The Egyptian Old Kingdom, Revisited

Inspired by the recent study of the Sphinx, I’ve taken a fresh look at the 4th Dynasty pharaohs. Incredibly, the same pattern that defines the Egyptian Middle Kingdom was already in place in that earlier period as well. Khufu/Cheops of the 4th Dynasty fills the place of the sun god Re, or in Biblical terms he is the Jacob (proto-Israel) figure. His 12 successors fall neatly into the roles of Jacob’s 12 sons – Joseph (Ptah), Reuben (Geb), Simeon (Thoth), Levi (Set), Judah (Horus the Elder), Dan (Atum), Benjamin (Horus the Younger), Issachar (Osiris), Zebulun (Isis), Gad (On/An), Asher (Shu), and Naphtali (Hathor). The order is not exactly the same as in the Middle Kingdom or the New Kingdom for that matter, but there is no question about the concept taking clear shape at that early age (and in distinct emulation of the so-called divine age that preceded it).

Typecasting: Jacob/Re/Marduk
Other Biblical Names: Sabtah, Tiras/Tarshish
Egypt: Khufu/Cheops (Horus Medjedu)
Mesopotamia: Like the god Re, he was the boss in Egypt, but did not have a strong presence in Mesopotamia. He may have been called "Tizkar son of Meszamug" (Mizraim).

Typecasting: Joseph/Ptah-Khnum-Hapy/Ea-Enki
Other Biblical Names: Raamah, Madai
Egypt: Ra-hotep, Im-hotep
Mesopotamia: Mashda/Meshede, Lugal-Mu?

Typecasting: Reuben/Geb/Ninurta-Erra-Gibil-Girra-Ningirsu-Usaw
Other Biblical Names: Jebus, Er, inspiration for the later Biblical figure of Esau
Egypt: Kawab
Mesopotamia: Like the god Geb/Ninurta, he was dominant in Mesopotamia, and under various names, such as Arurim, Urur, Ur-nungal, and Lugal-Ure. Note the Ur/Ru element, with Ru meaning "lion" in Egyptian.)

Typecasting: Simeon/Thoth-Minh/Sin (En-zu)-Nabu-Utu-Shamash
Other Biblical Names: Sheba, Sin, Onan
Egypt: Djed-ef-Re, Redjedef, Djet/Wadjit/Itit, Horus Kheper
Mesopotamia: Unzi?

Typecasting: Levi-Seth/Set-Sutekh/Enkimdu
Other Biblical Names: Sabtecah, Tekoah, Shelah
Egypt: Set-ka (a very young prince that became Crown Prince after the death of Djed-ef-Re, See: Dodson & Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Egypt, p55)
Mesopotamia: Like the god Set he did not have a strong presence in Mesopotamia. He was possibly called Tuge (basis of later form Tiglath/Takelot?).

Typecasting: Judah/Horus the Elder/Adad-Ishkur and Dan/Atum/Lahmu-Anshar
Other Biblical Names: Rodanim, Dedan, Ephraim, Ark (ancestor of Ark-ites)?
Egypt: Khafre/Chephren, Den/Udimu, Semti (Horus User-ib),
Mesopotamia: Ibbi-Ea, Arg-andea, Unda-lulu (Lugal-anda), Ha-danish, Iltas-adum

In the dynastic period the god Re was merged with Atum as Atum-Re. Therefore, it is natural for the Biblical types of Jacob and Adam to follow suit. Yet, how Khafre came by the dual typecasting of Judah and Adam is not obvious. Nevertheless, the precedent was repeated in the dynasty of Sargon, in which both Sargon and his fourth son (“the Judah”) were both Adam figures. See:

Typecasting: Issachar/Osiris/Dumuzi and Benjamin/Horus the Younger/Lugal-banda
Other Biblical Names: Manasseh, Mesha, Meshech II, Arvad, Zabad, Hiv/Hor (ancestor if Hivites/Horites)
Egypt: Menkare/Menkhaure (Horus Ka-khet), Menkauhor (Horus Ka-iu), I-kou-hor,
Mesopotamia: Mesilim, Ishu-Il, Ur-Zababa of Kish

Zababa was an epithet of the god Ninurta (Egyptian Geb). Menkhaure was declared rightful heir even as Horus the Younger was established on the throne of Geb. The prominent New Kingdom Horus the Younger, Thutmose III, was described in the same manner.

Menkhaure was first and foremost a Benjamin/Horus the Younger figure (as heir/successor to Khafre in the role of Judah/Horus the Elder. He was also recognized as an Issachar figure (by virtue of being the fifth “son” of Khufu to be crowned king). It is possible that the Issachar/Osiris attribution was only assigned to him by later generations. Regardless, it can be said that later princes named after Menkhaure/Menkare, namely S’menkare of the Middle Kingdom and S’menkhare of the New Kingdom, were strongly typecast as tragic (savagely executed) Issachar/Osiris types. And both were reckless, even rebellious warriors. Despite their conquests they also were not able to found lasting biological dynasties (ala archetypal Benjamin/Horus the Younger). Again, this was clearly due to infertility (from extreme inbreeding) rather than military impotence. The expectation was for a Benjamin type to re-unify the world, but for the birthright of kingly succession to be passed to a Joseph (collateral) line. In the on-line book Menkhaure was identified as an Osiris figure and precedent setter for Smenkhare in reopening the temples closed by Akhenaten who was himself following Khufu’s example in persecuting Egyptian cults. However, the dual role of Menkhaure as Horus the Younger in his generation was overlooked. It can further be discerned that the peculiar tradition of an Osiris figure having a single son to “set on his throne after him” (but not found a lasting dynasty) also derives from Menkhaure and his sole successor Shepseskaf.

Typecasting: Zebulun/Isis/Ishtar-Inanna
Other Biblical Names: Hamath (ancestor of Hamath-ites)?
Egypt: Shepseskaf, Shepseskare (Isi), Djedkare (Isesi), Userkare, Userkaf (Iri-maat)
Mesopotamia: Ishtar-Muti, Ishme-Muti

Typecasting: Asher/Shu/Enlil
Other Biblical Names: Ashur (Gen. 6:11), “Zerah” (archetypal). Ashur II, Girgash (ancestor of Girgash-ites)?
Egypt: Sahure Nebkhau
Mesopotamia: Ush of Umma, Puzur-Sin, Il-Shu, Shu-Sin

Typecasting: Gad/On/Anu
Other Biblical Names: “Perez” (archetypal), Zemar (ancestor of Zemar-ites)?
Egypt: Nefer-ir-kare/Kakai
Mesopotamia: Ur-Nanshe of Lagash, Puzur-Nirah, Simudarra, En-nun-duranna?,
Kalibum/Kalbum (after Gibil/Geb, Bull of his Mother)?

Due to the extremely inbred condition of Shepseskaf, the more viable princes were Sahure and Nerfer-ir-kare (due to having other fathers than Menkhaure). Although Nefer-ir-kare gained the advantage (by virtue of having produced sons by Khentkawes), Sahure is the likely ancestor of the following (5th) dynasty. The pair Nefer-ir-kare and Sahure were typecast (perhaps, again, only by later generations) as the rival deities Anu and Enlil (Gad and Asher). In the Middle Kingdom this pattern was repeated with Gad being played by Montuhotep III (king in Egypt) and Asher represented by Shu-Dural founder of the renowned 3rd Dynasty of Ur in Mesopotamia. When the 3rd Dynasty of Ur was finally defeated, the role of Asher was re-applied to the usurper pharaoh Senusret. The murderous Senusret (a.k.a. Patriarch Kenan) effectively became both Anu and Enlil (master of Egypt and Mesopotamia).

Typecasting: Naphtali/Hathor/Nin-Hursag
Other Biblical Names: Heth (ancestor of Heth-ites (after Hathor)?
Egypt: Neferefre, Neferkhou
Mesopotamia: Usi-water, Lugal-kidal

As a younger woman, Khentkawes became an Isis figure and mother to the princes Userkaf, Sahure, and Nefer-ir-kare. As an older (yet still fertile) woman, Khentkawes became the new Hathor and mother to Nefer-ef-Re and Niuserre (Ny-user-Re). Her Mesopotamian name was perhaps Melamanna. With Khentkawes ruling as king in Egypt (an indication of impending doom and Exodus), her two younger sons assumed the roles a new Noah and a new Shem, and in evident expectation of catastrophe and renewal under yet another new conquering savior king.

Typecasting: Noah II/Nynetjer/Utnapishtim)
Other Biblical Names: Obed/Solomon (archetypal)
Egypt: Niuserre (Ny-User-Re), Ini, Unas/Wenis
Mesopotamia: Nannia, Zuzu, En-shakushanna, Enmebaragessi, Lugal-zagessi?

Typecasting: Shem/Semerkhet/Etana and Lamech/Thoth/Shamash-Nabu
Other Biblical Names:
Egypt: Teti (variant of the name Thoth)
Mesopotamia: Ishme-Shamash, Akki, Akurgal, Agga, Uruk-agina of Lagash/Uruinimgina?, Urnigin of Uruk?

Typecasting: Benjamin/Horus Younger/Lugal-banda and Jacob/Re/Marduk and Adam/Atum/Lahmu-Anshar
Other Biblical Names: Adam II
Egypt: Pepi/Apepi, Inyotef A (“The Ancestor”)?
Mesopotamia: Sargon?, E-annatum, Igigi?

Note: Sargon was typecast as a complete cycle in and of himself, Horus – Re – Atum! He was also typecast as a neo-Narmer/Nimrod (of the Geb typecasting)! The transitional period or reunification that preceded the Old Kingdom appears to be compressed/telescoped in the life of Sargon the Great. In other words, he was assuming the roles of Horus the Younger, Narmer son of Horus-Aha (Agga), and Khufu. Instead of a protracted time of chaos, the “world” was restored in a single generation by Sargon and his sons.