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The Empires of the Bible from the Confusion of Tongues to the Babylonian Captivity

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    NOTE ON RAMESES II AS THE OPPRESSOR

    The evidence that Rameses II was the Pharaoh of the oppression of Israel, is about as conclusive as any ancient event can be without being stated in so many words. It is now known from the Egyptian remains that he was the king who built or “mainly rebuilt” Pithom. “Tel-el-Maskhuta is the name of some large mounds near Tel-el-Kebir and other places which were the scene of the late war; and M. Naville, who has excavated them for the Egyptian Exploration Fund, has found inscriptions in them which show only that they represent an ancient city whose religious name was Pithom, while its civil name was Succoth, but also that the founder of the city was Rameses II. In Greek times the city was called Heroopolis, or Ero, from the Egyptian word ara, ‘a storehouse,’ reminding us that Pithom and Raamses, which the Israelites built for the Pharaoh, were ‘treasure-cities.’ (Exodus 1:11.) M. Naville has even discovered the treasure-chambers themselves. They are very strongly constructed, and divided by brick partitions from eight to ten feet thick, the bricks being sun-baked, and made some with and some without straw. In these strawless bricks we may see the work of the oppressed people when the order came: ‘Thus saith the Pharaoh, I will not give you straw.”EB 128.3

    “The treasure-chambers occupy almost the whole area of the old city, the walls of which are about 650 feet square and 22 feet thick. Its name Pithom—in Egyptian, Pa-Tum—signifies, the City of the Setting Sun; and since it had another name, Succoth, we can now understand how it was that the Israelites started on their march not from Goshen but from Succoth (Exodus 13:20), that is, from the very place where they had been working.”—Sayce 98[Page 129] “Fresh Light from the Ancient Monuments,” pp. 59, 60. “The adjacent city” of Rameses was named from Rameses II himself, and therefore must have been built by him.EB 129.1

    The other points in the present available evidence are so well presented in an article in the Century Magazine of May, 1887, that we can do no better here than to give it in an extract from that article. In the month of July, 1881, at Deir-el-Bahari, in Egypt, in a secret place deep in the side of a mountain, there were found nearly forty mummies “of kings, queens, princes, and priests.” Among these were the mummies of Rameses II, Rameses III, King Pinotem, the high priest Nebseni, and Queen Nofretari.” That it is the remains of Rameses II, “no doubt now exists, for ‘in black ink written across the mummy-case by the high priest and King Pinotem, is the record testifying to the identity of the royal contents.’ Then ‘upon the outer winding-sheet of the mummy, over the region of the breast,’ the indisputable testimony is repeated.” June 1, 1886, these mummies were unwrapped and photographed; and pictures of the faces of the mummied dead were printed with the article in the Century, above referred to. The points upon the identity of Rameses II as the first oppressor of Israel are as follows:—EB 129.2

    “The ancient Egyptians have placed us greatly in their debt by a science that surpasses ours. Even in the extravagant fancies of childhood over the tales and heroes of the Bible, we never dreamed that some day we might stand face to face with the figure of that ‘new king over Egypt’ who ‘said unto his people, Behold the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass that when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land;’ of that father whose daughter not only spared the weeping babe in the little ark among the flags, but adopted the child, and he became her son, and she named him Moses; of that royal patron who thus educated him for the public service as a prince in his own household; and yet of that sovereign in whose breast the prejudice of race ran so deep that he sought to slay this Moses, his foster-son, the moment he heard the hand of the latter had lifted itself against an Egyptian....EB 129.3

    “It has often been remarked how the countenance of Rameses II, whether upon colossal monolith or mural carving, together with those of other members of the Ramesside line before and after him, can scarcely have been purely Egyptian; and the conjecture has as often been hazarded that the type of expression they wear is obviously Semitic. Such a surmise has had for its foundation not only the narrow retreating forehead and the aquiline nose, but the long head from chin to crown and the entire cast of visage. The strange traits are limited to the Theban race, or ruling class, in contradistinction to the race of primitive inhabitants of the Lower Nile valley.EB 130.1

    “Among the ruins of Zoan, Mariette Bey found a memorial slab of syente, carved with a vignette on the upper part and inscribed on the lower portion, which at once became famous under the title of ‘The Tablet of Four Hundred Years!’ The subject of the vignette is a scene representing Rameses the Great offering wine to the god Set in his human form, and wearing the white crown, an officer also in adoration standing behind the monarch. The object of the stele is thus revealed to be a recognition on the part of the king of that Typhonic Set or Sutekh, and a participation in his worship, who had been the national deity of the Shepherds, at the ancient capital of these rulers.EB 130.2

    “By the date of four hundred years from the king Set Aa-peh-peh Nubti, he uses an era founded upon the reign of one of these Shepherd Kings, a predecessor of Apophis. Furthermore, the officer explains, ‘His Majesty ordered that a great tablet of stone should be made in the great name of his fathers for the sake of setting up the name of the father of his fathers,’ apparently from his parent Seti I back to Set Aa-peh-peh, four centuries before, both named after the same deity; and thus we are given to understand that Rameses thereby sought to acknowledge and honor the line of the Shepherd Kings as his ancestors. Fortunately we are to-day able to verify this acknowledgment and relationship in a conclusive, because physical way.EB 130.3

    “In the same ruins of Zoan, Mariette Bey came across four very peculiar sphinxes, on the avenue leading up to the shrine of the temple. Writing to the Vicomte de Rouge, he describes them in the following terms: . . ‘On beholding these strange figures, we perceive that we have under our eyes the products of an art not purely Egyptian, and also not exclusively foreign, and, accordingly, we conclude that the sphinxes of Avaris [Zoan] may well excite the immense interest of dating from the time of the Hyksos [Shepherd Kings] themselves Upon the right shoulder of each one of our four symbolical sphinxes, inscriptions, which had been graven there, have been chiseled out; but the name of the deity Sutekh still remains upon the head.... According to the Sallier Papyrus, Apophis reared a temple to the God Sutekh; and we cannot doubt that our sphinxes are owing to the piety of this king toward the deity of his nation, nor can we refrain from the thought that the sacred enclosure which these monuments were intended to embellish was the site of the temple of Sutekh at Avaris [Zoan.].’EB 130.4

    “We are now ready to make the verification. The Tablet of Four hundred Years and these sphinxes were discovered not far apart. Rameses the Great was the author of the tablet confessing descent from the Shepherds, and to-day we possess the features of the latter copied by the sun: the Shepherds were the authors of the Zoan sphinxes, to which they imparted their own faces. Let us compare the two—the profile of the sphinx with the profile of the king. They are parallel Both have the same roundly retreating brow, the same arched nose, the same prominent lips, the same projecting chin, the same high cheek-bones, the same hollow cheeks—what have they not alike? They are a startling match.... The family resemblance is so complete that one might be tempted to suspect the sphinx of really bearing the portrait of Rameses himself, rather than that of some Shepherd king. But, unhappily for such a suspicion, Rameses II once, having found a similar sphinx at the site of Pithom, or having removed one from Zoan, actually engaged in the discreditable work of appropriating it to himself by transforming the head of the Shepherd into an image of his own. The alteration consisted mainly in removing the shaggy mane of the lion, in order to substitute the ‘grand head-dress with spreading wings’—a reduction which leaves the head too small for the body, while the outlines of the countenance remain almost untouched in the stolen monument.EB 131.1

    “Such a verification is more than satisfactory. We are fully convinced that this tall king, so superhumanly towering as to be frightful to his enemies, rightfully belonged to the ruling, rather than to the native race of Egypt; and, strange though it be, we allow his claim of blood-relation to those invaders, the Hyksos-Shepherds, whose expulsion from the Delta required the entire strength of the seventeenth Theban dynasty expended in a war of eighty years. Here lies the secret of that uniform, peculiar, superior cast of physiognomy running through all the countenances of the Ramesside line, a line ever famous for being uncommonly handsome ....EB 131.2

    “When the eighteenth dynasty came to an end with King Haremhebi, the royal line was extinct on the male side. So the nineteenth dynasty was founded by a warrior, Rameses I; but he was a usurper, lacking in an essential qualification—royal blood.EB 132.1

    “His son, Seti I, was also a brilliant conqueror; but to the Theban priests and men of learning he, too, was unsatisfactory because in like manner royal blood did not course in his veins, and because he bore the offensive name of Set. However, if, on the contrary, he was a scion of Shepherd stock, then to us he is a curiosity, from the fact that the Hyksos features of Rameses his son must have descended through him, and in so doing left on him the typical marks of this mysterious race. How is it? has he [Seti I] got them too? Consult his portrait, and answer accordingly. Neither a long nor a second examination is required to perceive in his looks a survival of the Sphinx of Zoan on the one hand, and a prophecy of his offspring on the other... .EB 132.2

    “However, so varied are our resources that to-day we are not dependent on ancient art for an acquaintance with this refined and worshipful parent of him who forms the object of our inquisitive study. The famous Seti, too, was found among the royal mummies at Dair-el-Bahari, along with Thothmes III, the illustrious, and Rameses II, the conqueror. And when his winding-sheets of mummy-cloth were unwound, and when, for the first time in so many long centuries, the light revealed those idiosyncratic features which of old inspired many beautiful reliefs in stone, the merciless camera was also turned upon them, and in that sort of picture which is notorious for never flattering nor ever detracting we have a proof of the very original himself—a proof of the Ramesside blood. In neither of these lines will any one who makes the comparison, require the help of hints as to points of conformity or affinity ....EB 132.3

    “But Seti shrewdly made up for his own deficiency in the nobility then dominant, by marrying a princess of the last, or eighteenth dynasty, Tuaa by name. She was descended directly from Thothmes III and Amenophis III, whose granddaughter she was; and the monumental records acknowledge her as ‘Royal Wife, Royal Mother, Heiress, and Sharer of the Throne.’ Her mask, as it were, reveals another source whence Rameses, her illustrious son, derived some of his ‘classic type of countenance, along with the whole of his royal blood ....EB 132.4

    “Tuaa, however, was pre-eminently royal, not only in that her father was a king of the eighteenth dynasty, but in that on the maternal side, her mother, Tii by name, the queen of Amenophis III, was a princess in her own right.”EB 133.1

    Here the author of the article fell into the mistake of thinking that Tii, or Teie, was the mother of the wife of Amenophis IV, and so into the further mistake of having this king to marry his own full sister. We now know that the wife of Amenophis IV was a sister of Teie, and so, as fully as Teie herself, was a princess in her own right. 99[Page 133] See pages 96-101 of this book. The tablets containing the letters of king Dusratta, the father of both of these ladies, were discovered in the very year (1887) in which this article was published in the Century, but were not translated or published till the year following. However, this change back to the true personage of the mother of the wife of Seti I, does not in the least affect the point which the author of the Century article makes as to the descent of Rameses on his mother’s side; for his object is to trace his parentage to Mesopotamia, and it is done as fully through Teie’s sister as through Teie herself. Thus the wife of Seti I was the daughter of Amenophis IV, by Tadukhepa, the daughter of Dusratta, king of Mesopotamia. It will be remembered that Amenophis IV was also “Khu-en-aten, who was famous for having discarded the gods of Egypt totally, and (under the influence of Tii?) for becoming a fanatical worshiper of the sun’s beamy disk.”EB 133.2

    The article continues:—EB 133.3

    “Having thus traced the probable origin of Rameses’s ancestors on his father’s side, by the aid of the Tablet of Four Hundred Years, back to Chaldea; and the lineage of his mother, by the aid of the marriage record of Amenophis, back to Mesopotamia; he might be regarded in respect to race as an Assyrian rather than an Egyptian, might he not? Are we aware that a verse exists in the Bible, reading,—EB 133.4

    “‘For thus saith the Lord God:
    My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there,
    And the Assyrian oppressed them without cause,’
    which always has been an enigma?

    “Commentators, indeed, unanimously say the sojourn in Egypt is here contrasted with the captivity in Assyria; but this leaves the statement in the first clause abruptly suspended, and would characterize a carrying away into captivity incorrectly as an ‘oppression,’ while in the very next verse (Isaiah 52:4, 5) the discourse proceeds to turn from the Egyptian Oppression to the contemporary captivity in usual and precise terms:—EB 133.5

    “‘Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord.
    That my people is taken away for nought?’
    In Babylon the people were treated as colonists and citizens, not as slaves, whereas the real ‘oppression’ occurred in Egypt alone. It is impossible to resolve this enigma except by regarding the conception of the prophet as remaining in Egypt and referring to Egypt in both clauses of verse 4, the last bearing out and explaining the first; and then when the question is raised, How could the oppressor of Israel in Egypt be an Assyrian? the answer is ready, Our present investigation has already shown. Isaiah well understood in what way Rameses the Great was an Assyrian in Egypt, and so did they whom he addressed.

    “And this first-born son of Seti and Tuaa, because inheriting the double royalty of his mother, was instantly hailed as king, and recognized by a fastidious aristocracy as the future sovereign of the land; and not only as a royal but as a divine being. To the people at large he was the personal representative of the divine nature; they adored him, offered prayers to him, sang hymns of praise to him; his ministers addressed him in reverent terms, his princes prostrated themselves in his presence, his wives really worshiped him. And he appears to have believed himself superior to men and even allied to the gods; for in such groups as that of Abu Kershaib, or Pithom, he seated himself between two solar deities, Ra on the one side, Tum on the other, and made his own image larger than either of theirs! Indeed, he carried his vanity so far as to represent in certain sculptures Rameses the king burning incense before Rameses a deity. His very name signifies ‘Derived from Ra,’ nor does he hesitate to assume the titles ‘Son of Ra,’ ‘Son of the Sun’ ....EB 134.1

    “At Abu Simbel in Nubia, in the grotto or temple of Hathor ... on all sides, upon facade, walls, pillars, another figure is met with; another presence keeps him company; another regent reigns conjointly with him on the throne. This sacred abode is consecrated to Hathor, the Egyptian Venus, and the second personage who shares it with him is his beloved wife, the idol and ruler of his heart, Mer-en-Mut Nefer-ari.... Closely compare the two countenances of king and queen and note a very apparent kinship lying back of, older than, the relationship of husband and wife.EB 134.2

    “Upon a pillar deep within the recesses of this grotto, on the left, we may find a more exact delineation of this fair queen, revealing the same secret. Just the same hieroglyphs identify her as the ‘Royal Wife, Great Lady Mer-en-Mut Nefer-ari.’ She dons the plumes and horns and disk of the goddess to whom her home is dedicated; she wears a coronet; and,not unlike some fashionable ladies nowadays, she bears upon her head the livery of a bird, that of a vulture—in her case, however, a symbol of maternity. Above the beak of the bird rises a hooded asp, carrying a miniature disk of the sun, always the emblem of a sovereign. A large earring peeps from under a sunbonnet fringed with gold and falling around her shoulder. In her right hand she holds up a sistrum, or copper bow with cross-bars strung with beads,ornamented by a head of Hathor, as a sign that she is a priestess of the highest rank or prophetess of peculiarly sacred character; while in her left she grasps a scourge as another sign of royal supremacy ....EB 135.1

    “A variant of her dedication of the temple to him reads, according to Mr. Villiers Stewart: ‘To the sovereign of the two lands, Lord of Upper and Lower Egypt, User-Ma-Ra, Son of the Sun, Beloved of Ra, Lord of Crowns, Rameses Mer-Amen, His loving Lady, Queen and Princess, Nefer-ari has built a temple in the locality of Abbu by the waters. Grant him life forevermore.’EB 135.2

    “Throwing these epithets into a natural succession, ‘His Princess and Queen’ at once, we may ask, Does the first of these terms explain the romantic attachment, and offer the ground for the last? If so, the revelation is capable of a test which will either confirm or disprove it.EB 135.3

    “One step backward in her history would be a time when she had not yet assumed the title of Mer-en-Mut, ‘Beloved of the goddess Mut,’ just as her liege lord was proud to call himself Mer-Amen, ‘Beloved of Amen,’ and her son Mer-en-Ptah, ‘Beloved of the deity Ptah.’ And such a period is readily recovered. Among the bas-reliefs of West Silsilis this same queen may be observed occupied with the pious task of offering sacrifice to certain divinities. Here she is announced to the world as the ‘Royal Wife,’ and the ‘Great Royal Lady, Lady Ruler of the Two Lands,’ etc., while her cartouch reads merely ‘Nefer-ari.’ Her insignia are essentially the same, the plumes, etc., of Hathor, a coronet, but no ureus; and now she holds a sistrum in each hand high above the altars, upon which libation jars are standing. As a sistrum-player, ahi-t, and in the act of performing certain religious ceremonies before an altar, she again signalizes her membership in that holy order of priesthood to which only the wives and daughters of kings could being.EB 135.4

    “Another step backward in her history would be a time when she had not yet attained the position of queen or the title of ‘Royal Wife,’ but was known simply as ‘princess.’ Looking through the lists of royal daughters born to Rameses, among the troop depicted at Derr we find one little girl portrayed beneath the king, accompanied by his lion and about to despatch a group of prisoners, who lifts her arms on high and holds a sistrum in one hand, who wears a coronet, and bears the name of ‘Nefer-ari.’ On the walls of the Great Temple here at Abu Simbel she also appears, beneath a similar scene, and is recorded as ‘Nefer-tari’ by name ....EB 136.1

    “Let us estimate that the daughter of Pharaoh the Oppressor was not far from sweet sixteen when she found the little waif upon the Nile: at this time she was only the ‘Princess’ Nefer-ari, and the Bible is perfectly accurate in referring to her as ‘Pharaoh’s daughter.’ As Brugsch believes, this occurred in the sixth year of Ramases’s reign, who may then have been six and thirty years of age: we know that he had grown-up sons, who were assisting him in war, when he himself began to rule. On the other hand, votive tablets in our Hathor temple, dating from the thirty-eighth year of Rameses’s reign, would indicate forty-eight and sixty-eight as the ages of the royal couple when this sacred abode was finished and in constant use.EB 136.2

    “But in two or three or four or more years after her discovery of the ark in the flags by the river’s brink, the ‘Princess’ became the king’s peerless consort, and at first was distinguished by no other than her former name, the ‘Royal Wife’ Nefer-ari; but presently, for some reason best known to herself, she added a second appellation, Mer-en-Mut, the basis of the Thermuthis (T-mer-mut) of Greek historians.EB 136.3

    “Here lies the key of the strange procedure of Josephus, who first styles her ‘Daughter,’ then calls her ‘Thermuthis,’ and finally describes her as Co-regent in the administration of affairs.EB 136.4

    “And this very singularly clears up the records of other historians hitherto obscure. One of them, Georgius (Syncellus) calls Rameses ‘Amosis Pharao’—a close approximation, yet not a perfect echo, ‘Amosis’ having lost an initial R in its transit across the sea and two thousands of years. Besides, he relates, ‘The daughter of Pharao, Thermuthis, who was also called Pharia.’ Ah! this, too, has a familiar accent—‘Pharia’?—yet something is missing. What can it be? Again across the great sea and a space of twenty centuries ‘Pharia’ has lost an initial N: if Georgius’s record were to read ‘Nepharia,’ nothing would be wanting. Thus according to this authority, the full name of Pharaoh’s daughter was no less than Thermuthis Nefer-ari.EB 136.5

    “Another of them, Cedrenus, tells us how the daughter of Pharaoh was named ‘Muthidis,’ as well as Thermuthis, and ‘Phareis.’ Of course, as before, this ‘Phareis’ is a reduced survival of Nefer-ari, while ‘Muthidis’ stand as a fragment of Mer—Mut; and so in both combined we have represented about half of the long Egyptian designation Mer-en-Mut Nefer-ari.EB 137.1

    “Artapanus, also, was right, as far as he went, in saying that Pharao’s daughter bore the name of ‘Merrhis,’ which selects the other half of Meri-Mut. By putting the halves preserved by Cedrenus and Artapanus together, we get the whole of Mer-en-Mut after all.EB 137.2

    “Unconscious of all our perplexity in regard to her identity, the daughter of Pharaoh is silently waiting for recognition, in life-size and bold relief, upon the walls of Hathor’s grotto to-day.... She wears all the grace and majesty of a real queen: a marked refinement betrays her superiority in rank and race to everything natively Egyptian. The narrative of Josephus respecting the events which took place after Moses had ceased to be an infant, abundantly exhibits Thermuthis as active and influential in the government as any queen could be....EB 137.3

    “Even if his royal name had not been officially written by the high priest Pinotem upon his cerements, we would have been able readily to recognize and safely to identify the Great Rameses from his iconographic monuments.” 100[Page 137] Century, May, 1887, pp. 11-27.EB 137.4

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