To better understand the Old Kingdom, we can apply what we have learned from the Middle and New Kingdoms.
For example, let's look at the New Kingdom story of Joseph. His two sons are called Manasseh and Ephraim. These names derive from the Middle Kingdom and not the Old. Manasseh was pharaoh Amenemhet I, founder of the 12th Dynasty. Ephraim was a younger of Manasseh. His Egyptian name was Senusret. Senusret succeeded to the throne after an elder brother and his father were both murdered. In fact, Ephraim probably had a hand in his brother's murder. This can be partially deduced from another of Senusret's Hebrew epithets, Kenan, a variant of Cain.
The New Kingdom Joseph has been identified as Yuya son of Amenhotep II by his second but more beloved wife Merit-Amon. Through his own wife Tuya, Yuya was the father of a daughter Tiye and son Aanen. Yuya was also the father of Amenhotep III by Queen Mutemwiya. He later became the father of Akehenaten through his daughter Tiye.
The New Kingdom Ephraim has been identified as Aye. Although generally considered to be the son of Yuya, he was the biological son of Thutmose IV, the New Kingdom Judah. Amenhotep II loved and favored Thutmose IV very much and effectively willed that a dynasty would continue through his son Aye. This was accomplished by clever typecasting. In Old Kingdom terms, Aye was declared to be the Ham son of Jubal/Judah of his generation. Yuya was of course Japheth/Joseph. Therefore, it was necessary for Aye to be made the "son" and legal heir of Yuya. In this way Aye could claim inheritance from both lines (Judah and Joseph), and Old Kingdom history was adequately fulfilled.
Amenhotep III was typecast as a Noah figure and was therefore not expected to found a lasting dynasty. He was only the political father of Ham as in the earlier history. However, Yuya obviously had greater hopes for Aanen. These hopes were dashed when this son was typecast as Manasseh, and Aye the true son of Thutmose IV was typecast as Ephraim. This typecasting effectively blocked Manasseh/Aanen from founding a natural dynasty. Instead he had to be content with the role of Shem.
In contrast to Aanen, Aye was elevated and made pharaoh of a new dynasty. Curiously, this dynasty is called the Libyan (23rd) dynasty. This mirrors the Old Kingdom pattern when Ham founded a new dynasty but was actually succeeded by a son of Japheth/Put ("Libya"). Aye also took the Libyan name of Sheshonq. His two leading sons, Osorkon and Takelot, were typecast as Mizraim and Cush. But as genetic fortune would have it, the eldest son Osorkon ("Mizraim") and not the younger Takelot ("Cush") succeeded in producing a son by his own mother. This resulted in another inversion of the Old Kingdom pattern. The "holy" son was named Sheshonq II and was typecast as the New Kingdom Nimrod.
Sheshonq II was murdered by High Priest of Amun, Iuput, another leading son of Aye. This was done by direction of Akhenaten the son of Yuya through his daughter Tiye. Akhenaten also directed Ipy, yet another son of the "fruitful" Aye, to murder Osorkon and Takelot. Akhenaten had shrewdly offered minor sons of Aye kingships in exchange for helping him overthrow the major sons and their father Aye! According to the Biblical account, Ipy ("Jehu") was even promised a dynasty like David's. Iuput, the Biblical Jehoshaphat, also had a bright future under the Lord (Akhenaten). The name Iuput typecasts him as replacement for Yuya in the role of "Japheth son of Ham".
In order to bring down the dynasty of Akhenaten, Aye was forced to do something drastic. In exchange for their support, he granted Horemheb and Ramses the status of pharaohs, specifically in the place of his murdered sons and in their very roles of Mizraim and Cush. Horemheb was dubbed Osorkon II and Ramses became Takelot II. Sety the son of Ramses would a short time later be named Sheshonq III. He stood in for the fallen Sheshonq II in the role of Nimrod.
And how does this help us interpret the Egyptian Old Kingdom?
Stay tuned for the next episode. - TO BE CONTINUED -
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