Shepherd Kings

Shepherd kings, a series of foreign rulers in Egypt, whose domination must have occurred about the time of the sojourn of the Hebrews there. The relation of these two classes to each other, and to the other Egyptians, is so interesting, if not intimate, especially to the Biblical student, that our treatment of the subject under EGYPT and HYKSOS requires a somewhat fuller consideration of this topic. The discussion of it began as early as the days of Josephus, who, in fact, gives us, in two controversial passages, nearly all the information we possess on the question. He professes to cite the exact words of Manetho, and says, in substance (Apion, 1, 14, 15), that the Hyksos (a name which he etymoligically interprets as meaning "Shepherd kings") were an ignoble people, who invaded Egypt from the East (evidently meaning that they were Arabs) during the reign of Timaeus (a king nowhere else mentioned), and; eventually established a one of themselves, named Salatis, king at Memphis, who founded a city on the Bubastic arm of the Nile, called Avaris, as a barrier against the Assyrians; but that after a domination of 511 years these people were attacked by "the kings of Thebais and the other parts of Egypt" (language which proves the contemporaneousness of the Theban line at least), who, under a king named Alisphragmuthosis, subdued them, and that his son Thummosis finally drove them out of the country. The extract from Manetho further states that these refugees were the builders of Jerusalem, a statement with which Josephus joins issue, as identifying them with the Hebrews; but the language may, perhaps, be referred to the Canaanites who fortified. Jaebus in the interval between the Exodus and the time of David. Josephus then proceeds to recount the kings of Egypt after the expulsion of the Hyksos, beginning with Tethmosis and the list is evidently that of Manetho's eighteenth dynasty beginning with Amosis. In the other passage (ibid. 26), Josephus cites a story from Mainetho to the effect that the Jewish lawgiver, Moses, was the same as a priest, Osarsiph of Heliopolis, whom a degraded leprous caste of the Egyptians made their ruler in an insurrection, and invited the escaped Shepherds back to Egypt, where they ravaged the country and committed all sorts of atrocities. The Egyptian king under whom this revolt occurred is given as Amenophis, the father of Sethbos- Ramses, and the son of Rhampses, names which clearly point to Menephtah I, of the nineteenth dynasty. "The narrative goes on to state, however, that as soon as Amenophis, who at the time of the outbreak was absent in Ethiopia, returned with his army, he totally defeated and expelled the rebels. This account, of course, Josephus violently controverts but there is no occasion to doubt its accuracy, except as to the evidently malicious and, arbitrary, identification of these leprous insurrectionists with the Hebrews. The most casual reader cannot fail, as Josephus intimates, to note the contradiction in Manetho, if he meant to make out an identity of the Jews with both the Hyksos and the rebels, since the Shepherds had been totally expelled long before the date of the lepers, and the Hebrews had but one Exodus. In connection with these excerpts from Manetho, Josephus cites passages from Chaeremon and others bearing upon the same subject, but they contain nothing of importance to our purpose. We are not concerned here to refute, whether indignantly or coolly, either part of this migration as a garbled account of the departure of the Israelites out of Egypt; our only object is to ascertain, if possible its chronological position with reference to the Exodus. We know of no positive method for doing this but by a direct comparison of the dates, of the two events, as nearly as they can be historically, or rather chronologically, determined.

Unfortunately the uncertainty of many of the elements that enter into the settlement of this early portion of both the Egyptian and the Biblical chronology forbids any absolute, satisfaction on this point. If, however, we may trust to the accuracy of the conclusions recently arrived at, we may, with, tolerable safety, set down the sojourn of the Hebrews in Egypt as continuing B.C. 1874-1658, and the rule of the Hyksos as lasting B.C. 2003-1470; in other words, the entire period of 216 years during which the Hebrews were in Egypt was contemporaneous with that of the Hyksos, and about the middle of the latter. Some writers have claimed (Birch, Egypt, p. 131) that the name Raamses (or Rameses), one of the treasure cities, built by the Israelites in their period of bondage (Ex 1:11), is conclusive, proof that the oppression took place under the Ramessidoee (nineteenth dynasty, B.C. 1302); but this is inconsistent with the fact that Goshen is called, "the land of Rameses" (Ge 47:11) in the time of Joseph (B.C. 1874).

The only information we have of the Hyksos from other ancient writers on Egypt consists of such slight notices in the fragments of Manetho as the following by Africanus: "Fifteenth dynasty — six foreign phoenician kings, who also took Memphis, they likewise founded a city in the Sethroite nome, advancing from, which they reduced the Egyptians to subjection;" "Sixteenth dynasty — thirty, other Shepherd kings;" "Seventeenth dynasty — forty-three other Shepherd kings, and forty-three Theban diospolites together." Instead of this Eusebius has simply "Seventeenth dynasty — (four) foreign Phoenician Shepherd kings (brothers), who also took Memphis. They founded a city in the Sethroite name, advancing from which they subdued Egypt." There are a few indications in the Biblical records our mind go far toward which have been mostly overlooked in this discussion, but which go far towards confirming this relative, position of the two periods. In the first place, we are expressly told that in the time of Joseph "every Shepherd was an abomination unto the Egyptians" (Ge 46:34). This shows that the Shepherd invasion, had occurred before that date, as it seems to be the only reasonable explanation of so deep an abhorrence. In the second place, however, it is clear, not only from the entire narrative, but especially from the fact that the Israelites were placed in Goshen, evidently as a break water against these foreign irruptions, That the Hyksos had not yet gained the upper hand, at least in Memphis, Where the capital of Joseph's Pharaoh seems to have been, located; and this accords, with the language of Josephus above, which implies that the capture of Memphis did not occur till an advanced period in the Shepherd line, perhaps the beginning of the sixteenth dynasty. It is true, Josephus seems to locate the first Shepherd king at Memphis, but he betrays The inaccuracy of this expression by adding immediately that the king in question built Avaris as his capital; and the table of dynasties shows that the Memphitic dynasty continued till about the beginning of the Shepherd dynasty XVI. Indeed, the change in the policy of the Egyptians towards the Hebrews (Ex 1:8), which took place B.C. cir. 1738, singularly Accords with the revolution in lower Egypt at the end of the eighth dynasty (B.C. 1740), or the beginning of the sixteenth (B.C. 1755). Finally, the remark incidentally dropped as a reason by the "new king" for oppressing the Israelites, "lest, when there falleth out any war, they join themselves unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land," which at first sight seems most appropriate in the mouth of one of the regular Memphitic line, bears, when more closely examined, strongly in the opposite direction. So far as joining the enemy is concerned, There could be little difference the Shepherds are supposed by some to have been naturally friendly towards their neighbors and fellow Shepherds the Hebrews; but, on the other hand, we know the Hebrews were closely In alliance with the long established and apparently legitimate native sovereigns had been so, in fact, ever since the days of Abraham (Ge 12:16); and since the Hebrews had been located, as we have seen above, In (Goshen expressly for a purpose adverse to the Hyksos, we can hardly suppose that they had coalesced in sympathy or plans. The tyrant's fear was not so much of the arms of the Hebrews, for they were certainly not formidable soldiers, but rather lest they should seize the opportunity of the existing civil convulsion to escape from Egypt. He was not alarmed, it seems, at the prospect of their increasing as an invading force, such as were the Hyksos, but only lest their growing, numbers should, warrant them in migrating bodily to some more comfortable region. This implies that they had already experienced ill treatment or dissatisfaction. From what source could this have arisen? They had the best possible land for their vocation (Ge 47:6); they had enjoyed royal patronage to the full; they had never hitherto been oppressed by government. They had always been peaceable and loyal citizens. Why should they now be suspected And distrained? The jealousy, if on the part of the native regime, seems inexplicable; and we may add that such a rigorous and illegal course is not in accordance with what are otherwise know of the polity of the legitimate sovereigns of ancient Egypt. We cannot but suspect that bickerings, rivalries, and animosity had long existed between the Hebrews and the lawless, uncultivated Hyksos on their frontier, and raids such as the Israelites afterwards experienced from their bedawin neighbors in Palestine had, doubtless, often been made upon their quiet domain by; these Benke-edem, as Josephus virtually styles them. It was this annoyance that had tempted the Hebrews to long for a less exposed situation; and when they saw these freebooters installed as lords, they might even think it high time to decamp. The whole conduct of the Hyksos, as revealed by Josephus, shows them to have been of this domineering, foraging, semi-savage character. They were, in fact, congeners of the canaaniites, with whom the Israelites had henceforth a perpetual enmity, despite the traditional comity of earlier days. No genuine Egyptian monarch seems capable of the barbarity of the Pharaoh of the Exodus; but the atrocities which Josephus states that the Hyksos perpetrated in their later invasion justify the belief that it was they who, in the days of their power, made Egypt known As "the house of bondage." The iritation and vexation caused by this system of petty persecution during the long contact of the, Israelites with the Hyksos in Egypt cherished as well as disclosed the early purpose of the former to return to the land of their forefathers (Ge 1:25), and had been predicted of old (15:13); but it was not till the domination of the latter had made it galling to an intolerable degree that the resolve ripened into a fixed determination. Sectionial jealousies and tribal animosities of this sort are proverbially hereditary, and are peculiarly inveterate, in the east. Where they are so liable to be aggravated by blood feuds. We can trace distinct evidences of such a national grudge in this case from the time when the son of the Egyptian bondwoman who was, doubtless, no other than a captive from these "sons of the east" bordering on Egypt was expelled from the Hebrew homestead for mocking the son of the free woman (Ge 21:9) till Moses slew the Egyptian task master (Ex 2:12). Hagar naturally retired to the wilderness of Beersheba" (Ge 21:14), which was part of what was known by the more general name of the desert of Paran, where her childhood had doubtless been spent, and there contracted a marriage for her son among her kindred tribes, called even then part of the land of Egypt (11:21). His descendants, the notorious Ishmaelites, who roved as brigands over the region between Egypt and Canaan, intensified the clannish variance, which became, still more sharply defined between the caivalierlvy Esau and the puritan Jacob in the next generation. These two representative characters, indeed, both went under the common title of shepherds or herdsmen, for flocks and herds constituted the staple of the property of each (33:9). but the "cunning hunter of the field" evidently looked with Bedawi disdain upon his "simple tent" dwelling" brother as a Fellah (25:27 sq.). The collision s between the Philistine herdsmen aid Jacob's (ver. 17-22) seem to belong to the same line of difference, and may serve to remind us that Philistia, as the intermediate battle ground of the expelled Hyksos in later times, retained in military prowess and panoplied champions traces of their warlike encounters with the arms of Egypt. The iron war chariots of the Canaanites are especially traceable to the Egyptian use of cavalry, and these could only deploy successfully in the level sea coast and its connected plains. The fear of encountering these disciplined foes or the part of the Israelites in their departure from Egypt betrays the hereditary hostility between them. The Amalekites who attacked the Hebrews in the desert (Ex 17:8) were evidently a branch of the same roving race of Arabs in the northern part of the peninsula of Sinai, and they repeated the attack at the southern border of Canaans (Nu 14:45). The ban of eventual extermination against them (Ex 17:16) was but the renewal of the old enmity. It was a caravan of these gypsy traders, (indifferently called Ishmaelites or Midianites, Genisis 37:28) who purchased Joseph and carried him to their comrades in Egypt. The second irruption of the Hyksos in to Egypt, as narrated by Josephus, manifestly was, when stripped, of its apocryphal exaggerations, merely one of the forays which characterized, or rather constituted, the guerilla system seem, on various occasions to have, prevailed on the southern border of Palestine, such as Saul's raid against Amalek (1Sa 15:3), Daivid's expeditions from Ziklag (1Sa 20:2,8) and the later marauds of the Simeonites (1Ch 5:18,22). The date assigned to it by Josephus would be about B.C. 1170-50, or during the troubled judgeship of Eli, when the Philistines and other aborigines had everything pretty much their own way." This was some three centuries after the close of the Shepherd rule in Egypt, which ended about B.C. 1492, or during the judgeship of Ehud. As the route of the invading and retreating hordes, was, of course, along the sea coast, they may have marched and counter marched freely at any time prior to David's region without disturbing in the least, the current of Hebrew alms, which at that period are confined to the. mountain backbone of the country and the Jordan valley.

The Shasus (whose name, seems to be identical with the last syllable of Hyksos), with whom the monuments represent the Ramessidae as warring, were the Shemites or Arabs of this period. They sometimes appear in connection with the heta or, Hittites, i.e. Syrians.

An interesting confirmation of this chronological, position of the Hebrew, transmigration is found in the fact that horses do not appear on the Egyptian monuments prior to the eighteenth dynasty (Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians [Amer. ed.], 1, 386), haying, in, all probability, been introduced by the Bedawin Hyksos, of whom, however, few, if any, pictorial representations remain. Accordingly, at the removal of the Israelites to Egypt, in the early part of the Shepherd rule, we read only of asses and wagons for transportation (Ge 14:19-23) — the latter, no doubt, for oxen, like those employed in the desert (Nu 7:3), but at the Exode, in the latter part of the Shepherd rule, the cavalry, consisting exclusively of chariots, formed an important arm of the military service (Ex 11:7)., The incidental mention of horses, however, in Ge 47:17, as a part of the Egyptian farm stock in Joseph's day, shows that they were not unknown in domestic relations at that date.

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