The city of Beth-shemesh was given to the Levites when they were given their possession by lot in the days of Joshua, following the Conquest of Canaan (Josh. 21:16). Years later, during the days of the Judges, the Philistines captured the ark in battle with Israel (1 Sam. 4), but when they were divinely punished they allowed the ark to return. The two cows pulling the cart from Philistian Ekron “headed straight for the road to Beth-shemesh” (1 Sam. 6:12).
Later, in the days of the Divided Kingdom, King Amaziah (Judah) challenged King Jehoash (Israel) to battle. This may have been in retaliation for the destruction and looting carried out by the Israelite mercenaries Amaziah had hired, but then sent back home (2 Chron. 25:6-13). Beth-shemesh was the meeting point of the two armies, which resulted in Amaziah being soundly defeated. The theological reason is given by the inspired historian: “But Amaziah would not listen, for it was from God, that He might deliver them into the hand of Joash because they had sought the gods of Edom.” It was because of Amaziah’s idolatry that God orchestrated events to punish Amaziah. Ironically, it was after God had given Amaziah victory in battle against Edom that Amaziah then decided to worship the gods of Edom!
Ferrell Jenkins and I had the opportunity to briefly see Beth-shemesh this past March.
I’ve previously posted on Beth-shemesh here and here.
As we continue to explore some of the displays of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, we want to note the statue of Senenmut with Neferura.
Senemut is said to be the “most favoured person of the reign of Hatshepsut” and “was also the most influential” (The Egyptian Museum Cairo, eds. Prestel-Verlag & Philipp von Zabern, Cat. no. 132).
Hatshepsut was famous as the female pharaoh (c. 1490-1470 BC), ruling in Egypt’s 18th dynasty.
Senemut (also Senmut) was promoted to the highest official positions and was honored with more than eighty titles. He was overseer of the Queen’s household and chancellor of the King of Lower Egypt. He was tutor to the princess Neferura (also Neferure), Hatshepsut’s only child (who apparently died about the 11th year of Hatshepsut’s reign). She is the child depicted in our statue above.
Senemut was the chief architect in charge of the construction of Hatshepsut’s great temple at Deir el-Bahari, considered to be his masterpiece.
The temple is unique among the many temples of Egypt.
Immediately behind the temple and its mountains is the Valley of the Kings. Photo here below shows panoramic view of the Valley of the Kings.
Pharaoh Awibre’ Hor, (Auibra-Hor, Hor Auyibre) ruled during Egypt’s 13th Dynasty (c. 1760 BC). There are few remaining monuments dating from this period, but the burial site of Awibre’ Hor, the third king of this dynasty, was found at Dahshur near the pyramid of Amenemhet III. Though it is thought that his reign lasted only a matter of months, his burial site was intact and contained a wooden shrine with a life-size wooden ka-statue of Awibre’ Hor. Our photo shows the Pharaoh with the uplifted arms of the hieroglyphic sign ka in his head.
According to Egyptologist Dr. Bob Brier, in Egyptian religious thought, the ba was “part of the soul, usually represented as having he head of a man and the body of a bird.” The ka was “part of the deceased’s soul that is thought of as a double.”
The ancient Egyptians believed that each individual was composed of five elements of immaterial nature: shadow, the akh (the spiritual form assumed by the gods and the dead), the ba (bringer of power and an emblem of each individual’s personality), a name (the identifier of each person), and the ka (the vital strength in each individual.
To ensure the life of the decease would continue after death, it was necessary to supply food and drink to the ka which went on living in the mummified body and that took possession of it every now and then to assimilate the essence of the offerings lfet in the tomb.
The statues placed in the burial chamber personified the vital force of the deceased and as such constituted a physical support for the ka. This was the function of the elegant wooden statue of the pharaoh Auibra-Hor, on whose head two open arms were shown to represent the hieroglyph used to indicate the ka . . . The statue was found inside a small wooden naos near the pyramid of Amenemhat III.
The Illustrated guide to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, eds. Bongioanni and Croce, p. 125
In Egyptian mythology, the Ka “remains with the being even after his death; this is why it was important to preserve the body so that the ka could occupy it when it desired and continue its life in the next world. The Ka-statue received oblations presented on an offering table at the foot of the false door” (The Egyptian Museum Cairo, Prestel-Verlag and Philipp von Zabern, Cat. no 117).
“The inlaid eyes lend a lifelike appearance to his expressive face. The rims of the eyes are of bronze, the pupils of rock crystal and the whites of quartz” (Ibid.).
As we continue to explore some of the displays in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, we look at the shrine dedicated by Tutmosis III to the goddess Hathor at Deir-el-Bahari.
The goddess Hathor appears here in the form of a cow. This was excavated between the temples of Mentuhotep and Hatshepsut by E. Naville, of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1906, and dates to the 18th dynasty (New Kingdom), at the end of the reign of Tutmosis III (c. 1504-1450) and the beginning of the reign of Amenophis II (c. 1453-1409).
The painting in the back shows Tutmosis III (left) pouring a libation and burning incense to Amon-Re, seated (at right). The dark blue vaulted ceiling depicts the stars of heaven.
The cult of the Sacred Cow was long associated with Hathor, the goddess of the Theban necropolis. Hatshepsut dedicated her sanctuary to the goddess. Prior to its excavation, earthquakes had buried the entrance to the chapel of the Sacred Cow.
The statue of the sacred cow in our photo bears the name of Tutmosis’s successor, Amenophis II. He is here depicted as crouching beneath the head of the sculpture. Hathor is surrounded by papyrus stems. She wears the Hathoric horns with the sun disk and a uraeus serpent on her forehead.
Excavations at the temple of Horus at Hierakonpolis (ancient Nekhen) on the west bank of the Nile (north of Aswan, and south of Edfu), produced some remarkable finds, including a hollow-cast copper statue of Pepi I.
Pepi I had a lengthy reign of about 50 years (c. 2283-2287 BC). His reign is in Dynasty 6, Old Kingdom. Numerous inscriptions record his influence and wealth.
“It is from Pepi’s funerary monument that the modern name of Memphis derives. His pyramid was called Mn-nfr, ‘[Pepi is] established and good'” (Clayton, Chronicles of the Pharaohs, p. 66).
To keep things interesting, Pepi married two daughters of a provincial prince of Abydos who both had the same name, Ankhnesmerire.
Pepi’s pyramid is at South Saqqara, and is badly smashed.
Merneptah, son of Rameses II, ruled Egypt 1213-1203 B.C., in the 19th Dynasty. The Merneptah Stele, made of granit, is an inscription of great archaeological and biblical importance. It contains the first mention of Israel in a source besides the Bible. On our recent tour of Egypt, this is one of the main artifacts I wanted our group to see and photograph while visiting the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The stele was discovered in 1896 at Thebes by F. Petrie in 1896. It is 7.5 feet high, and made of black granite. It is displayed now in the Egyptian Museum at Cairo. The inscription includes the lines:
The princes, prostrated, say "Shalom";
None raises his head among the Nine Bows,
Now that Tenhenu has come to ruin, Hatti is pacified.
Canaan has been plundered into every sort of woe. Ashkelon
has been overcome.
Gezer has been captured.
Yano'am was made non-existent.
Israel is laid waste (and) his seed is not.
Hurru has become a widow because of Egypt.
All lands have united themselves in peace.
Anyone who was restless, he has been subdued by the King
of Upper and Lower Egypt, Ba-en-Re-mery-Amun, son
of Re, Mer-ne Ptah Hotep-her-Ma'at, granted life like
Re, daily. (Frank Yurco, BAR, 16:05, Sept/Oct 1990)
The date of this inscription would be about 1207 B.C. By that point in time, Israel was established in the land of Canaan to such an extent that it would be included in a listing of nations defeated by the world’s most powerful monarch.
Many “scholars” deny that Israel even existed as a nation by this point in time, but the inscription proves them to be wrong.
For further reading I recommend Todd Bolen’s article in The Bible and Interpretation. Go to:
At the top of the stele there are two engraved scenes in which Pharaoh Merneptah is wearing ceremonial dress and offers Amun-Ra the reaping hook that symbolized victory and scepters of royalty. In the first scene Merneptah is followed by the goddess ut and in the second by the god Khonsu. Both were members of the Theban triads of gods with Amun-Ra.
Pharaoh Menkaura/Mycerinus was the builder of the 3rd pyramid at Giza, Egypt. The triad of Menkaura represents the Pharaoh at center, wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt. To his right is the goddess Hathor. To his left is Waset representing the 4th Nome of Upper Egypt). This rendering is from a single block of stone. More statues survive of Menkaure than those of his 4th Dynasty predecessors.
Pictured here is the Pyramid of Menkaura:
At left can be seen a portion of the pyramid of Cheops. To the far right are three subsidiary pyramids. Menkaure’s chief queen, Khamerernebty II, was entombed in the larger of the three.
And to close this post, a photo of my wife & me:
In the background can be seen from left to right, the pyramid of Cheops, Chephren and Menkaure.
Egypt’s 4th Dynasty was founded by Snefru c. 2613 BC. His son Cheops (Khufu) succeeded him, and is the builder of the largest of the great pyramids, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Cheops’s reign is dated c. 2589-2566 BC. This tiny statue depicts the king wearing the crown of Lower Egypt. This artifact was discovered by Flinders Petrie in the Osiris temple at Abydos in 1903. “In a curious inverse ratio we find that the smallest statue represents the builder of the greatest pyramid, while some of the finest multiple statues extant from the Old Kingdom represent the builder of the smallest of the Giza pyramids, Menkaure (fifth ruler of the 4th Dynasty)” (Chronicles, Clayton, p. 49.
Cheops’s Great Pyramid is located on the Giza plateau. Originally reaching 481 feet, it was the tallest building in the world until the 19th century AD, an architectural record that stood for 4 1/2 thousand years. There are said to be 2,300,000 building blocks averaging about 2 1/2 tons.
Here is my group photo (Oct. 19, 2022) at the pyramids of Giza.
At far left you can see the Great Pyramid of Cheops. At left center you see the pyramid of Chephren (Khafra/Khafre), which appears to be taller, but is in fact on higher ground. At far right is the pyramid of Mycerinus.
In this post we will give consideration to the first of the pyramid Builders, in the context of Egypt’s Old Kingdom (2686-2181 BC). For your convenience we share the following chart (keep in mind that dates are approximate and may vary):
“Djoser’s pyramid and its surrounding mortuary complex is recognized as the first stone building in the world” (Chronicles of the Pharaoh’s, by Peter Clayton, p. 33), built by his vizier, Imhotep. Though begun “as a simple tomb, the structure was enlarged in height and breadth on five occasions, eventually rising to its present 197 feet. Unlike Egypt’s other pyramids, the Step Pyramid was built with comparatively small limestone blocks” (BAR Nov/Dec 1990, Richard Nowitz).
The pyramid, known as the Step Pyramid, began as a mastaba (an ancient Egyptian tomb rectangular in shape with sloping sides and a flat roof) “but was subsequently subject to several major enlargements, adding one mastaba upon another, until it consisted of six unequal steps rising t to 204 ft 962 m). Its base area is 358 X 411 ft (109 X 125 m)” (Clayton, p. 34).
A statue of King Djoser is displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It is thought to be the oldest life-size statue from Egypt.
The statue was found in a small chapel on the north face of the pyramid.
We should note that many have the mistaken notion that the Israelites were used as slave labor to build the pyramids. The pyramids were built some centuries before Israel came into being. They were built prior to the time of Abraham!