Traducción del artículo publicado en CHURCHPOP.
En el episodio de esta semana de The Catholic Talk Show, Ryan Scheel, Ryan DellaCrosse y el p. Rich Pagano discuten “7 sorprendentes hallazgos arqueológicos que respaldan la Biblia”.
El coanfitrión Ryan Scheel revela la mención más antigua registrada de Dios que se haya encontrado.
¿Cuál es la mención de Dios más antigua registrada que se haya encontrado?
“La primera mención posible que los arqueólogos han descubierto de la palabra ‘Yahweh’ y el uso de ésta viene de una inscripción del siglo XV a.C. del templo Soleb (actual Sudán) por Amenhotep III”, inicia Scheel.
“Para entender por qué encuentras evidencia arqueológica de ‘Yahweh’ en Egipto, es importante entender la historia en ese momento. Los gobernantes de esa época querían engrandecerse y apoyar su propia base de poder.
Debido a que la arqueología bíblica generalmente se centra en los hebreos y los cristianos que no eran personas históricamente poderosas, la mayoría de sus asentamientos fueron finalmente destruidos. Entonces, las únicas veces que realmente encontramos menciones muy fuertes de ellos son sobre las personas que los conquistaron.
En esta mención en una de las columnas en el Templo de Amenhotep III, la primera mención que los arqueólogos dicen ‘probablemente se trata de Yahweh’, mencionan los ‘Shasu de Jahu’ en la tierra de Jahu”, explica Scheel. “‘Shasu’ era la forma egipcia de decir ‘Nómadas’.
Sobre esto, dijeron que Amenhotep había conquistado a estas personas… ellos dicen ‘los Shasu de Y-H-W’.
Entonces los arqueólogos dicen que esta es probablemente la primera vez que alguien registra la palabra ‘Jahu’ [יָהוּ, contracción de Yahweh, N. del T.] y dicen que los egipcios habían conquistado a estas personas nómadas que creían en Jahu”.
Templo de Amenoteph III (izquierda). Relieve que contiene la inscripción jeroglífica 𓇾𓆷𓇓 𓅱 𓇌𓉔𓍯𓄿 (tašaśw w Yhwa, “la tierra de los Shahu de Yahveh”).
Tomado de BIBLE ARCHAEOLOGY.
EL NOMBRE YAHVEH EN TEXTOS JEROGLÍFICOS EGIPCIOSClyde E. Billington PhD - 25 de Enero de 2010
Es generalmente aceptado que el término Shasu significa nómadas o pueblo beduino, refiriéndose principalmente a los pueblos nómadas o semi-nómadas de Siria-Palestina. Hay dos referencias jeroglíficas significativas en textos del período del Reino Nuevo a un área llamada “la tierra de los Shahu de Yahveh”. A excepción del Antiguo Testamento, estas son las referencias más antiguas halladas en cualquier texto antiguo al Dios Yahveh. El propósito de este artículo es estudiar estas dos referencias y plantear su posible importancia en la datación del relato del Éxodo...
Este artículo fue publicado originalmente en la edición del Otoño de 2009 de Artifax. Publicado con permiso.
Entre las antiguas designaciones egipcias para tipos de pueblos extranjeros en el período del Reino Nuevo, el término Shasu aparece casi frecuentemente. Es generalmente aceptado que el término Shasu significa nómadas o pueblo beduino, refiriéndose principalmente a los pueblos nómadas o semi-nómadas de Siria-Palestina. Hay dos referencias jeroglíficas significativas en textos del período del Reino Nuevo a un área llamada “la tierra de los Shahu de Yahveh” . A excepción del Antiguo Testamento, estas son las referencias más antiguas halladas en cualquier texto antiguo al Dios Yahveh. El propósito de este artículo es estudiar estas dos referencias y plantear su posible importancia en la datación del relato del Éxodo.
EL TÉRMINO SHASU
El término Shasu (𓆷𓇓) es encontrado en una variedad de textos jeroglíficos del Reino Nuevo, incluyendo los documentos militares, administrativos y diplomáticos de Tutmosis III, Amenhotep II, Tutmosis IV, Amenhotep III, Akenatón, Seti I, Ramsés II, Merneptah, y Ramsés III. Uno de los documentos más intrigantes de la XIX Dinastía referentes a Shasu es una carta, fechada a 1192 a. de C., que declara en parte:
Otra comunicación a mi señor: hemos acabado de dejar que las tribus Shasu de Edom pasen la fortaleza de Merneptah Hotep-hir-Maat... que está en Tjeku, a las piscinas de Per Atum de Merneptah Hotep-hir-Maat, que están en Tkeku, para mantenerlos vivos y para mantener vivos a sus ganados... .
Notar aquí que las tribus Shasu están vinculadas con los Idumeos, un pueblo tribal con un parentesco bien conocido con los Israelitas. Notar también que estas tribus Shasu se establecieron, después de haber cruzado al territorio egipcio, en Per Atum de Tjeku, o, para ponerlo en términos bíblicos, en Pitón de Sucot . Adicional, debe notarse que estos Shasu Idumeos eran pastores de animales, y que ellos eran, por supuesto, semitas.
Según Éxodo 1:11, Pitón y la ciudad cercana de Ramesés eran dos “ciudades granero” construidas por los Israelitas para Faraón durante su esclavitud en Egipto. Adicionalmente, el estudioso alemán Siegfried Herrmann, que tradujo el texto anterior, ha identificado el área de Tjeku, donde se habían establecido los Shasu Edomitas, con el área general de la Tierra de Gosén mencionada en Génesis 46:34  El tratamiento de los Shasu Edomitas por los oficiales de Faraón es reminiscencia del temprano tratamiento de los Israelitas en Egipto durante el tiempo de José.
Hay pocas referencias en los textos egipcios a los nómadas Shasu que vivían en el área nubia al sur de Egipto, pero la vasta mayoría de referencias son a los Shasu que vivían al norte de Egipto, y son estos Shasu el objeto de estudio de este artículo.
Para un excelente estudio del uso del término Shasu en textos egipcios, ver la serie de artículos en dos partes de Kenneth R.Cooper titulada The Shasu of Palestine in Egyptian Texts (Los Shasu de Palestina en los textos egipcios) que apareció en ARTIFAX . Como señala Cooper, la mayoría de los egiptólogos derivan el nombre Shasu de un verbo egipcio que significa “vagar” y así lo traducen como “nómadas” o “Beduino”.
Sin embargo, la vasta mayoría de los estudiosos que han escrito sobre los Shasu sostienen que ellos eran un pueblo no totalmente nómada. En los textos egipcios habían áreas geográficas específicas asociadas con los Shasu, indicando que al menos algunos Shasu vivieron alguna existencia sedentaria en áreas definidas. “Semi-nómadas” es probablemente una traducción más apropiada .
Mientras el término Shasu es usado primariamente para los pastores semitas seminómadas que vivían al norte de Egipto, tiene también un uso secundario en algunos textos del Nuevo Reino para las áreas geográficas donde vivieron los Shasu. Cuando se usaba geográficamente en los textos egipcios, el jeroglífico t3 (𓇾) es usado, y esta palabra debería ser traducida como “tierra de”. En el caso de estas dos referencias que estamos discutiendo, la frase egipcia es t3 sh3sw ya-h-wa, esto es, “la tierra de los Shahu de Yahveh”.
El término Shasu es usado casi exclusivamente en los textos del Nuevo Reino para los pueblos seminómadas que viven en partes del Líbano, Siria, el Sinaí, Canaán y la Transjordania. Cuando se usaba para los nómadas que vivían en esas áreas, el término Shasu parece haber sido usado por los egipcios casi exclusivamente para grupos poblacionales que podían claramente ser identificados como pastores semitas.
Está claro por los textos del Nuevo Reino que los Shasu raramente estuviesen bajo el control del gobierno egipcio y fueron casi siempre vistos como enemigos de los egipcios. Por ejemplo, en la famosa Batalla de Kadesh en c. 1275 a. de C, habían soldados Shasu que fueron aliados de los Hititas contra Ramsés II.
Es probable que los egipcios del período del Nuevo Reino clasificaran a todos los Idumeos, Moabitas, Amonitas, Amalecitas, Madianitas, Ceneos, Hapiru e Israelitas como Shasu. Esta lista debería también incluiría probablemente a los Amorreos y los Arameos. Incluso hay una referencia datada aproximadamente al 1250 a. de C. en el papiro Anastasi I a un grupo de Shasu gigantes que habitaban en Canaán, que pudo ser identificado con los gigantes encontrados por los Israelitas en el tiempo del Éxodo .
LA TIERRA DE LOS SHASU DE YAHVEH
The two New Kingdom inscriptions which refer to “the Land of the Shasu of Yahweh” are found in topographical lists. One list is at Soleb and the second at Amarah-West.
Soleb, a temple dedicated to the god Amon-Re, was built by the Pharaoh Amenhotep III in ca. 1400 BC. Today it is located in the nation of Sudan, on the left bank of the Nile about 135 miles south of Wadi-Halfa.
Amarah-West, which is also located in Sudan, is a construction of Rameses II in the 13th century BC and has massive topographical lists inscribed in it. The section of the Amarah-West topographical list which contains the reference to “the land of the Shasu of Yahweh,” was almost certainly copied from the earlier list at Soleb.
It must be noted at this point that Egyptologists in general do not question the appearance of the name Yahweh in these two lists. For example, Donald Redford writes of the reference to Yahweh at Soleb:
Por medio siglo ha sido generalmente admitido que tenemos aquí el tetragrámaton, el nombre del Dios israelita “Yahweh”; y si este es el caso, como indudablemente lo es, el pasaje constituye la más preciosa indicación del paradero durante el siglo XV aC de un enclave reverenciando a este Dios.
Redford identifies the Shasu of Yahweh with the Edomites and argues that Yahweh was at first worshipped as an Edomite god. He also argues that one tribe of Edomites split from the main body of Edomites, moved northwest, and became one of the tribes of the Israelites, taking their god Yahweh with them. For Redford, this explains how Yahweh became the God of the Israelites.9
There are several problems with Redford’s position, and these will be dealt with later. It suffices here to note that there are almost no scholars who question the appearance of the name Yahweh at Soleb and Amarah-West.
The best discussion of the place names in Egyptian topographical lists that are related to the location of “the land of the Shasu of Yahweh” is that of Michael Astour in his chapter in the Festshrift Elmar Edel published in 1979. Astour points out that the place names listed at Soleb and Amarah-West include both Egyptian possessions in Syria-Palestine as well as non-Egyptian controlled ethnic groups and regions in that area.
The topographical lists that are of most interest are the group of texts which read “t3 Sh3sw of X”, or “Land of the Shasu of X,” where X is normally a place. Astour observes that, contrary to what has been stated by some other scholars, Donald Redford being a good example, not all of the Shasu lands mentioned by Amenhotep III, and copied by Rameses II, were located in the general areas of Syria, Lebanon, Canaan, Sinai, and Trans-Jordan.10
Even though Egyptologists accept the appearance of the name Yahweh in the topographical lists at Soleb and Amarah-West, the implications of its appearance do not seem to have been fully appreciated by Old Testament scholars. Of course the question remains, who or what is being referred to by the word Yahweh? Is it a reference to the God of Israel? Or is it just a reference to a town or city like any of the other toponyms beginning with t3 sh3sw?
In other words, should the phrase t3 sh3sw ya-h-wa be translated as “the land of the nomads who worship the God Yahweh” or should it be translated as “the land of the nomads who live in the area of Yahweh.” The answer to this is not known with absolute certainty, but even if Yahweh is a place in these hieroglyphic texts, it was clearly place named after the god Yahweh of the Old Testament. Anything less seems too coincidental. But let us look at Astour’s proposed locations of the other t3 Sh3sw toponyms in these lists at Soleb and Amarah-West.
Astour correlates the Amarah list of Rameses II with the Soleb list of Amenhotep III. He also correlates both of these lists with a parallel, but partial, topographical list of Rameses III which is located in his great mortuary temple at Medinet Habu on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor.
First let us look at Astour correlation of the parallel portions of the Amarah and Soleb lists. Both of the lists begin with a place called t3 sh3sw pys-pys, which Astour identifies with a spring in the Biqa Valley, near the Litani River in modern Lebanon.11 It is clearly located north of Canaan.
The second place in the two lists is Sa-ma-ta, a place that Astour again is quite certain as to its precise location. He identifies Sa-ma-ta with Samat, a site on the Phoenician coast some seven miles south of Batrun. This site is located north of Canaan in an area that is generally considered to be Phoenician, again far away from Edom.12
The third place name and the one that is of the greatest interest to us is “the Land of the Shasu of Yahweh.” Astour makes no attempt to locate this people group, and for a good reason. There is no topographical site in the entire region today that bears the name Yahweh or anything remotely similar. There is also no biblical reference or ancient historical source that mentions a topographical site named Yahweh. We will return to this point later.
Astour observes that the name Yahweh also appears in a topographical list at Medinet Habu (12th century B.C.) with the variant spelling yi-ha.13 This constitutes a third reference in hieroglyphic texts to Yahweh. However, in the Medinet Habu list, the phrase “the Land of the Shasu” has been omitted.
Astour believes that yi-ha is just a variant of ya-h-wa as found on the Soleb and Amarah-West topographical lists. He also believes that it refers to the same people since it is followed n all three lists by some version of a place called “the Land of the Shasu of Tu-ra/Tu-ra-ba-ar.” However, the Medinet Habu list has mistakenly split the name Tu-ra from the last elements of this place’s full name. Tu-ra-ba-ar, and has made this one locality into two places. Nevertheless, the full name t3 shsw tu-ra-ba-ar appears after the place mentioning Yahweh on both the Soleb and Amarah lists.
Astour has identified Tu-ra-ba-ar with the name Turbul. It should be remembered that the Egyptian language has no L sound and routinely uses R for L sounds. Astour states that there are two possible locations for ancient Tu-ra-ba-ar, both with the modern name Turbul. One is located in the Biqa Valley in Lebanon and the other a little further north but also in Lebanon.14
It should be observed at this point that the Amarah-West list presents, at the head of the Shasu lands section, two additional Shasu locations not found in the earlier text from Soleb. The first, Sa-a-r-ar, is difficult to identify on linguistic grounds. Some scholars, including Redford, have identified it with Mt. Seir in Edom, but other identifications have also been suggested.15 However, if this toponym does refer to Mt. Se’ir and therefore to Edom, the Egyptians seemingly were differentiating between the Land of the Shasu of Yahweh and the Land of the Shasu of Edom.
Another item in the Amarah list of Shasu sites that does not occur at Soleb, is ra-ba-na. However, this term does occur at Medinet Habu, and Astour identifies it with the city state of Labana in Middle Syria.16 Again, this shows that Shasu peoples and their lands were spread throughout the region and were not limited to just the areas of Edom and the Sinai.
Now let us draw some conclusions regarding the Land of the Shasu of Yahweh. Since no geographical term that is anything like Yahweh has been identified, this suggests that the hieroglyphic phrase t3 sh3sw ya-h-wa should be translated as “the land of the nomads who worship the God Yahweh” rather than as “the land of the nomads who live in the area of Yahweh.” In addition, the fact that no geographical term anything like Yahweh has been identified also strengthens the likelihood that the words ya-h-wa in the Soleb and Amarah texts are indeed early mentions of the God of Israel.
As Astour points out, the reference to Yahweh at Soleb is 500 years earlier than the well-known Moabite Stone’s reference to Yahweh, and thus it is by far the earliest non-biblical occurrence of the name Yahweh. Even if Yahweh in these Egyptian texts is a place, it seems nearly certain that such an area, city, or town was named after the Hebrew God of Yahweh of the Old Testament. We thus still would have the earliest references to the God of Yahweh found outside of the Old Testament.
EGYPTIAN SYNCRETISM AND THE GOD YAHWEH
At this point it is worth taking a look at Egyptian references to foreign gods and goddesses to see how they were normally treated. Kenneth Ostrand published a study of foreign deities in ancient Egypt in 2006 in KMT magazine.17 Let us survey four of them.
The West Semitic goddess Astarte, who probably evolved out of Semitic Ishtar and/or Sumerian Inanna, was a goddess of love and fertility. She does not appear in Egyptian texts until the reign of Amenhotep II in the 15th century BC, when she is mentioned in that king’s famous sphinx stele as being pleased with the king’s vaunted horsemanship. It is important to note that in the New Kingdom Period Astarte was made a consort of Set and a daughter of Re. It is possible that her connection with Set had something to do with the warlike nature of both deities. In Egyptian art, Astarte is depicted standing on a horse, with a crown on her head, and holding various weapons. A temple to her was built at Tell el Daba, biblical Rameses, a city site associated both with the Israelites and the Hyksos. The city of Rameses was also the 19th Dynasty’s capital of Egypt.
Another West Semitic female warrior deity revered in Egypt was Anath, who appears as early as the late Middle Kingdom, perhaps as a part of the influx of Semites into Egypt that eventually produced the so-called Hyksos period. After a brief hiatus in Dynasty 18, Anath enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in Dynasty 19, being credited with military victories of Seti I and his son Rameses II. The center of her worship was the Delta. Because of the sexual nature of her worship, Anath was viewed as an associate of a number of sexually-oriented Egyptian deities, Min, Hathor, and Set. She was depicted either wearing a traditional Egyptian sheath dress or as wearing nothing at all. She also tended to be shown holding weapons, such as a spear or battle axe.
Reshef, a Canaanite god of war and thunder, seems to have been introduced into Egypt by the Hyksos. As king of the netherworld, Reshef was thought to bring plague and war upon humanity. The Egyptians depicted him in a distinctly Syrian style, with kilt, beard, and horned helmet, but he could also be shown wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt and holding the Egyptian ankh and scepter, or sometimes holding Canaanite weapons. This, along with the Reshef’s insertion as a member of a trinity of deities with the god Min and the goddess Qadesh, shows the marked degree of syncretistic integration of foreign deities into the Egyptian pantheon.
Deities from even more obscure areas could also be worshipped in Egypt. An example cited by Ostrand is Ash, a Libyan god who entered Egypt in the Middle Kingdom. He was, naturally, a god of desert regions and oases and was eventually totally equated with the Egyptian god Set. The ancient Egyptians depicted Ash as a man with either a hawk or a snake head, or sometimes as a lion or vulture.
All of this illustrates that the Egyptians were perfectly willing to worship foreign gods, including building temples to them, giving them Egyptian attributes, emphasizing their similarities to their own gods and goddesses, and even sometimes to completely equating them with them with their own deities.
By studying the general syncretistic acceptance by the ancient Egyptians of the gods of other nations and by comparing their syncretistic acceptance of foreign gods with the treatment afforded Yahweh, one recognizes that Yahweh was for some reason treated very differently. Clearly the Egyptians knew about Yahweh as can be seen in the Soleb, Amarah-West, and Medinet Habu topographical lists, but they did not worship him, and they apparently did not want to worship him.
Nor was Yahweh equated to or identified with any Egyptian deity. There were no temples to Yahweh built by the Egyptians, nor were there any artistic representations made of him, or in fact even any discussions of him in Egyptian texts. There are no other mentions of him in any Egyptian texts besides the topographical references found at Soleb, Amarah-West, and Medinet Habu. It appears that the ancient Egyptians placed Yahweh into a category all by himself. To say the least, this is very strange for the syncretistic Egyptians. A possible explanation is that Yahweh was seen by the Egyptians as an enemy God, of an enemy tribal group which was a part of the hated Shasu peoples who lived north of Egypt.
WAS YAHWEH A PLACE NAME?
It seems significant that there is no modern or ancient place name that can be connected with the name Yahweh. One in fact wonders if the attempts by Astour and others to always supply a place name at the end of the phrase “Land of the Shasu of X” is not putting the cart before the horse.
Perhaps what we now accept as place names in these topographical lists were originally something else, perhaps the names of deities or of eponymous ancestor that came to be attached to a particular group of Shasu nomads/Bedouin. For example, was sa-ma-ta a leader or some other important figure for a group of Shasu, and was his name only later attached to a physical location? It should be noted that this was exactly what happened to the name Israel; first it was the name of an eponymous ancestor, but later it became the name of a place.
Perhaps originally none of the terms indicated by the phrase “the land of the Shasu of X” were place names, including the name Yahweh. This possibility again suggests that the hieroglyphic phrase t3 sh3sw ya-h-wa could and probably should be interpreted as “the Land of the Shasu who worship the God Yahweh” rather than being interpreted as “the land of the Shasu who live at a place called Yahweh.” By any means, topographical lists at both Soleb and Amarah-West unquestionably use the name Yahweh, and this Yahweh is almost unquestionably the God of the Israelites of the Old Testament.
WHO WERE THE SHASU OF YAHWEH?
Donald Redford, in his book Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, assumes that the Shasu of Yahweh were very early worshippers of the God Yahweh. Redford also argues that these early worshippers of Yahweh were a tribe of Edomites who originally lived in the general area of Edom in the 15th century BC. Redford writes:
Pero las listas de Soleb y Amarah, mayormente originarias del siglo XV a.C., sugieren que una concentración original de Shasu moraba en el sur de Transjordania en las llanuras de Moab y al norte de Edom.18
Redford here contradicts Astour who argued that the Shasu mentioned in the Soleb, Amarah-West, and Medinet Habu lists were scattered over Canaan, Lebanon, and part of Syria, and were not just located in the area of Edom. Redford not only assumes that the Land of the Shasu of Yahweh was located in the general area of Edom, but he also assumes that the earliest worshippers of Yahweh were Edomites. He then goes on to argue that the worship of Yahweh was introduced to proto-Israelites in the mountains of Canaan by a tribe of Edomites who migrated northwest and merged with these proto-Israelite tribed. Redford writes:
La única conclusión razonable es que un mayor componente en la posterior amalgama que constituyó Israel, y el único con el cual el culto de Yahweh se originó, debe ser vista entre los Shasu de Edom ya a finales del siglo XV a.C.19
However, as was noted above, there are problems with Redford’s assumptions.
First, there is no evidence that the Shasu of Yahweh were Edomites. If they were Edomites, then it must be explained why the Edomites are strangely mentioned twice in the list at Amarah West since Redford translates the phrase t3 sh3sw sa-a-r-ar on this list as the "land of the Shasu of Se’ir".
As Redford himself notes, Se’ir is another name for Edom in the Old Testament. Redford writes of Amarah West: “Here a group of six names is identified as in “the land of the Shasu” and tehse include Se’ir (i.e. Edom).”20 If Redford is correct in his translation of this phrase, then, as was noted above, the Edomites are strangely mentioned twice in the six references to the “lands of the Shasu of X” found at Amarah West. Of course, Redford would probably respond to this criticism by answering that he believed that all six references to “the land of the Shasu of X” were references to Edomite groups who in the fifteenth century BC were located in the general area of Edom, an assumption that Astour strong rejected.
And second, there is a major problem with Redford’s Edomite theory because Sa-a-r-ar may not be Mt. Se’ir, i.e. Edom. Astour questions translating Sa-a-r-ar as Se'ir because of the way that it is spelled in the list at Amarah. Sa-a-r-ar is an unusual Egyptian spelling for Mt. Se’ir, if it indeed is Mt. Se’ir. Sa-a-r-ar cannot be explained away as just a misspelling since it is also spelled the same way in an even earlier topographical list of Pharaoh Thutmosis III.21 If Sa-a-r-ar was not Se’ir, then, as Astour suggests, it might not have even been located in the area of ancient Edom.
Based upon the evidence provided by Astour, Redford’s theory that the Shasu of Yahweh were Edomites has very little to support it. Who then were the Shasu of Yahweh?
THE SHASU OF YAHWEH AND THE DATE OF THE EXODUS
There are two indisputable facts that Old Testament scholars must face when dealing with these hieroglyphic references to the Shasu of Yahweh. First, there is no doubt that the name of the Israelite God Yahweh appears in these hieroglyphic texts at Soleb and Amarah-West, and also probably at Medinet Habu. And second, at Soleb the reference to Yahweh dates to ca. 1400 BC during the reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. In other words Pharaoh Amenhotep III, or at least his scribes, must have at least heard about the Hebrew God Yahweh in ca. 1400 BC. This fact is highly significant when trying to date the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt under Moses.
In Exodus 5:2 Pharaoh answers the first request of Moses to allow the Israelites to go into the desert to worship Yahweh by saying “Who is Yahweh that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do know not Yahweh and besides I will not let the Israelites go.”22 Pharaoh appears here to be saying that he had never heard of the God Yahweh. This interpretation of Pharaoh’s statement is reinforced by Exodus 7:17 where God responds to Pharaoh: “Thus says Yahweh, ‘by this you will know that I am Yahweh, behold I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will become blood.”’ (NASV)
In his third meeting with Moses and Aaron after the second plague, Pharaoh clearly recognized Yahweh as some sort of deity and asked Moses and Aaron to pray to Yahweh to remove the plague of frogs (see Exodus 8:8). If the Pharaoh of the Exodus had never before heard of the God Yahweh, this strongly suggests that the Exodus should be dated no later than ca. 1400 BC because Pharaoh Amenhotep III had clearly heard about Yahweh in ca. 1400 BC.
It is clear that there once was a group of Shasu Bedouin/nomads living in Syria-Palestine who were associated with either a deity or a place named Yahweh. It is also clear that the name Yahweh was known to the Egyptians in the 18th Dynasty during the reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep III.
But it must be admitted at this point that we also know from the Old Testament that there were other worshippers of Yahweh in Canaan who did not go into Egypt and therefore did not leave Egypt at the time of the Exodus. The question thus arises, were they perhaps the Shasu of Yahweh mentioned at Soleb and Amarah?
Although we do not have all the information that we wish we did, it is significant that there are no mentions of the Shasu of Yahweh in Egyptian texts earlier than the reign of Amenhotep III. If the group in question were Yahweh followers who never went to Egypt, why are they absent in topographical lists from the early period of the 18th Dynasty, for example, from the extensive topographical lists of Thutmosis III? The reason may very well be because the Shasu of Yahweh were indeed the Israelites and that they were still living in Egypt in the early 18th Dynasty.
The fact that the Shasu of Yahweh first appear in topographical lists under Amenhotep III in ca. 1400 BC fits perfectly with the Early Date of the Exodus, but this fact presents major problems for those scholars who believe that the Exodus took place during the reign of Pharaoh Rameses II in the 13th century BC. In any case, these references to Yahweh have been ignored for far too long by both conservative and liberal biblical scholars.
It thus appears very likely that the Shasu of Yahweh, who are mentioned in the topographical texts at Soleb and Amarah-West, were the Israelites who by about 1400 BC had settled into their own land (t3) in the mountains of Canaan. It also appears that for the ancient Egyptians the one feature that distinguished the Israelites from all the other Shasu (Semitic herders) in this area was their worship of the God of Yahweh.
NOTAS AL PIE
1. Michael C. Astour, Yahweh in Egyptian Topographic Lists in Festschrift Elmar Edel in Agypten und Altes Testament, edited by Manfred Gorg (Bamberg, Germany, 1979. pp. 17-19. Astour points out in this article that there is a third likely use of the name Yahweh in the Medinet Habu topographical lists of Ramses III in the early 12th century BC, pp. 19-20. However, as will be seen below in this article, At Medinet Habu the name Yahweh appears in the form “yi-ha.” However, at Medinet Habu “yi-ha” is used without the phrase “land of the Shasu.”
2. Siegfried Herrmann, Israel in Egypt (Naperville, IL: Alec R. Allenson Inc., 1973). p. 25.
3. For the identification of the Egyptian name Tjekku with the Hebrew name Succoth, see Donald B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 203.
4. Herrmann, Israel in Egypt, pp. 26-27. See also Herrmann’s article Der Altestamentliche Gottesname in Evangelischen Theologie 26 (1966). pp. 289-291.
5. Kenneth R. Cooper, The Shasu of Palestine in Egyptian Texts, Part One, Artifax, Autumn, 2006, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 22-27; and Part Two, Artifax, Winter, 2007, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 24-29.
6. Cooper, Shasu, Part One, pp. 24-25.
7. W.W. Hallo, ed. The Context of Scripture (Leiden: Brill, 2003), Vol. 3, p. 9. See also Clyde E. Billington, Goliath and the Exodus Giants: How Tall Were They? in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 48 (2005), pp. 505-506.
8. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel, p. 272.
9. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel, pp. 272-273.
10. Astour, Yahweh, pp. 20-29.
11. Astour, Yahweh, p. 29.
12. Astour, Yahweh, p. 28.
13. Astour, Yahweh, p. 26.
14. Astour, Yahweh, pp. 26-27.
15. Astour, Yahweh, p. 21.
16. Astour, Yahweh, p. 23.
17. Kenneth Ostrand, Aliens in Egypt, KMT. 17.2, Summer 2006, pp. 71-76.
18. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel, p. 272.
19. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel, p. 273.
20. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel, p. 272.
21. Astour, Yahweh, p. 21.
22. This question is taken from the New American Standard translation, but we have substituted Yahweh from the Hebrew for the word LORD.