|XI Dynasty, of Thebes|
|The Middle Kingdom|
The first Egyptian dynasty from Thebes, with names that reflect a local Theban war god, Montu. Of course, these local rulers of a fragmented county end up counting as a dynasty only because, around 2040, Mentuhotep II succeeded in overthrowing the obscure Heracleopolitan kings and reuniting Egypt. This is usually taken as the proper beginning of the Middle Kingdom, so the XI Dynasty, starting in the First Intermediate Period, is the only dynasty in Egyptian history that is taken to straddle two such divisions. In the course of his long reign Mentuhotep II employed three different Horus names. Earlier historians took this to mean that they were dealing with three different kings, and the total of Mentuhoteps (with this King previously counted as the first) as a consequence was formerly reckoned up to five. The last Mentuhotep seems to have been overthrown by his own vizier, Amenemhet, who thus founded the XII Dynasty. Some ill feeling may have persisted, since Amenemhet himself was ultimately assassinated, a sort of act that was, as far as we know, rather rare in Egyptian history.
The treatment here is based on Peter A. Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs [Thames & Hudson, 1994], Sir Alan Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs [Oxford, 1966], and now Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt [Thames & Husdon, 2004]. The Horus names of Mentuhotep I are given with Gardiner's speculative vocalization, based on Coptic. Dodson and Hilton begin the Dynasty with a Mentuhotep who is not listed in the other sources. The second set of dates are theirs.
The Middle Kingdom
|The XII Dynasty||Pyramid||Lehner 1997||Dodson & Hilton 2004|
R.A. Parker, in his The Calendars of Ancient Egypt [U. of Chicago, 1950], worked out a complete chronology of the XII Dynasty based on astronomical references during that Dynasty to the heliacal rising of Sirius and to phases of the moon, dated in regal years of known kings. These results are listed and discussed in a general way in Sir Alan Gardiner's Egypt of the Pharaohs [Oxford U. Press, 1961, p. 439]. The XII Dynasty already represents the first fairly secure dates in Egyptian history; and if Parker is right, then the dates can be secured absolutely and the XII Dynasty is known with a certainty missing from the rest of Egyptian history until cross-references to Classical chronology (cf. E.J. Bickerman, Chronology of the Ancient World, Cornell U. Press, 1968). If the dates are known absolutely, then we can give the Julian Day Numbers for them. The following table thus gives the Day Numbers for all the benchmark (year 0) dates of the reigns of the XII Dynasty and the BC dates for the chronologically significant years (year 1, etc.). The XII Dynasty is well know for its system of regencies, so many reigns overlap. The zero year, first year, and last year are given for each reign, with overlaps. The Dynasty ends with the reign of Queen Sebeknefrure (or Sokebneferure), one of three women who are known to have occupied the throne of Ancient Egypt (not counting Greek Queens like Cleopatra), though nothing otherwise is known about Sebeknefrure or her reign.
In some recent books we see minor variations on Parker's dates. Thus, in the table above I compare Parker's dates with those of Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids [Thames and Hudson, 1997, p. 8] and Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt [Thames & Husdon, 2004, p.289]. Dodson and Hilton end up with a pretty consist divergence of from three increasing to five years. I have not noticed any direct critique of Parker's data or methods, so in the following table I proceed with giving the Julian Day Numbers for Parker's results. The value of the Egyptian consonants is discussed in "The Pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian".
Chronology of the XII Dynasty
|Amenemhet I||year 0 = Dynasty XII||year 0||year 0||JD 993 847|
|Amenemhet I||year 1||year 1||1991 BC|
|Amenemhet I||year 20 = Senwosret I||year 0||year 20||JD 1001 147|
|Amenemhet I||year 21 = Senwosret I||year 1||year 21||1971 BC|
|Amenemhet I||year 30 = Senwosret I||year 10||year 30||1962 BC|
|Senwosret I||year 42 = Amenemhet II||year 0||year 62||JD 1016 477|
|Senwosret I||year 43 = Amenemhet II||year 1||year 63||1929 BC|
|Senwosret I||year 44 = Amenemhet II||year 2||year 64||1928 BC|
|Amenemhet II||year 32 = Senwosret II||year 0||year 94||JD 1028 157|
|Amenemhet II||year 33 = Senwosret II||year 1||year 95||1897 BC|
|Amenemhet II||year 35 = Senwosret II||year 3||year 97||1895 BC|
|Senwosret II||year 19 = Senwosret III||year 0||year 113||JD 1035 092||1879 BC|
|Senwosret III||year 1||year 114||1878 BC|
|Senwosret III||year 7 = Heliacal Rising|
of Sirius on the 16th day
of the 8th month
|year 120||1872 BC|
|Senwosret III||year 36 = Amenemhet III||year 0||year 149||JD 1048 232||1843 BC|
|Amenemhet III||year 1||year 150||1842 BC|
|Amenemhet III||year 44 = Amenemhet IV||year 0||year 193||JD 1064 292|
|Amenemhet III||year 45 = Amenemhet IV||year 1||year 194||1798 BC|
|Amenemhet III||year 46 = Amenemhet IV||year 2||year 195||1797 BC|
|Amnenemhet IV||year 9 = Sebeknefrure||year 0||year 202||JD 1067 577||1790 BC|
|Sebeknefrure||year 1||year 203||1789 BC|
|Sebeknefrure||year 4 = Last Year|
of the XII Dynasty
|year 206||1786 BC|
|The Egyptian Year|
of zero day
|The Season of the Flood, 3kht|
|2||2 3kht||P n Ypt||Paape||30|
|3||3 3kht||H.t H.r||Hatôr||60|
|4||4 3kht||K3 H.r K3||Kiahk||90|
|The Season of Winter, Prt|
|5||1 Prt||T3 93bt||Tôbe||120|
|6||2 Prt||P n Mkhr||Mshir||150|
|7||3 Prt||P n Ymnh.tp||Paremhat||180|
|8||4 Prt||P n Rnwtt||Parmoute||210|
|The Season of Summer, Shmw|
|9||1 Shmw||P n Khnsw||Pashons||240|
|10||2 Shmw||P n Ynt||Paône||270|
|12||4 Shmw||Mswt R9||Mesôrê||330|
|5 Intercalary Days, Birthdays of:|
|Osiris, Horus, Seth, Isis, & Nephthys||360|
JD 1037 873 can be converted to a date on the Julian calendar by using the tables and methods in "Julian Day Numbers for dates on the Gregorian and Julian Calendars".
Other benchmarks for dating with the Egyptian calendar are given in the following table. The "Sothic" benchmark is the conjectural date for the beginning of the Egyptian calendar, when the heliacal rising of Sirius originally coincided with the beginning of the calendar year. The Year 0 Benchmark for Amenhotep I is determined by the other complete date of a heliacal rising attested for Egyptian history, though there continues to be dispute and uncertainty about interpreting the date.
|Sothic Benchmark||JD 705 132||19 July 2783 BC|
|Amenhotep I Benchmark||JD 1157 002||13 September 1546 BC|
|Ptolemaic (Nabonassar) Benchmark||JD 1448 272||25 February 748 BC|
|Julian Augustan (Alexandrian) Benchmark||JD 1710 706||29 August 30 BC|
|Julian Coptic (Diocletian) Benchmark||JD 1824 664||29 August 283 AD|
|The Julian Egyptian Year||Gaza|
|5 Intercalary Days||24 August||Epagomenai|
Augustus imposed the Julian intercalation in 23 BC. It could have been done no earlier than 26/25 BC, which were the first years in which August 30/29 on the Julian calender would have been the Egyptian New Years. However, I use a benchmark of 30 BC because that is the beginning of the reign of Augustus in the Canon of Kings. It is also convenient to use for the calendar from its imposition by Augustus until the acceptance by the Egyptians. This "Augustan" Era from that date was never used by anyone.
The Coptic Benchmark, which is the actual Era of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, then represents the calendar used by the Copts themselves ever since. Since Diocletian persecuted Christians, the Copts refer to their era as the "Era of Martyrs." The dates in the table are the fixed dates for the beginning of the months on the Julian Calendar. Because the Julian Calendar now differs (in 2011) from the Gregorian by 13 days, we would add 13 to 29 August to get the beginning of the Coptic year three years out of four. That's 11 September. The fourth year will be 12 September, when the Coptic calendar has added a leap day but the Julian/Gregorian calendars have not yet done so (in the following February). Thus, the Coptic year began on 12 September in 2011, but it will be back to 11 September in 2012.
Using the tables with Julian Day Numbers is a little more complicated than for the Egyptian calendar above. An Augustan or Coptic year must first be divided by 4, to determine the leap year cycle. The quotient of the division is then multiplied by 1461, which is added to the remainder of the division multiplied by 365. The Coptic year 1715, which begins September 11, 1998, gives us a quotient of 428 and a remainder of 3. (428 x 1461) + (3 x 365) = 626 403. This number is then added to the Coptic Benchmark, the month number (as above), and the day of the month, for the Julian Day Number. For 1 Thout 1715, that comes out to JD 2451 068, which, indeed, is 11 September 1998, on the Gregorian calendar.
Egyptian History Continued
Index of Egyptian History
Julian Day Numbers for dates on the Gregorian and Julian Calendars
Philosophy of Science, Calendars
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of History
The "heliacal rising" of Sirius means the morning (and the Egyptian day began at dawn) on which the star Sirius can first be seen in the eastern sky right before sunrise. This was to the Egyptians the astronomical beginning of the year, though the actual heliacal rising moved through the Egyptian calendar, since the Egyptian calendar year was 365 days long with no leap day. See Gardiner (op. cit.), pp. 65-66. The 7th year of Senwosret III is only one of three dates in Egyptian history, and only one of two complete dates, for which we know the heliacal rising from Egyptian records. This is the anchor for the chronology, not just of the XII dynasty, but for much of Egyptian history--since there is no such anchor for the Old Kingdom.
Return to text
Isin, Larsa, and Babylon all begin as city states, but they come to dominate the period after the fall of the III Dynasty of Ur. Larsa soon encompases most of traditional Sumer, while Isin and Babylon are more at the Akkadian end of the area. However, just as the Sumerians fade from history, there is the infusion of a new Semitic speaking people, the Amorites. Babylon itself, hitherto unattested in Sumerian or Akkadian texts, could well be an Amorite foundation, although cultural assimilation is rapid, and it is the Amorite kings who permanently establish the cultural dominance of the Akkadian language, now taking on the form of a Babylonian dialect. Amorite itself ends up so poorly attested that its affinities in the Semitic family are uncertain. Under the celebrated Hammurabi, Babylon comes to dominate Sumer and Akkad, beginning the process by which the area simply becomes "Babylonia." For a while, Babylon expands into a domain comparable to that of Sargon or Ur III. This ended abruptly, has often the case in Mesopotamia, with an invasion, in this case that extraordinary raid of the early Hittites on Babylon. An obscure and poorly dated era follows, with the "Sealand" (Babylon II) Dynasty in the south and the Kassites (Babylon III) filling the vacuum in the middle. It is actually under the Kassites the Babylon ceases to be a city state and bestows its identity on all of what had been Sumer and Akkad.
|Ur-Ninurta||1923-1896||Abi-sarê||1905-1895||Dynasty I of Babylon,|
|Falls to Babylon, 1787||Hammurabi||1792-1750,|
|Falls to Babylon, 1763|
|attacks Elam, 1762,|
captures Ashur, 1760,
destroys Mari, 1757
|Hittites capture Babylon, c.1595,|
The name of the city of Babylon illustrates the devices and issues of cuneiform writing. The most traditional rendering of the name would go thus: [David Marcus, A Manual of Akkadian, University Press of America, 1978, p.115]. This is actually written as it would be in Sumerian. is "gate," which is ká in Sumerian and bâbu in Akkadian (this is still , bâb, in Arabic); and is "god," which is dinger in Sumerian and ilu in Akkadian. These are ideograms, like Chinese characters or many Egyptian hieroglyphics, and they write the entire word as translated. Then the name gets interesting. The next sign is , which is not an ideogram but simply writes the syllable ra. The sources I have do not explain why this is here. It does not phonetically write any part of the name. I suspect that it is the Sumerian suffix -ra, which marks the dative case [John Alan Halloran, Sumerian Lexicon, Logogram Publishing, Los Angeles, 2006, p.217, and Dietz Otto Edzard, Sumerian Grammar, Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, p.34]. So the name would then be, "the gate for the god" (i.e. the patron god of Babylon, Marduk). The last sign is , a "land" or "place," which is ki in Sumerian and ers.etu in Akkadian (ard., , in Arabic, eretz, in Hebrew), but here is used as a "generic determinative," as in Egyptian, and is not pronounced. So Babylon in Sumerian is actually Ká-dingir-ra. The strangeness of this name reminds us that Sumerian was unrelated to Semitic or Indo-European languages.
George Roux renders this as Babylonian Bâb-ilim [Ancient Iraq, Pelican Books, Penguin, 1964, 1966, p.169]. Here the word for "god," ilu, takes a case ending in the genitive, -i, with "mimation," or the addition of an m. Akkadian and Babylonian do not have a dative case, so we get the genitive, "the gate of the god." The mimation is used in Akkadian and Old Babylonian to indicate the singular number [Marcus, p.18]. However, it drops out of use in later forms of Babylonian and Assyrian [Marcus, p.19]. As we begin to see "Babylon" written phonetically, instead of with the Sumerian ideograms, the word looks like Bab-ilu, with neither mimation nor case inflection [Marcus, p.115, and Edwin Norris, Assyrian Dictionary, Part I, 1868, Elibron Classics, 2005, p.70] -- bâbu seems to have lost its case vowel altogether even in older versions of the name. Thus we get . Here is ba, is bi, and is lu, with the determinative still used [Norris, p.70]. As in Sanskrit, the written syllables may bridge separate words. Also, long and short vowels are written the same way. [Although Marcus uses Neo-Assyrian cuneiform even with Old Babylonian texts, the signs we see in Norris often seem to be somewhat simplified or slightly altered.]
Old Assyrian Period
|Erishum I||1939-1900, or|
|Shamshi-Adad I||1813-1781, or|
|expands west and south|
to the Eurphrates
|Invasion by Hammurabi, 1760|
The invasion and domination or conquest of Ashur by Hammurabi's Babylon leads to one of the more obscure periods in Assyrian history. Thus, the Old Assyrian Period leaves us with little hint of the conquerors that the Assyrians would later become. Already, however, the Akkadian language of Assyria emerges as a distinct dialect, as it will continue until the fall of Nineveh. Beyond the expanse of traditional Sumer and Akkad, Assyria is a frontier region whose rigors at the crossroads of conquest perhaps explain the toughening of the people to a military discipline that later would seem unbeatable. In subsequent treatment here, Babylonian and Assyria history are separated. They do go their own ways, but it should be kept in mind that they represent two sides of the same civilization, with well remembered roots in Sumer. We might say that Babylon represents the Greek side of the tradition, with a sophistication that was passed down to, indeed, the Greeks, and Assyria the Roman, creating the first transcontinental empire (since it extended up the Nile) in the Middle East. Assyria, however, was destined to display little of the durability of Rome. We may reflect that the very ferocity of Assyrian power was self-defeating.
The list and dates here are from Georges Roux, Ancient Iraq [op.cit., 1966, 1992, pp.506-507], and/or Amélie Kuhrt, The Ancient Near East, c.3000-330 BC [Routledge, 1995, 2000, volume I, pp.79,82], with some touches from the Historical Atlas of the Ancient World, 4,000,000-500 BC, by John Haywood [Barnes & Noble, 1998, 2000]. However, it now appears that Roux's dates are up to 96 years too early. In "Astronomy and the Fall of Babylon," in the July 2000 Sky & Telescope [pp.40-45], Vahe G. Gurzadyan discusses changes that can be made in Babylonian chronology on the basis of analysis of Babylonian astronomical records (the Enûma Anu Enlil) and more accurate modern calculations of ancient eclipses. The benchmark event for the chronology of this period is the fall of Babylon to the Hittite King Mursilis I. Previously, there were high, middle, and low estimates for this event, 1651, 1595, or 1531. Roux, like most, used the "middle" chronology. Gurzadyan says that the basis of all these estimates was wrong, the "high" and "middle" dates don't fit with other archaeological evidence, and that now the event can be dated precisely to 1499. A key astronomical event for the period was a total eclipse of the sun on 16 May 1459, which allows the resettlement of Babylon after the Hittite sack to be dated to 1496. Four revised dates are given, along with the Roux's "middle" chronology dates, for Babylon I.
I must acknowledge that my first introduction to the study of the languages here was thanks to Dr. Sara J. Denning-Bolle, who in 1990 gave me a copy of Marcus' Manual of Akkadian. Of the modern sources cited, Marcus is still the most valuable, since the Sumerian grammar and lexicon I have do not use cuneiform at all(!). I find this puzzling. One does not learn Sumerian to speak it; and one cannot read it without being able to transcribe cuneiform.
The Babylonian Calendar
Babylonian Kings continued
Assyrian Kings continued
Philosophy of History
of Thebes or Memphis
|Intef V (IV?)||?|
|Eruption of Thera, 1627-1600|
|Siamun(? Tao/Taa I)|
|Tao/Taa II Seqenenre||1558-1554|
The lists and dates here are mainly from K.S.B. Ryholt, The Political Situation in Egypt during the Second Intermediate period c.1800-1550 B.C. [Carsten Niebuhr Institute Publications, Volume 20; The Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Near Eastern Studies, University of Copenhagen, Museum Tusculanum Press, 1997].
of Xois or Avaris
The chronology and even identity of the kings of the period is very confused. The Turin Canon (cf. Alan Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs, Oxford, 1966, pp.440-442) lists dozens of kings that could be of the XIII, XIV, or XVII Dynasties. With so many ephemeral kings, one wonders what was really going on. While one problem with the First Intermediate Period was the lack of names, the embarrassment here is so many names, with so little in the way of monuments or records to give them any meaning or context. The pyramid of Khendjer (a Semitic name, "Pig" of all things) is the only substantial monument of the XIII Dynasty, while the last three kings of the XVII are the only figures about whom we can have some historical confidence -- we still have the mummies of Tao II and Kamose. Ryholt's recent study may do as much as is humanly possible, given the present state of the evidence, to sort this all out. The gaps and fragmentary names in the lists, especially for the XIV dynasty, reflect damage to the Turin Papyrus itself.
To the Egyptians themselves, the major event of the era was the rule of part of the country, and suzerainty of the rest, by foreign invaders, the "Hyksos," who probably introduced the horse and chariot into Egypt, at the time when Iranian invaders, like the Mitanni, were taking advantage of this new technology to dominate Babylonia and Syria. Some of the Hyksos names, however, appear to be Semitic (e.g. "Yakub" -- Jacob), so we can imagine them as having adopted horses from the invaders but still as having been bumped out of Asia at the end of the migratory dominoes. There had already been Semitic immigrants in the Eastern Delta in the XII Dynasty, and their presence would continue from then on. There is little doubt that such settlement underlies the story of the Israelites in Egypt, from Joseph to Moses, and there is no lack of Biblical interpretations for the Hyksos, though the evidence about anything beyond their mere existence is thin.
Manethô gives six "great" Hyksos kings of the XV Dynasty, but his names in Greek match up only imperfectly with the names known from inscriptions. Although the XIV Dynasty is regarded by Manetho as Egyptian, Ryholt reconstructs it as already Canaanite in origin. By the same token, the XVII Dynasty at Thebes, though called by Manethô a Hyksos dynasty also, was clearly Egyptian. It appears to have become vassals of the Hyksos, giving the foreigners control of the whole country for the first time, and then to have revolted. We can see the axe wound to the forehead from which Tao II evidently died, and Kamose may also have been killed in battle. We have a long account by Kamose on the outbreak of open war with the Hyksos, who were making humiliating demands on the king. Kamose's brother (or nephew), Ahmose, credited as the first king of the great XVIII Dynasty, then drove the Hyksos out of Egypt and even pursued them into Palestine. Just as the Hyksos themselves adopted the horse and chariot from their enemies, the Mitanni, the Egyptians adopted the horse and chariot from the Hyksos and, thus equipped, began to project Egyptian power for the first time deep into the Levant.
|XV Dynasty, Hyksos,|
|Eruption of Thera,|
|Apepi I (Archlês)||1581-1541|
The area of the Hyksos capital of Avaris is where Ramesses II later began building Pi-Ramesseu (cf. Exodus 1:11), or Tanis, a fortress city and palace that henceforth became the capital of the Ramessids, and for whose construction the local population, heavily Semitic, was impressed. The locals, previously distant from most New Kingdom building activity and unused to the traditional Egyptian corvée, would certainly find this forced labor oppressive and slave-like, just as represented in Exodus. Now communitarians could just accuse them of not wanting to contribute their "fair share" to the community.
We can compare Ryholt's results with a more recent treatment, that of Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton in The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt [Thames & Husdon, 2004]. In Dodson and Hilton's complete chronology [p.290] -- which includes the XIII Dynasty in the Middle Kingdom, something I have otherwise never heard of -- we see Sobekhotep I starting in 1781 (following directly upon Queen Sobekneferu), but then no dates whatsoever until the end of the Dynasty in 1650. Ryholt begins the Dynasty a bit early -- it would still be in the reign of Amenemhet III -- but ends with no dates. Dodson and Hilton end the dynasty with several other unknown reigns, unremarked by Ryholt. They then skip the XIV Dynasty altogether. For the XV Dynasty, they begin in 1650, and otherwise only date the reigns of Apepi I, 1585-1545, and Khamudi, 1545-1535. For the XVI Dynasty, they begin in 1650 with the unknown King and end in 1590 with Senwosret IV but otherwise provide no dates. The succession is comparable. Finally, Dodson and Hilton run the XVII Dynasty, with comparable succession, from 1585 to 1549, but otherwise only give dates beginning with the death of Tao (Taa) I in 1558. The numbering of the Intefs (Inyotefs) is reduced by one.
We find Simcha Jacobovici, the delightful host of The Naked Archaeologist, arguing that the Hyksos actually were themselves the Israelites, the Pharaoh of the Exodus was Ahmose I of the XVIII Dynasty, and that Mycenaean Greece was the result (or something) of some Israelites going there rather than to Palestine. He thinks that the catastrophic eruption of the volcanic island of Thera (Santorini) brought about all the effects described by the Bible as the Ten Plagues. Geologists now date this eruption of Thera to have been between 1627 and 1600 BC, about the middle of the XV and XVI Dynasties (a significant later eruption was in 726 AD, during the Roman Isaurian dynasty). Archaeologists are not too happy with this, believing that the material evidence indicates a date about a century later. Jacobovici, of course, wants a later date, since the reign of Ahmose I is usually placed in the range between 1575 and 1525.
Curiously, what may perhaps be the best evidence for the historicity of the Exodus is also one of the best pieces of evidence against Jacobovici's thesis: the cities built of mudbrick by the Israelites are named in the Bible, i.e. Pithôm and Ra'amsês. These look like the names of the cities built by Ramesses II -- indeed, his name is in there, with the correct use of the consonant that in Arabic is 'ayn. It seems unlikely that a Bible generated in later mythology would use the names of places that would by then long have been insignificant and forgotten. And there were no Hyksos Kings named "Ramesses." An accurate record of the Hyksos period could be expected to have something like an accurate name of their capital.
But there are many other problems with Jacobovici's theory. The Hyksos ruled Egypt, but the Bible never has Joseph replacing Pharaoh, and the Isaelites otherwise become slaves making bricks to build Pharaoh's cities. They would presumably only be doing this under Ahmose, who overthrew and ejected the Hyksos. However, Ahmose built no new cities at or in the vicinity of Avaris. Jacobovici offers the inscriptions at Egyptian turquoise mines in the Sinai as evidence of Hebrew slaves; but the Bible says nothing about turquoise mines, and we know from Egyptian practice that metal mining or stone quarrying in the desert usually involved the occasional expedition, which suffered brutal attrition -- given the obvious conditions of heat and lack of water. There were not thousands of Israelites living for an extended time out at the turquoise mines. No, the Bible says the Israelites made bricks, and this is exactly what they would be doing for Ramesses II, but not for Ahmose I. Similarly, Jacobovici's notion that the Mycenaeans were Israelites suffers from the obvious embarrassment that the Bible says nothing about it -- Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years -- and from the fact that we can read Mycenaean writing (Linear B), which is in Greek, not in Hebrew.
The worse thing about the theory, however, may be theological and moral. Jacobovici wants to believe that the Plagues, although natural phenomena, were nevertheless miraculously arranged by God for the purposes of the Exodus. But if this is the work of God, we must then believe that God was willing to set off the equivalent of a very large nuclear weapon in the middle of the Aegaean Sea, killing many thousands of people and all but exterminating the Minoan civilization, simply to apply duress to the King of Egypt. Talk about "collateral damage," this is the mother of all collateral damage. It is thus hard for me to think of it as an improvement over the story of miraculous local phenomena. The Plagues would have been deadly enough to a great many innocent Egyptians. It does not make it better to throw in a whole civilization that is an innocent and ignorant bystander, where the effects were much more devastating than in Egypt. Also, if the Mycenaeans were not Hebrews, Jacobovici loses his chance to make the Minoans themselves Hebrews -- their language, written in Linear A, has not been definitely deciphered but is now thought to be or be related to Luvian in Asia Minor -- since the Minoans were themselves the ones demolished by the eruption God arranged to save the Israelites.
Thus, as with many of Jacobovici's ideas, this theory is clever and imaginative, but it is gravely at odds both with the Bible and with the history of the period of the Hyksos -- not to mention the moral purpose of God's miracles.
Egyptian History continued
Index of Egyptian History
Philosophy of History