Eventually, an Egyptian-Hittite treaty was agreed upon and confirmed by the marriage of Rameses to a Hittite princess and her elevation to the rank of "Royal Wife."
c. Building programs.
Rameses conducted more building programs than any other pharaoh. These projects ranged from the Delta to Thebes and included giganitic images of himself.
d. The beginnings of decline.
One interesting indication of decline during the reign of Rameses began when the government fell two months behind on the payment of wages. The Egyptian workers in Thebes threw down their tools and walked off the job. They marched to the Temple of Rameses and sat down outside the walls, refusing to move until they were paid. This is the first recorded labor strike in history and it lasted eight days.
Other strikes followed this initial one as discontent grew and people took to robbing the royal tombs by night.
4. Merenptah (1236-1223 B.C.).
Since Rameses had outlived many of his 79 sons, it was his 13th son who came to the throne under the name Merenptah.
a. Conflict with Lybians.
In his fifth year, Merenptah repelled an attack of Lybians from the west, driving them from the Delta whirh they had attempted to enter.
b. The Merenptah Stele.
One of the earliest Egyptian references to Israel is seen in the Merenptah Stele. It is a large granite stele, located in the mortuary of Merenptah in Thebes. It is a poetic description of the conquests of the pharaoh. Near the end of the text, it lists the various cities and countries which had been invaded.
The princes are prostrate, saying, "Mercy!" Not one raises his head among the Nine Bows. Desolation is for Tehenu; Hatti is pacified; plundered is the Canaan with every evil; carried off is Ashkeloni; seized upon is Gezer; Yenoam is made as that which does not exist; ISRAEL is laid waste, his seed is not; Hurru is become a widow for Egypt.
This inscription indicates that the tribes of Israel were already a recognized entity in the land of Palestine at this time.
THE TWENTIETH DYNASTY OF EGYPT (1200-1085 B.C.)
The years following the reign of Merenptah were times of civil strife. For a time, there were two kings in Egypt, one ruling in the south at Thebes, and the other in the north at the city of Rameses.
Finally, a ruler arose by the name of Sethnakht. His rule only lasted three years, but he made certain that his son was able to take the throne upon his death. Sethnakht is reckoned as the founder of the 20th Dynasty and his son was Rameses 3rd.
1. Rameses 3rd (1198-1166 B.C.).
Rarneses 3rd came to the throne at a time in history when the Dark Ages were beginning to sweep over the ancient world.
Indo-European tribes had begun to migrate down into Greece from the north, destroying the Mycenaean Civilization.
They then poured across the Hellespont and into Anatolia, shattering the Hittite Empire.
As the inhabitants of these lands saw these murdering invaders marching down upon them, they quickly packed up and moved to the south, eventually corning to Egypt. Finding themselves repulsed by the Egyptians, they came to the realization that they were hemmed in by enemies on either side.
Choosing to fight the lesser of two evils, they regrouped and attacked Egypt.
Rameses 3rd refers to these invaders as the "Sea Peoples." Their force was made up of Minoans, Mycenaeans, Hittites, and even Berber tribes from the west who sought to take advantage of this opportunity.
Rameses had two decisive advantages in the Battle of the Sea Peoples which was fought in the Delta.
a. Superior weapons.
The invaders had only swords, spears and, shields. Chariots were of no use in the marshes of the Delta.
The Egyptian army had reorganized into a system much like the later Persian army in that it had a huge archery corps. Thus, they were able to kill many of the enemy before they were even within striking distance.
b. Naval maneuverability.
The ships of the Sea Peoples were powered only by sails, while the Egyptian vessels were powered by both oars and sails. The were able to out-maneuver the invading ships.
Because of these two factors, Rameses 3rd was successful in driving back the invaders from the north. However, he had paid a dear price. Egypt was completely exhausted by the war. Weakened as she was, she was riot able to reasert her authority in Palestine. In compromise, she invited the Sea Peoples to settle among the Philistines, thereby making them a buffer-state to the outside world.
2. Decline of the 19th Dynasty.
Every pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty to succeed Rameses 3rd took for himself the great name of Rameses, that being their only claim to fame.
THE THIRD INTERMEDIATE PERIOD (1085-712 B.C.)
The end of the 20th Dynasty saw a new low era for Egypt as the country disintegrated into anarchy with first one and then another outsider rose to power.
1. Treaty with Israel.
Solomon made a treaty with Egypt, sealing it by a diplomatic marriage with a daughter of Siamun, the reigning pharaoh. The city of Gezer was given to Solomon as a dowry.
Normally it was the practice of the pharaohs to receive the daughters of other rulers into their own harem. For Solomon to take the pharaoh s daughter as his wife indicated that Israel was being treated as a political super—power.
2. Pharaoh Shishak and the Invasion of Israel.
Shishak, a chief of the Libyans, was also the founder of the 22nd Dynasty. Rising to power at the death of a previous pharaoh, he managed to bring all of Egypt under his rule by appointing one of his sons as the high priest.
He granted refuge to Jeroboam, a political refugee from Israel, and learned of the divisive attitudes that were growing in Israel.
Shortly after the nation of Israel divided, Shishak invaded the Southern Kingdom under Rehohoam.
Now it came about in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, that Shishak the king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem.
And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house, and he took everything, even taking all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. (I Kings 14:25-26).
The south wall at the Temple of Amun in Karnak names many of the towns in Palestine which were plundered in this inivasion.
3. Later Dynasties.
The later Dynasties of Egypt were still weaker. For a time, Ethiopia ruled over Egypt and an Ethiopian pharaoh sat upon the throne. During the days of Asa, the armies of the Ethiopians attempted to invade Judah, but were driven back with heavy casualties (2nd Chronicles 14:9-13).
The Third Intermediate Period ended, but instead of bringing a time of strength, it brought further troubles for Egypt. This was the Era of the Empires. A steady succession of empires now arose from Assyria, Babylon, Persia and finally Greece. Armies from each of these empires would march across Egyptian soil until Egypt would become a mere vassal state.
As we close, we are reminded of the words on an inscription which appears on the pedestal of a shattered statue. In an attempt to awe the world with its might, it serves to remind us that all such strength is fleeting.
My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
Look upon my works, ye Mighty and despair.
Did You Know?
The beauty of the iconic Nefertiti bust may only be skin deep. CT scans in 2009 revealed that underneath the surface of smooth painted stucco is the sculptor Thudmose's more realistic limestone carving of a woman with wrinkled cheeks and a bump on her nose.
Akhenaten’s transformation of religion brought with it radical changes in artistic conventions. Departing from the idealized images of earlier pharaohs, Akhenaten is sometimes depicted with feminine hips and exaggerated features. Early images of Nefertiti show a stereotypical young woman, but in later ones she is a near mirror image of Akhenaten. Her final depictions reveal a regal but realistic figure.
On the walls of tombs and temples built during Akhenaten’s reign Nefertiti is depicted alongside her husband with a frequency seen for no other Egyptian queen. In many cases she is shown in positions of power and authority—leading worship of Aten, driving a chariot or smiting an enemy.