THE INSCRIPTION OF MERENPTAH
FROM THE 'ISRAEL STELE'

(EXTRACTED FROM VARIOUS SOURCES)

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Note: The significance of this stele rests chiefly on the fact that it is the earliest recording of the word 'Israel' on any tablet, monument, or papyri, e.g.;

ysrỉr fk.t bn pr.t f
Israel waste [negative] seed/grain his/its

and that it may possibly point to the name of the real Pharaoh (Merenptah or Merneptah) who drove the Jews out of Egypt in the biblical Exodus. Needless to say, it has garnished much discussion over the years since Petrie discovered it in 1896. The below are just a few articles discussing its importance, with a short bibliography of other works to consult on the subject, as well as a full translation by a modern scholar at the bottom of this page.—Ed.

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Pharaoh of the Hard Heart.
Professor Flinders Petrie, D.C.L., L.L.D.,

With special Reference to his recent Discovery of the Bust of Merenptah.

[Extracted from Century Magazine, August 1896.]


To every English-speaking person the one pre-eminent Pharaoh is he whose long baffling with Moses has been familiar from .our earliest readingthe ideal bad man, Who has stood for a type of an oppressor through all these ages. We have his ways and character strongly drawn by his enemies, and we have conveniently credited him with all wickedness, and labelled him along with the monsters of humanity. Before we can look at the other side and see "the real Pharaoh," we must come to some conclusion as to which of the hundreds of Egyptian Pharaohs was intended by the Hebrew account. There have been several attempts at identifying him during the last eighteen hundred years that the matter has been studied; but as no trace of the Israelites could be found in Egypt, there was nothing to go upon on one side of the history. Josephus boldly claimed the Hyksos invaders of Egypt as glorious conquering ancestors of his, a daring appropriation, to which we owe the invaluable preservation of the Egyptian account of these Hyksos. But no one defends such a position now. Some have thought that one of the rings of the eighteenth dynasty (1557-1328 B.C.) must be the Exodus Pharaoh, mainly because of the long period supposed requisite for the history of the Judges. But there has been a none general agreement that it was Rameses the Great who oppressed the Israelites, and his son Merenptah who let them go. When Pithom was found, some years ago by M. Naville, and it was seen to have been mainly rebuilt by Rameses II., there as a presumption that the city built by the Israelites must have been this city of Rameses. The adjacent city being named Rameses (Ex. i. 11) has also been generally taken as an evidence of the reign in which it was built. Yet, so far, not a trace of Israelites by name or by object could be found in all the searchings of the monuments or diggings in the mounds. Until last February no trace of the existence of any such people was unknown in Egypt.

At last, in a clearance of the site of the funeral temple of Merenptah, at Thebes, I found a very large tablet of black granite with a long inscription of his, which mentions the much sought people of Israel. In this account of his campaign in Syria, he says that he had subdued all his enemies: "The Hittites are quieted; ravaged is Kanah (near Tyre) with all violence; taken is Ascalon; seized is Chesu'loth; Yanoah of the Syrians (by Tyre) is made as though it had not existed; the people of Israel is spoiled; it hath no seed: Syria is widowed." Here one firm point of contact has been reached, and we can be certain that Merenptah knew the name of Israel, and that he had attacked and subdued this people. But where? All the content shows that this happened in Syria, about Galilee. If so, how can Merenptah possibly be the Pharaoh of the Exodus? will be at once said. To this a counter-question arises: how is it that no trace of this fighting in Palestine, or of any of the similar wars of Rameses II. or Rameses III., is to be found in the Book of Judges? It is not now a question of silence on the Egyptian, but on the Hebrew side. If the land was being continually invaded and ravaged, why do the. Egyptians never appear as either oppressing or relieving Israel during the struggles of the Judges? To this there seems but one answer: they were not there at the time. A frequent reply to this silence about the Egyptians is that they did not come across the Israelites, but kept along Philistia in their wars. Not only do the names of the conquered towns show that they went up into the heart of Palestine, but now we know for certain that Merenptah had fought with Israelites, and apparently up in Galilee.

The truth, then, seems to be in saying that there were Israelites and Israelites. That quarrelsome and obstinate race, as shown in their early history, had split up in the dim ages, and while part went down into Egypt others remained in Syria. The very general view in recent years that there were traces of the tribes in Palestine before the Exodus age is thus strengthened, and we begin to get a side-light on the history different from what the records of monarchical Judah which we possess would, lead us to suppose. Therefore, the silence concerning Egypt in the Book of Judges may well lead us to place the Hebrew record as referring to a time after the last invasion by the Rameside kingsthat under Rameses III.; and this would just allow forty years to elapse since the reign of Merenptah. Hence the Exodus cannot well be before Merenptah, while the short time which that leaves for the age of Judges quite precludes our supposing it to have taken place after him. By the very scanty facts that we can reason on at present, we are brought back again, then, to what is the most generally received view: that Rameses II. was the great oppressor, and that Merenptah let the Israelites go.

Now last winter I was permitted to excavate, along a part of the ruin strewn desert at Thebes, and to examine the sites of temples which stand there. On these few furlongs I found that there had been seven temples of the kings of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties, about 1450-1150 B.C. Most of these I entirely cleared out; the largest piece of all the great buildings around the Rameseumbeing the clearance of the Egyptian Research Account worked by Mr. Quibell. Each site gave us some return in information or objects; but the most valuable of the sites, as it proved, was one of the least inviting. A field of stone chips showed where the funeral temple of Merenptah had stood; and, left in the ruins, I found the great granite tablet bearing the long inscription of Merenptah about his Libyan war and his Syrian war, and naming Israel. This tablet is over 10ft. high, over 5ft. wide, and over a foot thick, of one flawless block of very fine-grained granite, or, rather, syenite. It was first cut by one of the most sumptuous kings of Egypt, Amenhotep III.; brilliantly polished, as flat and glassy as a mirror, and engraved with a scene of the king offering to Amen, the god of Thebes, and an inscription of about three thousand hieroglyphs recording his offerings and glorifying the god. His son Akhenaten, who strove after a higher faith, erased all figures and inscriptions of Amen, and so effaced most of his father's fine carving on this great tablet. This, however, was all re-engraved by Seti I., about fifty years later, as a restoration. Then, some two centuries after it had been erected in the temple of Amenhotep III., Merenptah cast an envious gaze on the splendid stone, and stole it for his own purposes. Not taking the trouble to rework it, he simply built the face of it into his own wall, and engraved on the comparatively rough back of the block. At the top he figured a scene of the king offering to Amen, and below an inscription very nearly as large as that of Amnenhotep III. on the other side. The painting of the sculptured figures still remains as fresh as on the day it was done; for, as the tablet fell face forward when the temple was destroyed, the side belonging to Merenptah lay downward, while that of Amenhotep III. was uppermost. In the ruins, then, amid the fragments of columns and foundations, heaped over with a foot or two of stone chips, this grand, block had lain since about the time of the Trojan war. All Greek history, Roman, and mediaevalthe prophets, Christianity, and Islamhave swept along while this was waiting unsuspected, with its story of the wars of Pharaoh of the Hard-heart, and his crushing of Israel.

But besides the tablet I found another and more personal memorial of Pharaohhis own portrait. From, the earliest times the Egyptians sought to provide a dwelling for the soul as closely like the person in life as sculpture and colour could render it. These statues, or soul-houses, were placed in the upper chamber of the tomb, where the offerings were made in reality or engraved in simile. And when the kings had the chambers of offerings expanded into a great temple, placed some distance in front of the tomb, the statues were placed in the temple, so that the soul could take his place in such a glorious tabernacle to receive the offerings made for its sustenance. The statues of the funeral temples, then, are more especially the images of the king; they were to the Egyptian the corporeal king himself, the nearest approximation, to his bodily presence, and actually tenanted by his soul.


AN EGYPTIAN ACCOUNT OF THE CAPTIVITY.

[Extracted from the Hawke's Bay Herald, Monday, August 3, 1896, p. 2. No author stated.]


The more science and research dig up the history of the past as told by pictures, tablets, pyramids, and ruined cities in Egypt and elsewhere, the more is Biblical history substantially confirmed. until quite recently, however, no reference to the escape of the Israelites from Egypt has never been found. While some critics have used this to cast doubt on the Biblical record, more than one authority has suggested that as all records found were of the victories of the Egyptians, it was probably the custom to destroy any such which were connected with ultimate defeat. Mr. W. M. F. Petrie, in an article in the Contemporary Review, tell us of the latest discoveries, which go to show that while the whole children of Israel were not in Egypt, some tribes were, and the others, in Palestine, were crushed by the Egyptians before the Exodus. We have not the whole article before us, but quote from a summary in the Review of Reviews. Mr. Petrie thus describes the discovery; "Three months of excavation brought to light the sites of four royal temples hitherto quite unknown, those of Amenhotep II., Tahutmes IV., Tausert, and Saptah, dating from about 1450 to 1150 B.C.; another temple was identified as belonging to Merenptah, and two others already known, of Uazmes and Rameses the Great, were fully explored and fresh results obtained. With six of these temples we are not here concerned; but that of Merenptah contained the historical prize of the year." Now, Merenptah is supposed to be none other than the Pharaoh of the Exodus, who lived about 1200 B.C. Pharaoh, in addition to his other misdeeds, with which every reader of the Bible is familiar, seems to have added this above all, that he destroyed the magnificent temple reared by his predecessor: "Amenhotep III. (about 1400 B.C.), who was, perhaps, the most sumptuous of Egyptian monarchs, had left a glorious monument for his funeral temple, the only sign of which usually seen is the pair of Colossi, so celebrated as the Colossi of the plain of Thebes. These stood before the entrance, and far behind them stretched courts and halls, the beauty and size of which we can imagine from the contemporary temple of Luxor." In order to obtain material with which to erect one of his own edifices, he smashed this magnificent temple, using it, indeed, as a quarry: "Amid all this destruction, as bad as anything ever done Turk or Pope, there was one block which almost defied injury. For a great account of his religious benefactions, Amenhotep III. had selected a splendid slab of black syenite, penetrated with quartz veins. It stood 10ft 3in high, and 5ft 4in wide, while its thickness of 13in of such a tough material prevented its suffering from a mere fall. It is the largest stele of igneous rock known, and was polished like glass on its exquisitely flat face. This noble block Merenptah stole and re-used; the face of it was set into a wall, and the back of it thus shown was engraved with a scene and a long historical description of Merenptah." Mr. Petrie then translates the inscription in full, which occupies more than two pages of the Contemporary Review. It begins by describing the campaign in Libya, and then: "The recital of the conquests of the king passes from Libya to Syria, and refers to a war of which very few traces have yet been recovered. Beginning with the Hittites in the north, the king next names Pa-kanana, which was a fortress of the Canaanites; this appears most likely to be the modern Deir Kanan, five miles south-east of Tyre, or else the village of Kana, a little further south-east. Next comes Askadni, which is not known in this form; and perhaps by error of the sign d for that of l it should read Askalni or Askelon." The clause in which the children of Israel are mentioned is translated as follows: For the sun of Egypt has wrought this change; he was born as the fated means of revenging it, the King Merenptah. Chiefs bend down, saying, 'Peace to thee;' not one of the nine bows raises his head. Vanquished are the Tahennu (N. Africans): the Khita (Hittites) are quieted; ravaged is Pa-kanana (Kanun) with all violence; taken is Askadni (Askelon?); seized is Kazmel; Yenu (Yanoh) of the Syrians is made as though it had not existed; THE PEOPLE OF YSIRAAL IS SPOILED, IT HATH NO SEED; Syria has become as widows of the land of Egypt; all lands together are in peace. Everyone that was a marauder hath been subdued by the king Merenptah, who gives like the sun everyday." Now it is obvious that if the people in Israel were spoiled by Merenptah in Palestine after the Exodus, we should have had some record of it in the Old Testament. This incursion must, therefore, have taken, place before the Exodus and, therefore, part of the Children of Israel must have been living in the land of Canaan before Joshua led the rest of the nation across the Jordan. Mr. Petrie says; "It is impossible here to enter on the details; suffice to say that by astronomical festivals the reign of Merenptah is fixed at about 1200 B.C. as its middle point; that the history of the Egyptian kings between him and Shishak well agrees with this date with a few years; that the genealogies of the Levites agree also within a few years of the same interval; and that the history of Judges, when carefully separated into its triple strands of north, west, and east, shows a complete history of each division of the country covering just about the same period as indicated by each of the other methods. We are thus led to see that there is nothing inconsistent with history in placing the Exodus under Merenptah, as is usually supposed; and that so there remains no difficulty in accepting the obvious conclusion that the last Egyptian raid was over before the twelve Tribes entered Palestine in a body."


EXPLORATION AND DISCOVERY

James Henry Breasted.
The University of Chicago.

THE ISRAEL TABLET.

[Extracted from The Biblical World, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Jan., 1897), pp. 62-68.]


Much has been written concerning the above tablet, with which the readers of the Biblical World are doubtless already familiar, but as misleading impressions of its historical bearing have undoubtedly been made of late, a further word concerning it seems necessary.

Our readers are already acquainted with the scene of Mr. Petrie's excavations of last winter at Thebes as published in these pages (February and April 1896). Among the many important results of these excavations is the discovery of several lost temples, among which the most important was that of Merneptah. It was constructed largely of magnificent materials, deliberately stolen from the neighboring temple of Amenhotep III, and ruthlessly broken up for the purpose. This explains the almost total disappearance of Amenhotep III's temple, which stood behind the well-known colossi of the plain, and the entrance of which they guarded. Among these materials thus appropriated was a splendid stela of black syenite ten feet three inches high, five feet four inches wide, and thirteen inches thick. It had been inscribed with an account of Amenhotep III's religious activities but had been defaced by his son Amenhotep IV, to erase the name and mention of Amon. It was beautifully recut by Seti I, as the column at the top informs us. Such had been its history when Merneptah saw it and seized it for his temple. There he placed it face to the wall and engraved upon the exposed back a hymn of praise to himself. It is this text which contains the reference to Israel.

It is the purpose of these notes to offer only a commentary on this passage and its context, not to present any theory of the date and Pharaoh of the exodus. Let us simply ascertain what the inscription says and what it means. As the reader may see, the tablet contains a text of twenty eight lines. Of these, twenty-five and part of the twenty-sixth are devoted to the celebration of a great victory of Merneptah over the Libyans in his fifth year, with which we were before familiar; the remainder, of less than three lines, contains a list [p.62] of eight northern peoples or localities conquered by the king. The whole is in poetry. The list is as follows:

1. "The kings are overthrown, saying 'Salam;'
2. Not one is holding up his head among the nine bows;
3. Undone is Tehenu;
4. Kheta is pacified;
5. Plundered is Pa-Kanana with every evil;
6. Carried away is Ashkelon;

[p.64]

7. Seized upon is Gezer;
8. Yenuam is made as one that is not;
9. Israel is desolated: his grain is not;
10. Palestine has become as widows for Egypt.
11. All lands,—together they are in peace,
12. Everyone who rebels is subdued by the King Merneptah."*

These concluding lines of the inscription form a clearly defined strophe of twelve verses; it opens (vss. 1 and 2) and closes (vss. 11 and 12) with a couplet containing a general statement of the subjugation of the foreign peoples, while in the eight verses between is the list of these peoples. It is important to note that these opening and closing couplets thus decisively designate the list of names inclosed between them, as those of foreign countries or peoples, none of which was in Egypt at this time.

Commentary, vss. 1 and 2. As indicated above, they contain a general statement of the subjugation of the foreign nations. The couplet is a synonymous parallelism, in which "kings" and "nine bows" correspond, the latter being a poetic designation of the foreign peoples as a whole.

Vs. 3. The list naturally begins with the Libyans just defeated, who form the nucleus of the north African tribes designated by "Tehenu."

Vs. 4. Here follow the Asiatic enemies of Egypt, beginning naturally with the most formidable, the Hittites. The word translated "pacified" means simply "to be satisfied," and it is only from the parallelism that the translation can be justified; for as far as we know Merneptah had never broken the treaty of peace made with the Hittites by his father Ramses II, and the great Karnak inscription states that Merneptah sent supply vessels to them with grain. This insertion of "Kheta" among the list is therefore possibly gratuitous boasting.

Vs. 5. Why Canaan (called Pa-Kanana, literally "the Canaan") should follow the Hittites is not evident. Among the Egyptians Canaan was the term for nearly the whole of western Syria, and in he north on the coast would reach far beyond the southern limits of the Hittites who were further inland on the Orontes.

Vss. 6-8. Here there is possibly a definite grouping of localities and a movement from south to north. Ashkelon, the well-known Philistine city, marks the southern beginning; Gezer next, in southern [p.66] Ephraim just northwest of Jerusalem, carries us a step further northward; while Yenuam, inland from Tyre, completes the northern progress. All three are cities.

Vs. 9. Regarding the reading of the word "Israel" there can be no possible question. The consonants1 are ישראל with vowel indications after ש and א. Doubt has been cast on the meaning of the word2 (fk) here translated "desolated." This meaning is established by placing our passage parallel with two others thus:

"Israel is fk, his grain is not."

1. "Those who reached my border are desolated, their grain is not."3
2. "The Seped are desolated, their grain is not."4
3. "The fire has made entrance to us, our grain is not" (words of defeated Libyans).5

Its meaning "to waste" or "desolate" is therefore clear. But the word itself occurs elsewhere in the same connection:

4. "Their cities are turned to ashes, destroyed, desolated (fk), their grain is not."6

Sayce informs us (in the Homiletic Review, September 1896, p. 199) that this word (fk) "is met with here (meaning on the Israel tablet) for the first time." (!) There has been much diversity of opinion regarding the meaning of the phrase in our text: "his grain is not." Spiegelberg has given three examples of this phrase;7 but the texts of the same period contain two more, making five. These two are No. 1 above and the fifth as follows:

5. "Overthrown (?) is the chief of , its grain is not."8

Nos. 3 and 4 make it very evident that the phrase means the destruction of supplies by fire. Hence the word translated "grain" (prt), in our passage, cannot by any possibility mean "seed" in the sense of offspring or posterity, a meaning which it elsewhere occasion- [p.67] ally has. Moreover, in the above five passages, this phrase is applied to the Libyans (twice), to the Seped, to the northern maritime peoples, and to the Tehenu. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that we have in it a conventional, stereotyped phrase which could be and was applied to any conquered and plundered people; it indicates nothing more than the loss of their supplies of grain or produce. I hope the passages adduced have made this clear to the non-Egyptologist, so that he may not be misled by such statements as the following:

" .... the Egyptian scribe draws a discreet veil of silence over the flight of Israel and the loss of the pursuing host in the waters of the sea, and describes only the effect of the measures that had been taken to destroy the "seed of Israel;" or again "The expression used of the Israelites on the newly found stela is nothing less than a summary of the biblical account"9 (meaning the slaying of the male children in Exodus). Certainly no one with a knowledge of the above parallel passages could have published such statements. The article in which they occur is entitled: "Light on the Pentateuch from Egyptology;"

we must confess a doubt as to the appropriateness of this title, or else infer that this "light" from Egypt owing to the intensity of the Mosaic atmosphere, has likewise suffered eclipse.

In the Contemporary Review of last November we find Mr. Sayce setting the biblical critics and the archaeologists over against each other in two hostile camps; then taking his stand as the spokesman of the latter he shows how archaeology is upsetting the results of biblical criticism.

If the article in the Homiletic Review is an example of the method by which the critic is to be routed he has very little to fear, and we take occasion to add that so far as the archaeology of Egypt is concerned it has very strikingly confirmed the general results of Old Testament criticism.

To return to our commentary, vs. 9 therefore indicates that Israel has suffered defeat and been spoiled of her provisions and produce. It is perfectly clear that the author of the text thinks of Israel as in Syria among the Syrian peoples and places mentioned with her. This is also implied in the strophic structure (see above). That he writes the determinative for "people" with the word "Israel" is not necessarily significant, but the reference to "Israel" by means of the pro noun "his" (in "his grain is not") shows clearly that the writer has the collective people in mind, for had he meant the land, the pronoun would have been feminine.

[p.68]

Vs. 10. "Palestine" has become as helpless as widows before the attacks of Egypt.

Vss. 11-12. The concluding couplet, containing in a synonymous parallelism the general statement of the subjugation of the nations, and corresponding to the introductory couplet.

It is difficult to decide whether or not these twelve verses indicate that Merneptah made a campaign in Palestine and Syria, but the definite mention of certain places would incline one to the conclusion that he did. Nothing decisive on this question can be stated until further material shall be discovered.

As already stated, these notes are intended only to present briefly the real meaning of the passage referring to Israel. The date of the exodus is another question, depending entirely on how long Israel has been in Palestine at the time of our inscription, viz., the fifth year of Merneptah. One thing is certain, that Merneptah can no longer be called the Pharaoh of the exodus, unless the wilderness wandering be given up.

To sum up, although this inscription does not identify the Pharaoh of the exodus for us, it gives us a definite date, the latter part of the thirteenth century, B. C, at which we find Israelites in Palestine. Unless we accept the improbable hypothesis of a divided Israel, this is a certain terminus ad quern for the date of the exodus. The establishment of the date of this event within narrower limits awaits further evidence, which, judging from Mr. Petrie's brilliant discovery, the soil of Egypt is very likely to furnish us.


FOOTNOTES

* [Note by the editor: A more modern rendering of this verse is:

"The princes, prostrated, say 'Shalom';
None raises his head among the Nine Bows.
Now that Tehenu has come to ruin, Hatti is pacified.
Canaan has been plundered into every sort of woe. Ashkelon has been overcome.
Gezer has been captured.
Yano'am was made non-existent.
Israel is laid waste (and) his seed is not.
Hurru has become a widow because of Egypt.
All lands have united themselves in peace.
Anyone who was restless, he has been subdued by the King of Upper and Lower Egypt,
Ba-en-Re-mery-Amun, son of Re, Mer-en-Ptah Hotep-her-Ma'at, granted life like Re, daily."

See also below for a modern rendering of the full text.]

1 The use of s (instead of š) for ש has plenty of parallels.

2 It is written fkt in the text, the t being the misreading of hieratic x.

3 Wars of Ramses III against the northerners (eighth year). Medinet Habu, 1. 23.

4 Dumichen, Hist. Inschriften, I, XXIV, 1. 36. Quoted also by Spiegelberg, ZA, XXXIV, 23.

5 War of Ramses III against Libyans (fifth year), Medinet Habu, 1. 47. Quoted also by Spiegelberg ZA, XXXIV, 23.

6 Dumichen, Hist. Inschriften, I, XX, 1. 2. Quoted also by Spiegelberg, ZA, XXXIV, 23.

7 ZA, XXXIV, 23.

8 Ramses III's war with the Libyans (fifth year) 11. 13, 14, Medinet Habu.

9 Sayce in Hom. Rev., September 1896, p. 199 f.


Bibliography

Hommel. Merenptah und die Israeliten. Neue Kirch. Zeitsch., VII, pp. 581-6.
Menephtah et Israilou. Rev. bibl. intern., July, pp. 467-8.
Muller. Israel in a Hieroglyphic Text. Independent, July 9, 1896, p. 940.
Sayce. The Israelites in Egypt. Sunday School Times, July 14, 1896, p. 438-9.
    "     Light on the Pentateuch from Egyptology. Hom. Rev., September 1896.
Sellin, Ein fur Israels Geschichte nicht unwichtiger Fund auf agyptischem Boden. Neue Kirchl. Zeitschr., VII, pp. 502-14.
Steindorff. Israel in einer altagyptischen Inschrift. ZAW., XVI, 1896, pp. 330-3.
    "     Israel auf einer altagyptischen Inschrift. Mitteil. u. Nachr. des Deutsch. Pal. Ver., 1896, pp. 45-6.
Marshall. Expositor, July 1896.
Petrie. Egypt and Israel. The Contemporary Review, May 1896, pp. 617-27.
    "     Pharaoh of the Hard Heart. Century, August 1896.
Spiegelberg. Die erste Erwahnung Israels in einem agyptischen Texte. Sitzungsber. der Berl. Akad., 1896, pp. 593 ff.
    "     Der Siegeshymnus des Merneptah auf der Flinders Petrie-Stele. Zeitschr. f. Aeg. Sprache, XXXIV, pp. 1-25.
See also Maspero's The Struggle of the Actions, just appeared.

[See also:

E.A. Wallis Budge, A History of Egypt (Oxford Univ., 1902), vol. 5, pp. 103-8
John A. Wilson, The Burden of Egypt (Chicago Univ. 1951), pp. 254-5
    "      "Hymn of Victory of Mer-ne-Ptah (The 'Israel Stele')," in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, ed. James B. Pritchard (Princeton, 3rd ed., 1969), pp. 376-8.—Ed.]


A Modern Translation

Translated by Miriam Lichtheim

[Extracted from her Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume II (Berkeley, 1976), pp. 74-7.]

"Year 5, 3rd month of summer, day 3, under the Majesty of Horus: Mighty Bull, Rejoicing in Maat; the King of Upper and Lower Egypt: Banere-meramun; the Son of Re: Merneptah, Content with Maat, magnified by the power, exalted by the strength of Horus; strong bull who smites the Nine Bows, whose name is given to eternity forever.

Recital of his victories in all lands, to let all lands together know, to let the glory of his deeds be seen: the King of Upper and Lower Egypt: Banere-meramun; the Son of Re: Merneptah, Content with Maat; the Bull, lord of strength who slays his foes, splendid on the field of valour when his attack is made:

Shu who dispelled the cloud that was over Egypt,
    letting Egypt see the rays of the sun disk.
Who removed the mountain of copper from the people's neck,
    that he might give breath to the imprisoned folk.
Who let Hut-ka-Ptah exult over its foes,
    letting Tjenen triumph over his opponents.
Opener of Memphis' gates that were barred,
    who allowed the temples to receive their foods.
The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Banere-meramun,
    the Son of Re, Merneptah, Content with Maat.
The Sole One who steadied the hearts of hundred thousands,
    breath entered their nostrils at the sight of him.
Who destroyed the land of the Tjemeh in his lifetime,
    cast abiding terror in the heart of the Meshwesh.
He turned back the Libyans who trod Egypt,
    great is dread of Egypt in their hearts.

Their leading troops were left behind,
Their legs made no stand except to flee,
Their archers abandoned their bows,
The hearts of their runners grew weak as they sped,
They loosened their water-skins, cast them down,
Their packs were untied, thrown away.
The vile chief, the Libyan foe,
Fled in the deep of night alone,
No plume on his head, his feet unshod,
His wives were carried off from his presence,
His food supplies were snatched away,
He had no drinking water to sustain him.
The gaze of his brothers was fierce to slay him,
His officers fought among each other,
Their tents were fired, burnt to ashes,
All his goods were food for the troops.
When he reached his country he was in mourning
those left in his land were loath to receive him
"A chief, ill-fated, evil-plumed",
All said of him, those of his town.
"He is in the power of the gods,
the lords of Memphis The Lord of Egypt has made his name accursed;
Merey is the abomination of Memphis,
So is son after son of his kin forever.
Banere-meramun will be after his children,
Merneptah, Content with Maat is given him as fate.
He has become a [proverbial saying] for Libya,
Generation says to generation of his victories:
It was never done to us since the time of Re;"
So says every old man speaking to his son.

Woe to Libyans, they have ceased to live
In the good manner of roaming the field;
In a single day their stride was halted
In a single year were the Tjehenu burned!
Seth turned his back upon their chief,
By his word their villages were ruined;
There's no work of carrying [loads] these days.
Hiding is useful, it's safe in the cave.
The great Lord of Egypt, might and strength are his,
Who will combat, knowing how he strides?
A witless fool is he who takes him on,
He knows no tomorrow who attacks his border!
As for Egypt, "Since the gods," they say,
"She is the only daughter of Pre;
His son is he who's on the throne of Shu,
None who attacks her people will succeed.
The eye of every god is after her despoiler,
It will make an end of all its foes",
So say they who gaze toward their stars,
And know all their spells by looking to the winds.

A great wonder has occurred for Egypt,
Her attacker was placed captive (in) her hand,
Through the counsels of the godly king,
Who prevailed against his foes before Pre.
Merey who stealthily did evil
To all the gods who are in Memphis,
He was contended with in On,
The Ennead found him guilty of his crimes.
Said the Lord-of-all: "Give the sword to my son,
The right-hearted, kind, gracious Banere-meramun,
Who cared for Memphis, who avenged On,
Who opened the quarters that were barred.
He has freed the many shut up in all districts,
He has given the offerings to the temples,
He has let incense be brought to the gods,
He has let the nobles retain their possessions,
He has let the humble frequent their towns".
Then spoke the lords of On in behalf of their son,
Merneptah, Content with Maat:
"Grant him a lifetime like that of Re,
To avenge those injured by any land;
Egypt has been assigned him as portion,
He owns it forever to protect its people".
Lo, when one dwells in the time of the mighty,
The breath of life comes readily.
The brave bestows wealth on the just,
The cheat cannot retain his plunder;
[What a man has of ill-gotten wealth
Falls to others, not (his) children.]

This (too) shall be said:
Merey the vile foe, the Libyan foe
Had come to attack the walls of Ta-tenen,
Whose lord had made his son arise in his place,
The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Banere-meramun,
Son of Re, Merneptah, Content with Maat.
Then said Ptah concerning the vile Libyan foe:
"His crimes are all gathered upon his head.
Give him into the hand of Merneptah, Content with Maat,
He shall make him spew what he gorged like a crocodile.
Lo, the swift will catch the swift,
The lord who knows his strength will snare him;
It is Amun who curbs him with his hand,
He will deliver him to his ka in Southern On,
The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Banere-meramun,
Son of Re, Merneptah, Content with Maat".

Great joy has arisen in Egypt,
Shouts go up from Egypt's towns;
They relate the Libyan victories
Of Merneptah, Content with Maat:
"How beloved is he, the victorious ruler!
How exalted is he, the King among the gods!
How splendid is he, the lord of command!
O how sweet it is to sit and babble!"
One walks free-striding on the road,
For there's no fear in people's hearts;
Fortresses are left to themselves,
Wells are open for the messengers' use.
Bastioned ramparts are becalmed,
Sunlight only wakes the watchmen;
Medjai are stretched out asleep,
Nau and Tekten are in the fields they love.
The cattle of the field are left to roam,
No herdsmen cross the river's flood;
There's no calling out at night:
"Wait, I come," in a stranger's voice.
Going and coming are with song,
People don't [lament] and mourn;
Towns are settled once again,
He who tends his crop will eat it.
Re has turned around to Egypt,
The Son is ordained as her protector,
The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Banere-meramun,
Son of Re, Merneptah, Content with Maat.

The princes are prostrate saying: "Shalom!"
Not one of the Nine Bows lifts his head:
Tjehenu is vanquished, Khatti at peace,
Canaan is captive with all woe.
Ashkelon is conquered, Gezer seized,
Yanoam made nonexistent;
Israel is wasted, bare of seed,
Khor is become a widow for Egypt.
All who roamed have been subdued.
By the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Banere-meramun,
Son of Re, Merneptah, Content with Maat,
Given life like Re every day."