Hyksos ( ῾Υκσώς, correctly explained [comp. Rawlinson, Herod. 2, 297] by Josephus [Apion, i, 14] as being compounded of the Egyptian hyk, "king," and sos, "shepherd" or "Arab," i.e. nomade), a race who invaded Egypt, and constituted the 15th and one or two of the following dynasties, according to Manetho (see Kenrick, Egypt under the Pharaohs, 2, 152 sq.), especially as preserved by Josephus (ut supra): "In the reign of king Timaus there came up from the east men of an ignoble race, who had the confidence to invade our country, and easily subdued it without a battle, burning the cities, demolishing the temples, slaying the men, and reducing the women and children to slavery." They made Salatis, one of themselves, king: he reigned at Memphis, and made the upper and lower region tributary. Of the 17th dynasty also were forty-three shepherd kings, called Hyksos, who reigned, perhaps contemporaneously with the preceding, at Diospolis. In the 18th dynasty of Diospolis a rising took place, and the shepherd kings were expelled out of the other parts of Egypt into the district of Avaris, which they fortified. Amosis besieged and compelled them to capitulate; on which they left Egypt, in number 240,000, and "marched through the desert towards Syria, and built the city of Jerusalem." The last few words seem to render it probable that Manetho confounded the Hyksos with the Israelites, which is the less surprising, since the Hyksos were, as he rightly calls them, Phoenicians of the ancient, if not original race which inhabited Phoenicia, or Palestine (taken in its widest sense), before the conquest of the country by the Hebrews. Chronological considerations seem to refer the time of the dominion of the Hyksos to the period of Abraham and Joseph (say from B.C. 2000 to 1500). When Joseph went into the land he found the name of shepherd odious — which agrees with the hypothesis that places the irruption of the shepherd kings anterior to his time; and possibly both the ease with which he rose to power and the fact that Jacob turned towards Egypt for a supply of food when urged by want may be readily accounted for on the supposition that a kindred race held dominion in the land, which, though hated by the people, as being foreign in its origin and oppressive in its character, would not be indisposed to show favor to members of the great Shemitic family to which they themselves belonged. The irruption into Egypt, and the conquest of the country on the part of the Phoenician shepherds, seems to have been a consequence of the general pressure of population from the north-east towards the south-west, which led the nomad Shemitic tribes first to overcome the original inhabitants of Palestine, and, continuing in the same line of advance, then to enter and subdue Egypt. The invasion of the Hyksos is indeed to be regarded as the result of the movement from the Euphrates westward of the most powerful and (comparatively) most civilized people then found in Western Asia, who in their progress subdued or expelled in the countries through which they not improbably were urged by a pressure from other advancing tribes, nation and tribe one after another, driving them down towards the sea, and compelling those who dwelt along the shores of the Mediterranean to seek shelter and safety in the islands of that sea and other distant parts. To conquerors and aggressors of the character of these shepherd hordes Egypt would offer special attractions. They continued sweeping onwards, and at last entered and conquered Egypt, establishing there a new dynasty, which was hateful because foreign, and because of a lower degree of culture than the Egyptians themselves had reached. Nor would these shepherds be less odious because, coming from the east and immediately from the deserts of Arabia, they were from the quarter whence the mild and cultivated Egyptians had long been wont to suffer from the predatory incursions of the wild nomad tribes (Die Phonizier, by Movers, Bonn, 1841; Bertheau, Geschichte der Israeliten, Gottingen, 1842), between whom and the agricultural natives of the country different pursuits, habits, and tastes would naturally engender animosities. This feeling of alienation exists at the present day. The Arab is still a depressed and despised being in Egypt. Bowring, in his Report on the country, remarks, "It is scarcely allowable even to send a message to a person in authority by an Arab servant" (p. 7). The expulsion of the shepherds seems to have been strangely confounded by Josephus, after Manetho, with the Exodus of the Israelites. The shepherds were conquerors, rulers, and oppressors; the Israelites guests and slaves. The shepherds were expelled, the Israelites were delivered. Josephus elsewhere (Apion, 1, 26) gives from Manetho a narrative of another event which wears a much nearer likeness to the Exodus (although Josephus expressly combats such an identification) in the case of a king Amenophis, who was ordered by the gods to cleanse Egypt of a multitude of lepers and other unclean persons; many of whom were drowned, and others sent in great numbers to work in the quarries which are on the east side of the Nile. After a time they were permitted to establish themselves in Avaris, which had been abandoned by the shepherds. They then elected a ruler, Osarsiph, whose name was afterwards changed to that of Moses. This chief made this law for them, that they should not worship the Egyptian gods, but should kill the animals held sacred by the Egyptians; nor were they to have intercourse with any but such as were members of their own body-in. all respects aiming to oppose the customs and influence of the nations. These, sending for aid to the shepherds who had settled in Jerusalem, and having received troops to the number of 200,000 men, were met by Amenophis, the king, with a yet larger force, but not attacked. "On a subsequent occasion, however, they were assailed by the Egyptians, beaten, and driven to the confines of Syria." Lysimachus gives an account not dissimilar to this, adding that, under the leadership of Moses, these mixed hordes settled in Judaea.(Cory's Ancient Fragments). The account which Diodorus gives of the migration of the Israelites from Egypt to Palestine is of a similar tenor. The deviations from the sacred narrative may easily be accounted for by Egyptian ignorance, vanity, and pride. (See Akers's Biblical Chronology , chap. 5). It is also apparent that Josephus considerably travesties the original narrative of Manetho (Kenrick, Egypt, 2, 159). The expulsion of the Hyksos seems to have taken place about two centuries after the Exode (q.v.)
If, as we have some reason to believe, and as the reader may see satisfactorily established in Movers and Bertheau (ut supra), a race of the Shemitic family, coming down from the upper (Aram) country into the lower (Canaan), in course of time subjugated Egypt and established their dominion, maintaining it for some-five hundred years, such a historical event must have had a marked influence on the religion of the land. These invaders are described (Herod. 2, 128) as enemies to the religion of Egypt, who destroyed or closed the temples, broke in pieces the altars and images of the gods, and killed the sacred animals. Their influence on the Egyptian religion was probably not unlike that of the Persians on the Grecian, having for its aim and effect to discountenance and destroy a low and degrading system of idolatry; for the worship of the heavenly bodies, to which the Phoenician equally with the Persian invaders were given, was higher in its character and effects than the service of the ordinary gods of Greece, and still more so than the degrading homage paid by the Egyptians to the lowest animals. By this means the Shemitic religion exerted on the native Egyptian religion a decided and improving influence, which may be seen and traced in that element of the religion of Egypt which contains and presents the worship of the heavenly bodies. The two systems, that of the Egyptians be-, fore it received inoculation from the East, and that of the Eastern invaders, agreed in this, that they were both the worship of the powers of nature; but they differed in this, and an important difference it was, that the. Egyptians adored the brute creation, the Phoenicians the host of heaven. — Kitto. (See Stud. und Krit. 1839, 2, 393, 408; Saalschtitz, Forschungen, abth. 3:1849; Schulze, De Jontibus historice Hyksorum,
Berlin, 1848; Uhlemann Issraeliten- und Hyksos in Aegypten, Lpz. 1856.) SEE EGYPT; SEE SHEPHERD-KINGS.