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Israel, and that he had attacked and subdued The truth, then, seems to lie in saying that this people. But where? All the context there were Israelites and Israelites. That shows that this happened in Syria, about quarrelsome and obstinate race, as shown in Galilee. If so, how can Merenptah possibly their early history, had split up in the dim be the Pharaoh of the Exodus? will be at ages, and while part went down into Egypt, once said. To this a counter-question arises: others remained in Syria. The very general how is it that no trace of this fighting in view in recent years that there were traces Palestine, or of any of the similar wars of of the tribes in Palestine before the Exodus Rameses II or Rameses III, is to be found in age is thus strengthened, and we begin to get the book of Judges? It is not now a ques- a side-light on the history different from what tion of silence on the Egyptian, but on the the records of monarchical Judah which we Hebrew side. If the land was being continu- possess would lead us to suppose. ally invaded and ravaged, why do the Egyp- Therefore, the silence concerning Egypt in
BLACK SYENITE TABLET CARVED BY AMENHOTEP III, ABOUT 1411 B. C., RECORDING HIS OFFERINGS TO THE GODS. SUBSEQUENTLY ENGRAVED ON THE OTHER SIDE BY MERENPTAH, ABOUT 1203 B. C., RECORDING HIS
DEFEAT OF THE LIBYANS AND HIS SYRIAN WAR, IN WHICH HE CRUSHED «THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL. The block is 10 feet 3 inches x 5 feet 4 inches x 13 inches thick ; it was found by Professor Petrie in the funeral temple of
Merenptah at Thebes, February, 1896. The base of a column by its side is of Merenptah's temple.
tians never appear as either oppressing or the book of Judges may well lead us to place relieving Israel during the struggles of the the Hebrew record as referring to a time after Judges ? To this there seems but one answer: the last invasion by the Rameside kings--that they were not there at the time. A frequent under Rameses III; and this would just allow reply to this silence about the Egyptians is forty years to elapse since the reign of Merthat they did not come across the Israelites, enptah. Hence the Exodus cannot well be bebut kept along Philistia in their wars. Not fore Merenptah, while the short time which only do the names of the conquered towns that leaves for the age of Judges quite preshow that they went up into the heart of cludes our supposing it to have taken place Palestine, but now we know for certain that after him. By the very scanty facts that we Merenptah had fought with Israelites, and can reason on at present, we are brought back apparently up in Galilee.
again, then, to what is the most generally reIII; brilliantly polished, as flat and glassy as a mirror, and engraved with a scene of the king offering to Amen, the god of Thebes, and an inscription of about three thousand hieroglyphs recording his offerings and glorifying the god. His son Akhenaten, who strove after a higher faith, erased all figures and inscriptions of Amen, and so effaced most of his father's fine carving on this great tablet. This, however, was all reëngraved by Seti I, about fifty years later, as a restoration. Then, some two centuries after it had been erected in the temple of Amenhotep III, Merenptah cast an envious gaze on the splendid stone, and stole it for his own purposes. Not taking the trouble to rework it, he simply built the face of it into his own wall, and engraved on the comparatively rough back of the block. At the top he figured a scene of the king offering to Amen, and below an inscription very nearly as large as that of Amenhotep III on
the other side. The painting of the HEAD OF SETI I, FATHER OF RAMESES II, GRANDFATHER OF sculptured figures still remains as
fresh as on the day it was done;
for, as the tablet fell face forward ceived view: that Rameses II was the great when the temple was destroyed, the side beoppressor, and that Merenptah let the Israel- longing to Merenptah lay downward, while that
of Amenhotep III was uppermost. In the ruins, Now, last winter I was permitted to excavate along a part of the ruin-strewn desert T at Thebes, and to examine the sites of temples which stand there. On these few furlongs I found that there had been seven temples of the kings of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties, about 1450-1150 B.C. Most of these I entirely cleared out; the largest piece of allthe great buildings around the Rameseum -- being the clearance of the Egyptian Research Account worked by Mr. Quibell. Each site gave us some return in information or objects; but the most valuable of the sites, as it proved, was one of the least inviting. A field of stone chips showed where the funeral temple of Merenptah had stood; and, left in the ruins, I found the great granite tablet bearing the long inscription of Merenptah about his Libyan war and his Syrian war, and naming Israel.
This tablet is over ten feet high, over five feet wide, and over a foot thick, of one flawless block of very fine-grained granite, or,
HEAD OF RAMESES II, FATHER OF MERENPTAH. FROM rather, syenite. It was first cut by one of the HIS STATUE IN BLACK GRANITE, TURIN MUSEUM. most sumptuous kings of Egypt, Amenhotep This is by far the most artistic work of this period.
MERENITAH. FROM A SCENE IN HIS TEMPLE AT ABYDOS.
FOUND BY MARIETTE PASHA IN 1864.
BUST OF KING MERENPTAH, CARVED IN GRAY GRANITE AND COLORED. FOUND BY PROFESSOR PETRIE
IN THE RUINS OF THE FUNERAL TEMPLE OF THE KING AT THEBES, FEBRUARY, 1896. The inscriptions on the shoulders are the two names of the king : Mer-Amen, Ba-en-Ra, on the right; on the left,
then, amid the fragments of columns and ber of the tomb, where the offerings were foundations, heaped over with a foot or two made in reality or engraved in simile. And of stone chips, this grand block had lain since when the kings had the chamber of offerings about the time of the Trojan war. All Greek expanded into a great temple, placed some history, Roman, and medieval - the prophets, distance in front of the tomb, the statues Christianity, and Islam-have swept along were placed in the temple, so that the soul while this was waiting unsuspected, with its could take its place in such a glorious taberstory of the wars of Pharaoh of the Hard Heart, nacle to receive the offerings made for its and his crushing of Israel.
sustenance. The statues of the funeral temBut beside the tablet I found another and ples, then, are more especially the images of more personal memorial of Pharaoh-his own the king; they were to the Egyptian the corportrait. From the earliest times the Egyp- poreal king himself, the nearest approximation tian sought to provide a dwelling for the soul to his bodily presence, and actually tenanted as closely like the person in life as sculpture by his soul. and color could render it. These statues, or In this statue of Merenptah, we see what soul-houses, were placed in the upper cham- was the king to the Egyptian gaze. Here
is the nearest approach to the living man, meses, this would suggest that Merenptah showing his firm and rather dogged expres- was born even before his father's accession. sion, not untinged with melancholy-a man But as Rameses reigned sixty-six years, this who would stand many plagues unmoved,whose would put the reign of Merenptah into about endurance and whose pride it would be hard to the sixty-fifth to the ninetieth year of his subdue; and the teleologist may perhaps take life, which is very unlikely. Another reason the consolation that plagues were very good may exist for his being ranked early in the training for such a man and the people he family history of royal children. In the ruins ruled over.
of his temple I found a fragment of stone with He had had a hard life for any man of ca- the name of Bantanta, a favorite daughter of pacity, as he undoubtedly was. His father Rameses, who is also believed from her titles to had married early and often, so that, though have been a wife of his. Marriage with near Merenptah was the thirteenth son, he must relatives was the rule rather than the excephave been born near the beginning of the tion in Egypt; and though at present sisterlong series of a hundred and more sons in marriage has disappeared, it is considered to which his father gloried. As several sons be the first duty of an Egyptian to marry his are in the sculptures already shown actively first cousin, if there is an uncle's daughter to fighting in the fifth year of the reign of Ra- be had in the family; after that duty he may please his own taste with a wife from else- inglorious lethargy, in which even Egypt itwhere. There is, then, nothing at all unlikely self was largely given up to the foreigners. in supposing that Rameses had married his And this decay was what had eaten into favorite daughter. If Bantanta had only been the soul of Merenptah during all his youth a sister or stepmother of Merenptah, it is not and vigor; until he was at least forty nothing likely that she would be commemorated in his could be done by him. It was not until the funeral temple; no other name was found in old king had come to that condition which the place. It is therefore probable that Ban- we can now see before our eyes in the Cairo tanta was the mother of Merenptah, who was Museum, -a withered mummy, which seems as thus grandson of his father. This would place if still dwelt in and half alive with the spirit of him later in the family history, while his earlier insensate pride, - it was not until this evil geplace in the series of the children may be due nius of the land was in his tomb that a stroke to his mother's being a favorite. Thus we could be struck for the freedom of the country. might suppose him to have been born in the Then began careful preparation. For four twentieth to the thirtieth year of his father's years Merenptah was consolidating his power, , reign; even then he would have been about with apparently one expedition to Syria, up sorty at his accession.
the coast to the plain of Esdraelon and Tyre; And a melancholy prospect he had seen as this reconquest we have learned of only since he grew up. His father had been active in the finding the new tablet. But it did not do earlier years of the reign; but after about more than secure the principal fortresses twenty years he ceased all personal labor, and near the coast, and command the corn districts seems to have sunk in his fatuous pride into of Philistia and Esdraelon, which were cultia mere despot, devoted to perpetuating his vated by the people of Israel, among others. effigies on the monuments, and his family in It is evident that reorganization had been the harem. The kingdom went steadily into going on, strengthening the resistance of the decay year after year, and the old man be- country, by the vigor with which the great came more indolent and more fatuous, while Libyan invasion was repelled, after the counnone of his sons seems to have been allowed try had been long submitting to minor attacks. to take up the reins and save the country. At the end of March in his fifth year Meren« Egypt is desolated, and abandoned to in- ptah had a dream. Ptah, the great god of vasion from all lands; the barbarians overrun Memphis, appeared to him, and warned him its frontier, the revolters invade it daily, to be ready a fortnight hence. This is doubtevery country is pillaging its cities, raiding less a priestly way of putting some warnings its dwellings in the fields and on the river. from spies or travelers who reported the preThey abide and settle there for days and parations in progress. Then, early in April months, seated in the land; they reach the the great tempest of foreign invasion burst hills of middle Egypt; ... they search for the in from the west, coming just when all the corn-land, seeking to fill their bellies; they harvests were gathered in, the fields stripped come to Egypt to find provision for their bare, the whole land naked and open, and mouths. Such is the melancholy picture canals dried up; in short, just when the greatdrawn by Merenptah of the state of the coun- est facilities existed for invasion, and the full try on his accession-a striking contrast to granaries tempted the desert peoples. the work of the really great kings of Egypt, The warning had not been in vain. Merenof the Amenhotep and Thothmes line, who had ptah was prepared, and attacked the ashanded on the rule of Syria from father to sembled host with his cavalry; the gods son unbroken. The continuous record that we fought with them, and for one long afterhave of Thothmes III shows that every year noon, from midday till dark, they slew, and regularly he went through Syria to receive slew, and slew, for six hours slaughtering the tribute and maintain his power, taking all the multitude. The defeat was utter. The king, young princes to be educated in Egypt before Maury, son of Dad, escaped, thanks to the they came to act as vassals in their own coun- darkness; but he did not even secure a horse try. Until he was over fifty this annual out- or provisions, and fled from the fight on foot, ing was kept up, and his children to the third completely terrified. His wives and his rich and fourth generation received this dominion equipage, his silver and gold and bronze vesin peaceful succession. But under Rameses sels, the ornaments of his wife, his thrones, all this stability had vanished; a few raids his bows, his weapons, and all that he had which did not cover half the previous con- were a prey to the Egyptians. Some sixteen quests of Syria, a treaty on equal terms with thousand bodies lay on the field of battle, and the foe, and the boastful king sunk into an nine thousand prisoners were taken.