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Title: Tell el Amarna and the Bible
Author: Pfeiffer, Charles Franklin
Language: English
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                 BAKER STUDIES IN BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY



                             TELL EL AMARNA
                                  AND
                               THE BIBLE


                                   by
                          Charles F. Pfeiffer


                            BAKER BOOK HOUSE
                         Grand Rapids, Michigan

           Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 62-20014

                          Copyright, 1963, by
                        Baker Book House Company

                          ISBN: 0-8010-7002-3

                     _Fourth printing, April 1980_

               PHOTOLITHOPRINTED BY CUSHING-MALLOY, INC.
             ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
                                  1980



                                CONTENTS


I. Discoveries at Amarna                                               9

II. The Restless Pharaoh                                              16

III. The Horizon of Aton                                              26

IV. Atonism                                                           31

V. The Hymn to the Aton                                               38

VI. The Affairs of Empire                                             44

VII. Trade and Commerce During the Amarna Age                         55

VIII. The Art of Amarna                                               58

IX. The End of an Era                                                 62

X. Amarna and the Bible                                               67



                             Illustrations


Map of Ancient Egypt                                                   8
Amarna Tablets                                                        11
                         Courtesy, British Museum
Map of Akhetaton, the City of Akhenaton                               15
Commemorative Scarab of Amenhotep III                                 18
       Courtesy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1935
Amenhotep III                                                         18
                  Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Akhenaton and Nofretete                                               21
                      Courtesy, The Brooklyn Museum
Seated Figure of Akhenaton                                            22
                           Courtesy, the Louvre
Seated Figure of Akhenaton (detail)                                   22
         Courtesy, The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
A Princess at Akhetaton                                               24
                  Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Princess Manyet-aton                                                  24
Courtesy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Theodore M. Davies, 1907
King Tutankhamon                                                      25
         Courtesy, The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
The Estate of a Nobleman                                              29
         Courtesy, The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
Hapi, God of the Nile                                                 32
                  Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Beneficent Aton                                                   35
    Courtesy, The Egyptian Expedition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Akhenaton Worshiping Aton                                             37
                 Courtesy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Amarna Style Head                                                     59
         Courtesy, The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
Queen Nofretete                                                       59
         Courtesy, The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
The Throne of Tutankhamon                                             63
                        Courtesy, The Cairo Museum
Tutankhamon and His God                                               63
                           Courtesy, The Louvre
Horemhab                                                              65
  Courtesy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Everit
                                Macy, 1923



                                PREFACE


The Amarna Age—the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries before
Christ—provides the archaeologist rich resources for the study of
ancient cultures. The epic and mythological literature from Ras Shamra,
ancient Ugarit on the Phoenician coast, dates from this period, as do
the Nuzi tablets written by Hurrian scribes in Mitanni. The Ugaritic
texts give us an insight into the language and religious thought of
ancient Canaan, and the archives from Nuzi offer a wealth of information
concerning the social, economic, and legal structure of northern
Mesopotamia in Patriarchal times.

During the Amarna Age the Hittite Empire was pushing southward from its
center in Asia Minor, seeking to incorporate into its domains both
independent states and areas that had acknowledged Egyptian sovereignty.
Minoan Crete had already reached her highest achievements and was fast
approaching her end. Babylon had already enjoyed a period of prosperity
and power under the great Hammurabi, but she would not again become a
major power for seven centuries—when Nebuchadnezzar would lead her to
fresh victories. Assyria was soon to send her armies into Syria and
Palestine and challenge Egypt for control of the East, but she was still
a minor power during the Amarna Age.

The present study is limited to events in Egypt and to Egypt’s political
and military relations with her vassals in Syria and Palestine. The
Amarna Tablets are our primary source of information for Egypt’s
external affairs, and the artifacts and tomb inscriptions from Amarna
(ancient Akhetaton) help us to reconstruct life at the court of
Akhenaton—the Pharaoh whose personality is apparent in every chapter.

The author expresses his indebtedness to the scholars whose books are
listed in the bibliography, and to those organizations which made
available the photographs which are an important part of the present
study. The president and staff of the Baker Book House have shown every
consideration in the planning of the series, Baker Studies in Biblical
Archaeology, and in the production of this, the second volume.

                                                     Charles F. Pfeiffer

  Central Michigan University
  Mount Pleasant, Michigan

                     [Illustration: ANCIENT EGYPT]



                                   I
                         DISCOVERIES AT AMARNA


Early in the eighteenth century an Arab tribe known as the Beni Amran
settled in a semicircular plain about one hundred ninety miles south of
Cairo. Here, clustered along the east bank of the Nile, they built the
villages of El Till, El Hag Quandil, El Amariah and Hawata. When the
Danish traveler F. L. Norden visited the area in 1773 he noted that the
natives called it Beni Amran, or Omarne. The name Tell el Amarna, by
which it is popularly known today, seems to have been coined by John
Gardner Wilkinson, the amateur Egyptologist who did so much to
popularize Egyptian studies in Victorian Britain. Wilkinson combined the
name of the village El Till (altered to the more common word _tell_,
which means “mound” in Arabic) with the tribal name El Amarna, from the
Beni Amran. The name Tell el Amarna is not strictly correct, for the
ancient city of Akhetaton which occupied the site of Amarna does not
have a succession of levels indicating different periods of occupation,
such as archaeologists identify in the mounds of Palestine and
Mesopotamia. Akhetaton was built to be the capital of Pharaoh Amenhotep
IV, better known as Akhenaton, about 1365 B.C., and was abandoned half a
century later.


The Beginnings

Egyptian archaeology gained impetus in modern times following Napoleon’s
ill-fated Egyptian campaign. The savants who accompanied the army of
Napoleon studied Egyptian antiquities and discovered the trilingual
inscription known as the Rosetta Stone which provided scholars with the
key to the decipherment of hieroglyphic writing. That, in turn, enabled
modern students to get a firsthand view of life in ancient Egypt,
instead of depending on references to Egypt in classical literature for
basic information.

A French scholar, Jean Francois Champollion, studied the Rosetta Stone
in the light of his previous work in Coptic, a late form of the Egyptian
language which used a modified Greek alphabet. After four years of
research, in 1822 Champollion published his conclusions which provided a
firm foundation for the science of Egyptology which was soon added to
the curricula of the major universities of Europe. Scholars, both
professional and amateur, began making their way to Egypt to copy
inscriptions and study antiquities.

The rock tombs beyond the Amarna plain did not escape these early
travelers. During his explorations in Egypt from 1821 to 1831, John
Gardner Wilkinson visited Amarna, and a more systematic study of the
nearby tombs was made by a Prussian expedition directed by Karl Richard
Lepsius from 1842 to 1845. Amarna art and inscriptions found a place in
the twelve volume work of Lepsius, _Denkmaler aus Aegypten und
Athiopien_ (in English, _The Monuments from Egypt and Ethiopia_). The
Prussians traced the ground plan of Akhetaton, observing the lines of
its ancient streets. They noted that some of the remains of the
principal temple were still standing.


The Amarna Tablets

It was late in 1887, however, before Amarna yielded its most spectacular
treasures, and even then it took some time before their value was
recognized. When mud brick walls decompose, they form a nitrous soil
which the Egyptians have learned to use as fertilizer. A peasant woman,
digging for this fertilizer among the Amarna ruins, came upon a quantity
of small baked clay tablets bearing cuneiform inscriptions. Some of the
tablets were as small as two and one-eighth by one and eleven-sixteenths
inches, while others were as large as eight and three-quarters by four
and seven-eighth inches. Thousands of such tablets have been found among
the ruins of ancient Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian cities, where
cuneiform was the normal means of written communication from about 3000
BC, when history began, until the days of the Persian Empire (550-331
B.C.) when Aramaic, using an alphabet script, took its place. Cuneiform,
however, seemed strangely out of place in Egypt. The woman who had
accidently come upon the tablets, not knowing their value, is said to
have disposed of her interest in the find for ten piasters—about fifty
cents. The enterprising purchaser knew that Europeans were paying for
antiquities from Egypt and he sought means of disposing of them at a
good price.

   [Illustration: Amarna Tablets from the British Museum. The tablets
     comprise correspondence between the rulers of the nations and
city-states of western Asia and the Egyptian Pharaohs Amenhotep III and
                       Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton).]

An antiquities dealer showed wisdom in sending several of the texts to a
noted Assyriologist, Jules Oppert of Paris, doubtless thinking that
Oppert might encourage the Louvre to purchase them. Oppert had had
extensive experience in archaeological work in the Near East. He had
directed a French expedition at Babylon in 1852, and had subsequently
been active in the work of deciphering cuneiform inscriptions. When
Jules Oppert saw the Amarna tablets, however, he summarily dismissed
them as forgeries. The story that they had been found in Egypt may have
been too much for him to take. Tablets were also sent to the head of the
Egyptian Department of Antiquities, G. M. E. Grebaut, but he ventured no
opinion concerning their worth. Perhaps he, too, was puzzled at the
thought of cuneiform inscriptions in Egypt.

Since the authorities had shown no interest in the tablets, many of them
were dumped into sacks and carried by donkey to Luxor with the hope that
dealers there might be able to dispose of them through sale to tourists.
In the process of transportation many of the tablets were literally
ground to bits. Those that survived may be but a small fraction of the
original archive.

Chauncey Murch, an American missionary stationed at Luxor, learned about
the tablets and suspected they might be of real value. He, along with
friendly antiquities dealers, brought them to the attention of E. A.
Wallis Budge, Keeper of the Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities in the
British Museum, who happened to be in Egypt at the time for the purpose
of adding to the museum collection. Budge was enthusiastic with what he
saw, although he was by no means the only one who had come to realize
that these little lumps of baked clay would be of inestimable value to
the linguist and the historian of the ancient East. Although we have no
way of knowing exactly how many of the tablets were irretrievably
damaged or destroyed, about three hundred and fifty were preserved, and
later discoveries increased the total number of Amarna tablets in the
various collections to about four hundred.

Budge would have purchased the entire lot for the British Museum, but
the tablets were in the hands of several dealers, some of whom had made
agreements with an agent of the Berlin Museum for the sale of
antiquities. As a result the British Museum and the Berlin Museum each
acquired collections of Amarna Tablets, and smaller quantities went
elsewhere. Budge acquired eighty-two for the British Museum and Theodore
Graf of Vienna purchased about one hundred and eighty tablets which were
sold to J. Simon of Berlin for presentation to the museum. The Berlin
collection was subsequently increased to over two hundred. Sixty of the
tablets remained in Cairo, twenty-two from a later discovery went to the
Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, and the remainder are scattered among other
museums and private collections. The Louvre has six, two are in the
Metropolitan Museum in New York City, and one is in the Oriental
Institute of the University of Chicago.

In 1892, Frederick J. Bliss, while excavating Tell el Hesi in southern
Palestine discovered a cuneiform tablet which mentions a name known from
the Amarna tablets. It evidently dates from the Amarna period. At
Taanach, five miles southeast of Megiddo in northern Palestine, Ernst
Sellin discovered four more letters in 1903. They date in the fifteenth
century B.C., about three generations before the bulk of the Amarna
tablets. As late as the winter of 1933-34, members of the Egyptian
Exploration Society discovered eight additional tablets at the original
site. Six of these were school texts and exercises used by students in
the local academy where Egyptians were taught to read and write
Akkadian.

Several of the Amarna tablets contain lists of signs and items of
vocabulary. Others are practice copies of such Akkadian myths as _Adapa
and the South Wind_, _Ereshkigal and Nergal_, and the _King of Battle_
epic. Most, however, comprise the diplomatic correspondence of the
Egyptian Foreign Office during the reigns of Amenhotep III and IV
(Akhenaton). The archives included letters to and from Babylon (13
items), Assyria (2), Mitanni (13), Alashia (=Cyprus?) (8), the Hittites
(at least 1). Two letters, written in a Hittite dialect, probably
involve the king of Arzawa, a region along the southern coast of Asia
Minor. One letter is written to the kings of Canaan demanding safe
passage of a messenger who is on his way to Egypt. Another is a letter
from a Babylonian princess to the Egyptian ruler. Most of the
rest—actually about four-fifths of the whole collection—are letters to
and from the rulers of city-states of Canaan (_Kinahni_), a name
applying in general to Palestine, Syria, and Phoenicia; and the Amorites
(_Amurru_) of Lebanon. This extensive correspondence enables us to
reconstruct the political history of the Near East during the fifteenth
and fourteenth centuries B.C., a period frequently called the Amarna
Age. While neither the Egyptian Pharaohs nor the rulers of Canaanite
city-states used Akkadian as their mother tongue, it served as the
language of diplomacy among people with varied ethnic backgrounds.


Excavations at Amarna

With the recognition of the nature and value of the Amarna texts,
attention naturally turned to the place where they were discovered. In
1891 W. Flinders Petrie, who had already spent a decade in Egypt, began
excavating the Amarna ruins. He cleared many of the official buildings
in the center of the city, and several houses farther south. Near the
village of El Till he discovered the painted pavements of Akhenaton’s
palace, and remains of the ornamental decorations of the palace itself.
To the east of the palace was the chamber in which the Foreign Office
records were kept. This was where the first Amarna Tablets were
discovered in 1887, and here Petrie uncovered twenty-two additional
fragments which comprise the collection now in the Ashmolean Museum.

From 1907 until the outbreak of World War I, a German expedition under
the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft began the systematic excavation of the
Amarna ruins. After several trial digs they undertook the excavation of
the southern end of the site (1911), progressing northward along the
ancient thoroughfare known as High Priest Street. The most impressive
discovery of these years was the studio which belonged to the sculptor
Thutmose, which contained some of the finest specimens of ancient
Egyptian art. The famed painted limestone bust of Nofretete was the work
of Thutmose. The studio also contained excellent heads of Akhenaton, and
of the young princesses who graced the royal household.

The sculptures and rock tombs, first described by Wilkinson and Lepsius,
were subjected to vandalism by peasants who found that they could make
money by chipping off sections of the inscriptions and selling them as
antiquities. Fortunately this was halted by action of the Egyptian
government, and a definitive study of the tombs was made by the Mission
Archeologique Francaise and the Egypt Exploration Fund. The results were
published in a definitive six volume work, _The Rock Tombs of El Amarna_
by N. deGaris Davies from 1903 to 1908.

Since World War I, archeological work at Amarna has been the
responsibility of the Egypt Exploration Society. T. Eric Peet and
Leonard Woolley conducted a series of campaigns beginning in 1921 during
which they continued the work of the Germans at the southern section of
the town. They excavated the pleasure palace known as Meru Aton and much
of the walled village inhabited by the ancient workmen who labored in
the rock tombs east of the city. Tomb chapels were excavated north of
the workmen’s village, and a sanctuary known as the River Temple was
discovered in the village of El Hag Qandil.

During the 1923-24 campaign, F. G. Newton and F. Llewellyn Griffith
continued work in the southern sector and began excavation of the North
Palace, north of El Till. The following season, following Newton’s
death, Thomas Whittemore completed work at the North Palace and adjacent
structures. From 1926 to 1929 the work was directed by Henri Frankfort
who continued excavating in the north and gave particular attention to
work in the neighborhood of the Great Temple. John D. S. Pendlebury, who
took over direction of the work in 1930, completed excavations in the
north. In a series of campaigns between 1931 and 1937, Pendlebury
directed work on the official quarters of the central city, including
the palace and the Great Temple.

Archaeological work was concluded at Amarna in 1937. The site had great
advantages, for it was the one city of Egypt which was never rebuilt.
Most of our knowledge of ancient Egypt comes from discoveries in desert
tombs, for ancient cities were usually replaced by modern cities on the
same site. Akhetaton, however, was the sacred city of a Pharaoh whom
later generations despised as a criminal; and after his death its
significance was at an end. Just because it was not rebuilt centuries
ago, today it yields an impressive picture of the times of Akhenaton.

           [Illustration: Akhetaton, the city of Akhenaton.]



                                   II
                          THE RESTLESS PHARAOH


Although Pharaohs of the third millenium B.C. exploited Sinai copper
mines, and Middle Kingdom rulers sent trading expeditions to Punt on the
African coast, opposite Aden, Egypt alone was considered to be a
civilized land and foreigners could be dismissed as uncouth barbarians.
Egypt lived in splendid isolation, annoyed at times by Semites who had
infiltrated the fertile Nile Valley since prehistoric times, but never
seriously involved in life beyond her borders. Her land appeared to be
particularly favored of the gods, and the Egyptian could not think of it
otherwise.

Yet the blessings of life along the Nile did not insure to Egypt a
government that could meet challenges from without and guarantee peace
and prosperity within the Nile Valley and Delta. By about 1700 B.C.,
Egypt experienced the weakening of central authority which permitted the
invading Hyksos (“rulers of foreign lands”) to seize control of the
country and establish their own dynasty. The prosperous Middle Kingdom
was at an end, and the hard hand of alien rule was evident throughout
the land. It was not until 1570 B.C. that Ahmose, founder of the
Eighteenth Dynasty, succeeded in driving the Hyksos back into Asia and
establishing native control over Egypt.


The New Kingdom

The Hyksos invasion left one lesson: Never again could Egypt adopt a
policy of isolation. The best defense is offense. As Asiatic Hyksos
rulers had marched upon Egypt, so Egypt would march her armies into
Asia. Thutmose I (1525-1494 B.C.) campaigned successfully in Asia, and
under Thutmose III (1490-1435 B.C.) western Asia was brought under the
control of Egyptian arms. During his seventeen campaigns in Palestine
and Syria, Thutmose III took Megiddo in the Valley of Esdraelon and
Carchemish on the Euphrates. Egyptian authority extended from the Sudan
to the Euphrates, and the reigning Pharaoh was suzerain of Syria and
Palestine. The king list at Karnak lists one hundred nineteen towns
taken by Thutmose III. Often the Egyptians were content to allow a
native prince to remain in power as long as he was willing to provide
tribute and manpower to the Egyptian commissioner. Important cities were
ruled directly by an Egyptian governor.

In theory the Pharaoh was a god with absolute power whose word was law.
The Egyptians have left us no law codes, and it may be that they sensed
no need of such codified law as we find in Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, and
among the Hittites (as well as the Biblical Hebrews). The presence of a
living god in the land might render such written codes unnecessary.

In practice, however, as Egypt extended her Empire the personal
involvement of the Pharaoh became progressively less. The priesthood of
Amon-Re, god of Thebes and chief god of the Egyptian pantheon, developed
enormous power. Before any important decision it was expected that the
Pharaoh would consult the oracle of Amon-Re. Hundreds of civil servants
were required to care for the needs of a great Empire, and most of these
were drawn from a few powerful families. The result was a bureaucracy
which, like the priesthood, could serve as a power block. The army, and
particularly its commander, was a third factor that could not be ignored
by Egyptian officialdom. While the Pharaoh was theoretically the head of
church and state—god and king in Egypt—in practice he might find himself
frustrated at every turn by religious, civil, and military
bureaucracies.

From the campaigns of Thutmose III until late in the reign of Amenhotep
III (_ca._ 1360 B.C.) the Egyptian Empire seems to have functioned with
maximum efficiency. The riches of Nubia, Crete, western Asia, and even
distant Mycenae poured into Thebes, the Egyptian capital. A Mitannian
princess graced the harem of Thutmose IV (1414-1406 B.C.). Amenhotep III
caused his name and that of his wife to be cut into a group of scarabs
with the inscription, “She is the wife of the victorious king whose
territory in the south reaches to Karei (=Napata, at the Fourth Cataract
of the Nile) and on the north to Naharin (=Mitanni).”[1]

  [Illustration: Commemorative Scarab of Amenhotep III. Issued on the
 occasion of the construction of a pleasure lake for Queen Tiy: (above)
                  side view, and (below) inscription.]

   [Illustration: Amenhotep III. The brown quartzite head depicts the
                   Pharaoh with an enigmatic smile.]

Amenhotep III was responsible for the immense colonnades at Luxor and a
great funerary temple which has disappeared except for two immense
seated statues of the Pharaoh now known as the Colossi of Memmon
(supposedly representing an Ethiopian hero who fell on the battlefield
at Troy). Although the harem of Amenhotep III included daughters from
the kings of Mitanni, Assyria, Babylon, and the Hittites, he was devoted
to his wife Tiy for whom he built an artificial lake a mile long and
over a thousand feet wide south of the Medinet Habu temple.

The decline in Egyptian power may be traced to the latter half of the
reign of Amenhotep III. While the Pharaoh was sick, his wife Tiy seems
to have exercised considerable power. The balance of power in Asia was
upset by the rise of Suppiluliumas (1375-1340 B.C.), a Hittite ruler who
sought to carve out an empire for himself. Egypt avoided military
action, with the result that the loyal princes were left to defend
themselves or make their own terms with the enemy.


Young Amenhotep IV

When Amenhotep III died he was succeeded by his eleven year old son
Amenhotep IV (1370-1353 B.C.), and the queen mother Tiy continued to act
as regent. In addition to the influence of his mother, young Amenhotep
IV was educated by the priest, Eye, who was the husband of his childhood
nurse. No doubt Amenhotep was early married to the fair Nofretete who
may have been his sister. Brother-sister marriages were common in
ancient Egypt, but we cannot be certain concerning the parentage of
Nofretete. Under the tutelage of his mother, his wife, and a favored
priest, young Amenhotep could hardly be expected to have developed an
interest in military affairs. His interest turned toward religion and,
in the words of Breasted, “the philosophizing theology of the priests
was of more importance to him than all the provinces of Asia.”[2]

Amenhotep IV is depicted as having a thin face, narrow sloping
shoulders, and unusually large hips and abdomen. His skull seems to have
been deformed, and he may have been an epileptic. These handicaps did
not affect his mind, however, for he was one of history’s creative
thinkers. Breasted (with considerable hyperbole, to be sure), calls him
“the first individual in human history.”[3] Unfortunately the
international tensions of the day were such that Egypt needed a warrior
rather than a philosopher king. The idealism of Amenhotep IV was largely
lost on his own generation, and entirely lost on the generation that
followed him.

Nofretete was devoted both to her husband and to the religious reforms
to which he dedicated his life. She bore him six daughters and appears
to have been her husband’s constant companion and confidant. Nofretete
was, understandably, a favored subject in Amarna art. Reliefs depict her
playing with her daughters, and one shows her seated on her husband’s
knee, blowing him a kiss at a chariot procession.

During the early years of his reign, Amenhotep IV clearly favored the
god Aton, but he was tolerant of the various deities worshiped in Egypt.
In this he continued the policy of his father, Amenhotep III, and his
mother, Queen Tiy. The preference for the god Aton is evident in the
name of the first child of Amenhotep IV, Merit-aton (“Beloved of Aton”).

The priests of Amon in Thebes must have looked with apprehension upon
the youthful Pharaoh whose devotion to the chief god of Egypt seemed to
be compromised by religious innovation. We can only guess their reaction
when Amenhotep IV decided to build a temple to Aton within the sacred
precincts of the city of Amon. Orders were given to quarry sandstone at
the Silsila quarries, forty miles north of Aswan. Here a monument was
erected to mark the beginning of the quarrying operation:

  First occurrence of His Majesty’s giving command to muster all the
  workmen from Elephantine to Samhudet, and the leaders of the army, in
  order to make a great breach for cutting out sandstone, in order to
  make the sanctuary of Harakhti in his name, “Heat which is in Aton,”
  in Karnak. Behold the officials, the companions, and the chiefs of the
  fan bearers were the chiefs of the quarry service for the
  transportation of stone.[4]

Amenhotep IV was twenty-one when he created the Aton temple at Thebes.
He was still attempting to form a synthesis of old and new elements in
his religious faith, for the old god Re-Harakhti of Heliopolis is
identified with Aton. The Silsila stele depicts Amenhotep IV worshiping
Amon, yet it also shows Aton (the sun) with rays of light which hold the
Egyptian sign of life (_ankh_). Amon, Re-Harakhti, and Aton all figure
in the Silsila stele.

    [Illustration: Akhenaton and Nofretete. A limestone plaque from
         Akhetaton depicts the Pharaoh and his beautiful wife.]


The Break with Amon

Amenhotep IV, however, was unable to stop with half-way measures. In his
devotion to Aton he felt that his god alone was worthy of worship. The
Theban temple area was renamed, “The Brightness of the Great Aton,” and
the city itself became, “The City of the Brightness of Aton.” In an
obvious break with the past, Amenhotep IV determined to change his own
name, which meant “Amon is satisfied” to Akhenaton, meaning, “he who is
serviceable to Aton.”

From this time on, Akhenaton’s zeal knew no bounds. He banished the
mention of Re-Harakhti from the descriptive title of Aton, and had the
very names of Amon and the Egyptian pantheon chiseled out of the
monuments at Thebes. The Amon temples were closed, and Atonism became
the only sanctioned religion of Egypt. The reform, however, did not have
a popular base, and it probably did not penetrate far beyond the royal
family and retainers. Akhenaton, like the earlier Pharaohs, believed in
his own divinity, esteeming himself the son of Aton. As such he would be
worshiped by his faithful subjects.

[Illustration: Seated Figure of Akhenaton. The young king is depicted in
a conventional pose at Thebes before he moved his capital to Akhetaton.]

 [Illustration: Seated Figure of Akhenaton—detail. The young Akhenaton
is presented with a crook and flail in his hand, symbolizing authority,
    and the uraeus, symbol of royalty, at his head. The uraeus is a
  stylized representation of an enraged female cobra, poised as though
                     prepared to strike an enemy.]

The reasons for Akhenaton’s break with the religious traditions of his
day are complex. In part the revolt certainly represents the desire of a
young Pharaoh to free himself from the yoke of a firmly entrenched
priestly class. Yet the break was far more than an act of political
expediency. The influence of the priesthood of Heliopolis, perennial
rivals of the Theban priests, and the development of Atonism in the
years preceding his accession to the throne are all factors that cannot
be overlooked. Perhaps the “petticoat government” into which he moved at
the age of eleven with the strong influence of his mother, Queen Tiy,
had something to do with it. There may even be a measure of compensation
for physical inadequacies in the vigorous measures he took to establish
Aton as the sole god of Egypt. Whatever historical or psychological
motivations may be suggested, Akhenaton’s whole life gives evidence of
the fact that he was piously devoted to Aton, the god whose beneficent
rays bring life to all mankind.

While the priests of Amon were bitterly antagonistic to Akhenaton, he
found allies in the priests from Memphis who had long resented the
dominating position of the Theban priesthood. The army was divided.
Conservative elements sided with the Theban priests, but a bright young
general, Horemhab, saw in Akhenaton’s revolt an opportunity for personal
advancement and threw in his lot with the new king. There is a
suggestion that a counter revolution was planned, for the Amon priests
claimed that the Pharaoh had abandoned his people, and was himself
abandoned by his father Amon.


The New Capital

Akhenaton did abandon Thebes. As tensions grew he came to realize that
his new faith could not flourish in the city of Amon. There were
theological reasons, too, for Aton had no city that was distinctly
dedicated to his worship. Akhenaton decided to build a new capital,
dedicated to the god Aton, with the name Akhetaton, “the horizon of
Aton.”

The move to Akhetaton, modern Amarna, three hundred miles north of
Thebes, must have been welcome both to Akhenaton’s court and the Theban
priesthood. The city seems to have been built in haste, and when
Akhenaton left Thebes it was for good. Was life at Akhetaton all that
Akhenaton envisioned? The inscriptions and the paintings from the rock
tombs suggest that the royal family enjoyed a few happy years in
devotion to Aton and to one another. True, the envoys from distant lands
and subject peoples noted the growing gulf between Akhenaton and the
people, and the empire suffered as the Egyptian Pharaoh lived in the
seclusion of his capital. Tragedy entered the lives of Akhenaton and
Nofretete when their second daughter Meketaton died and was buried in
the family tomb east of Akhetaton.


The End of an Era

The closing years of the lives of Nofretete and Akhenaton are largely a
blank. Their third daughter Meritaton married Smenkhkare, a young
architect who was much favored by Akhenaton and occupied the throne for
a short time after his death. Another daughter Ankhsenpaton, married
Tutankhaton, a loyal follower of her father. His brief reign left no
impress on Egyptian history. The discovery of his tomb, however, in the
Valley of the Kings, has made him the best known of all Pharaohs.

 [Illustration: A Princess at Akhetaton. A limestone relief showing one
   of the daughters of Akhenaton and his wife Nofretete discovered at
                                Amarna.]

 [Illustration: Princess Manyet-aton. A representation of the princess
 was adapted for use as the lid of a canopic jar used in the burial of
  Akhenaton. Discovered in the tomb of Smenkhkare in the Valley of the
                            Kings, Thebes.]

The circumstances concerning the deaths of Nofretete and Akhenaton are
not known, although we do know that Akhenaton died in the seventeenth
year of his reign, when he was but thirty years of age. Atonism did not
long survive its most loyal adherents. Meritaton became Meritamon, and
the famed King Tut is known by his later name, Tutankhamon, rather than
the earlier Tuntankhaton. In many ways Akhenaton seems to have been a
man whose life was a failure. All for which he stood was quickly
obliterated during the scant generation after his death. Yet this
judgment is too hasty. Even the priests of Amon could not wholly turn
back the reforms in art and literature which Akhenaton encouraged. While
such terms as “monotheist” and “pacifist” when applied to him bear a
different connotation from their meaning in contemporary life, still his
meditation upon the Aton bringing blessing to all men has within it the
seed of something that finds its highest expression in the prophetic
spokesmen of ancient Israel. Akhenaton went too far for his own
generation in Egypt, but the Biblical affirmation of God as creator of
heaven and earth and redeemer of mankind was hardly apprehended by
Akhenaton.

    [Illustration: King Tutankhamon. Under the famed “King Tut” the
 religious reforms of Akhenaton were renounced and Amon was restored to
  his place as the principal god of Egypt. Statue from Medinet Habu.]



                                  III
                          THE HORIZON OF ATON


When Akhenaton determined to build a new city which would be sacred to
his god Aton, he chose a site on the east bank of the Nile, three
hundred miles north of Thebes, where the flanking cliffs recede to leave
a semicircular plain eight miles long and three broad. Here Akhenaton
built the capital city which he named Akhetaton, “the horizon of Aton.”
The city itself was five miles long but only about eleven hundred yards
broad. It had no walls, for the Nile formed its western boundary and a
semicircle of cliffs bound it on the east. The fertile land along the
river bank was kept for cultivation.


The Boundaries of Akhetaton

Akhenaton and his wife Nofretete personally chose the site of Akhetaton
and supervised the erection of the stelae which marked its boundaries.
In all, fourteen of these markers have been found on the hillsides east
and west of the Nile. They contain a longer and a shorter version of the
ceremony by which the site was consecrated. The shorter version tells
how, on the eighth month of the sixth year of Akhenaton’s reign, he
mounted his golden chariot and journeyed northward from the richly
ornamented tent where he had passed the night to fix the limits of the
projected city of Akhetaton. After sacrificing to his god, Aton, he
drove southward to a spot where the rays of the sun shining on him
indicated where the southern boundary should be located. Here he swore
an oath by his father Aton, and by his hope that the queen and his two
(elder) daughters would attain old age, that he would never pass beyond
this boundary, and beyond two more on the east bank and three on the
west bank. All land within that area belonged to Aton, and should any
damage befall the stelae marking it, he would make it good. Mention is
made of a renewal of the oath in the eighth year.

The longer version adds some details. It tells how Akhenaton called his
courtiers and military commanders, explaining to them Aton’s wish that
Akhetaton be built. Aton alone knew the site, and it is his alone. The
courtiers reply that all countries will send gifts to Aton. Akhenaton
praises his god and vows that he will never extend the city’s
boundaries, nor allow his wife to persuade him to do so. Then he
enumerates the sanctuaries he will build at Akhetaton, ending with a
reference to his family tomb.[5]

The pledge never to extend the boundaries of Akhetaton is puzzling. It
seems to be a concession to the Amon priesthood that he will limit
Aton’s holdings to the few miles of territory in the region of present
day Amarna. On the other hand the pledge may be merely the legal phrase
used by a property owner to indicate that he has no rights beyond his
own boundaries.


The Move to the New Capital

It probably took at least two years to build Akhetaton. It was during
the sixth year of Akhenaton’s reign that he ordered all Egyptians and
subject peoples—Nubians and Asiatics—to serve Aton alone. Statues of the
old gods were ordered destroyed; their reliefs were to be erased, and
their names blotted out. Two years later—Akhenaton’s eighth—the transfer
of the capital from Thebes to Akhetaton was complete.

There are evidences of great haste in the construction of the buildings.
Often naturalistic pictures of birds and vegetation painted on plaster
walls and floors cover shoddy workmanship. Houses were built of mud
brick, but palaces and temples were built of stone. An inscription
attributed to the architect Bek at Aswan states that stone was quarried
there “for the great and mighty monuments of the king in the house of
Aton in Akhetaton.”


The Plan of the City

Paralleling the Nile, the city had three north-south streets which
crossed the more numerous east-west streets at right angles. The
principal north-south street, the King’s Way, served the city’s more
important buildings. At its southern end was the pleasure palace, Meru
Aton, with its artificial pools, flower beds, and groves of trees. Meru
Aton is thought to have served as a summer palace. It had a reception
hall, a small chamber, guard houses, and various other buildings. The
inner rooms were gaily decorated with colored columns and pavements
painted with flying birds, playing animals, and a variety of plant life.

Farther north the King’s Way passed between the palace and the royal
house, where it was spanned by a bridge. In the center of the bridge was
the “window of appearing” where the royal family appeared on special
occasions to greet the populace assembled on the street below. The
palace was fourteen hundred feet long and four to five hundred feet
wide, with an impressive hall of pillars. The pavements of painted
stucco, discovered by Flinders Petrie during his expedition at Amarna in
1891, were maliciously destroyed by a disgruntled guard in 1912, and the
portions that were salvaged are now in the Cairo Museum. The royal house
was a vast walled compound containing the king’s apartment, a nursery
for the princesses, and vast gardens and storehouses. The rooms were
ornamented with colorful paintings and inlays of colored stone.

Beyond the palace, the King’s Way passed the spiritual center of the
royal city, the Great Temple to Aton, comprising a series of open courts
and halls, connected by pylons in which altars were set up to receive
offerings. The chief altar was located in the center of the largest
court. Here Akhenaton, usually accompanied by Nofretete, offered prayers
and consecrated offerings to Atom. Throughout the city there were
numerous smaller shrines built to honor the kings of Egypt’s past, or to
serve members of the royal family. Nofretete presided at a shrine with
the colorful name, “The House of Putting the Aton to Rest.” The queen
mother Tiy had a temple, and there were shrines for Baktaton, the king’s
younger sister, and Meritaton, his oldest daughter. Shrines were built
in memory of Amenhotep II and Thutmose IV.

Beyond the Great Temple, the King’s Way becomes the main street of
modern El Till. It disappears for a time in the fields, but emerges at
the North Palace which had walls decorated with lively paintings of bird
life in a papyrus swamp. A royal aviary and a zoo were part of the
palace complex. After another break, the lines of the ancient King’s Way
appear again in the northern city with its numerous mansions.

A second important north-south thoroughfare is High Priest Street from
which the estates of many of the nobles in Akhenaton’s court could be
entered. The standard of living was one of luxury, for the houses of the
nobles contained large reception halls, living rooms, and bedrooms. Each
had a well-kept garden, at one end of which an avenue of trees led to a
pool. Besides the spacious living quarters there were separate buildings
to serve as stables for the flocks and herds belonging to the family,
storage buildings, and servant’s quarters. The largest such estate,
belonging to the vizier Nakht, measured ninety-five by eighty-five feet.

Interspersed among these palatial homes were humbler cottages, belonging
to the working class, each of which had a front hall, a living room,
bedroom, and kitchen. Every house—both of nobles and of commoners—had a
bathroom with running water and a lavatory. There was evidently no
conscious city planning, for it seems that the nobles laid claim to
extensive patches of land, only to surrender parts of their property to
commoners at a later time. Perhaps unintentionally, Akhetaton has marks
of democracy in this mixture of ruling and working classes.

[Illustration: The Estate of a Nobleman. The model of the estate of one
    of Akhenaton’s nobles at Akhetaton. Restoration by Seton Lloyd.]

The officials of Akhetaton were for the most part new appointments of
the king, and many seem to have been chosen from among commoners who
were sympathetic with Akhenaton’s program. The mayor of the city bore
the revealing name, “Akhenaton created me.” Other officials include a
captain of police, an overseer of the treasury, the king’s standard
bearer, the commander of the army, overseers of the royal harem, the
chief physician, and priests of the various temples. Eye, who had been a
counselor of Akhenaton from boyhood, bore the impressive title,
“Superintendent of the King’s Horses,” implying a responsibility for the
chariots of the royal army. Second only to Akhenaton himself was the
vizier, a man named Nakht. A royal butler, Parennufe, was one of the few
officials who had served Akhenaton earlier in Thebes.


The Rock Tombs

The third north-south street was the East Road, located nearest to the
desert and the rock tombs. As the earlier Pharaohs in Thebes prepared
tombs for themselves in the nearby Valley of the Kings, so Akhenaton and
his courtiers cut rock tombs into the hillside east of Akhetaton. There
are twenty-five of these tombs with decorated walls honoring Aton and
his son, Akhenaton. Davies in his _Rock Tombs of El Amarna_ says,

  The scenes in the tombs of El-’Amarna, though abundant and detailed,
  yield us very limited information concerning men and things in
  Akhetaten. Taken together, they only reveal one personality, one
  family, one home, one career, and one mode of worship. This is the
  figure, family, palace and occupations of the king, and the worship of
  the sun—which also was his, and perhaps, in strictness, of no one
  else. Into whatever tomb we enter, as soon as the threshold is past we
  might fancy ourselves in the royal sepulchre. The king’s figure,
  family, and retinue dominate everything. It is his wife and children,
  his family affection, his house and treasures which are here portrayed
  in detail, and it is with difficulty sometimes that we discover among
  the crowd of courtiers the official whose tomb it is, distinguished by
  a little hieroglyphic label.[6]

The family tomb which Akhenaton built in the eastern desert, four miles
from the city, was used for the burial of his daughter, the princess
Meketaton. Most of the rock tombs, however, were never occupied. Within
a short time of the death of Akhenaton, his capital was abandoned and
Thebes again became the center of government. Everything of value was
removed from Akhetaton—even the wooden pillars of the houses! The very
stones of the Aton temple were dragged away to be used in the
reconstruction of temples desecrated in the days of Akhenaton’s reform
movement. Thus the priests of Amon had their revenge.



                                   IV
                                ATONISM


Akhenaton thought of himself as the apostle of Atonism, and he exhibited
a mystical devotion to his god. Yet Akhenaton was not the founder of the
Aton cult, which may be traced to antecedents in Egypt’s earliest
religious traditions.[7] The Sinuhe story, recounting the death of
Amenemhet I (_ca._ 1960 B.C.), states that the deceased Pharaoh ascended
to heaven and was united to the disk of the sun (_itn_). While this may
mean only that the sun disk was the abode of deity, it suggests the
possibility that the Aton (sun disk) might itself become an object of
worship.


Ancient Egyptian Religion

The Egyptian religion of historical times represents a fusion of
previously independent local gods. Each town was devoted to a particular
deity, many of whom were represented in the form of animals. The cat
goddess Bast was honored at Bubastis; the cobra-headed Edjo, at Buto;
the ibis Thoth, at Hermopolis Magna; and the jackal god Wepwawet, at
Lycopolis. Animal deities were frequently given the bodies and limbs of
humans.

The sun and the Nile River were the two important factors in the life of
all Egyptians, and gods associated with these phenomena tended to
transcend Egyptian provincialism and become truly national in scope. The
priests at Heliopolis, near ancient Memphis, were devoted to the worship
of the sun god under his ancient name Re. Heliopolis (“city of the sun”)
is the Greek form of a name that appears in the Old Testament in
transliteration from the Egyptian as On (cf. Gen. 41:45ff.) and as
Hebrew, Beth-Shemesh, “House of the sun” (Jer. 43:13). Joseph was
married to an Egyptian girl named Asenath, “she belongs to (the goddess)
Neith,” the daughter of a priest named Potiphera (“He whom Re has
given”) who ministered at the shrine to the sun god at On, or Heliopolis
(Gen. 41:45, 50; 46:20).

Re as the sun god came to be associated with other deities. As Re-Atum
he came to be regarded as a manifestation of Atum, the creator. As god
of the horizon, Re took the compound name Re-Harakhti. Such compounds as
Sobek-Re and Khnum-Re indicate the tendency to identify local deities
with the more universal Re. Beginning with the Fifth Dynasty (_ca._ 2500
B.C.) each Pharaoh bore the title “Son of Re” as part of his name,
further enhancing the name and reputation of the sun god. Until the
Egyptian New Kingdom (_ca._ 1600-1100 B.C.), when Amon of Thebes became
the principal god of Egypt, the priests of Re at Heliopolis shared with
the priests of Ptah in nearby Memphis the position of highest influence
and wealth in the religious life of the country.

  [Illustration: Hapi, God of the Nile. The Nile god is depicted on a
              relief from the throne of the Pharaoh Eye.]

As creator god, Re was symbolized by the falcon and the scarab. The
sun’s daily journey across the sky reminded the devout Egyptian of Re’s
first appearance as the originator of life. Re, himself, was
self-created according to the Book of the Dead. In Middle Kingdom times
(_ca._ 2000-1600 B.C.), Thebes became the Egyptian capital and its
patron deity Amon was identified with the sun god and assumed the
compound name “Amon-Re, king of the gods.” Thus a purely local god,
through identification with Re, became the national god. As local gods
became identified with one another, or with more universal gods, we may
observe a tendency in the direction of monotheism.


Aton Worship

The worship of Aton appears as early as the reign of Thutmose IV (_ca._
1414-1406 B.C.), who issued a commemorative scarab stating that the
Pharaoh fought “with the Aton before him,” and that he campaigned
abroad, “to make the foreigners to be like the (Egyptian) people, in
order to serve the Aton forever.”[8]

Aton occupied an important place in the Egyptian pantheon during the
reign of Akhenaton’s father, Amenhotep III. A stele of the king’s
architects, Hori and Suti, describes the sun god as the deity who holds
sway over all peoples and lands. A hymn speaks of Amon as “Aton of the
day, creator of mortals and maker of life.” The royal barge of Amenhotep
III and his wife Tiy bore the name, “Aton gleams.” Other gods were
worshiped, and Amon was still in his place of honor, but Aton had come
to the fore—perhaps in a context of rivalry between the priests of
Heliopolis and Thebes—and the stage was set for the impending battle.

In the earliest period of Akhenaton’s reign, Aton was the preferred god,
but Amon was still granted homage. There was actually little that was
original in the religious life of those earliest years, although there
was much that might give concern to the Amon priests. Although there had
been an earlier Aton temple in Thebes, it was Akhenaton who slowly moved
from a position in which Aton was the favored god to one in which Aton
was the only god tolerated. While there had been tendencies toward
monotheism before, and Aton worship was not new, it was Akhenaton who
finally made the break with the Amon priests at Thebes. With inexorable
logic he changed his name from Amenhotep to Akhenaton, closed the Amon
temples, and erased the name of Amon from monuments and inscriptions.
While Amon was the particular object of his disfavor, Akhenaton declared
war on all the “thousand gods of Egypt,” and sought to remove the very
word “gods” from the monuments.


The Triumph of Aton

Aton became the only object of worship tolerated by the Pharaoh, and his
domain was extended beyond the boundaries of Egypt. Not only was the
Egyptian capital moved to a city dedicated to Aton, but other cities
were dedicated to him in Nubia and in Asia. The _Hymn to the Aton_
expresses the same type of universalism, envisioning Aton (the sun) as
the god who blesses all people everywhere. While the Nile might have
served as a god to unite all Egyptians, the sun was a deity who might
unite all men in a common brotherhood. This, at any rate, seems to have
been Akhenaton’s dream.

There remained, however, illogical elements in the monotheism of
Akhenaton. The Pharaoh himself was still a god, and Akhenaton had no
doubt that he was the divine son of Aton. While Akhenaton and the royal
family paid homage to Aton, others stood in awe before the Pharaoh.
There were elements in the Amarna faith which militated against this,
particularly the realism which enabled the citizens of Akhetaton to
caricature their king, but the concept of a divine Pharaoh persisted in
the Aton cult.

No image represented Aton in human shape, as the “thousand gods” of
Egypt had been represented. Instead, worship was directed toward the
disk of the sun which exerts a life-giving influence through its rays
which produce a brilliance and warmth that no man can fail to
experience. The symbol of the god Aton was a solar disk from which rays
of light descended, terminating in human hands, some of which hold the
Egyptian sign of life (_ankh_). In this symbolism, the sun graciously
bestows life upon the worshiper of Aton. Sometimes the royal uraeus,
symbol of kingship, hangs from the sun disk, and often it rises from the
bottom of the disk toward the center. Aton is thus depicted as ruler as
well as deity of all upon whom he shines.

While the Aton temple was not basically different from other shrines of
ancient Egypt, it boasted no image and conducted its most solemn rites
in the open, under the direct rays of the sun. This formed a distinct
contrast to the cult of Amon who was called “the hidden one,” and who
had his shrine in the innermost and darkest part of the temple. If
Amonism stressed the mysterious in religion, Atonism spoke of the
deity’s nearness and presence in the affairs of daily life. Atonism had
no dark courts or mysterious rites. Its ritual was quite simple, with
hymns sung by the temple choir and the presentation of gifts of meat and
drink by worshipers. The odors of perfume and the presence of flowers
added aesthetic qualities to the simple acts of worship. On the occasion
of royal visits, which must have been quite frequent, the king
personally consecrated the offerings.

 [Illustration: The Beneficent Aton. The sun disk is depicted with rays
   extended toward Akhenaton and his wife Nofretete. From the tomb of
                                Ramose.]

Atonism never became the popular faith of Egypt, but it did spread
beyond the confines of Akhetaton. Memphis had an Aton temple, and Aton
reliefs have been found at Heliopolis. Modern students of religion
sometimes charge that the Aton faith was devoid of ethical content, but
this is an argument from silence. All of its literary remains consist of
devotional literature—hymns extolling the glories of Aton and tomb
inscriptions which describe the piety of his faithful worshipers.
Whether or not Atonism was self consciously pacifist in orientation may
be debated. A universal faith minimizes the differences among men, and
Akhenaton’s failure to intervene in the affairs of his Asiatic subjects
may indicate that he hoped that a peaceful policy would resolve
international tensions. Perhaps we should conclude that Akhenaton chose
to devote himself to religious matters, and that the chaos in Asia was a
result of neglect rather than self-conscious policy.

The Amarna tomb inscriptions give extravagant praise to Aton and his
son, the Pharaoh:

  How prosperous is he who hears thy doctrine of life and is sated with
  beholding thee, and unceasingly his eyes look upon Aton every day.

  Thou art my great servant who hears my doctrine. My heart is content
  with every commission thou performest and I give thee the office in
  order that thou mayest eat the victuals of Pharaoh, the lord in the
  house of Aton.[9]


Moses and Aton

Since Akhenaton’s worship of Aton as “sole god” is earlier than the date
commonly ascribed to Moses (_ca._ 1280 B.C.), historians have puzzled
over possible relationships between the monotheism of Akhenaton and the
Biblical concept of one God. Sigmund Freud in his _Moses and Monotheism_
sought to trace the Hebrew-Christian faith to the Amarna revolt of
Akhenaton.

The principal reason for associating Moses with Atonism is the fact of
his birth and education in Egypt. The Scriptures assert, however, that
the religious impetus of Moses did not come from Egyptian sources, which
he completely disavowed (cf. Exod. 18:10-11). It was in the wilderness
that Moses had the religious experiences which prepared him to become
the leader of the Exodus (Exod. 3:1-6). Jethro, Moses’ Midianite
father-in-law, worshiped Yahweh (Exod. 18:10-12) and Moses may have
learned much from him. Yahwism and the religion of Egypt were completely
and self-consciously opposed to one another. Israel firmly believed that
Yahweh, their God, had defeated Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt in the
experience of the Exodus.


The Death of Aton

Within a generation after the death of Akhenaton, Atonism was dead, and
its leading exponent was contemptuously called, “that criminal of
Akhetaton.” The religion never had a popular base, and that
disintegration of the empire might effectively be charged to the
displeasure of Amon at his neglect. The government was moved back to
Thebes, and Akhenaton’s son-in-law, Tutankhaton (“the living image of
Aton”), became Tutankhamon (“the living image of Amon”). The cycle was
now complete. Thebes and Amon had been restored to their former place of
supremacy, the monuments erected by Akhenaton were defaced and the Aton
temple was removed stone by stone. By the time of Moses, Akhetaton was
abandoned completely, and Atonism had been forgotten.

     [Illustration: Akhenaton Worshiping Aton. Akhenaton, his wife
 Nofretete, and one of their daughters stand with hands raised as they
 present offerings to Aton. Rays from the sun disk end in hands, two of
  which hold the Egyptian sign of life (ankh) before the faces of the
                        Pharaoh and his queen.]



                                   V
                          THE HYMN TO THE ATON


Our most important source for knowledge of the Aton cult is found in the
tombs of the nobles east of Akhetaton. These tombs include reliefs
bearing hymns in praise to Aton and to his son, Akhenaton. Either the
Pharaoh composed them himself, or they were composed by courtiers who
had completely assimilated the religious convictions which were basic to
his reforms. The so-called long hymn to Aton not only extols the glories
of the god of Akhenaton, but it also contains expressions which have
become a part of Egyptian, and even Hebrew devotional literature. The
Long Hymn was inscribed on the walls of the tomb prepared for the priest
and courtier Eye who had known Akhenaton from his youth.[10] James H.
Breasted suggested that it was an excerpt from the ritual of the Aton
temple.[11]


The Splendor and Power of Aton

  Thou dawnest beautifully on the horizon of heaven,
  Oh living Aton, the beginner of life.
  When thou risest on the eastern horizon
  Thou fillest every land with thy beauty.
  Thou art beautiful, great, glittering, and high over every land.
  Thy rays encompass the lands to the limit of all that thou hast made.
  Thou art Re, and thou reachest to their end.[12]
  Thou subjectest them to thy beloved son.[13]
  Though thou art far away, thy rays are on the earth;
  Though thou art before men, no one sees thy movements.


Nighttime

  When thou settest in the western horizon
  The earth is in darkness, like death.[14]
  The night is passed in a bed-chamber with heads covered.
  One eye sees not the other.
  All their belongings which are under their heads might be stolen,
  And they would not know it.
  Every lion comes forth from his den,[15] and all snakes bite.
  Darkness broods, the earth is still,
  While he who made them rests in his horizon.


Daytime

  At daybreak, when thou arisest on the horizon,
  Shining as Aton by day,
  Thou drivest away the darkness, and givest thy rays.
  The Two Lands[16] are in festivity every day.
  Men awaken and stand on their feet,
  For thou hast lifted them up.
  When they wash their bodies they put on their clothing,
  And their arms are raised in praise at thy glorious appearing.
  The entire land does its work.[17]
  All cattle are content in their pastures;
  The trees and plants flourish;
  The birds fly from their nests,
  Their wings are stretched out in praise to thy spirit.[18]
  All beasts spring to their feet,
  Whatever flies and alights;
  They live when thou arisest for them.[19]
  The ships are sailing upstream and downstream
  For every road is open at thy appearing.
  The fish in the river leap up before thee,
  Thy rays are in the midst of the great green sea.[20]


The Creation: Man

  Who causest semen to grow in women,
  Who makest water into mankind;
  Who bringest to life the son in the womb of his mother;
  Soothing him that he may not weep.
  Thou nurse, even in the womb;
  Who givest breath to sustain all that thou hast made.
  And he comes forth from the womb on the day of his birth.
  Thou openest his mouth completely;
  Thou suppliest his necessities.


The Creation: Animal Life

  The chick in the egg chirps in the shell.
  Thou givest him breath within it to make him live.
  When thou hast made his time in the egg, to break it,
  He comes forth from the egg to speak of his completion.
  He walks upon his legs when he comes forth from it.


Aton’s Glory in Creation

  How manifold are thy works,
  They are hidden from the face of man,
  O sole god, like whom there is no other.
  Thou didst create the world according to thy desire.
  Whilst thou wast alone.[21]
  Even all men, herds and flocks;
  Whatever is on earth; creatures that walk upon their feet,
  And that soar aloft, flying with their wings.
  The countries of Syria and Cush, the land of Egypt;
  Thou settest every man in his place;
  Thou suppliest their necessities.
  Everyone has his food and his days are reckoned.[22]
  Their tongues are diverse in speech,
  And their characters likewise.
  Their complexions are distinguished,
  For thou distinguishest country from country.


Aton Waters the Earth

  Thou makest a Nile in the netherworld;
  Thou bringest it forth at thy pleasure,
  To give life to the people of Egypt.[23]
  For thou madest them for thyself,
  Thou lord of all who travailest with them;
  Thou lord of every land who shinest for them;
  The Aton of the day, great in majesty.
  All distant lands; thou givest them life also,
  For thou hast set a Nile in the sky.[24]
  That it may descend for them and make waves upon the mountains,[25]
  Like the great green sea,
  To water their fields in their villages.


Aton: Lord of the Seasons

  How efficacious are thy plans, O lord of eternity.
  There is a Nile in the sky for the foreign peoples,
  But the (true) Nile comes from the nether-world for the land of Egypt.
  And for the animals of every country, that walk upon their feet;
  Thy rays nourish every garden;
  When thou shinest forth they live and they grow for thee.
  Thou makest the seasons in order to prosper all thou hast made:
  The winter to cool them, and the summer heat that they may taste thee.
  Thou hast made the distant sky to shine in it,
  And to see all that thou hast made.
  Whilst thou wert alone,
  Shining in thy form as the living Aton,
  Appearing gloriously, and gleaming, being both distant and near.
  Thou makest millions of forms through thyself alone,
  Towns, villages, fields, roads, and rivers.
  All eyes behold thee before them,
  For thou art the Aton of the day over the earth.
  Thou art in my heart,
  And there is no other that knows thee,
  Save thy son Nefer-Kheperu Re, Wa-en-Re.[26]
  For thou hast made him wise in thy ways and in thy power.[27]


Aton’s Providence

  The earth came into being by thy hand, even as thou hast made them.
  When thou dost shine, they live,
  When thou settest, they die.
  Thou, thyself, art length of life;
  For men live only by thee.
  Eyes are fixed on beauty until thou settest;
  All work is laid aside when thou settest in the west,
  But when thou risest again, everything is made to flourish for the
              king....
  Every leg is in motion, since thou didst establish the earth.
  Thou raisest them up for thy son, who came forth from thy body.

  The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands,
  Nefer-kheperu-Re, Wa-en-Re, son of Re, living in truth, lord of
  Diadems, Akhenaton, whose life is long; and for the Chief Royal Wife,
  Nefer-neferu-Aton, Nofertiti whom he loves, may she live and flourish
  for ever and ever.


Although the Hymn to the Aton clearly grants a favored position to
Egypt, Aton is pictured as holding sway over all peoples, for the sun
brings light and heat to men of every nation. This universalism finds a
modern counterpart in the hymn of Joseph Addison (1712):

  The spacious firmament on high,
  With all the blue ethereal sky,
  And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
  Their great Original proclaim:
  Th’ unwearied sun, from day to day,
  Does his creator’s power display,
  And publishes to every land
  The work of an almighty hand.

Parallels between the Hymn to the Aton and Psalm 104 suggest that the
poetic expressions of the hymn became a part of the literary heritage of
the Near East. Although Atonism as a religion died a short time after
the death of its chief apostle, Akhenaton, poetic utterances used in
praise to Aton could readily be incorporated into other Egyptian
devotional literature and, eventually, find an echo in the literature of
other lands. While many of the similarities between Psalm 104 and
Akhenaton’s Hymn could arise from independent contemplation of the
movements of the sun on the part of people with no contact whatever, the
numerous contacts between Israel and Egypt at least suggest that
devotional language as well as proverbs (cf. I Kings 4:30) were common
knowledge among the two peoples.

The two compositions are basically different, however, in that the
Biblical psalmist acknowledges Yahweh, the God of creation and
providence, as a spiritual being associated with natural phenomena only
as their creator, whereas Aton, Akhenaton’s “sole god” is identified
with the disk of the sun. While Akhenaton seems to have spiritualized
the Egyptian sun worship, he never divorced himself completely from it.
Biblical monotheism asserts that the One God made “lights in the
firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth” (Gen. 1:15). The Hymn
of the Aton reaches a high point in the devotional literature of Egypt,
but its monotheism was radically different from that presented on the
pages of Scripture.



                                   VI
                         THE AFFAIRS OF EMPIRE


The Amarna tablets enable us to see evidences of the decline of Egyptian
power and prestige during the latter years of the reign of Amenhotep III
and throughout the reign of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton). About forty of
them record correspondence between the rulers of Egypt and the rulers of
the major powers of the Amarna Age. We find letters from the Kassite
kings Kadashman-Enlil I and Bumaburiash II of Babylon, from Ashuruballit
I of Assyria, from Tushratta of Mitanni, from the Hittite king
Suppiluliumas, and from an unnamed king of Alashia (Cyprus).


The Kings of Mitanni

In upper Mesopotamia, Egypt had an ally in Mitanni, a kingdom comprised
largely of Hurrians (Biblical Horites), with an Indo-Aryan ruling class.
The Mitannian kingdom was established about 1500 B.C. and at the height
of its power reached from Nuzi and Arrapkha in Assyria to Alalakh in
Syria. Its capital, Wassukkanni, was on the upper Habur River. A major
threat both to Mitanni and, ultimately, to Egypt, came from the rising
Hittite Empire with its capital at Hatusa (modern Bogazkoy) on the great
bend of the Halys River in Asia Minor. Babylon had suffered an eclipse
since the empire of Hammurabi and during the Amarna age it was ruled by
a mountain people known as Kassites. Assyria, north of Babylon, had been
subject to Mitanni until the Hittite conquest of Mitanni gave the
Assyrians an opportunity to free themselves and develop an independent
state.

The kings of Mitanni sent daughters to grace the harems of the Pharaohs
of Egypt, and desired gold in exchange. The Amarna tablets include seven
letters from Tushratta of Mitanni to Amenhotep III, one to his widow
Queen Tiy, and three to Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton). In a typical
communication he writes to Amenhotep III:

  Let my brother send gold in very great quantity, without measure—that
  is what my brother should send me—and let my brother send more gold
  than (he sent) to my father, for in my brother’s land gold is as
  plentiful as dust. May the gods so direct that, although now gold is
  so plentiful in my brother’s land, he may have gold ten times more
  plentiful than now. Let not the gold which I desire trouble the heart
  of my brother, and let not my brother grieve my heart. So let my
  brother send me gold, without measure, in very great quantity.[28]

Although Tushratta’s lust for gold may not have been appreciated in
Thebes, Egypt valued her Mitannian allies who served as a check on the
ambitious Hittites, thereby helping Egypt maintain control over Syria
and Palestine. Not only were princesses from Mitanni welcome in Egypt,
but the Mitannian gods might be of help to the Egyptians. During the
illness of Amenhotep III, Tushratta sent a statue of the goddess Ishtar
from Nineveh to bless the ailing Pharaoh:

  Thus saith Ishtar, mistress of all the lands, “To Egypt, to the land
  which I love I will go; I will return.” Verily I have now sent her,
  and she is gone. Indeed in the time of my father the mistress (Ishtar)
  went to that land, and inasmuch as she was revered when she formerly
  resided there, so now may my brother tenfold more than formerly honor
  her. May my brother honor her and joyfully send her back, and may she
  return. May Ishtar, mistress of heaven, protect my brother and me one
  hundred thousand years, and may our lady give to us both great
  joy.[29]

Tushratta looked to Egypt for help against Suppiluliumas and the
emerging Hittite Empire, but neither gold nor troops came. Akhenaton was
singing the praises of Aton in Akhetaton when the Hittites succeeded in
entering and sacking the Mitannian capital (_ca._ 1370 B.C.) and
Tushratta was slain by one of his own sons. The former king’s exiled
brother and rival, Artatama, seems to have seized control in the
confusion that followed. Tushratta’s son Mattiwaza (who may have been
his father’s murderer) fled to the Hittites, and Shutarna, son of
Artatama, sought the friendship of the Assyrians in his bid for the
throne.


Emerging Assyria

The Mitannian Empire was at an end. Mattiwaza gained Hittite support and
took the throne of Mitanni with the aid of Suppiluliumas’ army. He
remained a vassal of the Hittites, however, and his marriage to a
daughter of Suppiluliumas further strengthened Hittite power in Mitanni.
At the same time Ashuruballit of Assyria took advantage of the situation
to seize the portion of Mitanni nearest to him. Assyria had been
controlled alternately by Mitanni from the west and by Babylon from the
south, but Ashuruballit determined to head an independent state.

To strengthen his position, Ashuruballit sent messengers to Akhenaton
with a present of two white horses and a silver chariot. The letter
accompanying these gifts[30] asks nothing in return, but a second
letter[31] mentions a new palace that Ashuruballit is building, with the
suggestion, “If thou art very friendly disposed, then send much gold.”

Evidently the Assyrian embassy was received with courtesy in the court
of Akhenaton, for Burnaburiash of Babylon was unhappy at the thought
that Egypt would deal with a people who had been subject to Babylon. In
anger he dispatched a letter:

  To Niphururia (i.e., Akhenaton), king of Egypt, say. Thus says
  Burnaburiash, king of Karduniash (i.e., Babylon), brother. I am well.
  May it be well with you, your house, your wives, your sons, your land,
  your chief men, your horses, your chariots. Since my fathers and your
  fathers established friendly relations with one another they sent rich
  presents to one another, and they refused not any good request one of
  the other. Now my brother has sent (only) two minas of gold as a
  present. But now, if gold is plentiful send me as much as your
  fathers, but if it is scarce send half of what your fathers did. Why
  did you send (only) two minas of gold. Now, since my work on the House
  of God is great, and I have undertaken its accomplishment vigorously,
  send much gold. And you, whatsover you desire from my land, write and
  it shall be brought to you. In the time of Kurigalzu, my father, the
  Canaanites as one man wrote to him saying, “We will go against the
  border of the land (i.e., Egypt), and we will stage an invasion, and
  we will make an alliance with you.” But my father wrote to them
  saying, “Cease speaking of an alliance with me. If you are hostile
  against the king of Egypt, my brother, and ally yourself with another,
  I will come and will plunder you for he is in alliance with me.” My
  father did not listen to them for the sake of your father. Now,
  concerning the Assyrians, my subjects, have I not written to you? If
  you love me you will not do business with them. Let them accomplish
  nothing. As a present I have sent to you three minas of beautiful
  lapis-lazuli, and five span of horses for five wooden chariots.[32]


The Hittite Challenge

The Egyptians, however, did not give serious attention to their Asian
Empire until the reigns of Seti I (1318-1299 B.C.) and Rameses II
(1299-1232 B.C.). During the half century following the fall of Mitanni
the Hittites met no serious opposition in their desire to control the
whole of northern Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean coastal region of
Syria. Not only was a daughter of Suppiluliumas married to the ruler of
the vassal kingdom of Mitanni, but a son, Telepinus, was installed as
ruler of Aleppo in Syria. The Amorites who had been vassals to Egypt
were glad to welcome Hittite aid in establishing their independence.
North Syria, or Amurru, became a hotbed of anti-Egyptian feeling, and
Amorite princes served as unconscious pawns of Suppiluliumas in
weakening Egyptian control in the area and preparing the way for Hittite
domination.

Most of the Amarna letters were written by princes of city states in
Syria, Phoenicia, and Canaan who acknowledged sovereignty but expressed
the fear that rival princes or alien peoples might gain the upper hand.
Some of the letters represent factional disputes among leaders both of
whom protest their loyalty to Egypt. Among the rulers in Syria and
Palestine we find letters from Akizzi of Qatna, Abdi-Ashirta and his son
Aziru of Amurru (i.e., the Amorites), Rib-Addi of Byblos, Ammunira of
Beirut, Zimrida of Sidon, Abimilki of Tyre, and Abdi-Khepa of Jerusalem.
Other letters were sent from Hazor, Akko, Megiddo, Gezer, Ashelon, and
Lachish. In some instances minor Egyptian officials wrote the letters.


Rib-Addi of Byblos

Rib-Addi of Byblos was threatened by Abdi-Ashirta and his son Aziru,
Amorite rulers who followed the Hittite “party line” in seeking to
remove northern Syria from the Egyptian sphere of influence. Gebal, or
Gubla, was the ancient name of Byblos, a city which carried on commerce
with Egypt as early as 3000 B.C. Excavations have produced a cylinder
from the Thinite period of Egyptian history when the earliest Pharaohs
occupied the throne. Vases discovered at Byblos bear the names of
ancient Pharaohs including Mycerinus (twenty-seventh century B.C.), Unis
and Pepi (twenty-fourth century B.C.). From the port of Byblos, Egypt
imported cedars and spruce for use in building ships. Ships of Byblos
also carried jars of oil, spices, wine, and leather.

Although Rib-Addi wished to continue to serve as a loyal vassal of
Egypt, the chaos of the political situation pressed heavily upon him.
The Amarna collection includes fifty-three letters which he addressed to
Amenhotep II and Akhenaton warning them of the difficulty of the
situation. In one of them he notes:

  Abdi-Ashirta has written to the warriors, “Assemble yourselves in the
  house of Ninib, and we will fall upon Byblos.”... Thus have they
  formed a conspiracy with one another, and thus have I great fear that
  there is no man to rescue me out of their hand. Like birds that lie in
  a net, so am I in Byblos. Why do you hold yourself back in respect to
  your land? Behold, thus I have written to the palace, and you have
  paid no attention to my word.... What shall I do in my solitude?
  Behold, thus I ask day and night.[33]

Abdi-Ashirta and his son Aziru also wrote letters to Egypt affirming
their loyalty. Two of them were addressed by Aziru to Dudu, an officer
of the Egyptian court with a Semitic name. Evidently Dudu occupied a
place in the court of Akhenaton comparable to that which Joseph occupied
some years before (Gen. 41:37-57). Aziru wrote:

  To Dudu, my lord, my father.

  So says Aziru, your son your servant:

  At the feet of my father I will fall down. May my father be well.
  Dudu, behold I have performed the wish of the king, my lord, and
  whatever may be the wish of the king, my lord, let him write and I
  will perform it. Further: Behold, you are there, my father, and
  whatever is the wish of Dudu, my father, write, and I will indeed
  perform it. Behold you are my father and my lord, and I am your son.
  The lands of Amurru are your lands, and my house is your house, and
  all your wish, write, and indeed I will perform your wish. And indeed
  you are sitting before the king, my lord. Enemies have spoken
  slanderous words to my father before the king, my lord. But do not
  admit them. May you sit before the king, my lord, when I arise, and do
  not admit against me slanderous words. I am a servant of the king, my
  lord, and I will never depart from the words of the king, my lord, and
  from the words of Dudu my father. But if the king, my lord, does not
  love me but hates me, what shall I then say?[34]

There can be no doubt that Rib-Addi, and not Aziru, was truly loyal to
Egypt, for Aziru had made an alliance with Egypt’s enemies, the
Hittites. Writing to the Egyptian Pharaoh, Rib-Addi complained:

  I have written to the king, my lord: “They have taken all my cities.
  The son of Abdi-Ashirta is their lord. Byblos is the only city that
  belongs to me.” And have I not sent my messenger to the king, my lord?
  But you did not send soldiers, and you did not permit my messenger to
  leave.... Send him with auxiliaries. If the king hates his city, then
  I will abandon it, and if he permits me, an old man, to depart, then
  send your man that he may protect it. Why was nothing given to me from
  the palace? I have heard of the Hati people (i.e. the Hittites) that
  they burn the lands with fire. I have repeatedly written but no answer
  has come to me. All lands of the king, my lord, are conquered, and my
  lord holds himself back from them, and behold, now they bring soldiers
  from the Hati lands to conquer Byblos. Therefore care for thy
  city.[35]

Rib-Addi stood alone in defending Byblos, but the force of the enemy
proved too much. He fled to Beirut where he found refuge in the palace
of its prince, Ammunira, with whom he was related by marriage. Byblos
fell, but Rib-Addi still hoped for aid from Egypt to win it back. From
Beirut he wrote:

  If the king holds back in respect to the city, all the cities of
  Canaan (Kinahni) will be lost to him.... But let the king, my lord,
  quickly send archers that they may take the city at once.[36]

Finally Egypt did act. Aziru was apprehended and taken to Egypt where he
was evidently detained for some time. A son of Aziru addressed a letter
to the Egyptian official Dudu begging him for his father’s release:

  Aziru is your servant. Do not detain him there. Send him back quickly
  that he may protect the lands of the king, our Lord.

He goes on to mention “the Sudu people” who were taking advantage of
Aziru’s absence to further their own ends:

  And all lands and all Sudu-people have said, “Aziru does not come from
  Egypt.” And now the Sudu steal out of the lands and exalt themselves
  against me, saying, “Your father dwells in Egypt, so we will make
  hostility with you.”[37]

We do not know what happened to Rib-Addi. By his own testimony he was an
old man, but whether he died of natural causes or was a casualty in the
battles of his generation we do not know. There seems to be a poetic
justice in the fate of Aziru. As he had terrorized the Phoenician
countryside, so his Amorite lands were terrorized by other tribes which
were seeking a place for themselves in a time of general chaos. While
Suppiluliumas backed Aziru, the Hittites were really only using him as a
pawn to weaken Egyptian control in Asia and prepare the way for Hittite
domination.


Lab‘ayu of Shechem

The troublemaker in the region around Shechem was a man named Lab‘ayu
who, in league with the ‘Apiru people, sought to control the central
hill country of Canaan. Like Aziru, farther north, Lab‘ayu sent letters
to Egypt affirming his loyalty:

  Behold, I am a faithful servant of the king, and I have not committed
  a crime, and I have not sinned, and I do not refuse my tribute, and I
  do not refuse the demand of my deputy. Behold, I have been slandered
  and evil entreated but the king, my lord, has not made known to me my
  crime.[38]

Biridya of Megiddo, however, saw things differently:

  To the king, my lord and my sun, say: Thus says Biridya, the faithful
  servant of the king. At the feet of the king, my lord and my sun,
  seven and seven times I fall. Let the king know that ever since the
  archers returned, Lab‘ayu has carried on hostilities against me, and
  we are not able to pluck the wool, and we are not able to go outside
  the gate in the presence of Lab‘ayu since he has learned that you have
  not given archers, and now his face is set to take Megiddo, but let
  the king protect his city lest Lab‘ayu seize it. Indeed, the city is
  destroyed by death from pestilence and disease. Let the king give one
  hundred garrison troops lest Lab‘ayu seize it. Verily there is no
  other purpose in Lab‘ayu. He seeks to destroy Megiddo.[39]

Biridya succeeded in capturing Lab‘ayu, and plans were made to send him
to Egypt. He was turned over to Zurata of Akko, an ally of Biridya, who
was to send him to Egypt by ship. Zurata, however, accepted a bribe and
released Lab‘ayu.[40] His freedom was brief for Lab‘ayu was murdered
before he could reach home, but lawlessness continued as the sons of
Lab‘ayu continued to terrorize the countryside.[41]


Abdi-Khepa of Jerusalem

At least seven letters were addressed to the Pharaoh by Abdi-Khepa of
Jerusalem, asking help in resisting the encroachments of a people known
as ‘Apiru. He notes:

  As sure as there is a ship in the midst of the sea, the mighty arm of
  the king conquers. Nahrim and Kapasi, but now the ‘Apiru are taking
  the cities of the king. There is not a single governor remaining to
  the king, my lord. All have perished.[42]

Abdi-Khepa tends to classify all his enemies as ‘Apiru, a word which in
such contexts is practically synonymous with outlaw, or bandit. Things
are so bad, Abdi-Khepa states, that the tribute which he sent to Egypt
was captured by these marauders on the plain of Ajalon.[43] This may
have happened, but reports concerning Abdi-Khepa himself suggest that it
would not have been beneath his dignity to concoct such a story to avoid
paying tribute.

A neighboring king, Suwardata, thought to have been ruler of Hebron,
complained:

  And the king, my lord, should know that Abdi-Khepa has taken my city
  out of my hand. Further, let the king, my lord, ask if I have taken a
  man, or even an ox or an ass from him.... Further, Lab‘ayu who had
  taken our cities is dead, but verily Abdi-Khepa is another Lab‘ayu and
  he takes our cities.[44]

On other occasions, however, Suwardata and Abdi-Khepa were allied
against a common foe, the ‘Apiru. Suwardata wrote:

  The king, my lord, should know that the ‘Apiru have arisen in the land
  which the god of the king, my lord, has given me, and they have
  attacked it, and the king my lord, should know that all my brothers
  have abandoned me. I and Abdi-Khepa alone are left to fight against
  the ‘Apiru, and Zurata, the prince of Akko, and Indurata the prince of
  Achsaph, were the ones who hastened to my help.[45]


Amarna Age Palestine

The petty kings in Canaan were permitted their own armed forces
comprising chariots, owned by the aristocracy, and footmen drawn from
the peasant classes. Egypt did not interfere in local rivalries as long
as her revenues continued to come and her commissioners were able to
carry on the royal projects. When a local ruler had a grievance against
his fellows, he could plead his case showing that the interests of Egypt
would be best served by enabling him to defeat his rivals. This usually
meant a request for troops—particularly bowmen. Egypt tolerated the
perpetual squabbles of her subject states, and it may even have been a
policy to allow such quarrels rather than to permit one state to gain
enough power that it could forge an empire of its own.

Many of the strongholds held by the rulers of Canaanite city states had
been fortified in Hyksos times. Egyptian control, however, was
maintained through commissioners appointed by the Pharaoh to collect
taxes and supervise the compulsory labor groups which worked on roads,
tended the Lebanon forest preserves, or worked in the Valley of
Esdraelon where wheat was grown for the royal court. Under strong
Pharaohs, the interests of the Empire were carefully guarded, but the
Amarna Age was a period during which Egyptian prestige was in eclipse
and local rivalries became increasingly bitter. Only in extreme
instances did Egypt interfere, and then it was usually too late to
rectify matters.

A brief letter from Biridya of Megiddo indicates that forced labor
(corvée) was expected of the subject states. Many, however, sensing the
loss in Egyptian power failed to provide laborers for the royal
projects:

  To the king, my lord and my sun, say: Thus Biridya, the true servant
  of the king, my lord and my sun, seven times and seven times I fall.
  Let the king be informed concerning his servant and concerning his
  city. Behold I am working in the town of Shunama, and I bring men of
  the corvée, but behold the governors who are with me do not as I do;
  they do not work in the town of Shunama; and they do not bring men for
  the corvée, but I alone bring men for the corvée from the town of
  Yapu. They come from Shunama and likewise from the town of Nuribda. So
  let the king be informed concerning his city.[46]


The ‘Apiru

The identity of the ‘Apiru (also written in cuneiform SA GAZ) has
puzzled scholars since the discovery of the Amarna tablets. Some
categorically affirmed that the ‘Apiru are identical with the Biblical
Hebrews, or Israelites, and that the Amarna tablets reflect the
Canaanite version of events described in the Biblical book of
Joshua.[47] Most scholars now agree that the ‘Apiru cannot be identified
with the Biblical Hebrews, although many suggest that the peoples are
related. A strong argument against identification comes from the fact
that ‘Apiru appear in a wide variety of places of which there is no hint
in the Biblical narrative. They appear in Sumer during the Ur III
dynasty (_ca._ 2050 B.C.), in Larsa during the reigns of Warad-Sin and
Rim-Sin (_ca._ 1770-1698 B.C.), in Hammurabi’s Babylon (_ca._ 1728-1686
B.C.), in Mari during the reign of Zimri Lim (_ca._ 1730-1700 B.C.).
They are mentioned in the large bodies of texts from Nuzi, Ugarit, and
Bogazkoy. None of these references bear any relationship to the people
of Israel.

In the Mari tablets the ‘Apiru are described as a semi-nomadic people
settled in the area between the Habur and the Balikh rivers, north of
the Euphrates. The tablets from Alalakh mention that King Idrimi lived
seven years among ‘Apiru soldiers. Studies in the personal names of
individuals designated ‘Apiru in the Amarna and the Nuzi tablets have
shown that they do not belong to any one ethnic group, although West
Semitic names are most common in the Amarna texts.

There is considerable evidence that the ‘Apiru were regarded as a social
rather than an ethnic group. At Bogazkoy they are listed among the
social classes and appear to have been classified between freemen and
slaves. Wherever they appear they have one common trait—they are beyond
the jurisdiction of the established authority. They frequently appear as
a landless people who enter into dependent status as agricultural
workers or soldiers in exchange for maintenance. The ‘Apiru of the
Amarna tablets are never described as invaders. They are people within
the land who occupy areas not controlled by the larger towns. In a time
of weak central government they sought to profit from the general
confusion by challenging the city-states. Whatever their ethnic origins,
they were doubtless joined by a variety of peoples from the oppressed
elements of the population. To the rulers of Canaan, the ‘Apiru were
lawless bandits, a menace to society. Although ‘Apiru is a much more
inclusive term than Israel, the citizens of the city-states of Canaan
probably thought of Joshua’s army much as they regarded the ‘Apiru of
the Amarna Age.

Although the place names of the Amarna texts are parallel to those of
the Old Testament, the personal names are totally different. In Joshua
we read of Adoni-zedek, not Abdi-Khepa, as king of Jerusalem, and a
number of other kings are named for the period of the conquest (cf.
Josh. 10:3). Meredith G. Kline, who holds to the early date of the
Exodus (1440 B.C.) has suggested that the conquest of Canaan by Joshua
precedes the Amarna Age and that the ‘Apiru of the Amarna letters may
actually be the forces of Cushan Rishathaim, Israel’s first oppressor
during the time of the Judges. He concludes that the ‘Apiru are not to
be associated with Israel, but rather must be regarded as oppressors—the
first of a series of such oppressors described in the Book of
Judges.[48]

Most contemporary scholars date the conquest of Canaan after the Amarna
Age, suggesting some time around 1280 B.C., as the probable date of the
Exodus.[49] This would place the Amarna Age in the period between Joseph
and Moses. Aside from the fact that Israel was in Egypt during this
time, and that they lost the favored position which they enjoyed in the
days of Joseph, Scripture passes over this period with complete silence.

While we may not be able to pinpoint the exact chronology, the
description of events in Canaan during the Amarna Age lends perspective
to Biblical history during the years before the Monarchy. Local and
tribal loyalties were more meaningful than imperial government, and
centralized government was looked upon with suspicion (cf. Judg.
9:7-15).



                                  VII
                TRADE AND COMMERCE DURING THE AMARNA AGE


By the Amarna Age the Mediterranean had become a highway for the ships
of Egypt, Crete, Cyprus, Ugarit, the Phoenician cities, and even distant
Mycenae. Land routes around the Fertile Crescent saw a steady stream of
caravans bearing tribute to kings and items of trade for commoners.
Horses and lapis lazuli were carried westward from Babylon, and its king
Burnaburiash hoped for large quantities of Egyptian gold. Caravans were
subject to attack, and Burnaburiash made it clear that it was the duty
of Akhenaton to punish such offenders:

  Canaan (Kinahhi) is your land, and its kings are your servants. In
  your land I have been violently dealt with. Blind them (i.e., the
  raiders) and make good the money which they have stolen. Kill the
  people who murdered my servants and avenge their blood, for if you do
  not kill these people they will return, and my caravans, or even your
  messengers they will murder, and messengers between us will be
  intercepted, and if that happens, the inhabitants of the land will
  fall away from you.[50]

The king of Alashia (Cyprus) sent copper to Egypt, requesting silver and
gold in exchange.[51] Iron, which in Hyksos times had twice the value of
gold, became more plentiful during the Amarna Age. Tushratta of Mitanni
sent iron to Egypt.[52] Iron, however, was not in common use in Israel
until the time of David (I Chron. 22:3; 29:2). During the days of Saul,
the Philistines had a monopoly on iron in Canaan:

  Now there was no smith to be found throughout all the land of Israel,
  for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or
  spears”; but every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines
  to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe or his sickle, and the
  charge was a pim for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third
  of a shekel for sharpening the axes and setting the goads (I Sam.
  13:19-21).


Minoan Crete

The great sea power of the eastern Mediterranean prior to the Amarna Age
was Minoan Crete. The Cretans traded with Egypt from the earliest
history of the two peoples. In addition to the direct route across the
Mediterranean, the Minoans made use of an indirect trade route along the
southwestern and southern shores of Asia Minor, and then southward by
way of Cyprus to Egypt. The Egyptian word _Keftiu_ (Hebrew _Caphtorim_,
Gen. 10:14; Deut. 2:23; Amos 9:7) may be used of the peoples of southern
Asia Minor as well as the inhabitants of Crete and its adjacent islands.
The Philistines trace their ancestry to the _Caphtorim_ (Amos 9:7),
accounting for a non-Semitic element in southern Canaan.

Cretan trade with Egypt is depicted in the tomb of Rekhmire, lieutenant
governor of Upper Egypt under Thothmes III (_ca._ 1490-1435 B.C.).[53]
Here a prince of the _Keftiu_ is depicted with gifts for the rulers of
Egypt. Cretan power came to an abrupt end, however, some time around the
end of the fifteenth century B.C., when Knossus, the capital, and other
centers of Minoan culture were destroyed. The cause is not known, but
Mycenaeans from mainland Greece may have been responsible, at least in
part, for the fall of Knossus.

Early in the fourteenth century B.C., Mycenae became the cultural and
political center of the Aegean world. Trade with Egypt brought to the
Mycenaeans the ivory that appears frequently in their tombs. Scarabs
discovered at Mycenae bear the names of Amenhotep III and his wife, Tiy.


The Phoenicians

It was not the Mycenaeans, however, but the Phoenicians who succeeded
the Minoans as the seafarers and the traders of the eastern
Mediterranean. A tomb painting from Thebes shows Phoenician merchant
ships tied up at docks along the Nile with their crews selling
merchandise in the Egyptian bazaar. Amarna letters speak of Tyrian
sailors and the wealth of their home port. Ships of Arvad also carry
merchandise to Egypt. Phoenician control of the eastern Mediterranean
was not challenged until Rome fought a series of wars with Carthage,
which began as a Phoenician colony. We know the conflicts as the Punic
(i.e., Phoenician) wars.

Commerce was not without its dangers. Roving bands of pirates from Lycia
in Asia Minor infested the eastern Mediterranean and even landed on the
coast of the Egyptian Delta. Amenhotep III found it necessary to
organize a police force to patrol the Delta coast and keep the mouths of
the Delta closed to all but lawful ships. The police manned customs
houses and collected duty on all merchandise that was not consigned to
the king. The land routes into Egypt were also policed, and admission
was only granted to those with legitimate business.



                                  VIII
                           THE ART OF AMARNA


Akhenaton’s influence in art, like his religious beliefs, had
antecedents and it would be improper to give him the credit—or blame—for
all the art forms which found expression during the period of his reign.
Nevertheless, under his inspiration we meet a new type of naturalism,
almost an expressionism, coming to full flower. W. Stevenson Smith
notes, “Men of ability ... fell in with the ideas of Amenhotep IV and
after a few tentative efforts, developed a new style with remarkable
speed.”[54] Bas reliefs show that Akhenaton was personally interested in
art. He appears on visits to the sculptors’ workshops in the company of
Nofretete. Akhenaton’s views of art are reflected in the royal monuments
of his reign, the stelae that were erected to mark the boundaries of
Akhetaton, and in the tombs prepared for government officials in the
eastern desert.


Sunken Relief

One change in the Amarna Age art was purely mechanical. Sunken relief
replaces the traditional raised relief in the ornamentation of the rock
tombs. Davies comments on the technique:

  The rock in which they are hewn is far from having the uniform good
  quality which would invite bas-reliefs of the usual kind. Nor was
  Akhenaton willing, it appears, to employ the flat painting on
  plastered walls which was so much in vogue, and which the artists of
  Akhetaton also employed at times with good effect. The idea of
  modelling in plaster was conceived or adopted; and since figures in
  plaster-relief would have been liable to easy injury, the outline was
  sunk so far below the general surface as to bring the parts in highest
  relief just to its level Nor was this the only measure taken to ensure
  durability. The whole design was first cut roughly in sunk-relief in
  the stone itself. Then a fine plaster was spread over it, covering all
  the inequalities and yet having the support of all points of a solid
  stone core. While the plaster was still soft, it was moulded with a
  blunt tool into the form and features which the artist desired.
  Finally the whole was painted, all the outlines being additionally
  marked out in red, frequently with such deviations as to leave the
  copyist in dilemma between the painted and the moulded lines.[55]

 [Illustration: Amarna Style Head. A relief showing the characteristic
                        art of the Amarna Age.]

  [Illustration: Queen Nofretete. The painted limestone bust shows the
queen wearing a conical blue headdress encircled by a band to which the
   uraeus, symbol of royalty, is attached. The bust was found in the
             studio of the sculptor Thutmose at Akhetaton.]


Realism

Akhenaton’s chief contribution to art, however, was anything but
mechanical. Under his prodding, the artists at Akhetaton developed a
realism—and even a distortion—which contrasts with the conservative,
stylizing tendencies of earlier Egyptian art. The chief sculptor Bek
describes himself on a stele as one “whom his majesty himself taught.”

Arthur Weigall suggests that the innovations which Akhenaton brought
into the art of his day were, in fact, a self-conscious return to
earlier art forms. Young Akhenaton, Weigall assumes, would have
discovered that the sun god Re-Harakhti was much more ancient than Amon
of Thebes, and that ancient art forms differed from those in use during
the Theban supremacy. In reverting to the religious views of the
Heliopolitan priesthood, Akhenaton would also have chosen to effect a
renaissance of earlier art forms.[56]

Others have speculated on the possibility of Minoan influence on
Akhenaton’s art, noting that the Minoans adopted a naturalism which
parallels that of Amarna, although Knossus was sacked some time during
the reign of Amenhotep III. Barring the migration of Minoan artists to
Akhetaton (which is rather unlikely), it may be best to see in the
Amarna art forms a development based upon changes which were already
being felt in art circles in Egypt. John A. Wilson notes that the older
stylized art forms were on their way out as early as the reign of
Thutmose III, and that the earlier tradition ended by the time of
Hatshepsut.[57]

The naturalism of Akhenaton, however, goes far beyond his predecessors.
The Pharaoh is not depicted in the splendid isolation of a god-king, but
in the informal pose of a husband and father. Akhenaton habitually
appears in the company of his wife, Nofretete, and their daughters, of
whom ultimately there were six. A stele depicts Akhenaton kissing an
infant while a second child sits on the queen’s knee. Another shows a
banquet scene with the king gnawing on a large piece of meat while his
wife is eating roast fowl with her hands.


Caricature

Not only informality, but actual caricature tended to mark the art of
Akhetaton. The natural deformities of the king were more than faithfully
reproduced—they were exaggerated. The elongated skull, long thin neck,
pointed chin, obtruding stomach, and abnormally large hips and thighs of
the king may have been emphasized by artists who felt that any
characteristic of a son of Aton deserves special attention.

The way in which people reacted to the king’s wishes may be seen in a
child’s toy depicted at Akhetaton. A tomb painting “shows a model
chariot drawn by monkeys. In the chariot is another monkey urging along
his steeds (his receding forehead is terribly like the king’s), by him a
monkey princess prods the rump of the horse-monkeys which are jibbing
and refusing to budge an inch in spite of a monkey groom who is dragging
at their bridles for dear life.”[58] Such caricature would indicate that
the “image” of Pharaoh as a son of Aton has been popularly dispelled,
and with it much of his power over his subjects.


Transitional Art Forms

The transition from the pre-Amarna art forms to those encouraged by
Akhenaton may be observed in the tomb of the vizier Ramose in the Theban
necropolis. Ramose first had a portrait of young Akhenaton carved in his
tomb in the conventional style, but later he added a second portrait in
the new style. The latter depicts Akhenaton standing with Nofretete
beneath the rays of the sun, bestowing golden necklets upon their
faithful vizier. Officials of the royal harem and a number of servants
look on. Akhenaton and his courtiers have the physical characteristics
which became conventional in Amarna art.


The Development of Amarna Art

The most violent break with the older convention came in the early years
of Akhenaton’s reign. Before the move to Akhetaton, the Theban hillside
was dotted with tombs decorated with the newer art forms and bearing
inscriptions praising the Pharaoh. With the move to Amarna, the art
conventions matured. Artists developed their own distinctive tastes and
at times modified the prevailing tendencies.

The painted stucco pavement which Petrie discovered in 1891 expresses
the love of nature which the Aton cult encouraged. It depicts a pool
surrounded by clumps of flowers in which birds are sporting and calves
playing. Frescoes from the Green Room of the North Palace, excavated by
Francis Newton in 1924, represent the luxuriance of a papyrus thicket
full of beautiful birds, brightened up here and there by blue lotuses.

Some of the finest specimens of ancient Egyptian art have come from the
workshop of the sculptor Thutmose, discovered by Ludwig Borchard during
the German expedition at Amarna prior to World War I. In preparing a
series of heads of members of the royal family, Thutmose chose to refine
rather than to stress their physical peculiarities. Thutmose based his
work on keen observation, augmented by casts taken from life when he
wanted to record the characteristic features of his subject. Among his
masterpieces are the famous painted limestone bust of Nofretete—perhaps
the best known piece of Egyptian art; and an unfinished portrait of the
queen now in the Cairo Museum.



                                   IX
                           THE END OF AN ERA


The high hopes of Akhenaton’s early years met an untimely end. The
Asiatic provinces of Egypt fell away to the Hittites or to local
Canaanite princes who had little sympathy with the Empire. Although
there is no evidence of revolt in Egypt itself, Akhenaton’s alienation
from the older priesthood must have resulted in dislocations of the
economy, and difficulties in the smooth running of government.


Smenkhkare

There is some evidence to suggest that Nofretete lost favor with her
husband and moved to a new palace in the northern sector of Akhetaton.
The king gave high honor to his eldest daughter Meritaton, whose
husband, Smenkhkare became his successor on the throne of Egypt. We have
no records indicating events in the earliest years of Smenkhkare’s reign
but in the third year he is known to have gone to Thebes. The reason for
the visit can only be conjectured, but it may have been a gesture to
appease the Amon priesthood which was still firmly entrenched there.

Our sources fail us again, but neither Akhenaton nor Smenkhkare are
mentioned after _ca._ 1350 B.C. Whether they died natural deaths, or
perished at the hands of assassins, can only be guessed. We are not even
sure if Smenkhkare was co-regent with his father-in-law or if Akhenaton
had died before he came to the throne. At most Smenkhkare reigned but
four years. If his trip to Thebes was made to bring about a
reconciliation with the Theban priesthood, it seems to have failed
completely.


Tutankhaton-Tutankhamon

Smenkhkare’s successor, Tutankhaton, was married to Ankhesenpaton, the
third daughter of Akhenaton and Nofretete. Under Tutankhaton the capital
was moved back to Thebes, and the Amarna revolt was at an end. His name,
meaning “the living image of Aton,” was changed to Tutankhamon, “the
living image of Amon,” and Amon was restored to his place as chief deity
of Egypt. Ankhesenpaton’s name was changed to Ankhesenpamon for the same
reason. Although Tuntankhamon was one of Egypt’s lesser kings, the
discovery of his tomb by Howard Carter in 1923 has made him the best
known Pharaoh of Egyptian history to most westerners.

Tutankhamon’s return to the worship of Amon was a conscious repudiation
of the Aton cult. He actually ascribes the calamities that befell Egypt
in the years of Akhenaton to the anger of Amon:

 [Illustration: The Throne of Tutankhamon. The throne dates to the time
 before Tutankhamon renounced Atonism. His name appears as Tutankhaton
    in the inlay, but in the gold work where it could more easily be
   altered it has been changed to Tutankhamon. The back of the throne
       pictures the king and his wife under the sun disk (Aton).]

 [Illustration: Tutankhamon and His God. A black granite statue depicts
the god Amon (large figure) with Pharaoh Tutankhamon, who renounced the
 Aton faith of Akhenaton and returned to Thebes, the center of the Amon
                              priesthood.]

  The temples of the gods and goddesses ... had gone to pieces. Their
  shrines had become desolate and had become overgrown mounds.... The
  land was topsy turvy and the gods turned their backs upon this land.
  If one prayed to a god to seek counsel from him, he would never come
  (at all). If one made supplication to a goddess, similarly she would
  never come at all. Their hearts were hurt (?) so they destroyed that
  which had been made.[59]

Following Tutankhamon’s early death we meet a story of intrigue and
international politics which involves his widow. Ankhesenpamon, fearful
of the future of herself and her country, wrote to the Hittite king,
Suppiluliumas, asking that one of his sons be sent to Egypt to become
her husband:

  My husband died, and I have no son. People say that you have many
  sons. If you were to send me one of your sons, he might become my
  husband. I am loath to take a servant of mine and make him my
  husband.[60]

The Hittite king, suspecting something amiss, sent a servant to check on
matters in Egypt. When the envoy reached Thebes, the widowed queen
asked:

  Why do you say, “They may try to deceive me.” If I had a son would I
  write to a foreign country in a manner which is humiliating to myself
  and my country. You do not trust me and tell me such a thing. He who
  was my husband died and I have no sons. Shall I perhaps take one of my
  servants and make him my husband? I have not written to any other
  country. I have written only to you. People say that you have many
  sons. Give me one of your sons, and he is my husband and king in the
  land of Egypt.[61]

Suppiluliumas was convinced of the good faith of the young widow and
sent a son to Egypt, but the young man never reached Thebes. Along the
way he was murdered by Egyptians who resented the thought of a foreigner
as their ruler. The result was a period of war between the Hittites and
Egypt. Another son of Suppiluliumas made a record of the affair:

  When my father gave them (the Egyptians) one of his sons (to take over
  the kingship), they killed him as they led him there. My father let
  his anger run away with him; he went to war against Egypt and attacked
  Egypt.[62]

The battle is not mentioned in the Egyptian annals. Probably it was
brief and indecisive, for the Hittites could not afford to throw a major
army into such a campaign. The rising power of Assyria was a threat to
Hittite control in the north, and she had to be ready to protect her
northern provinces. Had the Hittites launched a major campaign against
Egypt it is doubtful if she could have survived.

      [Illustration: Horemhab. Granite statue of the commander of
        Tutankhaton’s armies, later a Pharaoh in his own right.]


Eye and Horemhab

The rule of Egypt fell to the aged vizier Eye, who had been a counselor
and friend of Akhenaton. After four years Eye was succeeded by Horemhab
(_ca._ 1340-1310 B.C.), an energetic ruler who sought to restore Egypt’s
fortunes abroad and erase the memory of the Amarna revolt at home. As a
young general, Horemhab had espoused the cause of Akhenaton, but as a
Pharaoh he sought to obliterate the records of the Amarna kings with as
great enthusiasm as Akhenaton had sought to eliminate the name of Amon.
Later orthodox king lists omit the names of Akhenaton, Smenkhkare,
Tutankhamon, and Eye, placing the name of Horemhab immediately after
Amenhotep III.

Although the Amon priests of Thebes seemed to be more firmly entrenched
than ever after the accession of Horemhab, the calendar could not be
pushed back completely. Egyptian art and literature retained some of the
naturalism of the Amarna movement. There were effects in the religious
world, too, for although Atonism was not pure monotheism, it exhibited
tendencies in that direction which persisted in the Egyptian thought.
God is frequently addressed in the singular, although under different
names, in the hymns of the later periods of Egyptian history.



                                   X
                          AMARNA AND THE BIBLE


The Amarna texts make it clear that the inhabitants of Canaan during the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries B.C. had a high degree of culture.
While most people were probably illiterate, each community had its
professional scribes who could write in at least one foreign language.
Akkadian cuneiform, and not Canaanite, was the language of diplomatic
correspondence between the city states of Canaan and the Egyptian court.


Written Records

The Hebrew Scriptures give evidence that Israel made use of written
records before the composition of the canonical Bible. References to the
_Book of the Wars of the Lord_, and the _Book of Jasher_, appear in the
Pentateuch and Joshua (Num. 21:14; Josh. 10:13). While the events which
they commemorate may have first been passed on by word of mouth, the
word “book” (_sepher_, inscription, written document) implies that they
also were recorded in written documents. By the time of the Judges, a
lad whom Gideon happened to meet along the road was able to write the
names of twenty-seven men who were the elders of Succoth (Judg. 8:14).

The discovery of the Amarna Tablets created considerable interest in the
matter of writing in ancient Canaan, and among the Israelites. Early in
the twentieth century, Edouard Naville of the University of Geneva
argued that the earliest documents of the Old Testament were written “in
the idiom and with the characters of the Tel-el-Amarna tablets, namely
Babylonian cuneiform,” or Akkadian as we call it today.[63]

Naville went so far as to suggest that the Akkadian documents which lie
behind our Hebrew Old Testament (or at least the Pentateuch and Joshua)
were in use until the time of Ezra who adapted them to the alphabet used
by the Aramaic speaking Jews of the Persian Empire. This view is not
seriously considered today, for we know that Early or Palaeo-Hebrew
manuscripts antedate the Square or Aramaic form of the letters in
current use. The Canaanite dialect in use at Ras Shamra, ancient Ugarit,
was written in a cuneiform alphabet at a time contemporary with the
Amarna texts. Another group of texts, dated about 1500 B.C., was
discovered at the Egyptian turquoise mines in the Sinai Peninsula. There
are about twenty-five inscriptions in all, written in a form of
alphabetic writing which was clearly derived from Egyptian
hieroglyphics. Three short examples of the same alphabet, dating
somewhat earlier than the Sinai inscriptions, have been discovered at
Gezer, Lachish, and Shechem in southern Canaan. The oldest actual Hebrew
inscription, using the Paleao-Hebrew script, is the Gezer Calendar
(_ca._ 900 B.C.).

We cannot know for certain the nature of the writing on the tables, or
tablets of the Law (Exod. 34:27-28). Moses, raised as an Egyptian
prince, probably knew both Egyptian hieroglyphs and Akkadian cuneiform,
and he may have learned to write in an early form of the Hebrew alphabet
as a result of contacts with his own people. The Amarna texts have
underscored the fact that both Egypt and Canaan were highly literate
during the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries before Christ.


Canaanite Glosses

Of particular interest to language students is the fact that the Amarna
Letters frequently contain Canaanite words or expressions which are
inserted to clarify the meaning of the Akkadian text, which was a
foreign language to the scribe. These glosses are our earliest examples
of the language which became Biblical Hebrew. While the language of
Laban, and that branch of Abraham’s family which settled in northern
Mesopotamia, was Aramaic (cf. Gen. 31:47 where Laban uses an Aramaic
name), the Patriarchs who entered Canaan came to speak “the language of
Canaan” (cf. Isa. 19:18) which became the classical language of the Old
Testament. The cuneiform syllabary in which the Amarna texts were
written indicates vowel sounds which are not expressed in the alphabetic
Hebrew script. In this way philologists are able to reconstruct some of
the sounds of the ancient language.


Amarna Age Palestine

Although the Amarna texts do not name any personage met on the pages of
Scripture, they are of value in helping us to visualize life in the
Palestinian city states during the middle of the second millenium B.C.
Biblical cities mentioned in the correspondence include: Akko, Ashkelon,
Arvad, Aroer, Ashtaroth, Gebal (Byblos), Gezer, Gath, Gaza, Jerusalem,
Joppa, Keilah, Lachish, Megiddo, Sidon, Tyre, Sharon, Shechem, Taanach,
and Zorah. Beth-ninurta is thought to be identical with Biblical
Beth-shemesh.

These cities are, for the most part, independent city states, owing
allegiance to Egypt yet free to form their own alliances and resolve
their own local problems. It was this type of political structure that
Joshua met in Canaan. He waged war against “thirty-one kings” (Josh.
12:24). At times these kings made alliances in order to prevent Israel
from gaining control of the land, just as the Amarna Age rulers aided
one another in resisting Lab‘ayu. A leader against Joshua was
Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem, who found allies in Hoham, king of
Hebron; Piram, king of Jarmuth; Japhia, king of Lachish, and Debir, king
of Eglon (Josh. 10:1-3).

The military engagements were strictly limited affairs, judged by the
numbers of troops and horses requested of the Pharaoh. Rib-Addi of
Byblos pleaded:

  Let it seem good to the lord, the sun of the lands, to give me twenty
  pairs of horses.[64]

In his encounter with Abdi-Ashirta, the Amorite chieftain who was
seeking to control northern Syria in league with the Hittites, Rib-Addi
asked for but three hundred men.[65]

Abi-milki of Tyre indicated that he could get by with but token help
from Egypt. In one letter he asks for but twenty foot soldiers,[66] and
in another he will be satisfied with but ten.[67] Somewhat earlier, in
the Canaan of Abraham’s day, the patriarch was able to assemble an army
of three hundred and eighteen men (Gen. 14:14), pursue a confederation
of five kings with their armies, rout and chase the enemy. An entire
garrison might number but fifty men in the armies of Amarna Age
rulers.[68]


Affairs of Government

The presence of a friend at the court was appreciated and cultivated by
the rulers of the city states. Several of the Amarna tablets are
addressed to an Egyptian official named Yanhamu who bore the title “the
king’s fanbearer.” He was evidently a man of considerable power, for the
king entrusted him with the issuing of supplies from a place known as
Yarimuta. For this reason the local princes in Syria and Canaan
frequently wrote to him. After outlining his needs, Rib-Addi indulged in
a little apple-polishing as he concluded, “There is no servant like
Yanhamu, a faithful servant of the king.”[69]

Yanhamu seems to have occupied in the court of Amenhotep III (and
possibly Akhenaton as well) a position comparable to the one Joseph held
several generations earlier.[70] Both Yanhamu and Joseph were charged
with overseeing the distribution of food supplies (cf. Gen. 42:51-57).
They both had Semitic names, and the presence of Yanhamu in an Egyptian
court during New Kingdom times indicates that Semites were not barred
from government following the Hyksos expulsion. Rulers often find it
safer to trust faithful foreigners than some of their own subjects who
might be tempted to rebel.

The simple tastes of the Israelite tribes in the period before the
monarchy may be contrasted with the ostentation of Solomon’s harem with
its thousand wives and concubines (I Kings 11:3) along with the wealth
and luxury of an oriental court. The rulers of the larger states of the
Amarna Age, and particularly Tushratta of Mitanni, sent their daughters
to grace the harems of Amenhotep III and Akhenaton. A scarab of
Amenhotep III commemorates the arrival of Giluhepa, a Mitannian princess
with a retinue of three hundred seventeen maidens.[71] That Amenhotep
III was actively building his harem is shown in a letter which he
addressed to Milk-ili of Gezer which says, in part:

  I have sent Hania, the commander of the archers, to you with all sorts
  of things, to bring the beautiful women.... There are in all forty
  women; forty pieces of silver is the price of the women. Send me
  therefore very beautiful women among whom are no slanderers, so that
  the king, your lord, may say to you, “This is fine.”[72]

The building of a harem had political implications for it involved an
alliance of friendship. Early in Solomon’s reign he “made a marriage
alliance with Pharaoh, king of Egypt; he took Pharaoh’s daughter and
brought her into the City of David....” (I Kings 3:1). A large harem,
moreover, was a symbol of power, wealth and prestige. Solomon was but
adapting the customs of the great rulers of the ancient East when he
built an enormous harem for himself.



                              BIBLIOGRAPHY


Archaeology

Budge, E. A. W., _By Nile and Tigris_, I (London: 1920), pp. 133-144

Pendelbury, J. D. S., _Tell el-Amarna_ (London; 1935)

Peet, Thomas Eric; Woolley Leonard; Frankfort, Henri; Pendelbury, J. D.
    S., _et al._ _The City of Akhenaten_ (Parts I-III), 4 volumes
    (London; 1923-51)


History

Aldred, C., “The End of the El ’Amarna Period,” _Journal of Egyptian
    Archaeology_ XLIII (1957), pp. 30-41

Baikie, James, _The Amarna Age_ (New York: 1926)

Bratton, Fred Gladstone, _The First Heretic: The Life and Times of
    Ikhnaton the King_ (Boston: 1961)

Gardiner, A. H., “The So-called Tomb of Queen Tiye,” _Journal of
    Egyptian Archaeology_, XLIII (1957), pp. 10-25

Meyer, Eduard, _Geschichte des Altertums_, II (Stuttgart: 1955), pp.
    303-426

Seele, K. C., “King Ay and the Close of the Amarna Age,” _Journal of
    Near Eastern Studies_, XIV (1955), pp. 168-180

Weigall, Arthur, _The Life and Times of Akhnaton_ (London: 1923)


Art and Tomb Inscriptions

Davies, N. deGaris, _The Rock Tombs of El Amarna_ (Archaeological Survey
    of Egypt), 6 volumes (London: 1903-08)

Frankfort, Henri, ed. _The Mural Paintings of El ’Amarneh_ (London:
    1929)

Sandman, M. _Texts from the Time of Akhenaton_ (Brussels: 1938)


Religion

Anthes, H., “Die Maat des Echnaton von Amarna,” _Journal of the American
    Oriental Society_, Supplement 14 (1952)


The Amarna Tablets


                                 Texts

Betzold, C., and Budge, E. A. W., _The Tell El Amarna Tablets in the
    British Museum_ (London: 1892)

Winckler, H. and Abel, L., _Der Thontafelfund von El Amarna_ (Berlin:
    1889-90)


                     Transcription and Translation

Albright, W. F., and Mendenhall, George, “Akkadian Letters,” in
    Pritchard, J. B., ed., _Ancient Near Eastern Texts_ (2nd edition)
    (Princeton: 1955), pp. 482-490

Gordon, C. H., “The New Amarna Tablets,” _Orientalia_ XVI (1947), pp.
    1-21

Knudtzon, J. A., _Die El-Amarna Tafeln_ (with commentary by O. Webber
    and glossary by E. Ebeling (Leipzig: 1907-15)

Mercer, S. A. B., _The Tell el-Amarna Tablets_ (Toronto: 1939)

Schroeder, O., _Die Tontafeln von El-Amarna_ (Berlin texts only),
    (Leipzig: 1915)

Thureau-Dangin, F., “Nouvilles lettres d’el-Amarna,” _Revue
    d’Assyriologie et d’archeologie orientale_, XIX (1922), pp. 91-108


                                Studies

Albright, W. F., “Cuneiform Material for Egyptian Prosopography,
    1500-1200 B.C.” _Journal of Near Eastern Studies_, V (1946), pp.
    9-25

“The Egyptian Correspondence of Abimilki, Prince of Tyre,” _Journal of
    Egyptian Archaeology_, XXIII (1937) pp. 190-203

“The Letters of ‘Abdu-Kheba, Prince of Jerusalem,” _Bulletin of the
    American Schools of Oriental Research_, Supplementary Studies, 1950

Campbell, Jr., Edward F., “The Amarna Letters and the Amarna Period,”
    _Biblical Archaeologist_, XXIII (1960), pp. 2-22

Van der Meer, P. “The Chronological Determination of the Mesopotamian
    Letters in the El Amarna Archives,” _Ex Oriente Lux_, Jaarbericht
    No. 15, pp. 75-84



                               FOOTNOTES


[1]Alan Gardiner, _Egypt of the Pharaohs_ (Oxford: 1961), p. 207

[2]James Breasted, _A History of Egypt_ (New York: 1909), p. 356

[3]_Ibid._

[4]James H. Breasted, _Ancient Records of Egypt_, II (Chicago: 1906), p.
    935

[5]Texts in N. deG. Davies, _The Rock Tombs of El Amarna_, V (London:
    1908)

[6]Vol. I (London: 1903), p. 19

[7]The originality of Akhenaton’s contribution to Egyptian life is
    challenged by L. A. White, “Ikhanton; the Great vs. the Culture
    Process,” _Journal of the American Oriental Society_, LXVIII (1948),
    pp. 91-114. He is answered by W. F. Edgerton, “The Great Man: A note
    on methods.” _Ibid._ pp. 192-193

[8]A. W. Shorter, “Historical Scarabs of Tuthmosis IV and Amenophis
    III,” _Journal of Egyptian Archaeology_, XVII (1931), pp. 23-25. See
    also XVIII (1932), pp. 110-111; XXII (1936) pp. 3-7

[9]M. Sandman, _Texts for the Time of Akhenaton_ 92.8-9, 60.6; 1.7-9,
    80.17-81.1

[10]M. Sandman, _Texts from the Time of Akhenaton_ pp. 93-96

[11]_The Dawn of Conscience_ (New York: 1933) pp. 286-87

[12]The words “Re” (meaning “the sun”) and “end” are similar in
    Egyptian. The principal shrine of Re was at Heliopolis.

[13]The Pharaoh was regarded as the son of Aton, hence divine in his own
    right.

[14]Cf. Psalm 104:20, “Thou makest darkness and it is night when all the
    beasts of the forest creep forth.”

[15]Cf. Psalm 104:21, “The young lions roar for their prey, seeking
    their food from God.”

[16]The Two Lands are: Upper Egypt, the Nile Valley from the First
    Cataract to the head of the Delta; and Lower Egypt, the Delta
    region. The two Egypts were united _ca._ 3000 B.C. to form the
    united Egypt of subsequent history. Pharaohs continued to bear the
    title, “King of Upper and Lower Egypt” throughout ancient Egyptian
    history.

[17]Cf. Psalm 104:22-23, “When the sun arises, they get them away and
    lie down in their dens. Man goes forth to his work, and to his labor
    until the evening.”

[18]The spirit (Egyptian _ka_) was regarded as the vital principle or
    fundamental nature of a person. “In praise to thy _ka_,” is,
    essentially, “In praise to thee.”

[19]Psalm 104:10-14, “Thou makest springs to gush forth in the valleys;
    they flow between the hills, they give drink to every beast of the
    field; the wild asses quench their thirst. By them the birds of the
    air have their habitation; they sing among the branches. From thy
    lofty abode thou waterest the mountains; the earth is satisfied with
    the fruit of thy work. Thou dost cause the grass to grow for the
    cattle, and plants for man to cultivate.”

[20]The “great green sea” is the Mediterranean. Cf. Psalm 104:25-26,
    “Yonder is the sea, great and wide, which teems with things
    innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships,
    and Leviathan which thou didst form to sport in it.”

[21]Cf. Psalm 104:24, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works, in wisdom
    hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures.”

[22]Cf. Psalm 104:27, “These all look to thee to give them their food in
    due season.”

[23]The Nile which watered Egypt was thought to have its source in a
    subterranean river which provided water for Egypt’s Nile.

[24]Egypt, essentially rainless, received its water from the Nile.
    Foreign lands, however, received water from rains, hence the
    reference to a “Nile in the sky.”

[25]Cf. Psalm 104:6, 10, “Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a
    garment; the waters stood above the mountains: ... Thou makest
    springs gush forth in the valleys, they flow between the hills.”

[26]Names of Akhenaton

[27]The Egyptian Pharaohs were both gods, and intermediaries between the
    gods and the people of Egypt.

[28]Text 19, lines 59-67. The classification follows J. A. Knudtzon,
    _Die El-Amarna Tafeln_ (Leipzig: 1907-15)

[29]Text 23, lines 13-29

[30]Text 15

[31]Text 16. The quotation is from lines 32 and 33

[32]Text 9

[33]Text 74, lines 30-65

[34]Text 158. The terms “father” and “son” are used to show respect.
    Aziru was the son of Abdi-Ashirta.

[35]Text 126, lines 34-61

[36]Text 137, lines 75-76; 97-99

[37]Text 169, lines 12-15; 24-34

[38]Text 254, lines 10-19

[39]Text 244

[40]Text 245

[41]Text 246

[42]Text 288, lines 33-40. Nahrim is the land of Mitanni; Kapasi may be
    Cush.

[43]Text 287, lines 53-57

[44]Text 280, lines 21-35

[45]F. Thureau-Dangin, “Nouvelles lettres d’el-Amarna,” _Revue
    d’Assyriologie et d’Archeologie orientale_, XIX, pp. 91-108. Text
    290a in S. A. B. Mercer, _The Tell el-Amarna Tablets_ (Toronto:
    1939)

[46]F. Thureau-Dangin, _op. cit._, pp. 91-108: Mercer text 248a

[47]This view was popularized by Sir Charles Marston in, _The Bible
    Comes Alive_ (New York: n.d.), pp. 89-108. Marston felt that he
    could identify Joshua in the Amarna texts.

[48]“The Ha-BI-ru—Kin or Foe of Israel?” _The Westminster Theological
    Journal_ XIX-X), pp. 1-24; 170-184; 46-70

[49]So, for example, John Bright, _A History of Israel_ (Philadelphia:
    1959), p. 113; G. Ernest Wright, _Biblical Archaeology_, 2nd edition
    (Philadelphia: 1962), p. 60; Cyrus H. Gordon, _The World of the Old
    Testament_ (Garden City: 1958), p. 144.

[50]Text 8, lines 25-34

[51]Text 34, lines 16-21; 35, lines 10-20

[52]Text 22, column 1, line 38; column 2 lines 1, 3, 16

[53]N. deG. Davies, _The Tomb of Rekh-mi-Re’ at Thebes_ (New York:
    1943).

[54]_The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt_ (Baltimore: 1958), p.
    175

[55]_Op. cit._, p. 18

[56]_Life and Times of Akhenaton_ (London: 1922), p. 63

[57]_The Burden of Egypt_ (Chicago: 1954), p. 193

[58]J. D. S. Pendlebury, _Tell el-Amarna_ (London: 1935), p. 19

[59]J. Bennett, “The Restoration Inscription of Tut’Ankhamun,” _Journal
    of Egyptian Archaeology_, XXV (1939), pp. 8-15

[60]Albrecht Goetze, “Hittite Historical Texts,” in _Ancient Near
    Eastern Texts_, James Pritchard, ed. (Princeton: 1955), p. 319

[61]_Ibid._

[62]Albrecht Goetze, “Hittite Prayers,” in _Ancient Near Eastern Texts_,
    James Pritchard, ed. (Princeton: 1955), p. 395

[63]_Archaeology of the Old Testament: Was the Old Testament Written in
    Hebrew?_ (London: 1913), p. 4

[64]Text 103, lines 39-43

[65]Text 93, lines 10-12

[66]Text 149, lines 17-19

[67]Text 148, lines 13-17

[68]Text 238, lines 9-12

[69]Text 118, lines 55-56

[70]Problems of chronology are acute. H. H. Rowley, _From Joseph to
    Joshua_ (London: 1950) argues that Joseph was actually Akhenaton’s
    Prime Minister. Cf. pp. 119-120. Most contemporary scholars place
    Joseph’s entry into Egypt in Hyksos times (_ca._ 1720-1550 B.C.).
    Cf. G. Ernest Wright, _Biblical Archaeology_ (Philadelphia: 1962),
    pp. 53-58

[71]The Scarab is reproduced in A. deBuck, _Egyptian Reading Book I_
    (Leiden: 1948), p. 67

[72]Musees Royaux (Bruxelles) tablet E6753, edited by Georges Dossin in
    _Revue d’Assyriologie et d’Archaeologie orientale_, XXXI, pp.
    125-136. Mercer Number 31a



                                 INDEX


                                   A
  Abdi-Ashirta, 47-49, 69
  Abdi-Khepa, 50, 51, 53
  Abi-milki, 47, 69
  Achsaph, 51
  Ahmose, 16
  Ajalon, 51
  Akhetaton, 23, 26-29
  Akizzi, 47
  Akko, 50
  Alashia, 13, 44, 55
  Aleppo, 47
  Amarna Tablets, 10-13, 44-54
  Amenemhet I, 31
  Amenhotep III, 13, 17, 19, 33, 56, 57
  Amon, 33
  Amon-Re, 17, 33
  Amorites, 47
  Amunira, 47
  Ankhsenpaton, 24, 63, 64
  ‘Apiru, 50, 52-54
  Art, 58-61
  Artatama, 45
  Asenath, 32
  Ashkelon, 47
  Ashmolean Museum, 12, 13
  Ashuruballit I, 44, 46
  Assyria, 45
  Aton, 20, 31-37
  Aziru, 47-49

                                   B
  Baktaton, 28
  Beirut, 47
  Bek, 27
  Beth-shemesh, 32
  Biridya, 50, 52
  Bliss, F. J., 12
  Borchard, L., 61
  Budge, E. A. Wallis, 12
  Burnaburiash II, 44, 46, 55
  Byblos, 47-49

                                   C
  Cairo Museum, 28
  Carchemish, 17
  Champollion, J. F., 10
  Colossi of Memnon, 19
  Crete, 56

                                   D
  Dudu, 48, 49

                                   E
  East Road, 30
  Eye, 19, 30, 38, 65

                                   F
  Frankfort, Henri, 14
  Freud, Sigmond, 36

                                   G
  Gebal (Byblos), 47
  Giluhepa, 70
  Graf, Theodore, 12
  Great Temple, 14, 15, 28
  Grebaut, G. M. E., 11
  Griffith, F. Llewellyn, 14

                                   H
  Hatshepsut, 60
  Hebron, 51
  Heliopolis, 20, 22, 31, 35
  High Priest Street, 28
  Hittites, 47, 62
  Horemhab, 23, 65
  Hurrians (Horites), 44
  Hyksos, 16, 51
  Hymn to the Aton, 34, 38-43

                                   I
  Indurata, 51
  Ishtar, 45

                                   J
  Jethro, 36

                                   K
  Kadashman-Enlil I, 44
  Karnak, 17, 20
  King’s Way, 27, 28
  Knossus, 56, 60

                                   L
  Lab‘ayu, 50, 69
  Lachish, 47
  Lepsius, Karl R., 10, 14
  Louvre, 12
  Luxor, 11, 19

                                   M
  Mattiwaza, 45
  Megiddo, 17
  Meketaton, 23, 30
  Memphis, 35
  Meritaton, 20, 23, 24, 28, 62
  Meru Aton, 14, 27, 28
  Metropolitan Museum, 12
  Milk-ili, 70
  Mitanni, 44
  Monotheism, 43
  Moses, 36, 37
  Murch, Chauncey, 12
  Mycenae, 56
  Mycerinus, 47

                                   N
  Nakht, 29, 30
  Napoleon, 9
  Newton, F. G., 14, 61
  Nofretete, 19, 20, 23, 24, 26, 28, 60, 61, 62
  Norden, F. L., 9
  North Palace, 14, 28

                                   O
  On (Heliopolis), 32
  Oppert, Jules, 11

                                   P
  Palestine, 69
  Parennufe, 30
  Peet, T. Eric, 14
  Pendelbury, John D. S., 14
  Pepi, 47
  Petrie, W. Flinders, 13, 28, 61
  Phoenicians, 56-57
  Potiphera, 32

                                   Q
  Qatna, 47

                                   R
  Ramose, 61
  Re, 31
  Re-Harakhti, 20, 21, 32
  Rekhmire, 56
  Rib-Addi, 47-49, 69
  River Temple, 14

                                   S
  Sellin, E., 12
  Shutarna, 45
  Sidon, 47
  Silsila, 20
  Simon, W., 12
  Sinuhe, 31
  Smenkhkare, 23, 62
  Suppiluliumas, 19, 44, 45, 46, 49, 64
  Suwardata, 51

                                   T
  Taanach, 12
  Telepinus, 47
  Tell el-Hesi, 12
  Thebes, 17, 20, 23, 33
  Thutmose I, 16
  Thutmose III, 16, 17, 56, 60
  Thutmose IV, 17, 33
  Thutmose (Sculptor), 61
  Tiy, 19, 20, 22, 28, 33, 45, 56
  Tombs, 30
  Tushratta, 44, 45, 55, 70
  Tutankhamon (Tutankhaton) 24, 36, 63

                                   U
  Unis, 47

                                   W
  Whittemore, Thomas, 14
  Wilkinson, John Gardner, 9, 10, 14
  Woolley, Leonard, 14

                                   Y
  Yanhamu, 70
  Yarimuta, 70

                                   Z
  Zimrida, 47
  Zurata, 50, 51


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