The Real Historical Shoshenq’s Role in Biblical Chronology

The Shaking Ground of Traditional Chronology

Series 1 Post 4

Compared to the role he has been given by archaic Western scholars involved in traditional Biblical Chronology it isn’t much.  He falls from being the Biblical Shishak; the sacker of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple to just another Egyptian Pharaoh taking his marching army north, to show his Egypt’s power to the Asians in Canaan.  Yet, he is special because he was the first Pharaoh since Merenptah in almost 300 years, to do this.  He had ascended to the ancient Double Throne of Egypt in 945 and set his army on its northern march after he had secured Egypt.

In those long years, Egypt had suffered: in the reign of Ramesses III, his own Libyan ancestors had invaded Egypt twice.  In between the Libyan invasions, Ramesses had to fight off the Sea Peoples and allowed them to settle in the area beyond his own northeastern border.  Economic woes due to corruption produced the first strike in recorded history in Ramesses III 29th year (Shaw, 2000: 304—306).  Later there was other terrors like international humiliation as in the insults levied against an Egyptian official on a mission to Byblos to obtain wood for the god Amun.  Today, we know of his misadventures from the Tale of Wenamun (Grimal: 1999: 314).

The Pharaohs after Ramesses III were so weak, and poor they couldn’t protect the tombs of the great 18th and 19th Dynasty’s Pharaohs so they robbed them themselves, and cached the human remains in hidden places that wouldn’t be discovered until the 1800’s BCE (Grimal, 1999:289—291).  During this period, the god Amun literally became Pharaoh it was his will, as expressed by his priesthood.  That had become more important than Pharaoh’s representation of him on Earth, in the actual matters of life (Shaw, 2000: 313,331).

Finally, as the male line of the Ramesses Pharaohs, there were eleven in total, dies out.  Egypt divided again into Upper and Lower Egypt with the Chief Priest whom were also military commanders ruling Upper Egypt from Thebes, and a Pharaoh type king ruling in Lower delta area (Grimal: 1999: 285—289).  It isn’t such of a wonder now about the Tale of Wenamun.  Egypt had fallen low; its new Pharaoh Shoshenq wasn’t even an Egyptian, but a descendant of Libyan war prisoners.

Now Shoshenq, like the great ones before him Thutmose III, Seti I, his son Ramesses II and grandson Merenptah was taking his armies north clearly, demonstrating with his army in tow.  That he would tolerate no incursions into the sphere of historical Egyptian influence in the Southern Levant.  Nor would it hurt to remind these Southern Levant states of their proper place in a world ruled by Egypt, so his march northward had double purpose.

Fortunately, for him Assyria was still in its period of decline it had started after the murder of its King Tiglath-Pileser I in 1076 (Healy, 2000: 5).  It would not come out of it until thirteen years, after his own death in 924.  Therefore, he inflicted his depravations to the areas north of the Judean Hill country, such as outer Samaria and parts of Edom (Myśliwiec, 2000: 45).  He even attacks Megiddo, but not Jerusalem (Rohl, 1995: 124—127).  These areas traditionally persisted just beyond ancient Egyptian concerns and control (Redford, 1993: 33—35).

From Ancient Iraq, by Georges Roux facing page 267, with much gratitude.

Tiglath-Pileser I, was one of Assyria’s great warrior kings leading his armies against the expanding Aramareans whom he fought a recorded twenty-eight times protecting his Assyrian homeland, he also the first to name these people into history.  During his reign 1115-1076 he defeated a people he called Hittites, but they had called themselves the Milid, but linguistically and culturally related to the once powerful Hittite Empire that never recovered from its collapse in 1180 (Macqueen, 1999: 154—155).  Finally, he led his victorious army to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea (Stiebing 2003: 215).   Where he claims, tribute received from as many as three Phoenician cities, including Byblos and Sidon ancient trading partners with Egypt.  He secured Lebanese cedar and even claims to have been fishing with his “hosts” (Moscati, 1997:32).

The last Assyrian kings to threaten the Mediterranean states date to the Egyptian 19th dynasty during Ramesses II and his son Merenptah’s reigns that with their Hittite ally formed a barrier that could not be breached by the Assyrians.  Although the Assyrians at that time did manage, finally to defeat what was left of the once great Mitanni state removing it from Hittite influence moving it into theirs (Macqueen, 1999: 50). Pharaoh Shoshenq in his march north reminded those states he went through it wasn’t just the Assyrians they had to fear.  His Egypt was once again powerful and very much alive.

Works cited

Grimal, Nicolas.  A History of Ancient Egypt.  Trans.  Ian Shaw.  Oxford, Gt. Brit.: Blackwell, 1999. 314,  285—9  Print.

Healy, Mark.  The Ancient Assyrians.  Oxford, Gt. Brit: Osprey, 2000. 5  Print.

Macqueen, J.G.  The Hittites and their contemporaries in Asia Minor.  Rev. Ed.  New York: Thames, 1999. 50, 154—155 Print.

Moscati, Sabatino, ed.  The Phoenicians.  New York: Rizzoli, 1997. 32  Print.

Myśliwiec, Karol.  The Twilight of Ancient Egypt; First Millennium B.C.E.  Trans. David Lorton.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2000.  45  Print.

Redford, Donald B.  Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times.  1st Pb. ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1993.  33—35  Print.

Rohl, David M.  Pharaohs and Kings; a Biblical Quest.  New York: Crown, 1995.  124—7   Print.  Originally published in Gt. Brit. as A Test of Time.

Shaw, Ian. ed.  The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt.  Oxford, Gt. Brit: Oxford UP, 2000.  304—6, 313, 331  Print.

Stiebing, William H. Jr.  Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture.  N.p.: Longman, 2003.  215  Print.

©Abram Back in Time 2000—2107.  All rights reserved.

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