Egyptology, originally expected to support the history recorded in the Old Testament, has produced a chronology that contradicts the Bible. This so-called traditional Egyptian chronology would have the pyramids predate the flood of Noah’s day; such cannot be the case, for pyramids could never withstand a worldwide flood. And when traditional Egyptian chronology is used to evaluate archaeological findings, landmark events such as the mass exodus of Hebrew people from Egypt appear to have left no evidence. Such discrepancies between traditional Egyptian chronology and the Bible are used to attack the Bible’s historical accuracy. Instead of simply assuming the accuracy of traditional Egyptian chronology and modifying the Bible, people should carefully examine traditional chronology to see if it is as reliable as some claim it to be.

Traditional Egyptian Chronology

Though traditional Egyptian chronology dominates modern understanding of ancient history, traditional chronology is inconsistent with the Bible. When there is a discrepancy between traditional chronology and the Bible’s chronology, scholars usually ignore the Bible. Though many claim that traditional chronology is indisputable, a close look at this chronology reveals its shaky foundation. Dr. Rene Grognard of the University of Sydney says, “It is important to show the weaknesses or errors in our understanding of a theory in order to leave our minds free to think of a more acceptable alternative.”1 Before exploring an acceptable alternative to traditional Egyptian chronology, this chapter will show some of the errors it is built on.

Traditional Egyptian chronology is built on Manetho’s history and the Sothic theory. In the third century B.C., Manetho compiled a list of pharaohs and the lengths of their reigns. The Sothic cycle theory assigns familiar calendar dates to those reigns. However, both Manetho’s history and the Sothic theory have flaws that make them an unreliable foundation for chronology.

Manetho’s History

Ptolomy II commissioned a priest named Manetho to compile a history of Egypt. Traditional Egyptian chronology bases its outlines of Egyptian dynasties on Manetho’s history (see chart). However, Manetho’s writings are unsuitable for establishing a reliable Egyptian chronology because Manetho’s history:

  • was never intended to be a chronological account of Egyptian history,
  • is inconsistent with contemporary Egyptian sources.
Traditional Egyptian Chronology (simplified overview)2
Old Kingdom Dynasties 1–6 2920–2770 B.C.
Great Pyramids of Giza 4th Dynasty 2600–2500 B.C.
First Intermediate Period Dynasties 7–11 2150–1986 B.C.
Middle Kingdom Dynasties 12–13 1986–1759 B.C.
Second Intermediate Period Dynasties 14–17 1759–1525 B.C.
New Kingdom Dynasties 18–20 1525–1069 B.C.
Third Intermediate Period Dynasties 21–25 1069–664 B.C.
Late Period (Persian) Dynasties 26–31 664–332 B.C.
Alexander the Great   332–323 B.C.
Ptolemaic Period   323–30 B.C.
Roman Period   began 30 B.C.
Traditional Chronology: Dynasties in Sequence

Several Egyptian pharaohs may have ruled at the same time in different regions of the land, as archaeologist David Down suggests in his revised chronology.

Manetho, whose writings only survive as a partially preserved “garbled abridgement,”3 did not intend for his history to be a chronological account of Egyptian history. Like everyone else in the ancient world, Manetho measured time in regnal years (“in the fifth year of King So-and-So”). Eusebius, the fourth-century historian who quoted Manetho extensively, did not believe that Manetho intended for his regnal years to be added up consecutively. Eusebius says, “Several Egyptian kings ruled at the same time. . . . It was not a succession of kings occupying the throne one after the other, but several kings reigning at the same time in different regions.”4 Because Manetho’s history lists the reigns of kings who ruled simultaneously, historians should not add the years of the kings’ reigns together as if the kings ruled one after another.

Manetho’s history is also inconsistent with contemporary Egyptian sources. Professor J. H. Breasted, author of History of Egypt, calls Manetho’s history “a late, careless and uncritical compilation, which can be proven wrong from the contemporary monuments in the vast majority of cases, where such documents have survived.”5 Manetho’s interpretation of each variation in spelling as a different king creates numerous nonexistent generations. Because Manetho’s history contradicts actual Egyptian records from the time of the pharaohs, historians should not consider Manetho’s history authoritative.

The Sothic Cycle

Eduard Meyer created the Sothic cycle in 1904 to give Egypt a unified calendar6 that aligns Egyptian regnal years with modern historians’ B.C. dates. Historians combine the Sothic cycle dates with Manetho’s history to get traditional Egyptian dates. Meyer proposed that the Egyptian calendar, having no leap year, fell steadily behind until it corrected itself during the year of the “rising of Sothis.” The theory says the Egyptians knew that 1,460 years were necessary for the calendar to correct itself because the annual sunrise appearance of the star Sirius corresponded to the first day of Egypt’s flood season only once every 1,460 years.7 Sothic theory claims that the Egyptian calendar was correct only once every 1,460 years (like a broken watch that is correct twice a day) and that the Egyptians dated important events from this Great Sothic Year. In reality, there is no evidence for this Sothic cycle in ancient Egypt.

The Sothic cycle is not reliable because it

  • is based on contradictory starting points,
  • has little historical support.

Meyer had to depend on later non-Egyptian writers to establish a starting point for his calculations, and those sources are contradictory. Censorinius, a third-century Roman writer, and Theon, a fourth-century Alexandrian astronomer, give different starting points. According to Censorinius, the Great Sothic Year occurred in A.D. 140, but according to Theon, it occurred in 26 B.C. Meyer subtracted multiples of 1,460 years from A.D. 140 and proposed 4240 B.C. as a totally certain date for the establishment of Egypt’s civil calendar.8

The Sothic cycle finds little historical support. History gives no hint that the Egyptians regularly dated important events from the rising of Sothis. The second-century astronomer Claudius Ptolemy never mentions the rising of Sothis.9 Furthermore, whenever Egyptian writings mention the rising of Sothis in connection with a regnal year, the pharaoh is unnamed,10 or the reference is ambiguous.11 For these reasons, many Egyptologists have consistently rejected Sothic-cycle-based chronology.

Discrepancies

Whenever two chronologies disagree, at least one must be wrong. Traditional Egyptian chronology disputes the Hebrew chronology recorded in the Bible as well as secular data from neighboring nations. As Damien Mackey summarized in his thesis:

The value of any one nation’s absolute chronology must ultimately depend on its ability to integrate with all known data from other regions as well. It would be useless to establish a complete system of chronology that can exist only in isolation, but that cannot stand up to scrutiny by comparison with other systems. For the Sothic scheme [of Egyptian chronology] to be valid—just as for Mesopotamian, Palestinian, Greek or Anatolian chronologies to be valid—it is necessary for each period of Egyptian history to be capable of perfect alignment with any relevant period of history of one or another ancient nation. This is most especially true in the case of Egyptian history because . . . the historians of other nations tend to look to Egyptian chronology as the rule according to which they estimate and adjust their own chronologies12 (emphasis added).

Biblical Discrepancies

Traditional dates for Egyptian pyramids predate Noah’s flood (see chart). Since the pyramids could not have survived a global flood, some people question the reliability of the Bible’s chronology. Others use the traditional dates for the pyramids to support the idea that Noah’s flood was a local flood that did not affect Egypt.13 The pyramids do not come with labels declaring their dates, and the traditional dates used for them create an irreconcilable discrepancy with the Bible.

Bible Time-line (B.C.)
4004 2348 1491 586 4
Creation Noah’s flood Exodus Temple destroyed Christ’s birth
Traditional Egyptian Dates (B.C.)
315014 to 2920 2600 to 2500 1290
Zoser’s pyramid Great Pyramid Exodus

Traditional dates for the Old Testament stories involving Egypt remain unconfirmed by archaeology and actually contradict Scripture. The characters of the Bible stories left no archaeological evidence of their existence in the times traditionally assigned to them. Bible-believing Egyptologists assigned these dates in error. The early Egyptologists, hoping to find the Bible confirmed in Egypt, contributed to the errors in traditional chronology by incorrectly applying the Bible in two instances. They incorrectly:

  • assumed that Ramses the Great was the pharaoh of the oppression,
  • identified Shoshenq as Shishak of the Bible.

The first error assigned an Exodus date inconsistent with the rest of Scripture. The second error provided support for the excessive antiquity of traditional dating. Both errors caused scholars to assign inconsistent, unsupported dates to the Bible accounts.

Scholars routinely disregard the biblical date for the Exodus.15 As Gleason Archer says, “But notwithstanding . . . consistent testimony of Scripture to the 1445 date (or an approximation thereof), the preponderance of scholarly opinion today is in favor of a considerably later date, the most favored one at present being 1290 B.C., or about ten years after Ramses II began to reign.”16 The traditional date for Ramses II “the Great,” a 19th dynasty king, is nearly two centuries after the Exodus. Because Exodus 1:11 says that the Hebrew slaves built the city Ramses, early Egyptologists assumed that Ramses II was the pharaoh who oppressed the Israelites. On that basis, most scholars assign Ramses’ traditional date to the Exodus and ignore the Bible’s testimony.

The name Ramses should not restrict the oppression to the 19th dynasty because this name is not unique to the 19th dynasty. Ramses, which means “son of Ra—the sun god,” was a name commonly used to honor pharaohs. For instance, Ahmose, the founder of the 18th dynasty, was also called Ramses, as was a later 18th dynasty king, Amenhotep III.17 Archaeology of the 18th and 19th dynasties shows no evidence of enslaved Israelites because the Hebrews had left Egypt centuries before. Scholars should neither assume that Ramses II was the pharaoh of the oppression nor assign his date to the Exodus.

Jean Champollion,18 the father of Egyptology, unwittingly gave support to biblically inconsistent chronology when he erroneously identified pharaoh Shoshenq as the Shishak of the Bible. Champollion found an inscription about Shoshenq, founder of the 22nd dynasty, at the temple of Karnak. Because the names sound similar, Champollion assumed that Shoshenq was the Shishak who plundered Jerusalem in the fifth year of King Rehoboam.19 Using the biblical date for Rehoboam as a starting point, chronologists used Manetho’s list to outline the next three centuries of Egyptian history.

The two problems with Shoshenq’s identification involve military strategy and phonics. According to the inscriptions, Shoshenq attacked the northern part of Israel, not Rehoboam’s Jerusalem or Judah. During Rehoboam’s time, Jeroboam ruled the northern kingdom. Jeroboam was Shishak’s ally.20 If Shoshenq were Shishak, then Shoshenq attacked his ally and ignored his enemy. Furthermore, the phonetics of these two pharaohs’ names only sound similar in their transliterated forms, not in the original languages.21 Because of this faulty identification of Shoshenq with Shishak, Egyptologists ignore the rest of the biblical facts relating to the geography and characters involved. Because the dates constructed from this biblical misinterpretation actually coincide with the traditional dating of the third intermediate period, many Bible scholars trust the traditional chronology even when it disputes the Old Testament.

Secular Discrepancies

Traditional Egyptian chronology disputes not only biblical chronology but also information from nonbiblical sources. Egypt’s traditional dates clash with secular data in at least two areas:

  • The Hittite connection with Assyrian chronology
  • Carbon dating

The Hittites built a powerful empire based in Asia Minor, but scholars have to depend on dates from other ancient nations to determine Hittite chronology. Synchronisms are events shared by two cultures, and Egypt shares many synchronisms with the Hittites. Therefore, Egypt’s erroneous dates have been assigned to the Hittites. For instance, the traditional date of 1353 B.C. for pharaoh Akhenaten’s accession22 to the throne is assigned to Hittite king Supiluliumas because Supiluliumas sent to a letter of congratulations to Akhenaten.23 The date 1275 B.C. for the battle of Kadesh,24 at which both Ramses II and Hittite king Muwatalli II claimed victory, comes from the traditional dates for Ramses the Great. (His dates derive from Sothic theory and Manetho’s history.) Finally, when Ramses III recorded his traditionally dated 1180 B.C.25 victory over sea people, he said that the sea people had already annihilated the Hittites. According to these Egyptian dates, the Hittites became extinct about 1200 B.C. (see chart).

Traditional Time-line (B.C.)
315026 2600 1290 1275 1200
Zoser’s Pyramid Great Pyramid Exodus Kadesh Hittites extinct

The Egyptian version of Hittite chronology falls apart, however, when compared to more recent Assyrian archaeological discoveries. Assyrian inscriptions record wars with the Hittites during the eighth and ninth centuries B.C., centuries after the Hittites supposedly ceased to exist. These inscriptions describe wars during the reigns of Assyrian kings Shalmaneser III and Sennacherib and even name the same Hittite kings as the Egyptian records27 (see chart). The Assyrian time-line is consistent with well-established dates such as Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem. Traditional Egyptian dates must be wrong.

Problems Time-line (B.C.)
2600 2348 1275 1200 800s–700s
(trad.) (bib.) (trad.) (trad.) (Assyr.)
Great Pyramid flood Kadesh Hittites extinct Hittite/Assyrian wars

Acceptance of the biblical account of Hittite history could have prevented the incorrect dating of the Hittites even before the discovery of the Assyrian monumental inscriptions. According to 2 Kings 7:6, during Elisha’s lifetime the Hittites were as formidable as Egypt. One explorer, Irish missionary William Wright, correctly evaluated the hieroglyphics he found in Asia Minor because he accepted the Bible’s history. In 1872, despite scholarship that insisted the Hittites and the Bible were unhistorical, Wright believed that the inscriptions he had found “would show that a great people, called Hittites in the Bible, but never referred to in classic history, had once formed a mighty empire in that region.”28

Carbon dating29 also disputes traditional chronology. According to the Cambridge Encyclopedia on Archaeology:

When the radiocarbon method was first tested, good agreement was found between radiocarbon dates and historical dates for samples of known age. . . . As measurements became more precise, however, it gradually became apparent that there were systematic discrepancies between the dates that were being obtained and those that could be expected from historical evidence [i.e., the traditional dates]. These differences were most marked in the period before about the midfirst millennium B.C., in which radiocarbon dates appear too recent, by up to several hundred years, by comparison with historical dates. Dates for the earliest comparative material available, reeds used as bonding between mud brick courses of tombs of Egyptians Dynasty I, about 3,100 B.C., appeared to be as much as 600 years, or about 12% too young30 (emphasis added).

Just as carbon dating is more consistent with a young earth than most people realize, carbon dating is consistent with a much younger Egyptian civilization than traditional chronology claims.

Revised Chronologies

In Centuries of Darkness, Peter James calls traditional chronology a “gigantic academic blunder.”31 David Rohl writes, “The only real solution to the archaeological problems which have been created is to pull down the whole structure and start again, reconstructing from the foundations upward.”32 Revised chronology reflects the relationships between ancient nations more accurately and reveals “remarkable agreement between the histories of Egypt and Israel.”33 Revised chronology bolsters the Christian’s trust in the Bible and equips him with answers for a skeptical world.

Efforts to assign familiar dates to events of antiquity require a starting point, a known date. Four starting points provide secure anchors for the chronology of the Middle East. By counting both backward and forward from these four dates, the chronologist can assign familiar dates from creation to Christ34 and combine the annals of the ancient nations to build a consistent chronology. These four anchor points are summarized on the “Starting Points” chart.

Starting Points
664 B.C. 621 B.C. 605 B.C. 586 B.C. A.D. 26
Thebes sacked Lunar eclipse Battle of Carchemish Temple destroyed 15th year of Tiberias
 
Taharka Dies Nabopolassar’s 5th year Nebuchadnezzar’s 1st year (sole rex) Nebuchadnezzar’s 19th year Christ’s 30th year

Space does not permit analysis of all the revised chronologies. A number of scholars, including Peter James, David Rohl, D.A. Courville, and David Down, have produced fine work in this area. Some begin with the Bible, while others begin with starting points such as the battle of Thebes. The Christian should only accept revised chronology that is consistent with the Bible. New evidence may someday shed new light on the identity of a pharaoh, but nothing should ever rock the Christian’s faith in the trustworthiness of God’s Word.

David Down, in Unwrapping the Pharaohs, has synthesized the work of many experts into a cohesive narrative consistent with the Bible. He points out many synchronisms between the histories of Israel and Egypt, providing a highly plausible identification for many of the characters in the Old Testament. Furthermore, his work is consistent with the history of surrounding nations and allows the Hittites to slip into their proper niche in the context of their Assyrian and Egyptian neighbors.

The Revision Compared to the Absolute Authority—the Bible

Synchronisms between Old Testament characters and Egypt include the following:

  • Pre-Dynastic and Old Kingdom
    • Mizraim, Abram
  • Middle Kingdom
    • Joseph, Moses
  • New Kingdom
    • Solomon, Rehoboam, Asa, Ahab
  • Third Intermediate and Late Periods
    • Hezekiah, Josiah, Jeremiah

Predynastic Egypt and Old Kingdom—the Post-Flood World

Most histories begin with the unsubstantiated notion that primitive people slowly developed civilization from rudimentary beginnings. Archaeology around the world has instead revealed advanced ancient technology without discernible periods of evolution.35 This sudden appearance of cultures possessing advanced technology approximately 4,000 years ago is consistent with the Bible’s account of the Flood, the proliferation of intelligent people on the plains of Shinar, and their subsequent scattering from the Tower of Babel.36

1. Mizraim’s Family

Each group leaving Babel took with it whatever skills its members possessed.

Mizraim, Noah’s grandson, founded Egypt around 2188 B.C., a date consistent with both biblical and secular records.37 The Egyptians, the Sumerians, and the Mayans all retained the technology to build pyramids. Imhotep designed Egypt’s first pyramid for third dynasty pharaoh Zoser. The Great Pyramid of Giza, built for pharaoh Khufu of the fourth dynasty, is “the largest and most accurately constructed building in the world.”38 This pyramid required advanced optical, surveying, mathematical, and construction techniques, an impressive leap beyond the technology demonstrated in earlier pyramids.

2. Abram and Khufu’s Pyramid

Abram’s visit to Egypt may explain Egypt’s sudden advance. Abram grew up in the advanced but idolatrous culture of Ur about three centuries after the Flood. Josephus wrote that Abram “communicated to them arithmetic, and delivered to them the science of astronomy; for before Abram came into Egypt they were unacquainted with those parts of learning; for that science came from the Chaldeans into Egypt.”39 Based on Josephus’s statement, Abram’s visit to Egypt may well have occurred during the fourth dynasty.

Middle Kingdom—Joseph and Moses

In contrast to the lack of evidence for an Israelite population in Egypt during the New Kingdom of Ramses’ time, there is significant evidence of the Israelite presence during the Middle Kingdom. The 12th and 13th dynasties provide the backdrop for the stories of Joseph, the oppression of the Israelites, Moses, and the Exodus. The biblical dates for these events can provide dates for these dynasties (see chart).

1. Joseph as Vizier

Sesostris I of the 12th dynasty had a powerful vizier named Mentuhotep. Mentuhotep held the office of chief treasurer and wielded authority “like the declaration of the king’s power.”40 “Mentuhotep . . . appears as the alter ego of the king. When he arrived, the great personages bowed down before him at the outer door of the royal palace.”41

Compare Mentuhotep to Joseph in Genesis 41:40, 43. Furthermore, Ameni, a provincial governor under Sesostris I, had the following inscribed on his tomb: “No one was unhappy in my days, not even in the years of famine, for I had tilled all the fields of the Nome of Mah, up to its southern and northern frontiers. Thus I prolonged the life of its inhabitants and preserved the food which it produced.”42 Ameni sounds like a man with the inside track on the agricultural forecast! Ameni’s employer, vizier Mentuhotep, may have been Jacob’s son Joseph.

2. Israelite Slavery

The late 12th dynasty reveals evidence for Israelite slavery. Sesostris III, the fifth king of the 12th dynasty, built cities in the delta including Bubastis, Qantir, and Ramses. The building material of choice in the Middle Kingdom was no longer stones but rather bricks composed of mud and straw.43 A large Semitic slave population lived in the villages of Kahun and Gurob during the latter half of the 12th dynasty. On one papyrus slave list, 48 of the 77 legible names are typical of a “Semitic group from the northwest,”44 many listed beside the Egyptian name assigned by the owner.45 The presence of Semitic slaves in Egypt during this time is consistent with the biblical account of the oppression of the Israelites.

3. Moses’ Adoption

Traditional chronology has tried to fit Moses into the 18th or 19th dynasty where there is no evidence of Semitic slavery on a large scale, but Moses’ unusual adoption does fit into the late 12th dynasty. Amenemhet III, the dynasty’s sixth king, had two daughters but no sons. Josephus describes a childless daughter of pharaoh finding a child in the river and telling her father, “As I have received him [Moses] from the bounty of the river, in a wonderful manner, I thought proper to adopt him for my son and the heir of thy kingdom.”46 Amenemhet III’s daughter Sobekneferu was childless and eventually ruled briefly as pharaoh herself, making Sobekneferu a likely candidate for Moses’ foster mother.47

4. Testimony of the Dead

Examinations of cemeteries at Tell ed-Daba and Kahun, areas with high Semitic slave populations, have been particularly supportive of the biblical narrative. Graves at ed-Daba reveal that 65 percent of the dead were infants.48 This extraordinarily high figure is consistent with the slaughter of Israelite infants ordered by Pharaoh. Also consistent with the prescribed slaughter are “wooden boxes . . . discovered underneath the floors of many houses at Kahun. They contained babies, sometimes buried two or three to a box, and aged only a few months at death.”49

Examination of graves in a more recent section, datable to the late 13th dynasty, reveals shallow mass graves without the customary grave goods. These disorganized, crowded burials suggest the need for rapid burial of large numbers of people.50 The death of the firstborn in the tenth plague would have created just such a situation.

5. The Exodus

In the 13th dynasty, during the reign of Neferhotep I, the Semitic slaves suddenly departed from Tel ed-Daba51 and Kahun.

Completion of the king’s pyramid was not the reason why Kahun’s inhabitants eventually deserted [Kahun], abandoning their tools and other possessions in the shops and houses. . . . The quantity, range, and type of articles of everyday use which were left behind suggest that the departure was sudden and unpremeditated.52

Furthermore, Neferhotep I’s mummy has never been found, and his son Wahneferhotep did not ever reign, Neferhotep being succeeded by his brother Sobkhotpe IV.53 The sudden departure of the Semitic slave population fits the biblical account of the Hebrew slaves’ sudden exodus from Egypt after the tenth plague. The pharaoh’s mummy is missing because he died in the Red Sea with his army when he pursued the slaves, and his son never ruled because he died in the tenth plague.

6. The Hyksos

Just a few years after the Exodus, the 13th dynasty ended, and the Second Intermediate Period, the time of Hyksos rule, began. The Hyksos have puzzled scholars, and everyone has a pet theory as to the Hyksos’s identity. Manetho reported:

Men of ignoble birth out of the eastern parts . . . had boldness enough to make an expedition into our country and with ease subdue it by force, yet without our hazarding a battle with them. . . . This whole nation was styled Hycsos54 (emphasis added).

Manetho places this conquest at the end of the 13th dynasty.55

Since no evidence of chariots had been found in pre-Hyksos Egypt, tradition has held that the Hyksos were able to defeat Egypt because they possessed chariots. Therefore, since Exodus 14 describes Pharaoh’s pursuit with chariots, many have thought that the Exodus occurred after the Hyksos conquest. However, discoveries in recent years have confirmed the use of horses and chariots in the 12th and the 13th dynasties, prior to the Hyksos invasion. For example, an engraving from the 13th dynasty shows Khonsuemmwaset, a pharaoh’s son and army commander, with a pair of gloves, the symbol for charioteer, under his seat.56

The drowning of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea explains the conquest of the powerful nation of Egypt without a battle. Some have hypothesized that the Hyksos were Amalekites.57 Whoever the Hyksos were, they ruled Egypt from Avaris in the delta as the 15th and 16th dynasties, while their puppets in the 17th dynasty ruled from Thebes nearly 500 miles to the south. The 17th dynasty overthrew the Hyksos58 and began the New Kingdom.

New Kingdom—Israel’s Early Monarchy

1. David and Tahpenes’s Husband

During David’s reign, a young Edomite named Hadad found refuge in Pharaoh’s house and married Queen Tahpenes’s sister.59 Hadad and the queen’s sister had a son named Genubath. Genubath eventually became king of Edom. Records of the 18th dynasty’s founder, Ahmose, refer to a name that resembles Tahpenes.60 Later in the 18th dynasty, Thutmosis III received tribute from the land of Genubatye.61

2. Solomon and the Egyptian Princess

Thutmosis I of the 18th dynasty had two daughters, Hatshepsut and Nefrubity. Nefrubity dropped out of the Egyptian records and may have been the Egyptian princess that Solomon married to seal his 1 Kings 3:1 treaty with Egypt.62

3. Queen of Sheba and Hatshepsut

Another mysterious Bible character emerges from the 18th dynasty. The female pharaoh Hatshepsut’s trip to the land of Punt is famous, but the identity of Punt has remained a mystery despite engravings commemorating the treasures she brought home. First Kings 10 says the queen of Sheba visited Solomon, giving and receiving great gifts. Josephus identified this queen of Sheba as “queen of Egypt and Ethiopia.”63 In Matthew 12:42 the Lord Jesus refers to the queen of Sheba as “the queen of the south.” “The south” is a biblical designation for Egypt.64 Thus, Hatshepsut was probably the queen of Sheba.

4. Rehoboam and Shishak

When Thutmosis III became pharaoh, he conquered much of Palestine, ultimately taking away the treasures in Rehoboam’s Jerusalem without a battle. He listed these treasures on the wall of the temple at Karnak. His list mirrors the Bible’s account from 1 Kings 6:32, 10:17, and 14:25–26, including the 300 gold shields and doors overlaid with gold.65 Thutmosis III was Shishak.

5. Asa and Zerah the Ethiopian

Asa, Rehoboam’s grandson, had an encounter with Egypt. Second Chronicles 14 describes God’s miraculous defense against an overwhelming attack by Zerah the Ethiopian. Ethiopia (Kush) refers to southern Egypt or Sudan. The 18th dynasty’s headquarters was in southern Egypt, so this reference likely refers to another 18th dynasty pharaoh, possibly Amenhotep II.66

6. Ahab and Akhenaton

Late in the 18th dynasty, one of Egypt’s most famous families set the stage for both biblical and Hittite synchronisms. Clay tablets found in Akhenaton’s archives at Tel el-Amarna in 1887 included 60 letters from the king of Sumur, likely the Egyptian name for Samaria. The city of Samaria, according to 1 Kings 22:26, had a governor named Amon (an Egyptian name). The Amarna letters call this governor Aman-appa and describe a severe famine that is consistent with the famine in the days of Ahab and Elijah.67

7. The Hittites and Tutankhamen

Akhenaton’s son, the famous King Tutankhamen, died young, leaving no heir and a widowed queen called Ankhesenamen. According to the Deeds of Suppiluliuma as told by his son Mursili II in the Hittite archives, Tut’s widow wrote to the powerful Hittite king Supililiumas, pleading, “Give me one son of yours . . . he would become my husband. . . . In Egypt he will be king”68 Had Supililiumas’s son Zannanza survived his trip to Egypt, the balance of power would have shifted against Assyria in favor of a Hittite-Egyptian coalition. Zannanza was assassinated, and Tut’s general, Harmheb, assumed power. Upon Harmheb’s death, his vizier, Ramses I the Great, took the throne as the first pharaoh of the 19th dynasty.

The dates for Ramses the Great’s reign69 and his battle of Kadesh with the Hittites are uncertain, because historians have no biblical parallels and no way to assess the preceding dynasty’s duration. The rest of the revised chronology shifts the 19th dynasty dates three to five centuries later than the traditional dates. Ramses III, of the 20th dynasty, reported the annihilation of the Hittites during his reign. Revised chronology allows the Hittites to still exist at the time the Assyrians claimed to be at war with them.

8. “Israel Is Laid Waste”

The real 19th dynasty was concerned with the power of Assyria, not the plagues of Moses. Merneptah, the son of Ramses the Great, recorded the change in the region’s power structure by listing many places Assyria had seized. His monument states, “Israel is laid waste, his seed is not.”70 This inscription not only places the latter part of the 19th dynasty in the 8th century B.C.; it also documents that Israel was an actual nation by the time of the 19th dynasty.

Third Intermediate and Late Periods—Judah’s Late Monarchy and Captivity

The Third Intermediate Period contains dynasties 21–25, but some of these dynasties were concurrent, not sequential as assumed in the traditional chronology. In fact, the Royal Cache at Luxor contained a labeled 21st dynasty mummy wrapped in 22nd dynasty linen!71 The linen label names Sheshonq, the same pharaoh earlier mistaken for Shishak.

1. Hezekiah and Taharka

The biblical synchronism in this period involves Hezekiah. The imminent arrival of Assyria’s enemy Taharka,72 the last pharaoh of the 25th dynasty, helped Hezekiah by putting Sennacherib to flight in 709 B.C. Taharka later rebelled against the Assyrian domination of Egypt, dying in 664 B.C. when Ashurbanipal sacked Thebes.73

2. Josiah and Necho

After Ninevah’s destruction, Pharaoh Necho II of the 26th dynasty marched to Carchemish, where the Assyrian remnant was making its last stand. On the way, according to 2 Chronicles 35, Necho killed Judah’s king Josiah at Megiddo. Returning from his 605 B.C. defeat at Carchemish, Necho took Jehoahaz as a hostage and placed Jehoiakim on the throne of Judah.

3. Jeremiah and Hophra

One final biblical synchronism occurs in connection with the fate of 26th dynasty pharaoh, Hophra. Following a coup, Hophra fled to Babylon. There, he acquired an army and returned to reclaim his throne. Jeremiah predicted his defeat, and the prophecy recorded in Jeremiah 44:30 was fulfilled.

Table of Biblical and Egyptian Synchronisms74
Date B.C. Bible Egyptians Dynasty
4004 Adam    
2348 Noah’s flood    
post-Babel Mizraim    
late 1900s Abraham Khufu 4
1706 Joseph; Jacob to Egypt Sesostris I 12
1635 Joseph dies    
after 1635 enslavement Sesostris III 12
1571 Moses born Amenemhet III 12
1491 Exodus Neferhotep I 13
  Judges Hyksos 15-17
late 1000s David (1 Kings 11:19) Ahmosis or Amenhotep I 18
1012 Solomon starts temple Thutmosis I 18
  Queen of Sheba Hatshepsut 18
971 Rehoboam; Shishak invades Thutmosis III 18
late 900s Asa; Zerah the Ethiopian Amenhotep II 18
late 900s Ahab; Elijah Akhenaton 18
uncertain   Raamses II 19
722 Assyria destroys Israel Merneptah 19
709 Hezekiah; Assyrian invasion Taharka 25
664 Manasseh Taharka dies 25
609 Josiah dies Necho 26
605   Necho; Carchemish 26
589 Jeremiah Hophra 26
586 Temple destroyed    
525   Cambyses of Persia  

Conclusion

Isaiah warned against going down to Egypt for help (Isaiah 31:1). This phrase has come to symbolize a warning not to go to the world for truth. God determines truth. Historians examine fragmentary clues and fill in the gaps based on their presuppositions. Those presuppositions may be biblical or traditional. Accepting traditional Egyptian chronology necessitates rejection of biblical truth. Accepting biblical chronology allows a reconstruction of ancient chronology on a foundation of truth. Viewing the evidence from a biblical framework makes the histories of Egypt and the Old Testament fit together like two sides of a zipper.

Since the original publication of this chapter, Isaac Newton’s work on revised chronologies has become available in English. Newton’s Revised History of Ancient Kingdoms makes available much additional information and insight about the history of ancient Egypt as well as the history of other ancient kingdoms. For further studies of revised chronologies, because the Bible is the ultimate standard, I suggest consulting Dr. Floyd Jones’ book The Chronology of the Old Testament.

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Footnotes

  1. D. Mackey, “Sothic Star Dating: The Sothic Star Theory of the Egyptian Calendar,” abridged thesis, Sydney, Australia, 1995; available at www.specialtyinterests.net/. Back
  2. D. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest (New York: Crown Publishers, 1995), p. 24. Dynasties are grouped in sets called Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, and New Kingdom. After each set is an Intermediate Period whose history is less clear. Duration of dynasties comes from Manetho. Dates come from various interpretations of the Sothic cycle. Note: Meyer, Breasted, and many others give even earlier dates. Back
  3. A. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961), p. 46, quoted in D. Mackey’s thesis. Manetho is quoted by Josephus, Eusebius, Africanus, and Syncellus. Back
  4. J. Ashton and D. Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2006), p. 73. Back
  5. D. Mackey, “Sothic Star Dating.” Back
  6. D. Mackey, “Fall of the Sothic Theory: Egyptian Chronology Revisited,” TJ 17 no. 3 (2003): 70–73, available at www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v17/i3/sothic_theory.asp. Back
  7. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 129–130. Back
  8. Mackey, “Fall of the Sothic Theory: Egyptian Chronology Revisited.” Back
  9. Ibid. Back
  10. Ibid. Back
  11. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 134–135. The famous Ebers Papyrus allegedly confirms a 1517 B.C. date for the ninth year of Amenhotep I. However, this document refers to a monthly rising of Sothis, an astronomical impossibility. Back
  12. D. Mackey, “Sothic Star Dating: The Sothic Star Theory of the Egyptian Calendar,” abridged thesis, Sydney, Australia, 1995. available at www.specialtyinterests.net/. Back
  13. The inconsistency of the local flood idea with both science and the rest of the Bible is discussed in chapter 10 of The New Answers Book (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2006). Back
  14. Earlier date comes from W. Durant, Our Oriental Heritage (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954), p. 147. Back
  15. Conservative Bible scholars calculate the Exodus to have occurred sometime between 1491–1445 B.C. Solomon began to build the temple in the fourth year of his reign, in the 480th year after the Exodus from Egypt, according to I Kings 6:1. Accepted dates for the beginning of Solomon’s reign, as calculated from the lengths of the reigns of Old Testament kings, range from 1015 to 970 B.C. From this data, the Exodus occurred around 1491 to 1445 B.C. The dates are confirmed by additional Scriptures. See Dr. Jones’s Chronology of the Old Testament for a full discussion. Back
  16. G. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1994), p. 241. Back
  17. F.N. Jones, Chronology of the Old Testament (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004), p. 50–51. Back
  18. Jean Champollion translated the famous Rosetta stone, unlocking the secret of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Back
  19. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 120–121. See 1 Kings 14:25. Back
  20. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 122–127 and 1 Kings 11:40. Jeroboam had fled to Shishak during Solomon’s lifetime. Back
  21. Ashton and Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, p. 185. Back
  22. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 20. Back
  23. Ashton and Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, p. 75. Back
  24. Anatolia: Cauldron of Cultures (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1995), p. 64. Back
  25. Ibid, p. 69. Back
  26. W. Durant, Our Oriental Heritage (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954), p. 147. Back
  27. Ashton and Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, p. 75–76. Back
  28. Anatolia, p. 41. Back
  29. Carbon dating is discussed in chapter 7 of The New Answers Book (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2006). Back
  30. D. Downs, “The Chronology of Egypt and Israel,” from Diggings, available at biblicalstudies.qldwide.net.au/chronology_of_egypt_and_israel.html. Back
  31. P. James, Centuries of Darkness, 320, quoted in Ashton and Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, p. 184. Back
  32. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 9. Back
  33. Down, “The Chronology of Egypt and Israel.” Back
  34. Jones, Chronology of the Old Testament, p. 23, 123, and 309. Claudius Ptolemy documented a lunar eclipse that occurred on April 15, 621 B.C. (Gregorian calendar), during the fifth year of Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar’s father. Counting forward gives the 605 B.C. and 586 B.C. dates. Ashurbanipal’s sacking of Thebes in 664 B.C. comes from several independent ancient sources. (See Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 119.) Contemporary Roman writers confirm the Tiberius date. (See Jones, Chronology of the Old Testament, p. 218.) Back
  35. D. Chittick, Puzzle of Ancient Man (Newberg, OR: Creation Compass, 2006), p. 8–15. Back
  36. Archbishop Ussher calculated the date for the Tower of Babel 2242 B.C. from Genesis and from Manetho’s statement that the confusion occurred in the fifth year of Peleg’s life. L. Pierce, “In the Days of Peleg,” Creation 22 no. 1 (1999): p. 46–49, available at www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v22/i1/peleg.asp. Back
  37. Ibid. The 12th-century historian Constantinus Manasses wrote that Egypt endured for 1,663 years. Egypt lost her independence around 526 B.C. with the Persian conquest. Hence, 2188 B.C. is a reasonable date for Egypt’s founding and is consistent with a 2242 B.C. date for the Tower of Babel. Back
  38. Ibid, p. 106. Back
  39. Josephus, The Works of Josephus: New Updated Edition, book 1, chapter 8, as translated by William Whiston (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987), p. 39. Back
  40. Ashton and Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, p. 83, quoting from James Henry Breasted’s History of Egypt. Back
  41. Ibid, quoting from Emille Brugsch’s Egypt Under the Pharaohs. Back
  42. Ibid, p. 83–84. Back
  43. Ibid, p. 79. Back
  44. Ibid, p. 92, quoting from Dr. Rosalie David’s The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt. Back
  45. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 275–276. Back
  46. W. Whiston, transl., book 2, chapter 9, section 7, The Works of Josephus (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987), p. 68. Back
  47. Ashton and Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, p. 92. Back
  48. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 271. Back
  49. D. Down, “Searching for Moses,” TJ 15 no. 1 (2001): 53-57, available at www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v15/i1/moses.asp. Back
  50. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 279. Back
  51. Ibid., reporting findings by Professor Manfred Bietak of Austrian Institute for Egyptology. Back
  52. Ashton and Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, p. 100, quoting Dr. Rosalie David’s The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt. Back
  53. Ibid., p. 103. Back
  54. Ibid.,, p. 102, quoting Josephus. Back
  55. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 280–281. Back
  56. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 285. Back
  57. Ashton and Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, p. 103, referencing Courville’s The Exodus Problem and Its Ramifications. Back
  58. Ashton and Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, p. 106. Rebellion arose after the Hyksos king picked a fight with the Theban king Seqenenre by claiming the hippopotamus noise from the new canal in Thebes was keeping him awake at night. Back
  59. 1 Kings 11:15–20 Back
  60. Phonetic similarity is certainly no guarantee of identity, as the case of Shishak’s misidentification has shown. However, the occurrence of both of these names in the time sequence consistent with the times of David’s and Solomon’s reigns is at least a strong suggestion of synchronism. Back
  61. “Contemporary Personalities and Affairs of the Early Israelite and 18th Dynasty Egyptian Kings,” from The California Institute for Ancient Studies, www.specialtyinterests.net/solsen.html. Back
  62. Ashton and Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, p. 111. See 1 Kings 3:1. Back
  63. Ibid., p. 121. Back
  64. Daniel 11:5 and 8–9. Back
  65. Ashton and Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, p. 126–128. Back
  66. Ibid., p. 134. Back
  67. Ibid., p. 154. Back
  68. G. Johnson, “Queen Ankhesenamen and the Hittite Prince,” 1999, available at www.guardians.net/egypt/georgejohnson/queenankhesenamen.htm. Back
  69. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, places him in 900s B.C. (p. 175); Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, in 700s B.C. (p. 209) depending on uncertain 18th dynasty co-regencies. Back
  70. Ashton and Down, Unwrapping the Pharaohs, p. 178. Back
  71. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, pp. 75–76. Back
  72. 2 Kings 19:9, referred to as Tirhakah king of Ethiopia. Back
  73. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest, p. 22. Back
  74. Dates for biblical events are from Dr. Floyd-Nolen Jones’s Chronology of the Old Testament, chosen for its careful analysis and internal consistency with regard to Scripture. Back