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.
Having just returned from a 12-day tour of Egypt, I want to share some of our photos in upcoming posts, beginning with some from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
One of the very significant displays considered to be “of major artistic and historical importance” (Illustrated Guide to the Egyptian Museum, eds. Bongioanni and Croce, p. 28, discussed in “Protodynastic and Predynastic Periods”) is the Narmer Palette. This votive tablet “is the earliest record from Egypt (Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Clayton, p.18).
Gary Byers wrote:
More than 100 years ago, archaeologists excavated an ancient Egyptian temple in the Upper Egyptian city of Hierakonpolis. Here they discovered a stone palette used to grind cosmetics, with carving on both sides. One side had the picture of a man wearing the crown of Upper Egypt, and the other side had a man wearing the crown of Lower Egypt. Scholars decided the picture on each side was the same man, and his name was Narmer. This was the earliest representation of anyone wearing the crowns of both Upper and Lower Egypt. It suggests that this was the first king of a united Egypt.
Byers, G. A. (2003). The Scorpion King. Bible and Spade, 15(3), 28.
The hieroglyphs of the royal name are a mud fish depicted horizontally above a vertical chisel, read as the name of Narmer (Chronicles, 18). He is shown in as wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt (the hedjet) and the Red Crown of Lower Egypt (dishret), indicating that he is now king of both lands, i.e., the unification of the country is commemorated. Narmer is presented as a victorious king, smiting a prisoner with his mace. This became an icon of majesty from ancient Egyptian history down to Roman times.
At the top are facing heads of the cow-faced goddess Hathor. The Horus falcon is depicted in front of Narmer.
On the obverse of the Palette the king is escorted by officials towards two rows of decapitated corpses.
In our previous post we featured the Sphinx of Amenemhat III (ca. 1859-1813), who ruled during the time of the biblical patriarchs. This unique colossal bust of Amenemhat III was found on the site of the ancient capital of The Fayum, Shedet (the Crocodilopolis of the Greeks). The Pharaoh is dressed in a panther skin, with its head and paws lying on the king’s shoulders. A double band across his chest passes under the menat collar worn about his neck. The upper portion of two scepters terminating in falcon heads are visible on each side of his head.
The Egyptian Museum also displays a double statue of Amenemhat III as a Nile god, “The offering bearers of Tanis.”
In this double statue, Amenemhat III is represented as the Nile god bearing all the nourishment indispensable to life. One explanation of the doubling of the king is that the two figures represent him as ruler of both Upper and Lower Egypt. Others suggest that one image depicts the reigning king and the other his deified counterpart.
During his long reign, Amenemhet III had almost continual turquoise mining expeditions in the Sinai. More than fifty rock inscriptions have been found there referencing this. He was the last great ruler of the Middle Kingdom.
I note in Todd Bolen’s BiblePlaces Blog that photography “is once again permitted in the Egyptian Museum with purchase of a camera ticket.” The Egyptian Museum is located at Cairo, and for many years photos have not been permitted. See here.
I was able to visit the museum in 2003 when photos were permissible.
King Tut’s Funerary Mask. Egyptian Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
Tutankhamun was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (ruled c. 1332–1323 BC in the conventional chronology), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. He is colloquially referred to as King Tut. His original name, Tutankhaten, means “Living Image of Aten”, while Tutankhamun means “Living Image of Amun”. In hieroglyphs, the name Tutankhamun was typically written Amen-tut-ankh, because of a scribal custom that placed a divine name at the beginning of a phrase to show appropriate reverence. He is possibly also the Nibhurrereya of the Amarna letters, and likely the 18th dynasty king Rathotis who, according to Manetho, an ancient historian, had reigned for nine years—a figure that conforms with Flavius Josephus’s version of Manetho’s Epitome.
The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter and George Herbert of Tutankhamun’s nearly intact tomb received worldwide press coverage. It sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun’s mask, now in the Egyptian Museum, remains the popular symbol. Exhibits of artifacts from his tomb have toured the world. In February 2010, the results of DNA tests confirmed that he was the son of Akhenaten (mummy KV55) and Akhenaten’s sister and wife (mummy KV35YL), whose name is unknown but whose remains are positively identified as “The Younger Lady” mummy found in KV35. The “mysterious” deaths of a few of those who excavated Tutankhamun’s tomb has been popularly attributed to the curse of the pharaohs. (Wikipedia).
See my previous posts re: the Egyptian Museum here and here. Additionally I have a post on the Valley of the Kings where Tut’s tomb was found. Click here.