Fast forward a couple of centuries later to around a 1600 BC and you come across the grim looking Pharaoh Sesostris III, (see the image to the right) who wrote on his Semna stela:
"I made my boundary, I went further south than my forefathers. I increased what was bequeathed to me...I am a king who speaks and acts. My heart's intentions are carried out by my arm. I am one who is agressive in order to seize, impatient in order to succeed, and who does not allow a matter to lie in his heart... aggression is valour while retreat is cowardice."
According to the Bible, the Israelites came to Israel at Joseph's behest. Later a king arose, who did not know Joseph, and sensing a threat in the increasing Israelite population, enslaved them (Exodus 1: 7-14). Sesostris III seems to fit the bill. He was responsible for a lot of building in the biblical Raamses area. The Bible records that the Israelites "built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses" (Exodus 1:11).
Rosalie David, who is in charge of the Egyptian department of the Manchester Museum writes:
"It is apparent that Asiatics were present in the town [Kahun] in some numbers, and this may have reflected the situation elsewhere in Egypt. It can be stated that these people were loosely classed by the Egyptians as Asiatics, although their exact homeland in Syria or Palestine cannot be determined...the reason for their presence in Egypt remains unclear".
The reason she's unclear is that she is unaware or is ignoring the Biblical record and is probably following the conventional (wrong) chronology. The presence of Asiatic slaves makes perfect sense in the light of the Bible.
Renowned skeptic Austrian archaeologist Manfred Bietak says:
“We uncovered the remains of a huge town of 250 hectares with a population of 25,000–30,000 individuals. These were people who originated from Canaan, Syria–Palestine. Originally they may have come here as subjects of the Egyptian crown or with the blessing of the Egyptian crown. Obviously, this town enjoyed something like a special status, like a free zone, something like that.”
He goes on to mention several details consistent with the Biblical picture of Israel in Egypt (Exodus 1 and 2), but he rejects the idea that these Semites were the Exodus Israelis because it is too early for them according to the conventional chronology.
The 12th dynasty ends with Amenemhet III, who had no sons. His daughter Sobekneferu also did not have a son. If a son was desperately needed, the Nile god of fertility had to be solicited.
In Exodus 2:5 onwards, the Bible records the daughter of Pharaoh coming for a dip in the Nile, and finding the Israelite baby Moses in a casket. He had been left there by his mother, who was trying to protect him from Pharaoh's orders - to kill every Israelite male child.
She adopted him as her own son. There's no reason for an Egyptian princess to adopt a slave child as son - unless she considers it an answer to prayer from Hapy, the Nile god of fertility.
The Bible says that the Israelites made bricks using straw. Surely enough, the pyramid of Amenemhet III (shown in the image) has bricks held together with straw. Straw is also found in bricks used in the buildings at Tanis, were Asiatic slaves were present [the ancient pyramids were made using huge stone blocks, not bricks].
The Bible also records that when Moses grew up, he killed an Egyptian, incurred the wrath of Pharaoh and fled to Midian (Arabia). As we look at the late 12th dynasty, we can't help notice Amenemhet IV, the junior co-regent of Amenemhet III whose parents are unnamed, and who abruptly disappears from the records when Amenemhet III is still ruling. Amenemhet IV never reigned independently, and when Amenemhet III died, the mantle fell on Sobekneferu, who thus became queen of Egypt, the last ruler of the 12th dynasty. Amenemhet IV may therefore have well been Moses!
Some confusion seems to have existed at the start of Dynasty 13. Perhaps there were several kings struggling for supremacy. Some stability seems to have been brought by Neferhotep I.It is significant that in the Bible when God asks Moses to return to Egypt, He mentions that those who sought to kill him were all dead (Exodus 4:19). All those who wanted to kill Moses were from dynasty 12, but now dynasty 13 had begun to rule!
The Liverpool Museum contains a bronze cobra rod belonging to a magician from this period. In Exodus 7:8 onwards, the Bible records that when Moses and Aaron asked Pharaoh for permission for the Israelites to leave, they demonstrated that God was guiding them by throwing down Moses' rod and having it turn into a snake. The Bible says that the Egyptian magicians replicated the sign, and Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites leave.
Then followed various plagues (see Exodus 7:14 onwards). The Nile was turned to blood, to demonstrate Jehovah's superiority over the Nile god Hapy. The plague of frogs demonstrated that Egypt's frog god Heqet was a farce. The subsequent plagues killed Egyptian livestock, demonstrating Jehovah's superiority over the Serapis bull and the cow goddess Hathor. The ninth plague struck at Egypt's chief god - Ra the Sun. There was darkness all over Egypt for three days, except in the place where the Isrealites lived (Exodus 10:22).
Leiden Museum, Holland has a papyrus fragment from Memphis, written by a scribe called Ipuwer. To be fair, it is dated from the 19th dynasty, but it well may have been a copy of a 12th dynasty document:
"Nay but the heart is violent. Plague stalks through the land and blood is everywhere. Nay, but the river is blood. Does a man drink from it? As a human he rejects it. He thirsts for water. ...Nay, but gates columns and walls are consumed by fire...It has come to this. The king has been taken away by poor men"
The last plague was the death of the first-born. Pharaoh relented and let the people of Israel leave. In fact, the Bible records that the terrified Egyptians forced the Israelites to depart in a hurry.
Ludicrous? Not really. The Egyptologist Flinders Petrie took some of the household articles that the Israelites left behind to Manchester Museum, England. Rosalie David, who is in charge of the Egyptian department of the Manchester Museum goes on to write about her "Asiatics": "It is evident that the completion of the king's pyramid was not the reason why Kahun's inhabitants eventually deserted the town, abandoning their tools and other possessions in the shops and houses. The quantity, range and type of articles of everyday use which were left behind (image) in the houses suggest that the departure was sudden and unpremeditated."The Bible also records that the Passover was instituted to commemorate this liberation, and Jews to this day celebrate it!
Neferhotep had a son called Wahneferhotep, but it is significant that he did not become king. Neferhotep was succeeded by his brother Sobkhotpe IV.
God had indeed fulfilled his prophecy, in a way only He could, after nearly 500 years!
All was not over yet! Pharaoh had a change of heart and ordered the Egyptian army to pursue the Israelites, who were near the Red Sea after three days of walking. God split the Red Sea and the Israelites crossed over at the straits of Tiran in the gulf of Aquaba. the Egyptians pursuing them were drowned when God released the waters of the Red Sea. It is significant that the mummy of Neferhotep I has not been found.
This stele in the Cairo Museum in Egypt. Erected by Pharaoh Merneptah, it contains the only mention in the whole of Egypt of the name "Israel". After a list of all those the pharaoh has defeated it says, "Israel is forsaken, her seed is not." Merneptah was the son of Rameses II; Rameses I was a nobody who only ruled for two years. The writing on this stele is consistent with the destruction of Israel in 722 BC by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser.
Pharaoh Taharka of dynasty 25 ruled from 690 to 664 BC, and he can be identified as Tiharka king of Ethiopia who opposed Sennacherib king of Assyria when he came to attack Judah (2 Kings 19:9). Again, he is called a king of Ethiopia because that's where he originally was from - he took over Egypt.
The Bible also mentions Necho II of dynasty 26. The Jewish king Josiah tried to intercept him as went to fight the Babylonians at Carchemish (2 Chronicles 35:20-21). Necho is also known for a canal he tried to build between the Nile and the Red Sea.
The Bible also mentions Pharaoh Hophra (see image). In 570 BC, his general Amasis rebelled against him and made himself king. Hophra took refuge in Babylon. In 587 BC, Jeremiah prophesied:
"Thus says Jehovah:Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life" (Jeremiah 44:30).
This prophecy was fulfilled when (according to Herodotus) Amasis handed Hophra to the Egyptians and they strangled him to death.