Isaiah 9 points to both King Hezekiah of Judah and Jesus the Christ



Damien F. Mackey


“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on

his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.

 Isaiah 9:6




Some Christians will, due to ignorance, take an event (or events) literally fulfilled already in BC time and project it onto a modern (AD) landscape. And they will take a biblical reference directed to a specific BC personage and try to make it apply in a literal sense to Jesus Christ.



There are various recognised levels of scriptural interpretation and we firstly need to address the literal (“plain meaning”) level, even though this may not be the most important level of interpretation.

Since the sacred scriptures are relevant for all times, it may be that, say, a book of scripture has remarkable resonance with our own times, though its literal aspect is based wholly in non-contemporaneous events. Many, for instance, try to bend the data of the Book of Apocalypse, or Revelation, to fit contemporary, or anticipated near future, events.

But that is a complete waste of time.

The Apocalypse is, for its most part, centred upon events leading up to, and culminating in, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (conventional dating). See e.g. my series:


Book of Revelation Theme: The Bride and the Reject


Book of Revelation Theme. The Bride and the Reject. Part Two: The “Seven Hills” cannot pertain to Rome

Book of Revelation Theme. The Bride and the Reject. Part Three: Jerusalem allegedly has “Seven Hills”

Isaiah 7, with its famous sign of the child Immanuel, cannot reasonably be projected, in its literal sense, to the era of Jesus Christ, because Immanuel was a literal son of the prophet Isaiah and the era was clearly the Assyrian era.

But, on a higher (spiritual) level, the text is perfectly applicable to Jesus Christ, who – though not named “Immanuel” at the time of his birth (Matthew 1:21): ‘you shall call his name Jesus’ – was, as a divine Person, more perfectly an Emmanuel (“God is with us”) than Isaiah’s son could ever be.

And this use of double identification is, I believe, the way that we should approach Isaiah 9. Whilst Christians can try to make the whole thing apply to Jesus Christ, and to him alone, and some Jewish commentators, for example, can make it apply to a BC person, say King Hezekiah, I would take it to apply literally to a BC person, but spiritually to Jesus Christ.

And my preference for the former would definitely be King Hezekiah of Judah – but I would now supplement him with his alter ego (as I see it) King Josiah of Judah. See e.g. my article:


‘Taking aim on’ king Amon – such a wicked king of Judah


Now, Grace Song has done exactly this, connected the Isaian text to both Hezekiah and Jesus:


Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 10, Number 14, April 2 to April 8, 2006


Hezekiah or Jesus:


Who is the Child of Isaiah 9:6-7

by Grace Song

I.             Viewpoint One

There are some Christian Old Testament scholars who treat the prophecy in Isaiah 9 as referring to the birth of Hezekiah. There are several issues to be considered in interpretation of the passage.

1) With respect to the child: The issue is whether the passage is referring to literal birth or royal succession. R. E. Clement translates the verse 6 as “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given”, and proposes that it should be understood as a reference to a royal succession and not to a literal birth. Thus, he concludes that the passage is referring to the accession of Hezekiah after the death of Ahaz. Gray in The International Critical Commentary also takes the child in verse 6 as referring to Hezekiah. He writes, “The ideal standpoint of the poet seems to be shortly after the birth of the prince, after he has been recognized as prince of Israel, but before the wide extension of his kingdom has begun.” 1

Wildberger also points out the usage of the imperfect consecutive tense and suggests that this birth is not in the distant future but it has possibly already taken place.And in the same light, Wildberger takes the phrase “the sovereign authority came upon (cf. the imperfect consecutive) his shoulder” as that will make most sense in the context of a royal enthronement: “This sentence does not assert something about enthronement but must be interpreted as an act of investiture, by means of which the child is officially elevated to the status of crown prince and is proclaimed the future ruler.” 2

2) With respect to the names: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace: Clement claims that these titles portray various functions of the king, using the imagery and ideology of Egyptian origin: “The series of four names which follow, built up in word couples, almost certainly derives from the Egyptian practice of giving throne names to the Pharaoh…The Egyptian practice was for a series of five names to be given, suggesting that this was originally the case here, and that one name has been lost in the transmission.” 3 Clement explains the titles as follows: Wonderful Counselor describes the king’s role as political guide; Mighty God emphasizes the extraordinary skill and strength of the king as a warrior. However, Wildberger cautions against watering down the title and understanding it as anything less than “mighty God”. He explains the title in relation to the ancient Near Eastern idea of kingship, in which the king was portrayed as the divinity whom he represents; Everlasting Father should be understood as “father for ever’ and expresses the king’s fatherly concern for the well-being of his people. (Gray also understands the third title as “Father forever” rather than as “Eternal Father”, and takes its meaning as “the benevolent guardian of his people so long as he and they endure.” He supports his view by giving other instances in which the word “forever” was used in the Old Testament which do not necessitate understanding the title as equivalent to “Eternal Father”, which implies the eternity of God: Is.47:7: ” You said, ‘I will continue forever — the eternal queen…”; Dt 15:17: “Then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever…” Gray also directs attention to Job 29:16 and Is 22:21 where “father” was used figuratively of a protector and benefactor.) ; Prince of Peace underscores the king’s role as the promoter of peace and prosperity.

3) With respect to the nature of the promise in verse 7: Clement takes the proclamation in verse 7, “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace…” as a promise of a solid and independent kingdom under a Davidic ruler rather than a promise of a great universal kingdom ruling over many nations — which was fulfilled in the accession of Hezekiah who provided a reprieve for the dynasty. Gray also takes the similar approach to the promise in verse 7 and understands the main thought of the promise to be that Yahweh will establish and secure a righteous and just government under the new Davidic dynasty. Wildberger finds several motif in verse 7: the motif of stable order, the possibility of flourishing development, the steadfastness and permanence of the rule, and the quality of the rule as that of justice and righteousness. Yet Wildberger also cautions against taking the motif of duration in the sense of a strict eschatology. His view is recapitulated in the following: “This section, 9:1-6, is targeted for a time which addresses a situation full of distress brought on by foreign domination … The message is thus not about an absolute, unalterable, eternal plan of salvation wrought by God. Even if it were incorrect to connect this message with events surrounding the loss of the territory of Israel to the Assyrians, the ‘darkness’ through which the people were traveling would not refer to the human condition in general…Isaiah is talking about the birth of a crown prince, from the house of David. It has either already taken place or, if “child” and “give” in v.5 are to be interpreted as prophetic perfects, it will happen in the very near future. … We have already mentioned that the widespread term ‘messianic’ is problematic as a designation for this present section. There is no place in the OT which speaks of a Messiah as a savior figure who comes forth out of the transcendent regions and brings world history to an end. The child, about whose birth Isaiah speaks in this passage, will sit upon the throne of David in Jerusalem. Yet without a doubt, his birth is a salvation event; the future ahead of him will be more than just a drawn out continuation of the present; it is indeed still history in the normal, earthly-human realm, but it is at the same time fulfilled history. ” 4


II. Viewpoint Two


On the other side are scholars such as John Oswalt and J. A. Alexander who take the birth of the child in verse 6 as referring to the birth of Jesus Christ. Both Oswalt and Alexander reject the view that Isaiah 9:6 is simply a recognition of the birth of the crown prince Hezekiah for the following reasons: 1) Such view does not accord with the chronology of Hezekiah’s birth; 2) The description of the child cannot be applied to merely a human king; 3) The nature of the rule promised in verse 7 transcends a normal earthly rule.

According to Oswalt, the titles in verse 6 are above normal and highlight the ultimate deity of the child.

Against the attempts to understand the titles as reference to the Egyptian throne names, he gives the following arguments. First, the customary practice of Egypt was to give five throne-names to the king upon his accession. But there are only four names in Isaiah 9; and only speculating some kind of emendation can add fifth. Second, this is a birth announcement and not an enthronement hymn. Third, the Egyptian throne-names were expression of their belief that the kings were gods — a belief that goes against the grain of Hebrew monotheism. 5

Oswalt also repudiates the attempt to deny divine attributes inherent in the titles. For example with respect to the rendering of “Mighty God” as “great hero”, he writes, “Apart from the attempt to deny deity to the person in question, however there is no reason to depart from the traditional rendering. Wherever el gibbor elsewhere in the Bible there is no doubt that the term refers to God (10:21; cf. also Deut 10:17; Jer 32:18).” 6

Along with Oswalt, Alexander repudiates renderings with respect to “Eternal Father”– such as “benefactor of the people” and “founder of a new or everlasting age” — that exclude and discredit the obvious meaning of “an eternal being”. Besides, Motyer points out that “Father” is not current in the OT as a title of the kings, and it is used of the Lord in His concern for the helpless and the care of His people.

Furthermore, the rule promised in verse 7 transcends a normal and earthly rule. Thus it could not have been applied to Hezekiah whose rule was confined to Judah, and which was neither progressive nor perpetual. As Alexander writes, “The reign here predicted was to be not only peaceful but in every respect prosperous. And this prosperity, like the reign of which it is predicted, is to have no limit, either temporal or local. It is to be both universal and eternal…” 7

III. Evaluation


A proper two-fold consideration must be given in interpreting the Old Testament prophecy: 1) the original meanings in light of their historical backgrounds; 2) the covenant theology that undergirds prophetic writings. Frequently, Isaiah speaks to his contemporaries concerning their own times, and even his eschatological oracles issue from a historical setting.


Isaiah 9:6-7 is a part of Isaiah’s response to the Assyrian crises in the days of Ahaz, in which Ahaz fails to trust God and makes Judah an Assyrian vassal state. In the oracles of judgment and hope surrounding the event, Isaiah pronounces the royal hope of Davidide in 9:6-7. The original audience of Isaiah were Ahaz and the Judahites facing the Assyrian threat.

Thus, that these were the words of hope held out to the people living in a situation full of distress brought by Assyrians in the eighth century BC should not be dismissed, but rather should be underscored.

One of the most crucial issues in approaching this passage is understanding the relationship between messianism and the Davidic dynasty which entails the following: 1) The messianic thinking in the prophets is frequently tied up with specific historical events with the following themes: that the family of anointed kings would be subject to judgment; that however, their line would be restored after the exile; and that they would take a leading role in rebuilding the temple. The prophets often show how the Davidic covenant was to be interpreted in particular, historical circumstances. 2) The messianic aspect is inherent in the Davidic covenant.

And the messianic concepts attached to David’s dynasty brings a focus to the hopes offered by the prophets in relation to both the present and future. 3) Thus much of the messianism found in the prophets is a form of dynastic messianism (i.e., it expresses a hope that all descendants of David will be the king par excellence). 4) However, there is another side to this dynastic messianism. It also pointed to the fact that often the ruler on the throne at the time fell far short of the ideal, and thus needed to be replaced. In the end, there will be a seed of David who will not fail but bring to full realization the hopes for eternal peace and world dominion of righteousness under Davidic dynasty. 8

Furthermore, the approach of dynastic messianism to the text takes into the account the undergirding covenant theology of the prophets. Isaiah 9:1-7 seems to be a recapitulation of the Davidic covenant announced in 2 Samuel 7. In Davidic covenant, the Lord promises that David’s dynasty will never be utterly rejected, although individual Davidic king may be chastised. This promise of God to David was extended to contemporary Israelites, as well as pointing ultimately to the ideal king that is to come, the true king of par excellence typified by David, Hezekiah, and the like. Thus it is God who raises up the Davidic offspring and guarantees the continuity of the kingdom forever under the Davidic king in both Isaiah 9 and 2 Samuel 7.

Thus from all these appears that the royal hope pronounced in Isaiah 9:6-7 had its immediate reference to the Davidic king born in the prophet’s own days (i.e., Hezekiah). However, it also had a farfetching reference (despite the fact that the prophet himself probably did not have a full understanding of the exact nature of this more remote reference) to another king that is to come in ultimate and complete fulfillment of the pronounced hope — the one who is the antitype that completely and truly satisfies all the criteria of the king par excellence. As Daniel Schibler writes, “What is important is to realize that messianism in general and messianic prophecies in particular all had a beginning, a terminus quo. and an end, a terminus ad quem., and in between a whole range or history of fulfillment. But when Jesus of Nazareth had come, the early church and generations of Christian following it have believed that, ultimately speaking, every messianic prophecy, every messianism even, found its fulfillment in Jesus, the ‘Christ’ which… means the Messiah.” 9


IV. Conclusion

The major scholarly consensus with respect to approaching Isaiah 9:6-7 has been either messianic or Isaianic (i.e., that it is reference to Hezekiah as the awaited king), and not both. However, in light of “dynastic messianism”, the most appropriate approach to Isaiah 9 seems to be that which embraces both messianic and Isaianic outlook. Hezekiah does play a major role in the book of Isaiah. He is the king par excellence that replaces Ahaz, and the first to be the “child” of Isaiah 9:6. Hezekiah was the first Messiah for Isaiah and the people living in the eight century BC Judah, for Hezekiah’s birth signified God’s presence with them in a most precarious circumstance. 10 Moreover, this oracle of royal hope was to serve as a model for Hezekiah and the ensuing kings to follow.

However as Provan notes, Hezekiah as well as the rest of the earthly Davidic kings that followed– in the total effect within the context of the entire book of Isaiah — was only a type and “a paradigmatic king in whose reign the promises were in fact as yet unfulfilled, and who thus points beyond himself to another Davidic monarch to come.” 11

Thus, the ultimate fulfillment of the royal hope — announced with an immediate reference to the prophet’s own day, and with somewhat pale and shadowy understanding of its remote reference — began with the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is continuing, and will be consummated with His glorious return.



  1. 1. George B. Gray, The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T & T Clark LTD., 1980), 180.
  2. 2. Hans Wilderberger, Isaiah 1-12A Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), 400.
  3. 3. R.E. Clements, New Century Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1980), 108.
  4. 4. Wildberger, Isaiah 1-12, 406.
  5. 5. John Oswalt, The International Commentary on the OT: The Book of Isaiah 1-39(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1986), 246.
  6. 6. Ibid., 247.
  7. 7. J.A. Alexander, Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), 205.
  8. 8. Philip E. Satterthwaite, Richard Hess, and Gordon Wenham, eds., The Lord’s Anointed ( Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995), 97-104.
  9. 9. Ibid., 103.
  10. 10. Ibid., 98.
  11. 11. Ibid., 83.




A New Timetable for the Nativity of Jesus Christ. Part Two: Pope Benedict’s estimation

Image result for benedict infancy narratives


Damien F. Mackey


 “The idea that Christ was born on Dec 25 also has no basis in historical fact.

“We don’t even know which season he was born in. …”.”

 John Barton


For what I would consider to be a more reasonably estimated season for the Nativity of Jesus, see my (G. Mackinlay-based) article:


Magi guided by prophecy of Balaam and by Venus

According to what pope Benedict XVI wrote in his 2012 book on The Infancy Narratives:

the entire Christian calendar is based on a miscalculation.

Jesus was born several years earlier than commonly believed.


Well before this, in 1979, Pope John Paul II had allowed for potential chronological correction regarding the Nativity of Jesus Christ in his encyclical letter, Redemptor Hominis – On Redemption and the Dignity of the Human Race (emphasis added):


For the Church, the People of God spread, although unevenly, to the most distant limits of the earth, it will be the year of a great Jubilee. We are already approaching that date, which, without prejudice to all the corrections imposed by chronological exactitude, will recall and reawaken in us in a special way our awareness of the key truth of faith which Saint John expressed at the beginning of his Gospel: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” … and elsewhere: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ….


In Part One:

I also argued for an earlier (but indeed radical) era for the Nativity.


Nick Squires here discusses this chronological aspect of pope Benedict’s book:

though Nick’s conventional Roman-British AD history will certainly need revision.

See e.g. my four-part series:


Horrible Histories. Retracting Romans


commencing with:


Nick Squires writes:


The ‘mistake’ was made by a sixth century monk known as Dionysius Exiguus or in English Dennis the Small, the 85-year-old pontiff claims in the book ‘Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives’, published on Wednesday.


“The calculation of the beginning of our calendar – based on the birth of Jesus – was made by Dionysius Exiguus, who made a mistake in his calculations by several years,” the Pope writes in the book, which went on sale around the world with an initial print run of a million copies.

“The actual date of Jesus’s birth was several years before.”

The assertion that the Christian calendar is based on a false premise is not new – many historians believe that Christ was born sometime between 7BC and 2BC.


But the fact that doubts over one of the keystones of Christian tradition have been raised by the leader of the world’s one billion Catholics is striking.


Dennis the Small, who was born in Eastern Europe, is credited with being the “inventor” of the modern calendar and the concept of the Anno Domini era.

He drew up the new system in part to distance it from the calendar in use at the time, which was based on the years since the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian.

The emperor had persecuted Christians, so there was good reason to expunge him from the new dating system in favour of one inspired by the birth of Christ.


The monk’s calendar became widely accepted in Europe after it was adopted by the Venerable Bede, the historian-monk, to date the events that he recounted in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which he completed in AD 731.

But exactly how Dennis calculated the year of Christ’s birth is not clear and the Pope’s claim that he made a mistake is a view shared by many scholars.


The Bible does not specify a date for the birth of Christ. The monk instead appears to have based his calculations on vague references to Jesus’s age at the start of his ministry and the fact that he was baptised in the reign of the emperor Tiberius.


Christ’s birth date is not the only controversy raised by the Pope in his new book ….

He also weighs in on the debate over Christ’s birthplace, rejecting arguments by some scholars that he was born in Nazareth rather than Bethlehem.


John Barton, Professor of the Interpretation of the Holy Scripture at Oriel College, Oxford University, said most academics agreed with the Pope that the Christian calendar was wrong and that Jesus was born several years earlier than commonly thought, probably between 6BC and 4BC.

“There is no reference to when he was born in the Bible – all we know is that he was born in the reign of Herod the Great, who died before 1AD,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “It’s been surmised for a very long time that Jesus was born before 1AD – no one knows for sure.”

The idea that Christ was born on Dec 25 also has no basis in historical fact. “We don’t even know which season he was born in. The whole idea of celebrating his birth during the darkest part of the year is probably linked to pagan traditions and the winter solstice.” ….


Evolution falsified once again  

Image result for t rex dinosaur

Theory of Evolution Cartoonishly Dumb


Part Three:

Very Young Tyrannosaurus Rex Dinosaur



“Researchers working on ancient DNA had claimed previously that they had recovered DNA millions of years old, but subsequent work failed to validate

the results. The only widely accepted claims of ancient molecules were

no more than several tens of thousands of years old”.

Mary H. Schweitzer



Part One of this series:

re-visited a series of letters by Polish professor Maciej Giertych exposing evolution:


The theory of evolution is maintained for ideological reasons and not because scientific evidence supports it. If it were not for the lack of another atheistic explanation of the origin of life and of all its forms, this theory would have been dismissed by scientists long ago. In fact most scientists prefer not to get involved in the controversy over evolution because of the possible consequences to their careers. A recent example of such consequences for Dr. Rick Von Sternberg of the Smithsonian Institution can be seen discussed in a National Review article[1]. Most biologists can work in their own fields and advance academically without ever mentioning evolution and most choose not to mention it. ….


Part Two:

recalled, amongst other things, that classic quote about evolution by G. K. Chesterton:


“The evolutionists seem to know everything about the missing link

except the fact that it is missing”.



Here now, in Part Three, is another telling piece of evidence:


Evolution Falsified, Once Again


Tuesday, 02 August 2011 11:26


  1. Sungenis: In this article, field researcher Mary H. Schweitzer writes in the most prestigious science magazine today, Scientific American, about her discovery of soft tissue and blood cells in the bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur that, according to modern evolutionary dating techniques, is about 70 million years old. If it hasn’t struck you already, science tells us that organic tissue could barely last 7,000 years, much less 10,000 times 7,000 years. So what does science do with this anomaly? It pleads ignorance, and it does so while it tries to find a way to dismiss the evidence. When Ms. Schweitzer brought her evidence to Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the museum and one of the world’s foremost dinosaur authorities, after a long look under the microscope at the nucleated blood cells of the T-Rex, he said to Ms. Schweitzer: “So prove to me they aren’t.” That about sums up the history of the bias and deliberate attempts to twist the evidence in favor of evolution that occurs on a daily basis in our high school and college classrooms. Whereas Ms. Schweitzer’s find should have been hailed as one of the most astounding discoveries in history since Darwin wrote his book on the evolutionary hypothesis in 1879, she is basically assigned the impossible task of finding a way to dismiss the blood cell’s prima facie denial of evolution, and implied in that “request” is the fact that she will lose her job if she doesn’t seek an alternative answer. What does Ms. Schweitzer decide to do? The next sentence in her story tells us loud and clear. She capitulates to the reigning paradigm of modern science, without question: “It was an irresistible challenge, and one that has helped frame how I ask my research questions, even now.” So Ms. Schweitzer, in order to continue to be a member of the status quo and receive her pay check from the powers-that-be, remains an ardent evolutionist, seeking to deny the common sense knowledge her heart and mind scream at her about what it means to see blood cells in dinosaur remains.


“Blood From Stone”


By Mary H. Schweitzer

From Scientific American, December 2010


Peering through the microscope at the thin slice of fossilized bone, I stared in disbelief at the small red spheres a colleague had just pointed out to me. The tiny structures lay in a blood vessel channel that wound through the pale yellow hard tissue. Each had a dark center resembling a cell nucleus. In fact, the spheres looked just like the blood cells in reptiles, birds and all other vertebrates alive today except mammals, whose circulating blood cells lack a nucleus. They couldn’t be cells, I told myself. The bone slice was from a dinosaur that a team from the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont., had recently uncovered a Tyrannosaurus rex that died some 67 million years ago–and everyone knew organic material was far too delicate to persist for such a vast stretch of time.

For more than 300 years paleontologists have operated under the assumption that the information contained in fossilized bones lies strictly in the size and shape of the bones themselves. The conventional wisdom holds that when an animal dies under conditions suitable for fossilization, inert minerals from the surrounding environment eventually replace all of the organic molecules—such as those that make up cells, tissues, pigments and proteins—leaving behind bones composed entirely of mineral. As I sat in the museum that afternoon in 1992, staring at the crimson structures in the dinosaur bone, I was actually looking at a sign that this bedrock tenet of paleontology might not always be true—though at the time, I was mostly puzzled. Given that dinosaurs were nonmammalian vertebrates, they would have had nucleated blood cells, and the red items certainly looked the part, but so, too, they could have arisen from some geologic process unfamiliar to me.

Back then I was a relatively new graduate student at Montana State University, studying the microstructure of dinosaur bone, hardly a seasoned pro. After I sought opinions on the identity of the red spheres from faculty members and other graduate students, word of the puzzle reached Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the museum and one of the world’s foremost dinosaur authorities. He took a look for himself. Brows furrowed, he gazed through the microscope for what seemed like hours without saying a word. Then, looking up at me with a frown, he asked, “What do you think they are?” I replied that I did not know, but they were the right size, shape and color to be blood cells, and they were in the right place, too. He grunted, “So prove to me they aren’t.” It was an irresistible challenge, and one that has helped frame how I ask my research questions, even now.

Since then, my colleagues and I have recovered various types of organic remains—including blood vessels, bone cells and bits of the fingernail-like material that makes up claws—from multiple specimens, indicating that although soft-tissue preservation in fossils may not be common, neither is it a one-time occurrence. These findings not only diverge from textbook description of the fossilization process, they are also yielding fresh insights into the biology of bygone creatures. For instance, bone from another T.rex specimen has revealed that the animal was a female that was “in lay” (preparing to lay eggs) when she died—information we could not have gleaned from the shape and size of the bones alone. And a protein detected in remnants of fibers near a small carnivorous dinosaur unearthed in Mongolia has helped establish that the dinosaur had feathers that, at the molecular level, resembled those of birds.

Our results have met with a lot of skepticism—they are, after all, extremely surprising. But the skepticism is a proper part of science, and I continue to find the work fascinating and full of promise. The study of ancient organic molecules from dinosaurs has the potential to advance understanding of the evolution and extinction of these magnificent creatures in ways we could not have imagined just two decades ago.



Extraordinary claims, as the old adage goes, require extraordinary evidence. Careful scientists make every effort to disprove cherished hypotheses before they accept that their ideas are correct. Thus, for the past 20 years I have been trying every experiment I can think of to disprove the hypothesis that the materials my collaborators and I have discovered are components of soft tissues from dinosaurs and other long-gone animals.

In the case of the red microstructures saw in the T.rex bone, I started by thinking that if they were related to blood cells or to blood cell constituents (such as molecules of hemoglobin or heme that had clumped together after being released from dying blood cells), they would have persisted in some, albeit possibly very altered, form only if the bones themselves were exceptionally well preserved. Such tissue would have disappeared in poorly preserved skeletons. At the macroscopic level, this was clearly true. The skeleton, a nearly complete specimen from eastern Montana—officially named MOR 555 and affectionately dubbed “Big Mike”—includes many rarely preserved bones. Microscope examination of thin sections of the limb bones revealed similarly pristine preservation. Most of the blood vessel channels in the dense bone were empty, not filled with mineral deposits as is usually the case with dinosaurs. And those ruby microscopic structures appeared only in the vessel channel, never in the surrounding bone or in sediments adjacent to the bones, just as should be true of blood cells.

Next, I turned my attention to the chemical composition of the blood cell look-alikes. Analyses showed that they were rich in iron, as red blood cells are, and that the iron was specific to them. Not only did the elemental makeup of the mysterious red things (we nicknamed them LLRTs, “little round red things”) differ from that of the bone immediately surrounding the vessel channels, it was also utterly distinct from that of the sediments in which the dinosaur was buried. But to further test the connection between the red structures and blood cells, I wanted to examine my samples for heme, the small iron-containing molecule that gives vertebrate blood its scarlet hue and enables hemoglobin proteins to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Heme vibrates, or resonates, in telltale patterns when it is stimulated by tuned lasers, and because it contains a metal center, it absorbs light in a very distinct way. When we subjected bone samples to spectroscopy tests-which measure the light that a given material emits, absorbs or scatters-our results showed that somewhere in the dinosaur’s bone were compounds that were consistent with heme.

One of the most compelling experiments we conducted took advantage of the immune response. When the body detects an invasion by foreign, potentially harmful substances, it produces defensive proteins called antibodies that can specifically recognize, or bind to, those substances. We injected extracts of the dinosaur bone into mice, causing the mice to make antibodies against the organic compounds in the extract. When we then exposed these antibodies to hemoglobin from turkeys and rats, they bound to the hemoglobin–a sign that the extracts that elicited antibody production in the mice had included hemoglobin or something very like it. The antibody data supported the idea that Big Mike’s bones contained something similar to the hemoglobin in living animals.

None of the many chemical an immunological tests we performed disproved our hypothesis that the mysterious red structures visible under the microscope were red blood cells from a T. rex. Yet we could not show that the hemoglobinlike substance was specific to the red structures—the available techniques were not sufficiently sensitive to permit such differentiation. Thus, we could not claim definitively that they were blood cells. When we published our findings in 1997, we drew our conclusions conservatively, stating that hemoglobin proteins might be preserved and that the most likely source of such proteins was the cells of the dinosaur. The paper got very little notice



Through the T. rex work, I began to realize just how much fossil organics stood to reveal about extinct animals. If we could obtain proteins, we could conceivably decipher the sequence of their constituent amino acids, much as geneticists sequence the “letters” that make up DNA. And like DNA sequences, protein sequences contain information about evolutionary relationships between animals, how species change over time and how the acquisition of new genetic traits might have conferred advantages to the animals possessing those features. But first I had to show that ancient proteins were present in fossils other than the wonderful T.rex we had been studying. Working with Mark Marshall, then at Indiana University, and wit h Seth Pincus and John Watt, both at Montana State during this time, I turned my attention to two well-preserved fossils that looked promising for recovering organics.

The first was a beautiful primitive bird named Rahonavis that paleontologists form Stony Brook University and Marcalester College had unearthed form deposits in Madagascar dating to the Late Cretaceous period, around 80 million to 70 million years ago. During excavation they had noticed a white, fibrous material on the skeleton’s toe bones, No other bone in the quarry seemed to have the substance, nor was it present on any of the sediments there, suggesting that it was part of the animal rather than having been deposited on the bones secondarily. They wondered whether the material might be akin to the strong sheath made of keratin protein that covers the toe bones of living birds, forming their claws, and asked for my assistance.

Keratin proteins are good candidates for preservation because they are abundant in vertebrates, and the composition of this protein family makes them very resistant to degradation—something that is nice to have in organs such as skin that are exposed to harsh conditions. They come in two main types: alpha and beta. All vertebrates have alpha keratin, which in humans makes up hair and nails and helps the skin to resist abrasion and dehydration. Beta keratin is absent from mammals and occurs only in birds and reptiles among living organisms.

To test for keratins in the white material on the Rahonavis toe bones, we employed many of the same techniques I had used to study T. rex. Notably, antibody tests indicated the presence of both alpha and beta keratin. We also applied additional diagnostic tools. Other analyses, for instance, detected amino acids that were localized to the toe-bone covering and also detected nitrogen (a component of amino acids) that was bound to other compounds much as proteins bind together in living tissues, including keratin. The results of all our tests supported the notion that the cryptic white material covering the ancient bird’s toe bones included fragments of alpha and beta keratin and was the remainder of its once lethal claws.

The second specimen we probed was a spectacular Late Cretaceous fossil that researchers from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City had discovered in Mongolia. Although the scientists dubbed the animal Shuvuuia deserti, or “desert bird,” it was actually a small carnivorous dinosaur. While cleaning the fossil, Amy Davidson, a technician at the museum, noticed small white fibers in the animal’s neck region. She asked me if I could tell if they were remnants of feathers. Birds are descended from dinosaurs, and fossil hunters have discovered a number of dinosaur fossils that preserve impressions of feathers, so in theory the suggestion that Shuvuuia had a downy coat was plausible. I did not expect that a structure as delicate as a feather could have endured the ravages of time, however. I suspected the white fibers instead came from modern plants or from fungi. But I agreed to take a closer look.

To my surprise, initial tests ruled out plants or fungi as the source of the fibers. Moreover, subsequent analyses of the microstructure of the strange white strands pointed to the presence of keratin. Mature feathers in living birds consist almost exclusively of beta keratin. If the small fibers on Shuvuuia were related to feathers, then they should harbor beta keratin alone, in contrast to the claw sheath of Rahonavis, which contained both alpha and beta keratin. That, in fact is exactly what we found when we conducted our antibody tests—results we published in 1999.



By now I was convinced that small remnants of original proteins could survive in extremely well preserved fossils and that we had the tools to identify them. But many in the scientific community remained unconvinced. Our findings challenged everything scientists thought they knew about the breakdown of cells and molecules. Test-tube studies of organic molecules indicated that proteins should not persist more than a million years or so; DNA had an even shorter life span. Researchers working on ancient DNA had claimed previously that they had recovered DNA millions of years old, but subsequent work failed to validate the results. The only widely accepted claims of ancient molecules were no more than several tens of thousands of years old. In fact, one anonymous reviewer of a paper I had submitted for publication in a scientific journal told me that this type of preservation was not possible and that I could not convince him or her otherwise, regardless of our data.

In response to this resistance, a colleague advised me to step back a bit and demonstrate the efficacy of our methods for indentifying ancient proteins in bones that were old, but not as old as dinosaur bone, to provide a proof of principle. Working with analytical chemist John Asara of Harvard University, I obtained proteins form mammoth fossils that were estimated to be 300,000 to 600,000 years old. Sequencing of the proteins using a technique called mass spectrometry indentified them unambiguously as collagen, a key component of bone, tendons, skin and other tissues. The publication of our mammoth results in 2002 did not trigger much controversy. Indeed, the scientific community largely ignored it. But our proof of principle was about to come in very handy.

The next year a crew from the Museum of the Rockies finally finished excavating another T. rex skeleton, which at 68 million years old is the oldest one to date. Like the younger T. rex, this one—called MOR 1125 and nicknamed “Brex,” after discoverer Bob Harmon—was recovered from the Hell Creek Formation in eastern Montana. The site is isolated and remote, with no access for vehicles, so a helicopter ferried plaster jackets containing excavated bones from the site to the camp. The jacket containing the leg bones was too heavy for the helicopter to lift. To retrieve them, then, the team broke the jacket, separated the bones and rejacketed them. But the bones are very fragile, and when the original jacket was opened, many fragments of bone fell out. These were boxed up for me. Because my original T. rex studies were controversial, I was eager to repeat the work on a second T. rex. The new find presented the perfect opportunity.

As soon as I laid eyes on the first piece of bone I removed from that box, a fragment of thighbone, I knew the skeleton was special. Lining the internal surface of this fragment was a thin, distinct layer of a type of bone that had never been found in dinosaurs. This layer was very fibrous, filled with blood vessel channels, and completely different in color and texture from the cortical bone that constitutes most of the skeleton. “Oh, my gosh, it’s a girl—and it’s pregnant!” I exclaimed to my assistant, Jennifer Wittmeyer, She looked at me like I had lost my mind. But having studied bird physiology, I was nearly sure that this distinctive feature was medullary bone, a special tissue that appears for only a limited time (often for just about two weeks), when birds are in lay, and that exists to provide an easy source of calcium to fortify the eggshells.

One of the characteristics that sets medullary bone apart from other bone types is the random orientation of its collagen fibers, a characteristic that indicates very rapid formation. (This same organization occurs in the first bone laid down when you have a fracture—that is why you feel a lump in healing bone.) The bones of a modern-day bird and all other animals can be demineralized using mild acids to reveal the telltale arrangement of the collagen fibers. Wittmeyer and I decided to try to remove the minerals. If this was medullary bone and if collagen was present, eliminating the minerals should leave behind randomly oriented fibers. As the minerals were removed, they left a flexible and fibrous clump of tissue. I could not believe what we were seeing. I asked Wittmeyer to repeat the experiment multiple times. And each time we placed the distinctive layer of bone in the mild acid solution, fibrous stretchy material remained—just as it does when medullary bone in birds is treated in the same way.

Furthermore, when we then dissolved pieces of the denser, more common cortical bone, we obtained more soft tissue. Hollow, transparent, flexible, branching tubes emerged from the dissolving matrix—and they looked exactly like blood vessels. Suspended inside the vessels were either small, round red structures or amorphous accumulations of red material. Additional demineralization experiments revealed distinctive-looking bone cells called osteocytes that secrete the collagen and other components that make up the organic part of bone. The whole dinosaur seemed to preserve material never seen before in dinosaur bone.

When we published our observations in Science in 2005, reporting the presence of what looked to be collagen, blood vessels and bone cells, the paper garnered a lot of attention, but the scientific community adopted a wait-and see attitude. We claimed only that the material we found resembled these modern components—not that they were one and the same. After millions of years, buried in sediments and exposed to geochemical conditions that varied over time, what was preserved in these bones might bear little chemical resemblance to what was there when the dinosaur was alive. The real value of these materials could be determined only if their composition could be discerned. Our work had just begun.

Using all the techniques honed while studying Big Mike, Rathonavis, Shuvuuia and the mammoth, I began an in-depth analysis of this T.rex’s bone in collaboration with Asara, who had refined the purification and sequencing methods we used in the mammoth study and was ready to try sequencing the dinosaur’s much older proteins. This was a much harder exercise, because the concentration of organics in the dinosaur was orders of magnitude less than in the much younger mammoth and because the proteins were very degraded. Nevertheless, we were eventually able to sequence them. And, gratifyingly, when our colleague Chris Organ of Harvard compared the T.rex sequences with those of a multitude of other organisms, he found that they grouped most closely with birds, followed by crocodiles—the two groups that are the closest living relatives of dinosaurs.



Our papers detailing the sequencing work, published in 2007 and 2008, generated a firestorm of controversy, most of which focused on our interpretations of the sequencing (mass spectrometry) data. Some dissenters charged that we had not produced enough sequences to make our case; others argued that the structures we interpreted as primeval soft tissues were actually biofilm—“slime” produced by microbes that had invaded the fossilized bone. There were other criticisms, too. I had mixed feelings about their feedback. On one hand, scientists are paid to be skeptical and to examine remarkable claims with rigor. On the other hand, science operates on the principle of parsimony—the simplest explanation for all the data is assumed to be the correct one. And we had supported our hypothesis with multiple lines of evidence

Still, I knew that a single gee-whiz discovery does not have any long-term meaning to science. We had to sequence proteins form other dinosaur finds. When a volunteer accompanying us on a summer expedition found bones from and 80-million-year-old plant-eating duckbill dinosaur called Brachylophosaurus canadensis, or “Brachy,” we suspected the duckbill might be a good source of ancient proteins even before we got its bones out of the ground. Hoping that is might contain organics, we did everything we could to free it from the surrounding sandstone quickly while minimizing its exposure to the elements. Air pollutants, humidity fluctuations and the like would be very harmful to fragile molecules, and the longer the bone was exposed, the more likely contamination and degradation would occur.

Perhaps because of this extra care—and prompt analyses—both the chemistry and the morphology of this second dinosaur were less altered than Brex’s. As we had hoped, we found cells embedded in a matrix of white collagen fibers in the animal’s bone. The cells exhibited long, thin, branchlike extensions that are characteristic of osteocytes, which we could trace from the cell body to where they connected to other cells. A few of them even contained what appeared to be internal structures, including possible nuclei.

Furthermore, extracts of the duckbill’s bone reacted with antibodies that target collagen and other proteins that bacteria do not manufacture, refuting the suggestion that our soft-tissue structures were merely biofilms. In addition, the protein sequences we obtained from the bone most closely resembled those of modern birds, just as Brex’s did. And we sent samples of the duckbill’s bone to several different labs for independent testing, all of which confirmed our results. After we reported these findings in Science in 2009, I heard no complaints.

Our work does not stop here. There is still so much about ancient soft tissues that we do not understand. Why are these materials preserved when all our models say they should be degraded? How does fossilization really occur? How much can we learn about animals from preserved fragments of molecules? The sequencing work hints that analyses of this material might eventually help to sort out how extinct species are related—once we and others build up bigger libraries of ancient sequences, and sequences from living species, for comparison, As these databases expand, we may be able to compare sequences to see how member of lineage changed at the molecular level. And by rooting these sequences in time, we might be able to better understand the rate of this evolution. Such insights will help scientists to piece together how dinosaurs and other extinct creatures responded to major environmental changes, how they recovered from catastrophic events, and ultimately what did them in.



+5#12011-08-11 10:19

Ms. Mary Schweitzer asks, “Why are these materials preserved when all our models say they should be degraded?” A simple $600 experiment test for C-14 in one of 10 Accelerated Mass Spectrometer (AMS) laboratories in the USA would answer that. The half life for the radioactive decay of C-14 is 5,730 years and AMS equipment can detect each atom of C-14 with reasonable accuracy to about eight half-lives or about 50,000 years.

Since 1990 there has been a steady stream of reports of finding C-14 in dinosaur bones and other “ancient” fossils with a definitive report being published in a book written in 2009 entitled “Evolutionism: The Decline of an Hypothesis.” C-14 dates of 23,170 ±170 to 30,890 ± 200 years were reported for dinosaur bone collagen in the paper entitled: “Recent C-14 Dating of Fossils Including Dinosaur Bone Collagen. The results appear to be a confirmation of rapid formation of the geologic column as modern sedimentology studies have predicted.”



Pharaohs known to Old Testament Israel

Image result for pharaohs of bible

Part One: Naming the ruler as “Pharaoh”



Damien F. Mackey



Ishmael, whose toledôt history records the abduction of Sarai, was born of

an Egyptian mother, Hagar, and later married an Egyptian, and so accordingly,

perhaps, follows Egyptian practice.




Pharaoh One: Genesis 12:10-20


The ruler of Egypt who abducted Abram’s wife, Sarai, at the time of the famine, is simply called “Pharaoh”:


Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.

When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.


He seems to be, from this text, a not entirely unreasonable character.

The same may be said about the “Pharaoh” of Joseph also at the time of a famine.


The life of Moses, though, right down to the Exodus (80 years), experienced only persecuting, hard-hearted pharaohs.


Now, it was standard practice amongst the early Egyptian scribes not to name their Pharaoh (see e.g. professor A. S. Yahuda’s The Language of the Pentateuch in its Relation to Egyptian, Oxford, 1933), despite the fact that the rulers of Egypt had a multiplicity of names. Ishmael, whose toledôt history records the abduction of Sarai, was born of an Egyptian mother, Hagar (some traditions say that she was the daughter of Pharaoh), and he later married an Egyptian, and accordingly, perhaps, followed Egyptian practice. Moses, having been educated in Egypt (Acts 7:22) would have been expected to – and does in fact – do the same. And before Moses, Joseph must have become thoroughly Egyptianised as to court protocol and Egyptian etiquette.


However, when we come to Isaac’s toledôt history, telling the same story of the abduction of Sarai – but whom Isaac names, Sarah (his actual mother):


Toledôt Explains Abram’s Pharaoh


–  the Pharaoh is finally named. He is “Abimelech”.

In my article (above) we even find that the elements, “Pharaoh” and “Abimelech”, connecting in a chiastic structure – although this does not inevitably mean personal identity.

Isaac (or whoever wrote his toledôt) was under no such constraint to follow Egyptian practice.

This may bring us to another point that will be raised in this series. The name given to a biblical pharaoh may not necessarily be an Egyptian name, but simply the name by which that ruler is known to the Hebrews (Israelites, Jews). Still, “Abimelech” may be compatible in meaning with an Egyptian-style name. See my article:


Comparing the Meaning of Names “Abimelech” and Egyptian “Raneb”


“… the majority of scholars believe that Abimelech was not really a personal name but rather a Philistine royal title, not unlike Pharaoh in EgyptCandace in Cush or Caesar in Rome”.


Egypt at this time, we have found, to have taken possession of southern Canaan (or Philistia), hence we get a “Pharaoh” who is also a “king of the Philistines” (Genesis 26:1).

And this, Abram’s “Pharaoh”, I have determined, having ruled from Abram to the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, must have been an early Pharaoh who reigned for a half century and more.
I favour for this biblical “Pharaoh” the very first dynastic ruler, Hor-Aha (Min = Menes).



For more on this, see e.g. my article:


Dr. W.F. Albright’s Game-Changing Chronological Shift


If Dr. Albright was correct in his view that the Egyptian Manium (or Mannu), against whom the Akkadian potentate Naram-Sin (c. 2200 BC conventional dating) successfully waged war, was none other than the legendary first pharaoh Menes, himself, then that must lead to the shocking conclusion that the beginning of the Egyptian dynastic history (c. 3100 BC conventional dating)

is a millennium out of whack with Akkadian history.


I have even been tempted to try to equate the name “Abimelech” with “Lehabim”, the son of Mizraim (or Egypt). Someone has picked up an old post of mine regarding this:


Genesis 10:6-14

The sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan.  The sons of Cush were Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.  Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth.  He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.”  The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.  From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.  Mizraim became the father of Ludim and Anamim and Lehabim and Naphtuhim and Pathrusim and Casluhim (from which came the Philistines) and Caphtorim.


Would not the King Abimelech, contemporary of Abram, be Lehabim (= Abim-lech), son of Mizraim?

Part Two: Who were the nameless Pharaohs of Joseph and Moses?




 “Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt”.


Exodus 1:8





Right at the beginning of my article:


Moses – may be staring revisionists right in the face. Part One: Historical Moses has presented quite a challenge


I declared this with regard to revisionists who are trying to set the biblical Joseph, historically, in the Twelfth Egyptian Dynasty, and who then have to try to find a suitable place for Moses:


If any revisionist historian had placed himself in a good position, chronologically, to identify in the Egyptian records the patriarch Joseph, then it was Dr. Donovan Courville, who had, in The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications, I and II (1971), proposed that Egypt’s Old and Middle Kingdoms were contemporaneous. That radical move on his part might have enabled Courville to bring the likeliest candidate for Joseph, the Vizier Imhotep of the Third Dynasty, into close proximity with the Twelfth Dynasty – the dynasty that revisionists most favour for the era of Moses.

Courville, however, chose to set Joseph in the (so-called Middle Kingdom) Twelfth Dynasty, the dynasty of Moses, thereby losing the opportunity historically to identify both Joseph and Moses. And certain revisionists have tended to follow him in that direction.

Some revisionists recently, though, have woken up to the fact that by far the best historical candidate (or so I have long thought) for the “new king” (מֶלֶךְ-חָדָשׁ) of Exodus 1:8 is pharaoh Amenemes (Amenemhat) I, the founder of the Twelfth Dynasty. See my article on this:


Twelfth Dynasty oppressed Israel


Joseph’s “Pharaoh” of the Famine era thus pre-dated the Twelfth Dynasty, and is best found as pharaoh Zoser of the so-called Old Kingdom’s Third Dynasty, with Joseph himself being the genius Vizier, Imhotep.


What Dr. Courville’s revision has enabled us to do, however, is to revise Egypt’s Old Kingdom in relation to the Middle Kingdom, thereby bringing the Third Dynasty (Joseph’s) into far closer proximity to the Twelfth Dynasty (Moses’s).

The “new king” of Exodus 1:8, Amenemes I, can then be linked to his pharaonic mirror-image Sixth Dynasty counterpart, pharaoh Teti:


Moses may help link 6th and 12th dynasties of Egypt


which move, in turn, facilitates the identification of Moses historically as the Sixth Dynasty’s Chief Judge and Vizier (another genius), Weni, who served pharaohs Teti, Pepi and Merenre.

Moses can then also be the Chief Judge and Vizier, Mentuhotep, of Egypt’s Twelfth Dynasty – this Mentuhotep being Dr. Courville’s actual choice for Joseph.



So far in this series we have concluded that:


The “Pharaoh” of Abram (Abraham) and Isaac was also known as “Abimelech” (may possibly be the biblical Lehabim), and may, historically, have been Hor-Aha (Min = Menes) of the First Dynasty;


The “Pharaoh” of the Famine era of Joseph was Zoser of the Third Dynasty;


The “new king” of Moses’s infancy was Teti of the Sixth Dynasty = Amenemes I of the Twelfth Dynasty.



Part Three: During United Kingdom Era


Going by memory, here, I can think of a potential three Pharaohs (biblically mentioned as such) who ruled Egypt during Israel’s era of the United Kingdom of kings Saul, David and Solomon.

The first of these was reigning at the time of King David, according to I Kings 11:15-20:


Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom. Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom. But Hadad, still only a boy, fled to Egypt with some Edomite officials who had served his father. They set out from Midian and went to Paran. Then taking people from Paran with them, they went to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house and land and provided him with food. Pharaoh was so pleased with Hadad that he gave him a sister of his own wife, Queen Tahpenes, in marriage. The sister of Tahpenes bore him a son named Genubath, whom Tahpenes brought up in the royal palace. There Genubath lived with Pharaoh’s own children.


The second one was ruler around about the beginning of the reign of Solomon (I Kings 9:16): “Pharaoh king of Egypt had attacked and captured Gezer. He then burned it, killed the Canaanites who lived in the city, and gave it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife”.


The third one, now towards the end of the reign of king Solomon, is actually named.

He is “Shishak” (I Kings 11:40): “Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to Shishak the king, and stayed there until Solomon’s death”.


Soon, I shall be adding to these a fourth, though biblically unspecified (that is, as “Pharaoh”).


If it were not for the research of Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky, in his series Ages in Chaos, we would still be floundering around within the conventional system, trying desperately to find archaeological and documentary evidence for Israel’s United Kingdom amidst the murky – and archaeologically entirely inappropriate – Third Intermediate Period (so-called) of Egyptian history (c. 1069-525 BC, conventional dating).

Velikovsky happily aligned the rise of the United Kingdom of Israel with the beginning of the famous Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty (c. 1540-1295 BC, conventional dating), now to be lowered on the timescale by some 500 years by Velikovsky. With this new scheme set in place, kings Saul and David became contemporaneous with the first Eighteenth Dynasty pharaohs Ahmose, Amenhotep I and Thutmose I.

Velikovsky, in Ages in Chaos 1 (p. 99), even claimed to have historically identified the above-mentioned “Queen Tahpenes”, as belonging to first pharaoh, Ahmose:


This was in the days of David. The pharaoh must have been one by the name of
Ahmose. Among his queens must have been one by the name Tahpenes. We open the register of the Egyptian queens to see whether Pharaoh Ahmose had a queen by this name. Her name is actually preserved and read Tanethap, Tenthape, or, possibly, Tahpenes ….


Thutmose I fits nicely into place for Velikovsky as our second Pharaoh, who attacked Gezer. Dr. John Bimson once argued that this identification appears to be supported archaeologically. I had previously written on this:


Velikovsky had identified David’s era as the same as that of the 18th dynasty pharaoh, Thutmose I, as Dr. J. Bimson tells when providing an appropriate stratigraphy (“Can there be a Revised Chronology without a Revised Stratigraphy?”, SIS: Proceedings. Glasgow Conference, April, 1978):


In Velikovsky’s chronology, this pharaoh is identified as Thutmose I [ref. Ages in Chaos, iii, “Two Suzerains”] … In the revised stratigraphy considered here, we would expect to find evidence for this destruction of Gezer at some point during LB [Late Bronze] I, and sure enough we do, including dramatic evidence of burning [ref. Dever et al., Gezer I (1970, pp.54-55 …)].

[End of quote]


Now Thutmose I’s famous (so-called) “daughter”, Hatshepsut, who does figure in the Bible, apparently, but not as a “Pharaoh” (which she would become later, nonetheless), and who was brilliantly identified by Velikovsky as the biblical Queen of Sheba (or Queen of the South), will be that fourth “Pharaoh” to whom I referred above as being “biblically unspecified”.

As to her precise relationship with pharaoh Thutmose I, I previously wrote, in:


The vicissitudinous life of Solomon’s pulchritudinous wife


Though not of royal Egyptian blood, Thutmose I had married pharaoh Amenhotep I’s sister, according to some views. ….

Thutmose I is generally considered to have become the father of Hatshepsut. “Yet”, according to Gay Robins” (“The Enigma of Hatshepsut”), “none of Thutmose I’s monuments even mentions his daughter”:


But what I have suggested is that pharaoh Thutmose I, when crowning Hatshepsut, used a tri-partite coronation ceremony that uncannily followed the tri-partite pattern of David’s coronation of his son, Solomon. See my article:


Thutmose I Crowns Hatshepsut


For kings first and second above no actual name is given as we have learned.

Both are called “Pharaoh king of Egypt”.

We have noted in this series that that was an Egyptian trait – “Pharaoh” being un-named by Egyptianised biblical writers, Ishmael (at least in his toledôt history), Joseph and Moses.

Now there is the possibility that the accounts of our first (I Kings 11) and second (I Kings 9) pharaohs in this article were recorded by the Egyptianised king Solomon (Senenmut), in his “book of the annals of Solomon” according to a verse (I Kings 11:41) following these texts.


The only “Pharaoh” who is actually named in the Bible for this particular period is our third one, “Shishak”. Chronologically speaking – especially in Velikovsky’s context of Hatshepsut as Solomon’s contemporaneous Queen of Sheba – this “Shishak” can only be, as Velikovsky had indeed identified him, pharaoh Thutmose III (the “Napoleon of Egypt”: Breasted), who reigned contemporaneously with Hatshepsut. See also my article on this:


Solomon and Sheba


for my identification of Solomon-in-Egypt as the famous, quasi-royal official, Senenmut (var. Senmut), thought by some to have been ‘the real power behind Hatshepsut’s throne’.


Moreover, the “Genubath” whom Queen Tahpenes bore to Hadad, as we read above, Velikovsky claimed to have identified, now as a people, at the time of “Shishak”/Thutmose III.

I wrote of this in my “… vicissitudinous life …” article (above) as follows:


As for “Genubath”, the son of Hadad, Velikovsky had rather strikingly identified his name amongst those giving tribute to Thutmose III, very soon after the latter’s First Campaign. Velikovsky wrote about it (in ch. iv) in “Genubath, King of Edom” (pp. 179-180):


Hadad had returned to Edom in the days of Solomon, after the death of Joab [I Kings 11:21-22]. Since then about forty years had elapsed. Genubath, his son, was now the vassal king of Edom …. Tribute from this land, too, must have been sent to the Egyptian crown; there was no need to send an expedition to subdue Edom. When Thutmose III returned from one of his inspection visits to Palestine he found in Egypt tribute brought by couriers from the land, “Genubatye”, which did not have to be conquered by an expeditionary force.


When his majesty arrived in Egypt the messengers of the Genubatye came bearing their tribute.3 [3. Breasted: Records, Vol. II, Sec. 474].


It consisted of myrrh, “negroes for attendants”, bulls, calves, besides vessels laden with ivory, ebony, and skins of panther.

Who were the people of Genubatye? Hardly a guess has been made with regard to this peculiar name. The people of Genubatye were the people of Genubath, their king, contemporary of Rehoboam.


Velikovsky had, in the course of his historical revision – and despite his obvious mistakes – managed to come up with many such brilliant and helpful identifications as this one pertaining to Genubath – an identification obviously impossible in the conventional system, with Egypt’s 18th dynasty and the biblical Genubath separated in time by some 500 years.

[End of quotes]



While there is still plenty of work to be done by revisionists, especially to modify appropriately certain controversial aspects of the “Shishak” identification, I would now consider Velikovsky’s Hatshepsut-Sheba and Thutmose III-Shishak twin identifications to be firm pillars of the revision. Revisionists who have rejected these twin links have inevitably failed to come up with any plausible alternatives.

Recently a researcher has tried to shift the identification of “Shishak” to Thutmose III’s successor, pharaoh Amenhotep II. For more detail on all of this, see my series beginning with:


Slightly Shifting “Shishak”


This writer, a Creationist believer in a biblical literalism, is inconsistent in looking for the name “Shishak” in Amenhotep II’s nebty name, when the Bible actually uses only the Egyptian prenomen or nomen whenever it actually names a pharaoh.

We shall find this to be the case in Part Four.

Here is a small, but relevant section of my interchange with this researcher in Part Two:


The article under review follows a conga-line of revisionists who have tried to find an Egyptian explanation for the biblical name, “Shishak”, in this case taking the Egyptian nebty name of pharaoh Amenhotep II, weser fau, sekha em waset, whilst admitting that:

“At first glance, this name might not look like “Shishak”.”

And with very good reason, I say. It looks nothing like it!

It certainly does look like it. I recognized it at once when I saw it. The “f” seemed to be in the way, until I researched it and discovered that they didn’t have the “f” sound back then.

I found perhaps more plausible K. Birch’s suggestion (“Shishak Mystery?”, C and C Workshop, SIS, No. 2, 1987, p. 35) that “Shishak” may derive from pharaoh Thutmose III’s Golden Horus name, Djeser-khau [“chase a cow”] (dsr h‘w): “… the (Golden) Horus names of Thutmose III comprise variations on: Tcheser-khau, Djeser-khau …”.


[End of quotes]


More than likely, though, I think that the name “Shishak” was the name by which young Thutmose III was known to king Solomon and his court in his close relationship with his relative, Hatshepsut-Sheba. Solomon had officials, secretaries, whose father was named “Shisha” (I Kings 4:1-3):


So King Solomon ruled over all Israel.

And these were his chief officials:

Azariah son of Zadok—the priest;

Elihoreph and Ahijah, sons of Shisha—secretaries ….



Part Four: During Divided Kingdom Era



Going by memory, here, I can think of a potential four Pharaohs who ruled Egypt during Israel’s era of the Divided Kingdom (c.930–c.586 BC, conventional dating).


The first of these was this enigmatic ruler at the time of Assyria’s Shalmaneser and Israel’s Hoshea (2 Kings 17:4):


 But the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was a traitor, for he had sent envoys to So king of Egypt, and he no longer paid tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore Shalmaneser seized him and put him in prison.


“So king of Egypt”.

Intriguingly, the Lucianic tradition of the LXX refers instead to “Adrammelech the Ethiopian, living in Egypt” (Duane L. Christensen, “The Identity of “King So” in Egypt”, Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 39, Fasc. 2 April., 1989, p. 141).



Vol. 39, Fasc. 2 (Apr., 1989

The second one was Tirhakah, and happily by now we have far more solid Egypto-Assyrian historical links. Tirhakah is especially famous for this incident (Isaiah 37:9-10):


Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the king of Cush, was marching out to fight against him. When he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word: ‘Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria’.’


The third one, late in the reign of King Josiah of Judah, is Necho, who actually killed Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:20-24):


After all this, when Josiah had set the Temple in order, Necho king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. But Necho sent messengers to him, saying, ‘What quarrel is there, king of Judah, between you and me?

It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you’.

Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Necho had said at God’s command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo.

Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, ‘Take me away; I am badly wounded.”  So they took him out of his chariot, put him in his other chariot and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died’.


From the Assyrian records we know that Tirhakah and Necho were contemporaneous rulers of Egypt and/or Ethiopia.

And what tightens things even further, at least according to my chronology, is that King Hezekiah of Judah, a contemporary of King Hoshea of Israel (and hence of So king of Egypt), is to be identified with Josiah of Judah (and hence was also a contemporary of Necho king of Egypt).

For this chronological tightening, see e.g. my article:


‘Taking aim on’ king Amon – such a wicked king of Judah


The fourth is this one at the time of King Nebuchednezzar II (Jeremiah 44:30):


This is what the LORD says: ‘I am going to deliver Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hands of his enemies who want to kill him, just as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the enemy who wanted to kill him’.


It needs to be said of these four named pharaohs that some may turn out to be duplicates.

That is unlikely to be the case, though, with Tirhakah and Necho, who appear from the Assyrian records to have been two distinct rulers at the time of Ashurbanipal (or Assur-bani-pal):


ASSUR-BANI-PAL (“Assur creates a son”), the grand monarque of Assyria, was the prototype of the Greek Sardanapalus, and appears probably in the corrupted form of Asnapper in Ezra iv. 10. He had been publicly nominated king of Assyria (on the 12th of Iyyar) by his father Esar-haddon, some time before the latter’s death, Babylonia being assigned to his twin-brother Samas-sum-yukin, in the hope of gratifying the national feeling of the Babylonians.

After Esar-haddon’s death in 668 B.C. the first task of Assur-bani-pal was to finish the Egyptian campaign. Tirhakah, who had reoccupied Egypt, fled to Ethiopia, and the Assyrian army spent forty days in ascending the Nile from Memphis to Thebes. Shortly afterwards Necho, the satrap of Sais, and two others were detected intriguing with Tirhakah; Necho and one of his companions were sent in chains to Nineveh, but were there pardoned and restored to their principalities. Tirhakah died 667 B.C. ….


In my reconstructed history the neo-Assyrian succession from Esarhaddon to Ashurbanipal becomes altered. Esarhaddon, following Sennacherib, is now identified as Ashurbanipal. Whilst Esarhaddon-Ashurbanipal is now further identified as Nebuchednezzar II.

See my series on this most radical revision:


Aligning Neo Babylonia with Book of Daniel. Part One: Shortening the Chaldean Dynasty


Aligning Neo-Babylonia with Book of Daniel. Part Two: Merging late neo-Assyrians with Chaldeans


I have also suggested, in light of this revision, that Necho I and Necho II of conventional history might be condensed into just the one pharaoh Necho.


What we find with our potentially four pharaohs in this article is that all of them are named:

“So”; “Tirhakah”; “Necho” and “Hophra”.

Of these, “So” – just like “Shishak” – may not be an actual Egyptian name, but the name by which the pharaoh was known to the scribes of Israel. Conventional scholars have searched long and hard for him, always destined to arrive at a dead end.

The situation is briefly summed up at:


2 Kings 17:4 says that king Hoshea sent letters to “So, King of Egypt”. No pharaoh of this name is known for the time of Hoshea (about 730 BC), during which Egypt had three dynasties ruling contemporaneously: 22nd at Tanis, 23rd at Leontopolis, and 24th at Sais. Nevertheless, this ruler is commonly identified with Osorkon IV (730–715 BC) who ruled from Tanis,[5][6] though it is possible that the biblical writer has mistaken the king with his city and equated So with Sais, at this time ruled by Tefnakht.


Dr. Courville was far closer to the mark (The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications, 1971) when he proposed for “So” the great Ramses II himself of the Nineteenth Egyptian Dynasty. Though his suggestion that “So” was derived from the Suten Bat name of Ramses II is far-fetched. Moreover, Courville had the long reign of a now-aged Ramses II concluding with the ‘So’ incident, whereas I think that the ‘So’ era would be far closer to the beginning of the reign of Ramses II. Previously I have written on this:


Courville’s hopeful derivation of the name, ‘So’, from a Suten Bat name of Ramses II is far from convincing. I wrote of this in my university thesis:

A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background




(Volume One, p. 266):


Now according to Courville’s system … Ramses II, whose reign would have terminated in 726/725 BC, must have been the biblical “King So of Egypt” with whom Hoshea of Israel conspired against the king of Assyria (2 Kings 17:4).

Courville had plausibly (in his context) suggested that the reason why ‘So’ was unable to help Hoshea of Israel was because the Egyptian king was, as Ramses II, now right at the end of his very long reign, and hence aged and feeble.

Courville had looked to find the name ‘So’ amongst the many names of Ramses II, and had opted for the rather obscure ‘So’ element in that pharaoh’s Suten Bat name, Ra-user-Maat-Sotep-en-Ra.727 (See also pp. 286-287). ….

[End of quotes]


Slightly Shifting “Shishak”


 Damien F. Mackey






Whenever a revisionist comes to light with yet another of those hopeful biblico-historical models then I invariably find this exclamation from the Book of Jeremiah springing to mind (11:13):


“For according to the number of your cities so are your gods, O Judah!”


It seems that everyone wants to be a Time Lord.

Over the past 30-35 years I have read dozens or more such hopeful revisions, each one proposing a different model.

This has led me eventually to write articles such as, “Distancing oneself from Velikovsky” (, which article includes this critical observation:


“However, the so-called “New Chronology” of [David] Rohl – somewhat similar to [Peter] James’s efforts at reconstruction – situated halfway between convention and Velikovsky, fails at virtually every point despite the optimistic advertisements. It is far inferior to the respective revisions of Courville and Martin Sieff – the latter tending to persevere with the most promising aspects of Courville and “[the] Glasgow [School”, but with excellent modifications and contributions of his own. Sieff, in fact, adopted the perfect approach to Velikovsky, by building upon his solid foundations, but also modifying him where there were problems, and rejecting outright Velikovsky’s glaring mistakes. He even wrote by far the best account of the psychology of Velikovsky (who was a psychiatrist), the fascinating “Velikovsky and His Heroes” (SIS Review, vol. v, no. 4, 1980/81, pp. 112-120)”.


A trap for young players


One must be very careful about the ramifications, further down the line, of any particular biblico-historical identification. In a new case, it is the suggestion that the biblical “Shishak” who despoiled the Temple of Yahweh, in the 5th year of king Rehoboam, was pharaoh Amenhotep II.

David Rohl, for example, was taken to task by Dale Murphie for not anticipating the biblical ramifications of Rohl’s identification of Shishak with Ramses II ‘the Great’. Thus Murphie wrote (“Critique of David Rohl’s A Test of Time”, C and C Review, 1997:1, p. 31):


“In Rohl’s historical scheme, this is a paramount issue. He gives three full chapters (4-6), plus his Preface as reinforcement, to the proposition that Ramesses II is Shishak. If he is mistaken here, the New Chronology comes under considerable threat. It is worth examining the general milieu into which Rohl thrusts Ramesses II, to see how snugly he fits. There seem to be a number of problems, stemming from biblical evidence that the regional power of Egypt became diminished and the Judaean state re-established full independence in this very period.

Firstly, given Ramesses’ 67 year reign, he would only have reached Year 22 when Asa of Judah, grandson of Rehoboam, ascended his throne. The significance of this date is that only one year previously Ramesses concluded his famous treaty with the Hittite King, Hattusilis. At this stage, with Egypt and the Hatti entering a long period of unprecedented harmony, consider the remarkably provocative actions of miniscule Judah. This tiny nation, under her new king, flouted the Egyptian/Hatti pact (which provided for mutual aid in just such an event), by starting the greatest fortress building phase of its entire history and developing a standing army of 540,000 men [II Chronicles 14:6-8] – and where did this military build up take place? Not in some distant corner of Egyptian/Hatti territory, away from prying eyes, but right in the demilitarised zone between the two powers, where all might see and not be under the slightest doubt that Judah meant business”.




Similarly, if Amenhotep II is to be Shishak, then the early to middle part of King Solomon’s reign of peace and prosperity is now set to coincide, most awkwardly, with decades of his supposed father-in-law Thutmose III’s rumbling through Syro-Palestine in campaign after successful campaign – this mighty pharaoh’s years 22-50 approximately.

Thutmose III, ‘the Napoleon of Egypt’ as he has been called.

Not much evidence in the Bible for such violent military incursions into Syro-Palestine during the high point of King Solomon’s reign.


Now, in Velikovsky’s scheme (also Courville’s and Sieff’s), no such problem occurs, with the rampant phase of Thutmose III belonging a few years after the death of Solomon.


Moreover, Velikovsky’s identification of Solomon’s pharaonic father-in-law with Thutmose I is more biologically likely (in relation to his Thutmose III as Shishak), since the reign of the father-in-law would not have so significantly overlapped the reign of the son-in-law as is the case with the article under review.


That there may be reason to query whether, as according to a common view, Thutmose III actually destroyed the city of Gezer becomes apparent from a footnote [29] to John Bimson’s important article, “Can There be a Revised Chronology Without a Revised Stratigraphy?” (SIS: Proceedings, Glasgow Conference, April, 1978), according to which: “The oft-repeated statement by Dever that Thutmose III claims to have destroyed Gezer (e.g. BA 34, 1971, p. 127; IEJ 22, 1972, p. 159; EAE II, p. 438) is untrue”. Here follows Bimson’s full footnote [29]:


“… J. D. Seger, IEJ 23 (1973), p. 250 W. G. Dever at first suggested a date as late as the reign of Thutmose IV: IEJ 20 (1970), p. 226 and Gezer I (1970), p. 55. However, he subsequently retracted this date, believing it to be too late (cf. IEJ 23, 1973, p. 26, n. 6), and suggested linking the destruction “provisionally” with the first campaign of Thutmose III (EAE II, p. 438). But Seger prefers a date earlier still (op. cit.) as also does Kempinski, IEJ 22 (1972), p. 185. The oft-repeated statement by Dever that Thutmose III claims to have destroyed Gezer (e.g. BA 34, 1971, p. 127; IEJ 22, 1972, p. 159; EAE II, p. 438) is untrue. Reliefs in the Temple of Amon at Kamak, illustrating this pharaoh’s campaigns, depict rows of Asiatic prisoners identified by the names of their towns of origin, one of which is Gezer. There is no reason to assume that this indicates the destruction of the town. For references to Asiatic campaign(s) by Thutmose I, see Breasted: Ancient Records of Egypt II (1906), pp. 28-31, 33-35; cf. Velikovsky, A in C, iii: “Two Suzerains”.”


Let us return again to Dale Murphie, who now touches on the inadequacies of Rohl’s chronology in relation to the biblical Queen of Sheba. According to Murphie:


“At the beginning of this time frame Shishak is tied chronologically to another celebrity who, like Zerah, simply cannot be ignored. On p. 178 Rohl mentions the Egyptian princess, bride of Solomon, but pays little attention to the contemporary visit of the Queen of Sheba, to whom he assigns 2 lines on p. 32 and a patronising comment about Velikovsky on p. 402. By aligning Dynasty XIX with the middle to near end of the United Monarchy of Israel, the New Chronology lacks a suitable candidate for Solomon’s celebrated visitor. It is not good enough to stay with the received opinion that she was a denizen of the south-west regions of Arabia Felix, when Josephus [Antiquities of the Jews, VIII, vi, 5] informed us that she was the Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia …. Further, the Ethiopian Kebra Nagast (The Book of the Glory of the Kings), discussing their Queen’s visit to Solomon, delivers her name as Makeda, almost identical to the royal name of Dynasty XVIII Queen Hatshepsut Makera, used repeatedly in the Dier [sic] el-Bahri mortuary complex inscriptions of her trading mission to Punt, placing the events in Dynasty XVIII”.


Note well: “… the New Chronology lacks a suitable candidate for Solomon’s celebrated visitor. It is not good enough to stay with the received opinion that she was a denizen of the south-west regions of Arabia Felix, when Josephus [Antiquities of the Jews, VIII, vi, 5] informed us that she was the Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia …”.


Where the revisions of Velikovsky, Courville and Sieff have a magnificent historical queen who fully accords with the ancient testimony of Josephus, and whose throne name, Makera (Maat-ka-re), is extremely close to the Ethiopian name for her of Makeda, these fancy pants new chronologies end up with absolutely no flesh-and-blood historical candidate whatsoever for the biblical queen. Be it Dr. John Bimson, Patrick J. Clarke, or any others, there is just no viable candidate to be found by them.

My comment on this in the case of Bimson, in “Solomon and Sheba”, is relevant here, too (


“Bimson suggested that the biblical queen was from Yemen in Arabia, but van Beek … has described the geographical isolation of Yemen and the hazards of a journey from there to Palestine and none of the numerous inscriptions from this southern part of Arabia refers to the famous queen. Civilisation in southern Arabia may not really have begun to flourish until some two to three centuries after Solomon’s era, as Bimson himself has noted … and no 10th century BC Arabian queen has ever been named or proposed as the Queen of Sheba.

If she hailed from Yemen, who was she?”


“Sheba” has brought many unstuck. Again, in my article, “The Queen of Beer(sheba)” (, I have demonstrated that Jesus Christ himself actually gave the perfect geographical co-ordinates for the kingdom of “Sheba” that would easily have been grasped by his Israelite (Jewish) audience, but that would be completely lost on modern western-minded, non-Semitically attuned, readers.


How the queen progressed from her brief period as ruler of Beersheba, to queen, then Pharaoh, of Egypt and Ethiopia (as according to ancient testimony), as the wondrous Hatshepsut, I have outlined in my recent article: “The vicissitudinous life of Solomon’s pulchritudinous wife” ( And what enormously supports my thesis (built upon the efforts of Velikovsky, Courville and Sieff), is the evidence as given in my “Solomon and Sheba” for the in-pouring of Israelite wisdom into Egypt at the time of Hatshepsut, images from Genesis, from Proverbs, and, most notably – from a chronological point of view – from David’s Psalms and Solomon’s love poetry.


The new proposal follows a conga-line of revisionists who have tried to find an Egyptian explanation for the biblical name, “Shishak”, in this case taking the Egyptian nebty name of pharaoh Amenhotep II, weser fau, sekha em waset, whilst admitting that: “At first glance, this name might not look like “Shishak”.”

And with very good reason, I say. It looks nothing like it!

I found perhaps more plausible K. Birch’s suggestion (“Shishak Mystery?”, C and C Workshop, SIS, No. 2, 1987, p. 35) that “Shishak” may derive from pharaoh Thutmose III’s Golden Horus name, Djeser-khau [“chase a cow”] (dsr h‘w): “… the (Golden) Horus names of Thutmose III comprise variations on: Tcheser-khau, Djeser-khau …”.


However, it may be a complete waste of time seeking after an Egyptian meaning for this biblical name. “Shishak” was how he was known to the Jews (and he was probably very well known to them due to the pervasive influence of his ‘stepmother’, Hatshepsut.

See “The vicissitudinous life”).

According to I Kings 4:3, there were high-ranking officials, sons of a “Shisha”, in the court of King Solomon. And there was also a biblical “Shashak” (I Chronicles 8:14).

Finally, to say something much in favour of any revisionist article that would locate the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaohs Hatshepsut and Thutmose III to the approximate time of kings David and Solomon, it will always be some half a millennium closer to chronological reality than is the Sothic-based textbook chronology. 


Hammurabi and Zimri-Lim as Contemporaries of Solomon

 Image result for zimri-lim


 Damien F. Mackey


If this reconstruction is correct, then it completely puts paid to the opinion that the Torah was influenced by the famous Law of Hammurabi. More likely, the Babylonian Code was based upon the law practiced in David’s and Solomon’s influential kingdom of Israel.

The following is a re-working of an old Christmas 2000 article of similar title.




In an article published in 1986, entitled “The Dating of Hammurabi”, its author Professor George Albert Hickman, Dean of Toronto University, argued for an early C10th BC placement for King Hammurabi of Babylon (conventionally dated to c. C19th BC); thereby making him a contemporary of David and Solomon.

Hickman went even further than this and provided an outline revision of Mesopotamian history down to the mid-C9th, which, despite certain deficiencies, rendered some very plausible synchronisms between the Mesopotamian kings and their neighbours. Surprisingly though, as far as I am aware, Hickman’s article does not appear to have stimulated much interest or discussion amongst revisionists. One possible reason for this may be that he, like Velikovsky, was not able to offer a satisfactory revision of Mesopotamian history for the troublesome el Amarna [EA] period of Pharaoh Akhnaton (conventionally dated to c.1350 BC). The effect of Hickman’s revision, in bringing Hammurabi and his dynasty down some 800-900 years, into and beyond the C10th, was to clutter the EA period all the more. He made no real attempt to tie up the loose kings that he had circulating around in this period. This is unfortunate in that EA, probably more than any other period, is in need of a satisfactory solution as regards Mesopotamian chronology if the revision is to be taken seriously by the experts.


Here, though, I wish to consolidate one area only of Hickman’s research: the era of Solomon.


Now, just as Hickman began his interesting article with mention of Zimri-Lim, king of Mari – and certain events that occurred during his reign and that of his father, Iahdulim – it will be this same Zimri-Lim who will become the central character of this article. Hickman had managed to identify most of Zimri-Lim’s outstanding contemporaries with major characters of the C10 world, but he did not actually link Zimri-Lim or his father with any particular persons. The identification of Zimri-Lim, king of Mari, will therefore be the special task of this article.


I believe that a very satisfactory identification can be made between Zimri-Lim and Rezin (or Rezon), Syrian adversary of King Solomon, and son of Eliada (I Kings 11:23). It is wholly in keeping with the framework established by Hickman for the era of Hammurabi, Zimri-Lim’s contemporary, and may thus serve to reinforce Hickman’s thesis. Logically it must follow from this identification that Zimri-Lim’s father, Iahdulim/Yahdu-Lim, be identified with Rezin’s father, Eliada.

The similarity in the names Iahdulim and Eliada is actually quite striking.


Benjaminites and Davidites


Hickman found what he believed to be the people of Saul and David in the names “Benjamites” (Benjaminites) and “Dawidum” (Davidum), cited in “three date formulas” of the kings of Mari. It was customary for ancient kings to date certain years of their reigns with reference to notable historical events that occurred within those years. Thus the kings of Mari recorded these years:


  1. “The year in which Iahdulim went to Hen and laid hands on the territory of the Benjamites.”
  2. “The year that Zimri-Lim killed the Davidum of the Benjamites.”
  3. “The year after Zimri-Lim killed the Davidum of the Benjamites.”


Hickman was quite safe, from a linguistic point of view, in associating the “Benjamites” of the Mari Letters [ML] with the biblical Benjaminites. And, since Saul belonged to the tribe of Benjamin (I Samuel 9:1-2), he was quite entitled to suggest an identification between the “Benjamites” and the peoples ruled by Saul. André Lemaire concurred with this view that the “Benjamites” of ML corresponded in name precisely to the southern tribe of Israel. More controversial, though, was Hickman’s attempted revitalization of an old and not very popular theory according to which the word “dawidum” of the letters was thought to relate to David’s name. According to Lemaire, the word “dawidum” was actually derived from a word “dabduum” meaning “defeat”.

But more pressing than the linguistic question were the powerful historical reasons why, within the context of conventional reasoning, the ML could not possibly bear any references to King David or his era. It is an undisputed fact that Zimri-Lim was a contemporary of Hammurabi, king of Babylon. We know that Hammurabi eventually overthrew Zimri-Lim and brought destruction upon Mari. And, though historians may have found Hammurabi extremely difficult to date precisely, they certainly would not question that he preceded David by more than half a millennium. Though recently dated towards the end of the C19th, Hammurabi’s era tends to shift with variations ranging up to in excess of a century. No wonder then that Dr. Courville felt compelled to describe this great king of Babylon as “floating about in a liquid chronology of Chaldea”!

Hickman, however, not bound by the stifling strictures of conventional chronology, was free to re-assess the earlier connection between the “dawidum” and the name David. As regards Lemaire’s “dabduum” he noted that the use of the letter “b” instead of “w” or “v”, did “not conclusively exclude the possibility that a word meaning ‘David'” was intended in the letters; and that in the Old Testament Hebrew “the name of David is variously written ‘Dawid’ () and ‘Dabid’ b=(/) instead of “w” or “v” ().” Even though, as he said, “current archaeological wisdom precludes it”, Hickman felt inclined nonetheless to explore the possibility that “Dawidum” related to David and that Hammurabi belonged to the Davidic era.


Here we are concerned more with historical, than philological considerations.


Shamsi-Adad’s Identity

Hickman’s first notable identification between a Mari correspondent and a C10th character was to equate Shamsi-Adad I (c.C19th BC) with David’s mighty adversary, Hadadezer, the Syrian. Not only David, but Saul also, had to contend with the aggressive kings of Zobah in Aram, or ancient Syria (I and II Samuel). Yet, according to conventional opinion, the kings of Zobah (pronounced Tzobah) are not supposed to have left any inscriptions concerning their accomplishments. In CAH, we read that the name Zobah occurs in the Assyrian documents of the C8th and C7th’s as “Subatu, Subutu or Subiti”. Josephus called Zobah, “Sophene”, and its king, “Hadad”. Accordingly, Hickman identified Shamsi-Adad, son of Ilu-kabkabu, with biblical Hadadezer, son of Rekhob. And he added that the ubiquitous Shamsi-Adad’s best known city of Shubat-Enlil was to be equated with Hadadezer’s city of Zobah or Subatu. Hickman also provided an interesting explanation as to why he thought that Rekhob, the name of Hadadezer’s father, bore “some resemblance to Ilu-kabkabu”, the name of Shamsi-Adad’s father.

The next task was to identify the regions wherein lay the kingdom of Shamsi-Adad and his alter ego Hadadezer. Shamsi-Adad’s kingdom is known to have included the plain of Assyria, stretching southward through the middle Euphrates Valley almost to the latitude of Eshnunna.

Cities described as belonging to Hadadezer were Betakh, Berothai, Tibhath or Tebah, and Chun (2 Samuel 8:8 and I Chronicles 18:8). In CAH, Tebah is identified as Late Bronze Tubikhu, Chun as Late Bronze Kunu (Roman Conna), and Berothai tentatively as Bereitan, a town south of Baalbek. Hickman added that Berothai, thought to be north of Damascus, “is probably the same as Berothai of Ezekiel 47:16, between Hamath and Damascus”.

In a date- formula from Eshnunna the army of Iasmakh-Adad, the son of Shamsi-Adad, is called “The host of Shubartu and Khana”.

Hickman suggested that Khana may possibly refer to the city of Chun in I Chronicles 18:8; and that Shubartu may be derived either “from Zobah or from Sibraim” (Ezekiel 47:16).

Shamsi-Adad boasted that he had erected triumphal stelae in Lebanon. He was allied with princes of upper Syria, notably Carchemish and Qatna, and with Hammurabi of Babylon.
We know from Scripture that Hadadezer liked to set up victory monuments; David defeated him “as he went to set up his monument at the river Euphrates(I Chronicles 18:3). Scripture records also that the Syrian was ruler of the kings beyond the river (2 Samuel 10:16, 19), i.e. the Euphrates, as later records from Assyria confirm as well.

Hickman thought that “this description resembles that of Shamsi-Adad”.

Hadadezer opposed David with phenomenal forces, but was defeated by the Israelite king in two major campaigns. In the first campaign David took from the Syrian an incredible 1000 chariots, as well as 7000 horseman, and 20,000 footmen (I Chronicles 18:4). Hickman was interested to discover that Shamsi-Adad had informed one of his sons, Ishme-Dagan, that he could supply him with 20,000 troops; the same number as cited in Scripture. In the second campaign, Hadadezer allied himself with the Ammonites who had called upon him for help (II Samuel 10:6).

Hickman identified Shobach, “the commander of the army of Hadadezer” (II Samuel 10:16) with Shamsi-Adad’s pleasure-loving son, Iasmakh-Adad.

The Kingdom of Hamath

The first conflict between David and Hadadezer had occurred near Hamath, when Hadadezer went to recover his border at the river Euphrates. Hickman wondered if Hamath might be the state of Yamkhad. The Mari archive has enabled us to know the greatness of the Syrian kingdoms, which previously had been overshadowed by Babylonia especially. As Dalley put it: “… we now know that Syria had cities and monarchs equal in power and civilisation to Larsa and Babylon”. She added that Syria’s mightiest kingdom “was centred on Aleppo, ancient Halab in the state of Yamkhad”; Halab being “the mightiest of many kingdoms in Zimri-Lim’s day”.

Dalley could back up this claim simply by citing the very celebrated ML which stated that”:


There is no king who is mighty by himself. Ten or fifteen kings follow Hammurabi the ruler of Babylon, a like number Rim-Sin of Larsa, a like number Ibal-pi-el of Eshnunna, a like number Amud-pi-el of Qatanum, but twenty follow Yarim-Lim of Yamhad.


When David had defeated Hadadezer and his allies in the region of Hamath, a king of Hamath named To’i sent him tribute by the hand of his son Joram (2 Samuel 8:9). Hickman identified this Joram of Hamath with Iarim-Lim of Aleppo (Halab) in the kingdom of Yamkhad.

This Iarim-Lim may even turn out to be the great Hiram, ally of David and Solomon.


Indeed, I have since identified Iarim-Lim with Hiram, in:


King Hiram the Historical and Hiram Abiff the Hysterical


The Syrian (Amorite) world was a conglomerate of kingdoms loosely united and oftentimes prone to fall out one kingdom with another. We read in Scripture that Hadadezer, for instance, called upon “the Syrians of Damascus” (II Samuel 8:5), and that the Ammonites hired “the Syrians of Beth-rehob, and the Syrians of Zobah” (II Samuel 10:6). Then there was the Syrian kingdom of Hamath, which may eventually have absorbed Zobah; hence “Hamath-zobah”. But, as we shall see, there could be serious conflicts amongst the Syrian kingdoms. Thus Rezin, son of Eliada, fell out with his master Hadadezer, and fled from him, and became leader of his own army (I Kings 11:23-24). The reason for this enmity will become clearer in the next section as we pursue the identity of Rezin and Eliada, with Zimri-Lim and Iahdulim of ML.


Like Hadadezer, Shamsi-Adad employed confederate Syrian kingdoms to assist him in his campaigns. But it seems that the aggressive Shamsi-Adad was nervous when it came to the Benjaminites and their kinsmen. Shamsi-Adad wrote to his son, who had seized Mari from Zimri-Lim’s father:

Reference:“..the proposal to take a census of the Benjamites, about which you have written me …. The Benjamites are not well disposed to the idea of a census. If you carry it out, their kinsmen, the Ra-ab-ay-yi, who live on the other bank, of the river, will hear of it.”
“They will be annoyed with them and will not return to their country. On no account should this census be taken!”

Hickman’s summary of this letter was that Shamsi-Adad, characterised as “the greatest figure of his generation”, who claimed control of “the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates”, was wary of the Israelites. He identified the “Ra-ab-ay-yi” of Shamsi-Adad’s letter, who were dwelling “on the other bank of the river”, with the Reubenites (one of the 12 tribes of Israel) who dwelt east of the Jordan river along with the tribes of Gad and Manasseh. Scripture records that these Transjordanian Israelites began to expand eastwards in Saul’s day, and began to engage the Hagarites (Arabs) in battle, and defeated them (I Chronicles 5 and II Chronicles 5).

Era of Solomon

Peace, which had been unknown in the time of Saul and David, came to Israel during the glorious reign of Solomon, David’s son and successor. David had smashed the mighty forces of Hadadezer king of Zobah, and had put garrisons in the land of Aram around and in Damascus; and the Syrians became servants to David and brought tribute (II Samuel 8:5-6). For more than 20 years Solomon reigned in peace and prosperity, with Israel’s enemies subdued on every side. It appears that Solomon absorbed both the kingdoms of Hadadezer and of the Aleppo region, because he took Hamath-zobah (II Chronicles 8:3). He built Tadmor in the wilderness – which was connected by a desert road to Mari – and he also built store cities in Hamath (8:4). Even after his 20th year of rule (II Chronicles 8:1), things were still going well for Solomon; for Scripture recalls the celebrated visit of Queen Sheba. See my:


Solomon and Sheba


Solomon had an incredible 1400 chariots, and 12,000 horsemen with which to defend Jerusalem (I Kings 10:26).

But the happy situation was not to last. In the latter half of his long reign Solomon apostatised from Yahweh worship by courting the foreign gods of his wives (I Kings 11:4). Scripture names three adversaries who “lifted up their hand” against Solomon in those days (I Kings 11): Hadad, the Edomite; Rezin, son of Eliada, who had fled from his master Hadadezer king of Zobah and Jeroboam, an Ephraïmite.

It is this Rezin upon whom our attention will be focussed for the remaining pages.

From Rezin to Hammurabi

In identifying Rezin with Zimri-Lim, and his father, Eliada with Iahdulim, we are able to refine Hickman’s chronological scheme somewhat. Hickman had surmised that Zimri-Lim belonged to the time of David, which meant that Iahdulim was roughly contemporaneous with Saul: “Since … Iahdulim … mentions only the Benjamites [in the date-formula quoted earlier] he must belong to Saul’s time”. Hickman thought that there was reason to suspect “That the incursion of this [Iahdulim] into Benjamite territory resulted in Saul’s wars against Zobah and that Mari was associated with the Zobah kingdom”.

It seems that Hickman was correct in his last statement in that Iagit-Lim of Mari, who was Zimri-Lim’s grandfather, had once been an ally of Shamsi-Adad. But Iagit-Lim and Shamsi-Adad quarrelled eventually, with dire consequences. Iagit-Lim’s son and successor, Iahdulim – who claimed to have strengthened the foundations of Mari – was assassinated by his own servants. Shamsi-Adad then occupied the city of Mari, and set up his son, Iasmakh-Adad, as ruler. Zimri-Lim, the heir to the throne, was forced to flee for his life, spending many years in exile at Aleppo. Zimri-Lim returned to Mari about the 16th year of Hammurabi of Babylon, and ruled there for at least most of Hammurabi’s remaining years.

Since Shamsi-Adad’s death coincided with the 12th year of Hammurabi, Zimri-Lim apparently was returning to a less hostile environment, where he ruled for at least 17 years. For most of that time he and Hammurabi were on quite friendly terms with one another; but Hammurabi eventually turned against Zimri-Lim and, in his 33rd year, he came to Mari and dismantled its walls. However, this may not have been the end of Zimri-Lim because the number of years-names attested for his reign would indicate that he continued to rule Mari for some years after this event.


When we transfer all of these events onto a revised time plane, there emerges a more precise picture. Hadadezer (Shamsi-Adad), a one-time ally of Rezin’s (Zimri-Lim’s) grandfather, king of Mari, quarrelled with the king of Mari. Later, Eliada (Iahdulim), Rezin’s father, was assassinated by his servants – presumably at the instigation of Hadadezer – and Hadadezer’s son Shobach (Iasmakh-Adad) was established as ruler of Mari. The assassination of his father, and the occupation of the city throne to which he was heir, explains why Rezin “fled from his master Hadadezer king of Zobah” (I Kings 11:23).

We also now know the city to which Rezin fled, Aleppo, or Halab, in Hamath (Yamkhad).

Scripture goes on to record that “after the slaughter of David” (i.e. after David had slaughtered Hadadezer’s forces), Rezin “gathered men about him and became leader of a marauding band” (I Kings 11:24). Some of his band may have been remnants of Hadadezer’s decimated forces. We know from Scripture that it was just after Solomon’s 20th year as king of Jerusalem that adversaries began to spring up about him. Now, since Solomon’s 20th year is to be dated at approximately 950 BC, Rezin’s reign probably began shortly after that date.

What follows is a quotation of what Hammurabi wrote to Zimri-Lim:


“To Zimri-Lim communicate the following: Thus says your brother Hammurabi [of Yamhad]: The king of Ugarit has written me as follows: `Show me the palace of Zimri-Lim! I wish to see it.’ With this same courier I am sending on this man.”


Now since Zimri-Lim with whom we identify Rezin returned to Mari from exile “about the sixteenth year of Hammurabi”, Hammurabi’s 16th year must correspond closely to Solomon’s 20th year. It is more accurate to say, therefore, that Zimri-Lim was a contemporary of Hammurabi, it seems. Shamsi-Adad had died 5 years before Zimri-Lim returned from exile; in Hammurabi’s 12th year, approximating to Solomon’s 16th year. But he was already a spent force before that.

It is obvious then that the event of Zimri-lim’s return from exile in the 16th year of Hammurabi is a very crucial clue for organizing a chronology of this period; especially when it is associated with Rezin’s return from exile. Scripture does not say that Rezin seized Mari on his return, but Damascus, where he was made king (I Kings 11:24).

We cannot determine whether he took Damascus or Mari first.

Chances are that Rezin was, as Hickman described Shamsi-Adad: “… continually on the move and did not really possess a capital”.

A Syrian, as was Hadadezer also, Rezin too remained a foe of the House of David. Scripture records that Rezin “was an adversary of Israel all the days of Solomon, doing mischief as Hadad [the Edomite] did; and he abhorred Israel and reigned over Syria” (I Kings 11:25). After that, Scripture has no more to say about Rezin, and we have to turn back to ML. Actually the historical evidence matches the scriptural data very well, if we are correct in associating Zimri-Lim’s return from exile in Aleppo with that of Rezin. In both cases the master or overlord of the Syrians was dead. We know that Zimri-lim and Rezin ruled for close to two decades. Zimri-Lim definitely ruled for 17 years, until Hammurabi’s sack of Mari; and he may have ruled somewhat longer, as the inscriptions indicate. Rezin saw out at least 17-20 years of Solomon’s 40 year reign (I Kings 11:42); and he may have survived partly into the next reign; though we hear no more about him.



King Hiram extended biblico-historically

Image result for idrimi

Part One:

Hiram as Idrimi of Alalakh



 Damien F. Mackey



Level VII [at Alalakh], which did not contain the [characteristic] pottery,

was the level containing the inscribed tablets of the Yarim-Lim dynasty.”




To flesh out historically the biblical kings David and Solomon (c. C10th BC) one needs also to:


  • delve right back to a conventionally-estimated Syro-Mesopotamia of the era of c. 1800 BC so as to locate their contemporaries in Rekhob and Hadadezer (historically, Uru-kabkabu and Shamsi-Adad I); Eliada and Rezon (historically, Iahdulim and Zimri-Lim); and Hiram (historically, Iarim-Lim); and then to


  • dip into the conventionally-estimated Egypt of the era of c. 1500 BC to locate their Eighteenth Dynasty contemporaries in (Thutmose I and II), “Queen of Sheba” and “Shishak” (historically, Hatshepsut and Thutmose III).


In what will follow here, that same conventionally-estimated (but quite incorrect) era for the Eighteenth Egyptian dynasty (c. 1500 BC) will also to found to contain a colourful character who may be yet another face of the biblical king Hiram.


Hiram as Idrimi


I had previously sought to identify this Idrimi (conventionally dated to c. 1500 BC) with one of King Solomon’s three adversaries (I Kings 11:14-26) namely, Hadad, or Hadar, the Edomite: “That name, Hadar, is the same as Hadoram (Adoram), and, as it seems to me, as Idrimi”.


But Hadoram (Adoram), or Adoniram, are also names that can be associated with the Hebrew name, Joram, and also with Hiram, as according to Abarim:


Associated Biblical names








Moreover, the geography of Idrimi, Alalakh, is much more befitting of Hiram, as Iarim-Lim.

Thus I would write, in my university thesis:


A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah

and its Background



the following (very Courville-based) sections regarding Iarim-Lim, the Philistines (Cretans) and the archaeology of Alalakh:


The Earlier Philistine History


It remains to be determined whether or not the Philistines can be traced all the way back to Crete in accordance with the biblical data; though obviously, from what has been said, to well before the time of the ‘Sea Peoples’, whose immediate origins were Aegean, not Cretan.

Courville has looked to trace just such an archaeological trail, back through the era of the late Judges/Saul; to Alalakh (modern Atchana) at the time of Iarim-Lim (Yarim-Lim) of Iamkhad (Yamkhad) and Hammurabi of Babylon; and finally to Crete in early dynastic times. I shall be basically reproducing Courville here, though with one significant chronological divergence, in regard to his dating of the Alalakh sequences. Courville has, according to my own chronological estimation for Hammurabi and Iarim-Lim, based on Hickman … dated the Hammurabic era about four centuries too early (as opposed to the conventional system’s seven centuries too early) on the time scale. Courville had wonderfully described Hammurabi as “floating about in a liquid chronology of Chaldea”, just after his having also correctly stated that: …  “Few problems of ancient chronology have been the topic of more extensive debate among scholars than the dates to be ascribed to the Babylonian king Hammurabi and his dynasty …”. And so he set out to establish Hammurabi in a more secure historical setting. This, I do not think he managed successfully to achieve however.

Courville’s re-location of Hammurabi to the approximate time of Joshua and the Conquest is still fairly “liquid” chronologically, as it seems to me, without his having been able to establish any plausible syncretisms beyond those already known for Hammurabi (e.g. with Shamsi-Adad I and Zimri-Lim). Revisionist Hickman on the other hand, despite his radical lowering of the Hammurabic era even beyond the standard [Velikovsky-date lowering] scale, by about seven centuries to the time of kings David and Solomon (c. C10th BC), has been able to propose and develop what are to my way of thinking some promising syncretisms, e.g. between David’s Syrian foe, Hadadezer, and Shamsi-Adad I (c. 1809-1776 BC, conventional dates), with the latter’s father Ilu-kabkabu being the biblical Rekhob, father of Hadadezer (2 Samuel 8:3); … and between Iarim-Lim and the biblical Joram (var. Hadoram), son of To’i, and prince of Hamath (cf. 2 Samuel 8:10 & 1 Chronicles 18:10).

I shall have cause to re-visit some of these kings in the following chapter.

So now, with Hammurabi and his era somewhat more securely located, as I think, than according to Courville’s proposed re-location – and hence with the potential for a more accurate archaeological matrix – we can continue on with Courville’s excellent discussion of the archaeology of the early Philistines: ….


VIII. The Culture of the Sea Peoples in the Era of the Late Judges


The new pottery found at Askelon [Ashkelon] at the opening of Iron I, and correlated with the invasion of the Sea Peoples, was identified as of Aegean origin. A similar, but not identical, pottery has been found in the territory north of Palestine belonging to the much earlier era of late Middle Bronze. By popular

views, this is prior to the Israelite occupation of Palestine. By the altered chronology, this is the period of the late judges and the era of Saul.

… That the similar pottery of late Middle Bronze, occurring both in the north and in the south, is related to the culture found only in the south at the later date is apparent from the descriptions of the two cultures. Of this earlier culture, which should be dated to the time of Saul, Miss Kenyon commented:


The pottery does in fact provide very useful evidence about culture. The first interesting point is the wealth of a particular class of painted pottery …. The decoration is bichrome, nearly always red and black, and the most typical vessels have a combination of metopes enclosing a bird or a fish with geometric decoration such as a “Union Jack” pattern or a Catherine wheel. At Megiddo the first bichrome pottery is attributed to Stratum X, but all the published material comes from tombs intrusive into this level. It is in fact characteristic of Stratum IX. Similar pottery is found in great profusion in southern Palestine … Very similar vessels are also found on the east coast of Cyprus and on the coastal Syrian sites as far north as Ras Shamra. [Emphasis Courville’s]


Drawings of typical examples of this pottery show the same stylized bird with

back-turned head that characterized the pottery centuries later at Askelon. … The anachronisms and anomalies in the current views on the interpretation of this invasion and its effects on Palestine are replaced by a consistent picture, and one that is in agreement with the background provided by Scripture for the later era in the very late [sic] 8th century B.C.


Courville now turns to the archaeology at the site of Alalakh on the shore of the Mediterranean at its most northeast protrusion, in order “to trace this culture one step farther back in time” (though in actual fact, by my chronology, it will bring him to approximately the same time – though a different place). ….


  1. The Culture of Level VI at Alalakh Is Related to That of the Philistines


He commences by recalling Sir Leonard Woolley’s investigations at this site in the

1930’s, during which Woolley discovered “seventeen archaeological levels of occupation”:


A solid synchronism is at hand to correlate Level VII at Alalakh with the era of Hammurabi of the First Dynasty at Babylon …. The basis for this synchronism is found in the Mari Letters where it is stated that “… there are ten or fifteen kings who follow Hammurabi of Babylon and ten or fifteen who follow Rim-sin of Larsa but twenty kings follow Yarim-Lim of Yamkhad”.

Investigations at Alalakh revealed numerous tablets inscribed in cuneiform, most of which are by the third of the three kings of the dynasty, Yarim-Lim by name.

…. Since the First Dynasty at Babylon was of Amorite origin, then so also was the Yarim-Lim dynasty of Amorite origin.

In the reports by Woolley, he indicates the find at Alalakh of two characteristic pottery types which were designated as “White-Slip milk bowls” and “Base-Ring Ware”. As the digging proceeded downward, he found that such types of pottery were plentiful in Level VI, all but disappeared in Level VII, and then reappeared in all levels from VIII to XVI. Level VII, which did not contain the pottery, was the level containing the inscribed tablets of the Yarim-Lim dynasty. The obvious conclusion was that the people of Yarim-Lim (Amorites) had conquered this city and probably also the surrounding territory, ruling it for a period estimated to have been about 50 years. At the end of this time, the original inhabitants were able to reconquer the site and reoccupy it.

Courville now turns his attention to seeking an identity for the people from whom the city of Alalakh was taken for about half a century, but who then reoccupied it: ….

What then was this culture like …? We let Woolley tell us about the culture:


… We do indeed know extremely little about the Level VI buildings. It is to the pottery that we must look for information about Level VI, and the pottery can tell us a good deal. On the one hand we have what I have called the “nationalist revival” of the traditional painted ware which had been suppressed under the late regime, and some examples of this are perfect replicas of the old both in form and in decoration, but as time goes on, there appear modifications of the long-established types – instead of the isolated and static figures of birds or animals these become active and are combined in running scenes surrounding the whole pot without the interruption of the triglyph-like partitions which were once the rule … For the first time we get a polychrome decoration in red and black paint on a buff surface, and the design includes not only birds but the “Union Jack” motive which is specially characteristic of contemporary Palestine … [Emphasis Courville’s]


As one examines this pottery description, he will be struck with the notable similarities of decoration found on the pottery at Megiddo for the era of Philistine occupation in the time of Saul. There is the same use of red and black paint, the similar use of birds as a decoration motif, and the same use of the “Union Jack”.


Finally, Courville traces this distinctive archaeological path all the way back to Crete. I am giving only the barest outlines of his discussion here: ….


  1. The Sea Peoples of Crete


With the evidences thus far noted before us, we are now in a position to examine the archaeological reports from Crete for evidences of the early occupation of this site by the Caphtorim (who are either identical to the Philistines of later Scripture or are closely related to them culturally). We now have at least an approximate idea of the nature of the culture for which we are looking …. … we can hardly be wrong in recognizing the earliest occupants of Crete as the people who represented the beginnings of the people later known in Scripture as the Philistines, by virtue of the stated origin of the Philistines in Crete. This concept holds regardless of the name that may be applied to this early era by scholars.

The only site at which Cretan archaeology has been examined for its earliest occupants is at the site of the palace at Knossos. At this site deep test pits were dug into the earlier occupation levels. If there is any archaeological evidence available from Crete for its earliest period, it should then be found from the archaeology of these test pits. The pottery found there is described by Dr. Furness, who is cited by Hutchinson.

“Dr. Furness divides the early Neolithic I fabrics into (a) coarse unburnished ware and (b) fine burnished ware, only differing from the former in that the pot walls are thinner, the clay better mixed, and the burnish more carefully executed. The surface colour is usually black, but examples also occur of red,

buff or yellow, sometimes brilliant red or orange, and sometimes highly variegated sherds”.

A relation was observed between the decoration of some of this pottery from early Neolithic I in Crete with that at the site of Alalakh ….

Continuing to cite Dr. Furness, Hutchinson commented:


Dr. Furness justly observes that “as the pottery of the late Neolithic phases seems to have developed at Knossos without a break, it is to the earliest that one must look for evidence of origin of foreign connections”, and she therefore stresses the importance of a small group with plastic decoration that seems mainly confined to the Early Neolithic I levels, consisting of rows of pellets immediately under the rim (paralleled on burnished pottery of Chalcolithic [predynastic] date from Gullucek in the Alaca [Alalakh] district of Asia Minor). [Emphasis Courville’s]


While the Archaeological Ages of early Crete cannot with certainty be correlated with the corresponding eras on the mainland, it would seem that Chalcolithic on the mainland is later than Early Neolithic in Crete; hence any influence of one culture on the other is more probably an influence of early Cretan culture on that of the mainland. This is in agreement with Scripture to the effect that the Philistines migrated from Crete to what is now the mainland at some point prior to the time of Abraham. ….