Amenemhet I was the “New King” of Exodus 1:8

The Dynasty of the Oppression

Some say the Israelites labored in Egypt during the 6th Dynasty; while others claim the dynasty of the oppression was the 19th. Still others proclaim the 18th to be the one — or the period of the Hyksos rulers of Egypt! By turning to the Bible and examining the works of early historians, the dynasty of the oppression becomes very apparent to those who are seeking the TRUTH with an open mind!

John D. Keyser

In the works of Flavius Josephus (1st-century A.D. Jewish historian) we read the following:

Now it happened that the Egyptians grew delicate and lazy, as to painstaking; and gave themselves up to other pleasures, and in particular to the love of gain. They also became VERY ILL AFFECTED TOWARDS THE HEBREWS, as touched with envy at their prosperity; for when they saw how the nation of the Israelites flourished, and were become eminent already in plenty of wealth, which they had acquired by their virtue and natural love of labour, they thought their increase was to their own detriment; and having, in length of time, forgotten the benefits they had received from Joseph, PARTICULARLY THE CROWN BEING NOW COME INTO ANOTHER FAMILY, they became very abusive to the Israelites, and contrived many ways of afflicting them; FOR THEY ENJOINED THEM TO CUT A GREAT NUMBER OF CHANNELS [CANALS] FOR THE RIVER [NILE], AND TO BUILD WALLS FOR THEIR CITIES AND RAMPARTS, THAT THEY MIGHT RESTRAIN THE RIVER, AND HINDER ITS WATERS FROM STAGNATING, UPON ITS RUNNING OVER ITS OWN BANKS: THEY SET THEM ALSO TO BUILD PYRAMIDS, and by all this wore them out; and forced them to learn all sorts of mechanical arts, and to accustom themselves to hard labour. And FOUR HUNDRED YEARS did they spend under these afflictions…. (Antiquities of the Jews, chap. IX, section 1).

Within this passage from Josephus lie several CLUES that will help us to determine the dynasty of the oppression of the Israelites.

The Change of Rulership

Josephus mentions that one of the reasons the Egyptians started to mistreat the Israelites was because “THE CROWN [HAD]…NOW COME INTO ANOTHER FAMILY.” Does Egyptian history reveal a time when the crown of Egypt passed into the hands of a totally unrelated family? Indeed it does!

In the Leningrad museum lies a papyrus of the 12th DYNASTY, composed during the reign of its FIRST KING AMENEMHET I. The papyrus is in the form of a PROPHECY attributed to the sage Nefer-rehu of the time of King Snefru; and in it an amazing prediction is made:

A king shall come from the south, called AMUNY [shortened form of the name Amenemhet], the son of a woman of Nubia, and born in Upper Egypt….He shall receive the White Crown, he shall wear the Red Crown [will become ruler over ALL Egypt]….the people of his time shall rejoice, THE SON OF SOMEONE shall make his name for ever and ever….The Asiatics shall fall before his carnage, and the Libyans shall fall before his flame….There shall be built the ‘WALL OF THE PRINCE [RULER],’ and the Asiatics shall not (again) be suffered to go down into Egypt.

Here the NON-ROYAL DESCENT of Amenemhet I. is clearly indicated, for the phrase “son of Someone” was a common way of designating a man of good, though not princely or royal, birth. According to George Rawlinson: “There is NO INDICATION OF ANY RELATIONSHIP between the kings of the twelfth and those of the eleventh dynasty; and it is a conjecture not altogether improbable, that the Amen-em-hat who was the FOUNDER OF THE TWELFTH DYNASTY was descended from THE FUNCTIONARY OF THE SAME NAME, who under Mentuhotep II. [of the previous dynasty] executed commissions of importance. At any rate, he makes NO PRETENSION TO ROYAL ORIGIN, and the probability would seem to be that he attained the throne NOT THROUGH ANY CLAIM OF RIGHT, but by his own personal merits. (History of Ancient Egypt. Dodd, Mead & Co., N.Y. 1882, pp.146-147).

“His own personal merits” probably included conspiracy: “We have to suppose that at a given moment he CONSPIRED AGAINST HIS ROYAL MASTER [last king of the 11th Dynasty], and perhaps after some years of confusion mounted the throne IN HIS PLACE. A recent discovery lends colour to this hypothesis. A Dyn. XVIII inscription extracted from the third pylon at Karnak names after Nebhepetre and Sankhkare a ‘GOD’S FATHER’ SENWOSRE who from his title can only have been the NON-ROYAL PARENT of Ammenemes I [Greek form of Amenemhet].” (Egypt of the Pharaohs, by Sir Alan Gardiner. Oxford University Press, England. 1961, p.125).

The inscriptions on the monuments make it clear that his elevation to the throne of Egypt was no peaceful hereditary succession, but a STRUGGLE for the crown and scepter that continued for some time. He fought his way to the throne, and was accepted as king only because he triumphed over his rivals. After the fight was ended and the towns of Egypt subdued, the new pharaoh began to extend the borders of Egypt.

The fact that the 12th Dynasty was a “maverick” dynasty — one that did not conform to the royal blood line of the pharaohs — was well known in the 18th Dynasty. According to information provided by the family pedigrees in several tombs of the 18th Dynasty, and by texts engraved or painted on certain objects of a sepulchral nature, the ANCESTOR of the royal family of this dynasty was worshiped in the person of the old Pharaoh MENTUHOTEP OF THE 11th DYNASTY, the 57th king of the great Table of Abydos. The royal family of the 18th Dynasty considered the dynasty of Amenemhet I. to be an aberration!

According to Henry Brugsch: “The transmission of the PURE BLOOD of Mentuhotep to the king Amosis (Aahmes) of the EIGHTEENTH DYNASTY was made by the hereditary princess Aahmes-Nofertari (‘the beautiful consort of Aahmes’), who married the said king, and whose issue was regarded as the LEGITIMATE RACE of the Pharaohs of the house of Mentuhotep.” (A History of Egypt Under the Pharaohs. Second edition. John Murray, London. 1881, p. 314).

Thus, with the ascension of Amenemhet I. of the 12th Dynasty, the crown had “NOW COME INTO ANOTHER FAMILY.”

The Taming of the Nile!

Josephus’ description of the type of labor the Israelites were forced to endure under the new pharaoh is REMARKABLY SIMILAR to the observations of DIODORUS SICULUS, the first-century B.C. Greek historian:

Moeris…dug a lake of remarkable usefulness, though at a cost of INCREDIBLE TOIL. Its circumference, they say, is 3,600 stades, its depth at most points fifty fathoms. Who, then, on estimating the greatness of the construction, would not reasonably ask HOW MANY TENS OF THOUSANDS OF MEN MUST HAVE BEEN EMPLOYED [?], AND HOW MANY YEARS THEY TOOK TO FINISH THEIR WORK? No one can adequately commend the king’s design, which brings such usefulness and advantage to all the dwellers in Egypt.

Since the Nile kept NO DEFINITE BOUNDS in its rising, and the fruitfulness of the country depended upon the river’s regularity, THE KING DUG THE LAKE TO ACCOMMODATE THE SUPERFLUOUS WATER, SO THAT THE RIVER SHOULD NEITHER, WITH ITS STRONG CURRENT, FLOOD THE LAND UNSEASONABLY AND FORM SWAMPS AND FENS, nor, by rising less than was advantageous, damage the crops by lack of water. BETWEEN THE RIVER AND THE LAKE HE CONSTRUCTED A CANAL 80 STADES IN LENGTH AND 300 FEET IN BREADTH. Through this canal, at times he admitted the water of the river, at other times he excluded it, thus providing the farmers with water at fitting times by opening the inlet and again closing it scientifically and at great expense. — The Pyramids of Egypt, by I.E.S. Edwards. Viking Press, London. 1986, pp. 234-235.

These engineering marvels are noted by author J.P. Lepre: “Amenemhat III is also credited with the mighty engineering feat of constructing the irrigation canal now known as the Bahr Yusif, and of using this canal to REGULATE THE FLOW OF WATER FROM THE NILE to Lake Fayum during the flood season. This water was held there by sluices, and later let out again, at will, back to the section of the Nile from Assyout down to the Mediterranean Sea, REGULATING THE HEIGHT OF THE RIVER in that area during the dry season. This irrigation system was the PROTOTYPE for the modern High Aswan Dam.”

Although Amenemhat III was involved in several great engineering works, the Bahr Yusif endeavor is of special note. For here, two 20-mile long dykes — one straight and the other semicircular — were constructed so as to aid in the ADJUSTMENT OF THE WATER LEVEL through the use of sluices, and to reclaim 20,000 acres of farmland by enriching the soil.” (The Egyptian Pyramids. McFarland & Company, Inc. Jefferson, N.C. 1990, pp. 217-218).

Obviously, both Josephus and Diodorus Siculus are talking about THE SAME construction project carried out during the reign of AMENEMHET III. OF THE 12TH DYNASTY!



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