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Biblical Chronology - Egypt Without A Pharaoh For 300 Years

Dec 10, 2007
I presented in my two previous articles that I've shifted Egyptian dynasties 1 through 12 along the timeline earlier by 161 years and I have moved Egyptian dynasties 13 through 20 earlier by 124 years. These shifts are in the same direction along the timeline (earlier) and only have a difference of 37 years (161 years compared to 124 years). This difference in the shifts is relatively insignificant and can be accounted for by the uncertainty in the dates of reigns of dynasties 13-17 (historians acknowledge that the dating of dynasties 13-17 is difficult since many reigns in this period may coincide). Therefore, I essentially only disagree with the dating of the Conventional Egyptian Chronology from dynasties 1 through 20 in the sense that the entire timeline for those dynasties should be shifted earlier in time in the range of 124-161 years.

Dynasties 21 through 26 are a different matter. Since I have shifted these dynasties later in time by 181 years and dynasties 13-20 earlier by at least 124 years there must be a gap in the Egyptian timeline somewhere from the reign of Ramesses III to the reign of Shishak of 305 years! This is a remarkable result. No one in the academic community has even suggested that a discontinuity of the Egyptian dynasties may have occurred. It has been assumed that Egypt has always been powerful enough to rule over itself and its neighbors but it may very well be that Egypt was at the mercy of other invaders from the end of the 20th dynasty to the beginning of the 21st dynasty for about 300 years.

So what happened in Egypt for 300 years?

The question of "what happened to the 300 years" can not be adequately addressed until we analyze Egypt's position as a nation after the reign of Ramesses III. Since the Exodus of the Israelites occurred during his reign and if you believe the account of the Bible (which I certainly do) Egypt must have been devastated. The ten plagues that occurred during this time would have poisoned the Nile (blood in the Nile), decimated the food supply (locusts), introduced pestilence and disease on a national scale and killed many Eqyptians (Passover angel of death). Now consider the impact to their economy of a workforce of over 2,000,000 Israelite slaves exiting their country (see the book of Numbers for the population of the Israelites at that time). Presumably the population of Egypt in that period should be much less than it is today so the impact of the Israelites on the economy would be much greater.

The scriptures also state that the Israelites were able to "loot" the Egyptians because the Egyptian citizens empathized with their plight and gave them "going-away" gifts of gold and jewelry. Now on top of all of this, as I mentioned earlier, the Egyptian army was essentially destroyed when they were drowned in the Red Sea. So let's recap, Egypt is decimated by lack of water, disease, pestilence and much of the population has died; its economy is severely weakened by a largely reduced workforce; it has no military. How could anyone believe this nation survived such circumstances? Neither do I believe Egypt was able to survive.

I don't believe Egypt's enemies were taking a holiday while all this was occurring either. Libya and the Sea Peoples were the last foreigners that historians have evidence of conducting war with Egypt in the 20th dynasty. Ramesses III was able to rebuff both these invaders. However, after the Exodus I believe there was another invader that became prominent, Egypt's former slave nation, Israel. Consider what the scriptures say about Israel's new southern border after they invade Canaan (Numbers 33:5): "And the border shall turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, and its limit shall be at the sea". If you look up the word "Brook" in the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance you will find that this word can mean "river valley" which is the interpretation I favor. I do not believe this verse means that the border of Israel started at the Nile River. I believe this is made clear in Joshua 15:47 where the "Brook of Egypt" appears to be close to the city Gaza in the context of the verse.

There is a great deal of distance between Gaza and the Nile, however if you were to look at a topological map of the area you would notice that the hilly mountainous geography of Israel transitions to the much lower flat Nile River Valley in the general vicinity of Gaza. Historians report that Ramesses VI voluntarily brings his forces out of Canaan during his reign. According to The Fourth Day: Why The Bible is Historically Accurate Chronology the Israelites crossed the Jordan River to begin their conquest of Canaan very early in the reign of Ramesses VII. Assuming there exists only a small error in the Conventional Egyptian Chronology, I believe the Israelites actually scared Ramesses VI out of Canaan back into Egypt shortly after they entered Canaan. What is interesting about this is the Bible never mentions Israel skirmishing Egypt. Archaeologists have found evidence that Ramesses VI withdrew his forces from Canaan. In fact Egypt is never mentioned in the Bible from the book of Exodus till the reign of Solomon. It is quite possible that Egypt saw the size of Israel's army and retreated, thus explaining why it wasn't recorded in the Bible. Egypt's retreat is significant since Egypt often used Canaan as a "buffer zone" to prevent other powerful nations like the Hittites, the Babylonians and the Assyrians from invading Egypt. Therefore, not only was Egypt militarily weak it was also caught between three formidable nations, Libya to the west, Ethiopia to the south (this includes present day Sudan) and Israel to the east. I believe that for the next three hundred years Egypt was hemmed in with little chance to recover its former glory.

The Dark Ages of the Eastern Mediterranean

Egyptologists have been insistent that the 30 dynasties of Egypt followed one behind the other with no gap in the timeline between these kings. Is there any historical evidence that supports the idea that Egypt did not have a Pharaoh from 1200 B.C. to 900 B.C.? Consider the fact that virtually every nation in the Eastern Mediterranean went through some dark age, some period without a record of its history during this time. Historians claim that ancient Greece went through a dark age from 12th to the 8th century B.C. between the Mycenean and Archaic Greek civilizations. The Hittites appeared to have a dark age from the 13th to the 10th century B.C. Even the Assyrians appeared to have a dark age of one hundred years from 1000-900 B.C. So if all these neighboring nations of Egypt experienced a dark age period during this time why shouldn't Egypt?

Also consider that the Greeks alluded to a dark age of Egypt as well. Greek mythology mentions a king of Egypt, Proteus, who became king of Egypt after a period where Egypt did not have a king for five generations (Reference: Greek Mythology Link, author Carlos Parada, http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/Proteus3.html). If we assume a generation was a period of 60 years then five generations would be 300 years; certainly a possiblility. So who is Proteus king of Egypt? According to Greek mythology Proteus was king of Egypt during the Trojan War when Paris, prince of Troy, landed at the shores of Egypt with his captive Helen. Apparently Paris had kidnapped Helen, the queen of Sparta. This is the incident that sparked the Trojan War. Herodotus also mentions Proteus in his book The Histories in regard to his role in the Trojan War. If Proteus is the king of Egypt during the Trojan War and because he is the king at the end of the 300 year period of silence in Egyptian history then the Trojan War must have occurred very near 900 B.C. according to the Fourth Day: Why the Bible is Historically Accurate Chronology. Since it was the Mycenean Greeks that invaded Troy then it is very possible there was a gradual change from the Mycenean to the Archaic Greek civilization over a period of one hundred years (900-800 B.C.) This essentially means that there was no dark age in ancient Greece as has been so forcefully argued by Peter James in his book Centuries of Darkness.

So where is the insertion point for this 300 year period of silence in the Conventional Egyptian Chronology? Since this period occurs somewhere in time between the 20th and 21st dynasties of ancient Egypt then the first king after this 300 year period of silence must be in one of these dynasties. Also the first powerful king in Egypt in 300 years would probably make some announcement or edict that would demonstrate that Egypt once again was in control of its own destiny.

I believe the period from Ramesses VI until Ramesses XI meets all the prerequisites of the missing 300 years. Little was recorded about Ramesses VII, VIII or IX. According to Herodotus the next king to succeed Proteus was a king named Rhampsinutus (many historians believe this is the Greek rendering for a king named Ramesses). So which Ramesses was it? I believe he was Ramessses XI. Herodotus states that Rhampsinutus had a "vast fortune in silver" larger than any king of Egypt before him. The only two Pharoahs in Egypt's history that had silver coffins that have been found were Psusennes of the 21st dynasty and Shoshenq I of the 23rd dynasty. This is significant because I believe this is evidence that Ramessess XI fits better as a king of the 21st dynasty rather than the 20th dynasty.

I propose that Ramesses XI, just like Rhampsinitus, acquired his fortune in working with metals since history records that he erected two great statues at the site of the Temple of Vulcan, the god of metal-working. Ancient Egypt was famous for its gold mines not its silver mines. Silver was mined mostly in Canaan and Mesopotamia. A vast silver fortune would indicate Ramesses XI had become rich in silver by trading other commodities to nations in Canaan (probably horses). Historians also have found that Ramesses XI declared a new marking of time called the "repetition-of-births". Many of the reigns of the kings of Egypt after Ramesses XI were described in terms of years "in the repetition-of-births" rather than "in the year" of the reigning contemporary king. I believe Ramesses XI was using the repetition-of-births concept to indicate the "rebirth" of the Egyptian nation after 300 years of silence. The evidence of this new marking of time came from an inscription on a wall at the Temple of Karnak that read "year 7 of the Repetition of Births...under Ramesses XI".

Herodotus also says this king Rhampsinutus instituted a new yearly observation that sounds suspiciously close to the "repetition-of-births". Herodotus describes how Rhampsinitus went down alive to Hades (the underworld) and played dice with a god called Demeter and he came back alive from Hades with a golden hand towel, his winnings from his game of dice. This story was the basis of a yearly celebration. It sounds like Rhampsinitus symbolically dies and comes alive every year through this celebration. Just one paragraph after Herodotus talks about this celebration, he talks about the following Egyptian religious doctrine.

The Egyptians believed the human body was immortal and when a person died his soul entered an animal; when that animal died his soul continued to be reborn in a long list of animals that included animals from the land, sea and air until his soul entered a human body. This was a cycle believed to last for 3000 years. Again this sounds suspiciously like the idea of "repetition-of-births". Therefore I believe that the Rhampsinitus described by Greek mythology and Herodotus must be Ramesses XI.
About the Author
My name is Darren Thompson and I am a chemical engineer that has worked in the rocket propulsion industry for over 15 years. I hold 10 patents and am the author of over 20 papers in rocket propellant development. I have written two books, "The Fourth Day: Why the Bible is Historically Accurate" and "Why the Bible is Historically Accurate (2nd Edition)" which are available at amazon.com or lulu.com. You can check out my book website at The Fourth Day.
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