Living in Truth:
Archaeology and the Patriarchs

Charts Part II   Book Navigator    Chapter 29

by Charles N. Pope
Copyright ©1999-2004, 2016 by Charles Pope
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Chapter 28
"Beginning of Strength"
(Origins of the House of Ramses in the 18th Dynasty)

The Alliance of Jacob-Kohatha

The four-generation sojourn of Abraham in the Egyptian 18th Dynasty can be formulated in two ways:  The first is through the familiar Patriarchal succession of Abraham-Isaac-Jacob-Joseph-Moses.b A second progression can also be constructed from Biblical records as Abraham-Levi-Kohath-Amram-Moses.c Through a synthesis with Egyptian history the two sequences have been shown to be equivalent.d They represent Djehuty (Abraham) -Thutmose III (Isaac/Levi) - Amenhotep II (Jacob/Kohath) – Yuya (Joseph/Amram) – Akhenaten (Moses). The name Levi means "united" and was one of three Biblical epithets of Thutmose III.e This Hebrew nickname had earlier been that of Montuhotep II (founder of the Israelite tribe of Levi) in the Middle Kingdom, who deliberately changed his Horus name to "Uniter of the Two Lands." In Thutmose III, the rival lines of the 18th Dynasty were united, and the empire became once again restored under a single king.f It was also Thutmose III (Levi II), celebrated for his patronage of the Yahwist (Amun) faith, who established a new or renewed form of Levitical priesthood.

Thutmose III, the Levi of the Sojourn, had three sons, Gershon, Kohath and Merari.1 The first two correspond to the twins Esau and Jacob, the sons of Isaac and Rebecca. The younger twin Jacob gained the birthright symbolizing kingly succession and was renamed Israel. In Egypt, he "ruled as God" and was known as pharaoh Amenhotep II. The ousted Esau was forced to accept a lesser throne among the Mitanni peoples of Mesopotamia under the name of Saussatar. A third prominent son of Thutmose III was known in Egypt as Amenemhet, and is called Merari in the Levi genealogy. He was born to Nefrure/Sityah (Tamar), the heiress daughter of Hatshepsut (Absalom/Tahpanes).g Although of arguably superior pedigree, Amenemhet evidently was not seriously considered as a candidate for succession to the throne. The battle between his grandmother Hatshepsut and his father Thutmose III likely spoiled any chance Amenemhet may have had to be king.

In the following generation, Jacob-Kohath and Esau-Gershon competed for the throne. Merari is not explicitly mentioned in the Genesis account.h however it can be deduced that he took the side of Jacob in the struggle. Sometime after becoming pharaoh, Amenhotep II (Jacob) named his half-brother Amenemhet (Merari) as High Priest of Amen. The incumbent in the office, Menkhepersoneb, was likely retained after the passing of Thutmose III and only replaced upon his own death by Amenemhet. Amenemhet was possibly not associated with the priesthood until the age of 54, and only after this did he become High Priest of Amun.i Amenemhet and Amenhotep II were both getting old by the end of the 54-year reign of their father Thutmose III. However, it was not until then that Amenhotep II was free to reward Amenemhet as he wished for support given him in the succession battle with Saussatar.

Two High Priests of Amun are known from the reign of Amenhotep II. The first is Amenemhet and the other is named as Meri. Amenemhet and Meri had separate tombs (TT 97 & TT 95) and are presently considered to be different individuals. However, the Hebrew name given to Amenemhet, i.e., Merari, indicates that Amenemhet and Meri may have been two names used by the same great prince in Egypt. In this case, one tomb was unused or has been mistakenly identified. Another leading minister of this period was known as Meri-re, "Chief Steward" in the later reign (co-regency) of Thutmose IV.j The name Merire is even closer in form to the Biblical Merari. In addition to High Priest of Amun, Amenemhet was "Attendant of the Lord of the Two Lands" a title that is quite similar to that held by Chief Steward Merire. High Priest of Amun Meri was also Steward of Amun, overseer of the priests of Upper and Lower Egypt, overseer of the fields of Amun, overseer of the granaries, and overseer of the treasury.

Prince Amenemhet was only a few years younger than Amenhotep II. Amenhotep II died in his late fifties or early sixties, and was quite probably survived by Amenemhet. The male line of Amenemhet would have represented a very important collateral line, and one that would ultimately produce a "seizer of the two lands" as a result of the Amarna debacle. Biblical Merari son of Levi is said to have been the father of two sons, Mahli and Mushi. Only one son of Amenemhet, called Neby, is known from archaeology.k Commander-of-the-Chariotry May was also likely a son of Amenemhet, and his name corresponds well with the Hebrew Mahli.2 The younger son Mushi then corresponds to the more renowned Neby. "Neby was educated at the Egyptian court, and then appointed to a high military office, 'Overseer of the forts of Wawat' [in Nubia]." l By the reign of Thutmose IV, Neby was "Chief of Medjayu," that is ruler over the tribal region of Medja in Lower Nubia between the Nile and the Red Sea. He was subsequently made governor of the Delta border-stronghold of Tjel in the opposite extreme of the country. During his long life, Neby is identified as "Judge," "Troop Commander and Mayor of Zarw," m "Steward of the Harem of the Royal Wife," and "Royal Messenger in All Foreign Lands." This latter title is reminiscent of one held by an earlier "eldest son," general Djehuty, "Overseer of a Part of the Northern Foreign Territory." Neby also lived long enough to promote the new cult of the Aten in the reign of Amenhotep III and possibly even that of Akhenaten. He held the title, "The Overseer of the Foremost Water in the hnt [lake area] of the Temple of Aten." n

Neby was in turn the father of Amenhotep/Huy and Ramose, two of the leading viziers in the reign of Amenhotep III. In the next chapter it will be shown that Neby was also the father of Horemheb and a grandfather of Ramses, both of whom became pharaohs of Egypt in the aftermath of the Amarna Period. Normally a collateral line would fall quickly into obscurity after only two or three generations. It is reasonable that Amenemhet enjoyed favor and prominence during the lifetime of Amenhotep II for helping his brother secure the throne. However, we would expect the sons of Amenemhet to be pushed aside in subsequent administrations. Instead, the line of Amenemhet managed to recover the throne of Egypt itself within three generations. The increasing rather than decreasing prominence of the House of Amenemhet is uncharacteristic, but can be explained. The bond between Amenhotep II and Prince Amenemhet had been further strengthened by a form of intermarriage peculiar to the ancient world. The "eldest son" of Amenhotep II was the true son of Amenemhet.

All the Firstborn are Mineo

Jacob (Amenhotep) is directed by his mother Rebecca (Beketre) to take a wife from among her own people in Aram Naharaim (Mitanni). However, after he chooses one, it is necessary for Jacob to wait seven years before the wedding is performed. The delay was likely due to the need to wait until the prospective wife, Rachel, had reached puberty. Jacob loved only Rachel, but is forced to also marry her older sister Leah. In the Genesis account, Laban explains to Jacob that it is contrary to custom to marry off a younger daughter before an older one.p What the Biblical narrative neglects to reveal is that it was also the custom for a pubescent girl to first bear a healthy child before a marriage was arranged for her. As was so often the case, the "eldest son" of Jacob (Amenhotep II) by Leah was not his own true son, but had been sired by another prince as part of a time-honored fertility rite. That other prince was none other than Merari (Amenemhet) and this was the beginning of the lifelong alliance between Merari and Jacob-Kohath.

The term "firstborn" more properly applied to the mother of a child rather than to the father. For example, we have learned that Isaac was actually the "firstborn" son of Sarah and not of Abraham. Upon reaching sexual maturity, a girl was evidently encouraged to reproduce with any male partner of her choosing, although a princess obviously would have been restricted to members of the extended royal family. The regular festival was the socially acceptable occasion for this rite of initiation into womanhood. There is cultural record of the Egyptian maiden joining up with the festival troupe in order to achieve her first pregnancy.q however the fate of the "love child" is not discussed. From other sources it can be concluded that the firstborn of a woman was customarily either sacrificed to the gods, especially Seth/Baal/Molech, or redeemed with an appropriate animal sacrifice, especially if the child was male.r After surviving childbirth and producing a healthy offspring, the maiden was deemed ready for marriage.

Because the ancient royal house was maximally inbred, infertility has been underestimated as a social dynamic. The custom requiring a young maiden (and especially a young princess) to bear a child prior to marriage helped to counter the effects of inbreeding. It also guaranteed that her husband-to-be would have an heir, even if they were a sterile couple. When a common man or even a great prince took a wife, his bride often came with a ready-made family. If her "firstborn" (pre-nuptial) child was a son, then the groom was obligated to consider that son to be his rightful heir. However, for kings, a dynasty established through one's own natural line was the most coveted achievement. After true sons were born to him, the "eldest son" was invariably passed over for succession. It must be strongly suspected that this was the plight of Abram. Although he was the "eldest son" of Terah, he was probably not the oldest true son, and therefore condemned to a life of kingly disappointment.

Biblical Laban was anxious to marry off his daughter to Jacob, presumably because she was not attractive and at risk of becoming the proverbial old maid. Laban appealed to the custom that a younger daughter should not be wedded before an older daughter. This would have been especially true of one who had already, also by custom, given birth to a healthy child and thereby proven her fitness for marriage. However, the Biblical narrative s indicates that Reuben was born after Leah's marriage to Jacob. Perhaps Leah was pregnant when she was deceitfully betrothed to Jacob, or she became pregnant by Merari after her forced marriage. Jacob preferred Rachel and clearly wanted his eldest true son and heir to be born by her. For this reason he likely abstained from any further sexual relations with Leah after initial attempts to bear a son had failed.

The neglect of Leah (the future Queen Tia) on the part of Jacob (future Pharaoh Amenhotep II), and her complaint, may have elicited a "matchmaking" directive from the Lord (Thutmose III), which is even implied by Genesis 29:31. In the related story of Tamar and Judah (Genesis 38), Judah was shamed into admitting that he was in the wrong for denying his daughter-in-law Tamar a child, but only after being tricked into giving her that child himself! Likewise, Jacob may have been compelled to acknowledge his fault in the "affair" of Leah and Merari and to honor the birth of Reuben as legitimate. Merari may also have paid for the right to sire a child through Leah (or atone for any indiscretion on his part) by offering a covenant and aid to Jacob-Kohath against Esau-Gershon. Regardless, Reuben was given the status of "firstborn of Jacob," and Merari was not punished for fathering Reuben but ultimately rewarded.

As "firstborn" and "eldest son" of Jacob (Amenhotep II), Reuben was given the formal Egyptian name of Weben-senu. Webensenu, other than making a word play with Reuben, connotes, "son of the beginning of my strength," a phrase deliberately placed in the very first line of the blessing of Reuben.t In Egyptian it is translated as "shining man." As the true son of Merari (Amenemhet), this same prince is referred to by the short name or epithet of Neby.u which has the lofty meaning, "golden, lordly." However, in the Biblical genealogy of Merari, Rueben is called Mushi, "sensitive," i.e., emotional, excitable and therefore radiant, beaming, shining in a positive sense, but possibly also touchy and temperamental in a negative sense. In the blessing of Reuben, this eldest son is further characterized as pachaz, "ebullient," a Hebrew word denoting "unstable, turbulent," but also connoting lusty and intemperate, and therefore roughly synonymous with mushi.

Mushi is a name that describes the nature of the young prince Neby/Webensenu. Reuben is a name that describes the typecasting that was imposed upon him by the Patriarch Jacob. The Egyptian name Neby is an obvious allusion and identification with Neb-hetep-re, the throne name of the 11th Dynasty pharaoh Montuhotep I (Babylonian Manishtushu), who was the archetypal Reuben and "eldest son" of archetypal Jacob-Israel, namely Inyotef A (Sargon the Great). In Chapter 5 it was shown that Manishtushu, eldest son of Sargon, was passed over for succession in the greater throne in Mesopotamia, and was forced to go abroad to seek his fame and fortune. Although Manishtushu was considered a pharaoh (Montuhotep I) in Egypt, both he and his son (Montuhotep II) were considered only as "Judges" with respect to the greater throne in Babylon.v

The office or title of judge was a consolation prize for a tanist or subordinate prince. This tradition of designating the ruler of Egypt as a judge derives from the god Re himself, who was called by the epithet of Dan(el), "Judge (of God)." Although sovereign in Egypt, the throne of Re (Marduk) son of Ptah (Ea) was actually subordinate to that of Geb (Ninurta) son of Shu (Enlil). Babylon was the seat of empire in the days of Sargon, and Egypt was ruled by a king of secondary rank, namely Manishtushu/Montuhotep. His son and co-regent in the throne of Egypt, Montuhotep II, is called Ehud in the Book of Judges. Discontented with his subordinate role he murdered his "master" Rimush (Eglon of Judges), a younger son and appointed successor of Sargon in the greater throne, and then established ("united") an independent kingdom in the Two Lands of Egypt.

In the 18th Dynasty, Egypt was the primary court and Mesopotamia the lesser. For this reason, Neby/Webensenu could not be made a pharaoh of Egypt. Nevertheless, Neby was honored with the title of Judge. And like his role model Montuhotep, Neby was sent out to establish peace in the frontier regions of the family empire. We do not know (from archaeology) why Sargon rejected his "eldest son" Manishtushu in favor of a younger son Rimush. However, the later New Kingdom history likely gives us the explanation. The New Kingdom Reuben, Neby/Webensenu, was passed over primarily because he was not the biological son of the ruling king Amenhotep II. Even so, the need to maintain the appearance of integrity required Amenhotep II to find some fault in his "eldest son." A sexual indiscretion of Neby/Webensenu became justification for Amenhotep II to place the mantle of succession upon one of his own true sons.

As in the Middle Kingdom, the New Kingdom Jacob had many capable sons from which to choose from. Reuben, the eldest, was passed over for a rather trivial reason. The blessing of Reuben indicates that Jacob considered him much too volatile to remain the holder of birthright, that is, successor as the next "Great King." However, the ladies of the court obviously ruled otherwise. The jubilant personality and beaming countenance of Reuben was a strength and source of admiration and attraction. The oldest son, if also the heir apparent, was traditionally given free reign over the royal harem, and even his own mother became his consort. Reuben was disgraced for having slept with Jacob's concubine Bilhah. Yet, it was ostensibly not the act itself, but the place of copulation that Jacob found objectionable. Reuben and Bilhah had commandeered his very own "couch."

Jacob's characterization of Reuben in Genesis 49:3-4 (NIV) reads:

"You are my first born, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the [boiling] waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father's bed, onto my couch and defiled it." 3

The Hebrew wording in the blessing of Reuben indicates that his ebullience was not entirely in vain, but as a result Reuben became the father of Bilhah's second son Naphtali.w However, as the son of Bilhah, Naphtali was claimed as a legal son of Jacob. Genesis 30:7-8 further reveals that Reuben had the approval and even the encouragement of his aunt Rachel. Bilhah was the "maidservant" of Rachel, and was therefore under her control. Rachel was also desperate to provide additional sons and thereby increase her queenly status. Jacob evidently was not actively trying to produce further sons through Bilhah, therefore Reuben was invited by Rachel to take up the slack for her husband.x Regardless, a breach in protocol became the official basis for Reuben's rejection. The faux pas of a favored son might be overlooked, forgiven or even praised. Reuben's transgression was not.

Neby/Webensenu was adjudged sentimental and volatile, unable to control his desires and emotions. However, his legal father had an ulterior motive for placing this stigma upon him. Jacob naturally loved his true sons the most (if he in fact had any), especially Issachar, Judah and Joseph (who may have actually been the sons of Esau). Reuben was not the son of either Jacob or his twin Esau, but that of Merari. It is clear that Neby/Webensenu was pigeonholed into an expected role, and one that made it easy for him to be demoted. In Hebrew, the name Neby would convey the meanings of "prophet" and "fruitful," but it can also connote "disgraced." Reuben had been "redeemed" and became the legal son of Amenhotep II, but was rejected as a successor. Reuben was also shamed into accepting his legal father's decision to give him a lesser office and subordinate him first to Judah (Thutmose IV) y and then to Joseph (Yuya) and his sons.

Ghosts in the Tomb of Ramose

Additional information about Neby and his family can be gleaned from the tomb of Neby's son Ramose.4 As noted above, Ramose and his half-brother Amenhotep became leading viziers during the reign of Amenhotep III. In the tomb of Ramose, Neby is also referred to by yet another Egyptian epithet, that of Heby. In Egyptian, heb means "festival, jubilee," and possibly reflects the "ebullient" nature of Neby/Webensenu. However, to a Hebrew speaker Heby would of course imply that Heby was a Heber/Eber, a person of Hebrew (Babylonian) origin or orientation. It seems to also corroborate that Neby was made a judge, and even a king, in the "lower circuit court" of Babylon in Mesopotamia rather than in Egypt.

The scandalous nature of Reuben's discrediting recalls another Hebrew word chabuwlah, "overthrown," specifically due to a moral crime.z In the case of Heby, it was a crime of passion with Bilhah. Reuben not only lost his birthright, but was possibly also bound with a nickname that served as a constant reminder of his error. Earlier in the 18th Dynasty, the young David (Thutmose III) had also been temporarily deposed for impulsively acting on his lust for Bathsheba.aa King David regained his crown. Likewise the line of the passionate Reuben would be restored to the throne, although not as quickly, and would found what the Bible calls "a dynasty like David's." ab

In the reign of Amenhotep III, Heby was appointed "mayor of Memphis," "scribe who counts the cattle of Amon," and "overseer of the double granary of Amon throughout the nomes that are in Lower Egypt." ac He would also be honored more informally by one of his sons as "general of the Lord of the Two Lands." ad Far from falling into obscurity, the humiliated Heby and his sons played ever increasing roles in the administrations of Amenhotep III and Akhenaten. This again calls for an explanation. Queen Tia (Leah), the mother of Reuben, was the Chief Royal Wife of Amenhotep II, and either the mother or grandmother (through her daughter Dinah) of Amenhotep III. As long as she lived, the House of Reuben would have remained influential. Consistent with this, Reuben and his sons were given influential posts during the reign of Amenhotep III. However, their power did not fade upon the deaths of the great queens Tia and Mutemwia. The reason turns out to be the same as it had been in the preceding generation. The prominence of Reuben was made even more secure through a marriage pact with Joseph, an alliance that was much the same as there had been between their two fathers, Merari (Amenemhet) and Jacob-Kohath (Amenhotep II).

Reuben, Savior of the Savior Joseph

In the Genesis narrative, the life of Joseph is spared both by Judah and Reuben. Together they intervened to save Joseph from the murderous plot of Simeon. As noted in Chapter 8, archetypal Joseph of the Middle Kingdom would also have been rescued from a well, literally or figuratively, for the purpose of producing an heir for Judah. The scenario was repeated, likely on purpose, in the New Kingdom. However, New Kingdom Jacob did perhaps not expect the noble response of Reuben in the reenactment. The New Kingdom Joseph (Yuya) did produce an heir on the behalf of his ailing brother Judah (Thutmose IV), and that son (Aanen) became a potential successor to the greater throne. Asenath (Tuya) likely also attempted to bear children to Judah (Thutmose IV), however the mother of Aye/Amenhotep III was probably a different princess/queen. These two lines of Joseph and Judah were coupled again in the next generation by the marriage Tiye (daughter of Yuya) to Amenhotep III/Aye (true son of Thutmose IV).

The role of Reuben in rescuing Joseph from the well does not appear to have a parallel in the 12th Dynasty. This particular element of the composite story is probably unique to the 18th Dynasty repetition. Even after the death of Judah, Joseph must have remained indebted to the still living Reuben. Possibly even before the death of Judah, a covenant was proposed between Joseph and Reuben. It calls to mind the Biblical expressions, "I am as thou art, my people as thy people," ae and "Let there be a treaty between me and you … as there was between my father and your father." af As Jacob had shared Leah with Merari, so Joseph shared Asenath with Reuben. Moreover, the political alliance that existed between Yuya and his deceased brother Thutmose IV was extended to Neby and sealed by the same form of intermarriage. Aanen, the oldest true son of Yuya became the eldest legal son of Neby/Heby. However, as the son of Neby, Aanen was referred to by a slightly different name, that of Amenhotep, a variant of Yuya also became a legal father to other sons that Tuya had with Neby afterwards, the most famous of them being Ramose. Consequently, Amenhotep was the half-brother of Ramose as currently thought, yet not by virtue of having the same father but the same mother. Through this process, likened to making the fabled triple-braided cord.ah the line of Joseph became strengthened by and nearly indistinguishable from those of Judah and Reuben.

Intermarriage between the Houses of Joseph and Judah is exalted in the blessings of Jacob. On the other hand, the subsequent intermarriage between the Houses of Joseph and Reuben is suppressed. The House of Reuben is instead libeled as the future persecutors of Joseph and his kingly line.5 This can be attributed to the fact that the Book of Genesis (as well as the Kings/Chronicles Narrative) has a clear bias in favor of Judah and Joseph, whose male descendants were over time supplanted in the kingship by those of Reuben. The dynasty of Reuben is acknowledged, but not especially venerated.

In the Tomb of Ramose, Amenhotep the half-brother of Ramose appears prominently in the murals, along with another family member, the legendary and later deified architect, scribe, prophet, physician, and sage Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu. The mothers of Amenhotep, Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu and Ramose are named as Tutuya, Itu/Atu and Ipuia/Apu-aa, Amenhotep son of Neby/Heby and Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu appear in the same scenes. Although it is not uncommon for an individual/king to be represented more than once in a single mural, the two Amenhotep's have been assumed to be separate persons. However, there is sufficient proof to now conclude that they were two distinct representations of one and the same person, known to us otherwise not only as Amenhotep-son-of-Heby and Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu, but also as Aanen-son-of-Yuya.

Both Vizier Amenhotep son of Heby and Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu held the title "Overseer of All the Works of the King," aj and at the same time. Vizier Amenhotep (a.k.a. Huy) is openly acknowledged as the son of the nobleman Heby/Neby. On the other hand, as an apparent show of humility Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu claimed that the king raised him up from among the multitudes. Nevertheless, he also claims the status of "hereditary prince," which should dispel any notions of him as a "beknighted" commoner. Aanen had been raised, not from among the masses, but from the obscurity and symbolic death of being disinherited. The identity of Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu was perhaps one assumed by Aanen when both he and his mother entered the house of Neby, no stranger to disgrace himself. This arrangement allowed them both to make a new start in relative seclusion. Even when Aanen was reinstated to favor, the persona of Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu continued to be cultivated to great popular effect, and until it had reached truly epic proportions.

Hapu is a familiar name in the Egyptian New Kingdom. Earlier, in the reigns of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, the High Priest of Amun was one Hapuseneb-son-of-Hapu.ak His place within the royal family of that time is not well understood. (He is possibly Ahitub, the priest of David.) However, with respect to the later Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu, the name Hapu not only ingeniously encodes the identity of the two fathers of this hereditary prince, but also that of his mother.6 Hapu can easily be seen as a variant Apu-aa/Ipuia (Ta-Tuya), wife of Neby. Hapu is also clearly a variant of Heby, a popular epithet of Neby. Most importantly, Hapu is a reference to Yuya husband of Tuya, the true father of Amenhotep/ The name Hapu was highly venerated but not necessarily a happy one in the drought-ridden 18th Dynasty. Hap or Hapy was god of the annual Nile inundation. The dominant role of the "grain gatherer" Joseph/Omri in Egypt was as the incarnation of Hapy, the god who regulated the great river's flow and thereby ensured good floods and abundant harvests. Middle Kingdom Joseph especially was renowned for diverting excess floodwaters into the Bahr Yusef, "Canal of Joseph."

Pity the Rich Prophet

As a young man Aanen (Jeroboam the Elder) had been disgraced for defying the will of Amenhotep II and trying to establish his own son Thutmose (V) as successor to the His "House" was destroyed by order of Amenhotep II. Aanen himself was not killed, but he must have been effectively reduced to the status of a commoner. After the death of Amenhotep II, the head of Aanen was lifted and he again received offices befitting of his very high birth. Aanen was the eldest true son of Yuya, the man who held the divine birthright. The air of mystery surrounding this prince can now be attributed to the nature of his disgrace and his subsequent return to royal favor.

The Genesis narrative indicates that Yuya was highly sympathetic toward his son Aanen and wanted him to receive the birthright rather than his younger son Amenhotep III or adopted son Aye. However, Amenhotep II dictated otherwise. Yuya did not try to reverse the decision of succession after the death of his father, but he did reinstate Aanen as a prince. As Yuya had earlier been made the "double" and bearer of the signet ring (seal) an of his half-brother Thutmose IV, so he determined to establish Aanen, the son he favored the most, as the tanist of Aanen's half-brother Amenhotep III. As such, Aanen claimed the titles of seal bearer (chancellor) of the king in Lower Egypt and Sem-priest (eldest son/heir) in southern Heliopolis (Thebes).ao

As his name suggests, Aanen had assumed the role of Amenemhet IV (Aaron), the wise king Shem and advisor of Eber (Hammurabi). In this alter ego Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu we have the memory of Aanen as a great philosopher of the order of Shem. Likewise, Pharaoh Amenhotep III filled the role played by Amenemhet III in the 12th Dynasty. Amenemhet III (Noah II) also celebrated a Sed Festival in his Year 30, at which time Amenemhet IV (Shem II) was appointed as his heir and co-regent. In the New Kingdom, Aanen could not be named as successor to Amenhotep III at his Year 30 Jubilee. Amenhotep IV (soon to become Akhenaten) had already received that election about two years prior. However, Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu was allowed to symbolically play the part of the heir of Amenhotep III in the Sed Festival.ap

The High Priest during the glory days of Solomon is named as Hanan is the main Biblical form of the Egyptian name Amenhotep, therefore the name of the High Priest of Amun during the reign of Amenhotep III should have either been an Amenhotep, or at least include the god Amun. However, from Year 20 of Amenhotep III ar and through the Sed-Festival of his Year 30, the High Priest of Amun was called Meri-Ptah was also "overseer of the priests of all the gods," at "overseer of the house of gold," au and High Priest of the Theban cult of Ptah. This latter title was actual one held by Aanen. Likewise, Vizier Amenhotep was "chief of the double treasury." It appears then that Amenhotep/Aanen was wearing more than one hat even within the cult of Amun.

In the early years of Amenhotep III's reign, the High Priest of Amun was Ptahmose, who then corresponds to Biblical Azariah the predecessor of Jo-Hanan in the list of chief priests in Jerusalem. Ptahmose is considered to be the "son" of a Vizier named Thutmose, which may have been a reference to Thutmose IV prior to his being named as co-regent of Amenhotep II. The Hebrew name Azariah indicates that Ptahmose was typecast as a "fifth prince" or Issachar-figure (such as Prince Amenemhet "son" of Amenhotep II). If so, then he likely was appointed in the reign of Amenhotep II and continued in the office under Amenhotep III. However it is not known when the office passed to Meri-Ptah, who was considered the "brother" of

In the tomb of Ramose, the 4th Prophet of Amun, Si-Mut, is shown in a procession of all four leading priests of The mural was made at about the time that Meri-Ptah was replaced as High Priest, first by May ay and then by Iuput, and Aanen also was replaced as 2nd Prophet by the former 4th Prophet Si-Mut. Although in the rear of the procession, Si-Mut is the only one of the four who was actually named, therefore it is possible that all four priests were to be perceived as representations of the same person. Amenhotep/Aanen evidently held at least three of the four priestly offices in his lifetime, and at least two at the same time.

Instead of revealing that Aanen was being stripped of two priestly offices, the emphasis in the tomb of Ramose mural is on an apparent promotion from 4th Prophet to 2nd Prophet. Also, in the tomb of Ramose, Si-Mut is further distinguished by the phrase "Justified," az which indicates that he had suffered disgrace but was later reinstated to royal favor (as Aanen). Such a scenario might seem unlikely if it were not for the fact that it was deliberately repeated by two later princes, first by Bakenkhonsu, also called Amenhotep, of the late 19th Dynasty (See Chapter 38), and then by Montuemhet of the 21st Dynasty (See Chapter 37), both specifically in emulation of Amenhotep/Aanen.

By Year 34 of Amenhotep III, Aanen was likely also already installed as the High Priest of the Aten in Akhet-aten. In this role, he was required to suppress his birth name once again, and so reverted back to the earlier form of Meri. However, instead of Meri-ptah he became Meri-Re in deference to the new religion of Aanen had perhaps come full-circle with this epithet. His first identity after being reinstated by his father Yuya seems to have been that of Meryra, the Seal Bearer/Chancellor and "Chief Steward of his Majesty [Amenhotep III] when a Child." bb

The status of Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu as a prophet is fully recognized, but he is thought of as some kind of prophet-at-large, and not formally associated with any temple cult. However, it can now be seen that he held many actual priestly offices during his lifetime and in many temples. His accomplishments as an architect are not challenged.bc However, it can also now be understood that in this capacity he held an actual office, that of Vizier (Amenhotep). Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu appears to be the form of his name used primarily in the south. The activity of Vizier Amenhotep is not directly attested in Upper Egypt. It has to be inferred from his title. Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu supervised the construction of pharaoh Amenhotep III's mortuary temple "mansion of millions of years" in Western Thebes (Malqata) of Upper Egypt, which is a duty also claimed by Similarly, Vizier Amenhotep/Huy was "great king's steward in Memphis" and "overseer of construction for the mansion of millions of years in Memphis," the northern counterpart of Malqata in Upper Moreover, as Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu was festival leader in Upper Egypt, Vizier Amenhotep was festival leader in Memphis of Lower Egypt.

Vizier Amenhotep claimed to be the "great chief spokesman in the land." bf Likewise, Aanen was "lector priest … who propitiates the gods with his voice." bg Vizier Amenhotep received royal grants for the construction of his own monuments in Memphis just as Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu did in Western Thebes. An edict of Amenhotep III was renewed in the 21st Dynasty guaranteeing protection of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu and its priests. The writ was symbolically witnessed by Meriptah and Vizier Amenhotep. This probably reflects the knowledge that these high officials were alter-egos of Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu/Aanen. The roles and titles of Aanen, Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu and Vizier Amenhotep/Huy are highly complementary. Through combining them we get our first glimpse of the real man and his remarkable career.

Four sons are given in the Biblical genealogies of Reuben.7 Hanoch, named first, is an adaptation of Hanan, the Hebrew equivalent of Amen, and corresponds to Vizier Amenhotep/Aanen, the "eldest son" of Heby/Neby and true son of Yuya. (In the early New Kingdom, Hanan had been the Biblical epithet of pharaoh Amenhotep I.) As High Priest under Biblical Solomon, Amenhotep/Aanen was indeed referred to as Jo-Hanan. However, Hanoch can also be seen as a variant of Enoch (Ptah). Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu/Aanen assumed the Egyptian pseudonym of Meri-Ptah ("Beloved of Ptah") bh as High Priest of Amun and also as High Priest of the Theban cult of Ptah (Enki/Enoch). The name Hanoch itself means, "initiated, trained," but also connotes "strangled, hanged" (ala an Osiris/Hanan figure).

At Karnak, Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu gloried in having reached the age of 80 and had every confidence of going on to 110. These are clearly symbolic ages, and ones associated with the attainment of wisdom, not merely literal years of life. For example, Moses is also said to have reached the age of 80 at the time of the Exodus. The death of Biblical Aaron takes place during the Exodus and is described in Numbers 20:23-29. The Lord announces to Moses, matter of fact, that it is time for Aaron to die. He is to be taken to the top of Mount Hor, defrocked, and then his life was to be taken. The means of his death in this strange episode is not specified. It must be kept in mind that the Exodus account is a composite. Amenemhet IV, archetypal Aaron evidently died during the Exodus of Hammurabi, and possibly he was even executed or required to take his own life for an earlier act of rebellion (toward Amenemhet III?), as implied by in the Book of Numbers. This would have set a precedent for Aanen, the New Kingdom Aaron. According to Manetho, after prophesying doom for the kingdom of "pharaoh Amenophis," Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu bi committed

  1. The name Kohath means "alliance."
  2. For the father-son relationship between Joseph and Moses, see Chapters 8 & 16.
  3. Levi was the Biblical nickname of one of the 12 sons of Jacob (Amenhotep II). However, Levi was a family name and one applied to earlier Biblical figures, especially Montuhotep II in the 11th Dynasty and Thutmose III (Isaac-David) in the early 18th Dynasty. The epithet Levi was originally that of the god Seth/Leviathan.
  4. This was demonstrated in Chapters 14 & 15.
  5. The other two epithets were the much more recognizable Isaac and David (the Younger). The equivalence between Isaac and David was made in Chapters 9-14. See also the book abstract for a summary.
  6. During the 18th Dynasty the seat of the world empire was established in Egypt. During the preceding Hyksos Period Babylon was "home." The initiative to transfer the primary court back to Mesopotamia would not occur until after the Exodus of Akhenaten.
  7. See Chapters 10-12 of this book for discussion.
  8. Amenemhet is associated with the well of Shibah in Gen. 26:33. See Chapter 12 for discussion.
  9. Amenhotep III, Cline and O'Connor, eds., p 208.
  10. Amenhotep III, Cline and O'Connor, eds., p 58.
  11. Leiden Stela of Horemheb
  12. Robert Morkot, The Black Pharaohs, p 85.
  13. He is named as Troop Commander and Mayor of Zarw on the Leiden Stela.
  14. For a discussion of Neby and his titles, see Ahmed Osman, Moses: Pharaoh of Egypt, pp 97, 118, 121, 172 & 222.
  15. Numbers 3:13; Exodus 22:29
  16. Genesis 29:26
  18. Exodus 13:15; 34:20
  19. Gen. 29:31-32
  20. See End Note 2 below.
  21. The popular name Neby could have been a short form of a proper Egyptian name. During this time period, prominent officials included the likes of Lector Priest/Vizier/Scribe Neb-merutef, Standard Bearer Neb-amun, Chief Grain Measurer of Amun Neb-nefer, Scribe Nebked, and Treasury Scribe Nebsen. One or more of these officials may have been one and the same as Neby son of Amenemhet.
  22. See Chapter 5.
  23. This in turn suggests that Montuhotep III/Ur-Ningirsu/Ur-Gar (archetypal Naphtali/Beker) was not the true son of Inyotef II/Gudea (archetypal Benjamin and Jacob-figure), but an "eldest son" or other heir produced for him by Montuhotep I/Ur-Bau (archetypal Reuben). See Chart 1 and Chapters 5, 7, 29 & 30 for discussion on Gudea.
  24. Reuben is further credited with a role in the birth of Issachar at the time of the harvest (and harvest festival?). See the story of Reuben and the mandrakes in Genesis 30:14-18.
  25. Middle Kingdom Reuben-Manishtushu ruled as "Judge" under his brother Judah-Rimush.
  26. Genesis 35:22 Cf Chabuwlah (2248) ("overthrown") with Chob-Bilhah ("love of Bilhah," from chob ("a cherisher"), chaba ("do secretly"). Cf also chalal ("defiled").
  27. See Chapter 14.
  28. 2 Kings 10:30; 15:12
  29. Amenhotep III, eds. O'Conner and Cline, p 194
  30. Amenhotep III, eds. O'Conner and Cline, p 195.
  31. 1 Kings 22:4 (KJV)
  32. 1 Kings 15:19 (NIV)
  33. It was shown previously that Aaron was known as Biblical "Amon, ruler of the city of Samaria" (1 Kings 22:26) and Amon-appa in the Amarna Letters.
  34. Ecclesiastes 4:12. In the Middle Kingdom the triple-braided cord was formed by the Houses of Judah (Amenemhet II), Issachar (Sekhemkare) and Joseph (Inyotef IV).
  35. Francisco J. Martín Valentín, Amen-Hotep III: El esplendor de Egypt, Madrid, 1998, p 332; Davies, The Tomb of the Vizier Ramosis, London, 1941, Chapter 1.
  36. Vizier Amenhotep is "attested on monuments from both north and south, and his titles – such as 'director (hrp) of Upper and [Lower Egypt]' and ' over seer of all the works of the king in Upper and Lower Egypt' … ". Amenhotep III, O'Connor and Cline, eds., p 205. For a discussion of Vizier Amenhotep and other officials late and their titles in the reign of Amenhotep III, see also Donald Redford, Akhenaten: The Heretic King, and Cyril Aldred, Akhenaten.
  37. Amenhotep III, O'Connor & Cline, eds., p 59.
  38. Ipy son of Vizier Amenhotep was then a true descendant of Yuya, which helps explain his intimate access to Akhenaten and his appointment as "King of Israel."
  39. See discussion in Chapters 23-24.
  40. Genesis 41:42
  41. Joann Fletcher, Chronicle of a Pharaoh: The Intimate Life of Amenhotep III, pp 52, 70.
  42. Amenhotep III, O'Connor & Cline, eds., p 219.
  43. 1 Chron. 6:10. See also the chart and analysis at the bottom of Chapter 24.
  44. By his Year 20, Biblical Solomon had completed both the temple and his palace. (1 Kings 9:10)
  45. A High Priest of Amun named (or nicknamed) May is known in Year 4 of Amenhotep IV (Year 31 of Amenhotep III). In Year 32 of Amenhotep III (Year 5 of Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten), Iuput son of Aye-Sheshonq was named as High Priest of Amun.[ss]
  46. Joann Fletcher, Chronicle of a Pharaoh: The Intimate Life of Amenhotep III, p 52.
  47. Amenhotep III, O'Connor & Cline, eds., p 215.
  48. Alternatively, Ptahmose could correspond to Yuya the younger half-brother of Thutmose IV, who was second ("son") to him "only in the throne."
  49. Amenhotep III, O'Connor & Cline, eds., p 209.
  50. Cyril Aldred, Akhenaten, pp 175-178.
  51. Probably this was the same May who was prominent at Akhet-aten, and later served as Finance Minister under the name variant of Maya.
  52. Ibid.
  53. As noted above, the earlier Mery-Re had also been a Seal Bearer/Chancellor. The dual naming of Amenhotep/Meri-Re appears to be following the precedent of the earlier Amenemhet/Meri-Re.
  54. Joann Fletcher, Chronicle of a Pharaoh: The Intimate Life of Amenhotep III, p 14. The tomb of Meryra was found at Saqqara. See also, Amenhotep III, O'Conner & Cline, eds., p 215.
  55. The most famous surviving works of Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu as "Overseer of all the works of the king in Upper and Lower Egypt" were the mammoth statues of Amenhotep III erected in Western Thebes, and later known as the "Colossi of Memnon."
  56. Amenhotep III, O'Connor & Cline, eds., p 210.
  57. Ibid, pp 213, 219.
  58. Ibid, pp 205-206.
  59. Joann Fletcher, Chronicle of a Pharaoh: The Intimate Life of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, p 52.
  60. Cf Meri-ptah and "the water of Meri-bah" where Aaron "rebelled."
  61. Called Amenophis son of Paapis by Manetho. See, G. Verbrugghe & J. Wickersham, Berossos and Manetho, p 161.
  62. One is left to wonder what other archetypes Aanen was compelled to fulfill, such as the advisor Senenmut of the early 18th Dynasty who also hung himself after his counsel was rejected (See Chapter 14), or the renowned wise man Ptah-hotep of the 5th Dynasty.

Note 1:

See Exodus 6 and 1 Chronicles 6. In 1 Chronicles 15-16, there is an account of how King David brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. Like the character of David, the account of the procession of the Ark is itself a composite. It combines the memories of more than one festival of the God Amun, which occurred during the reigns of more than one king. The mention of Michal daughter of Saul obviously relates to the first King David (Thutmose I). However, the mention of Kohath, Merari and Gershon relates to a procession in the reign of the second David (Thutmose III). This latter procession would have been late enough in his reign to allow even the grandsons of the king to take part in the grand spectacle. His sons and grandsons were given symbolic roles as the heads of Levitical clans, much as the sons of Jacob (Amenhotep II) were later named as heads of the traditional tribes of Israel.

Note 2:

Compare Ma'y and Mahli. The Ma was a dominant Libyan tribe, and Mahli is said to have named his son Libni (1 Chron. 6:29). Mahli (and the variant Mahali) means "sick," which may explain why he did not become more prominent.

For the title of May, see Amenhotep III, O'Conner and Cline, eds., p 204.

The office of Chariot Commander was traditionally held by a high-ranking prince, and especially a crown prince. During the 18th Dynasty, the position was held by Yii (Isaac/Thutmose III) and Yey (Jacob/Amenhotep II. It is known that Yuya (Joseph) and Aye (Ephraim) also held this title. Osokhor (Issachar), the fifth son of Amenhotep II and heir apparent, was probably also associated with chariotry under the pseudonym of Amminadab. See Chapter 17, Note 3. Ramose, a son of Neby, was married to the daughter of May. This is consistent with expected intermarriage between two brothers in the House of Prince Amenemhet.

Note 3:

WORD STUDY on the "Blessing of Reuben."

The Biblical blessing of Reuben is filled with word plays on Seth, Re and probably also Yah/Amen. It seems that the veneration of Seth and Ra by 19th Dynasty pharaohs derives from Nefrure, the daughter of Hatshepsut. (Although Hatshepsut and Thutmose I had also been devotees of Seth.) Nefrure was also called Sityah, a composite of Seth and Yah (Amen). Nefrure-Sityah was the mother of Prince Amenemhet, and therefore the grandmother of Webensenu. The Biblical name of Amenemhet was Merari, which would correspond not to the Egyptian name of Amenemhet, but to Mery-Re, "Beloved of Re." However, this name Mery-Re could also be perceived as a synonym of Seth, the most beloved "son of Re."

The formal Egyptian birth name of Reuben was Webensenu. Reuben bears a crude phonic semblance with Weben. The Egyptian name Weben-senu means "man/son of shining." Webenu connotes the "first light over the water." Stephen Quirke, "The Cult of Ra: Sun Worship in Ancient Egypt," p 29. Webensenu could be freely translated "son of the beginning/first sign of the sun's strength." Compare the name Senenmut, "man/son of Mut/mother."

Wei - vital force, from Latin vis - violent, vehement, violate.
Cf weapon, from the Germanic root wepnam; Old Norse wapn, wapentake
Cf webh - weave, move back and forth (quickly); figuratively turbulent, unstable, excitable.

Genesis 49:3-4 (NIV)
" You are my first born, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the [boiling] waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father's bed, onto my couch and defiled it."

Genesis 49:3-4 (KJV)
" Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defilest thou it: he went up to my couch."

firstborn (1060) bekowr; first born, hence chief.
Becker was one Biblical name of the Sethian king Montuhotep III (a.k.a. Naphtali). Reuben was a firstborn sired by another prince for Jacob. He in turn sired a prince on behalf of Jacob.

might (3581) koach, ko'-akh; or kowach, ko'-akh; "force," in a good or bad sense

first sign/beginning (7225) reshiyth; the first, in place, time, order or rank (spec. a firstfruit). Cf Re-shiyth and Re-Seth.

excelling/excellency (3499) yether from (3498); prop. An overhanging, i.e. (by impl.) an excess, superiority, remainder; also a small rope (as hanging free) (Cf the name Jethro/Ith-ra, "increase of Ra.")
excel (3498) yathar, "remain or be left"

strength (202) Heb. on, the same Hebrew word is used for the city of the sun-god, On, i.e., Heliopolis

honor/dignity (7613) se'eth, "an elevation (or leprous scab)" Cf Egyptian god Seth. The line of Reuben through Ramose (Sety/Setre), Ramses and Seti particularly venerated Re of Heliopolis (On) and Seth.

power (5794) az, "strong, vehement, harsh"
(Uzziel was a psuedonym of Reuben. See geneaology of Exodus 6. Reuben was also the grandfather of Ahaz-iah, King of Israel.)

unstable/turbulent (6349) pachaz "ebulliation," figuratively "lust" from (6448) "to bubble, boil, froth" (The phonic "az" is used again.)

water/waters (4325) mayim, mah'-yim; dual of a primitive noun (but used in a singular sense); water; fig. juice; by euphemism urine, semen:- +piss, wasting, water(-ing, -course, -flood, -spring).
(The half-brother of Webensenu was evidently the Chariot Commander May, Biblical Mahli. This might also associate Reuben as a chief among the important Libyan tribe of Ma/Meshwesh.)

went/wentest (5927) alah, aw-law'; to ascend, in trans. (be high) or act. (mount);
Cf (5928) alah, al-aw'; a holocaust:- burnt offering
Cf (5930) o-law'; fem. act. part. Of 5927; a step or (collect. stairs, as ascending): usually a holocaust (as going up in smoke): ascent, burnt offering (sacrifice), go up to.
See also (5766) (Alah ~ Yah ~ Amen?)

bed (4904) mishkab, mish-kawb'; from (7901); a bed (fig. a bier); abstr. sleep; by emphemism carnal intercourse:- bed ([chamber]), couch, lieth (lying) with. (7901) shakab, shaw-kab'
(Cf mish and mushi. Another Biblical nickname of Reuben is Mushi, "sensitive," i.e., ebullient.)

defiled (2490) chalal, "to defile, wound, break, dissolve, bore"

couch (3326) yatsuwa, yaw-tsoo'-ah; pass. part. of (3321) (yetseb, "to be firm, truth"); spread, i.e. a bed; (arch.) an extension, i.e. wing or lean-to. (Amen = "true")

Note 4:

Links for the tomb of Ramose (TT 55):

Note 5:

WORD STUDY on the "Blessing of Joseph"

Gen. 49:22-26
Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

fruitful (6509) parah, paw-raw'; to bear fruit (lit. or fig.): -- bear, bring forth (fruit), (be, cause to be, make) fruitful, grow, increase.

bough (1121) ben, bane; a son (as a builder of the family name) … : -- afflicted, age … anointed one, appointed to, arrow, bough, branch, breed …

well (5869) ayin, ah'-yin; an eye (lit. or fig.); by anal. a fountain (as the eye of the landscape): -- affliction, outward appearance, …, color, conceit, …, regard, …, well.

branches (1121) ben, bane

wall (7791) shuwr, shoor; from 7788; a wall (as going about): -- wall

(7788) shuwr, shoor; to turn, i.e. travel about (as a harlot or a merchant): -- go, sing

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