Category Archives: Places in Egypt

What Did the Ancient Israelites Look Like?

About 13 years ago the brilliant Anson Rainey suggested that Shasu pastoralists were depicted on a well-known relief of the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah (1209 BC) featured on one of the walls of the temples at Karnak in southern Egypt.

The Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah Crushing His Shasu Foes (1209 BC)

At least four Shasu are pictured as being trodden under by legs of the horse of Merneptah.  Note their headdresses and pointed beards.

Continue reading

I am a Pagan — A Rare Papyrus from A.D. 250

I have frequently heard and read about how there were “tests” to see if people were Christians or not.  Usually the tests consisted of invoking the gods and offering a prayer and wine to the image of the Emperor (see my previous post for this type of test by Pliny and the relevant text from A.D. 112).

LutherQualleyPapyrus04

P.Luther 4 — Owned by Luther College Decorah Iowa — A Decian Libellus — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

The above papyrus document is from the ancient village of Theadelphia that was located in the Fayum of Egypt.  It is a document drawn up by a man (Aurelious Sarapammon) to attest that he had “sacrificed, poured the libations, and tasted the offerings” according to a decree of the Roman emperor Decius (ruled A.D. 249–251).  This document was then signed by two local officials to attest that he had done so.  There are only about 45 such “Decian Libellius” documents in existence.

Christians, both lay and leadership, had difficulty performing such acts and thus could be subject to torture and execution—see conveniently the Wikipedia article on Decius and his persecution of Christians.

The above text reads:

To those who have been selected to take charge of the sacrifices, from Aurelius Sarapammon, servant of Appanus, former exegetes of the most–illustrious city of the Alexandrian, and however he styled, residing in the village of Theadelphia.  Always sacrificing to the gods, now too, in your presence, in accordance with the orders, I sacrificed, poured the libations, and tasted the offerings, and I ask that you sign below.  Farewell

(Second hand) We, Aurelius Serenus and Hermas [way you sacrificing …

Translation by W. Graham Claytor, University of Michigan in the “Qualley Papyri Exhibit” at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. — Date of document ca. June12–July 14, 250 C.E.  My emphasis.

The above document was on display a number of papyri that were found in the ancient village of “Theadelphia” in the Fayum of Egypt was on display at Luther College (Decorah, IA) during a Homecoming Celebration.

For the official on-line publication of  “The Orlando W. Qualley Papyrus Collection” at Luther College, including other images) see the Luther Web Site where there are also additional notices.

What Did the Ancient Israelites Look Like?

About 13 years ago the brilliant Anson Rainey suggested that Shasu pastoralists were depicted on a well-known relief of the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah (1209 BC) featured on one of the walls of the temples at Karnak in southern Egypt.

Merneptah Crushing His Shasu Foes (1209 BC)

At least four Shasu are pictured as being trodden under by legs of the horse of Merneptah.  Note their headdresses and pointed beards.

He furthered noted that the Shasu pastoralists were active east of the Jordan River—from whence the Israelites entered Canaan—and that the Israelites may have been a sub set of these Shasu (reference below).  Even if one does not follow Rainey in all of the details it would seem that the relief of Merneptah is about as close as we can get to a “photograph” of Israelites (or their cousins) from the Early Iron Age (1200–1000 BC)!

Rainey, Anson F. “Shasu or Habiru — Who Were the Early Israelites?” Biblical Archaeology Review vol. 34, no. 6 (November/ December 2008): 51–55 and additional references there.

Pictures from the Top of the Great Pyramid

I have always wanted to climb to the top of the Great Pyramid!  Some Russian “tourists” did it (contrary to the law) and some of their wonderful pictures are available here and here.

AtlasA85

The Three Great Pyramids at Giza

 

Images of Egypt

Greetings!  In conjunction with posting images from my Zondervan Atlas I have been adding quality images of Egypt that might be of interest for teaching purposes.

Irrigated Field in Upper Egypt — December

View of a typical plowed field in Upper Egypt.  Note the small channel that brings water to the various small plots.  In order to water these plots a small opening is made in the small channel to allow water to flow into the plot.  Once the plot is watered, the opening is closed!

Compare Deut 11:10 ” The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden.” (NIV)  The use of one’s foot to open a small opening is one possible interpretation of ‘irrigating by foot.

In the days ahead I will be posting additional images including some inscriptions of interest for biblical studies.

To visit our growing collection of high resolution images of Egypt Click Here.