"Right in Their Own Eyes"
Perspectives on the United Kingdom of David and Solomon
(Overview of Chapters 10 through 15)
The individual books of the Hebrew Bible ("Old Testament") are overflowing with genuine ancient history. Yet, the Bible as a whole does not take on the shape of any archaeological container. There is a very simple explanation. A surprising and little known fact is that the binding together of historical books in the Old Testament did not take place until well after the New Testament was compiled. Prior to this, the five books of the Torah, the Book of Joshua, the Book of Judges, and the Kings/Chronicles narrative represented separate works by different authors. These individual accounts, which now make up the Old Testament, were not originally written as a unified history of war and peace in the ancient Middle East. Instead they represented independent histories that overlapped extensively in time, but differed radically in perspective.
Chart 9 shows the first fourteen books of the Old Testament as they appear in the Bible's "table of contents." It has been taken for granted that these books lead the reader through a highly linear progression in time. However, there is now overwhelming archaeological data to prove that they are not sequential histories. Chart 10 shows how those same books actually relate to each other in a chronological sense. This includes the correct relationship between the Kings/Chronicles narrative of David and Solomon and that of the Genesis Patriarchs. For much of the Biblical time period, there are two and even three independent accounts of the same persons, places and events.
The two main histories of the Bible are the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy)a and the Kings/Chronicles Narrative (Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings and 1&2 Chronicles). These two histories reflected very different provincial and familial biases. They were highly partisan and inherently opposed to one another. Not surprisingly, opinions varied dramatically with respect to many of the same persons, places and events. However, it is this same quality that now makes them infinitely more valuable from a historical perspective. Despite the confusion caused by the Biblical ordering of books, it actually led to a tidy preservation of alternative traditions. If one history had been declared the "official" account of a given person, place or time, then competing versions would have eventually been suppressed and ultimately lost. The method used to include competing histories in the Bible was so simple and so effective that it has remained completely undetected for well over 2000 years. With the help of archaeology, the correct time period and cultural setting of all of the books of the Old Testament can be faithfully restored.
But how could independent accounts dealing with largely the same time period ever have been confused as histories of entirely different time periods? First of all, these two passion plays of Israel's glory days were formulated using very different methods of history writing. The specific approach taken in the book of Genesis was to depict the Patriarchs as walking in the ways of earlier ancestors. This later gave the impression that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph belonged to a much earlier period than David and Solomon. However, a closer look at the book of Genesis using the telescope of archaeology reveals that they certainly were not.
Secondly, ordering one history after the other avoided endless argument. So-called "Higher Criticism" of the Hebrew texts has also led to the theory that the Kings/Chronicles narrative ("Court History") and parts of the Torah ("Book of J") were written at about the same time, and by members of competing factions.b One must suspect that these groups agreed to use a completely different set of personal names in their respective histories, but this was perhaps not necessary. Heroes in one history were the villains of the other, and vice versa. The beloved conquerors of one region were hated as oppressors in another. Matriarchs and Patriarchs who were remembered by their common names or by favorable pseudonyms in one history were given pejorative epithets in the other. By the time these histories were included in the Bible, the regional and familial differences that they represented would have been long forgotten. However, this would not have made it any easier to harmonize such strongly opposing frames of reference. Instead, one history was simply placed after the other in the Biblical sequence. The books of Joshua and Judges serve as an artificial bridge between the two histories. It was actually the great disparity of the competing histories that made this possible, and with little or no editing at all. The histories were so diverse that the late compilers of the Bible may no longer have even realized that they were dealing with largely contemporaneous accounts.
Thirdly, early archaeologists were passionate in their efforts to find confirmation of the Bible. Ironically, in their zeal to prove their mistaken concept of the Scriptures, they established a chronological framework in which the Biblical characters could not possibly have existed. As a result, modern (secular) archaeologists and Biblical literalists now live many, many worlds apart. The chasm has only widened with the inculcation of preaching and scholarly tradition. It is difficult to appreciate just how contorted our view of the ancient world is until we begin to see it directly rather than through the circus mirror of the prevailing academic chronology. An accurate chronology of the ancient world can be derived now that the proper relationship of the Torah with other historical books of the Old Testament are once again understood.
In the book of Genesis, the flight of the Patriarchs from Babylon and their "Sojourn" in Egypt is liberally attested. Their royalty, both in Babylon and in Egypt is frequently alluded to, however the exact form of their kingship is never made explicit. Conversely, in the Kings/Chronicles narrative, the Patriarchs are explicitly named as sovereigns. However, the seat of their dynasty is assumed to be modern day Jerusalem in Palestine rather than the Jerusalem of Egypt. On the contrary, it will be shown that prior to the Babylonian Exile, the Jerusalem of Biblical record was not tiny Jebus/Salem in Palestine. It was instead the Semitic name of the mighty capital of Egypt on the Nile. The Egyptian New Kingdom was the time of ancient Egypt's last great empire, when its borders literally reached "from the Nile to the River Euphrates." The story in the Torah of how this "United Kingdom" of Egypt was won and lost is quite different than the rendition found in the Kings/Chronicles narrative. However, through a synthesis of the two counterpoising traditions with archaeology a rich and balanced understanding of the period emerges.
The Kings/Chronicles Narrative of David and Solomon is a very different approach to history writing than is found in the Torah. Nevertheless, these two histories provide highly complementary accounts of the same renowned empire. The two approaches were equally effective in preserving even the most intimate family history without directly associating their forefathers with what later became vehemently denounced as the idolatry, pride, incest and genocide of ancient Egypt. By overlaying the archaeology of New Kingdom Egypt onto each of these Biblical stories, the biographies of the greatest Biblical kings and Patriarchs, both personal and public, both official and unofficial, can now be retold in vivid, verse-by-verse detail.
Courtly Chameleons, Masters of Disguise
During the "Divided Kingdom" Period, there are sparse references in Assyrian inscriptions to tribute received from the Biblical kings of Israel and Judah. However, there is absolutely no evidence anywhere of the glory days of the "United Kingdom" when David and Solomon established the most famous empire on earth. The existence of at least sparse confirmation in the weakened late period of Israel and Judah stands in stark contrast to the total absence of any record of the more dominant and only slightly earlier period. There is also no testimony outside the Bible of any Biblical character prior to David and Solomon. Most surprising of all, there is no mention of any Biblical king in Egyptian records. This is a clear indication that the true nature of the "United Kingdom of David and Solomon" has been tragically misunderstood.
The glorious "United Kingdom of David and Solomon" is in fact liberally attested in Egypt, Palestine and Phoenicia. It is represented by the superabundant archaeology of the Egyptian 18th Dynasty, including the now famous figures of Tutankhamun, Nefertiti and Akhenaten. This most renowned of all ancient kingdoms was founded by royal refugees from Babylon. Akkadian, a Babylonian dialect, was the ancient world's lingua franca, and would have been the first of many languages practiced by all courtly chameleons. However, in Egypt, official inscriptions always referred to the pharaohs in traditional Egyptian style and using their assumed Egyptian names and identities.
Publicly, the rulers of New Kingdom Egypt were upstanding Egyptians. Privately, they were a branch of the international ruling elite, and largely the products of Babylonian culture. They spoke with each other in the Babylonian tongue, and preferred to be called by their Akkadian (Semitic) names and nicknames. When they became separated from Babylon, the form of their language became "frozen." By the end of the Egyptian 18th Dynasty, the pharaohs of Egypt wrote to their kingly cousins in Mesopotamia using words and expressions that had already become archaic back in Babylon. This anomaly has been noted by scholars who have studied the Amarna Tablet correspondence of the late 18th Dynasty, however the significance of the phenomenon has not been discerned.
The reason obsolete language was used in the Amarna Letters can now be learned from the missives of the Bible. Immediately preceding the rise of the Egyptian 18th Dynasty, Canaan and Egypt was being ruled by the kings of 1st Dynasty Babylon. In Upper Egypt, these Babylonian kings assumed traditional Egyptian titles. For example, the last king Samsu-ditana assumed the throne name of Senakhtenre in Thebes. (This formal name was shortened to "Terah" in the Bible.) However, in Canaan and Lower Egypt, these Babylonian kings were known as the "Hyksos, literally translated as "rulers of a foreign land." The Hyksos name of Samsu-ditana was Apophis I. The foreign land of these landlords was Babylon. (See Chart 16 for the chronology of Hyksos Period and early New Kingdom.)
Hyksos kings were feared throughout the Near East for the swiftness of their attacks, and the strength of their fortresses. Members of the extended Hyksos family also had cause to fear each another. Samsu-ditana was himself suddenly overthrown in Babylon by an alliance of his own kinsmen. In the following chapter, it will be shown that these rival "brothers" of Samsu-ditana (Terah) had the blessing of the "godfather" of the family empire himself, Ammi-saduga (Patriarch Nahor). Wahibre (Eber/Moses I) had earlier been banished from Egypt, but allowed to re-establish himself in Babylon under the name of Hammurabi. Conversely, Samus-ditana (Terah) was forced out of Babylon. He was allowed to reorganize in Canaan and Egypt, at least up until the time that he chose to withhold tribute from the brother who was appointed to replace him (see Chapter 10).
At the end of the Egyptian 17th Dynasty, the dispossessed crown prince Abraham arrived in Egypt with his half-sister and royal wife Sarah. The same family rivals who usurped the couple's waiting throne in Babylon soon ushered their armies into Canaan and Egypt. Genesis 14 describes the ensuing war against these four kings "from the East," which was won by the erstwhile Babylonian "Lord" Abraham with help from his ally Mamre. A highly complementary version of this same epic confrontation is found in Judges 6-8, where credit for the victory is given to "Gideon and the Lord." Descriptions of ancient kings, and especially pharaohs, tend to be grandiose. We find it hard to believe that these privileged persons were not always surrounded by pomp and circumstance. Rather, on occasion they were reduced to nothing more than their wits in dealing with interpersonal and political conflict. The details of Abraham's war in Genesis, including the names of the four invading kings, are equivalent to those of Gideon's battle given in Judges. The names of these kings are also easily associated with four historical kings known from archaeology (see Chapter 10). This also serves to fix the time period as being the end of 1st Dynasty Babylon.
The Ancient World was Their Stage
The Biblical narratives differ significantly in their opinions of bygone royals. However, they make use of a common literary device to present the history of a great prince or king without explicitly naming his royal superiors. In the story of Gideon, if the actual name of his royal patron had been given, then it would have detracted from the importance of the hero of the narrative. If the name of the flesh and blood "Lord" had been provided, the reader would realize that the champion was only an equal or even a subordinate to another royal person of that time. Often this other family member was perceived as a real or potential rival of the hero, which made it even more convenient to omit their name in the narrative. On the other hand, by having "the Lord" reveal himself and direct the hero in abstract form, the status of this hero is actually increased, not diminished.
Unless tribute had been received or a decisive victory in battle had been won, real life kings also avoided mentioning their rivals by name, especially in public inscriptions. This behavior is only to be expected knowing human nature, however it has fooled archaeologists and Biblical scholars alike. Because a king or pharaoh did not explicitly refer to another ruling king or pharaoh (or even a co-regent) in his inscriptions, it is generally assumed that his rule was unchallenged. This was the desired effect, but was often not the case. Kings and even entire dynasties that were actually contemporary have for this reason been placed one after the other. It has resulted in hundreds of years being added to the ancient chronology derived by archaeologists. As we have seen, a similar process resulted in an inappropriate lengthening of Biblical history.
The identity of the "Angel of the Lord" who "appears to" and guides the indecisive Gideon is not revealed to us in Judges. However, through synthesis with the Genesis account, we can be confident that it was none other than Abraham himself. In Chapters 10 & 11, the historical identity of the wavering warrior Gideon/Mamre is proven to be the late 17th Dynasty pharaoh Sequenenre (Tao II). In Chapters 12 & 13, the mentor of Gideon/Mamre, Abraham, will be identified as the eminent nobleman Djehuty of the late 17th Dynasty and early 18th Dynasty. The desperate defense of Canaan was the defining moment in the foundation of the Egyptian New Kingdom. After the link with Babylon was severed, Egypt and Canaan became the Patriarchal family's primary holding.
Instead of being dominated by a new group of foreign ("Hyksos") rulers, a native dynasty was established in Egypt by the descendants of the fallen Babylonian king Samus-ditana (Terah). After the invading armies of Mesopotamian rivals were repelled, the many sons and grandsons of Terah (Tao I) then dueled with each other for the right to succeed Terah as the sovereign lord of a new Egyptian house. There was intense rivalry between the many princes of the extended royal family. Yet, because of infertility caused by mandatory "sister" marriages, these "brothers" were highly dependent upon each other for producing heirs. This is a recurring theme in almost every Biblical generation.
Birthright and Bragging Right
The plight of Abraham and his half-sister Sarah is a sterling example. In order for a crown prince such as Abraham to be appointed co-regent or king, it was normally required that he himself first produce one or more royal heirs. This was a safeguard against future succession problems. In Chapter 12, it will be shown that Abraham and Sarah were invited to the court of the pharaoh in Egypt, and that this pharaoh was none other than their half-brother Mamre/Gideon (Sequenenre Tao II). They traveled to the site of the harem in order to produce the all-important royal heir (Gen 12) for Abraham. Gideon/Mamre had already been named to succeed Terah as pharaoh in Egypt. This is a strong indication that he had produced a suitable royal son of his own by this date. The heir of Gideon is called Jether in Judges 8. With his own kingship secure, Gideon/Mamre was in a position to render due benevolence unto Sarah, the wife of his brother Abraham. Unfortunately, Gideon/Mamre (pharaoh Sequenenre Tao II) and Sarah were also infertile. Nevertheless, Abraham and Gideon/Mamre remained allies as evidenced by the matching accounts of their shared triumph over the kings of Mesopotamia (Midian) in Judges and only two chapters later in Genesis 14.
A second attempt by Sarah to have a child with a different close male relation was recorded in Genesis 20. The appearance of Sarah at the court of "King Abimelech" was implicitly for the purpose of royal reproduction, as it had been at the court of Pharaoh Tao II. Despite the deliberately misleading rebuke of Abimelech (Gen 20:3-7), we can be positive that this liaison was successful in siring a child on Abraham's behalf. The birth of this son is recorded in the very next chapter. In Chapter 12, it will be demonstrated that Isaac was not only the son of King Abimelech, but indeed became the most relentless military king of his era. The Book of Genesis chooses not to divulge specific details about Isaac's "blessing" of kingship or his military battles. However, we are told that the "fear of Isaac" (Gen. 31:42,53) was felt as far as Aram Naharaim, "the land between the two rivers" of the Tigris and Euphrates. The symbolic name Abimelech means "father of THE king," and is confirmation that he was the natural father of the renowned warrior king Isaac, the historical Thutmose III. In Chapter 12, it will also be demonstrated that the historical identity of Sarah is that of the ephemeral Egyptian 18th Dynasty Queen Isis, known from archaeology to have been the mother of Thutmose III. It is never explicitly acknowledged that any of the Patriarchs of Genesis were kings. Consistent with this, it is admitted that the Matriarch Sarah was a princess, but not that she became a queen and mother of a great king.
In the Book of Genesis, Isaac (Thutmose III) is revered, however his father Abimelech (Thutmose I) is not. This father and son, Abimelech and Isaac, are composited together as one in the Kings/Chronicles narrative of "King David." Thutmose III (David the Younger) and his freebooting forbear Thutmose I (David the Elder) are both highly esteemed in that tradition. They share the same name and equal honor. When it later became difficult to write about them separately, it was convenient to combine their exploits and failures. We know that this was a popular means of history writing, because of the famous ancient account of King Sesostris. Sesostris was also a composite of two great pharaohs by the same name, viz., Senusret I and Senusret III of the 12th Dynasty. The methods of preserving history in ancient times were somewhat different than they are today. It was acceptable to combine the memories of two or more rulers having the same name as though they were but one extraordinary king. Probably this practice also reflects the ancient concept of dynasty and immortality. Senusret I was the grandfather of Senusret III. On the other hand, Thutmose I and Thutmose III were father and son. In the Kings/Chronicles narrative of the Bible, they are collectively considered to have founded the Egyptian New Kingdom. Events from the lives of both Thutmose I and Thutmose III are merged in the story of King David.
In the Kings/Chronicles narrative, Thutmose I is both hero and central figure. There is no motivation to disguise his identity by using the symbolic pseudonym of "Abimelech." Instead, he is called by the unmasked Hebrew form of his Egyptian name. The association of the name David (Heb. Dvd) and Thoth (Egy. Twt) was first made by Ahmed Osman in House of the Messiah. The passion and daring genius of Thutmose I eclipsed Djehuty, who was a stately and retiring man of great learning. In the Kings history, it is the greatness of Thutmose I and his natural son Thutmose III that is paramount. The legal rights and spiritual flights of Djehuty are not the heavenly sights of that Biblical reckoning. Thutmose I had won the crown with his roguish charm and ruthless arm. Nevertheless, the son who established New Kingdom Egypt as the leading power of the Near East was born to him by Isis (Sarah), the legal wife of Djehuty (Abraham). According to the custom of the ancient royal court, all children born of Sarah lawfully belonged to Abraham.
David the Younger Starring as Horus the Younger, Rightful Heir and Mighty Hero
In the Genesis account, it is Abraham (Egyptian Djehuty) who is to be considered the rightful father of Isaac (Thutmose III) and therefore the "official" founder of the Egyptian New Kingdom. The author of the Genesis account maintained that Djehuty was assured of this everlasting distinction by none other than his father Tao I, and later by Thutmose I (see Chapter 12). Although Thutmose I (Abimelech) was implicitly acknowledged as the natural father of Thutmose III (Isaac), he was not fully revered in the book of Genesis. According to Judges 9:1-6, some of his tactics were very difficult to swallow. It was not palatable to combine the main courses of Thutmose I and Thutmose III as one in the Genesis account. Instead, Abimelech and Isaac were better served as separate personages.
Although the identities of Abimelech and Isaac remain distinct, there is another form of compositing in the Book of Genesis. In that history, New Kingdom celebrities are combined with those of earlier time periods. Issac (Thutmose III), like Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and Moses, is depicted in Genesis as a repetition of an earlier ancestor. He was the New Kingdom version of Methuseleh (Senusret III). Each was hailed as the leading military figure (and mighty Horus) of their respective dynasty. And both had a "laughable" facial feature. Senusret III was a lanky 6'6" giant with "Dumbo" ears (symbolizing wisdom). Thutmose III was 5'3" tall and had a "Cyrano de Bergerac" nose. Senusret III was called Shashak ("strider"), and Thutmose III was called Yitshak, meaning "laughter, mocking." However, these were men who would only have been mocked behind their backs ... certainly not to their funny faces.
In Genesis, the next important person in the Abraham narrative after Mamre is that of Abimelech. In Judges, the story of "Gideon and the Lord" is also followed immediately by the brutal rise to power of King Abimelech. In Judges 9, Abimelech executes "seventy" of his "brothers" and is declared king (not judge) of all Israel. The Genesis account of Abimelech states that he was King of Gerar, a city of the Philistines (Gen. 20:2). Thutmose I was an extremely controversial person, and was handled with the utmost discretion in Genesis. Despite the characterization of David in the Kings/ Chronicles narrative, not everyone loved Thutmose I, to say the least. The naming of Thutmose I as the king of the Philistines rather than of Israel is an underhanded compliment. However, Genesis does not go so far as to say that Abimelech was a Philistine, only that he was their king. In the Kings/Chronicles narrative, a young David (Thutmose I) is an ally of the Philistines in their war against king Saul. However, he was offended by the Philistine commanders and thereafter became their enemy. When Saul died, David (Thutmose I) was named King "over all Israel" in his place. He subsequently "defeated the Philistines and subdued them," i.e., became their king.c See Chapter 11 for further discussion.
There was a bitter succession struggle among the Hyksos princes of the late 17th and early 18th Dynasty. The prevailing line emerged from an accord between Thutmose I, Thutmose II, and Djehuty (see Chapters 11-13). However, the Hyksos princesses had no small role to play in the founding of the Egyptian New Kingdom. A determined Isis (Sarah) brought her young son Thutmose III (Isaac) to Thebes as heir apparent, not only to her legal husband Djehuty (Abraham), but also to the pharaohs Thutmose I (Abimelech) and Thutmose II (Ephron). Sarah met an untimely death in Thebes. Consequently, her son was denied power for over two decades by his aunt Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut was herself the widowed wife of Thutmose II and the highly favored daughter of Thutmose I. The frustration of Thutmose III in receiving his promised inheritance of kingship is depicted allegorically in Genesis 26. The far more detailed account of his succession struggle is found in 2 Samuel 13-20.d We are told in the Genesis account that Isaac ultimately did receive his "blessing." After the demise of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III reigned alone for three decades, and conducted 17 known military campaigns.
The Pillars of Understanding Solomon
Very late in his long reign, Thutmose III (Isaac) finally chose his successor to be Amenhotep II (Biblical Jacob). After some deliberation, Amenhotep II in turn appointed one of his younger sons, Thutmose IV (Biblical Judah), to succeed him. In Chapter 15, it will be shown that the nine-year reign of Thutmose IV was not a sole reign, but that he ruled entirely as the co-regent of his father Amenhotep II. Thutmose IV predeceased his father. The reign of the next pharoah, Amenhotep III, began upon the death of Amenhotep II, and not upon the death of Thutmose IV as is presumed by Egyptologists. The contiguous reigns of Amenhotep II and Amenhotep III are combined in the Kings/Chronicles narrative as the story of the great king Solomon. The reigns of Abimelech (Thutmose I) and Isaac (Thutmose III) were also contiguous and are combined in the Kings/Chronicles narrative as the composite story of King David. Figuratively speaking, it can be said that King David (Thutmose I/III) was followed by Solomon (Amenhotep II/III).
Ahmed Osman established in House of the Messiah that the story of David and Solomon was based on the historical kings Thutmose III and Amenhotep III, respectively. It will be shown here that the account of Biblical David also incorporates Thutmose I, father of Thutmose III. The account of Solomon is based primarily on Amenhotep III. However, it also absorbs the reign of his grandfather and immediate predecessor Amenhotep II. The magnificent new 18th Dynasty royal residence and temple at Malkata in Western Thebes is described in great detail in the Book of 2 Kings. It was finished in the reign of Amenhotep III, however preparations and probably initial construction were likely begun in the reign of his immediate predecessor Amenhotep II. Only remnants of the foundations and two massive and bare stone statues now remain. The statues once framed the entrance to the sprawling complex. They were called the "Colossi of Memnon" by Greeks.e The fabled "Pillars of Solomon" would also have graced this structure (1 Kings 7:21). 2 Kings 25:16 states that Nebuchadnezzar removed from them more bronze than could be weighed.
Ahmed Osman logically stopped short of saying that David and Solomon were one and the same as Egyptian New Kingdom pharaohs Thutmose III and Amenhotep III. Hundreds of years distance the accepted time of the Egyptian 18th Dynasty (14th Century BC) from that of David and Solomon (10th Century BC).f Given the presently accepted chronology, it would be completely unreasonable to conclude that the Biblical story of the United Kingdom of David and Solomon was anything more than an aspiration by later kings to achieve the earlier Egyptian New Kingdom ideal. Notwithstanding, the overwhelming evidence to be presented in this work will remove the chronological impossibility that confronted Ahmed Osman, and confirm his original associations of David and Solomon with pharaohs Thutmose III and Amenhotep III.
- It is likely that the Books of Genesis, Exodus and Deuteronomy were also written by different authors, although composed in the same genre.
- Harold Bloom, The Book of J. See also, Richard Friedman, The Hidden Book of the Bible.
- 2 Samuel 5:2; 8:1
- The Biblical identity of Queen/Pharaoh Hatshepsut is given in Chapter 14.
- Memnon was the Greek name of Amenhotep III, and bears some similarity to the name of Solomon.
- Hundreds of years also separate Abraham and David in the apparent Biblical timetable, however they turn out to not only be contemporaries but also half-brothers!