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Feb 05 2014

Can Moses be found in Egyptian history? Yes, he is there if you know where to look!

All dates shown in this article are BCE unless noted otherwise.

A reader asked if the Exodus really happened, and then wondered why Moses is not mentioned in Egyptian history. Well, it’s quite possible that Moses is featured in the historical records of the eighteenth dynasty, and that he has been overlooked because historians and Bible scholars have not been using a correct Bible chronology for that period.

Moses was born in the second year of Thutmose I [footnote 1], the first Egyptian king to have the nomen (birth name) Thutmose (meaning “born of Thoth”) [footnote 2]. Some have associated the name Moses with the last two hieroglyphs in the pharaoh’s name, ms, which mean “bear” as in “bear a child,” and it is similar to the last syllables in the name Ramose (meaning “born of Ra”), which was the name of the father of Hatshepsut’s great steward Senenmut. Shown below is an expansion of Timeline B of Appendix Two of Sacred Chronology of the Hebrew Kings (page 138), which reveals some interesting chronological Senenmut-Moses correlations.

 

Expanded Timeline for Senenmut and Moses
High Chronology (all dates BCE)*
ca. 1536 b. Thutmose II (born at about the same time as Hatshepsut, see below).
ca. 1535 b. Hatshepsut, daughter of the future Thutmose I (her birth can be estimated from her estimated age of about 52 years old at her death in 1482 BCE). [footnote 3]
1524 Thutmose I became pharaoh, decreed death for all Hebrew male infants. [footnote 4]
1523 b. Moses, Exodus 2; found by pharaoh’s daughter Hatshepsut (12 years old).
1518 d. Thutmose I.
1518 Thutmose II became pharaoh, with his sister Hatshepsut as wife-consort.
1516 Hatshepsut recognized as pharaoh in the second year of Thutmose II’s reign, according to an inscription in the Chapelle Rouge, block 287, that describes a festival of Amen during which Hatshepsut is made a pharaoh unified with the Ka in the presence of an unnamed king (her husband Thutmose II). [footnote 5]
ca. 1506 b. Thutmose III, son of Thutmose II and a secondary wife, Iset.
1504 d. Thutmose II.
1504 Thutmose III became king as an infant (less than 2 years old).
1504 Hatshepsut continued as pharaoh, coreigning with her step-son, Thutmose II, who, at less than 2 years old, was too young to rule as king.
1498 Hatshepsut assumes male pharaonic identity, ruling as primary king.
1486 Hatshepsut celebrated her “sed year” (her 30th year as a pharaoh).
1483 Hatshepsut’s great steward Senenmut disappeared from history (inscriptions place his disappearance in Hatshepsut’s sixteenth year as king). [footnote 6]
1483 Moses (40 years old) fled to Midian, Exodus 2.
1482 Thutmose III became sole ruler when Hatshepsut died.
* from Chronicle of the Pharaohs by Peter A. Clayton (New York: Thames & Hudson; 2006)

 

Hypothesis: Thutmose I became pharaoh in the year 1,524. The new king decreed that all male Hebrew infants be killed. The following year, 1,523, his twelve-year-old daughter Hatshepsut rescued the infant Moses from the Nile River with the intention of raising him as a member of her household. When Thutmose I died in 1,518, his son Thutmose II became pharaoh and the new pharaoh’s half-sister Hatshepsut became his wife and queen. In the second year of Thutmose II’s reign, according to your author’s interpretation of an inscription on block 287 from the Chapelle Rouge, a festival of Amen was celebrated during which Hatshepsut was recognized as a pharaoh, circa 1516. During their co-reign, Thutmose II produced no male heir with Hatshepsut, but he did sire a son, Thutmose III, with a secondary wife named Iset. When Thutmose II died in 1,504, Hatshepsut continued as a pharaoh, at first sharing her reign with her step-son Thutmose III, who, being less than two years old, was too young to rule. Seven years later, in 1,498, Hatshepsut assumed a masculine public identity and reigned as king of Egypt for the next seventeen years, with her step-son Thutmose III serving in a subordinate role. Sometime after her recognition as pharaoh, Hatshepsut elevated Senenmut to be her chief steward (top official), but Senenmut disappeared from history in 1,483, about a year before Hatshepsut’s death. Senenmut exited from history at precisely the same time that the biblical Moses fled to Midian after murdering an Egyptian, as recorded in Exodus, chapter 2, verses 11-15. Did Moses kill Senenmut and then have to flee from Hatshepsut’s wrath before returning to Egypt forty years later as the prophet Moses? That scenario would explain why Moses, raised as a son of Hatshepsut and thus enjoying great privilege as son of the king, would fear pharaoh for killing an Egyptian, in this case the king’s most trusted advisor. Whatever the case, the synchronizations between Egyptian chronology and history as known from inscriptions and the Hebrew chronology and history as recounted in the Bible do reveal interesting correlations.

Footnotes

[1] Sacred Chronology of the Hebrew Kings, available here.

[2] Thutmose I was the first Egyptian king to have the nomen (birth name) Thutmose ḏḫwty-ms (born of Thoth). Some have associated the name Moses with the last two hieroglyphs in the pharaoh’s name, ms, which mean “bear” as in “bear a child,” and it is similar to the last syllables in the name Ramose (born of Ra), which was the name of the father of Hatshepsut’s great steward Senenmut.

[3] “Remains of pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut identified” USAToday.com (June 27, 2007; http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/science/discoveries/2007-06-27-egypt-queen_N.htm).

[4] Aaron, born in 1526 (and thus three years older than Moses), was not included in the decree.

[5] An inscription from the Chapelle Rouge, block 287, describes a festival of Amen during which Hatshepsut is made a pharaoh unified with the Ka in the presence of and during the second year of an unnamed king (traditionally assumed to be her father Thutmose I, but interpreted by your author to be her husband Thutmose II instead, identifying her coronation as occurring in 1516).

[6] Some scholars have speculated that Senenmut was Hatshepsut’s lover. That is debatable, but there can be no doubt that he was the power behind the throne and thus of prime importance to the rule of Hatshepsut.


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