Esther and I are averaging doing our history reading three or four times a week. This book, Unwrapping the Pharoahs, is full of interesting little tidbits from Egyptian history. For my notes from the first seven chapters, go here.
Chapter 8 relates the story of Dynasty 5. The Pharoahs in this dynasty built pyramids of piles of rubble, covered with nice stones. After people later pilfered the facing stones, all that was left was rubble! Unas, the last king of the 5th Dynasty, was the first to have writing in his tomb. I had to laugh at a couple of sentences in this chapter. “Mummification sure does nothing for the beautiful looks of a princess, but then beauty was not the object of mummification. And, “Blue stars adorn the roof of his (Unas’s) burial chamber, presumably to give the dead king the impression that he was under the night sky.”
Chapter 9 begins with the first king of Dynasty 6. He was the son of the last king of Dynasty 5—why did they consider it a separate dynasty? He seems to have been murdered by his bodyguard, as reported by Manetho 1500 years later (3rd century B. C.). Dynasties 5 and 6 were very rich. Many reliefs are on their mastaba walls. The last ruler of Dynasty 6 was a woman whose husband/brother, a Pharoah, was murdered. She avenged his death by killing all those responsible, then killed herself. Egypt was thrown into chaos as a result. Manetho says, “The 7th Dynasty consisted of 70 kings of Memphis who reigned for 70 days.”
Chapter 10 discusses dates in Egyptian history. Dating events is very difficult. We don’t know how many dynasties were contemporary with each other. The traditional chronology was created as if each dynasty ruled separately, but even Eusebius (a Christian history in the 3rd or 4th century AD) said, “several Egyptian kings ruled at the same time.” Traditionally, Hittite chronology is determined by coordinating it with Egyptian records. That puts the Hittite empire as being overrun by peoples from the sea in the 12th century B. C. However, the Assyrian records are different. In the 9th century, Shalmaneser III fought the Hittites, and in the 8th century, Sennacherib fought the Hittites. 2 Kings 7:6 seems to indicate that the Hittites were more feared than the Egyptians. If Egyptian dates are reduced, that will make Hittite dates line up with Assyrian and Hebrew records.
Chapter 11 mentions that Sesostris I, in Dynasty 12, had a vizier, or prime minister, named Mentuhotep, who appears to have had the powers that were given to the Biblical Joseph. A canal was dug, during Dynasty 12, from the Nile to the Faiyyum Oasis. It is still called Joseph’s Canal. Pyramids were now made of sun-dried bricks.
Chapter 12 mentions that many Asiatic slaves were in Egypt during the 12th Dynasty. Sesostris III bragged about his cruelty. Was he one of the Pharoahs of the Oppresion? His successor, Amenemhet III, had no sons. His daughter Sobekneferu ruled after his death for 4 years and had no heir. Was she the one who adopted Moses? Amenemhet III had 2 pyramids built for himself, one of sun-dried bricks held together with straw.
In Chapter 13, Neferhotep I, in the 13th Dynasty, seems to have been the last king before the Asiatic slaves disappeared from a large settlement called Kahun. Kahun was abandoned suddenly, with many personal items left behind. In the floors of the houses are many boxes containing the bones of babies under three months old, with sometimes several babies in each box. Neferhotep’s mummy has never been found, and though we know he had a son, that son did not succeed him. This lines up with the 10th plague, of the firstborn sons being killed, and with Pharoah drowning in the Red Sea. The Hyksos invaded Egypt soon after—were they the Amalekites? The Amalekites attacked Israel soon after the Exodus; they could have learned from captured Israelites about the demise of the Egyptian army. Manetho says that the Hyksos occupied Egypt “without a battle.” Where was the well-trained Egyptian army? At the bottom of the Red Sea!
Chapter 14 continues the story of the Hyksos. They ruled Egypt for a few hundred years; the 13th-17th Dynasties were local Egyptian or Hyksos rulers. Seqenenre, a ruler in the south, was sent a delegation from the Hyksos king, Apophis. The complaint? The hippopotami in Seqenenre’s new canal kept Apophis awake from 497 miles away! Soon after this, Egypt began a war of liberation against the Hyksos, and they soon disappear from history. King Saul was reigning about this time, so if the Hyksos were, indeed, the Amalekites, it makes sense. They were annihilated. Amenhotep I, the first ruler in the 18th Dynasty, immediately after the Hyksos were driven out, was the first to abandon burial in pyramids and build his tomb in the Valley of the Kings.