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The Mention Of The Israelites In Egyptian Scriptures

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There are several Egyptian documents that not only mention the Israelites in their texts, but also tie the Bible to historical facts. Egyptian documents such as the Tell el-Amarna letters, a large "stele" of the Menephtah, and the Elephantine papyri not only tell the history of Egypt, they also coincide with biblical scripture. The documents confirm not only dates, certain numbers, and rituals, such as circumcision, but places and event, e.g. The Exodus, of biblical stories.

According to James Orr, general editor for "The Definition for Egypt," the Tell el-Amarna Letters were discovered in 1887. "These documents refer to many Biblical cities; they also give much direct information concerning the political and social conditions at that period" (Orr, Palestine). Damien Mackey's "The House of David," shows the remarkable similarities between several rulers in Egypt and the three kings (Saul, David, and Salomon) mentioned in the Bible. In Michael Grant's "The History of Ancient Israel," he states that a ruler in the 14th century named Labayu ruled over Shechem and extended his kingdom as far as the Mediterranean coast (18). One model given in the case of Saul tells of a second name stated in Psalm 57; the name is Lebaim, "a unique word in the Old Testament meaning great lions." In line with this passage comes a reference from the Amarna letters; an Egyptian pharaoh whose name was Labayu, meaning "Great Lion of (N)' where N is a god's name" (Mackey 1).

The Amarna letters could also wrap together David and Tuthmosis III as one and the same. Labayu had sons that battled for an equally important roll after his death (Grant 18). In II Samuel 3:1, the passage tells of how Saul's two sons Ish-Bosheth and David fought for power. This leads Mackey to a comprehensive comparison between David and Tuthmosis I & III. A few illustrations in the contrast are ranging from military campaigns to coronation ceremonies (Mackey 3-5). In the military campaign of Megiddo, the records by Tuthmosis III describe the split of his armies to defeat scattered forces in separate Canaanite towns. Later, Tuthmosis rejoins his armies to capture of Megiddo (Orr, Palestine). This corresponds with II Samuel 11:1 account of David's conquest of Rabbah (Mackey 5).

Although, not as much information is found on the Elephantine papyri and the "stele" of Menephtah, they still display the bonds between the history of Egypt and biblical scriptures. The Elephantine papyri were discovered in 1905. They detail instructions as how to celebrate the Feast of the Passover (Keller 318). While on one "stele" of Menephtah "Israelites are mentioned by name" (Orr Palestine). Menephtah was an Egyptian Pharaoh from 1224-1221 B.C. It also details a military victory of the Israelites that corresponds to the time of the Hebrew Exodus (Grant 37).

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