Friday, April 25, 2014

Hatshepsut Declares

Some people claim that there is no mention  in Egyptian texts of an exodus such as is described in the Hebrew Bible. That is a bit much to expect, in the first place, but it seems to me that Hatshepsut, the woman-king, is describing one in her Speos Artemidos text, undated. Here is my translation of the relevant section:

“Ever since the Aamu were in Avaris of the Northland, wanderers among them, destroying what had been made—they ruled without Ra and he did nothing by divine order down to the time of my own majesty. I was established upon the thrones of Ra and it was foretold 'After a period of years she will become a conqueror'. I am come as the sole [ fem.] Horus, the fiery uraeus against my enemies. I have banished the abomination of the gods and the earth has removed their footprints.  This is the guidance of the father of my fathers [Ra] who comes for the day of his reward.”

Elsewhere, in her legitimizing texts, Hatshepsut claims that, in Year 2 of her father, Thutmose I, an oracle proclaimed the kingship for her during the festival of Amun. Thereupon, she was crowned co-regent at Heliopolis by Atum, himself. Clearly, then, the “majesty” of Hatshepsut extended, at least for the purposes of propaganda, all the way back to the beginning of her father's reign and his accomplishments could be shared. Manetho, the Late Period historian, also believed that a king named “Tethmosis”, the first pharaoh of his Dynasty 18, drove out the “Shepherds”, who were associated with Avaris. Prior to that time, Manetho speaks of a prolonged war against some Shepherds, probably including the participation of those Theban princes of Dynasty 17. Both Kamose and Ahmose battled the Hyksos and Ahmose pushed them to Sharuhen—not very far from Egypt proper—before his attention was called to the Nubians. The Hyksos/Shepherds did lose their hegemony over the Delta then, but that evidently did not prevent the people the earlier Egyptians called the Aamu from returning to the walled city of Avaris and unspecified others making a home there, as well. The action is precisely defined in the Speos Artemidos text. Nobody was slain, there was no battle to speak of—but the Aamu were sent on their way and soon the elements erased all trace of them at Avaris. Because they raised sheep and goats, ate mutton, sacrificed rams, and wore wool garments, the Aamu were abhorred by the gods. Even in the Bible it states that Moses was loathe to anger the Egyptians by sacrificing their sacred animals. [Exodus 8:26]  The entire Speos Artemidos text leads up to that very important day, the expulsion of the foreigners, the Aamu, with the sun-god, Ra, appearing overhead to gloat or rejoice at the spoils [sw] that were taken from those those who did not give him the proper respect.

The Aamu as depicted in the 12th Dynasty tomb of Khnumhotep II, not very far from the Speos Artemidos.

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