Hyksos, Kings of Egypt and the land of Edom

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The Hyksos, Kings of Egypt and the land of Edom

By David J. Gibson
A surprising solution to a long standing intriguing problem.

This document sets forth the theory that the Edomites were the ancient Hyksos who invaded Egypt. If you are interested in investigating such a theory, we ask that you extend us the courtesy of starting at the beginning of the document, in order to follow our line of reasoning. Please note that this document has been split into fifteen web pages and comprises over 30,000 words. It was first published in 1962 under the title “Whence Came the Hyksos, Kings of Egypt” and has been revised and updated for publication on this website.

Table of Contents   Foreword
 Chapter One  The Enormous Hyksos Empire
 Chapter Two  The Mixed Origin of the Edomites
 Chapter Three  The Birth of the Kingdom of Edom
 Chapter Four  The Book of Job
 Chapter Five  The Hyksos-Edomite Empire
 Chapter Six  The Hyksos Used Horses
 Chapter Seven  Religion and Date of Edomite Empire
 Chapter Eight  Where Did They Go?
 Chapter Nine  Further Considerations
 Appendix 1  End Notes
 Appendix 2  Earliest Horses in Egypt
 Appendix 3  Hyksos Influence in Canaanite Cities
 Appendix 4  Comparison Table
 Appendix 5  Chronological Table
 Appendix 6  Maps
 Appendix 7  Bibliography



The theory set forth in this book was not an over-night inspiration. The first flash of thought along this line occurred to me during my early studies in the 1920's. That first flash received a rather skeptical reception in my own mind, but as time has gone on various facets of the original idea found enticing support through further study. Along with this, archaeological research continued to supply me with confirmatory factors, such as a strong Hurrian element in the Hyksos make-up. Over time it began to run in my mind that, that first flash had more to it than I had supposed. Thus it was finally decided to set down the theory in writing that others might consider it. Possibly it may prove an acceptable theoretical basis pending further research by someone more able than myself. Hopefully further information may prove confirmatory and enable this theory to pass in whole or in part into the realm of assured fact. If further interest and study is stirred up by propounding this theory, then, even though our main suggestion may prove wrong, still good will have resulted by the further research and study engendered to this neglected area of historical study. My years of study are coming to and end, but perhaps someone else will press on to really unravel the Hyksos mystery.

The theory at hand draws upon two main sources of information. First, the science of archaeology with some extra data from historical traditions, and second, the Bible. Both will contribute to our study. Very heavy dependence upon the Biblical record will be noted, as this is our primary source of information about the early history of this region.

The author may appear much too sanguine in this, to those who hold to the Graf-Wellhausen ideas of the composite J. E. P. origin of the Pentateuch, or Hexateuch, if they wish. If the Pentateuch was compiled in the 8th to 5th centuries B.C., as they suppose, it appeared long, long after the times it refers to. In many minds the reliability of the writings is thereby destroyed. Such readers may wonder why we fail to take cognizance of which hypothetical author (J, E, or P., etc.) is supposed to have contributed this or that particular passage which we quote and rely upon in this book, to see what bearing such authorship might have upon our theory.

To all such, we thus reply, first, this website is not the place for the discussion of hypothetical sources. Second, even if one granted the theory of the late composition of the Pentateuch (or Hexateuch), it does not necessarily follow that our theory would be thereby affected.

These late authors may have had good sound well preserved oral traditions to go by. Nay, in view of the great antiquity of writing, now greatly supported by archaeological evidence and antiquity far out-dating the times with which we deal, these late writers may have drawn entirely from written records originating near the events themselves. Can we prove otherwise? We feel we are in no position to question the accuracy of the Biblical records we quote, unless we have very clear proof that they are contrary to clear archeological evidence. We believe such proof to be lacking or quite inadequate.

Again, as to whether the names preserved in early Hebrew stories are of actual individuals or represent clans and tribes etc., we have this to say. Supposing such to be the case. What then? If by Abraham marrying Hagar is meant a clan from Egypt called the Hagarites intermingling with some Hebrew clan from which came the Ishmaelite clan we are still confronted with the Ishmaelites being of a mixed Hebrew-Egyptian origin, just as much as by taking the, names to represent individuals and as telling actua1 history.

Therefore, it was felt best, that in this paper we should assume to accept the Biblical evidence just as it comes to our hand, without raising questions none of us can answer. We give it the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully that will seem a fair treatment from any stand one may take in this matter.

Of course, the author feels free to hold his own opinions as to the writers of the Pentateuch. He is not ashamed to confess he finds difficulty in fully believing in the Mosaic authorship of all the Pentateuch saving the closing chapters of Deuteronomy. The Ugarit discoveries have put back alphabetical writing to the age of Moses, and such writing could be quite a bit earlier. Others may think differently. This difference need not upset fair consideration of the theory set forth in the following pages.

We wish to thank Dr. Arthur C. Custance of Ottawa for some help given through personal correspondence, (http://www.custance.org) as well as the Ameri-Cana Institute who made several searches for us, which were helpful.

As a note to the student of Hyksos history, the follow paper is quite lengthy. In order to present our theory and substantiate it with evidence, both circumstantial and actual, we have presented it in a paper some 30,000 words in length, supplemented with maps and illustrations. We ask the reader to grant us the courtesy of starting at the beginning of the paper and reading through it, in order to understand the arguments that we are presenting.

Editors Note: This paper was first published in 1962 under the title "Whence came the Hyksos, Kings of Egypt." It has been slightly re-edited and updated in light of more modern research, including Dr. Manfred Bietak's excavations at Tell el-Dab'a. Some of the language and expression used, however, reflect an earlier style of writing.

The Enormous Hyksos Empire
"Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane. . ."

The mysterious Hyksos or "Shepherd Kings" of ancient Egypt have long presented scholars with one of the more puzzling questions of history. These people were foreigners, not Egyptians. They invaded the country and then reigned in that land of the Nile as Pharaohs.

Seemingly out of nowhere, about seventeen hundred years before Christ, (1) a Hyksos king called Salatis, with his people, suddenly swarmed in on horseback across the eastern border of Lower Egypt. For a few generations they vigorously ruled from the Delta of the Nile, part of the time dominating all of Egypt. During this time they took on all the titles of native Pharaohs. They even adopt Egyptian ways, yet were never absorbed by or loved by the Egyptians. Indeed the Egyptians seem to have hated them intensely. The Hyksos seem to hold sway over an enormous ancient empire, of which luxurious Egypt was but a part, until finally the Egyptians arose against their masters. Then, as suddenly as they mysteriously came, they equally mysteriously pass away, dropping completely out of sight altogether. Driven back out of Egypt, not very long before the birth of Moses, the Hyksos Kings with their great empire promptly fade and disappear never to rise again. Not another trace of these people has ever yet been identified.

Where did these people go when they vanished in retreat? When Ahmose I (the Egyptian king who founded the XVIIIth Dynasty) drove the Hyksos armies from his country soon after 1580 B.C. the enemy retreated not only to southern Palestine, but retreated out of history itself!

The great Hyksos Empire became a forgotten empire, unrecorded in preserved history until the new science of archaeology began piecing together the exciting bits of evidence dug up here and there. No one has yet succeeded in tracing their retreat any farther, or in discovering their home towards which they seemed to be retiring. Who were these people? Many speculations and suggestions have been made. Some researchers have suggested they came from Kadesh and others suggest other cities in Syria. Some historians have looked toward Palestine itself. Still others try to link them with the Hittites of Asia Minor; and for a little while it was speculated that they might have been Hurrians. Some have gone as far as suggesting that their original home was beyond the Caucasus, while others have tried to connect them with the early Hebrews, relatives of the Israelites. (2) It is all very uncertain. The Hyksos remain an enigma and an unsolved riddle to this day.

A Solution from the Bible?
The proposal we would like to put forward is that a clue to the origin of the Hyksos Kings and people may be found in and through the pages of that profound and ancient Book, the Bible.

Too often the earlier portion of the Bible has been viewed as only myth, legend, and folklore. (3) It is looked upon as the literary product of a small and rather insignificant Hebrew tribe, which, after years of wandering around, ended up settling in the Palestine hills; a tiny nation which happened to possess some great and sublime ideas of the Creator and who evolved an excellent monotheism, but which was, paradoxically, woefully local and terribly cramped in geographical and historical outlook. Its book of origins (The Book of Genesis) is often considered as quite fantastic and unreliable as a source of historical fact.

But, surely, if such writers were capable of such sublime, spiritual concepts and were also keen observers of nature about them, (vastly superior to their polytheistic, magic-fearing neighbors) they must have been also capable of just as wide and as discerning a grasp of the political world about them and of the events of their own times in which they sometimes took part. Is it not utter folly for us to dismiss their writings as rather unreliable because they were a small people? One may as well argue that a writer living in little Switzerland, nestling among the Alps, simply could not be an authority on early history because he comes from a small nation or again that he would be unreliable on the history of two world wars because the Swiss took no part in it.

Swiss minds are not inferior to German, English, or American in grasping world evens. Hebrew minds were not inferior to Egyptian, Assyrian, or Babylonian minds in recording history. Indeed we are inclined to think the Hebrews thought in a wider and longer historical view and sense than is visible in much of the earlier records recovered from the great nations of antiquity. We must also remember that the Hebrews, living closer to the events we deal with, likely had better sources than we with our often sketchy and incomplete monuments dug out of the ruins of the palaces of self-centered and boastful monarchs. Again, in contrast to those records which acclaim victories but omit defeats, the Hebrews tell of both defeats as well as victories. Which do you think ultimately most trust worthy? So let us with confidence look to the Bible for light on the times of the Hyksos Kings.

In setting forth this theory, may we first however, examine the historical records uncovered by archaeologists and survey what they may tell us concerning these puzzling Hyksos Kings? Afterwards this will be compared with certain lesser noted parts of Scripture and a check made concerning a people there mentioned, to see if that people may be the origin of the Hyksos. Each reader may then draw his own conclusion as to whether our theoretical identification is to be classified as possible, or plausible or, (we hope not!) preposterous.

Scantiness of Hyksos Records
It is unfortunate that many of the monuments of the Hyksos Kings of Egypt have been lost. Such monuments would no doubt, have supplied the key to the information we now seek. The Delta region of Egypt, where the Hyksos appear to have established their capital after entering Egypt, is not as favorable to the preservation of records as is Upper Egypt. Possibly later Egyptian kings may have sought to destroy every trace of the hated invaders by throwing down and demolishing all their monuments. (4) While archeologists have discovered some traces of the Hyksos, a few records have been preserved, outside of occasional references in later Egyptian writings. The following is a brief summary of the main points of our knowledge of these mysterious kings.

No. l. The Extent of the Hyksos Empire
The name "Hyksos" was thought by the Egyptian historian Manetho (who lived before Christ, yet fifteen long centuries later than the Hyksos) to mean "Shepherd Kings." Many writers still refer to them under that name. As the Hyksos were Semites, and are also called "Arabians," and there may be an element of truth in the idea.

Arabians are commonly shepherds, and Manetho may have known of traditions current in his day giving him reason to believe they actually were shepherds. This may have influenced him to endeavor to make this meaning out of the obscure word, "Hyksos."

Modern scholars, however, are inclined to believe Manetho was mistaken in his derivation of the word. They think it means "Rulers of Countries." (5) Certainly, what we now learn of them bears out that meaning very well. According to Sir Charles Marston in "The Bible Comes Alive," (Eyre and Spotiswoode, London, 1937; pg. 42ff.), the word means "Royal Bedouin." He draws attention to the Ras Shamra or Ugarit tablets which mention the existence of Arabs in Southern Palestine in Patriarchal times, speaking an archaic Hebrew.

Prof. Breasted stated in "A History of the Ancient Egyptians" in 1919, (paragraphs 170-173), that monuments of Khian (or "John"), one of the Hyksos rulers, have been found not only in Lower Egypt, (the Delta region where they resided) but also 350 miles away to the south at Gebelen in Upper Egypt. His royal cartouches are found in Southern Palestine and his name turns up 450 miles off across the sea to the northwest in the Island of Crete. It is also found 750 miles away to the north east, in the distance beyond Palestine, Syria and the Arabian Desert where a granite lion bearing his cartouche upon its breast was found near Baghdad. Consider the far reach of these points on the map below.


No wonder Prof. Breasted when viewing the great wide sweep of this astonishing evidence was moved to say that a person cannot behold it without entertaining the suggestion of, "... a vision of an empire which once stretched from the Euphrates to the first cataract of the Nile."

Were the Hyksos kings really "Rulers of Countries"? Yes, indeed! As heads over an empire embracing anywhere near such an extensive area as indicated by the locations of these monuments, they truly ruled over many countries and varied peoples. They must have dominated the world of their day.

This, then, is our first point. There was a great Hyksos Empire, which was centered in or not far from Lower Egypt; its general area as indicated above. The Hyksos entered Egypt from the east, and, strangely, instead of dominating Egypt from without, that is, from their own capital, they moved into Egypt and made that their center. These facts will be quite important to our later studies.

No. 2. Race and Language of the Hyksos
As to the race and language of the Hyksos, scholars were at first fully agreed they were Semites. They spoke a language closely akin to Hebrew. Then further research detected also a strong Hurrian element in their language, and suggestions were made that the Hyksos were Hittites. One researcher proposed a possible Amorite connection (6) Dr. Merrill F. Unger in "Archaeology and the Old Testament," Zondervan, 1954, p.14" states: "Eventually there arose a new king over Egypt, who ... knew not Joseph. (Exod.l:8). Thus began the long years of oppression. This new king seems to have been the founder or an early king of the powerful 18th dynasty (1546...1319)."

Since the Hyksos invasion of Egypt was led by Semites, and not by Hurrians or Indo-Aryans, as studies have shown, it appears that the expulsion of the Hyksos around the middle of the 16th century BC was the important event that resulted in the oppression of the Israelites. Thus we conclude that scholars now again consider the puzzling Hyksos to be mainly a Semitic people, but with a Hurrian element, which we must not overlook.

On the monuments the Egyptians call the Hyksos "Asiatics" and "Barbarians." Manetho calls them "Arabians" and "Phoenicians." The Jewish writer Josephus, who lived in the time of the early Christians and was a contemporary to the events in the later chapters of the Book of Acts, found the then known facts concerning them so similar to his own nation that he jumped to the conclusion the Hyksos tradition was but a garbled account of the children of Israel in Egypt before the Exodus. This we know is not correct, as the Israelites were slaves, not kings of a great empire, but it does reveal that those traditions concerning the Hyksos made them appear racially very like to the Israelites who were Hebrews.

Sir Charles Marston in "The Bible Comes Alive" argues that the Hyksos were a Hebrew people, though not Israelites. That is, they were of the same racial stock as Abraham, who was a Hebrew. Marston also links the Hyksos with Arabs in part. We feel that in this, he was very near to the solution, as will be evident from our later studies.

Of course, we must recognize that there were other Hebrews aside from Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites. As Arthur Custance very keenly observed in a personal communication to the author, Joseph when talking to Pharaoh's butler says he was "stolen out of the land of the Hebrews." (Genesis 40:15) Dr. Custance continues, "But the mere presence of Jacob and his family in Palestine would hardly warrant it being called Hebrew-land. Evidently a much wider Hebrew domination was in fact existing, a domination by others than Israelites, who were, nevertheless, termed Hebrews." (http://www.custance.org)

Even at the time of Joseph those Hebrews descended from Abraham were becoming numerous in some areas. Both the Ishmaelites and the Midianites who purchased Joseph of his brethren, were Hebrew entities, descended from Abraham. No doubt other Hebrew groups had sprung up from the families of Abraham's father Terah, and the general area where these groups existed from Edom up into Mesopotamia, might thereby be termed Hebrew-Land. See the chart: The Founding of the Nations

To sum this matter up, it seems abundantly clear that the Hyksos were definitely a Semitic people, or led by those who were pre-dominantly Semitic, and that there was a Hurri element as well. Racially, they were very like the Israelites, and could be Hebrews of some sort, or were similar to Hebrews.

We feel that this racial data is so important to our study, that it should be summarized. To discover whence came the Hyksos, we find we must look for a people who can rightly be called any and all of the following:

a. Asiatic From an Egyptian point of view this meant that they were racially not Egyptians but foreigners and strangers from the east.

b. Barbarians The Egyptians considered the Hysksos as a people to be on a lower cultural plane than themselves.

c. Arabians This would be a people linked with the deserts of Arabia, as shepherds, Bedouin, nomads, etc.

d. Phoenicians Referring to Canaanites, either directly from the Land of Canaan or a related people.

e. Semites A people speaking a Semitic tongue; but with a Hurrian admixture.

f. Hebrew A people so like the Israelites that the two could be confused by a later Hebrew writer.

Each of these factors will be referred to later on in our search for the Hyksos homeland. Each will be accounted for.

No. 3 The Hyksos City "Avaris"
The first Hyksos King is said by Manetho to have been Salatis. The account runs that Salatis built himself a capital city named Avaris, somewhere east from Bubastis. It is described as being located east of the eastern arm of the Nile as it fans out in the Delta. For several years I and other historians have suggested that the city Avaris would be close to or in the desert area either in or not too far from the east side of the Delta towards the south-western corner of Palestine. Some historians have identified with Tanis, called Zoan in the Bible. (7)

The site of Tell el-Dab'a is currently thought to be the site of Avaris. In the mid 1960's, Dr. Manfred Bietak of the Austrian Institute in Cairo began to excavate his site, finding evidence of an extensive occupation by an intrusive non-Egyptian population which led him to identify the cultural objects he found as almost identical to Middle Bronze Age artifacts from Syria-Palestine. This in turn led to the belief that Tell el-Dab'a was the lost town-site of the Asiatic Hyksos peoples of Egyptian texts. Excavations have been continued by the Institute of Egyptology at the University of Vienna.

It is of interest in this connection to observe that the eastern border of Egypt has been considered by the majority of scholars to extend over the desert beyond the Isthmus of Suez as far as the Wady el 'Arish. They have held that this wadi, dry most of the year, is called "the river of Egypt" in many Bible passages, and they thus name it as the real boundary between Egypt and Canaan. On the other hand, H. Bar- Deroma in an article, "The River of Egypt (Nahal Mizraim)", (Palestine Exploration Quarterly, Jan.-June 1960, P. 37), studies the passages and gives sound reason to believe "the river of Egypt" is the Nile and or the eastern or Pelusaic arm thereof in the Delta in particular.

Somewhere in this vicinity, in the times of Moses and Joshua, lived the Avim or Avites (Deut.2:23; Josh.13:3). The name is phonetically similar to "Avaris," the Hyksos capital, but no connection has yet been shown.

When the Egyptians finally began to regain power, the Hyksos were besieged in this city of Avaris for an unknown length of time; it may have been a long, hard siege. When the city ultimately fell before the growing power of Pharaoh Ahmose I, the Hyksos lost all control of Egypt and had to retreat to the city of Sharuhen in Southern Palestine.

No. 4. The Hyksos had Horses
It is well known that the Hyksos kings had and used horses. Indeed, it is quite generally believed that it was the Hyksos who introduced the horse into Egypt, since pre-Hyksos monuments do not mention these animals while later monuments do. (8)

Sir Flinders Petrie, when excavating Hyksos graves in Southern Palestine at Tell el Ajjul, near Gaza, found that horses had been buried evidently with their owners. Certainly, the horses must have been loved and held in highest esteem by these men, to merit burial with their masters. (See, "A Pompeii of Southern Palestine" in "The Illustrated London News," June 20,1931, page 1050, also articles in the same journal under dates of May 14,1932, page 814, and July 9, 1932, page 57.)

Archaeologists have also discerned several cemeteries in Tell el-Dab'a belonging to the Second Intermediate Period during recent excavations. These burials date from late Dynasty XIII to the end of the Hyksos Period. One of the more remarkable finds is a mud brick vaulted tomb to the west of the main temple enclosure, which apparently belonged to a Hyksos warrior. He was buried with his weapons, a well-preserved copper sword (the earliest of its type found in Egypt) and dagger, as well as other grave-goods and offerings. In the entrance to the tomb the skeleton of his horse was found and next to the north-eastern wall the body of a young girl - thought to have been a servant, perhaps a sacrifice, who was interred at the time of her master's burial. A number of other horse-burials have recently been uncovered. (See the web site: Egyptian Monuments: http://www.egyptsites.co.uk/lower/delta/eastern/daba/daba.html) Whatever people we seek to identify as the Hyksos, they must be a people having horses.

No. 5. The Religion of the Hyksos
In the matter of religion it seems most evident that the later Hyksos Kings worshipped "Sutekh" or "Seth." (9) "This Egyptian name way be identified as the god "Baal" of the Phoenicians or Canaanites, or shall we say, one of the many "Baals" as local districts had their own "Baal-gods."

Breasted translates a folk-tale circulating in Egypt four hundred years later, which includes this statement concerning Apophis, one of the Hyksos Kings, "Now King Apophis made Sutekh his Lord serving no other god, who was in the whole land, save Sutekh. He built the temple in beautiful and everlasting work." One might think from this that some of the earlier Hyksos kings worshipped some other god either solely or as well as Sutekh, until King Apophis made Sutekh his Lord."

Nevertheless, it is certain Sutekh (or Baal) was one of their chief gods, and at times possibly their only god. What other god or gods they may have had before, the Egyptian records do not reveal.

Therefore, in our identification, we must look for a people who worshipped "Baal" in one form or another.

No. 6. The Date of the Hyksos Empire
The time that the Hyksos kings ruled in Egypt and the date of their great empire is well established in relation to Egyptian history of that period. It fills or nearly fills the time between the Middle Kingdom and the New Empire commencing with the Eighteenth Dynasty. We may say it occupies the gap between the XIIth and the XVIIIth Dynasties. The Hyksos kings for Dynasties XV and XVI.

The chronology of the XVIIIth Dynasty is relatively good, and links up well with Palestinian and Babylonian events both through written records (as monuments and the Amarna Letters) and by archaeological evidences.

Ahmose I, the first king of the XVIIIth Dynasty of Egypt, is the king who drove the Hyksos out of Egypt. The Pharaoh of the Exodus of Bible history, was either Amenhotep II, or Thutmose IV, (of the XVIIIth Dynasty), or Merneptab (of the XIXth Dynasty), by the most popular theories. This gives us a rough method of linking the time of the Hyksos Empire with Biblical history.

The collapse of the Hyksos Empire was about 160 years before Amenhotep II and Thutmose IV, and about 350 years before Merneptah; so we may say the fall of the Hyksos Empire was about 160 or 350 years before the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Using the long chronology of the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt, that is, that they were in Egypt for 430 years (Exod.12:40-4l), we may put it that the Hyksos Empire existed while Israel sojourned in Egypt. More will be said on this later.

Bible scholars should note that there is no conflict between Exodus 12:40-41 and St. Paul's statement in Gal 3:17, if the emphasis is put on the word "confirmed" in St. Paul's statement. Then the Abrahamic Covenant was confirmed 430 years before the giving of the law, which confirmation would naturally be the last confirmation given to the Patriarchs. The last time God confirmed the Abrabamic Covenant to the Patriarchs, in a vision, was just before Jacob entered Egypt (Gen.46:l-4), from which confirmation we should measure 430 years to the giving of the law at Mount Sinai.

The existence and history of this great Hyksos Empire would not be forgotten by the time of Moses. Therefore, some reference to the Hyksos people and their kings would be quite natural in Moses' writings. Of course, such reference would be under a name known to the Hebrews, rather than under the odd, Egyptian name "Hyksos."

In writing his great book of origins, that is, The Book of Genesis, it does seem, as this study will later set forth, that Moses paused in his main story long enough to outline quickly and briefly, what his readers at that day would readily recognize as the origin of that elusive but great empire under the Hyksos kings.

Summary of Evidence to be Matched
Here, then, is the sum of the particular evidences regarding taken the Hyksos discovered from sources available to us; taken from tradition and gleaned from monument and archaeological findings. It presents us with a fairly definite picture, which we must see paralleled and reflected in the Biblical people we are to introduce in the following chapters in our attempt to unravel this exciting and unique puzzle handed to us from the past.

The Hyksos were:

1. Rulers of an empire, started before the invasion of Egypt and which, at its greatest, seems to have included Egypt, the Southern portions of Palestine, the North Sinai desert, and to have extended its influence, if not direct control, across Northern Arabia to the regions about the Euphrates River.

2. A Semitic people, closely akin to Hebrews and Arabians; allied or akin to the Canaanites (Phoenicians); yet possessing a quite noticeable Hurrian element.

3. A people who likely had a capital city before entering Egypt, yet preferred to set up a new capital city, Avaris, upon entering Egypt (to them a conquered land) thus forsaking, as a seat of government whatever capital they had previously.

4. A people who very early had horses, and used them extensively in warfare.

5. A people who worshipped Baal (Sutekh).

6. A people who attained the height of their power about 200 to 300 years before the Exodus of Israel from Egypt.

Our problem now is to see whether the Biblical people to be suggested can match every one of these six points, and whether there are any irresolvable differences or difficulties which might confute, annul, or weaken our proposed identification. The Bible does record one nation, and one alone, which appears to fit all the six points listed above. To the origin and early history of that nation we will now turn for close study.

End of Chapter One

The Mixed Origin of the Edomites

"Or profane (common) person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright." Hebrews 12:16.

Much more space is given to the origins of the Edomites in the book of Genesis than to any other non-Israelite nation. There must be a reason for this. Ishmael's descendants for instance, are dismissed in just seven verses (Gen.25:l2-l8); all the nations of the Canaanites, so familiar to the Israelites, are disposed of in only six verses (Gen.10:15-20); but a whole chapter of no less than forty-three verses is devoted entirely to the origins of Edom (Gen. 36)

We naturally ask, why? Moses, whom we believe was the author or compiler constrained to turn from his main subject, and to give quite a lengthy, though most compact digression, covering the details of Esau's descendents, to tell of the people they intermingled with and overwhelmed, to catalog the early sheiks of this nation, and to list the first eight kings. This is a most striking fact, in an author who otherwise wrote right to the point, and who does not diverge from his main theme.

The obvious reason for this lengthy digression is that Esau's descendents, the Edomites, were looked upon at that time and in that time as of great national or international importance, a people not to be passed over lightly, the subject was something not to quickly missed and forgotten, but needed to be recorded and preserved for future reference. The statement is repeatedly made in Genesis 36, "Esau is Edom." Edom was therefore an important name in the day when the book of Genesis was written. It is pointedly stressed that this Esau, the brother of Jacob, was the progenitor of this important nation, Edom. Edom is thus accorded a very unusual place of distinction and significance.

If we are right in the theory that we are going to be put forth, then the origin of the Edomites would indeed call for more than usual attention at the hands of the ancient historian.

Now our theory is, in short, that the Hyksos kings were the Edomites. Preposterous? We think not. We seriously suggest that the Hyksos Empire was an early expansion of the Edomite Kingdom, assisted by associated and related peoples. An empire which bloomed and blossomed early, but as quickly faded, withered and perished from sight.

We feel there is much attractive suggestion and circumstantial evidence to support the theory, so much so that it becomes mentally difficult for us to reject this conclusion. It also seems to explain and shed light upon otherwise inexplicable passages of Scripture which indicate that Edom was looked upon as a strong nation at one time.

We will thus set forth this theory, explaining and listing the large array of points in its favor, and leave you, the reader to judge.

We will begin with the man Esau himself, tracing his story just as it has been handed down to us in the Bible.

Esau's Parentage
Esau is said to be the founder of the nation Edom. He was twin brother of Jacob, the son of the Patriarch Isaac, and grandson of Abraham "the Hebrew" (Gen.14: 13). All of these men were "shepherds" Racially Esau was an "Hebrew," a Semitic person.

Esau's mother was Rebekah. She was an industrious woman, who in her youth, without hesitation single handedly undertook the watering of a camel caravan, and camels can be quite thirsty! She readily forsook her father's home in the city of Nahor in Northern Mesopotamia (Gen 24:10) to marry a man she had never seen, but whom she knew to be a worshipper of one God and the one and only God, to the entire exclusion of all other gods. He was the inheritor of certain peculiar promises and covenants of that God; whose name was (translated in the Authorized Version of the English Bible) "Jehovah." Her father was Bethuel, the "Syrian" (Gen24:l5; 28:5), son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham. Bethuel lived in or near the city of Haran (Gen 29:4) where also Abraham himself had resided for a number of years after leaving the city of Ur (Gen.11: 27-32) . (10)

It appears to us to be a major error to imagine that the Semitic Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were mere wandering nomads of little or no significance in the world of their day. Such views are sometimes expressed. In the Biblical account they are definitely pictured as men of high social standing and as men of influence, importance and of considerable wealth and power. They are set forth more in the nature of princes who had renounced their former national connections with the great, powerful cities of Ur and Haran; and who consequently had no country or people to which they any longer owed allegiance. Forsaking city life they deliberately chose a nomadic way of living, "looking for" a future city" which God would give them.

Abraham's brother Nahor appears to be the progenitor of a people occupying the general region around Haran. This name, Nahor actually appears upon ancient cuneiform tablets referring to this district. Egyptian monuments not many generations after the times of the Patriarchs refer to the "Naharain" in the region of Northern Mesopotamia.

Again, Laban, Jacob's uncle, seems to be a man of wealth and of power. Indications are he was of unusual importance, as his name seems to be remembered throughout a wide area in Syria. It seems to be preserved in the name of the mountain range and nation name of "Lebanon." Unimportant people do not usually have the distinction of having districts and mountains, etc., named after them.

The peoples of Mesopotamia had their own written records and their traditions regarding their ancestors. Had these early Hebrew stories regarding their ancestors in Mesopotamia been pure fiction, or had they no genuine relationship to the men of Nahor and to Laban, surely the Hebrew accounts would have been "laughed out of court" by the men of those days. The fact that the Biblical accounts survived as sober history seems to indicate that these accounts were accepted then and received no serious challenge. The claims of the Hebrews must have conformed to common knowledge at the time. Thus, we seem confronted by evidence that the families from which the Hebrews of the Bible originated were prominent and of no mean standing. It follows that Abraham would be well educated and not an insignificant nomad.

Those who hold that the names in the Biblical record such as "Terah" and "Nahor" refer only to tribes or clans of those names, (11) and not to genuine personalities, still must in fairness to that record, concede that such tribes or clans must have been very important and powerful, because their names stand out on clay tablets, and became attached to places, mountains, etc. Thus, even if we were to view these Hebrew stories as personifying tribes and clans, we still are forced to much the same conclusions. The Hebrews originated from persons (or tribes) of importance and power.

Now look at Abraham himself. His retinue and followers, when he first came into the Land of Canaan, constituted an element of such military significance that the Amorites of Mamre (a place later called Hebron) found it to their advantage to become his confederates (Gen. l4:13-14). Abraham called them to the war against Chedorlaomer, a mighty king of Elam. No little nomad would undertake such a war.

Melchizedek, King of Salem, highly honored Abraham (Gen. 14:18-19). We have to notice, too, that Lot, Abraham's nephew, very quickly rose to a seat of authority and recognition in the city of Sodom, a prize of such wealth and prosperity that Chedorlaomer traveled many, many miles with his army to secure. The very early advance Philistine settlement at Gerar (the great Philistine immigration came generations later), feared the military strength of both Abraham and Isaac (Gen. 21:22-32; 26:16, 23-33). To the Hittites, Abraham was a prince. (Gen. 23.6). All this points to a man of distinction and power. Of such an illustrious, Semitic family came Esau, the father of the Edomites.

Esau's Great Mistake
Early in life Esau manifested a materialistic tendency. He showed a low esteem of the spiritual values wrapped up in that covenant which God had made with his grandfather Abraham; a covenant involving blessing to the whole earth through a promised "Seed" (the Lord Jesus Christ), as well a numerous "seed" or posterity, and ultimate possession of all the Land of Canaan. Esau was more concerned with the immediate and the present, not with promises which were "afar off" and on which Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebekah set so much store (Heb.11:13). This trait of character came up in the famous "mess of pottage" incident. Esau despised his birthright by selling it to his twin brother Jacob for food when he was hungry and famished. The food was material and the birthright was "spiritual."

God held Esau to his foolish bargain. Later God permitted the wily Jacob, by a lie, to steal the prophetic blessing also which the aged and blind Isaac still purposed to give to his favorite son Esau, despite his knowledge that the "elder shall serve the younger." For this theft Jacob indeed paid dear in later life, reaping a terrible harvest in his sons who, in turn, lied to and deceived him for a number of years concerning his favorite son Joseph. How well the sons learned of their father!

Esau was terrifically angry at the loss of his father's blessing, as it included certain promises of material gain such as he craved. However, he found no way of repentance (Heb.12:16-17), and became thereafter an everlasting example of the tragedy of a fatal, wrong choice which cannot be remedied.

He typifies, in the Book of Hebrews those who despise the gain of Heaven through Jesus Christ, and choose instead "the mess of pottage" of this present world.

So extreme was Esau's anger that he began to plot the murder of his twin brother. Jacob, thereupon fled, and for twenty years was absent from the Land of Canaan, becoming a stranger living at Haran in Mesopotamia.

During this twenty year period, Esau and Jacob each amassed additional great wealth in cattle and lesser livestock. Then Jacob returned to Palestine. When the brothers met, Esau was pacified; the two were happily reconciled, and the old hatred was put away. Hereafter we hear of no further trouble between them.

Esau's Marriages
At the age of forty, before Jacob stole the blessing, Esau had married two wives, both Hitties, be it noted, of the Canaanite nations. This was a direct flouting of the family's sacred traditions. It was another clear demonstration of a basic despising of the religion of his father and grandfather, which religion forbade such ties with the Canaanites. Isaac especially loved Esau, but Esau cared not for his father's wishes; he did not as fully return that love. Esau was obviously seeking immediate material and social advantages for himself alone by thus joining affinity with prominent Hittite families. As we shall see later, he was quite successful in gaining such material and social advantage, but the price was the utter and final loss of the spiritual birthright, for thereafter it is written by God over his life, "Esau have I hated" (Romans 9:13; Mal 1:2)

Some people are sorely puzzled over the account of Esau's wives and have even questioned the accuracy of the text. The follow paragraphs, besides helping our study, may clear up the seeming contradictions of many of our readers.

Esau's First Wife, Judith-Abolibamah
Esau's first wife was Judith. She was the daughter of Beeri, a Hittite. In Genesis 36: 2 this woman is called also "Aholibamah." It was very common in those days for persons to bear more than one name. Almost endless examples could be cited, such as Abram = Abraham; Sarai = Sarah; Jacob = Israel; Esau = Edom; Ben-oni = Benjamin; Zaphnath paneah = Joseph; and so on. So also this woman is known by two names, Judith = Aholibamah. For the sake of our study, we will use the first name, Judith.

Judith's mother was Anah, and Anah was the daughter of Zibeon, a Hivite (Gen.36:2). This woman Anah is not to be confused with a man named Anah, of whom we shall speak later. Thus Judith, while Hittite on her father's side (Gen.26:34), was Hivite on her mother's. By marrying her, Esau smartly obtained family connections with both the Hittites (the children of Heth) and the Hivites, two prominent Canaanite nations.

From Esau's point of view, looking for material and social advantage, he had made a brilliant move, but not so in God's sight. It was Esau's fall. God turned from him, and from then on God's hand was directed toward Jacob in protection, guidance, and discipline, to make him the grand character he became in later life.

From this marriage three children were born in the Land of Canaan, named, Jeush, Jaelam, and Korah. All three became sheiks in the later Edomite government (Gen.36:5, 18), but they do not appear to rank as high or to have been as prominent as the children of Esau's other wives. In fact, in listing the sheiks derived from Esau in Genesis 36:15-19, this wife, and her children are given last place, as being in honor of a lower rank than the others.

Esau's Second Wife, Bashemath-Adah
Esau's second wife, (though he appears to have married both women at about the same time, Gen.26:34) was Bashemath or Adah. (Another instance of dual names.) She was the daughter of Elon, a Hittite. In Genesis 36: 10 this woman is named first in rank, and so evidently became Esau's chief wife.

Her only named son is Eliphaz. He is called Esau's "firstborn" Gen. 36:16), so was evidently older than Esau's other children. This name "Eliphaz" should be kept in mind, as we will speak of this son in a later chapter
This marriage also linked Esau with the Hittites of Canaan.

Esau's Third Wife, Mahalath-Bathshemath
Esau's third wife was taken much later than the other two. After Jacob had fled to Haran, Esau came to better realize how really displeasing to his father and mother were his Canaanitish wives, and that his marriages, made for personal advantage, lay largely at the bottom of the loss of that blessing he now coveted. In a desperate effort to remedy an already hopeless and lost case, he went true to form, and again resorted to scheming a marriage to get what he wanted.

Did ever any man so debase the ideal of marriage as Esau! So he planned his third marriage, this time to a Semitic woman not of the Canaanites.

The Canaanites lay under the curse of utter destruction, in the religion of his family (Gen.16:l6). Therefore, Esau now sought a woman linked racially and religiously with his father's people. Evidently he hoped that both he and the children from such a marriage could yet inherit the blessing of Abraham. He may have thought that he could force God to let him inherit it, if he could but succeed in his plan to murder Jacob. Jacob was unmarried as yet. If Jacob died childless, the blessing would have to revert to himself. Esau foresaw, however, that even with Jacob dead and out or the way, he would still have trouble because or his Hittite wives, whose children could not come into this distinctively Hebrew blessing. To overcome the obstacle he negotiated this third marriage, taking this time a Hebrew wife. He would create a Hebraic line of descent which could inherit the blessing of Abraham.

So it was he went eastward into the Arabian Desert to the young, growing tribe of Ishmael, Abraham's eldest son, and married Mahalath or Bathshemath, Ishmael's daughter (Gen. 28:6-9). She was, in fact, his step-cousin.

However, Bathshemath, this third wire, although a Hebrewess, was not pure Hebrew. It is true, she had no Canaanite blood in her, but in actuality she was three-quarter Egyptian, since both her mother and her grandmother Hagar were Egyptian women (Gen. 21:21). The important point to Esau was her Hebrew connections, and that she was not Canaanite.

This woman had but one son, named Ruel (Gen. 36:4, 10). We will refer to Ruel again.

The Racial Mixture of the Edomites
From the foregoing we can see that in their origin the Edomites, the descendents of Esau, were a mixture of Hebrew, Hittite, Hivite, Ishmaelite (that is, Arabian) and Egyptian stock. But that is not all! As we shall see later, the Edomites intermingled with the Horites at an early date. The Horites were a settled people of the north east part of the Sinai Peninsula, lying easterly from Lower Egypt.

Now, turning back to the Egyptian references to the Hyksos people we find an astonishing parallel and similarity between the Hyksos and the Edomites.

1. Both are Semites (Semitic language and names).
2. Both have Hebrew characteristics.
3. Both have Hittite traits.
4. Both appear to have been Shepherds (after Manetho).
5. Both are Arabians. (Ishmael = Northern Arabia.)
6. Both lived easterly from Lower Egypt.

The resemblance is close if not exact, and certainly is most remarkable. Where else can we find so complete a similarity? None of the strictly Canaanite entities seem to fit points 2 and 5. The Moabites and the Ammonites do not, as far as we know, fit with points 3 and 5. Arabian tribes beyond Edom do not seem to fit point 3.

Only Edom seems to fit at all points with what we know of the Hyksos.

One wonders how two separate peoples could be so racially and linguistically alike! The thought can scarcely be resisted that instead of two peoples, we are viewing one entity, whose description has come down to us through two separate channels and under different names. One channel is the Egyptian sources, under the name "Hyksos" the other channel is the Biblical or Hebrew sources, under the name "Edom."

But as yet we still do not have proof; only the suggestion, the thought, the possibility. Do we have anything stronger? Yes, we do. Most striking as the foregoing similarity surely is, we have next to set forth the indications of the tremendous growth of the Edomite Kingdom and point out how it appears to dovetail into the Hyksos story.

End of Chapter Two


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