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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
tians never appear as either oppressing or
the book of Judges may well lead us to place the Hebrew record as referring to a time after the last invasion by the Rameside kings-that under Rameses III; and this would just allow forty years to elapse since the reign of Merenptah. Hence the Exodus cannot well be before Merenptah, while the short time which that leaves for the age of Judges quite precludes our supposing it to have taken place after him. By the very scanty facts that we can reason on at present, we are brought back again, then, to what is the most generally re
III; 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 sculptured figures still remains as fresh as on the day it was done; for, as the tablet fell face forward when the temple was destroyed, the side belonging to Merenptah lay downward, while that of Amenhotep III was uppermost. In the ruins, T
HEAD OF SETI I, FATHER OF RAMESES II, GRANDFATHER OF
ceived view: that Rameses II was the great
Now, last winter I was permitted to excavate along a part of the ruin-strewn desert 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, rather, syenite. It was first cut by one of the most sumptuous kings of Egypt, Amenhotep
HEAD OF RAMESES II, FATHER OF MERENPTAH. FROM
BUST OF KING MERENPTAH, CARVED IN GRAY GRANITE AND COLORED. FOUND BY PROFESSOR PETRIE
then, amid the fragments of columns and foundations, heaped over with a foot or two of stone chips, this grand block had lain since about the time of the Trojan war. All Greek history, Roman, and medieval-the prophets, Christianity, and Islam-have swept along while this was waiting unsuspected, with its story of the wars of Pharaoh of the Hard Heart, and his crushing of Israel.
But beside the tablet I found another and more personal memorial of Pharaoh-his own portrait. From the earliest times the Egyptian sought to provide a dwelling for the soul as closely like the person in life as sculpture and color could render it. These statues, or soul-houses, were placed in the upper cham
ber of the tomb, where the offerings were made in reality or engraved in simile. And when the kings had the chamber of offerings expanded into a great temple, placed some distance in front of the tomb, the statues were placed in the temple, so that the soul could take its place in such a glorious tabernacle to receive the offerings made for its sustenance. The statues of the funeral temples, then, are more especially the images of the king; they were to the Egyptian the corporeal king himself, the nearest approximation to his bodily presence, and actually tenanted by his soul.
In this statue of Merenptah, we see what was the king to the Egyptian gaze. Here
is the nearest approach to the living man, showing his firm and rather dogged expression, not untinged with melancholy-a man who would stand many plagues unmoved, whose endurance and whose pride it would be hard to subdue; and the teleologist may perhaps take the consolation that plagues were very good training for such a man and the people he ruled over.
He had had a hard life for any man of capacity, as he undoubtedly was. His father had married early and often, so that, though Merenptah was the thirteenth son, he must have been born near the beginning of the long series of a hundred and more sons in which his father gloried. As several sons are in the sculptures already shown actively fighting in the fifth year of the reign of Ra
meses, this would suggest that Merenptah was born even before his father's accession. But as Rameses reigned sixty-six years, this would put the reign of Merenptah into about the sixty-fifth to the ninetieth year of his life, which is very unlikely. Another reason may exist for his being ranked early in the family history of royal children. In the ruins of his temple I found a fragment of stone with the name of Bantanta, a favorite daughter of Rameses, who is also believed from her titles to have been a wife of his. Marriage with near relatives was the rule rather than the exception in Egypt; and though at present sistermarriage has disappeared, it is considered to be the first duty of an Egyptian to marry his first cousin, if there is an uncle's daughter to be had in the family; after that duty he may
please his own taste with a wife from elsewhere. There is, then, nothing at all unlikely in supposing that Rameses had married his favorite daughter. If Bantanta had only been a sister or stepmother of Merenptah, it is not likely that she would be commemorated in his funeral temple; no other name was found in the place. It is therefore probable that Bantanta was the mother of Merenptah, who was thus grandson of his father. This would place him later in the family history, while his earlier place in the series of the children may be due to his mother's being a favorite. Thus we might suppose him to have been born in the twentieth to the thirtieth year of his father's reign; even then he would have been about forty at his accession.
And a melancholy prospect he had seen as he grew up. His father had been active in the earlier years of the reign; but after about twenty years he ceased all personal labor, and seems to have sunk in his fatuous pride into a mere despot, devoted to perpetuating his effigies on the monuments, and his family in the harem. The kingdom went steadily into decay year after year, and the old man became more indolent and more fatuous, while none of his sons seems to have been allowed to take up the reins and save the country. «Egypt is desolated, and abandoned to invasion from all lands; the barbarians overrun its frontier, the revolters invade it daily, every country is pillaging its cities, raiding its dwellings in the fields and on the river. They abide and settle there for days and months, seated in the land; they reach the hills of middle Egypt; . . . they search for the corn-land, seeking to fill their bellies; they come to Egypt to find provision for their mouths.» Such is the melancholy picture drawn by Merenptah of the state of the country on his accession-a striking contrast to the work of the really great kings of Egypt, of the Amenhotep and Thothmes line, who had handed on the rule of Syria from father to son unbroken. The continuous record that we have of Thothmes III shows that every year regularly he went through Syria to receive tribute and maintain his power, taking all the young princes to be educated in Egypt before they came to act as vassals in their own country. Until he was over fifty this annual outing was kept up, and his children to the third and fourth generation received this dominion in peaceful succession. But under Rameses all this stability had vanished; a few raids which did not cover half the previous conquests of Syria, a treaty on equal terms with the foe, and the boastful king sunk into an
inglorious lethargy, in which even Egypt itself was largely given up to the foreigners.
And this decay was what had eaten into the soul of Merenptah during all his youth and vigor; until he was at least forty nothing could be done by him. It was not until the old king had come to that condition which we can now see before our eyes in the Cairo Museum, -a withered mummy, which seems as if still dwelt in and half alive with the spirit of insensate pride,—it was not until this evil genius of the land was in his tomb that a stroke could be struck for the freedom of the country.
Then began careful preparation. For four years Merenptah was consolidating his power, with apparently one expedition to Syria, up the coast to the plain of Esdraelon and Tyre; this reconquest we have learned of only since finding the new tablet. But it did not do more than secure the principal fortresses near the coast, and command the corn districts of Philistia and Esdraelon, which were cultivated by the people of Israel, among others. It is evident that reorganization had been going on, strengthening the resistance of the country, by the vigor with which the great Libyan invasion was repelled, after the country had been long submitting to minor attacks.
At the end of March in his fifth year Merenptah had a dream. Ptah, the great god of Memphis, appeared to him, and warned him to be ready a fortnight hence. This is doubtless a priestly way of putting some warnings from spies or travelers who reported the preparations in progress. Then, early in April the great tempest of foreign invasion burst in from the west, coming just when all the harvests were gathered in, the fields stripped bare, the whole land naked and open, and canals dried up; in short, just when the greatest facilities existed for invasion, and the full granaries tempted the desert peoples.
The warning had not been in vain. Merenptah was prepared, and attacked the assembled host with his cavalry; the gods fought with them, and for one long afternoon, from midday till dark, they slew, and slew, and slew, for six hours slaughtering the multitude. The defeat was utter. The king, Maury, son of Dad, escaped, thanks to the darkness; but he did not even secure a horse or provisions, and fled from the fight on foot, completely terrified. His wives and his rich equipage, his silver and gold and bronze vessels, the ornaments of his wife, his thrones, his bows, his weapons, and all that he had were a prey to the Egyptians. Some sixteen thousand bodies lay on the field of battle, and nine thousand prisoners were taken.