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The Palestine campaign of Sheshonq I
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The Palestine campaign of Sheshonq I

    The main Egyptian testimony for Sheshonq I's war in Judah and Israel is a relief on the walls of additions he made to the Karnak temple in his 21st year. There is also a list of about 150 sacked cities, much of which is illegible.
    In the following list of some of the identifiable places, which is based on Breasted, I have used similar transliterations for Egyptian and Hebrew names
 
Egyptian   Hebrew   English     
rwbAty     rbyt     Rabbith     
tAankA   tank   Taanakh   
SAnmA   Swnm   Shunem   No. 1 on the map
bAtySnrA   bytSAn   Beth Shan   
rwHAbAA   rHwb   Rehob   No. 6 on the map
HApwrwmA   Hprym   Hapharaim   No. 2 on the map
mHAnm   mHnym   Machanaim   No. 8 on the map
qbAaAnA   gbawn   Gibeon   No. 7 on the map
bAtyHwArwn   byt Hwrwn   Beth Horon   No. 4 on the map
Aywrwn   Aylwn   Ajalon   No. 9 on the map
mkdyw   mgdw   Megiddo   Conquered by Thutmose III
ywdhmrwk   ydhmlk      
aArAnA   arn   Aruna   No. 5 on the map
DAdptTrw   zdpt Al ?      
sAywkA   Skh   Socoh   No. 3 on the map
AdmA   AdmA ?      
DArwmAm         
yrwDAA      Yeraza   
AdrAA   Adr   Adar   
aArwdA   ard   Arad   
anprwn   ayn prn   Ayn Paran   
hAm         also on the list of Thutmose III
 
    The claim made in the inscriptions
I have trampled for thee them that rebelled against thee, overthrowing [for] thee the Asiatics of the army of Mitanni; I have humbled them beneath thy feet.
James Henry Breasted Ancient Records of Egypt Part IV, § 722
is not borne out by the list: no captured northern Syrian cities are mentioned. Some incidences seem to have taken place rather closer to home. Sheshonq's Karnak stela describes a battle in the isthmus of Suez
............ Said his majesty to the court: " ........... the evil things which they have done." Said they: ".............. his horses after him, while they knew (it) not. Lo .............. His majesty made a great slaughter among them ............. he ...ed them upon the [dyke] of the shore of Kemwer. He was ...........
James Henry Breasted Ancient Records of Egypt Part IV, § 724

 
The Palestine campaign of Shishak-     The Bible describes an Egyptian campaign by Shishak. Given the fact that it was put on paper a long time after the events, one should be wary of the account's accuracy.
21   And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel to put his name there.
1 Kings 14
Shishak continued the traditional Egyptian policy of interfering in Judah and in the fifth year of the reign of Rehoboam he conquered many towns and received tribute from the king
25   And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem:
26   And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made.
27   And the king Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king's house.
1 Kings 14
3   With twelve hundred chariots, and threescore thousand horsemen: and the people were without number that came with him out of Egypt; the Lubims [1], the Sukkims, and the Ethiopians.
2 Chronicles 12
 

Who was the biblical Shishak?

    The Libyan dynasty renewed Egypt's interest in the Palestine area. According to reliefs at Karnak, Israelite cities paid tribute to Sheshonq Hedjkheperre, but Jerusalem is not mentioned. Still, Shishak is generally held to have been Sheshonq I.

    But doubts have been raised as to whether the biblical Shishak and the Egyptian Sheshonq are identical (Rohl, David M., Some Chronological Conundrums of the 21st Dynasty, Ägypten und Levante 3 (1992), 133-141.): Pharaoh Shoshenq attacked the Jezreel valley and the Jorden valley in the northern kingdom of Israel and skirted the territory of Judah. Rohl identifies Shishak with Ramses II. Others think that he was Thutmose III.
Both these assumptions would cause fundamental changes in New Kingdom chronology traditional historians are - with good reason - unwilling to make.

 


[1]   Lubim: Libyans


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These are just suggestions for further reading. I do not assume any responsibility for the availability or content of these websites.

 

-Kevin A. Wilson: The Campaign of Pharaoh Shoshenq I in Palestine
 

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August 2000
Updated February 2003

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