Valley of the Kings

September 11, 2010

In previous posts we have featured Tut and Merneptah.  Both of these pharaohs were entombed in the Vally of the Kings at Thebes.

Tombs for Tut and Merneptah. Valley of the Kings. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The peak of al-Qurn dominates the Theban hills.

Al-Qurn. Valley of the Kings at Thebes. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

During the 16th trough 11th centuries BC this area was the burial grounds for the pharaohs and nobles of the New Kingdom, ancient Egypt’s 18th through 20 dynasties.  Sixty-three tombs have been discovered here.  My daughter and I were able to visit Merneptah’s tomb in 2003.  This is the approach.

Merneptah's Tomb. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

It was thrilling to me to go inside the tomb, realizing that this was the burial site for the pharaoh that mentioned Israel by name in the Merneptah stele.  That is the earliest reference to Israel outside the biblical text, and dates back to 1207 BC.  See our previous post.

Entrance to Merneptah Tomb. Valley of the Kings. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Photos inside the tomb were not permitted.  I did get to see the Merneptah’s elaborate sarcophagus cover.

Below is the view looking out from the tomb entrance.

View from outside Merneptah's tomb. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Remember to click on images for higher resolution.


Merneptah Stele

September 9, 2010

Merneptah, son of Rameses II, ruled Egypt 1213-1203 B.C.  The Merneptah Stele is an inscription of great archaeological and biblical importance.  It contains the first mention of Israel in a source besides the Bible.

Merneptah Stele. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The stele was discovered in 1896 at Thebes. 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 Tehenu 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-en-Ptah Hotep-her-Ma‘at, granted life like Re, daily. (BAR 16:05, Sept/Oct 1990).

Note: italics are supplied to emphasize the portion of the inscription that references the area of Canaan and Israel.

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. He wrote on his blog, “I thank God every day for the Merneptah Stele.” Go to:

http://www.bibleinterp.com/opeds/bolen357916.shtm

“The princes, prostrated, say ‘Shalom’;

None raises his head among the Nine Bows.

Now that Tehenu 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-en-Ptah Hotep-her-Ma‘at, granted life like Re, daily.”[i]


Editor, H. S. (2004; 2004). BAR 16:05 (Sep/Oct 1990). Biblical Archaeology Society.


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