The Awesomeness Of The Egyptian Empire

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  • Let’s start by saying that the pharaohs of Exodus, and the time of the Israelite presence in and exit from Egypt, cannot be identified with any degree of certainty. However, the Exodus story in the Torah is very aware of typical Egyptian practices, beliefs and general lifestyle, and the Torah seeks to refute belief in Egyptian paganism and Pharaonic hegemony and to establish God as the one, awesome ruler. The Torah does this more for the sake of the Israelite people – who no doubt feared the might of a great superpower – than for the Egyptians (who typically reworked any military defeat into a success and portrayed it on a stele for the masses to admire). Not knowing the exact time and date of the Exodus pharaoh or story is not as problematic as one may think when discussing the art, history and beliefs of ancient Egypt. The Egyptians were a conservative lot, and aside from the Amarna period – a twenty-year period during the New Kingdom – Egyptian paganism and art remained pretty conventional throughout the empire’s 3000-year existence. This conventionality is in stark contrast to, let’s say, the Greeks, who saw rapid changes and developments in their art from the geometric to the Hellenistic periods, 850 BCE to 31 BCE, respectively. Though we’ve established that there is no real way of knowing which Pharaoh the Israelites were enslaved by and then defeated, it is interesting to note that the twenty-year period that marked the only time the Egyptians veered from paganism and an established artistic canon was during the reign of Akhenaton, a monotheistic ruler who worshiped the sun disk and erased all signs of paganism from his cultic center, now called Tell el-Amarna. After Akhenaton reigned, the famous Tutankhamen ruled and then Ramses II – whose name we know from the Torah, from the eponymous city. Though there were thirty Ramses, after Ramses II ruled, Egypt went into a steady decline. For the last millennium BCE, it lost the power it once held in the ancient Near East, its wealth drained away, and foreign powers took over until Alexander the Great finally conquered it fully. Some thinkers suggest then that Ramses II was the pharaoh of the Exodus story. Egypt in its heydey was a force to be reckoned with, and the goal of this presentation is to appreciate the ancient empire’s might and power and what it would have meant for someone to come along and tell the Israelites that they were going to be freed from the seemingly unbreakable hold Egypt had over them. Their probable answer: “I don’t think so.” In other words, the Israelites would have needed some pretty convincing signs that whoever was going to rescue them was going to be able to succeed, because -- hey, have you seen ancient Egypt? It’s pretty daunting. Let’s take a look . . . .
  • The Awesomeness Of The Egyptian Empire

    1. 1. THE AWESOMENESS OF THE EGYPTIAN EMPIRE
    2. 2. Upper and Lower Egypt refer to the direction in which the Nile flows, from south to north
    3. 3. The Old Kingdom: Egypt Becomes an Incredibly Impressive Force 2575-2134 BCE (And, no, the Israelites did not build the pyramids. At least not the famous ones.)
    4. 4. TIME LAUGHS AT ALL THINGS; BUT THE PYRAMIDS LAUGH AT TIME – OLD ARAB PROVERB
    5. 5. BASIC PYRAMID PLAN: KHUFU’S PYRAMID
    6. 6. THE FAMOUS GIZEH PYRAMIDS WITH THE SPHINX
    7. 7. PHARAOH AS SUN GOD
    8. 8. Brick Making in Ancient Egypt From the tomb of Rekhmire, vizier to Thutmose III, 15 th century BCE, New Kingdom
    9. 9. <ul><li>* Death was so important to the lives of the Egyptians </li></ul><ul><li>* It’s no wonder the ancient Egyptian lands around the Nile became studded with tombs. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Perhaps we can now better understand B’nei Yisrael’s remark in Shmot 14:11: וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל - מֹשֶׁה , הֲמִבְּלִי אֵין - קְבָרִים בְּמִצְרַיִם לְקַחְתָּנוּ לָמוּת בַּמִּדְבָּר :  מַה זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ לָּנוּ לְהוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם “ And they [B’nei Yisrael] said to Moshe: Was it for lack of graves in Egypt that you brought us into the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt?”
    11. 11. WHAT WE’VE LEARNED AND SEEN SO FAR <ul><li>The Egyptian culture was centered on death </li></ul><ul><li>A huge amount of labor and effort went into creating the pharaohs’ tombs. Whole cities had to be created to support the tomb projects. </li></ul><ul><li>The Pharaohs were apotheosized – made into gods </li></ul><ul><ul><li>so the Pharaoh never died </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>so the Pharaoh’s power was absolute </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The sun was worshipped </li></ul><ul><li>There is a strong life/death/rebirth mythology in Egypt </li></ul>
    12. 12. WHAT ELSE CAN WE LEARN ABOUT THE PHARAOH?
    13. 13. SO WHAT DID MUMMIES DO ALL DAY? Aside from look charming, that is
    14. 14. Mastaba of Ti, an official from the Old Kingdom (Fifth Dynasty)
    15. 15. The New Kingdom 1550-1070 BCE Era of the Exodus
    16. 16. Painted Chest from the Tomb of Tutankhamen
    17. 17. Speaking of Tut . . .
    18. 18. Tut’s Innermost Coffin
    19. 20. RAMSES II: PHARAOH OF THE EXODUS STORY? <ul><li>וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל - עַמּוֹ :  הִנֵּה עַם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל -- רַב וְעָצוּם מִמֶּנּוּ </li></ul><ul><li>הָבָה נִתְחַכְּמָה לוֹ :  פֶּן - יִרְבֶּה , וְהָיָה כִּי - תִקְרֶאנָה מִלְחָמָה וְנוֹסַף גַּם - הוּא עַל - שֹׂנְאֵינוּ , וְנִלְחַם - בָּנוּ , וְעָלָה מִן - הָאָרֶץ </li></ul>EXODUS 1:9 EXODUS 1:10 And he [the pharaoh] said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us. Let us deal shrewdly with them, so that they may not increase; otherwise in the event of war they may join our enemies in fighting against us and rise from the ground.”
    20. 21. Stela of Khusobek <ul><li>1  His majesty proceeded northward, to overthrow the Asiatics (mnTjw-sTt [ 1 ]) . His majesty arrived at a district, Sekmem (skmm) was its name. 2  His majesty led the good way in proceeding to the palace of &quot;Life, Prosperity and Health&quot;, when Sekmem had fallen, together with Retenu (rTnw) the wretched, 3  while I was acting as rearguard. </li></ul><ul><li>Then the citizens (anxw) of the army mixed in, to fight with the Asiatics (aAmw). Then 4 I captured an Asiatic (aAm) and had his weapons seized by two citizens (anxw) of the army, (for) one did not turn back from the fight, (but) my face was to the front, and I gave not my back to the Asiatics. </li></ul>
    21. 22. Semna Stela of Senusret III: Stela from Year 16, ca. 1862 BCE <ul><li>I captured their women, I carried off 15 their subjects, went forth to their wells, smote their bulls; I reaped their grain, and 16 set fire thereto. (I swear) as my father lives for me, I speak in truth without a lie therein, 17 coming out of my mouth. Now, as for every son of mine who shall maintain this boundary, 18 which my majesty has made, he is my son, he is born to my majesty, the likeness of a son who is the champion of his father, 19 who maintains the boundary of him who begat him. Now, as for him who shall relax it, and shall not fight 20 for it; he is not born to me. </li></ul><ul><li>Now, behold, my majesty caused a statue 21 of my majesty to be made upon this boundary, which my majesty made; in order the ye might prosper because of it, and in order that ye might fight for it. ye might prosper: </li></ul><ul><li>J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt , Part One, §§ 656ff </li></ul>
    22. 23. <ul><li>וַיָּשִׂימוּ עָלָיו שָׂרֵי מִסִּים , לְמַעַן עַנֹּתוֹ בְּסִבְלֹתָם ; וַיִּבֶן עָרֵי מִסְכְּנוֹת , לְפַרְעֹה -- אֶת - פִּתֹם , וְאֶת - רַעַמְסֵס </li></ul><ul><li>So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor; and they built garrison cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Ramses. </li></ul><ul><li>Exodus 1:11 </li></ul>
    23. 24. RAMSES II BEGAN MANY NEW BUILDING PROJECTS 45 foot colossal statue of Ramses II with his daughter Bent’anta
    24. 25. Abu Simbel: Ramses II’s Temple
    25. 26. Abu Simbel, Approached by Boat
    26. 27. Interior of Abu Simbel
    27. 28. <ul><li>Credits: </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 3: http://www.arthistory.upenn.edu.smr04/101910/Slide2.31.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 4: www.geog.pkstate.edu/113web/images/Figure2.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 6: www.traveladventures.org/continents/africa/images/pyramids3 . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 7: www.mnsu.edu/prehistory/egypt/images/architecture-images/cheopspyramidlayout.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 8: www.digitaldutch.com/imagepages/image9.html . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 9: www.greenwichmeantime.com/time-zone/africa/egypt/images/pyramids . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 11: http://www.luxor-westbank.com/bilder/seheswuerdigkeiten/map_theban_sites_e.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 14: Khafre: http://egyptphoto.net.ca/egyptian%20musuem4.htm . </li></ul><ul><li>Statue of Khafre, arm: http://geocities.com/unforbidden_geology/khafre_statue_3.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Statue of Khafre, feet: http://geocities.com/unforbidden_geology/Khafre_statue_1.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Statue of Khafre, profile head view: http://marysia.com/pagan/Kephren_and_Horus.gif . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 15: http://www.crbz.k12.wy.us/users/pkraft/Egypt/Ramses%20II020mummy.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 16: Ti’s mastaba: www.philae.nu/akhet/TiEntrance.gif </li></ul><ul><li>Ti’s hunting scene: www.philae/nu/akhet/Hippohunt.gif </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 18: Painted chest: www.nilemuse.com/muse/TutBoxF.html . </li></ul><ul><li>Detail of painted chest: www.specialtyinterests.net/dyn22.html . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 19: Map: www.britannica.com/cb/art/print?id=55135&articleTypeID=0 . </li></ul><ul><li>Valley of the Kings: www.homestead.com/wysinger/burial2.jpg </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 20: Right photo: www.homestead.com/wysinge//MiddleCoffinRightView.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Left photo: www.bornemania.com/ancient_egypt/tut_ank_amon/tut-inner-coffin.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 21: Death mask, front view: www.homestead.com/wysinger/files/54_tut.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Details of front of Tutankhamen’s death mask: www.homestead.com/wysinger/KingTutankhamen5.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Back of Tutankhamen’s death mask: www.homestead.com/wysinger/b_mask_bk.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 23: http://nefertiti/webland.com/texts/djaa.htm . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 24: http://nefertiti/webland.com/texts/semna_stela.htm . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 25: http://nefertiti/webland.com/timelines/topics/workrelations.htm . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 26: Colossal statue of Ramses II: http://www.sights-and-culture.com/Egypt/Karnak-Ramses7085.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Ramses II with Sphinx: www.galenfrysinger.com/egypt_Karnak12.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 27: www.utexas.edu/courses/classicalarch/images/AbuRamIID19.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 28: http://homepage.powerup.comau/~ancient/abusim/.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Slide 29: Main hall, Abu Simbel: http://witcombe.sbc.edu/sacredplaces/images/abusimbelint.jpg . </li></ul><ul><li>Innermost shrine: http://witcombe.sbc.edu/sacredplaces/images/abusimbelshrine.jpg . </li></ul>

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