[b-hebrew] Rohl's Chronology Deconstructed

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Jul 26 16:13:03 EDT 2004

On 26/07/2004 18:58, MarianneLuban at aol.com wrote:

>In a message dated 7/26/2004 9:37:18 AM Pacific Daylight Time, 
>peterkirk at qaya.org writes:
>>David Rohl is also trained in archaeology and Egyptology.
>>By the way, I have found in Rohl's book "From Eden to Exile", p.11, a 
>>clear statement: "The fact that Shoshenk is dated solely by identifying 
>>him with Shishak - and therefore entirely through biblical chronology - 
>>comes as a bit of a shock to [Israeli archaeologists]." So Rohl has 
>>anticipated Yigal's confusion.
>Yes, Rohl is trained in Egyptology, but that doesn't mean most of his 
>arguments stand on terra firma.  His "Shishak" is Ramesses II and his argument for 
>that is that an attested nickname for a king named Ramesses is "sisi".  Now that 
>much is so, but the way Rohl accounts for the final "k" just doesn't wash. ...

The name identification is a minor point. The main reason for the 
identification is quite different.

>... Given the tendancy of Ramesses II for self-glorification, if he had conquered 
>Jerusalem, we would have heard about it. ...

If you haven't heard about it, you haven't read Rohl's book (A Test of 
Time chapter 7). On the north pylon of the Ramesseum at Luxor there is a 
text: "The town which the king (Rameses II) plundered in Year 8 - 
Shalem". Apparently even Kenneth Kitchen, Rohl's arch-opponent, agrees 
that Rameses went to Jerusalem. Rohl also shows a large scale relief 
from the main hall at Abu Simbel in which Rameses captures an unnamed 
Asiatic fortified hilltop city, which may well be Jerusalem. And there 
is a panel in the Ashkelon Wall at Karnak which may well represent 
Rameses II defeating Judah.

Sheshonq I may not have been quite such a one for self-glorification as 
Rameses II, but if he did in fact plunder Jerusalem during his campaign 
it seems very strange that he didn't list in the surviving detailed 
description of his campaign. Arguments from silence can cut both ways, 
and are anyway best dropped.

>...  The only time, in my opinion, where 
>Rohl makes any real points is when he talks about the Third Intermediate Period 
>and it is quite possible that this era is shorter than the consensus allows.  
>But that time is getting late in the history of ancient Egypt and assists not 
>at all with making Ramesses II, who lived long before the TIP, a contemporary 
>of King Rehoboam. ...

If the TIP is shortened, and since its end date is fixed, the 
implication is that everything which came before it (for which there is 
very little independent dating evidence) is more recent than previously 
understood. If the TIP and the preceding 20th dynasty are shortened by 
about 300 years, the time of Rameses II corresponds with that of 
Rehoboam according to Thiele's chronology. A 300 year shortening sounds 
improbable, but what is the evidence, apart from the Shishak/Sheshonq 
correspondence, that the TIP and the 20th dynasty together were anything 
like as long as the 500+ years conventionally allocated to them?

>...  Someone else said that Egypt was weak in the time of 
>Akhenaten.  That is not exactly true.  Akhenaten had a firm enough hold in Egypt for 
>some years--but he evidently neglected his empire.  By the time of his 
>successor, Tutankhamun, Egypt was still prosperous enough--as anyone who has ever 
>seen the wonderful artifacts from his tomb can attest.  No poor king of Egypt 
>could afford to put a ton of gold into his coffins alone and when Egypt finally 
>did hit the skids, ...

A country can be rich but still weak in international terms if its 
leaders are weak or preoccupied elsewhere, or if they succeed one 
another too rapidly or are involved in internal strife - or are simply 

>... Solomon got a daughter of one of the negligible 
>rulers of Egypt of the TIP, ...

According to Rohl, a daughter of Rameses I.

>... The Egyptians were so scared the Hittites 
>would march on their land that Tutankhamun's widow made the savvy move of 
>asking for a son of the Hittite king to be her new husband and king of Egypt--so 
>that at least the takeover would be bloodless. ...

Which shows that in the 18th/19th dynasty transition period, and not 
only during the TIP, Egyptian princesses might marry foreign rulers.

>... He [Akhenaten] couldn't fill 
>his predecessor's shoes but in that time the people of Canaan were still 
>between the hammer and the anvil--Egypt and Hatti.  Despite all the rebellion 
>there, this was no time of unification of anything in Canaan. ...

According to Rohl it was, at least when David took over from Saul.

>... And after that, of 
>course, came the powerful 19th Dynasty kings who "were" militarily inclined.  
>Which king of Judah or Israel could have possibly resisted them??

None, of course. Rameses II chose not to attack Solomon in his early 
years, maybe because Solomon was politically useful for a time, as a 
buffer, or because there were more important enemies to deal with like 
the Hittites. He undermined Solomon's kingdom by intriguing with 
Jeroboam, and attacked when he chose to.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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