A Critical Commentary to Chapter IV of "Ages in Chaos"
Dr Danelius (Dr Rerum Politicarum, University of Tübingen) has lived in Israel for many years and attended courses on Egyptian and Semitic languages and on Biblical Hebrew at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the University of Tel Aviv. She has published articles in numerous journals, including JEA, JNES, Beth Mikra and KRONOS.
This paper is based on one submitted to the Anthology of essays presented to Dr Velikovsky by the Center for Velikovskian and Interdisciplinary Studies, Glassboro, N.J., on December 5th, 1975 and edited by Robert H. Hewsen, Professor of History at Glassboro State College. The subheadings were added by the editor, who wishes to express his thanks to Malcolm Lowery for the valuable assistance he gave in the preparation of the manuscript.
Velikovsky claims that Shishak, who looted Solomon's Temple in the reign of Rehoboam, was not the Libyan Shoshenk I, but Thutmose III of the XVIIIth Dynasty. How well can this claim be reconciled with the evidence of the Bible and the records of Thutmose III?
For the student of Biblical history, the most alluring chapter in Velikovsky's book Ages in Chaos is that dealing with Pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt, of the famous XVIIIth Dynasty (1).
According to the story as told by Egyptologists, this pharaoh, in the end year of his reign - supposed to correspond to the year 1479 BC (2) - embarked on a military expedition into Syria in order to fight a coalition of Syrian princes under the leadership of a "King of Kd-sw", who had risen against him. The campaign ended with the overwhelming victory of the Pharaoh who returned to Egypt laden with spoil from the conquered lands.
After his return, the story of this campaign was cut, in hieroglyphs, into the walls of the great Temple at Karnak (Upper Egypt), and illustrated with pictures showing not only the flora and fauna of the defeated country, but, in addition, about 200 different specimens of furniture, vessels, ornaments etc., in gold, silver, bronze and precious stones - each specimen representing many more items of the same kind (3). The character of these objects leaves no doubt that they had been taken from a great and extremely rich temple and palace.
Now, the greater part of Thutmose's report is dedicated to the fight for a city My-k-ty (now read Mkty), its siege and final surrender. In their search for a city written this wav in hieroglyphs, Egyptologists decided that My-k-ty must be the transcription of the name of Megiddo, a city in the Plain of Esdraelon well known from the Old Testament.
At the time when this identification was suggested and accepted, Palestinian archaeology was still in its infancy. Since then, however, an evergrowing number of Canaanite cities of that period have been excavated, partly with their sanctuaries still intact. Nowhere, absolutely nowhere, has any trace been found or any single object discovered comparable to the creations of superb workmanship brought home by Thutmose III from his first campaign into Palestine, and portrayed on the walls of the Temple at Karnak.
The problem of the provenance of the spoil is further aggravated by the observation that some of the objects pictured in the murals were unquestionably of Egyptian workmanship: there are pieces of furniture decorated with the royal uraeus, the serpent of the pharaohs; vessels are formed like the lotus flower, symbol of Upper Egypt; others are decorated with the ram's head of the Egyptian god Amun, and those of other Egyptian animal-gods. An especially beautiful crater [bowl] shows the pharaoh in his chariot, drawing his bow, on one side, and the same pharaoh driving his chariot on the other (4).
According to common consent, Thutmose III was the first pharaoh to conquer Megiddo. If so, how to explain the fact that this 15th century Canaanite fortress harboured not only such tremendous amounts of treasures of gold, silver, bronze and precious stones, but among them objects of Egyptian workmanship scarcely surpassed in exquisiteness of design and execution by those known to us from Egypt, be it through actual finds, or from reproductions?
This, then, seems to be one of the problems to which Velikovsky's "revised chronology" may offer an acceptable solution. According to this chronology, Thutmose III did not live in the 15th century BC, but in the 10th. If so, says Velikovsky, the possibility must be considered that it was Thutmose III of the XVIIIth Egyptian Dynasty who plundered Solomon's Temple, and not Pharaoh Sheshonk I of the XXIInd Dynasty, as commonly accepted (5); and that the treasures shown on the murals at Karnak are "the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house" mentioned in the Bible (6). Consequently, the "King of Kd-sw" (=Kadesh) should be Rehoboam, whose capital Jerusalem was also called "Ir ha-Kodesh" and "Ir Kodsho" - in English: "The Holy city" and "The city of His Holiness".
Bible in hand, Velikovsky compares the objects shown on the murals with those made for and brought into Solomon's Temple: "Piece by piece the altars and vessels of Solomon's Temple can be identified on the wall of Karnak," is his conclusion. The provenance of objects of Egyptian workmanship among the spoil is easily explained by their having been taken from the palace which Solomon had built for Pharaoh's daughter's, his Egyptian wife (7).
Enticing as these observations appear to the layman, they have been rejected out of hand by every expert on Egyptology, ancient history and ancillary fields. This writer comes from a totally different discipline. In my profession as an economist and statistician, experience has shown me that it is mostly the discarded figure, that which does not comply with the norm, which holds the solution to a thorny problem. Besides, by a curious coincidence, I had approached the problem of the so-called "Battle of Megiddo" from a totally different angle many years before Velikovsky's books were written, and his unorthodox approach seemed tempting enough to be taken seriously and to justify a critical investigation.
Before concentrating on the problem just outlined, some explanatory remarks on Velikovsky's "revised chronology" may be welcome (8).
To the great disappointment of the Egyptologists, history books of the kind preserved in the Old Testament or those composed by Greek historians have never been found among the countless documents discovered in Egypt. "What is proudly advertised as Egyptian history is merely a collection of rags and tatters," complains the eminent Egyptologist Sir Alan Gardiner (9). But even such a collection requires some framework - and this is the task of chronology. But how does one build a chronology from a maze of separate and sometimes contradictory statements made over millennia? Thus it happened that a chronology was compiled by modern historians and Egyptologists, the validity of which has been challenged from the day of its birth at the beginning of our century. Gardiner, for example, uses it for purely pragmatic purposes: "... to abandon 1786 B.C. as the year when Dynasty XII ended would be to cast adrift from our only firm anchor, a course that would have serious consequences for the history, not of Egypt alone, but of the entire Middle East," writes Gardiner, when dealing with "the difficult topic of chronology" (10).
The scheme commonly applied is that of a calendar tied to the fixed star called Spdt in Egyptian, Sothis in Greek, and Sirius by the Romans - the English "Dog star" . The star becomes visible in Egypt about the time when the Nile begins to rise - the most important event for a country the productivity of whose fields depended on the annual Nile Flood. After having tied the calendar to a fixed star, it became possible, through most complicated mathematical and astronomical observations and operations in combination with Egyptian texts, to secure so-called "astronomically fixed dates" for some pharaohs. In this way the reign of Thutmose III, including that of Thutmose II and Queen Hatshepsut, was "astronomically fixed" as from May 3, 1501 to March 17, 1447 BC (11).
Needless to say, such a chronology is rather far from historical reality. Winlock characterised the situation rather bitingly: "The ancient Egyptians, from the Old Kingdom to the Roman period, have not left a single trace of such a fixed calendar. Of the thousands which have survived from dynastic Egypt, not one document gives equivalent dates in the known 'wandering' year and the hypothetical 'fixed' year. Furthermore, by the time that relations with the outside world were such as to result in unprejudiced foreign evidence on the customs of Egypt, we find the Egyptians both ignorant of, and unreceptive to, the idea." (12)
Some Egyptologists, therefore, warn their students that, notwithstanding the enormous amount of thought, knowledge, diligence and perseverance devoted to the problem of Egyptian chronology and history, the end product may be rather far from historical reality, and that the dates given should be used with mental reservations in the hope that a more satisfying solution may be found one day. Unfortunately, the warning is heeded rarely.
The alternative offered by Velikovsky to this complicated chronology is far more simple and convincing. Velikovsky deals mainly with the first millennium BC, though starting earlier from the so-called second Intermediate Period and the rise of the XVIIIth Dynasty. During the first millennium BC, the Egyptians observed the Venus year. "The Egyptian calendar of 365 days was tied to Venus so that every eighth year the heliacal rising of that planet fell on the first day of the month Thot: it was the New Year." (13). It was the same calendar as that observed by, among others, the Greeks, the Incas, and certain American Indians.
Velikovsky ascribed the confusion to an erroneous interpretation of the bilingual (Greek and Egyptian) Decree of Canopus (237 BC), which "speaks not only of the star Spdt [Sothis] .... but also of the star of Isis - and very mistakenly the scholarly world assumed that both names belonged to the same star", while, as Velikovsky proves convincingly, the "star of Isis" is not a fixed star, but the planet Venus.
The consequences for Egyptian chronology are obvious: "The confusion of Venus with Sirius renders obsolete the astronomical computations made for Egyptian chronology."
Having thus freed Egyptian chronology from the straitjacket of the Sothic theory, Velikovsky started rebuilding the history of the period known as the New Kingdom, which opens with the pharaohs of the XVIIIth Dynasty.
Starting with the Biblical story of the ten plagues, Velikovsky was convinced that among the mass of written documents preserved in Egypt must be some reflecting the same event. After a long search he came across one such document, the so-called "Papyrus Ipuwer", which has been dated to the Second Intermediate Period. Proceeding from there, Velikovsky looked for further parallels in the history of the two peoples. According to him, the Israelites left Egypt at the beginning of that period, which was characterised, in Egypt, by the rule of a conqueror from Asia, the Hyksos. The years of wandering in the desert, the Conquest of the Land by Joshua, and the wars with neighbouring tribes under the Judges, correspond to the length of Hyksos rule in Egypt. And at the time when Egypt became re-united under a native pharaoh, the founder of the XVIIIth Dynasty, Israel united under its first King, Saul.
It follows that the great pharaohs of the XVIIIth Dynasty, Queen Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, were contemporaries of King Solomon, and that Thutmose III survived into the days of Solomon's son Rehoboam.
After this digression, we may now return to Velikovsky's interpretation of the story inscribed on the walls at Karnak, telling of the victorious campaign of Pharaoh Thutmose III - this being the name under which he appears in modern books - into Asia.
According to Velikovsky, the time is the10th century BC, the town conquered and plundered is Jerusalem, its king is Rehoboam, son of King Solomon. If so, Thutmose must be the pharaoh called Shishak in the Bible.
Herodotus, the Greek historian who visited Egypt around 450 BC, learnt the story from the Egyptian priests; he calls the pharaoh Sesostris (14). Josephus, the Jewish historian of the 1st century AD, quotes Herodotus and confirms his story but for the name: according to Josephus the pharaoh's name was Isokos (15). The same pharaoh, however, is also named 'Susakos" by Josephus, and this is the name given him in the Septuagint too (16). And Jewish legend reads: "Shishak. His real name was Zebub, 'fly', and he is called Shishak (from Shuk, 'desire') because he longed for the death of Solomon whom he feared to attack." Finally, the name "Tuthmosis" is but the Greek version of the Egyptian name Dhwty-ms, meaning "Thoth is born" (18).
Could it be that the name "Zebub" (fly) was also not the real name of the pharaoh, as assumed by Jewish legend, but an expression of the bewilderment and hatred of the beleaguered citizens who looked with abhorrence from their walls at the fantastic creature on the royal standard in the middle of the Egyptian army?
It may be worth mentioning, too, that Gardiner himself draws attention to the fact that "royal names are apt to be incredibly distorted", even when transmitted by an Egyptian (the priest Manetho, 3rd century BC) (19).
Concerning the pharaoh's name, therefore, it seems warranted to give Velikovsky the benefit of the doubt: the difference in names may not exclude the possibility that Velikovsky's interpretation of the murals is the correct one.
The situation is totally different when dealing with Velikovsky's claim that the "King of Kd-sw" (Kadesh), who participated in the fight at Megiddo, was Rehoboam, King of Judah. Such participation was a physical impossibility at that specific moment of Israelite history.
The town Megiddo is first mentioned in the Book of Joshua as a Canaanite town. It was included in the territory of Manasseh, the northern of the two tribes of Joseph. It was one of the towns whose Canaanite inhabitants continued to dwell there under Israelite rule (20). Centuries later, Megiddo is mentioned as one of the cities refortified by King Solomon (21).
Biblical Megiddo has been identified with a mound on the eastern slopes of the Carmel mountain overlooking the valley of Esdraelon. The mound has been extensively excavated and the Biblical statements verified. Megiddo is about 90 km (ca. 56 miles) north of Jerusalem as the crow flies: the actual distance may be estimated at 140-150 km of difficult going through wild and mountainous country.
According to the reconstruction suggested by Velikovsky, the fighting took place in the fifth year after the partition of Solomon's realm into two kingdoms. The first question to be answered, therefore, is: what do we know about the political situation of the region in the 10th century BC?
Political relations between the neighbouring kingdoms of the Hebrews, and of Egypt, had already deteriorated during the later years of King Solomon's reign. In his youth, King Solomon "made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David" (I Kings 3:1). As a dowry, she was given the city of Gezer, after the Pharaoh had taken it (I Kings 9:16). The marriage was childless, i.e. she never bore Solomon a male child - a fact that in Oriental countries is still considered disgraceful for a woman, and which must have been a source of acute disappointment to all concerned, including the Pharaoh, her father. Though she remained the official "First Wife", there is little doubt that the Egyptian princess had to give way, in reality, to the Ammonite princess who bore Solomon the needed heir to the throne.
No wonder, therefore, that the Pharaoh embarked on a less friendly course when "the Lord stirred up adversaries unto Solomon" (I Kings 11:14, 23, 26). Two of them fled to Egypt and asked the Pharaoh for asylum: Hadad, the Prince of Edom, and Jeroboam the Ephraimite. Both were made most heartily welcome, married to princesses of the royal Egyptian court and attached to the inner family circle of the Pharaoh (I Kings 11:20; Septuagint III Reg. XII, 24e) (22).
The Empire of the Hebrews, which David had taken such great pains to build, fell to pieces immediately after the death of his son King Solomon. Hadad seems to have returned and conquered Edom even before King Solomon's death - or, at all events, immediately thereafter (I Kings 11:22). Jeroboam was sent for and called back to his native Ephraim by the elders of the ten Northern tribes to be made "King over all Israel". Rehoboam, Solomon's son and successor, was left with his native tribe of Judah alone (I Kings 1:13; 12:20).
Rehoboam had lost an empire. Now he did everything possible to ensure the safety of the tiny kingdom with which he was left. Anticipating an invasion, Rehoboam put his country into a state of defence (II Chron. 11:5-12): he closed off all the roads and defiles leading up into "the high rocky fortress of Judaea" (23) with a semi-circle of fifteen fortresses, he "put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine . . . shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong", to withstand a prolonged siege.
Rehoboam was well advised to do so, being surrounded by enemies of the House of David: in the south Edom, in the west the lands of the five Philistine kings, and in the north the Israelites, who had just successfully rebelled against him. The only road which he kept open was that which led via Jericho and the fords of the Jordan to the Ammonites, to whom he was related through his mother (I Kings 14:21), and from whom he could hope for help against a foreign invader.
Curiously enough, the Bible does not mention any fortress which would protect Judah's northern border against Israel. This gap is filled by Josephus, who reports that Rehoboam, after completing the strongholds in the territory of Judah, constructed walled cities in the territory of Benjamin, which bordered Judah to the north (24).
While the king of Judah prepared for defence, the Pharaoh prepared for an attack.
The Egyptian pharaoh who conquered Jerusalem during Rehoboam's reign has been identified with Sheshonk I, who had a list of Palestinian cities inscribed on the Temple walls at Karnak. The list is most fragmentary, and it is doubtful whether it refers to a campaign at all. Most of the discernible names refer to localities in northern Palestine, which, in Shishak's time, belonged to the Kingdom of Israel. The name "Jerusalem" does not appear at all. Some scholars maintain, therefore, that the main attack was not launched against Judah, but against Israel, which suffered serious destruction (25). This contention, however, can only be upheld by scholars who are willing to sacrifice the reliability of the Bible (and of Josephus) - which this writer refuses to do (26).
The Masoretic Text which has come down to us was written by Judaeans hundreds of years after the Kingdom of Israel had ceased to exist. The Judaeans hated this kingdom and its first king, Jeroboam the heretic. The redactors of the text would have been only too glad to report that Jeroboam was punished for his heresy, that it was his land that was conquered, his capital which was plundered, and the temple at Beth-El that was despoiled. - There is not a word of this, but definite proof to the contrary.
While Rehoboam was feverishly preparing his country for war, Jeroboam indulged in entirely peaceful activities. He built a royal palace at Shechem in the hope of making it his capital. He built a second one at Pnuel (27). And he embarked on a religious revolution which weakened the military capacity of his country considerably (28). During all those years, Jeroboam was certainly as well aware of the military preparations going on in Egypt as was his southern neighbour the king of Judah. It seems that Jeroboam judged the situation correctly, as far as his kingdom was concerned: no unfriendly act of the Pharaoh against Israel is as much as hinted at by the Chronicler, who reports:-
And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord ... And he took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah, and came to Jerusalem ... So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house; he took all ... (II Chron. 12:1-2, 4, 9)
An even more detailed account has been preserved by Josephus, who closes with the words: "This done, he [i.e. the Pharaoh] returned to his own country." Neither source mentioned any hostility against Israel.
The Battle of Megiddo?
We now turn to the Egyptian records quoted by Velikovsky, the so-called "annals" of Thutmose III carved on the walls of the Great Temple of Amon at Karnak.
The first Egyptologist who read the inscription was Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832), the same who only a few years earlier (1822) had succeeded in solving the riddle of Egyptian hieroglyphs. When he came to the name of the town besieged and conquered by the Pharaoh -[hieroglyphics] Mkty-, he searched in his memory for a Biblical name that might lie behind this transcription. At that time detailed knowledge of the geography of the Holy Land was more or less confined to the Holy places and the pilgrims' roads which led to them. One of the fortresses whose name was usually known to the average Christian was Megiddo, not only because of its repeated mention in the Old Testament, but maybe also because of its possible connection with the "Armageddon" of Revelation (Rev. 16:16).
Champollion's identification was accepted by Lepsius (1810-1884), who was the first to publish the text, and by all the later Egyptologists who worked on it. Today, nearly 150 years after the first reading, it has almost become an axiom, and is treated as such by all concerned - historians, archaeologists and scholars of ancillary disciplines - a self-evident truth which needs no scientific investigation.
At the time when the first translations of the Egyptian text were made, the exact site of the Biblical Megiddo was unknown. Nor was a knowledge of it necessary for the interpretation of the text, which was ascribed to a time hundreds of years before the Children of Israel entered their Promised Land. The situation is totally different, however, the moment we start to investigate Velikovsky's claim that Thutmose III was identical with the Pharaoh Shishak of the Bible, and his campaign the one whose results were described by the Chronicler in the lines just quoted. As shown above, Megiddo was a fortress in the heart of Jeroboam's empire, and no siege or conquest by a foreign power during his reign has ever been mentioned in the Scriptures or by Josephus.
We are left, therefore, with the choice between two possibilities: either we rebut Velikovsky's claim out of hand, or we scrutinise anew the text of the Annals - or what remains of them, before the additions inserted by their interpreters - with special consideration for the identification of geographical names mentioned by the Egyptian narrator. In other words: we attack the axiomatic nature of the interpretation, which transfers the campaign to Megiddo and its environs.
In this paper, the reader is invited to follow the writer on the rather demanding second way. To anticipate the result: I think it can be proved that Velikovsky's claim is justified, and that the revised interpretation opens new horizons undreamt of before.
A hieroglyphic text, carved into the wall of a famous and much frequented Temple about 3,000 years ago, does not survive undamaged. And this is how Breasted described it when he started working on it around the turn of the century:
"They [the Annals] are in a very bad state of preservation, the upper courses having mostly disappeared, and with them the upper parts of the vertical lines of the inscription." (29)
Detailed information about the length of the various gaps is provided by Sethe, who worked on a critical edition of the Egyptian original during the same years that Breasted worked on its translation into English. Gaps noted by Sethe vary from a few centimetres to more than 1.75 metres! (30) In addition, even the signs which remained were sometimes damaged and their reading open to question. Add to this the enormous difficulty of translating an Oriental text into a European language which differs from it fundamentally in its vocabulary, syntax etc. and its evaluation of events, and it will be understood how questionable all these translations actually are. No wonder, therefore, that the more important of these inscriptions induced every new generation of Egyptologists to try and produce a more complete rendering of the original.
Another pitfall for the translator is the licence to fill gaps not overly long with words which might have stood there, according to his - very subjective - ideas. Such words might have been taken from similar inscriptions where they have been preserved; or the translator/interpreter simply counts the number of missing "groups" and tries to fill the gap as best he can with fitting words of a similar length. Though these insertions by the translator have to be put in brackets as a warning to students, it happens only too often, especially when provided by a famous teacher, that in the end they are treated with the same respect as the original.
The translation of the Annals used by Velikovsky for his reconstruction of Thutmose III's First Campaign was that published by Breasted in his Records. It was the best translation available at the time (31). Textual criticism in this essay will, therefore, be confined to the text as published in the Records.
For Breasted, the identification of the fortress conquered by Thutmose with Biblical Megiddo was a fact not to be doubted. And his interpretation of the - very fragmentary - text was determined by this fact. It should not be forgotten, either, that Breasted's outlook was that of a l9th century American, a romantic who had never seen war. His great hero was Thutmose III, the "genius which ... reminds us of an Alexander or a Napoleon": "His commanding figure, towering like an embodiment of righteous penalty among the trivial plots and treacherous schemes of the petty Syrian dynasts, must have clarified the atmosphere of oriental politics as a strong wind drives away miasmic vapours." (32) Breasted's History, which was completed at the same time as the Records, is not a strictly academic work. It was intended for the interested lay reader. In it, Breasted filled the gaps in the ancient texts as best he could, using imagination where facts were missing. Ten pages were dedicated to a somewhat fanciful description of Thutmose's first campaign into Asia, enlarging on the story preserved in the murals and, in a way, forming a commentary on them. At the same time they throw light on the man behind the translation.
Before embarking on a critical survey of Breasted's translation, it cannot be stressed too strongly that it is not intended here to present a revised translation of the text. Such a task must be left to the expert who is familiar with the newest developments in Egyptian philology. Criticism will be confined to additions or interpretations by the translator which do not seem justified by the original.
The story, as told by Breasted, starts in the 22nd year of Pharaoh's reign, "fourth month of the second season", when he crossed the boundary of Egypt (Records, sec. 415). There had been a rebellion against the Pharaoh in the city of Sharuhen, known from the Bible: the city had been allocated to the tribe of Simon, inside the territory of Judah (Josh. 19:6). Nine days later was "the day of the feast of the king's coronation", which meant the beginning of a new year, year 23. He spent it at the city "which the ruler seized", G3-d3-tw, understood to be Gaza (sec. 417) (33). He left Gaza the very next day
(16) in power, in triumph, to overthrow that wretched foe, to extend (17) the boundaries of Egypt, according **to the command of his father the valiant**(18) that he seize. Year 23, first month of the third season, on the sixteenth day, at the city of Yehem (Y-hm), he ordered [GAP - one word] (19) consultation with his valiant troops... (secs. 418-420)
Whether or not there had been a revolt is open to question. Modern history is full of examples where pretexts were not lacking when aggression was planned. Sharuhen in the northern Negeb was a border-city against Bedouin over whom the pharaoh may have claimed suzerainty. Against this the city of Gaza seems to have been friendly to the Pharaoh. In the 10th century BC Gaza was one of the five Philistine cities deadly hostile to the House of David. They may have consented to serve as a base for the Egyptian army, though not participating in the fighting.
The attentive reader will have observed that there is no gap in the middle of line 18. Nevertheless, Breasted inserted before the words "at the city of Y-hm" in brackets: "(he arrived)" (sec. 419). In his History of Egypt he goes much more into detail: "Marching along the Shephela and through the sea-plain, he crossed the plain of Sharon, turning inland as he did so, and camped on the evening of May 10th (34) at Yehem, a town of uncertain location, some eighty or ninety miles from Gaza, on the southern slopes of the Carmel range." (pp. 286/7)
Not a word of all this appears in the Egyptian text. All that the text says is that the Pharaoh spent one night at a city which has been identified with Gaza, and that nine days later he held a consultation with his officers at another place of which we know absolutely nothing. All else is guesswork. Its only justification, in the eyes of the translator, lies in the fact that it brings the army to the place where it should be if the location of the city to be conquered, My-k-ty, was in the Valley of Esdraelon. Quod erat demonstrandum.
Details of this highly dramatic war counsel have been preserved in the following 30 lines of the text, which are given here in Breasted's translation (beginning at the end of line 19), but without his restorations and additions:-
... saying as follows: That [GAP] enemy (20)of Kd-sw has come (35) to My-k-ty;* he [GAP] (21)at this moment. He has gathered to himself the chiefs of [GAP] countries (22)on the water of Egypt (36), as far as N-h-ry-n [GAP of 23cm.] (23)the H3-rw, the Kdw, their horses, their troops [GAP of ca. 23cm.] (24)thus he speaks, "I have arisen to [LONG GAP] (37) (25)in My-k-ty Tell ye me [LONG GAP]." (26)They spoke in the presence of his majesty, "How is it to go [GAP] (27)on this road which threatens to be narrow? (38) While they [GAP] (28)say that the enemy is there waiting [LONG GAP] (29)way against a multitude. Will not horse come behind horse [GAP] (30)man likewise? Shall our vanguard be fighting while our [GAP: rearguard?] is yet standing yonder (31)in '3-rw-n3 not having fought? (39) There are [GAP] two roads: (33)one road, behold, it [GAP] come forth at (34)T3-'3-n3-k3, the other behold, it is to (35)the way north of Df-ty, so that we shall come out to the north (40) of My-k-ty. (36)Let our victorious lord proceed upon [GAP] he desires [GAP] (37)cause us not to go by a difficult (41) road [GAP]. (38)[ONLY TWO WORDS PRESERVED:]... messengers... design (39)they had uttered, in view of what had been said by (42) the majesty of the Court, L.P.H.:** (40) "As Re loves me, as my father Amon favours me, as I am rejuvenated (41)with satisfying life, my majesty will proceed upon the road of '3-(42)rw-n3. Let him who will among you, go upon those (43)roads ye have mentioned, and let him who will (44)among you, come in the following of my majesty. Shall they think among those (45)enemies whom Re detests: 'Does his majesty proceed upon (46)another road? He begins to be fearful of us,' so will they think." (47)They spoke before his majesty: "May thy father Amon [GAP]. (48)Behold, ++we will follow thy majesty everywhere [GAP] go,++ (49)as a servant is behind his master. (sec. 420-423)
[* Breasted's identifications and vocalisations have been excluded from these extracts. For the curious, they are Kd-sw: Kadesh; My-k-ty (now read as Mkty): Megiddo; N-h-ry-n: Naharin; ,H3-rw: Kharu (Syrians); Kdw: Kode: '3-rw-n3 (now read 'rn, by "group-writing", as Gardiner, Grammar, p. 52): Aruna; T3-'3-n3-k3: Taanach; Df-ty: Zefti (current "anglicisation" would be Djefty). - Ed.
** L.P.H.: conventional representation of brief Egyptian form for "(may he have) life, prosperity, health", an honorific customarily applied to the pharaoh. - Ed.
++ Corresponds to Breasted's translation, but somewhat simplified. - Ed.
This was indeed an amazing story - Thutmose's generals rising almost in mutiny against their commander, the Pharaoh, "the Mighty Bull, Living Horus", as he calls himself in his inscriptions. And, even more astonishing, the Pharaoh seemed to understand their reluctance to enter this road of ill omen: he neither blamed them, nor did he punish them, but left the decision to them. Upon which the officers decided to follow their master.
Breasted identified this defile, the road called "Aruna" in Egyptian records, with the Wadi 'Ara which connects the Palestine maritime plain with the Valley of Esdraelon (4). It was this identification which aroused my curiosity, and my doubt.
If it is true that "the geography of a country determines the course of its wars" (44), the frightful defile, and attempts at its crossing by conquering armies, should have been reported in books of Biblical and/or post-Biblical history. There is no mention of either. Nor has the Wadi 'Ara pass ever been considered to be secret, or dangerous.
"From the Plain of Sharon to Jordan. This line... ascends by the broad and open valley Wâdy 'Ârah, crossing the watershed at Ain Ibrahim, which is about 1200 feet above the sea. Thence the road descends, falling some 700 feet in 3 miles to Lejjûn, where it bifurcates... This line, which appears to be ancient, is of great importance, being one of the easiest across the country, owing to the open character of Wâdy 'Ârah." This was written 100 years ago, by C. R. Conder (45), long before a modern highway was laid through.
Conder's view is shared by later writers: "Most armies coming north over Sharon. .. would cut across the... hills by the easy passes which issue on Esdraelon at Megiddo and elsewhere." - thus, a famous historian and geographer (46).
The last army which actually crossed by this pass on its way from the south was the Egyptian Expeditionary Force under General Allenby, in September 1918. General Wavell evaluates the difficulties of the crossing when discussing the operational plan for the final onslaught: "There was no obstacle to rapid movement along either the Plain of Sharon or Plain of Esdraelon. The crux of the ride would be the passage of the mountain belt which divides these two plains... the width of this obstacle is about seven miles. Two routes lead across it from Sharon, of which... the eastern debouches into Esdraelon at El Lejjûn or Megiddo... Neither road presents any physical difficulties for a mounted force. On the other hand, either is easy of defence and would be hard to force against opposition." On September19th, 1918, a brigade with armoured cars was sent ahead to seize the defile leading to El Lejjûn. It was undefended, and on the following night "the 4th Cavalry Division passed the Musmus Defile (Wadi 'Ara pass) during the night, after some delay due to a loss of direction by the leading brigade, and reached the plain at El Lejjûn by dawn." (47)
During the same years in which Breasted wrote his reconstruction of the campaign, a German team under Schuhmacher started to excavate Tell el-Mutesellim. The excavation was carried out during the years 1903 to 1905. Unfortunately, "At the spot excavated by Schuhmacher, absolutely nothing has been found which could provide any further information" (concerning identification of the mound with that besieged, and conquered, by Thutmose III), states the report (48).
Schuhmacher's excavation was much too limited to permit final judgement. Breasted, quite rightly, refused to give up so easily. He wanted scientific proof for his identification, and suggested to one of his students, Harold H. Nelson, that he dedicate his doctoral thesis to the problem. Nelson was not given freedom to look for the frightening defile among the mountains of Palestine; Breasted confined him to a specific region: "This study is confined almost entirely to an effort to interpret the Annals of Thutmose III in the light of the geography of the environs of Megiddo," explains Nelson in his preface (49). In other words, the "scientific investigation" had to verify a foregone conclusion of Breasted - it was "prove or perish" for the unhappy young man.
For the sensitive reader, the resulting dissertation is a moving testimony of an intelligent and honest young student who tried desperately to harmonise the theory of his venerated teacher with the observations made on the spot, which simply did not fit.
Nelson travelled through the Wadi 'Ara pass in 1909, and again in 1912. He described it in detail: '...the road enters the Wady 'Ara which is there... flat and open... All the way to a quarter of a mile above 'Ar'arah the valley is wide and level and cultivated up the slopes on either side... the ascent is so gradual as to be scarcely perceptible and it is possible to drive a carriage as far as the top of the pass." The road follows an ancient Roman road which descends along a smaller way. "This latter gradually contracts as it proceeds till about half a mile above the mouth of the valley, it reaches its narrowest point, being not more than 10 yards wide. A little further on the road... opening out rapidly to a couple of 100 yards, emerges upon the plain of Lejjûn." Nelson comes to the conclusion that: "Of course such a road could be easily defended by a comparatively small number of men, but, on the other hand, an invading army could readily keep possession of the hills on either hand which are neither steep nor high above the valley... a watcher posted on the hill above Lejjûn could descry an approaching army at least a mile above the mouth of the pass." (50)
As an afterthought, Nelson warns not to be deceived by the Arabic name (wadi) 'Ara: "Etymologically, it seems hardly possible to equate (Egyptian) 'Aruna with (Arab) 'Ar'arah." (51).
Neither the physical appearance of the road as described by Nelson, nor its use as an international highway justify its identification with a road described as "inaccessible", "secret" or "mysterious" in the Egyptian records.
Nelson's difficulties did not end here. According to the timetable drawn up by Breasted, the Egyptian army emerged from the pass in the afternoon, set up camp, and spent a quiet night, to go forth to battle the next morning (52) - all this in full view of the army of the Asiatics!
Nelson is unable to understand the behaviour of the Allies, or why they should have "thrown away the advantage afforded by the narrowness of the pass... to strike Thutmose under circumstances so favourable to the success of the Allies. Our meagre sources must leave us forever ignorant of the reasons of the Allies for thus throwing away their greatest chance of victory... It is astonishing how little military wisdom the Asiatics seem to have displayed... The great opportunity [of successful resistance] they seem deliberately to have neglected." (53)
The theme given to Nelson was "The Battle of Megiddo", and this became the title of the dissertation. It seemed, however, that there was no battle. "On the actual conflict which took place there is not a vestige of information. To judge from the Annalist's narrative it would seem that the Asiatics fled without striking a blow... why the Asiatics fled is not plain. They probably mustered a considerable force." (54) And finally, why was the city not taken by storm? "Just why Thutmose did not make such an attempt at once is hard to surmise..." (55).
Habent sua fata libelli - books have their own fate, and Nelson's was no exception.
Somehow, he managed to satisfy Breasted; he passed his examination, and his study was printed before the outbreak of World War I. He immediately returned to Beirut for the cuts of the illustrations and maps, when war caught up with him. During the whole of the war he was confined behind the Turkish lines in Syria; only in the year 1920 did he manage to secure the material needed.
This unexpected turn of events provided him with the opportunity of discussing his thesis with some British officers who had participated in the conquest of Palestine, 1917/1918. Nelson refers to the outcome of these meetings in the Preface to the 1920 edition of his thesis: "Had the University of Chicago regulations governing the publication of theses permitted, I would gladly have re-written the whole manuscript in the light of the recent campaign of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force under Lord Allenby in the same region in which Thutmose III, nearly 3,500 years earlier, also defeated an enemy advancing from the north towards Egypt", but "I cannot make use of certain valuable suggestions made by those who campaigned in Palestine in 1917-18..."
Nelson never rewrote his dissertation. Armed with the precious study, Breasted approached John D. Rockefeller Jr and persuaded him to finance a renewed excavation of Tell el-Mutesellim for a five-year period. Clarence S. Fisher was to be the director, and he came to Palestine in 1925 to start the preparations for the dig. A comfortable house was built for the members of the expedition, and in 1926 excavation was started, lasting until 1939.
Results, as far as the Thutmose campaign was concerned, were as negative as those of Schuhmacher's excavation. Concerning identification of the mound with the city besieged and conquered by the Pharaoh, the excavators relied only and solely on Nelson's dissertation: "There can now be no doubt concerning the identification of Tell el-Mutesellim as Megiddo (Armageddon). What little doubt might have remained ... was entirely dispersed by Nelson's translation of and commentary on the account of the Battle of Megiddo given in the annals of Thutmose III, which are recorded on the walls of the temple of Amon at Karnak." (56)
And so, during the last 50 years, the doctoral dissertation of the young student became the unanswerable proof of the how, when and where of Thutmose III's First Palestinian Campaign (57).
As far as could be ascertained, however, there were at least two scholars who had their doubts about the localisation of the event. One was Nelson himself, the other the late P. L. O. Guy, who directed the excavations at Tell el-Mutesellim during the years 1927 to 1935.
Harold Nelson, when asked by the Librarian of the Cairo Museum, the late Joseph Leibovitch, for a print for his private library, parted with his last copy of his doctoral thesis. He stressed this fact, adding that he no longer identified himself with his findings as expressed in the study (58).
P. L. O. Guy was serving as Chief Inspector with the Department of Antiquities of the Mandatory Government of Palestine, when Breasted asked him to accept the leadership of the Megiddo excavation which Fisher had had to give up for health reasons. Guy was a Scotsman who had fought with the British Army in World War I in Europe and in the Middle East. Guy did not share Breasted's enthusiasm. Time and again Breasted appeared at the Guys' home in Jerusalem till Guy finally agreed to accept the offer to head the biggest and most richly endowed excavation in Mandatory Palestine (59).
Guy died in 1952. His wife, who had lived with him at Megiddo and shared work on the site, continued working with the Department of Antiquities of the state of Israel. Mrs Guy most willingly answered all my questions. Again and again she stressed the fact that nothing, absolutely nothing, had been found during their nine years of digging which would throw any light on the story of Thutmose's campaign.
One brief work concerning post-World War II digs at the mound. All of these were small affairs undertaken to clarify special problems. The riddle of the stratification of the layers from the 10th and 9th centuries BC was investigated anew (60), and so was that of the area around the temples. Among the various soundings carried out in the area, the only ones investigating ruins which could be ascribed to Late Bronze Age I - the time of Thutmose III, according to conventional chronology - were those carried out by a team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, under the direction of the (late) architect I. Dunayevski (61). They led to the conclusion that: "At the end of the Middle Bronze Age, the temple with the wide walls appeared, developing at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age to the temple with two towers at the entrance, a type of temple whose sources, like those of its predecessors, must be sought in the north." (Emphasis added.) Similarities were observed with the temple at Byblos in LB I, that at Shechem and stratum Ib at Hazor, in LB II.
The report does not mention any Egyptian finds.
The Myth of Megiddo
Though, theoretically, it may still be argued that systematic excavations at Megiddo may produce evidence supporting Breasted's theory, the probability seems almost nil. If the evidence is as spurious as this, what moved Breasted and other Egyptologists before him to identify My-k-ty (Mkty) with Biblical Megiddo? It seems that the actual motivation was in no way a scholarly one.
When Fisher published the report on his brief activities at the mound he called it "The excavation of Armageddon" (62). Similarly, Guy, who published "The Second Provisional Report" under the title "New Light from Armageddon" (63). It was the identification of the forgotten mound west of the Esdraelon Valley with "Har Mageddon" of Revelation 16:16 which lay at the bottom of the error.
For the Egyptologists of the 19th century the wonders of Egyptian civilisation were breathtaking - as they still are. For them, Egypt's was the oldest civilisation, and the battle of My-k-ty the first great battle in history of which details became known to modern man. The idea that this "First Battle in History" was fought at the very place where the decisive "Last Battle" is to be fought, was too alluring to be disputed, let alone discredited by Science. And so it came about that Science was made to serve this notion, not to try and interpret historical truth.
The degree to which the English-speaking world was taken in by this identification of the mound with Armageddon is scarcely to be overestimated. Originally suggested by one of the Church Fathers of the 3rd century AD, the identification Megiddo/Armageddon is taken for granted without any effort to prove it. All the way down from scientific textbooks to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (63a) and Everyman's Encyclopaedia (64), the equation is made like an axiom which needs no proof.
The most amazing statement seems to be that of R. H. Charles. Charles sees clearly that "John was a Jewish Christian". "The author's attitude to the world reflects the temper of Judaism rather than of Christianity," states Charles when discussing Revelation. Nevertheless, he too thinks: At Harmageddon, i.e. Megiddo (Rev. 16:16) Anti-Christ and his allies are annihilated ..." (65)
But Jewish apocalyptic literature never so much as mentions Megiddo. Apart from the fact that Biblical Megiddo, as excavations have shown, was left by its last inhabitants about 350 BC, i.e. over 400 years before John had his visions at Patmos, the identification of Armageddon with Megiddo (Mageddo in the Greek Bible) was never undisputed: quite a number of Church Fathers preferred Jerusalem and its surroundings. Hippolytus looked for the place in the Valley of Josaphat, which is still called by the Arabs "The Valley of Fire" or "The Valley of Hell" (66). For the attentive reader it is obvious that parts of John's visions - the 24 elders, the importance of clean white garments, the punishment of those who neglect their duty as watchmen - reflect details of the duties of priests and Levites on watch in the Beth Moked, the northernmost building of the Temple compound, where the keys to the Temple mound were guarded under measures of the strictest security (67).
Curiously enough, these "hidden" motives bring us back to the very place which, according to Velikovsky, was the object of Thutmose III's campaign - Jerusalem.
The Three Roads
As shown in the foregoing pages, the results of Nelson's efforts "to interpret the Annals of Thutmose III in the light of the geography of the environs of Megiddo" do not stand up to scrutiny. The question is, does transferring the event to the "l0th century geography of the environs of Jerusalem" stand a better chance of success?
Again, let us start with the unsavoury road of Aruna.
It has been suggested that the road is the same as that described in Papyrus Anastasi I of the late XIXth Dynasty. The papyrus contains a letter to an Egyptian official describing the dangers and difficulties to be met when travelling through Syria/Palestine (68). "Behold, the... is in a ravine two thousand cubits deep, filled with boulders and pebbles... Thou findest no scout, that he might make thee a way of crossing. Thou comest to a decision by going forward, although thou knowest not the road. Shuddering seizes thee, (the hair of) thy head stands up, and thy soul lies in thy hand. Thy path is filled with boulders and pebbles, without a toe hold for passing by, overgrown with reeds, thorns, brambles, and "wolf's paw". The ravine is on one side of thee, and the mountain rises on the other. Thou goest on jolting, with thy chariot on its side, afraid to press thy horse (too) hard. If it should be thrown toward the abyss, thy collar-piece would be left uncovered and thy girth would fall." This then actually happened. "The harness is (already) too heavy to carry its weight. Thy heart is disgusted." (68) And Nelson comments: "Deep gorges as these are scarcely found in Palestine at all and certainly not in the region of Megiddo." (69) The road thus described in Papyrus Anastasi I leads across the maritime plain directly to Jaffa .
Such a defile cannot vanish from the map. It should be found not only in books on historical geography, but it may be mentioned, too, in Biblical and/or post-Biblical records of military campaigns.
And so it is.
As far as can be ascertained, Egyptologists are unanimous in their identification of the two roads, that shunned by Thutmose's officers and that described in Papyrus Anastasi I. If so, these records, combined, present us with a fourfold clue for the identification of the defile:-
1. Its name: Aruna ('3-rw-n3 or 'rn).
2. Its western entrance/exit: from/to the maritime plain east of Jaffa.
3. Its characteristic: the road where "horse follows horse", considered an Egyptian idiom (70).
4. It should lead to a fortified place My-k-ty where a King of Kd-sw and his army were stationed at the time.
The Wadi 'Ara road does not correspond to this description, as we have seen:-
1. As Nelson has shown, the name 'Ara or 'Ararah does not correspond to the Egyptian transcription '3-rw-n3 (71).
2. The Wadi 'Ara opens on to the western plain about 50 km north of Jaffa, only 15 km south of the ancient port of Dor.
3. As Nelson has shown, and as has been proved by the crossing by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in 1918, the road is wide enough not only for several horses going side by side, but also for chariots and cannons.
4. As for the fortress to be stormed, its identification has been doubted; as to the King of Kd-sw, opinions are divided: some Egyptologists see in him a king of the Syrian town Kadesh on the Orontes, which makes it difficult to explain his presence at the exit of the pass near, or at, Megiddo. Others suggest connecting him with the town Kadesh-Naphtali in Galilee, known from Biblical records (Josh. 20:7, 21:32).
When identifying the name transcribed "Aruna": (1) it must be remembered that the third letter represents the so-called "semi-vowel" w (u), which may indicate a sound of vowel or consonant character; true vowels were not written in Egyptian or Hebrew (72). In the case of Biblical Hebrew, where exact pronunciation is of the utmost importance, this gap has been filled about 1,000 years ago by Rabbis living at Tiberias, who added vowels to their manuscript, and that is the pronunciation used to this day. Thus it happens that the name Aruna has been preserved in written Hebrew letter for letter, though pronunciation is slightly different. It is the original name of the place on which the Temple had been built, the so-called "threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite" (73).
(2) In other words, the road dreaded by the officers was the camel-road leading from Jaffa up the so-called Beth Horon ascent to Jerusalem, approaching the city from the north. In the time of David it led to the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite; in the time of Rehoboam it led to the Temple Mount which had been built at that place. The inhabitants, though, continued to use the ancient name for the road.
(3) The expression "horse following horse", considered by Nelson to have been an Egyptian idiom, seems to have been a known characteristic for that part of the road where "it falls into narrowness": when talking about that part of the way where it climbs from the Lower Beth Horon to the Upper Beth Horon, the Talmud says that if two camels meet each other on the steps of Beth Horon, only "if they go one after the other, both can go up safely." (74)
(4) Finally, the eastern opening of the road lies in a district called "Jebel el Kuds" in Turkish times, "Har Kodsho" by the Hebrews, both names meaning the same: "The Mount of the Holy One", "The Holy Mount". In other words Kd-sw was not the name of a city, but of a land. This explains too why it always heads the Egyptian lists referring to campaigns into so-called Palestine. According to Conder, there were around 20 towns and villages in the "Jebel el Kuds", which, in his time, belonged to the area under the Mutaserrif of Jerusalem (75). In Biblical times it belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. Conder describes it as "one of the most difficult to survey on account of the ruggedness of the hills and the great depth of the valleys" (76). The Aruna road reaches the Har Kodsho/Land of Benjamin roughly 10 km north of the Temple Mount, when it turns south and finally runs along the watershed till it reaches its destination (see Map 1).
"Due to its special topography, the Beith Horon Ascent... was always a focal point of battles and attempts to stop troops trying to reach Jerusalem or to descend from the Judaean Hills to the coastal plain," opines a modern historian (77).
The road made its entrance into military history under the most dramatic circumstances: it was there that Joshua bade the Sun stand still that he might complete his victory over the five Canaanite kings (Josh. 10:10-14), and where "the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them... and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword". The place where this happened was "the way that goeth up to Beth horon" (v. 10) and "in the going down to Beth-horon" (v. ll).
The first attempt to force the road from the west described in detail was that undertaken by Seron, commander of a Syrian army, against Judas Maccabaeus in 166 BC. While climbing up the defile - there is a rise of 225 m over an aerial distance of 2.8 km between Lower and Upper Beth Horon - the army fell into an ambush laid by Judas, who "leapt suddenly upon them and so Seron and his host was overthrown before him. And they pursued them [the Syrians] from the going down of Beth-horon unto the plain, where were slain about 800 men of them; and the residue fled into the land of the Philistines." (78)
Only a few years later a second even more decisive victory was won at the same place by Judas Maccabaeus over Nikanor, "one of the honourable princes" of King Demetrius the Seleucid, who "came to Jerusalem with a great force", Nikanor was killed, whereupon the host cast away their weapons and fled, only to be killed by the pursuing Jews (79).
The Egyptian generals, when discussing the dangers of the Aruna road with the Pharaoh, had argued: "Shall our vanguard be fighting while our [rearguard] is yet standing yonder in Aruna not having fought?" (80) History proved how amazingly correct had been their estimate: what they were afraid of happened 1,000 years later to the Roman army which climbed the Beth Horon ascent in 66 AD on its way to Jerusalem, led by Gaius Cestius Gallus, the Roman legatus of Syria. After having emerged from the defile, Gallus was camped with the van of the army at Giv'on (Gibeon) when they were attacked by the Jews. He succeeded in checking the attack; but at the same time the Jews succeeded in cutting off a large part of the Roman rearguard "as they were mounting towards Beth Horon", and carried off many of the baggage mules. Though Gallus reached his goal and laid siege to Jerusalem, he had to lift the siege prematurely owing to the loss of his baggage. But the real disaster caught them during their retreat, after the Romans had become involved in the defiles and begun the descent: "While even the infantry were hard put to it to defend themselves, the cavalry were in still greater jeopardy; to advance in order down the road under the hail of darts was impossible, to charge up the slopes was impracticable for horses; on either side were precipices and ravines, down which they slipped and were hurled to destruction; there was no room for flight, no conceivable means of defence; in their utter helplessness the troops were reduced to groans and the wailings of despair..." (81) Nightfall hindered the complete destruction of the Roman army, the greater part of which succeeded in descending under cover of darkness with the help of a ruse, after abandoning all their machines of war, which were collected by the victors.
Finally, it seems worth while to compare General Wavell's description of the Wadi 'Ara road, which does not "present any physical difficulties" (82), with his statement concerning the Beth Horon defile: "These routes... turned out to be mere goat tracks, quite impossible for wheels, and even for camels, without improvement. The only means of portage... was by donkey, and any path up which a donkey could scramble was described by the local natives as a good road. The Division sent back all vehicles including guns. . . The hill sides are steep and rocky, often precipitous, and the wadis which wind between them are strewn with great boulders..." (83) In November 1917 the British tried in vain to force the road. It was the only occasion during Allenby's campaign that the ominous words appeared in the daily dispatches that the Forces "successfully withdrew" (84). Fighting at this front had to be stopped, though it meant changing the entire plan for the conquest of Jerusalem and concentrating the attack on the approaches from the west and south, which succeeded. This sounds very different from the way "the 4th Cavalry Division passed the Musmus Defile during the night" (85).
After this excursus into the military history of the Araunah/ Beth Horon road, the question to be answered is: how can the Egyptian campaign be explained in the light of the changed geographical and political background? After the decision of the Pharaoh's officers to follow their royal master, the text of the Annals continues, again in Breasted's translation (86):-
(50)[GAP] commanded the entire army [GAP] (51)that road which threatened to be narrow [GAP]. (52)He swore, saying: "None shall go forth [GAP] (53)before my majesty [GAP]." (54)He went forth at the head of his army himself [GAP] (55)in his own footsteps; horse behind horse [GAP] being (56)at the head of his army. Year 23, first month of the third season, on the nineteenth day; the watch in [GAP] the royal tent (57)the royal tent at the city of '3-rw-n3. (58)"My majesty proceeded northward carrying my father Amon (87) [LONG GAP] (59)before me (88), while Harakhte [LONG GAP] (60)my father (Amon) [GAP] victorious of the sword [GAP] (61)over my majesty." (Secs. 424-5)
Let us stop here and survey the situation. To recapitulate: the one undisputed place reached by the Egyptian army was Gaza. From there on, every "identification" has been pure guesswork. This is especially true for the "identification" of Y-hm, which was supposed to have been near the entrance to Wadi 'Ara (and identified, eventually, with Jemma, a nearby Arab village). In order to reach this place, the army which had just crossed the Sinai desert would have continued marching for 10 days, covering about 90 English miles (89). So far Breasted, and his followers to this day.
Experience has shown that an army which includes cavalry and chariots drawn by horses cannot progress that quickly in a country where drinking water is in short supply during the dry season, May to November. It seems that neither Breasted nor any of his followers has given any thought to this vital question, not to mention other problems of logistics. In this respect, the dispatches sent by General Allenby to the Secretary of State for War during the advance of the Forces in the Philistine Plain are a veritable eye-opener. Gaza had fallen on November 7th 1917. Two days later: "By the 9th, the problem became one of supply... the question of water and forage was a very difficult one. Even where water was found in sufficient quantities, it was usually in wells and not on the surface, and consequently... the process of watering a large quantity of animals was slow and difficult," writes Allenby (90). The very next day, November 10th: "The hot wind is an additional trial, particularly to the cavalry already suffering from water-shortage." (This was near Ashdod, in the Philistine Plain.) "Owing to the exhaustion of their horses on account of the lack of water", two mounted brigades "had to be withdrawn into reserve" on November 11th.
There is no reason to suppose that nature was kinder to Thutmose's troops in May, the month with the greatest number of days with the destructive hot wind blowing from the desert. than to the Allied troops in November. Allenby's advance, too, was considerably slower than that demanded in Breasted's calendar for the advance of the Pharaoh's army: the Allied left wing covered only 40 miles in 15 days along the plain (91), while Breasted suggested 80-90 miles in 10-11 days.
These observations may justify a totally different interpretation of the events during the 10 or 11 days from the day Thutmose left Gaza to the council of war at Y-hm. According to the unanimous understanding of Egyptologists, the text of the Annals leaves no doubt that the entrance into Gaza was a peaceful one. There is no hint of any resistance by the inhabitants. Gaza, in the10th century BC, was the seat of one of the five Philistine kings (92). The peaceful entry and exit of the Pharaoh and his army justifies the assumption that the Egyptians found themselves in a friendly country. War preparations by the Pharaoh, most probably, were not confined to the purely military side; they should have included political discussions with the countries bordering the Judaean Kingdom: Edom, Philistia and the newly created Kingdom of Israel. Among these, the Philistine Plain would be the ideal base for an army considering the conquest of Judah and Jerusalem. For the following, it is assumed that the Egyptians were in the position to use it as such (93).
The place named immediately after Gaza is Y-hm. Petrie suggested an identification with the modern Arab village Yemma, south-west of the Carmel ridge, an identification that is "little more than guesswork" according to Nelson (94). If an eminent Egyptologist like Petrie thought an equation Y-hm = Yemma possible, it may be permitted to see in Y-hm the Egyptian equivalent of Yamnia (Yabne in Hebrew), a port about 40 km north of Gaza. Today, Yamnia/Yabne lies about 7 km inland from the Mediterranean, from which it is separated by a broad belt of sand dunes. The plain around it is strewn with the remnants of Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements, among them a harbour town at the mouth of a little river which bypasses the city. Needless to say, possession of a harbour would facilitate the problem of supply and help considerably in its solution. It is suggested to see in Yamnia the location of the campaign base and council of war described in the Annals (95).
Helping to solve the complicated problem of logistics was not, however, the only advantage that possession of the Philistine Plain had to offer an army which was preparing an attack on Judah's capital. "Remote and inaccessible in its rugged mountains, Jerusalem... was only accessible by one of three difficult passes, unless the whole country of Samaria were in the hand of the enemy," judged Conder, who looked at the situation with the eye of a soldier, 100 years before modern highways made the access an easy one (96). Of these three passes, two have their western entrance in the Philistine Plain; they are the two mentioned by the Egyptian generals as alternatives to the Aruna road. The easier to identify is the road called "Zefti" by Breasted, transcribed Df-ty (above, line 35). The letter transcribed D ("dj") corresponds to Hebrew Z(ade) (97). The name has been preserved in the Bible letter for letter; it is vocalised Zephathah (II Chron. 14:10), the place where Rehoboam's grandson Asa won his battle against another invader from the south called Zerah the Ethiopian. According to the Chronicler the place was near the Judaean border-fortress Maresha, newly fortified by Rehoboam (II Chron. 11:8). Maresha (Marisa) is one of the Judaean strongholds whose identity has never been lost. In Roman times its name was changed to Eleutheropolis, and the distances of towns and cities were measured from this important crossroads (98).
Marisa was the Judaean border-fortress against Philistia; Zephata may have been on the other side of the fence, which explains that this was the name for the road used by the Egyptians. The road runs north for about six miles then turns north-east at the very location which is considered to be the one where David met Goliath the Philistine. The defile then splits into several wadis, one of which reaches the ridge around Bethlehem in the south, while another one joins the more northerly defile which leads to a point north of My-k-ty, as suggested by the Egyptian officers (99).
Both roads discussed so far lead to Jerusalem. Before trying to identify the third road mentioned at the war conference at Y-hm, therefore, the question has to be answered: is it possible to interpret the name of the city, the capture of which was compared by Thutmose to "the capture of a thousand cities" (100), as an alternative designation for the capital of the Kingdom of Judah?
According to Breasted, the name of the city was My-k-ty. It seems however that the Egyptian scribes met with some difficulties in rendering the foreign place name in hieroglyphs: Gauthier enumerates no less than seven certain variants of its spelling in hieroglyphs, four of which are found in the Annals as copied by Sethe (101). The name is read by Gauthier "Makta".* It is interesting to note, however, that in the later (XIXth Dynasty) inscriptions, the last element ti of the name read alternatively ti (ta) or t,** is written "sh", "s", or "tsh". The variant which ended with a sharp "s" read "Mâks" by Gauthier has been tentatively translated by him as (autel?) (=altar?).
[* Corresponding to M3kty or M3kti in modern transcription. - The second symbol, read by Gauthier as [*!* Image: hieroglyph] (Sign-list D 36 in Gardiner's Grammar), is now considered to represent D 38, providing a duplicate writing of m: see Grammar, p. 454, also sec. 41. - Current reading: Mkty. - Ed.
** See note with ref. 106. - Ed.]
Among the names enumerated as designating Jerusalem is Bait-al-Makdis, or in brief, Makdis, corresponding to Beithha-Miqdash in modern Hebrew pronunciation. The10th century Arab writer who mentions this name calls himself Mukadassi = the Jerusalemite (102). The name Mâkdes was still used by the Samaritans (a Jewish sect who never left the country, who trace their ancestors to three of the northern tribes of Israel) at the beginning of this century, when discussing with Rabbi Moshe Gaster their attitude towards Jerusalem (103), and a local shop outside Damascus Gate still bears the inscription: Baith el-Makdis.
The oldest proof for the existence of various Hebrew dialects is found in the Book of Judges, where it is told that Ephraimites were identified by their faulty pronunciation of the password (104). That ancient Hebrew was pronounced differently from the way the language is spoken in modern Israel may also be deduced from the way place names have been rendered in early Greek translations of the Bible. And finally, from the way Hebrew is pronounced by the Samaritans when reciting the Torah (105). There is therefore nothing unusual in the assertion that the word pronounced Miqdash - with the emphasis on the last syllable, and a very brief "i" in the first - by the Judaeans, was "mâkdis" - with the emphasis on the first syllable and an almost inaudible "I" - in the Ephraimite dialect. The Egyptian scribe, trying to catch this double consonant "ds" did not use the usual letter for "t", but one whose pronunciation seemed doubtful to an expert like Gardiner, though he too suggests ti, or simply t (106). The name Miqdash was originally confined to the Holy Region north of the Jebusite city (see Map 2), the area which had originally been the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite. In Rehoboam's time it contained the Temple and its precincts, and the Royal Palace. It was these which were to be conquered; the Jebusite city down the hill seems to have been without any interest to the Pharaoh. Thus it was that his officers laid special stress on the fact that the Zaphata defile, too, reached the ridge north of the Temple mount, and that there was no necessity to use the Aruna road for an approach from the north.
It was only thanks to a stroke of unusually good luck that the names of the two roads identified so far have been preserved by the Scriptures. The identification of the third road is much less unequivocal. The third and last of the ancient passes referred to by Conder leading from the Maritime Plain to Jerusalem is the one through which the railway runs today. Its eastern end leads on to the valley of Rephaim, roughly between the Jebusite city to the south and the Temple Mount to the north. It was by this defile that the Philistines came up and "spread themselves" in order to fight the newly anointed King David (II Sam. 5:18ff.) Halfway up between the mountains, this defile is joined by a wadi whose beginning is several miles farther north, not far from a ridge called the Tahhunah Ridge in one of Allenby's dispatches (107). The same name - wadi Tahhunah - was used for the locality where this wadi reaches the Mediterranean near Yabneh (108). The name turns up a third time in that of Khirbet (=ruins of) at-Tahuna, which overlooks the exit of the defile from the mountains, opposite the birthplace of Samson, Zorah (Judges 13:2), one of the border-fortresses strengthened by Rehoboam (II Chron. 11:10). Considering the fact that inversion of consonants is rather frequent in Biblical Hebrew (109), it seems permissible to suggest that in this special case the Egyptian Ta-'a-na-ka (T3-'3-n3-k3) does not refer to the well known fortress in the Valley of Esdraelon, but to a defile known by a similar name to the Philistines, from whose lands it leads right into the heart of the Judaean mountains.
The Beth Horon Pass
It seems that Thutmose's generals were very familiar with the intricacies of the various defiles. If so, why did they not mention the fact that the entrances to the two roads which they recommended were protected by recently strengthened fortifications, all of which had been provided to withstand assault and even prolonged siege by an invading army?
According to the Chronicler, the Pharaoh "took the fenced cities" of Judah before he came to Jerusalem (II Chron. 12:4). The way in which he "took" them was still remembered, hundreds of years later, by the Egyptian priests who told the story to Herodotus (110), and by their Judaean counterpart, the priest and historian Joseph ben-Mattatiahu (Josephus), who confirmed it. Friend and foe alike report that the Pharaoh "seized the strongest cities of Rehoboam's kingdom without a battle and, having secured them with garrisons, advanced upon Jerusalem" (111).
"With negligent defenders the western border of Judaea is quickly penetrated," judges a modern writer. "Six hours will bring an army up any of the defiles... and within a few miles of Jerusalem." (112)
According to the Annals, 10 full days had gone by between the exit of the Pharaoh from Gaza and the council of war - time enough not only to organise a never-ending stream of supplies from the homeland through a harbour, but also to get hold of the defiles and carry out the necessary reconnaissance. If so, if the two defiles recommended by the generals were safely in Egyptian hands, what prompted the Pharaoh to choose the Aruna road for the main attack on the Temple Mount? And why did he see in his success of having climbed it a performance so outstanding that it had to be engraved, in detail, not only on the walls of the Temple of Amon at Karnak, but also on a stele found in a temple at Armant, which Thutmose erected "to cause that his deeds of valour be related for millions of years to come"? (113)
At the time of Shishak's attack on Jerusalem the Beth Horon ascent was inside the territory of the Kingdom of Israel ruled by Jeroboam. According to the Scriptures, "there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days" (114), while relations between Jeroboam and the Pharaoh were peaceful ones: the Pharaoh had given the fugitive asylum when he fled for his life from King Solomon, and had even married him to a sister of his own wife (115). If, therefore, Thutmose intended to use the Beth Horon ascent for springing a surprise attack on the Judaean King and his army, he had only to turn to Jeroboam for permission to use the road, for provision of guides, and for taking all the necessary pre-cautions that news of the Egyptian approach did not reach the enemy prematurely.
According to the Annals, the pharaoh put up his tent "at the city of Aruna", only three days after the war council at Y-hm (116) - a fact that seems to confirm our supposition that entrance into the fearful road would be a peaceful one. According to Breasted the "Aruna" mentioned here was "lying in the midst of the mountains" (117). In this Breasted was right, though he erred in the identification of the mountains: Aruna was not surrounded by the Carmel heights, but by the mountains of Ephraim, and those of Benjamin, Har Kodsho of the Scriptures.
The Aruna reached by the Pharaoh on that day is easily identified with the help of the Septuagint, where the dangerous part of the defile is called Oronin: it was the day when the sun stood still and "God delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel" (118). According to the Greek version"the Lord struck them [the Amorites] with a panic, on account of the children of Israel, and the Lord routed them, with a great slaughter, at Gibeon. And they [the Israelites] pursued them by the way of the ascent of Oronim, and smote them. .. And as they were fleeing from before Israel, at the descent of Oronim, the Lord poured a storm of hailstones from heaven upon them... so that there were more who died by the hailstones, than the children of Israel slew with the sword in battle." (119) And Josephus comments: "God's co-operation [was] manifested by... the discharge of thunderbolts and the descent of hail of more than ordinary magnitude." (120)
The Pharaoh obviously spent the night at Beth Horon the Nether (today: Beith 'Ur et-Tachta), right at the entrance to the dangerous part of the defile, which is already in the mountains (121). The next morning, according to the Annals (lines 58/9), "My majesty proceeded northward carrying my father Amon (gap) before me..." - "This is the only instance I know of in Egyptian records where we are told that statues or images of the gods were carried into battle, as the Hebrews carried the ark. The image of Amon in its portable shrine borne on the shoulders of a body of priests... 'opened the way' before His Majesty," writes Nelson (122).
What kind of fear had gripped the Pharaoh that he felt it necessary to take this precaution? Why did he take it here, and only here, once in a lifetime? The objective difficulties of the way ahead of the army were considerably less than those which had confronted, and been overcome by, the Egyptian army in the Tigre (Ethiopia), where mountains 10,000 feet high rose sheer above narrow canyons filled by torrential streams. All that was before the Pharaoh now was a 4 km long ascent to a mountain-ridge, the average height of which rarely exceeded 800 m. In addition, according to the reconstruction suggested in this paper, the army moved through friendly country - a fact that makes the behaviour of the Pharaoh even less intelligible to modern man.
The answer to the riddle should be of a kind which explains, too, why Thutmose judged his successful ascent through the Aruna road one of the most outstanding achievements of his military career.
The answer offered here belongs to a realm shunned by science in an age in which technics have replaced metaphysics, and rationality rules supreme. At the time and place we are dealing with, religion, including a contact with a higher Being outside oneself, was a reality and part of life. That is why an answer to the problem should be sought there.
According to the revised chronology of Velikovsky, 500 years had gone by since the Lord had poured hailstones of more than ordinary magnitude upon the enemies of Israel at the very spot which the Pharaoh and his army were about to enter upon (123). About 100 years ago, a French Abbé suggested "a search for the aerolites which fell from heaven, according to Joshua X, 11." (124) The same suggestion was made again by H. H. Nininger, founder and director of the American Meteorite Museum, in a private talk with this writer, in 1958 (125). From Mr Nininger I received an aerolite of the kind which might have fallen from heaven at that time and place, according to the Biblical record.
When I showed the aerolite to the stonemasons working by the roadside at 'Ur et-Tachta (Beith Horon the Nether), they immediately recognised it: "Hajar min 'Allah!" ("A stone from Allah," i.e. from heaven), they exclaimed. According to them, the slope going down into the wadi, and the wadi itself "the going down to Beth-Horon" of the Bible, were full of stones like the one in my hand. The same answer I got from the teachers at the local schools. Unfortunately, the region has been a border region and therefore has been heavily mined. My driver, a seasoned soldier, categorically refused to put one foot off the macadamised road, and with good reason. Neither has the question been taken up by the Geological Department of the Hebrew University; nor by that of the Israeli Government.
Though this cannot be called conclusive, the amazing familiarity of the local Arabs with the phenomenon of meteorites seems to justify the conclusion that the Biblical story is based on reality. As Nininger and other experts have abundantly proved, meteorite falls have been known and remembered for centuries among local populations, and more often than not considered intervention of the God(s) in human affairs (126). And here we meet with a second conception of those times: the understanding that there was a metaphysical connection between a God, His people and His land.
In other words, Thutmose was not afraid of a human enemy but was reluctant to enter a road where "The God of the Land" had intervened, from heaven, to help His people; and Thutmose perfectly understood the motivation of his officers who preferred one of the other defiles, and neither blamed them nor punished them, but let them choose. And this fear, too, explains why he had the standard of "his father Amon" carried before him: Amon was a meteorite god, able to protect his children from a calamity similar to that suffered by the five Amorite kings (127).
The Capture of Jerusalem
We now return to the Annals.
The lines 61-71 have given rise to much controversy among the Egyptologists. "The fragmentary condition of lines 61-71 makes it impossible to determine clearly the connection between the portions of the text that still survive," wrote Nelson (128). From line 72 onwards, we are on firmer ground again (129):
(72)While the rear of the victorious army of his majesty (73)at the site of Aruna, the vanguard had come out to the valley of [GAP] -n (130); (74)they filled the opening of the valley. Then they said in the presence of his majesty, L. P. H.: (75)Behold. His majesty has come out together with his victorious army and has filled this (76)valley; let our victorious lord hearken to us at this time; (77)let our lord protect for us the rear of his army and his people; (78)let the rear of this army come forth to us out (i.e. into the open); then we (131) fight against (79)these foreigners; then we will not trouble our hearts [GAP] the rear (80)of our army. A halt by his majesty outside [GAP] (81)there, protecting the rear of his victorious army.
Lines 72-81 were the source of much headache to the Egyptologists, who were at a loss to adapt this exact description of the situation to the geographical conditions around Megiddo, and the supposed presence of the Allied army at the exit (132). The situation is totally different once the scene is transferred to the eastern exit of the Beth Horon road, which fits the description in every detail. The army emerged into the valley of Gibeon, mentioned in line 73. Of the city's name, only the last letter - n - has been preserved, together with the ideogram designating "a channel filled with water" (133). The "many waters" of Gibeon are mentioned in the Scriptures, and so is its "pool" which existed already at the time of King David (134). Drake, who camped at El Jib - ancient Gibeon - in March, mentioned "a pool covering some six to eight acres to a depth of 2 feet formed during the winter." The local Arabs called it "the sink" (135). In May, the time of Thutmose's campaign, it would have shrunk considerably, permitting the army to camp around it, and, at the same time, providing enough drinking water. Furthermore, owing to the formation of the land, the presence of an army in the valley could be hidden from the Judaeans, who were only a few kilometres away.
According to the Annuals, the Pharaoh, therefore, decided to set up camp right here and let his soldiers enjoy a well-deserved rest, before springing the planned attack on his unsuspecting foe.
Though Sethe and Breasted differ in the arrangement of the following lines, geographical details are unequivocal (136): the Pharaoh camped "to the south of My-k-ty on the bank of the brook of Kina (K-y-n3)".
Owing to our change of the geographical surroundings, these lines too need an interpretation different from the hitherto accepted one.
Let us start with "the brook of Kina". The brook has never been identified unequivocally in the environs of Megiddo; we are justified, therefore, in neglecting the various suggestions made on its behalf.
The Egyptian word translated "brook" by Breasted, and incidentally, Gardiner, is hnw. It seems, however, that its meaning is less specified: Erman translates "Gewässer" (waters) (137), and this seems to be the way in which it is used here. The Hebrew word kina stands for English "lamentations". The place where Pharaoh's army erected their tents was called the waters of lamentation" by the local population. Explanation for the name is found in II Samuel 2: the place near Gibeon, where the twice twelve chosen men killed each other in hand-to-hand fighting, got a special name - its Hebrew as well as its Greek name have the same meaning: "Portion of ill design" (138). The death of the 24 was only the beginning of a fierce battle in which 360 Benjaminites were slain - a day of lamentation, remembered still, scarcely two generations later, by the people living near the "waters of lamentation" at Gibeon.
The hieroglyphs read "My-k-ty" by Breasted, have been read "mâk-ta" by Gauthier (139). According to the Annals, Gibeon was south of it, which excludes identification of this "mâk-ta" with Beth-Makdis, the Temple Mount of Jerusalem.
Details of the route to be taken by an attacker on Jerusalem from the north are described in Isaiah 10:28-32. From north to south, the list enumerates twelve cities or forts. It starts with Aiath, Migron, Michmas, and ends with "the hill of Jerusalem." In the corresponding list of the Septuagint, "Migron" is called "Magedo", also "Makedo", "Maggeddo". That Migron had also been known under the name of Magedo" is proved by the fact that the only time its name had turned up before - in the story of Saul's fight with the Philistines - the Septuagint again calls the place "Magdon" or "Mageddo" (I Samuel 14:2).
This Makedo is north of Gibeon, which lay south-west of this "mâk-ta"; even further south are the "waters", the camping place of Thutmose's army, a geographical fact that meets the requirements of the Egyptian text.
According to its description in the first Book of Samuel, Migron/Makedo was a natural stronghold fortified by the Israelites, who hold it with a mere 600 men against the Philistines, who outnumbered them a hundredfold.
Biblical Migron has been looked for at the southern side of wadi Suweinit, a deep gorge or fissure which starts about 8 km (as the crow flies) north-east of Gibeon and runs down in a south-eastern direction to the Jordan Valley, which it reaches near ancient Jericho. The walls of the gorge are almost vertical and make a crossing well-nigh prohibitive (140).
Though the name "Migron" has vanished from the map, the name Makedo (Magdon/Mageddo) seems to have survived in the names Borj el-Makhta, Khirbet ("ruins of") el-mukta and Khirbet el-miktara nearby. "Bordj el-Makhta" was first described by Guérin, who passed by wadi Suweinit in July, 1863. "The borders of this great ravine are very deep and very abrupt; in some places, they are almost vertical," he writes. He crossed it near its head where there "had been constructed a post of defence still partly standing; it measured 14 feet by 11 feet. It had been built with great multi-angled blocks, some of which are gigantic. Two cisterns are in the neighbourhood. Its exact name is Bordj el-Makhta (The fort of the passage)." (140a)
Dalmann did not succeed in finding the place though he retrieved the name in a slightly different form: Khirbet el-mukta. Dalmann, however, discovered another ruin called Khirbet el-miktara halfway up the cliff upon a promontory which juts out from the southern side, measuring 9.40m by 8.30m, built from great stones, and several cisterns. Dalmann suggested that the place may have been a watchtower (141).
At the time of the visits by Guérin and Dalmann, the art of dating by pottery was as yet unknown. We may not be too far off the mark when suggesting that these fortifications may go back to the 10th century BC, and actually have been part of those made by Rehoboam and mentioned by Josephus (142). It is suggested, therefore, to identify the "mâk-ta" (Gauthier) of lines 20 and IV 655 (Sethe) of the annals with the Judaean fortress at the head of the wadi Suweinit. Occupying a defence line along wadi Suweinit with its head at Migron/Makeda would have had much to recommend it in the eyes of Rehoboam.
While expecting the main attack from the west, there remained an uneasiness concerning the behaviour of the King of Israel on Judah's northern border. Would the friendship between the King of Egypt and Israel grow into a fully fledged alliance? Or would Jeroboam shy away from attacking his brother tribes? However the decision would fall, it was necessary to man the northern boundary of Judah and watch out in case of attack.
As has been remarked above, the roads to Jericho and the Jordan fords had not been fortified by the Judaean king. The most probable explanation seems that the Transjordania kings joined Rehoboam in his plight. In the case of the Ammonites, family ties certainly helped in securing their assistance (143). But the Moabites and other neighbouring peoples may have watched the appearance, in Asia, of a belligerent Pharaoh almost as uneasily as did King Rehoboam: there could be little doubt that if Judah fell prey, their turn would come soon after.
Nevertheless, these kings may have been unwilling to join the Judaean fighting forces at that early hour. It might have been a good idea to ask for their help in watching Judah's boundary against Israel, thereby freeing Judaean troops from this task. Diverting troops from countries beyond the Jordan to the line along wadi Suweinit had the additional advantage that they could be moved freely from this line to and from their home-countries without disturbing movements of the Judaean troops. In addition, supplies from their homelands could also easily be moved up this valley or the wadi Kelt road, thus reducing eventual friction between Judaeans and foreigners to a minimum.
Al Maqtara, as it is called on the map, is about 9 km north-north-east of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, which would facilitate frequent visits by King Rehoboam to his relatives and friends at the border-fortress. The remark in the Annals (line 20) that the " King of Kd-sw" had entered Mâk-ta (as the word has been read by Gauthier), may refer to one of these visits by the King.
It should not be forgotten that there had been 45 years of uninterrupted peace and wealth, and a luxury undreamt of by Israel's warrior-kings Saul and David. Though Rehoboam had fortified the cities guarding the roads to Jerusalem, he lacked any war experience, and so did his subjects, who like himself were thoroughly demoralised, according to Josephus (144). These soldiers were in no way prepared to stand up against the sudden attack of the Egyptians, led by the Pharaoh who stood "in a chariot of electrum, arrayed in his weapons of war, like Horus [the Sun god], the Smiter, lord of power; like Montu of Thebes..." (145) In an instant, the country was covered with Egyptian chariots and horsemen. Panic seized the Asiatics. Officers and men threw away their weapons and fled, be it in the direction of Jerusalem (Makdis), or down the valley and across the fords of the Jordan (146). From the walls of the Holy city, the watchmen saw the wild chase, Rehoboam and the princes galloping for their lives, closely followed by the Egyptian horsemen. The capital hastily closed its gates before the approaching foe; as to the fugitives: "The people hauled them (up) pulling by their clothing... (and lowered) clothing to pull them up into the city" (147), as so vividly described in the Annals. And the long siege of Jerusalem began.
"Then came Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah, that were gathered together to Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak. Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves ..." Therefore "they shall be his [the Pharaoh's] servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries," reports the Chronicler (II Chron. 12:5-6, 8). They opened the gates of the city: "The chiefs of this country came to render their portions, to smell the earth (do obeisance) to the fame of his majesty, to crave breath for their nostrils," writes the Pharaoh (148). And he "took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made" (II Chron. 12:9).
"In the bas-reliefs of Karnak we have a very excellent and detailed account of the vessels and furniture of the Temple of Solomon," writes Velikovsky (149).
It seems Velikovsky is right. There is nothing in the Annals to contradict his statement.
NOTES AND REFERENCES1. Immanuel Velikovsky: Ages in Chaos, 1952.
There remains, however, one part of the Karnak inscriptions of Thutmose which has not been dealt with so far: the so-called "Palestine list" containing the names of 119 cities whose princes "brought their children as living prisoners" after the fall of the city. As Simons rightly remarks, not all the places mentioned were actually conquered, it being more likely that this and other lists were lengthened by adding many names of places whose chiefs before or after the fall of My-k-ty decided to offer tribute to the Pharaoh (1).
This conjecture of Simons seems justified also when transferring the campaign to the time and land of Rehoboam. The Bible is full of reports of presents sent by rulers of distant countries to Kings David and Solomon. It appeals to reason that Jeroboam was most thankful to the Pharaoh for having weakened his arch-enemy the way he did, and was expressing his thanks by sending lavish presents. And as to the prisoners from cities in the Northern Monarchy, do we have here the answer to the question: What became of the people who left Jeroboam's kingdom and fled to Judah, and "strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong, three years" (2), i.e. till its conquest by the Pharaoh?
Another question to which the scholars have no answer.
1. J. Simons: Handbook for the Study of Egyptian Topographic Lists Relating to Western
Asia (Leiden, 1937), pp. 34, 36.
2. II Chron. 11:17. Similarly, Josephus: Antiquities, VIII, x, 1.
by Immanuel Velikovsky
Dr Velikovsky sent comments to Dr Danelius after reading her paper, and has requested that some of these be printed here:-
My view of the paper of Dr Danelius is given here extracted from a personal letter to her, dated March 14, 1977. Dr Danelius is a very gifted researcher and innovator, and she herself carries the responsibility for challenging Breasted and all others: I do not wish that any authority I may carry should overshadow the discussion of my work.
Your paper on Hatshepsut* is an important contribution. With your paper on Thutmose III and Megiddo I am not in accord. I would still follow Breasted as to the position of Megiddo, and these are my considerations in short:
It seems to me that things went this way: When Jeroboam, upon the death of Solomon, returned from Egypt, he did not succeed immediately in taking over the entire area of the northern tribes. Megiddo was one of the fortresses (the main) built by Solomon, and it withstood the secession. Four or five years thereafter, Thutmose III moved into Palestine, and as his first step he "took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah" (II Chronicles 12:4). Rehoboam hurried to defend Megiddo. Thutmose did not put siege to Jerusalem: he wished first to eliminate the strategically-dominating stronghold that was a thorn in his plan. After a pitched battle outside of the gate, in which the King of Kadesh participated, he was hoisted to the fortress - after a while the King of Kadesh (Rehoboam) went out of the fortress and "humbled himself"; Jerusalem was not besieged: already at the walls of Megiddo the surrender and the loot of the Temple and the palace of Jerusalem were agreed upon.
This was about -940. Megiddo was not handed over by Thutmose to Jeroboam, but was kept as a fortress enclave in the land that was a divided vassalage (North-South), with an Egyptian-appointed commander.
In the letters of el-Amarna, Biridia (Biridi) is the commandant referred to as Biridri in the Annals of Shalmaneser III. The commandant of Megiddo (which he calls in the letters Mikida and Magiida, called Mykty by Thutmose in his Annals one hundred years earlier), Biridri has under him at the battle of Karkar charioteers of Ahab, and Syrians, and a thousand Musri soldiers (Egyptians).
Also the name of the brook (Taanak) referred to by Thutmose III next to Megiddo:
"One of the roads - behold it is to the east of us, so that it comes out at Taanach. The other - behold, it is to the north side of Djefti, and we will come out to the north of Megiddo ..."
Taanach is also next to Megiddo in the Bible (I Kings 4:12). Your equation of Taanach with the Tahhunah ridge does not strengthen your thesis.
Now as to the approach to Megiddo being a narrow pass - by what it is now, it cannot be judged what it was almost three thousand years ago. There could have been artificial mound-fortifications the length of the pass. Think, for instance, of Tyre of the time of Shalmaneser III or Nebuchadnezzar (who besieged it for 13 years), or even of the days of Alexander, when it withstood a protracted siege. Today its topography is completely changed.
The story as I see it explains what you see as insurmountable difficulties. I was asked what I think of your essay, and before I let it be known, I tell you this in the spirit of constructive co-operation.
[* E. Danelius: "The Identification of the Biblical 'Queen of Sheba' with Hatshepsut, 'Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia' as proclaimed by Immanuel Velikovsky - in the Light of New Archaeological Discoveries", Kronos I:3, pp. 3-18. and I:4, pp. 8-24.]