Living in Truth:
Archaeology and the Patriarchs

Chapter 15   Book Navigator    Charts Part I

by Charles N. Pope
Copyright ©1999-2004 by Charles Pope
United States Library of Congress
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Chapter 16
"Surest Signs of Piety"
(Comparisons between Pharaoh Akhenaten, Biblical Moses and Greek Oedipus)


In the modern era, Sigmund Freud was the first to explore an association between Akhenaten and Moses. His study was published in 1939 under the title Moses and Monotheism. However, Freud rejected the notion of his protégé Karl Abraham that Akhenaten was also Oedipus of the Greek traditions memorialized by Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus. The connection between Akhenaten and Oedipus was not seriously pursued again until Immanuel Velikovsky published his Oedipus and Akhenaten in 1960. This work is still extremely valuable, and presents archaeological evidence that is not found elsewhere in the published literature. Unfortunately, Velikovsky rejected the possibility that Akhenaten and Moses could also have been one and the same. In his chronology, Moses and Akhenaten were not even contemporaries. Two steps forward and one step back.

Ahmed Osman's 1990 title Moses: Pharaoh of Egypt brought the correspondence between Akhenaten and Moses once again under scholarly and popular consideration. By this time Velikovsky's research had fallen into obscurity along with the largely discredited main corpus of his work. However, beginning in France in 1985, the third generation Freudian Psychoanalyst William Theaux had begun calling for a new synthesis of Oedipus with Moses, and with the archaeology of Akhenaten. In 1994, Dr. Theaux established an English language web site,, to encourage greater international interest in the subject. In 1999, he organized a Forum at the United Nations and a public seminar in New York City. This chapter is based on a presentation that I made at the public seminar. It discusses some of the many correlations between the Oedipus Plays, the Biblical account of Moses, and the archaeology of Akhenaten.

Trade between Egypt and the Aegean is confirmed from the Egyptian 4th Dynasty onward, although the significance is debated.a In the Egyptian New Kingdom, there was renewed contact. Objects of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye were found in the Aegean and suggest an interest in Egyptian affairs.b Likewise, the great abundance of Greek pottery found in Egypt during the Amarna Period, and especially at Akhet-aten, attests to a fascination with Greek culture. The dynamics that led to a naturalization of Egyptian history in Greece are not explored here. Only a comparison of textual sources with Egyptian archaeology is attempted.

Name Associations

Biblical Name(s) Greek Name(s) Egyptian Name(s)
Isaac, David Lab-dacidae Thutmose III
Jacob Lab-dakos Amenhotep II
Rachel Polydoros? Merit-Amon
Joseph, Amram, Reuel  Laius, Menoikeus Yuya, Imram
Jochebed, Zipporah, Bithia Jocaste/Iocaste, Merope, Athene, Eurdice Tiye, Maat
Solomon, Shiloh           Polybos/Polybus Amenhotep III
Jethro, Ithra, Jether Creon Aye
Aaron, Hobab  Aegeus, (Kith)Airon Aanen, Meryre I
Phineas Polyneices, Megareus Pa-Nahesy II
Hur (Chur)       Choragos Haremhab / Horemheb
Moses, Balak, Shammai Oedipus Amenhotep IV/ Akhenaten
Eliezer  Eteocles I Smenkhare
Gershom, Joshua, Balaam Eteocles II Tutankhamun
Miriam Euryganeia? Nefertiti
Zaham Antigone Ankhesenamen
  Ismene Mutnodjme
Ithamar Theseus Aper-el
  Adrastus Ramses I
City of Ramses Argos Zarw / Pi-Ramses
No Thebes Thebes
  Athens Akhet-aten
On Colonus On / Heliopolis
  Dorian from On / Heliopolis
  Delphi Memphis
Gilead Corinth Karnak

The Family of God

The mother of Moses is named in the Bible as Jochebed. This name means "nobility of Jo/Yah." The mother of Oedipusc in Greek tradition is named as Jocaste, which has an identical meaning, "nobility of Jo/Yah"). From archaeology, the mother of the pharaoh Akhenaten is Queen Tiye. Tiye was the daughter of Prime Minister Ya.1 Ya or Yuya as it was more commonly spelled, was identified in the previous chapter as the Biblical Joseph. Therefore, Tiye, the mother of Akhenaten, also derived her nobility from "Jo/Yah." Could Jochebed of the Bible and Jocaste of the Greek plays both be representations of the historical Queen Tiye? To quote Sophocles, "Judgments formed too quickly are dangerous."d This is a delicate matter and certainly of critical importance to theology and the personal faith of millions of people worldwide.

In the second play, Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus is said to have been of the line of Labdakos and Labdacidae.e These names are not of Greek origin, but transliterations of foreign names. Moreover, they are not simple names but compound. When written as Lab-Dakos and Lab-Dacidae the ancestry of Oedipus becomes easily recognizable. Biblical Moses was the son of Joseph (see Chapter 8). Joseph was in turn the son of Jacob by Rachel, a daughter of Laban. It follows that Lab-Dakos is a corrupted form of Laban-Jacob, which well describes the lineage of Biblical Joseph, and therefore also of Moses. Dacidae is an obvious corruption of the Hebrew name David. David of the Kings/Chronicles narrative corresponds to Isaac father of Jacob in the Genesis narrative (see Chapter 12). A generation before Jacob, Isaac married the sister of Laban. The Greek Lab-Dacidae is then a form of the Hebrew Laban-David.

The names given to characters in the Biblical Exodus account are generic. They were deliberately chosen to represent historical persons both in the time of the first Moses (Auibre/Hammurabi of the Late Middle Kingdom) and the time of the second Moses (Akhenaten of the Amarna Period). In previous chapters, it was shown that Yuya father of Akhenaten was only the second Joseph. The archetypal Joseph was Inyotef IV of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom. In Chapter 8, it was also shown that the first Joshua was Abi-eshuuh, the second successor of Hammurabi. The second Joshua was Tutankhamun, who was in turn the second successor of Akhenaten. The first Aaron was revealed as Sabium/Amenemhet IV and the first Phineas as Pa-Nehesy. In this chapter, the Egyptian identities of the second Aaron and second Phineas will be discussed. Unlike the Torah, the Oedipus plays only memorialize the second Moses and his contemporaries.

Tiye's father Yuya (Joseph II) is regaled by numerous titles in his tomb. Surprisingly, a large percentage of these titles emphasize personal friendship with the King and God. Included among these formal titles are, "Great Friend," "Sole Friend," "First of Friends," "Confidant of the Good God," "Confidant of the King," and "First Among the King's Companions." The first name given in the Bible for the father-in-law of Moses is Reuel. This name Reuel literally means "Friend of God," and corresponds directly to the titles of Yuya. Reuel is also named explicitly as the father of Zipporah, Moses' wife. Zipporah is not any ordinary wife, but the mother of the heirs of Moses. The implication is that Yuya (Biblical Joseph/Reuel) was the father of Tiye (Zipporah, Jochebed), and that Tiye was the mother and wife of Akhenaten (Moses). Based on these stunning associations alone, the subject proof linking Akhenaten, Moses and Oedipus could reasonably end here. Yet, the correlations are far more extensive.

In Exodus 2, Reuel is named as the first father-in-law of Moses. Starting abruptly with Exodus 3, the father-in-law is renamed as Jethro. Although, Jethro is not named as the father of Zipporah, he is commonly presumed to be one and the same as Reuel. But is he? One form of the name Jethro (Heb. Yithrow/Yether) is given in the Hebrew as Ithra. This form is obviously Egyptian in origin, and literally translates as "increase of Ra." In the Oedipus play, the brother of Jocaste and uncle/brother-in-law of Oedipus is named as Creon. This name can be literally translated as "increase of On." Of course, On (Heliopolis in Egypt) was the cult center of the sun god Ra. Jethro and Creon are therefore equivalent names, and correspond to the historical person of Aye, the brother of Tiye. Aye followed in his father Yuya's footsteps and became the leading vizier in Egypt. He later became pharaoh in his own right upon the death of Tutankhamun. The characterization of Creon is very strong in the three Oedipus plays and confirms that he corresponds to Tiye's brother Aye.

Incidentally, another son of Reuel is mentioned in the Bible in Numbers 10:29. His name is Hobab, which means "to hide." Hobab is related linguistically to the name of Aanen,f the son of Yuya and Tuya.g Aanen held the highly influential posts of High Priest of On and second priest of the state god Amun in the reign of Amenhotep III. Amun was known as the "Hidden God" in ancient Egypt, and is still today alluded to in Christian, Muslim and Jewish prayers, i.e., "Amen." Sophocles records that Oedipus (Akhenaten) was hidden in the hills of Kith-Airon {Aanen/Aaron } as a child. As a son of Reuel, Hobab (Aanen) would also be the brother of Zipporah (Tiye) and Jethro (Aye). Moreover, the Bible states in Judges 4:11 that Hobab is the brother-in-law of Moses. This further establishes Akhenaten's dynastic marriage to his mother Tiye.

In Chapter 8, it was shown that the first Moses, Wa-ibre (Hammurabi) was the son of the first Joseph, Inyotef IV. However, the Bible states that the father of Moses was not Joseph, but Amram. Ahmed Osman points out that Akhenaten also acknowledged "Imram" to be his divine father in his cartouche (see Note 1). Therefore, Imram/Amram was an alias that represented the deified Yuya (Joseph II). The hands of Yuya's mummy were posed in an unusual manner, and indicate that he himself was the intended object of worship. The Bible also states that Joseph ruled Egypt as Pharaoh's "double," was subordinate to Pharaoh only in the throne, and that Egyptian subjects were commanded to "bow the knee" before him.h

In the Oedipus plays, Yuya corresponds to the character of Laius, who is said to be a deceased ruler. The name Laius and his characterization can indicate a high "official," i.e., a prime minister, one who ruled in a civilian capacity. Therefore, the textual and archaeological sources are telling us that Akhenaten was not the son of Amenhotep III (and he never claims to have been), but the son of Yuya (Imram/Amram). Jan Assmann also notes on pages 35-36 of "Moses the Egyptian" that in Pompeius Trogus' Historicae Philippicae Moses is identified as the son of Joseph. So there is confirmation of this direct relationship by a historian in ancient times, as well. This also supports the interpretation that the second Joseph (Yuya) was yet living when disrespected by the pharaoh "who knew him not." See additional detail below and in Note 1.

There are two leading women in the life of Biblical Moses. One is his wife Zipporah who is the mother of his two sons. The other is his sister Miriam. Miriam corresponds far more closely to Akhenaten's sister-wife Nefertiti. (Meryet/Merit was the generic name in Egypt for the royal heiress.) Nefertiti had initial status, as did Biblical Miriam, but was later disgraced. Biblical Miriam was stricken with leprosy for objecting to Moses' Cushite wife (see discussion below), and according to the Biblical account was not even mourned by the Israelites upon her death.i This was in spite of her inspirational role in leading the Israelites in celebration after their escape through the sea.

Nefertiti features prominently in all of Akhenaten's temples, both in Thebes and at Akhet-aten. However, upon the death of Amenhotep III (in Year 12 of Akhenaten's co-regency), Nefertiti is subordinated to Tiye, and so much so that some Egyptologists have concluded that she may have even died at that very same time. Nevertheless, she is identified in a mural depicting the funeral of her daughter Mekataten in Akhenaten's Year 14. In the Bible, Miriam is still very much alive after the Exodus (of Akhenaten's Year 17), and after the departure from Mt. Sinai (in Year 18). (Note: Although Egyptologists believe that Akhenaten died in his Year 17, Ahmed Osman presents evidence in Moses: Pharaoh of Egypt that articles dated as late as Year 21 of Akhenaten have been found in Egypt.)

There is some consensus among Egyptologists that Aye was the father of Nefertiti and therefore the father-in-law of Akhenaten by virtue of his marriage to Nefertiti. The Bible would confirm this by naming Jethro as (a second) father-in-law to Moses. The historical Nefertiti corresponds closely to the Biblical Miriam, the "sister" of Moses, and not to Zipporah. Moreover, when we superimpose the textual accounts onto the historical genealogy of Akhenaten, it is clear that Reuel and Jethro are two different persons. Reuel (Yuya) is the father of Zipporah (Tiye), and Jethro (Aye) is the father of Miriam (Nefertiti). Jethro (Aye) is also the brother of Zipporah (Tiye) and Hobab (Aanen).

The Bible states that Jochebed bore Miriam, Moses and Aaron for Amram.j According to Israelite custom and the protocol of the royal court, they were not necessarily all sired by Amram. Miriam (Nefertiti), as indicated by archaeology and implied in the Bible, was fathered by Jethro (Aye) on Amram's (Yuya's) behalf. The Biblical requirement for a male relative to produce offspring for a "dead" brother must be understood in order to fully appreciate the subtlety of the Bible's wording. In the royal court, this custom extended to a living relative who was not able to produce both male and female heirs through their sister-wife. These "sterile" or "barren" couples certainly could produce children through other partners, but not always through each other.

Tiye was also named as the wife of pharaoh Aye in his own tomb. Egyptologists spell the name of Aye's wife as Tey, and maintain that this was a different woman than Tiye mother of Akhenaten. However, there is no difference in the Egyptian forms of their names. The polyandrous role of Tiye in the royal court of that time has not been the least bit suspected. Therefore, it is the Egyptologists who have been confused by the sterile archaeological data. Without the cultural context, it is not possible to correctly interpret inscriptions that served primarily as propaganda, i.e., to dispel rumors, etc. Egyptologists are prone to take inscriptions at face value, and assume that the family relationships of the 18th Dynasty were conventional. They were far from it.

Egyptologists do agree that Akhenaten produced at least one daughter through each of his three eldest daughters. This fact, more than anything, has caused Egyptologists and Biblical scholars to reject the association of Akhenaten and Moses. However, we are told in Exodus 6:20 that Moses himself was the son of a man who had married his own "father's sister." Most Biblical scholars would interpret this Hebrew phrase literally, however they do not call the legitimacy of Moses into question on this basis. Why should Biblical scholars then condemn Akhenaten for attempting to sire a son of his own through his daughters? A double standard has been applied. There has been a strong instinct on the part of Egyptologists to protect the "integrity" of Akhenaten as a heretic, whereas Biblical scholars are equally compelled to defend the "holiness" of Moses. There has been little interest in finding the real man, who was undoubtedly a mixture of both.

Our People's Ancient Cursek

Family relationships of the ancient Egyptian royals were rarely ever made explicit on public monuments, or even in private inscriptions. In those cases in which they were made public, we should be highly suspicious. For example, Thutmose III is stated in an inscription to have been the son of Thutmose II, however we know that it was necessary for him to be "adopted" at the temple of Amun before gaining kingship (see Chapter 12). The phrase that a prince was a "king's son of his own body" should be taken more seriously. However, the need for such a public statement confirms that a king's designated heir was not necessarily his own natural son, but often that of a close male relative. This is reflected in the Biblical account of Abram (Gen. 15: 4) in which "the Lord," i.e., Tao II promises Abram that "a son coming from your own body will be your heir," as opposed to one sired for Abram by Tao or another brother.

By superimposing archaeology, the Bible, and the Greek traditions the following scenario is proposed in which Tiye was provided with as many as five or more consorts, viz., Amenhotep III, Aanen, Aye, Yuya, and Akhenaten. As a child Tiye was married to Amenhotep III upon his coronation as pharaoh at the age of five. When the young couple matured, they were unable to produce a set of heirs of their own. Therefore, the birthright would have passed to her brother Aanen. Aanen and Tiye were evidently also unable to bear children, or did not try due to the fact that they had the same mother and father. At least two high-ranking sons were born to Aanen, namely Thutmose V and Meryre, however Tiye was likely not the mother.l

Yuya's other son Aye was not the full-brother of Tiye. He was successful in siring through her a daughter, Nefertiti, and a son, Panehesy. A short time later, Tiye and her father Yuya became the parents of Amenhotep IV (later renamed as Akhenaten). Many years later, Tiye became the vessel of honor used in a daring religious practice undertaken to safeguard Egypt at a time of devastating plague. This was a dynastic liaison between herself and her son Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten). Regardless of how shocking this may sound, the DNA analysis of the royal mummies may prove or at least point to this relationship. Therefore, we are wise to prepare ourselves for that possibility despite the repugnance that it evokes today.

The plague of that time is known from archaeology to have ravaged the entire Near East, and it struck Egypt especially hard.m Recovering from its destruction was the main preoccupation of the final four Pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty. Amenhotep III commissioned the sculpting of 700 statues of Sekhmet, the goddess of fire and pestilence. The youthful mother Tiye was compelled to become the consort of her own son. As the plague raged on, they produced two sons, Smenkhare and Tutankhamun, and two daughters. Only one daughter is known from archaeology, Beketaten. However, the epidemic only increased in severity. Yuya, Tiye and particularly Akhenaten were ultimately blamed for bringing on its "judgment" as a result of the very same sacrificial measures they employed to end it. (See additional notes below.)

Nefertiti and Akhenaten are known to have had at least three daughters. Miriam is not presented as Moses's wife in the Bible, because she did not bear any male heirs for him. Moreover, she was thoroughly dominated by Zipporah who had. In a historical sense, this was entirely unfair due to the fact that two of Nefertiti's daughters did become the Royal Wives of the three pharaohs who followed Akhenaten. Nevertheless, the Biblical and Egyptian custom was to refer to minor wives and concubines (regardless of their nobility) as maidservants and slave women, and sometimes not as wives at all. Such was the case for Abraham's royal wife Hagar. However, the Miriam of Hammurabi's time may also have been his sister, but not also his wife. Possibly, in order to achieve consistency with both historical periods, the Biblical account does not identify Miriam as being the wife of Moses.

It was in Year 12 of his co-regency that Akhenaten's predecessor Amenhotep III died. At this time there is a sudden demotion of Nefertiti and a corresponding elevation of Tiye to the status of Great Wife of Akhenaten. Had Smenkhare and Tutankhamun been Nefertiti's sons, Tiye would have been relegated to the status of Queen Mother upon the death of her husband. Had Amenhotep III been the father, it would not have been necessary for Tiye to be identified as the consort of Akhenaten. Akhenaten clearly desired sons through Nefertiti. After the fateful Year 12 of his co-regency with Amenhotep III, he continued his desperate attempts to produce a son through the daughters of Nefertiti. The death of the second eldest daughter Mekataten in Year 14 is generally considered to have been associated with the delivery of a daughter born to Akhenaten.

Sons of a Previous King

The Talmud relates that Moses traveled to Ethiopia and came to the assistance of a Queen "Aten-it" whose husband had died. Moses vanquished the Queen's enemies, and reigned along side her. Later, Moses was compelled to abdicate in favor of one of the Queen's sons by the "previous king." Egyptologist Ahmed Osman states that the term "Ethiopia" did not refer exclusively to Africa, but was also used to indicate Upper Egypt, i.e., "the South," which includes Thebes. Moreover, the name Aten-it (Greek Athene) further confirms the time period of Moses to be that of the Aten religious revolution in the 18th Dynasty. Therefore, this account in the Talmud corresponds closely to the return of Akhenaten to Thebes upon the death of his predecessor Amenhotep III in Year 12 of the co-regency.

Tiye assured Akhenaten's succession, and he reigned beside her as sole king until his Year 14 when Tiye abandoned the city of Akhet-aten. Akhenaten would ultimately be forced to abdicate in his Year 17 in favor of his son Smenkhare. The Talmud account indicates that upon the abdication of Akhenaten in his Year 17, the throne was then occupied by a son of Tiye and Amenhotep III. However, the phrase "previous king" may be a later interpolation, or simply a subtle way of saying that Akhenaten became the previous king upon his abdication, and the sons were his through Tiye. This also appears to be the source of Miriam's objections to the marriage of Moses and the "Cushite woman" in Numbers 12. Although Akhenaten and Nefertiti had different fathers, they both had the same mother, the dark complexioned Queen Tiye.

Bridegroom of Blood

The Bible indicates that the successors Smenkhare and Tutankhamun were the sons of Akhenaten and Tiye. The two sons of Moses and Zipporah are called Eliezer and Gershom. There is at least a crude phonic link between Eliezer and Smenkhare. The roots semen (from S'men) and etio (from Elie) are equivalent, with the ending "zer/zar" being a corruption or intentional adaptation of "khare." Gershom, meaning "foreigner" corresponds to Tutankhamun who was born to Akhenaten in exile at the city of Akhet-aten. The two leading (political) sons of Hammurabi were Samsu-iluna (Biblical Elishama) and Abi-eshuuh (Biblical Joshua I). Because Akhenaten named his firstborn Smenkhare, it seems likely that the Egyptian name of Hammurabi's first successor had also been Smenkhare, and was the Smenkhare who appears in the 13th Dynasty king-list.

Careful study of the Biblical account reveals that Eliezer is the elder son of Moses, and Gershom is actually the younger. Gershom is born after the exile. This corresponds to the birth of Tutankhamun in Year 9 of Akhenaten. Beginning with his Year 5, Akhenaten lived in exile in Middle Egypt (one of three Biblical "Midians"). His exile is evident by the inscriptions on the boundary markers at Akhet-aten, which establish it as a "city of refuge." In order to guarantee his protection, Akhenaten vowed to never leave the city. Upon Moses' return to Egypt after the death of "the pharaoh that sought to kill him" (corresponding to Akhenaten's return to Thebes after the death of Amenhotep III), the Bible states that Moses and Zipporah have two sons.n The naming of Eliezer (Smenkhare) reflects that he was born before Gershom (Tutankhamun) at the time of Moses' (Akhenaten's) trouble in Egypt (Thebes). Eliezer would have been circumcised according to Egyptian tradition before Moses had killed "an Egyptian" and was forced to seek exile.

Like so many Biblical brothers, the younger achieved greater renown than the elder. As with Ephraim and Manasseh, the younger Gershom is always listed before his elder brother Eliezer. This is not difficult to appreciate when one recognizes that Gershom represents the younger son Tutankhamun, and Eliezer is the elder but more fleeting Smenkhare. Interestingly, in the Greek tradition it was Smenkhare's name that was remembered. The role of Eteocles in the Oedipus plays represents a composite of Smenkhare and Tutankhamun. Polyneices (Biblical Phineas) was first banished by Eteocles I (Smenkhare). He returned nine years later to attack Eteocles II (Tut). Considering that Smenkhare and Tut ruled one after the other and that they were full brothers, the confusion is somewhat understandable. Given the nature of their births, they would have been more like twins than brothers (even though separated by nine years in age).

On his return to Egypt, Moses was confronted by "the Lord," because he had failed to circumcise his youngest son. Akhenaten returned to Thebes in his Year 12 or 13. His own exile had not lasted a literal forty years, but only seven or eight years. It was four years or less between his return and the birth of Tutankhamun in Year 9. This is far more reasonable in human terms. However, a much longer period of time likely transpired between the exile of Hammurabi from Egypt and his return to liberate his followers.

The conflict over the circumcision of Gershom probably applies to the young Tut.

In the Oedipus plays, Oedipus claims to have been attacked by Lord Laius while in transit, and to have killed him in self-defense. The response of Moses to "the Lord's" attempt on his life is not included in the Biblical account.o However, Zipporah's reaction is telling. She remarks, "What a bloody husband you are to me!" Her insolence is disturbing, and indicates that more blood may have been shed in this encounter than that associated with circumcision. It also reflects that Tiye held seniority over Akhenaten, and had herself come to resent the dynastic marriage to him. At the very least, Akhenaten had refused or neglected to have Tutankhamun circumcised. It became necessary for Tiye to have it done to comply with Egyptian tradition, and as an attempt to make the marriage more acceptable to her Egyptian subjects.

Sons of Beor

Besides Gershom and Eliezer, there is only one other person in the Bible who is said to be the son of Zippor(ah). This other son of Zippor(ah) is Balak. The name Balak means "to waste, destroy, consume." The strange encounter of Balaam and Balak is strategically inserted into the account of Moses, not only to discretely preserve the controversial family relationship, but also the unpopular politics of the second Exodus. After Akhenaten abdicated in favor of Smenkhare and fled the country, a covenant was made between them. However, the tablets were broken, indicating that Smenkhare was killed at Mt. Sinai during the negotiations of the failed "First Covenant." In the Exodus account, Moses arrives at Mt. Sinai in the 3rd month after leaving Egypt and remains there until the following year. Archaeology indicates that Smenkhare only survived a short time (far less than a year) upon the end of Akhenaten's reign. According to the Bible, nearly a year elapsed before another covenant was negotiated. It can now be deduced that the main concession made by Akhenaten was to accept responsibility for the plague victims of Lower Egypt. Tutankhamun was allowed to succeed the dead Smenkhare, and his named was changed from the former Tutankh-aten.

When Akhenaten (Moses) and the Israelites left Mt. Sinai early in the second year after the Exodus, Akhenaten's son Tutankhamun (Gershom/Balaam) was the reigning Pharaoh. It was to Tutankhamun that Akhenaten appealed for support in discharging his obligation to remove from Egypt all those with contagious diseases. The name Balaam has the identical meaning as Gershom, i.e., "foreigner." The name of Balaam's father is given as Beor. The name Beor carries the identical meaning as Balak. Therefore, the Bible is using a little indirection to encode that Balaam (Gershom) was in fact the son of Balak (Moses), and that both were the sons of Zippor(ah). The name Balak/Beor reflects the destructive plagues that Moses had called down upon Egypt. The pseudonym Shammai found in the Chronicles genealogies also means "destruction," and compares Akhenaten with the Mesopotamian sun god Shamash.

Not all of the Israelite elite were diseased or necessarily participated in this round up. This Exodus was not a hurried flight, but a slow march of a "mixed multitude." Those who survived this "concentration camp" and ultimately became Jews represented all castes of Egyptian society. They were descendants of slaves, taskmasters, nobles and princes alike. Disease did not discriminate. The decision was made to remove them all from society, and a leper king was forced to lead them away. These victims of the plague were not exactly sheep being led silently to the slaughter. It was not long before they realized what was to be their inheritance. The life of Akhenaten was in constant peril. Nevertheless, Tut neither helps nor hinders him or the dying Israelites in the final coup de grace. Three times Balak (Moses) solicits Balaam (Tut) to "curse" Israel, and three times Balaam "blesses" them. However, his blessing is as the one denounced in the New Testament, "Be warm, and filled." Without providing physical assistance to either the Israelites or to Akhenaten, the blessing was worthless. Balaam (Tut) had "sold them out," and Balak (Moses/Akhenaten) took the blame for finishing them off. In the Oedipus plays, one of the biggest complaints of Oedipus is that his sons had abandoned him in their own pursuit of glory.

A political decision had been made that "none of the Israelites who left Egypt" with Akhenaten/Moses would be allowed to enter the "Promised Land." After a series of "plagues," the remaining adult Israelites are "mercifully" massacred by the Midianites (Aten-ists). Immediately after this final decimation, a census is taken and it is declared that no one of that generation was any longer living. However, Akhenaten made the remaining sires of both princes and paupers into a people, and Tutankhamun (Joshua) agreed to fulfill to the children the false promise made to their parents. He resettled them. It would normally have taken closer to forty years for a generation to pass away, however the infected people died or were put to death in about four years.

No doubt, this expedient fulfillment of "prophesy" was later criticized, and perceived as deceitfulness. Rather than attributing an act of duplicity to Akhenaten/Moses and his son Tut, pseudonyms were introduced into the account. However, a key was provided in order for "family" to understand the true identities of Balaam and Balak. Also, it must be remembered that the archetypes for Balaam and Balak are from the time of Hammurabi. During the original Exodus, Balaam and Balak would have represented unique persons. However, their roles are played by Tut and Akhenaten, respectively, in the second Exodus. The Bible states that Balaam had come from and returned to his home near "the river." In the original Exodus, the river referred to the Euphrates. However, in the second Exodus, the intended river is not the Euphrates or even the Jordan, but the Nile. The name of the river is not specified in order to apply to both events.

A mural in the tomb of the Egyptian nobleman May depicts Tutankhamun and his "cabinet members." The six men who stand behind Tut in the mural include the four generals who would follow him on the throne. They are his uncle Aye, Haremhab, Ramses and Seti. All four of these generals ultimately turned against Akhenaten. Sophocles makes it clear that it was primarily Creon (Aye) who demanded the abdication of Oedipus (Akhenaten). Choragos (Egyptian minister, general and future pharaoh Haremhab)p also urges Oedipus to "take the fall" for the good of the country. Nevertheless, the Biblical record of Jethro (Aye) visiting Moses in the wilderness indicates that Aye was providing at least nominal support of Akhenaten after the Exodus. A compromise ("covenant") was negotiated between Akhenaten, his sons, and the four generals who were to become pharaohs after them. All of these four men were very closely related not only to each other, but to Akhenaten and his sons. The strife associated with the Exodus, and which ultimately brought down the Egyptian 18th Dynasty was largely an overblown family feud during a time of intense adversity and suffering.

Knew Not Joseph

The phrase in the Exodus 1:8 that a new king came to power that "knew not Joseph" simply means that this Pharaoh did not revere Joseph (Yuya) or honor his wishes. In the case of the second Joseph, he was disobeyed during his own lifetime. Beginning with Exodus 1:8, we are taken back in time and are told how it happened that the second Joseph, Yuya, came to be disrespected and how he met with his end. This provides the missing biography of Yuya (Joseph II) between the death of his father Amenhotep II (Jacob) and his own death recorded at the end of the book of Genesis. As discussed above, Greek and Biblical sources indicate that the death of Yuya was by the hand or command of his own son Akhenaten. The Exodus of Akhenaten occurred only five years later, which is consistent with the interval between the death of the Middle Kingdom Joseph and the Exodus led by Hammurabi (see Chapter 8).

Like his father Yuya, Akhenaten was also disrespected. In fact, the very expression "knew not" was used in this sense during the time of Akhenaten, and was applied directly to him! In Oedipus and Akhenaten, Immanuel Velikovsky cites a hymn that was a popular practice exercise for scribes in training during the reigns of Tutankhamun and Aye. It reads,

The sun of him {Akhenaten } that knew thee not hath set, O Amun.

But he that knoweth thee, he shineth.

The forecourt {eye } of him that assailed thee is in darkness,

while the whole earth is in sunlight.

Whoso putteth thee in his heart, O Amun,

lo, his sun hath risen.q

Akhenaten knew Amun all too well. He ordered the very name to be expunged throughout the entire country. What is meant by "know" in this context is "revere, honor, worship or respect." Yuya was disrespected by his son Akhenaten and by other subordinates. Akhenaten was in turn disrespected by his own son Tutankhamun.

Mistress of the South and the North

The accounts of the Bible were intended to be a "family" or "national" history. The Israelite elite were not ashamed of Akhenaten, or the sexual liaisons of the royal court. Neither did they consider it wise to make explicit certain matters that would be unappreciated or even berated by outsiders. The recording of their heritage was of paramount importance. The traditions were preserved for themselves and their children, and not for a cruel and uncaring world. Unfortunately, over time the ability to interpret the subtle indirection in the Biblical accounts was lost even to the Jews. The events recorded in the Bible were "not done in a corner." At the time of their occurrence, the dynastic marriage of Akhenaten and Tiye was very widely published, and acknowledged even by foreign kings. The parochial names given to the Biblical characters actually represented individuals who were renowned the world over. Many were revered as living gods. The identities of these royals as well as their relationships and other actions can now be recovered, because there are sufficient archaeology findings to reestablish the original historical context.

The main points made by Velikovsky are:

1) In one of the Amarna archive letters, the Babylonian (Kassite) King Burnaburiash referred to Tiye as Akhenaten's "mistress."

2) The role of Nefertiti was entirely subverted by Tiye upon the death of Amenhotep III.

3) Evidence from the tomb of Tiye's steward Huya depicts Tiye and Akhenaten in a marriage relationship as follows:

a) Tiye is referred to as "Mistress of South and North, the great wife of the king, whom he loves."

b) Akhenaten leads Tiye by the hand with a daughter Beketaten trailing.

c) Akhenaten is shown dining intimately with two separate families. One is that of Nefertiti and her daughters. The other is Tiye and her daughter. Tiye's daughter is referred to as "the king's daughter of his body, beloved by him, Beketaten." Tiye's insignia are superior to those of Nefertiti.

d) Huya's title of "Superintendent of the Harem of the Great Royal Wife, Tiye" is stated as an active and not a former post. Likewise, Tiye is described as "King's Mother and Great Royal Wife."

e) Tiye is described as "sweet in her love, who fills the palace with her beauty, the regent, the Mistress of South and North, the great wife of the king who loves him, the Lady of both lands, Tiye."

f) Amenhotep III was deceased when the above inscriptions were made, therefore Akhenaten must be the intended husband of Tiye, and father of Beketaten and of the heirs Smenkhare and Tutankhamun.

The god Amun himself was described as the "Bull of His Mother," that is the consort of his own mother. As discussed in Chapters 1 & 2, incest between mother and son was practiced among the gods, and later emulated in the dynastic period. Akhenaten and Tiye were certainly not the first, and probably not the last to assume this relationship. Velikovsky documented in Oedipus and Akhenaten that a child born from a son and a mother was considered particularly holy in certain royal courts of the Near East, but may not have been fully acceptable in Egypt. Velikovsky further notes that the historian "Catullus stated that a magus (a Mazda priest) is the fruit of incestuous relations between mother and son (Catullus, xc. 3)." "Observance of it {incest, especially between son and mother } is one of the surest signs of piety in the coming days of evil . it expatiates mortal sin and forms the one insuperable barrier to the attacks of Aeshm, the incarnation of Fury (Sayast la Sayast, VIII. 18; XVIII, 3f.)" The liaison between Tiye and Akhenaten was not necessary to ensure kingly succession. The heirs Akhenaten and Nefertiti were still young and capable of carrying on the line. Amenhotep III had set up over 700 statues of Sekhmet the goddess of pestilence in order to ward off a mounting plague. The marriage of Tiye and Akhenaten may have been ordained for that exact same purpose. Both sons would ultimately undertake ministries of restoration and reconciliation in a divided and "plague and pyre" ravaged Egypt. The tragic death of the younger Tutankhamun was later considered to have the power to expatiate the sins of the world.

It is difficult if not impossible for us to understand Akhenaten's family life, and the culture of that time. The account of Sophocles states that his marriage to his mother was not for love or pleasure, but was a "service to the state." Right or wrong, royalty reserved for themselves the exclusive right of human breeding for the purpose of establishing their superiority over commoners. We may as well just lose our self-righteous indignation. Who doesn't want some improvement in the genetic department. A far more beautiful bride of genetic manipulation now lies on the bed before mankind. The most blushing attempts of any royal court pale in comparison with what genetic engineering will soon be able to produce through her. It is time to "gird up the loins of our minds" and to "provide things honest in the sight of all men." A "childish" understanding of the Bible is not going to protect us from the evils that lie in wait for us in the near future.

  1. Martin Bernal, Black Athena, Vol. 2, Chapters III-XI.
  2. Eric Cline, "Amenhotep III, the Aegean, and Anatolia, in Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign, O'Conner and Cline, eds., pp 236-250.
  3. The name Oedipus is defined by Euripides as "Lame Foot." To non-Greek speakers, it has the added connotation of "Eyes of Pus." In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus blinds himself in a fit of grief, rage and guilt. The name "Akhen" can also be interpreted as "wear out the eyes." (Anthony Mercatante, Who's Who in Egyptian Mythology, p 4.)
  4. Oedipus Rex, Scene II.
  5. Labdakos is found in Oedipus Rex ("Oedipus the King"), Scene I and Ode I. Labdacidae is found in Oedipus at Colonus, Choral Dialogue I.
  6. See Chapter 9, note 9, etymology of Aner.
  7. Archaeology has identified three children of Yuya. They are Tiye, Aanen and Aye. 
  8. Gen. 41:39-43
  9. Numbers 20:1
  10. Numbers 26:59
  11. A phrase from Oedipus at Colonus, Scene II. Compare Antigone, Scene IV, Antistrophe II.
  12. This association will be revisited in the next chapter, as well as the relationship between Tiye and Aye
  13. Cyril Aldred, Akhenaten.
  14. Exodus 4:20
  15. Gen. 4:24-26
  16. Choragos can be interpreted as "God of Jubilees" and is equivalent to the name Horemheb, "(the god) Horus in Festival."
  17. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians (1927), pp 309-310.
    Parentheticals [] identified by Velikovsky. The text seems to confirm that Akhenaten was blinded. Unlike the earlier Moses, the eye of Akhenaten was made "dim" in his old age, or from some form of illness or defect. The name "Akhen" can be interpreted as "wear out the eyes." (Anthony Mercatante, Who's Who in Egyptian Mythology, p 4) The changing of his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhen-aten indicates that he was already suffering from poor eyesight by Year 5 of his co-regency with Amenhotep III.

Note 1:

"Ya" is an abbreviated form of Prime Minister Yuya's name, which was inscribed on his coffin in his Valley of the Kings tomb, and points to his patron god, Yahweh/Jehovah. In Ahmed Osman's 1987 book Stranger in the Valley of the Kings, this highest-ranking official in Egypt, Yuya, is strongly associated with the Biblical Joseph. In the Bible, the story of Moses immediately follows that of Joseph. However, it is commonly believed that there was a lengthy time period between Joseph and Moses. Archaeology now proves that there was not a gap between Joseph II and Moses II, and this second Moses was actually the son of the second Joseph. This places the second Moses in the fourth generation from Abraham (i.e., Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses), during which the Exodus is said to have taken place.

Osman also points out in Moses: Pharaoh of Egypt that Akhenaten acknowledged "Imram" in the cartouche of his god and father the Aten (Heb. Adonai). Biblical Moses is said to be the son of "Amram," the Hebrew equivalent. The four-generation sequence of Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses is identical to that of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses. The Levi of this lineage would then not be the third son of Jacob as commonly presumed, but another pseudonym of Thutmose III. This Levi (meaning "attached") is in fact one and the same as Isaac who was the legal son of Abram, natural son of Thutmose I, and "adopted/attached" son of Thutmose II. Kohath is another pseudonym for Amenhotep II, and Amram is Yuya.

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