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Ancient Egypt: The Report of a Frontier Official
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The Report of a Frontier Official

Pritchard, James B. Ancient Near Eastern Texts. Princeton, 1969
(Papyrus Anastasi VI lines 51-61).

(51) The Scribe Inena communicating to his lord, the Scribe of the Treasury Qa-g[abu],... :--In life, pros-perity, health!
This is a letter [to] let [my lord] know: An[other communication to] my lord, to wit: [I] have carried out every commission laid upon me, in good shape and strong as metal. I have not been lax.

Another communication to my [lord], to [wit: We] have finished letting the Bedouin tribes of Edom pass the Fortress [of] Mer-ne-Ptah Hotep- hir-Maat--life, prosperity, health!--which is (in) Tjeku,
(56) to the pools of Per- Atum1) [of] Mer-[ne]- Ptah Hotep-hir-Maat, which are (in) Tjeku, to keep them alive and to keep their cattle alive, through the great ka of Pharaoh --life, prosperity, health !-- the good sun of every land, in the year 8, 5 [intercalary] days, [the Birth of] Seth." I have had them brought in a copy of the report to the [place where] my lord is, as well as the other names of days' when the Fortress of Mer-ne-Ptah Hotep-hir- Maat --life, prosperity, health!--which is (in) [Tj]ek[u], may be passed ....


1)   Per-Atum: the biblical Pithom according to Gardiner= Tell er-Retabeh

    The Egyptians were very careful about guarding the eastern border of the Delta during this period, despite the fact that they were masters of the Sinai Desert and Canaan belonged to their empire. They had built a row of fortifications under Amenemhet I (12th Dynasty), the Wall of Tjeku or the Wall of the Prince (called Shur Mitzraim by the Hebrews) and monitored the movement of people entering and leaving the country. These didn't just include caravans of tradesmen but often whole tribes, driven by prolonged drought from as far as Canaan. Most of the traffic was along the Mediterranean coast, but the whole frontier was policed.

    According to the Bible, which should not be taken as a reliable historical source where events prior to the ninth century BCE are concerned, the Hebrews had gone down to Egypt a number of times before they settled permanently in Canaan.
10     And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

Genesis, 12

    And again under Jacob
56     And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.
57     And all the countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all the lands.

Genesis, 41

    whereupon Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. While the historicity of the persons mentioned in Genesis is doubtful, the assumption that semi-nomadic Canaanites migrated to Egypt in times of dearth seems reasonable.


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