Living in Truth:
Archaeology and the Patriarchs

Chapter 35   Book Navigator    Chapter 37

by Charles N. Pope
Copyright 1999-2004, 2016 by Charles Pope
United States Library of Congress
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Chapter 36
"Neither Before Nor After"
(An Empire in Transition)


A Doubly Good King

In the Biblical Kings/Chronicles narrative, the 29-year reign of Hezekiah is followed by the long and "wicked" 55-year reign of Manasseh, which is cited as the cause of a future invasion by Assyria. After the death of Manasseh, he is in turn succeeded by another "evil" king of Judah named Amon, who then rules for two years. These Biblical kings correspond to the Egyptian pharaohs known from archaeology as Shebitku, Taharqa,a and Tanutamun. It was not during the lifetime of Shebitku (Hezekiah) but in the second year of Tanutamun as co-regent of the old and ailing Taharqa (Tirhaka/Manasseh) that Egypt was over-run by Assurbanipal of Assyria. We would then expect confirmation of this event as part of the Biblical accounts of either Manasseh or King Amon,b but none is given. Instead, after a delay of unspecified length, Amon is followed on the throne by a boy-king named Josiah.

Although an Assyrian conquest of Judah is predicted in the Bible in more than one place, it is nowhere described. The earlier pillaging of Jerusalem by Syrians, Philistines, Arabs, Cushites, Libyans and others is openly acknowledged in the Kings/Chronicles narrative. However, the brutality and shame of not one but three Assyrian invasions was considered excessive even by ancient standards. They were also blows from which Jerusalem and its ruling elite never recovered, therefore the intensely disturbing memory of them was repressed. The first Assyrian occupation was the work of Tiglath-Pileser III. The Kings/Chronicles narrative hides it by switching the reign order of Ahaz and Jotham. To deny the second and third Assyrian intrusions, a firm and final twist is applied to the Kings/Chronicles narrative as if to guard it from ever being unraveled. And to date it has not.

The Kings/Chronicles narrative first informs that Jerusalem was not to be destroyed until after the reign of Hezekiah, and then makes the same assertion about the reign of Josiah. When describing the good Hezekiah it is written, "There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him." c However only five chapters it is declared, "Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him ..." d Obviously, these statements cannot both strictly be true unless Hezekiah and Josiah ruled at the same time or were one and the same person. As demonstrated in the chart below, the names of the officials in each reign, both major and minor, are either identical or close variants, even though Hezekiah and Josiah are ostensibly separated by the 55-year reign of Manasseh. The most significant event in each reign is also the same, that being renewal of the Passover celebration. Of Hezekiah's Passover, it is written, "For since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem." e As if the festival of Hezekiah had never happened it is said of Josiah's, "Not since the days of the Judges (Samuel) who led Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, had any such Passover been observed." f However, the two feasts are described in equivalent terms, and a critical comparison reveals that they were equal in magnitude.1 (See Chart 37)

Antecedents of Hezekiah

In the 18th Dynasty, Thutmose IV fell terminally ill after being poisoned, which placed the succession of his father Amenhotep II in doubt. Believing that he was to be the rightful successor based on personal typecasting, the wise man Aanen/Meriptah foolishly made an unauthorized play for the greater throne, which was brutally put down. Amenhotep II then officially elected a young grandson Amenhotep III as successor. In repetition, Pharaoh Meremptah, whose name was a variant of Meriptah (Aanen), was given the opportunity to succeed Ramses II in the 19th Dynasty, but was made to play the fool when his rival brothers conspired to bring the "Peoples of the Sea" against him.

The disgrace of Meremptah was sufficient for Ramses-the-Great to appoint a new successor. It was a change that Ramses expected and even planned to make, as tradition dictated that the throne pass from him as a Joshua figure to a Jacob-figure and then to a Solomon-Obed figure. In the 18th Dynasty, the throne passed from Thutmose III ("Joshua") to Amenhotep II ("Jacob") and then to Amenhotep III ("Solomon-Obed"). In the preceding Hyksos Dynasty the throne passed from Salitis (Joshua-Reu) to Yakhub-Hor (Serug) and then to Khyan (Obed). In the time of Ramses-the-Great, his son Hori was typecast as Jacob-Kohath, and his older half-brother Ramses-Tefnakhte was passed over for kingship as the earlier Merari (Meryre/Amenemhet). However, Ramses did not appoint Hori (as neo-Yakhub-Hor) directly as successor, but instead designated one of the youngest of the scores of princes born during his reign to become the Khyan (Obed/Solomon) of the unfolding dynasty.

The Egyptian given name of the new boy-king, Pinedjem, can be translated as "House of Peace," and was symbolic of his appointed role as the next "Solomon." The first Solomon-figure was Noah, who had the unenviable task of "binding" together the empire after the Flood by mediating between three "sons," none of which were likely his own. Previous incarnations of this Noah-type had, as Noah himself, suffered from general disrespect, and this became part of the Solomon-Obed typecasting itself. In order to give the young Pinedjem a fighting chance to hold his own against much older and more powerful family members, and to combat any further resistance to his controversial choice as successor, Ramses took a further precaution. He gave the boy his own name Ramses, and crowned him as Menmaatre-setepenptah Ramses. The throne name Menmaatre had been that of Seti, the father of Ramses-the-Great. It also made identification with the 18th Dynasty Solomon, Nebmaatre Amenhotep III.

All of the combatants were appeased by the grand compromise but no one fully pleased. Hori was not made Great King, but did as Jacob "steal the birthright." Tefnakhte, like the earlier General Djehuty, had to satisfy himself with being the legal and spiritual founder of a new dynasty. Although a natural son of Hori through his daughter Hrere, the new co-regent of Ramses II was a legal son ("eldest son") of Tefnakhte. As a consolation to the fallen Meremptah, one of his daughters was made a Great Wife of the new heir. Smendes, her "firstborn," was made co-regent to Pinedjem upon the death of Ramses II, and therefore next in line for succession. He had been sired by the formidable prince Piye, who was another son Hori/Kashta and typecast as the 19th Dynasty Joseph son of Jacob. Like Yuya, the 18th Dynasty Joseph, Piye was not made Great King. However, as Yuya he became "as father-to-pharaoh."

Piye was himself an "eldest son" of Alara/Osorkon III, who was in turn the "eldest son" of Ramses II. A daughter of Osorkon, Shepenwepet had already been made God's Wife of Amun in Thebes. Therefore, all of the major players had a stake in the success of the new world order. It was a well-considered arrangement, and Ramses trusted that the entire extended family would accept it as both fair and necessary in order to satisfy the fates. The 19th Dynasty was very much about redressing the failures of the 18th Dynasty. The mission of the House of Ramses was to do it over and get it right the next time around. Although the pattern of the 18th Dynasty was deliberately repeated, a different result was expected. However, after the death of the architect Ramses-the-Great, the role of Pinedjem as Solomon was rejected and the accord disintegrated. The ideal was not realized.

Despite the best intentions of Ramses-the-Great, Pinedjem would be considered the least in importance of all the pharaohs who claimed the throne and name of Ramses. Although Pinedjem was the first of these to rule after Ramses-the-Great, he is named last in the 20th Dynasty king-list as Ramses XI. The 20th Dynasty is not a true dynasty, but a catch-all list of kings who followed Ramses-the-Great and took his name as a show of legitimacy and world sovereignty. (Ramses III will be discussed below, and the other seven in following chapters. Ramses V and Ramses VII-X, though ruling after Ramses III, were not descendants of Ramses III.)

In the Bible, Pinedjem is called Shelemiah the son of Cushi,g Cushi being a variant of the name Kashta/Hori. Pinedjem is likely also called Shallum son of Jabesh in the Kings narrative, the name Jabesh, "arid", corresponding closely to that of Cush. Shallum son of Jabesh had his predecessor Zechariah (pharaoh Meremptah) struck down in public view and then "ruled in his place." h However, after only one full month, Shallum was in turn attacked and reportedly killed by Menahem (pharaoh Amenmesses). The passage noting Shallum's death was written from the perspective of Israel rather than Egypt. Shallum son of Jabesh, if one and the same as Shellemiah son Cushi, lost control over one region of the empire, and had only died in that limited sense. Yet, the situation was about to become much worse for him. The primary throne of Pinedjem/Ramses XI in Egypt was within the year made subordinate to Shabaka/Takelot III pharaoh of Nubia/Libya, who also ruled in Assyria as Tiglath-pileser III. When Shabaka was killed by Hori-Kashta, sovereignty was not restored to his son Pinedjem/Ramses XI, but was usurped once again, this time by Piye/Sargon.

The election of Pinedjem and Smendes as successors of Ramses-the-Great was the least acceptable to Osorkon III/Alara and his natural son Takelot III/Shabaka. Pinedjem was the son of Hori/Kashta and Smendes was his grandson by Piye. Piye had another son Taharqa by the Shepenwepet daughter of Osorkon III, but he was snubbed in favor of Smendes. Moreover, Shepenwepet was required to adopt Amenirdis daughter of Kashta as her successor in the office of God's Wife of Amun. This effectively blocked both the male and female lines of Osorkon/Alara from future kingship. As detailed in the previous chapters, Osorkon believed that the natural line of Ramses II as Joshua-Salitis was not fated to go on, but should be supplanted by a true collateral line, and that his son Shabaka was the best qualified to seize the throne in the role of Jacob. At the cost of a horrific world war Shabaka pursued and took hold of that manifest destiny. Hori, bearer of the birthright, surprisingly remained neutral as Shabaka battled against Piye for control. Hori was the father-in-law of Shabaka and likely also the father of Shabaka's "eldest son." For him, it was a zero-sum game. No matter who won the succession battle, the outcome was the same - a son of his would become Great King and continue his dynasty.

The Potentate Unable to Save

Besides his half-sister Amenirdis-Qalhata daughter of Kashta, Shabaka took his half-sister Shepenwepet-Mesbat daughter of Alara as wife. Over time, Mesbat emerged as the favored wife, and her son Horemakhet became the favored son. When Horemakhet was named as a Libyan pharaoh, Osorkon IV, he also became the heir apparent. After this, Hori/Kashta (Libyan Iuput) could no longer afford to stay neutral, but he did remain silent as he plotted the demise of his son-in-law. In this intrigue, Hori son of Khaemwaset (Sheshonq V) found inspiration in his Libyan namesake Iuput son of Sheshonq I (Aye). The archetypal Iuput also resorted to murder when his status was threatened. After loosing the rule of Upper Egypt, Iuput had orchestrated the assassination of the young pharaoh Sheshonq II who was appointed to replace him. This provided justification or at least a rationalization for Hori to arrange Shabaka's death in fulfillment of earlier precedent.

Hori corresponds to the patronizing priest Uriah in the Biblical narrative of Ahaz. Shabaka trusted his father-in-law Hori/Kashta and was therefore vulnerable to the plot against him. Hori also found a suitable accomplice in his young grandson Panehesy. This Egyptian given name of (Nubian) Taharqa would have typecast him as the Phinehas of his generation. The Middle Kingdom Phinehas had carried out the "righteous killing" of a prince in the House of Issachar and was granted pharaonic status and an "everlasting priesthood" in Jerusalem (Thebes). The impressionable young Panehesy could earn the same reward, or so his grandfather Hori/Kashta may have told him. Panehesy/Taharqa was guided, knowingly or not, to fulfill his expected role by making Shabaka son of "Issachar" (Alara/Osorkon III) the victim of a jealous murder.

Once the deed was done, Panehesy traveled to Thebes in order to accept the prize. Instead, he encountered anarchy and was soon driven out by the advancing army of Tefnakhte who was now calling himself Setnakhte pharaoh of all Egypt. The demise of Shabaka compelled Tefnakhte to claim the greater kingship, and he also could find a ready precedent for action. Shabaka had assumed the identity of Old Kingdom pharaoh Menkhaure, who had been succeeded by Shepseskaf. The throne name of Tefnakhte was Shepsesre, therefore he was the rightful successor of Shabaka. Moreover, Shabaka had effectively ended the reign of Pinedjem as Great King and in the role of Obed-Solomon. In the Hyksos Period, Khyan (Obed) had been followed as king by the irrepressible Apophis/Tao (Jesse/Joash/Terah). Therefore, Tef-nakhte who was heir apparent before the death of his father Khaemwaset, adopted Se-nakht-enre Tao as an archetype. As the older half-brother of Jacob-Hori, Tefnakhte also claimed Amenemhet/Meryre half-brother of Amenhotep II (Patriarch Jacob) as a precedent. Although Amenhotep "grabbed" the succession of Thutmose III, it was later recovered by the line of Meryre. In fact, the fabled House of Ramses itself was descended from him.

True to his typecasting as Jacob, Hori persisted in his passive-aggressive policy. After the death of Shabaka, rather than decisively taking the throne for himself, for his own sons Pinedjem and Piye, or even his grandson Smendes, Hori/Kashta by all appearances nobly accepted the assumed typecasting of Tefnakht, and deferred to him as the older son of their father Khaemwaset. Perhaps he had no choice due to the superior forces of Tefnakhte and those allied with him. Perhaps he was alienated from his son Piye due to his earlier acceptance of Shabaka. Piye had not accepted the sovereignty of Shabaka. He would not let the claim of Setnakhte go unchallenged either. The stage was set for yet another showdown. What terror and misery for the masses while a drama was played out by a handful of actors on a world-size stage! When Piye son of Hori/Kashta invaded the Egyptian Delta in his Year 20, no less than five other pharaohs resisted him, and with Tefnakhte as their leader instead of Iuput.

As Piye would later boast on his Victory Stela, he was "feared by those greater than himself." Piye did not refer to any of the kings by their Egyptian names. Instead, he disguised the fact that the assailed were his former superiors by calling them all by their Libyan names. Ramses-Tefnakhte was the uncle of Piye and Hori-Kashta-Iuput his own father. (The names Put and Kashta are synonymous and signify Nubia/Ethiopia.) Osorkon IV was Horemakhet son of Shabaka. The other two pharaohs, Peftjawybastet and Nimlot can now be identified as Pinedjem and Smendes, the former Great King and his co-regent. Pinedjem was the half-brother of Piye, and Smendes was his own son. Yet, both had been made "greater" than Piye by Ramses II.

Hori remained on the side of Tefnakhte until the war was all but lost. This decision, oddly enough, proved to be the best for him. Piye refused to punish his own father, but instead honored him with the very kingship in Upper Egypt that Tefnakhte/Setnakhte strove for in vain. Piye probably accepted the strategy of his father as yet another confirmation of his new role as Sargon son of the pacifist Urukagina. Jacob-figures, in general, preferred intrigue and alliance rather than direct force in order to achieve their goals.

Despite "defecting" to the side of Tefnakhte and having offered the greatest resistance to Piye, Nimlot was honored above all of the other four pharaohs. He received a personal audience with Piye while the rest were made to stand conspicuously outside the palace. Piye was willing to forgive Nimlot, not only because of his youth, but because he was a true son. Nimlot had been the Libyan name of the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Thutmose IV (Judah IV). On this occasion Piye found it appropriate to designate his son Nimlot-Smendes as the Judah of the 19th Dynasty. Under his newly established authority, Piye duly made Smendes the regent of his former "father" Pinedjem. This was easily justified. In the 18th Dynasty, Nimlot/Thutmose IV (Judah) was the legal father of Amenhotep III (Obed-Solomon). In the 12th Dynasty, Amenemhet II (Judah II) also preceded the Solomon-figure Amenemhet III and was likely his true father or grandfather. Therefore, Piye's son Smendes had to be made the superior of Piye's brother Pinedjem.

Shortly before or after the death of Shabaka/Takelot III/Tiglath-pileser III, a new king of Assyria emerged by the name of Shalmaneser (V). If Shalmaneser became king before the death of Tiglath-pileser then he was probably one and the same as Osorkon IV son of Takelot III, the heir apparent to the throne. The name Shalmaneser has previously been identified as a form of Issachar/Osorkon (Ezer), but also clearly includes a variant of the name "Solomon." (The 18th Dynasty "Solomon," Amenhotep III, was proabably one and the same as Shalmaneser III.) If Shalmaneser V became king after the death of Tiglath-pileser then he probably was one and the same as Pinedjem/Ramses XI, who may have tried to reclaim the succession and once again become Great King.i The early inscriptions of Sargon reveal that "Sib'e" (Shabaka) sought the support of "Pir'u" (Pinedjem/Ramses XI?) and that they had made an alliance. However, it is doubtful that Shabaka would have appointed Pinedjem as his successor in Assyria. Piye/Sargon, later described "Pir'u" as "king of Musru - a potentate, incapable to save." j

Shalmaneser V, whoever he may have been, participated in the deportation of Israel, but is thought to have died during the siege of Samaria. After the death of Tiglath-pileser III, Piye/Sargon usurped the throne of Assyria and deposed Shalmaneser V. In Egypt, he left direct rule of the Delta to his son Smendes, and Thebes to his father Hori/Herihor.k In the "Tale of Wenamun," which dates to this time, the acting sovereigns in Lower Egypt are named as Smendes and Tentamon. (Tentamon would have been the mother of Smendes, a.k.a., Tiy-Merenese and by the Libyan name Henutawy/Makare daughter of Meremptah. Although remaining influential as a Queen Mother, she likely yielded her status as a God's Wife. After the conquest of the Delta by Piye, he installed his daughter Amenirdis as successor to his sister, the God's Wife Shepenwepet I.) Pinedjem was not entirely removed as a pharaoh, but reduced in status to that of a deified High Priest and forced to date events in Egypt using the regnal years of Smendes rather than his own.l The disappearance of Shalmaneser V in Assyria about this time has most likely been misinterpreted. Both Osorkon IV and Pinedjem/Ramses XI (Peftjawybast) went on living and nominally ruling in Egypt, even after being subdued by Piye/Sargon.

"A Child Shall Lead Them"

The vanquished Tefnakhte had not been required to deliver his tribute or make an oath of allegiance in person. Piye accepted his surrender through an agent. Tefnakhte was also allowed to retain his Libyan throne, but afterwards he was subordinate not only to the Egyptian throne, but also to those of Nubia and Assyria. The Libyan throne was more or less expendable as far as Piye/Sargon was concerned. Within about two years Tefnakhte was further permitted to name a new successor, the third to be appointed by him. Bocchoris, his first heir, was killed by Shabaka. The second, Bakennefi, was also named as pharaoh of Egypt under the name of Amenemnisu ("Amen is King"), either upon the assassination of Siptah, or when Tefnakhte himself claimed the throne of Egypt as Setnakhte.

In the Bible, Amenemnisu is called "King Amon" and is the predecessor of Josiah.m In the Victory Stela of Piye, Amenemnisu, was called by his Libyan name Bakennefi and numbered among the great chiefs who engaged him in battle. Bakennefi actually represented a sixth pharaoh ("uraeus bearer") who opposed Piye, however he was killed during the conflict and thus was not among the pharaohs depicted as submitting to Piye when the war was over. The Biblical narrativen indicates the officials of Amenemnisu (Amon) betrayed and killed him rather than incur the wrath of Piye. In the Victory Stela, Nes-naisu a surviving son of Bakennefi presented tribute for the House of Bakennefi.

Another son of Tefnakhte was also among those named by Piye as an enemy. He is called by the Libyan name of Sheshonq. Like Bakennefi, he was not among those shown as offering his tribute to Piye after hostilities ceased. It has generally been assumed that he also died in the fray. However, the narrative of the Victory Stela only mentions the death of one great prince and son of Tefnakhte. Therefore, it can be deduced that Sheshonq did not die, but like his father Tefnakhte did not appear before Piye directly. He instead presented tribute through his young son Pamai. The name Sheshonq is the Libyan form of Shisha/Sheshy/Salitis, and corresponds to the Biblical names of Joshua and Isaiah.o

In the reign of Shabaka, Sheshonq played the part of Elisha/Joshua in order to complement the assumed role of Shabaka as Elijah/Eliezer (Smenkhkare/Menkhaure). The role of Moses (Akhenaten) had been taken by Osorkon III father of Shabaka. This typecasting specified a very close relationship between Shabaka and Sheshonq even as there had been between Elijah and Elisha. In the early chapters of the Book of Isaiah, this young prince is clearly patronized by Ahaz (Shabaka) and prophesies favorably on that king's behalf.p In the Kings/Chronicles narrative Sheshonq also emerges as a prominent figure where he is called by the close variants of Jeshua, Asaiah, and Ma'aseiah.q

In the 18th Dynasty, Elisha/Joshua was the actual son of Elijah, although it required DNA testing to determine that. In order to emulate the Middle Kingdom pattern, it was necessary for both Smenkhkare and Tutankhamun to be considered the sons of Akhenaten. Similarly, Sheshonq can be identified as an adopted (rather than true) son of Shabaka/Takelot III (and for the purpose of mimicking the relationship between Smenkhkare and Tut). He was the firstborn of Mesbat/Shepenwepet, the favored wife of Shabaka, and as noted above his actual father was Tefnakhte. In the Book of Isaiah, Isaiah is called the son of Amoz. The name Amoz, "strong," was derived from the Egyptian nakhte, also meaning "strong, victorious, perpetuated." It is of course a main component in the name Tefnakhte. Amoz is also a close variant of Amaz-iah,r a previous king of Judah identified previously as Nakhtmin/Hatnakht/Pedubastet.s This indicates that the Biblical name Amoz/Amaz(iah) was an adaptation not only of the Egyptian nakht/nakhte, but also the Libyan root ped. It further suggests that Tefnakhte may have been in at least one major city called Pedubastet (II), who is an otherwise unexplained pharaoh of this time period.

Biblical Isaiah is said to have functioned as a prophet throughout the reigns of Ahaz, Jotham and Hezekiah. Sargon II (Jotham) is mentioned in the Book of Isaiah, but no prophesies are dated to his reign. Isaiah was evidently careful not to say anything good or bad about this second kingly patron. It might be concluded that Sheshonq fell from grace during this period, but this was far from the case. Under Piye, the role of Sheshonq as Joshua was continued and even further developed, and as always, according to tradition. Back in the 18th Dynasty, within a year of Smenkhkare's death, his young son Tutankhamun succeeded him as pharaoh, and his name was changed from Tutankhaten. (Tradition demanded that an Osiris have a son to succeed him on the throne, even if that didn't result in a permanent dynasty.) Consistent with this pattern, Sheshonq was appointed pharaoh within a year or so of Shabaka's death, received a new name, Masaharta, and then ruled for about nine years. Above and beyond this, in order to fulfill the role of Sheshonq II (another youthful Joshua-figure in the Amarna Period) he was made an honorary High Priest of Amun in Thebes.

Having received such high favor, Sheshonq became something of an adopted son of the new Great King, Piye. Piye was typecast initially as Joseph son of Jacob, therefore, Sheshonq was looked upon as Sheshonq-Aye the adopted son Yuya, the 18th Dynasty Joseph. This new relationship and typecasting is borne out the name Ma'asah-arta.t Likewise, the Biblical names of Asa-iah and Ma'ase-iah emerge not only as variants of Ma'asah-arta and Isaiah/Joshua but as identification with Asa/Ephraim son of Joseph.

A Boy Named Psusennes

Nes-naisu, a grandson of Tefnakhte was identified on the Victory Stela of Piye as having presented tribute on behalf of his father's house, the fallen prince Bakennefi. However, as customary, Nes-naisu was passed over as a successor to the Libyan throne in favor of younger sons of Tefnakhte. A year or so after the election of Sheshonq as the pharaoh Masaharta, another son of Tefnakhte was appointed as his second co-regent in the double Libyan throne, and given the illustrious name of Pa-Seba-kha-em-Niut (Greek Psusennes), "The Star Appears in the City." These two surviving sons of Tefnakhte began to assume the roles of Mahli (May) and Mushi (Neby), the two sons of Merari (Prince and High Priest Amenemhet/Mery-re), an 18th Dynasty archetype of Tefnakhte.

As with the 18th Dynasty role model, the younger son of Tefnakhte became more prominent than the younger. This younger son was likely named on the Victory Stela of Piye as Akenesh of Per-Neby. The place name, Per-Neby, "House of Neby," makes identification with Neby (Reuben) son of Amenemhet/Mery-re (Merari) of the 18th Dynasty. He did not hide his face from Piye, but presented tribute in person. Within three years of his election as Pa-seba-em-niut, this young prince was then placed on the "cleansed" throne of Ramses-the-Great under the name of Ramses (III). As the grandson of Meremptah,u the election of Ramses III as pharaoh of Egypt was perhaps considered more appropriate than Sheshonq/Masaharta. This appointment only further diminished the status of Pinedjem/Ramses XI and dashed any remaining hope he might have had of recovering the throne by surviving Smendes.

After the death of Piye/Sargon, Ramses-Psusennes became pharaoh of Nubia, a throne that outranked that of Libyan and Egypt during this time period. As wearer of the Nubian crown, he was called Shebitku and Shabataka, variants of the name Pa-seba-kha-em-niut. His assumed Nubian throne name was Djedkare, which made identification with both Djedefre/Djet (Seba/Sheba II) of the 4th Dynasty and Djedkare (Mesilim) of the 5th Dynasty. The names Seba ("star/seven") and Shebit-ku are also variants of the Hebrew word Shabbat (Sabbath, the "seventh" day). The reign of Biblical Hezekiah is characterized by a renewed emphasis not only on the Passover, but also on "keeping the Sabbath," another proscription from the Laws of Moses.

Biblical Josiah is said to have been only eight years of age when crowned as king, and to have reigned in Jerusalem for 31 years.v The name Josiah seems to be an adaptation of Psusennes the Greek form of Pa-Seba-kha-em-Niut. Biblical Hezekiah, on the other hand, is said to have been a more mature 25 years old upon becoming king. The name Hezekiah is closer in form to Shebitku, but might also relate to Heqa-iunu, "Ruler of Thebes," an epithet of Ramses III. Ramses III was only about 11 years old at his coronation, therefore if the Biblical accounting is correct, he would have acquired his third kingship (Nubia) in Year 14 of his reign as pharaoh of Egypt. Biblical Hezekiah follows Ahaz, who was dominant in Egypt as the Nubian pharaoh Shabaka. Biblical Josiah however follows King Amon.

There were two prominent kings named Amon just prior to the election of Psusennes. Amenhotep was the true son of Hori/Kashta and "eldest son" of Shabaka. He was prominent not only under his Egyptian name of Amenhotep, but also as the "Nubian" Tanutamon, both in the reign of Shabaka and later as successor to Taharqa. Although not a pharaoh during the reign of Shabaka, Amenhotep was High Priest and probably held one or more regional kingships. One of his epithets appears to have been Nes-Amun, literally "King Amon." The long-lived Amenhotep made a number of political comebacks, and he was certainly the Biblical "King Amon" who follows Manasseh and Hezekiah as King of Judah, if not also one and the same as the earlier Amenemnisu. That former leading prince named Amenemnisu, "Amon is King," would be remembered as the predecessor of Josiah. The Egyptian pharaoh Amenemnisu corresponds to the Libyan Bakennefi, the son of Tefnakhte killed during the Delta campaign of Piye. Bakennefi had earlier replaced Bakenranef (Bocchoris), the first Libyan co-regent of Tefnakhte, who had been killed by Shabaka. Upon the death of Shabaka, Tefnakhte claimed his throne under the Egyptian name of Setnakhte, and Bakennefi was made co-regent under the Egyptian name of Amenemnisu.

It was the death (literal or figurative) of Amenemnisu/Bakennefi, the second crown prince under Tefnakhte that led to the election of his younger brothers Masaharta and Psusennes. The kingship of Masaharta was limited to the eight or nine years required to fulfill his role as Joshua-Tut. However, the typecasting of Ramses-Psusennes permitted a lasting kingship in Thebes. Accordingly, Amenemnisu is considered the first pharaoh of the 21st Dynasty and Psusennes the second. "As excavations have shown, the population suddenly declined at the beginning of the 21st Dynasty, and large sectors of the city were abandoned." w This has previously been attributed to increasingly lower levels of the Nile. However, it is now evident that the sudden depopulation of Thebes was a result of the wars of Shabaka with Piye and other princes, and the use by Shabaka of Assyrian troops not only to prevail against his rivals in Egypt, but to also deport large numbers of Egyptian subjects.


  1. Taharqa ruled as a Nubian pharaoh for only 26 years as opposed to the 55 years ascribed to Biblical Manasseh in Jerusalem. However, his kingship in Egypt actually spanned the entire reign of Hezekiah. This will be demonstrated in the following chapters.
  2. 2 Kings 21:19; 2 Chron. 33:21
  3. 2 Kings 18:5 (NIV)
  4. 2 Kings 23:25 (NIV)
  5. 2 Chron. 30:26 (NIV)
  6. 2 Kings 23:22 (NIV)
  7. Jeremiah 36:14
  8. 2 Kings 15:10
  9. Note the possible word play between Shallem and Shalman-eser.
  10. Ancient Near Eastern Texts, J. Pritchard, ed., p 285-287. The last mention of "Pir'u" is as late as Year 7 of Sargon. There is an apparent word play between the name Pinedjem ("safety/protection/peace") and "save." Alternatively, "Pir'u" could possibly refer instead to Queen/Pharaoh Twosret, whose Hebrew name was Hoshea, "savior."
  11. The Libyan identity of Hori was Iuput II son of Sheshonq V (Khaemwaset). In the Amarna Period, Iuput A son of Sheshonq I was made High Priest of Amun and ruler of Upper Egypt. Likewise, Piye, upon becoming Great King, appointed his father Hori to both of these offices.
  12. Pinedjem claimed pharaonic status as a High Priest by his Year 20 as Ramses XI, however he dated his inscriptions using the regnal years of Smendes. Year 20 of Ramses XI corresponded to Year 16 of Smendes.
  13. Tanutamon successor of Taharqa was also called Amon, and this provided a convenient means of returning in time in the Biblical Kings/Chronicles narrative. See additional discussion at the end of this chapter.
  14. 2 Kings 21:23; Chron. 33:24
  15. The name Isaiah is a close variant of Joshua/Jeshua and has the same meaning.
  16. Pamai son of Sheshonq would correspond to the son of Isaiah named as "Immanuel" and "Maher-shalal-hash-baz"in Isaiah 8.
  17. The name Ma-aseiah is essentially the name Isaiah with the generic Libyan prefix of Ma.
  18. Amoz (531) and Amaziah (558) are both derived from amatz (553).
  19. See Chapter 30.
  20. The Libyan name Masaharta is also spelled as Maasaharta.
  21. Abijah, the mother of Hezekiah, is called the daughter of Zechariah (Meremptah).
  22. The role played by the 6 year-old Ramses-Psusennes/Akenesh in the capitulation of the Delta to Piye would have been purely symbolic. Ramses III is known to have reached Year 32 of his reign. Between two and three years elapsed between the election of eight-year old Psusennes in the Delta and his "appearance" in Thebes as Ramses III, pharaoh of all Egypt. Consistent with this, the kingship of Psusennes was recognized first in Tanis and only later in Thebes. Psusennes is thought to have ruled for 48 years. However, this is based on two inscriptions that have been mistakenly applied to him rather than a contemporary priest-king, Menkheperre
  23. Donald Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, p 287.

Note 1:

In the Josiah narrative, it is disclosed that 31,000 sheep and goats were sacrificed. We do not know the exact number of animals sacrificed during the first seven days of the Passover of Hezekiah. The celebration was extended an additional seven days during which we are told that 17,000 sheep and goats were slaughtered. This means that 13,000 sheep and goats would have been sacrificed during the first seven days, that is, a total of 31,000 sheep and goats over the two-week observance.

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