Living in Truth:
Archaeology and the Patriarchs

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by Charles N. Pope
Copyright 1999-2004, 2016 by Charles Pope
United States Library of Congress
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Chapter 23
"Mine Own Familiar Friend"
(Panehesy: Nemesis of Akhenaten)

Name Associations (new associations in bold)

Torah Names Kings/Chronicles Names Greek Names Egyptian Names
Jacob-Israel Composite Solomon Dakos Amenhotep II
Sheshonq A
(wife of Jacob)
Ahijah, Ginath   Tia
(wife of Jacob)
Atarah   Merit-Amon
By Rachel, two sons
1) Joseph
Abishalom, Uriel, Omri
Nebat  I
Laius, Menoikeus Yuya, Imram
Ihrilena, Ihri-Pita
Asenath ("Egyptian" wife of Joseph)   Tuya
Jeroboam the Elder
Amon, "Ruler of the City"
(Kith-)Airon Aanen, Mery-Re I
Asa/Shaul, Shishak, Ahab
Jerimoth, Nebat II
Asocheus, Creon Aye, Sheshonq I
Lab'ayu, Ayyab
Addaya, Rib-Addi
Naamah, Maacah, Abihail
Jezebel, Athaliah, Zeruah
Joacaste, Merope
Tiye, Lady of Gubla, Yzebel
  Solomon, Eth-Baal Polybos/Polybus Amenhotep III
Rehoboam, Nimshi
(son of Naamah & Abishalom)
Oedipus, Hermaeus
Amenhotep IV
Eliezer Abijah, Abijam Eteocles (A) Smenkhkare
Attai Eteocles (B) Tutankhamun
2) Benjamin     Aakheprure
By Leah, six sons and one daughter (Dinah)
1) Reuben Uzziel, Mushi   Webensenu, Neby
2) Simeon     Siamun
3) Levi     Khaemwast
4) Judah Nemuel/Jemuel   Thutmose IV
Nimlot A/Nimrat
5) Issachar
Izhar, Shilki/Shilhi
Amminadab II 
Osokhor Osorkon A
Shilkanni (Assyria)
Tola Baasha son of Issachar   Ba'sa, Milkilu
  Elah son of Baasha   Unattested
6) Zebulun Tibni   Nedjem
Torah Names Kings/Chronicles Names Greek Names Egyptian Names
(Ithra/Jethro) (Eleasar)
Asa/Shaul, Shishak, Ahab
Nebat II, Jerimoth
(natural son of Judah)
Asocheus, Creon Aye, Sheshonq I
Ayyab, Rib-addi
Lab'ayu, Addayu
Miriam Mahalath dau. of Jerimoth Euryganeia? Nefertiti
Phinehas II Jeroboam son of Nebat (II)
Jeroboam (the Younger)
Polyneices Panehesy, Nesy
Prince Osorkon
(son of Asa and Azubah)
  Iuput A, Ia
(son of Sheshonq I)
  Ahaziah son of Ahab   Takelot I, Tagi
  Joram/Yachas son of Ahab   Osorkon I
Mut-Baal, Pawura
  Joash son of Ahaziah   Harsiese A
  Amaziah   Pedubastet I
Jeroboam son of Nebat I
Jeroboam (the Elder)
Amon, "Ruler of the City"
  Aanen, Mery-Re I
Nadab Nadab   Thutmose V
Abijah Abijah   Unattested
Ithamar   Theseus Aper-El
Mery-Re II

Neither Child Nor Brother

"The words of the Preacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: . I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards . I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem . my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour."a  This self-portrait from the Biblical book of wisdom literature known as Ecclesiastes is generally attributed to Solomon.  However, there is an obvious inconsistency with this identification. Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines, yet the author of Ecclesiastes bemoans the lack of an heir:
"Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.

There is one alone, and there is not a second;
yea, he hath neither child nor brother:
yet is there no end of all his labour;
neither is his eye satisfied with riches;
neither saith he, For whom do I labour,
and bereave my soul of good?
This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail."b

When it is recognized that Solomon is the Biblical name of Amenhotep III, the apparent incongruity is resolved. Like Solomon, Amenhotep III gloried in grand construction projects.  A royal Egyptian text of the period reads, "Lo, His Majesty's heart was satisfied with making very great monuments, the like of which had never come into being since the primeval age of the Two Lands."c  The entire reign of Amenhotep III was devoted to monumental construction throughout Egypt, Canaan, Phoenicia and Syria.  Consistent with the Biblical description of Solomon, he built up the garrison cities of Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, Lachish and Beth-shean.d  Amenhotep completed the Luxor Temple on the East Bank of Thebes, and on the West Bank of Thebes an even more glorious mortuary temple and new royal residence. The complex possessed all the elements of Solomon's palace described in the Bible,e namely:

(1) a house made almost entirely out of cedars of Lebanon (built for Amenhotep's Sed festival ("Jubilee"));
(2) a colonnade (hall of columns) fronted by a portico (porch) and surrounded by a column-lined courtyard;
(3) a throne room built with many wooden columns and whose floor was a painted lake scene (identical to the one crossed in wonder by the Queen of Sheba when she approached the throne of Solomon, as recorded in the Koran);
(4) a royal palace (consisting of his own residence, the residence of his Great Wife, Tiye, and a residence for the royal harem);
(5) a separate palace built for "the daughter of pharaoh" (princess Sitamun).

Only an enormously wealthy king of an established empire could have built so splendidly and in so many widely distributed locations in the ancient world.  Amenhotep III was arguably the ancient world's wealthiest king.  The completion of such magnificent projects required the management of a considerable and constant source of labor and revenue extending over a period of many decades.  The administration and taxation system of Amenhotep with its 12 districts is identical to that of Solomon as described in the Bible.f 

Despite his great wisdom and accomplishments, Amenhotep III and Tiye his queen could not (claim to) produce a male heir. Amenhotep III son of Yuyag also did not have a full brother.  If Amenhotep III married other daughters of Yuya, they were also unable to provide him with a son.  His numerous secondary wives and concubines could provide only temporary pleasure.  Their sons were not eligible for succession.  Without a royal son of his own within the House of Yuya, the fame and fortune of Amenhotep III left much to be desired.  His dynasty was finished before it even began.  The throne would pass to a son produced for him rather than by him. This not literally the case, but it was his role as the "wise Noah" to play.

A Man of Standing

1 Kings 11:28 (NIV) states: "Now Jeroboam was a man of standing and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the house of Joseph."  This means that he assumed responsibility for all of the building projects of Solomon (Amenhotep III) - the marvels of the ancient world.  The appointment of this prince Jeroboam to such an all-important post was strong indication that he was the "son" chosen to succeed the "childless" Amenhotep III to the throne.  As Judah (Thutmose IV) had been challenged to clear the Sphinx of its sand, so Jeroboam was given a herculean labor by which to prove his worthiness.  The phrase "man of standing" also indicates that Jeroboam had more than ability. Although not the true son of Solomon, he like Judah before him had the pedigree necessary to be considered the leading candidate for the greater throne.  The prophet Ahijah went so far as to promise him a dynasty like David's.

The charming childhood marriage of Amenhotep III with his half-sister Tiye failed to produce an heir (by design).  Among ancient royalty, fertility was a gift that could never be taken for granted.  Tiye and Amenhotep III, like so many royal couples before them, proved to be a sterile pair, or so it would appear.  In accordance with the custom of the court, an heir was then produced for Amenhotep by a close male relative within the "House of Yuya."  In order to stay in character, Amenhotep III had to produce heirs under an assumed name. As shown in the previous essay, Amenhotep III (Solomon) was the adopted son of Yuya (Joseph) and natural son of Thutmose IV (Judah). Besides Amenhotep III, Yuya had two other prominent sons.  The eldest, Aanen (Manasseh), would have been the full-brother of Tiye and for that reason was probably considered to be an unsuitable consort for her.  However, the younger son Aye (Ephraim) was only the legal son of Yuya.  He was the biological son of Thutmose IV (Judah) and the "commoner" identity of Amenhotep III himself!  The partnership of Aye (Ephraim) and Tiye proved to be a doubly fruitful one. Through Tiye, Aye/Sheshonq fathered at least two sons, Panehesy and Smenkhkare/Takelot, and at least one daughter, Nefertiti.

Panehesy was named for a renowned prince of the Middle Kingdom.  This archetypal Panehesy was a hero of the first Exodus, and is called Phinehas in the Exodus account.  For his exploits, the earlier Panehesy was granted pharaonic status and an "everlasting priesthood."  He became the first pharaoh of the obscure 14th Dynasty (see Chart 6), whose kingship and priestly office was subordinate to and later annulled by the 15th Dynasty (Hyksos) kings.  In the New Kingdom, Aye (Shishak/Sheshonq) was appointed pharaoh of another secondary pharaonic line. His son Panehesy was a leading candidate for succession to this subordinate throne, as the name implies.

The greater throne was naturally being reserved for a male descendant of Yuya (Joseph) rather than a son of Aye (Ephraim).  In order to produce such a son, Yuya literally took matters into his own hands.  He produced that heir, Amenhotep IV, through his daughter, Queen Tiye.  This should have ended all debate with respect to succession, but it did not.  There is evidence that Amenhotep IV was a cripple and may have had other physical impairments, such as poor eyesight.  In the minds of many, this would have disqualified him from the greater kingship.  However, his role model Hammurabi had also overcome a significant handicap. Consistent with this, Amenhotep III and other senior family members evidently continued to favor Panehesy.  However, in his bid for primary rather than secondary kingship, Panehesy overstepped the bounds of his "predestined" role and was disgraced.  Not only did he fail to succeed Amenhotep III as pharaoh of Egypt, but also Aye as pharaoh of the Libyan throne.

Striving with Joseph, God of the People

Amenhotep IV, the son of Yuya (Joseph II) was typecast as a second Auibre-Hammurabi son of Inyotef IV (Joseph I). Amenhotep IV was to be the "Moses son of Joseph" of the New Kingdom.  As the young prince of Egypt matured he also evidently demonstrated an intellectual prowess befitting of that designation.  Auibre-Hammurabi (Moses I) likely also had a genetic defect (speech impediment), therefore any deformity of Amenhotep IV may have actually been looked upon as confirmation of his expected role.  The Middle Kingdom prince Auibre was appointed successor to Senusret II at a very young age as part of a political compromise (see Chapter 8). It was more customary to wait until the heir apparent produced a healthy son of his own before formally being named as successor. In Year 27 of Amenhotep III, the defective Amenhotep IV was supplied with a healthy heir, and declared successor.  That heir, Smenkhkare, had been born several years prior and eventually became Akhenaten’s own co-regent and successor.  Genetic testing indicates he was, however, not a son of Akhenaten, but the full-brother of Nefertiti. Smenkhkare also became the father of Tutankhamun.

Panehesy was stilted.h  His claim to the throne was all over but for the crying. What had gone wrong?  One can still hear Panehesy call out in acrid rage and base despair, "Why not me, Lord?"  The favoring of Amenhotep IV was clearly a power play by Yuya to transfer the throne from his adopted son Amenhotep III to his own natural sons, Amenhotep IV, rather than to a male descendant of Thutmose IV.   The name Rehoboam means "widening of Am." Am refers to the "people" in general, but more specifically to the person and house of Am-ram/Joseph (Im-ram/Yuya).  On the other hand, Jeroboam is a symbolic name meaning, "the people will protest," or more liberally, "contends with Am(-ram).i  At the time of his appointment as Labor Minister, Panehesy was the heir apparent and had no cause to protest anything.  However, the fortunes of this young prince changed abruptly upon the birth of Smenkhkare and election of Amenhotep IV.

Any and all royal dynasties remained on the brink of disaster.  The prophet Ahijah promised Jeroboam a "dynasty like David's," that is one lasting four generations.  A run of four generations was exceptional.  If there was only one eligible prince, a premature death, incapacitating illness or genetic defect could bring down the line.  If there were two or more candidates, this created other problems.  Gifted sons who were passed over could always find reason to protest.  Even if they did not rebel, their life would from that moment forward remain in jeopardy.  Succession was a subjective decision, but not subject to appeal. This left the "Jerib" with no other recourse than to find a sympathetic family member or even a "foreign" king who was willing to help them take by force what they believed should have been given by right.  However, help invariably came at a cost.  It usually only resulted in the sympathetic party helping themselves to greater sovereignty.

There were a number of notable Jerib's in the 18th Dynasty.  Although Abram (Djehuty) endured his demotion largely in silence, those who came after him did not follow his example.  Esau (Saussatar) lashed out when he got the boot by his father Isaac (Thutmose III).  In the next generation, the favor of Joseph (Yuya) by Jacob (Amenhotep II) was resented by the elder half-brothers of Joseph.  Yet, Joseph protested when his own son Manasseh (Aanen) was subordinated by Jacob to his younger legal son Ephraim (Aye).  Genesis 48:17 (KJV) reads: "And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him:  and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head."  (The Hebrew word for displeased is ayin (5869) and is an obvious word play on the name of Aye.)  Joseph was unwilling to concede the throne to a son of Ephraim, who was of the male line of Judah (Thutmose IV).  After the death of Jacob, Joseph sired another son through his daughter (Tiye). This prince was given the lofty name of Amenhotep (IV).  Joseph had found a loophole in the blessing of his father - a way to supersede the "favor" of Ephraim.

As shown in Chapters 9 & 15, the reign of Amenhotep III began upon the death of his putative grandfather Amenhotep II, and not upon the death of Thutmose IV.  The contiguous reigns of Amenhotep II and Amenhotep III are combined in the Kings narrative as the story of the great king Solomon.  The account of Solomon is primarily based on Amenhotep III, however it also absorbs the reign of Amenhotep II.  The royal residence and mortuary temple at Malkata in Western Thebes was finished in the reign of Amenhotep III, however preparations and probably initial construction were begun in the reign of his immediate predecessor Amenhotep II.  The final two princely protestors of the 18th Dynasty also shared a common epithet, Jeroboam, and both had rebelled against a Solomon.  The elder Jeroboam (Aanen) rebelled against the elder Solomon (Amenhotep II).  The younger Jeroboam (Panehesy) rebelled against the younger Solomon (Amenhotep III).  The conflation of Aanen and Panehesy (as Jeroboam) in the text matches the compositing of Amenhotep II and Amenhotep III (as Solomon), and also allows the spiral progression of the Kings narrative to work.

The final and most flamboyant Jerib of the 18th Dynasty was Panehesy.  Aye did not initially champion the cause of his snubbed son Panehesy, but instead dutifully upheld the decision of his legal father Yuya to make Amenhotep IV (Rehoboam) successor.  Likewise, Amenhotep III may have preferred Panehesy to Amenhotep IV, but also acquiesced to the will of Yuya.  The grievance of Panehesy was not without merit, and the Biblical record indicates that Panehesy had considerable backing, if not from his own father.  However, the strength of his case and of his other followers only gained a death warrant from Solomon (Amenhotep III).  This was the standard penalty for political insubordination, especially after a warning had been issued. According to the Bible, "Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam.  And Jeroboam arose, and fled unto Shishak king of Egypt."j  Panehesy (Jeroboam) went to Sheshonq (Shishak) because Sheshonq was his biological father.  As such, Sheshonq was willing to give him asylum, if not succor.

Guilt by Association

In the New Kingdom, not only the names and roles of Middle Kingdom persons were revived, but also their material culture.  The coming of a New Kingdom Moses signaled the end of this cycle of borrowing and the beginning of another variation on a theme.  From the start, the reign of Amenhotep IV represented a bold exodus from the traditional forms of art and architecture.  He also began to emphasize the cult of Aten, a form of Re, rather than Amen.  Valuable articles from the Temple of Amun may have even been removed by Amenhotep IV from the main Amen temple and rededicated in new temples of the Aten in Thebes. 

As a patron of the Aten cult himself, Amenhotep III would not have objected to the building of new Aten temples, but to the threatening attitude of the newly appointed crown prince. Amenhotep IV did not owe his election to Amenhotep III, which is likely the source of his disrespect.  This in turn would have only caused Amenhotep III to increasingly resent the fact that the choice of his successor was not his own, and possibly also that his building legacy was to be compromised by a successor who did not share his sense of aesthetics.  Amenhotep III ultimately found a means to regain control of his own destiny, and by subjecting Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten to his own.  In Year 5 of the co-regency, Amenhotep III called upon Sheshonq to "humble" the haughty crown prince Amenhotep IV.  The central issue was, as ever, the right to sovereignty and succession, and not religion.  This debate, as so many dynastic disputes before it, was settled not by the superiority of claims, but with machination of minds and the strength of arms.

In the first chapter of the Book of Exodus, it is implicitly Amenhotep III who is the pharaoh who "knew [respected] Joseph not."  By rejecting Amenhotep IV, Amenhotep III was also rejecting the "God's Father" Yuya (Joseph-Amram).  However, Amenhotep III and Aye-Sheshonq had a solid basis for their action. Amenhotep IV had been designated as the New Kingdom Moses.  In order for all things to be fulfilled, the young prince would have to endure an exile. It was not necessarily the desire of Yuya for this aspect of Middle Kingdom history to be repeated, but it was a convenient precedent for Amenhotep III/Aye.  The "wisdom" of this decision also could not be gainsaid by Yuya or Tiye.  Even so, a pretext was still required.  Amenhotep IV probably could not have been accused of maiming a rival prince as Waibre had done.  Amenhotep IV did kill an Egyptian, specifically his overbearing father Yuya, but this did not take place until seven years later (and may have only been a staged emulation of Sargon’s "killing" of Teti and Hammurabi’s “overthrow” of Rim-Sin)

According to the Kings/Chronicles account, Shishak invaded Jerusalem (Western Thebes) "because they had transgressed against the Lord."k  The Lord of this narrative is Solomon-Amenhotep III, and his word was as good as law. This verse implies that Amenhotep IV was ignoring the will and wishes of his superior and regent.  Amenhotep III was not ready to be pushed aside by a successor who had been imposed upon him in the first place.  The verse also indicates that there was a general disregard for Amenhotep III among the nobility and general populace of the empire. Rather than imposing submission to the Lord Amenhotep III, Amenhotep IV was actively promoting a spirit of rebellion.

As the son of Yuya and designated "second coming" of the sage Auibre-Hammurabi, Amenhotep IV probably felt that he could disregard the counsel of Amenhotep III with impunity. However, this was not a posture that a co-regent of any time period could afford to assume.  Crown princes of the past had been disinherited and even put to death for lessor offences.  In the rigid pecking order of the royal court, there was zero tolerance for overt expressions of insubordination.  Although Amenhotep IV could not be killed or permanently disgraced for "acting out" his role, excessive pride and the need to transform Moses into "the most humble man on earth" did provide sufficient justification for his exile.  The Biblical passage goes on to say, "he [the Lord Solomon] would not destroy him [Rehoboam] altogether,"l yet archaeology shows that in the fifth year of his reign he forfeited kingship in Thebes.

In the Middle Kingdom, pharaoh Senusret III (Shashak) enforced the exile of Auibre-Hammurabi (Moses).  In the New Kingdom, Aye assumed this role and is referred to in the Bible as Shishak.  The symbolic punishment of Amenhotep IV by Aye-Sheshonq (Shishak) may have allowed a limited reprieve for another prince.  Panehesy had earlier been given refuge by Aye.  The death sentence hanging over him was likely lifted, but he was not returned to full favor.  Instead, Aye named another one of his sons, Iuput, as High Priest of Amun and Governor of Upper Egypt.  At this same time, "Nesy" a chief among the Libu (Libyans), was named as 4th Prophet of Amun.  Nesy, meaning, "king," is likely an abbreviated form or nickname of Pa-Nehesy (N'esy).  It indicates that Pa-Nehesy had been made a minor king (chief).  However, he was not restored as a leading candidate for the Libyan throne, much less the throne of Egypt. 

The name Panehesy itself means "the southerner, or black man."  Ironically, it does not appear that Panehesy was welcome in Thebes prior to the death of Amenhotep III.  1 Kings 11:40 (KJV) states that "And Jeroboam arose, and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak the king, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon."  The office of 4th Prophet may have only been granted as an honorary title (sinecure), either by Amenhotep III to appease the remaining Theban supporters of Panehesy, or as a further favor to Aye.  However, Panehesy was not placed in a position to succeed either Amenhotep III or Aye as a pharaoh.  This must have been yet another crushing blow to Panehesy.  Yet the office of 4th Prophet offered at least some hope of future glory.  The undying ambition of Panehesy was to be high priest and king in the southern city of Thebes, even as his Middle Kingdom archetype had been.  In fulfillment of that role, power in Thebes was not freely given to Panehesy, and not until the New Kingdom Exodus had first taken place.  He would have to wait 22 years before avenging himself on his enemies and taking the office of High Priest of Amen by force.

To the City Alight

Amenhotep IV still had powerful allies in his father Yuya, mother Tiye and uncle Aanen.  They condoned the actions of Amenhotep III and Aye in exiling him with the understanding that it would ultimately be lifted.  Amenhotep IV was allowed to continue counting his regnal years as though his kingship had not been interrupted.  Also in identification with his role model Wahibre Hor, Amenhotep IV changed his name to Wa-en-Re Akhen-Aten.  With the approval and financial backing of the family elders, he was able to build a comfortable "city of refuge" for himself, an Egyptian Babylon that he named Akhet-aten, "Refuge of the Aten." 

Aanen especially would have identified with his nephew's humiliation.  A generation earlier, and about three years before the death of Amenhotep II, Aanen boldly asserted his own kingship in fulfillment of his presumed archetype, Amenemhet IV (Shem) of the Middle Kingdom.  However, less than two years later, his young son and heir Thutmose V (Nadab) along with other family members were assassinated by Milkilu (Baasha), who was himself the son and heir of the rival line of Osokhor (Issachar).   1 Kings 15:28-29 (KJV) states: "Even in the third year of Asa [Sheshonq I] king of Judah did Baasha [Milkilu] slay him, and reigned in his stead.  And it came to pass, when he reigned, that he smote all the house of Jeroboam [Aanen]; he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed."

The dynastic aspirations of Aanen (the elder Jeroboam) were snuffed out, but he himself survived.  As the power of his full-sister Queen Tiye grew, his fortunes and good standing rose again with it.  Aanen started a new family.  He was ultimately appointed as 2nd Prophet of Amun in Thebes and High Priest ("Greatest of Seers") of Re-Atum in Memphis.  In the Amarna Tablets, Aanen is identified by the pen name of Amon-appa, "Amon is in Luxor,"m and connoting, "Amon is beautiful." The Amarna correspondence indicates that this minister split his time between Akhet-aten and the city of Sumer (Samaria), where he was ruler.  He is patronized even by Rib-Addi (Aye), which is further indication of his high position.  On one occasion Rib-Addi calls him Amarnappa,n which would connote "beautiful talker."  This could have been an ancient cuneiform "typo," but may also be a word play that reflects his gift of locution.  The prominence of Amarnappa at the city of Akhet-aten may also be the source of the Arabic name for the location, that being Amarna. 

In the Middle Kingdom, Waibre-Hammurabi, the Patriarch Eber and archetypal Moses, received support from Amenemhet IV-Sabium.  It was shown in Chapter 8 that Amenemhet IV was the Patriarch Shem and archetypal Aaron of the Middle Kingdom.  Together Shem II and Eber (Moses and Aaron) were renowned as two of the greatest philosophers in Jewish tradition.  In the New Kingdom, Akhenaten and Aanen would have intentionally modeled themselves after those two prominent ancestors.   Aanen was ruler of the city of Sumeria in Israel just as Sabium had earlier been king of Sumer in Mesopotamia.  Aanen also assumed the role of the glib High Priest.  The drama of the Middle Kingdom could perhaps not be played out on the same scale.  However, circumstances and geography were adapted in order to "fulfill" the earlier precedent.  The "world" of the New Kingdom was redefined.  Sumer, Edom and Moab no longer represented only Mesopotamia, but regions within the present bounds of direct Egyptian influence.

As noted above, Aanen (Aaron II/Shem III) was the High Priest of Re in On/Heliopolis and was also Second Priest of Amun in Thebes.   It is only to be expected that Aanen would also be appointed as High Priest of the Aten under Akhenaten (Moses II).  However, the name of the High Priest of the Aten at Akhet-aten is known to be one Mery-re, "Beloved of (the god) Re."  The name Aanen, as a variant of Amon/Amun, was evidently not acceptable to Akhenaten. Therefore, at the city of Akhet-aten, Aanen adopted the name of Mery-re.  There was also another high official at Akhet-aten named Meryre, who is designated by Egyptologists as Meryre II.  This Meryre was Overseer of the Harem and Chief Steward of Nefertiti.o 

Meryre II referred to himself as "Justified in Akhet-aten."  This title alludes to the fact that the formerly disgraced line of Aanen had been returned to favor.  In the Bible, the two oldest sons of Aaron are "struck down" by the Lord. However, there is a younger son named Ith-amar ("increase of Amar") who survives or replaces them.p   Thutmose V, the first heir of Aanen had been struck down by Ba'sa-Milkilu, probably by order of Amenhotep II.   The declaration of Thutmose V as pharaoh by his father Aanen was an act of defiance toward Amenhotep II and his appointment of Amenhotep III as successor.  Meryre II was announcing to all that unlike Thutmose V his status was authorized within the present regime. 

Recently the tomb of a formerly unknown minister of Akhenaten named Aper-el,q or Aperia was found.  This name is similar in form to that of Ipy, Steward of Akhenaten, who is called Haip and Apy in the Amarna Letters.  However, Aper-el referred to himself as "Justified in the West of Memphis."r  This epithet indicates that it was instead Meryre II who was known as Vizier Aper-el outside of Akhet-aten.  From the tomb of Aper-el we have learned that he had a son named Amenhotep.  In the Amarna letters, commissioner Merari (Aper-el) has a son named Hani, which is a short form of Amenhotep.  Also in his tomb, Aper-el claimed to be High Priest of the Aten.  This title would seem to associate Aper-el specifically with Meryre I, however Meryre II possibly assumed this office upon the death of Meryre I.s

It was incumbent upon Hammurabi in his city of refuge of Babylon to recognize Sumu-abum (Senusret III) and other family elders.  Likewise, Akhenaten honored Aye, the one who imposed his own exile.  A mural in the tomb of Aye at Akhet-aten shows Aye (Sheshonq/Shishak) and Queen Tiye being decorated by Akhenaten with numerous gold collars ("gold of honor").  It is equally surprising to find that Panehesy (Jeroboam) son of Aye was also prominent in the city.  Panehesy possessed a home, a tomb (No. 6) and a title (Chief Servitor) at Akhet-aten. A mural gracing the wall of Panehesy's home gives at least an impression of devotion on his part both to Akhenaten and to the evolving cult of the Aten.  In his tomb, Panehesy gave special honor to his full sister Nefertiti, who is depicted wearing the kingly atef crown.  Also in his tomb, Panehesy extols Akhenaten:

"I give praise to the height of the heavens,
I adore the lord of the Two Lands, Akhenaten:
god of fate, giver of life, lord of command,
light of every land,
on whose gaze one lives."t

In Panehesy's tomb, there is a further emphasis on "bread."  One inscription reads:

"May he [Akhenaten] grant a reception of loaves ."u

Another states:

"Praise to you, oh my god, . who . gave me bread ."v

Akhenaten (Rehoboam) shared his bread with Panehesy (Jeroboam) and his umbrage for Amenhotep III.  According to the Bible, Amenhotep (Solomon) had sought to kill them both.  A mural found near the home of Panehesy depicted Amenhotep III "with drooping head and with his corpulent body collapsed to a certain flabby lethargy, with his hand hanging listlessly to his knee."w   The court of Amenhotep III had been an extremely liberal one, and reflected every possible excess of an affluent and secure kingdom.  Eroticism in art and court life reached its height during the reign of Amenhotep.  The famous "nude dancing girls" mural (tomb of Vizier Nakht) dates to Amenhotep's reign.  As with Solomon, Amenhotep denied himself nothing "his eyes desired" and "refused his heart no pleasure."x   However, the last years of Amenhotep's nearly 40-year reign were not pleasant ones. Four decades of decadence had taken their toll and he had many ailments.  Late in his reign he asked his Mitanni brother-in-law to send him an idol of Ishtar (Biblical Asherah), a goddess of healing and fertility.  For this he was later censured in the Biblical record.y 

Brotherhood, a Throne Away

In his final decade of rule, Amenhotep III is thought to have become largely incapacitated by illness.  The mummy of Amenhotep III reveals severe skin disease and tooth abscesses.  In fact, the skin of the face was so badly deteriorated that it could not be properly mummified.  Although Amenhotep III was only in his mid-forties at the end of his reign, the mummy of Amenhotep III is that of a much older person.  Consistent with this, Aye was in his mid-sixties upon death.  In Year 12 of Akhenaten, the family “Godfather” Yuya was already in his mid-sixties and probably also slipping physically and mentally.  Succession was still very much in doubt.  Upon the actual death of Yuya at that time (or shortly thereafter), Aye would have replaced him as the senior royal male.  He would have taken every measure to ensure the success of his own natural sons in order to keep his dynasty alive.

The actual or expected passing of Yuya had brought renewed competition for the throne and led Panehesy to distance himself from his "brother" Akhenaten. While still at Akhet-aten, Panehesy had acknowledged Akhenaten as his superior, even as his god.  Upon the "death" of Amenhotep III, Panehesy did not immediately reject the succession of Akhenaten.  However, as former labor minister Panehesy wanted to know above all whether Akhenaten would continue the tyrannical building programs of Amenhotep III. In 1 Kings 12:4 (RSV), Jeroboam speaks to Rehoboam,  "Your father made our yoke heavy.  Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us, and we will serve you."  In character, Akhenaten (a.k.a. Moses II) asks for three days to think about it.z  The elders advise him to "speak good words to them."aa  However, the young associates of Akhenaten urge him to show no weakness.  This passage goes on to say (verses 10 & 11) that Akhenaten "foolishly" listens to the advice of the young men and gives a tough response:  "My little finger is thicker than my father's loins . I will add to your yoke. My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions."ab

It is Rehoboam (as Moses II) who we would expect to take up the cause of the suffering populace.  However, he declined to accept this role, at least at this point in his career. Instead, the unfair treatment of the "Israelites" became a rallying point for Panehesy and his "Reform Party."  In the famine of Amenhotep II's reign, Yuya had saved the people in order to enslave them. It was with the encouragement of Yuya that the next pharaoh Amenhotep III (as a repetition of Amenemhet III of the Middle Kingdom) cruelly oppressed the Israelite workforce in order to accomplish the great construction programs of the day.  Consequently, the reverence of the people for Yuya eventually turned to resentment and rebellion.  By rejecting the burden placed by Amenhotep III on both the nobility and commoners alike, Panehesy (Jeroboam) gained wide support in his claim of the throne.  In the Kings narrative, when Biblical Rehoboam tries to make good on his threat to continue the policy of his predecessor, his own appointed minister of forced labor, Adoram, is killed by an angry mob.  A frightened Rehoboam flees the scene and seeks the refuge of his  Even though Rehoboam "foolishly" rejects his role as a liberator of the people, the author of the Kings narrative does not allow him to escape his fate.  In an ironic twist of Middle Kingdom events, Rehoboam is held accountable for the murder of a "taskmaster."

In the Bible, the perennial enemy of Rehoboam (Akhenaten) was Jeroboam (Panehesy).  In fact, Jeroboam is the only opponent of Rehoboam other than Shishak that is mentioned in the Bible.  Panehesy had been in close, even intimate contact with Akhenaten.  He had partaken of Akhenaten's bread, however Panehesy decided to part  Any camaraderie that Akhenaten and Panehesy shared as fellow exiles would be thrown away.  When Akhenaten chose kingship without compromise, Panehesy and his followers wasted no time in declaring their independence. 1 Kings 12:20-25 (RSV) states:   "And when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel . Then Jeroboam built Shechem ... and dwelt there."  From this point forward, "there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days."ae

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:1; 2:4; 2:9; 2:10 (KJV)
  2. Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 (KJV)
  3. Leipzig, Urkunden des Agyptishcen Altertums, IV, 1648.  Quoted by Donald Redford, Akhenaten the Heretic King, p 43. 
  4. Ahmed Osman, House of the Messiah, pp 212-213, 218 (Appendices H &I).
  5. Ibid., pp 214-218 (Appendices F-J).
  6. Ibid., pp 210-211, 119-120 (Appendices H & J).
  7. Yuya was the putative son of Amenhotep II and grandson of Thutmose III (David).  Amenhotep III was also considered to be the legal son and heir of Yuya..
  8. An “everlasting priesthood” may have ben planned for Panehesy (ala his Middle Kingdom namesake), but only if he also could produce a qualified heir. Osorkon I (Aanen) may have produced an heir through his full-sister Queen Tiye. Panehesy must have had some type of defect to be passed over by Smenkhkare..
  9. Hebrew Jerob/Jerib, "contend, strive."
  10. 1 Kings 11:40 (KJV)
  11. 2 Chron. 12:2 (KJV)
  12. 2 Chron. 12:12 (KJV)
  13. Definition by W. Moran, The Amarna Letters.
  14. EA 117, line 23.
  15. Donald Redford, Akhenaten: The Heretic King, p 150.
  16. Numbers 3:2-4
  17. Aper connotes  "mouth, opening" and is roughly synonymous with Amar. Aper-El/Aperia/Aper-Ya would also connote "God of the Hebrews", a title earlier associated with Yuya (Joseph).
  18. Eric Hornung, Akhenaten and the Religion of Light, p 99. 
  19. In the Oedipus plays, the dying Oedipus is looked after by Theseus.  Theseus logically corresponds to Ithamar son of Aaron. 
  20. Erik Hornung, Akhenaten and the Religion of Light, p 56, translated from the German language by David Lorton.
  21. Joyce Tyldesley, Nefertiti, p 81.
  22. Erik Hornung, Akhenaten and the Religion of Light, p 56.
  23. G. Steindorff and K.C. Seele, "When Egypt Ruled the East," Chicago, 1957, p 79.  See quote and commentary in Joyce Tyldesley, Nefertiti, p 32 and Plate 4.
  24. Ecclesiastes 2:10
  25. 1 Kings 11:1-5
  26. Cf Exodus 3:18; 5:3; 8:27; 15:22
  27. 1 Kings 12:7 (RSV)
  28. 1 Kings 12:10-11 (RSV)
  29. 1 Kings 12:18
  30. Psalm 41:9 (KJV): "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." (Also compare John 13:18)
  31. 1 Kings 14:30 (KJV)
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