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Home » Biblical Studies » Ancient Near East Studies » The Pharaonic Dynasties of Egypt – Ancient Egyptian Timeline in Reference to Major Religious and Biblical Developments

The Pharaonic Dynasties of Egypt – Ancient Egyptian Timeline in Reference to Major Religious and Biblical Developments

 

  1. EARLY DYNASTY PERIOD: 2920-2675 BC (1st-3rd dynasties)
    1. In 3rd Dynasty, Step Pyramid built
  2. OLD KINGDOM: 2575-2134 BC (4th– 8th dynasties)
    1. The sun god Re was the foremost god of Egypt – many temples built for his worship
    2. Cheops, king of the 4th Dynasty built the great pyramids at Giza
    3. By end of 6th dynasty (c. 2180 BC), beginning of a concept of personal judgment based on character and merit in this world appears in ancient Egyptian theology
  3. 1st INTERMEDIATE PERIOD: 2134-2040 BC (9th-Theban 11th dynasty)
  4. MIDDLE KINGDOM: 2040-1640 BC (Egyptian 11th-14th dynasties): Time of Abraham
    1. Under Amenemhet I of the 12th Dynasty (c. 1950 BC), local gods had to be subordinated to Re  (first inclining of monotheism?)
    2. Egyptian religion developed a passion play concerning Osiris, the god of the dead, showing his suffering, death, and resurrection.  No other ancient civilization had these ideas- Egyptians were the first.
    3. Prophecy gains prominence, particularly to advise kings
    4. Middle Kingdom ends with the invasion of Semitic-Asiatic peoples called the Hyskos
  5. 2nd INTERMEDIATE PERIOD: 1640-1532 BC (15th-17th dynasties):  Time of the Patriarchs
  6. NEW KINGDOM: 1550-1070 BC (18th-20th dynasties): Time of Moses
    1. Thutmose I, ruler during 18th dynasty, invades Syria
      1. Remember that “Moses” is an Egyptian name deriving from “Mose”
    2. Thutmose III invades Canaan
    3. Beginning of the Amarna Age with Amenhotep IV (r. 1352 – 1336 BC), the “heretic” pharaoh, who changes his name to Akhenaten (“glory of the sun-disk”) – he forbids worship of all other Egyptian gods except Aten, the sun disc, as the sole god of the universe.  First recorded event of monotheism in history.
      1. Monotheism in Judaism would be fully realized in the 6th century BC.
    4. Akenaten’s son-in-law Tutankhaten (“Living Image of Aten”) changes his name to Tutankhamon (“Living Image of Amon”), and ends monotheism in Egypt
    5. Ramses II (r. 1279 – 1213 BC) – Moses and the Exodus during the 19th Dynasty
  7. 3rd INTERMEDIATE PERIOD: 1070-712 BC (21st-Theban 25th dynasties) Time of Saul, David and Solomon
  8. LATE PERIOD: 712-332 BC (All Egyptian 25th-30th dynasties): The exilic and postexilic periods

 


 

 

Key Developments of Thought in Egyptian History and the Bible

 

  1. With the fall of the Sixth Dynasty, the Old Kingdom comes to an end (around 2180 BC – roughly 600 years before Joseph came to Egypt)
    • It was during this time that the beginning of a concept of personal judgment based on character and merit in this world
  2. During the 12th Dynasty, Amenemhet I in 1950 BC had local gods be subordinated to the sun God Re.
    • Also, key developments and evolution in thought of Osiris and the afterlife: death, final judgment, and resurrection
    • This fully developed concept of a personal judgment, whereby each man enters paradise if his character and life on earth warrant it, appears- quite remarkable when we consider that centuries later there was still no such idea in Mesopotamia and Israel
      • The Babylonians and Assyrians never developed it
      • And in Israel (as well as the rest of the Bible), the afterworld was considered a dreary underground place called Sheol, where good and bad alike led an eventless existence
      • Later Jewish, Christian, and Muslim concepts of afterlife are more akin to Egyptian views than to those of the Torah
    • It is only toward the end of the Torah/Hebrew Bible that the concept of personal salvation comes in
  1. Monotheism during the Amarna Age centuries before Moses
    • Amenhotep IV (r. 1352 – 1336 BC), the “heretic” pharaoh, who changes his name to Akhenaten (“glory of the sun-disk”)
      • You see name changes throughout the Bible to show a new relationship with God
        • Abram’s name was changed to Abraham; Sarai to Sarah; Jacob to Israel
        • Saul’s son Eshbaal (1 Chron. 8:33) is changed to Ish-bosheth (2 Sam 2:8, 10), where boshet, “shame” is substituted for the pagan god Baal
        • The Judean king Abijam (1 Kings 15:1,7,8), where the last element Yam, “Sea-god” is changed to Yah (as in Yahweh) so that the royal name is altered to Abijah in 2 Chron. 13:1,4
      • In the NT, you see this with Simon being rename Peter (“the Rock”) by Jesus after Peter’s confession and with Saul of Tarsus, turning into Paul the Apostle
    • Was Moses and Mosaic monotheism influenced by Akhenaten?
        • It’s out of the question to assume that Moses (whose career falls a century and a half later) could’ve shaped Hebrew monotheism directly on the inspiration of Akhenaton’s reform.  Nor is chronology the only reason for dissociating Mosaic monotheism from Akhenaton’s.
          • Typologically, the two are unrelated
          • Aton was the sun disc, representing a single phenomenon in nature, and elevated to sole god of the universe through the suppression of the other deities of Egypt.
          • Yahweh isn’t represented that way
    • Akhenaton’s impact
      • For intellectuals, all the gods were merely manifestations of one true god
      • It is not unknown in pagan cultures to find a trend toward monotheism in the midst of a polytheistic milieu.
        • For instance, many pagan Greek authors often speak of “the god” in the singular (ex. Both Plato and Aristotle refer to a singular God at times)
    • Throughout most of the Hebrew Bible, the existence of other gods is recognized but their worship is forbidden.  This is called monolatry – “the worship of one”
      • Eventually, the religion shifted to pure monotheism – “belief in one”, when the very existence of other gods was laughed at as ridiculous.
      • Monotheism in Judaism would be fully realized in the 6th century BC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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