Stage 4: Wider reading :

Unit 2: The Hyksos in Egypt

The Hyksos in Egypt

When Abram left Ur of the Chaldees, with Terah his father, to slowly make his way through Haran to Canaan and eventually on to Egypt he was only doing what many others did in his times.

For the Old World extended from Harappan and Mohenjo Dahro in India across the great river city states of the Tigris and Euphrates region, via the mountains of the Fertile Crescent and the land bridge of Canaan down to the majestic empire of Egypt.

Concourse across these vast territories was already at least two thousand years old, involving the varied interests of commerce, war and travel.

By the time Abram reached Egypt he was already a man of substance who was received and honoured by the Pharaoh.

He was again one of many from the land of Canaan who had been entering that land during the preceding the centuries, (perhaps from as early as 2533 B.C.) as part of a widespread movement engaged in commerce, or as emissaries.

His time would probably have been during the Twelfth Dynasty in Egypt, although it is not yet possible to fix a date with any certainty.

At that time, the influence of Semitic peoples was on the increase in Egypt.

The rulers at Thebes became their vassals and eventually were replaced by them.

Their origin is the subject of controversy.

Knight (p.99 ) considers that the Hyksos represent the mingled Semitic peoples of the Arabian desert, along with the nomadic dwellers in Canaan and the surrounding territories.

By the native Egyptians these invaders were called Hyksos, a name which meant "prince of the desert", and in its plural form became, in later ages, "Shepherd kings".

They became the Pharaohs for some 140 years until they were finally defeated in battle by Ahmose 1, who expelled them from the land in 1570 B.C..

For a long time, the Egyptians made every effort to erase all traces of the Semites, even to avoiding the re-establishment of their capital in the south of Egypt.

However, this may not have been the case under Ramesses 11 who pursued a vigorous building policy in the cities of Pir-Ramesses and Pithom in the Delta region.

The process of infiltration into Egypt was gradual and was driven by two factors of interest.

Firstly, these groups of Western Asiatic peoples were forced southward by widespread disturbances due to drought in lands to the north and east of Egypt.

Secondly, the Egyptian rulers had lost power as is shown by the fact that between 1786 and 1603B.C. seventy individuals came to the throne, generally for only short periods.

They were such times of uncertainty as are described above by Bell:

"In the history of the ancient Near East two striking Dark Ages have occurred.

They occurred more or less simultaneously (within the limits of current dating accuracy) over a wide area extending at least from Greece to Mesopotamia and Elam, from Anatolia to Egypt, and probably beyond.

In Egypt, where the chronology is best established, the first age Dark Age began around 2200 B.C., when at the end of Dynasty VI, Egypt until then a very stable society, with seeming suddenness fell into anarchy.

About the same time the Akkadian Empire disintegrated."