephron means "fawn-like," as in the dusty, mottled color of a fawn. This nickname may also reflect a skin disease or a mixed complexion. Experts have concluded that the mummy identified as Thutmose II was actually that of another king.
Compare Biblical Ephron and Ophrah.
The author of the Judges account of Abimelech provides a few additional details about the checkered champion Thutmose I. His hometown is Shechem north of Jerusalem. Through the support of the citizens of Shechem, Abimelech eliminated his rivals and was crowned as King (not Judge) of all Israel. (Judges 9:1-6) Subsequently, strife arises between Abimelech and the Shechemites, and Abimelech returns to destroy the city.
Recognizing that Abimelech of Judges 9 is one and the same as the Abimelech of Genesis could resolve an apparent anachronism in the Judges narrative. The Shechemites are urged by Gaal son of Ebed to turn against Abimelech. Gaal is quoted in verse 28 as saying: "Serve the men of Hamor, Shechem's father! Why should we serve Abimelech?" The story of Shechem son of Hamor is part of the account of Abram's grandson Jacob. It is at least possible (but not probable) that a younger Hamor could have been a contemporary of Isaac and of the elderly Abram. Likewise, the elderly Hamor could still have been alive as a contemporary of the younger Jacob. In Genesis 26, Abimelech (Thutmose I) is still very much alive after Isaac (Thutmose III) has reached adulthood.