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Ancient Egyptian tales: The taking of Joppa
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Patera of Djehuti
Patera of the General Djehuty

The taking of Joppa

    There was once in the time of King Men-kheper-Re a revolt of the servants of his majesty who were in Joppa; and his majesty said: "Let Djehuti go with his footmen and destroy this wicked Foe in Joppa."
    And he called one of his followers, and said moreover: "Hide thou my great cane, which works wonders, in the baggage of Djehuti that my power may go with him."
    Now when Djehuti came near to Joppa, with all the footmen of Pharaoh, he sent unto the Foe in Joppa, and said: "Behold now his majesty, King Men-kheper-Re, has sent all this great army against thee; but what is that if my heart is as thy heart? Do thou come, and let us talk in the field, and see each other face to face."
    So Djehuti came with certain of his men; and the Foe in Joppa came likewise, but his charioteer that was with him was true of heart unto the king of Egypt. And they spoke with one another in his great tent, which Djehuti had placed far off from the soldiers.
W.M.Flinders Petrie

-     This tale tells of the Egyptian conquest of Joppa by Djehuti under Men-Kheper-Re, i.e. Thutmose III. The beginning of the story has been lost, but W.M.Flinders Petrie as the editor added the paragraphs on the left to render it more intelligible. The papyrus is thought to have been written during the 19th dynasty.

    This is by no means an historic account, but may well be based on real occurrences. Joppa, today's Jaffa (Yaffo) was a port in central Canaan, thus belonging to what is generally referred to as the Empire. Unlike later empires, like the Roman, this was rather an assembly of small states governed by local rulers under the control of Egypt.
    But Djehuti had made ready two hundred sacks, with cords and fetters, and had made a great sack of skins with bronze fetters, and many baskets: and they were in his tent, the sacks and the baskets, and he had placed them as the forage for the horses is put in baskets.
    For whilst the Foe in Joppa drank with Djehuti, the people who were with him drank with the footmen of Pharaoh, and made merry with them. And when their bout of drinking was past, Djehuti said to the Foe in Joppa:
    "If it please thee, while I remain with the women and children of thy own city, let one bring of my people with their horses, that they may give them provender, or let one of the Apuro run to fetch them."
    The Egyptians prepared to take the city by ruse rather than by battle. In fiction such ploys are generally more successful than in reality. Smuggling men into a walled city is quite difficult. On the other hand, proposing to make common cause with an opponent, who had judged his position to be sufficiently strong on his own, and then assassinating him when the opportunity arose, had more promise.
    So they came, and hobbled their horses, and gave them provender, and one found the great cane of Men-kheper-Re and came to tell of it to Djehuti. And thereupon the Foe in Joppa said to Djehuti:
    " My heart is set on examining the great cane of Men-kheper-Re, which is named ......tautnefer. By the ka of the King Men-kheper-Re it will be in thy hands to-day ; now do thou well and bring thou it to me."
    The name of the staff is partially illegible.
    Names of things were important in the magical thinking of the times, and knowing them gave the knowledgable person great power.

    And Djehuti did thus, and he brought the cane of King Men-kheper-Re. And he laid hold on the Foe in Joppa by his garment, and he arose and stood up, and said:
    "Look on me, o Foe in Joppa ; here is the great cane of King Men-kheper-Re, the terrible lion, the son of Sekhet, to whom Amen his father gives power and strength."
    And he raised his hand and struck the forehead of the Foe in Joppa, and he fell helpless before him.
    He put him in the sack of skins and he bound with gyves the hands of the Foe in Joppa, and put on his feet the fetters with four rings.
    And he made them bring the two hundred sacks which he had cleaned, and made to enter into them two hundred soldiers, and filled the hollows with cords and fetters of wood, he sealed them with a seal, and added to them their rope-nets and the poles to bear them. And he put every strong footman to bear them, in all six hundred men, and said to them:
    "When you come into the town you shall open your burdens, you shall seize on all the inhabitants of the town, and you shall quickly put fetters upon them."
    Victory often meant the enslavement of the whole population. If that was impractical or impossible, the countryside was destroyed, depriving the survivors of their livelihood. This practice was common among all ancient peoples.
    Then one went out and said unto the charioteer of the Foe in Joppa:
    "Thy master is fallen; go, say to thy mistress, 'A pleasant message! For Sutekh has given Djehuti to us, with his wife and his children; behold the beginning of their tribute', that she may comprehend the two hundred sacks, which are full of men and cords and fetters."
    The charioteer was seemingly either Egyptian himself or a sympathiser.
    So he went before them to please the heart of his mistress, saying:
    "We have laid hands on Djehuti."
    Then the gates ot the city were opened before the footmen: they entered the city, they opened their burdens, they laid hands on them of the city, both small and great, they put on them the cords and fetters quickly; the power of Pharaoh seized upon that city. After he had rested, Djehuti sent a message to Egypt to the King Men-kheper-Re his lord, saying:
    "Be pleased, for Amen thy good father has given to thee the Foe in Joppa, together with all his people, likewise also his city. Send, therefore, people to take them as captives that thou mayest fill the house of thy father Amen Re, king of the gods, with men-servants and maidservants, and that they may be overthrown beneath thy feet for ever and ever."

W. M. Flinders Petrie, Egyptian Tales, Translated From The Papyri

    A real Djehuti, scribe, treasurer, general and viceroy, received a golden bowl from Thutmose III with the following inscription:
    Given in praise by the king of Upper and Lower Egypt,Men-kheper-Re, to the hereditary chief, the divine father, the beloved by God, filling the heart of the king in all foreignlands and in the isles in the midst of the great sea, filling stores with lazuli, electrum, and gold, keeper of all foreign lands, keeper of the troops, praised by the good gold lord of both lands and his ka - the royal scribe Djehuti deceased.


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November 2001