Jerry's Blog

Shishak Revisited

Historians flash dates at us with such ease that we seldom stop to ask how they arrived at them. We forget that fixed calendar dates were not used for time “Before Christ” (BC) or “Before the Common Era” (BCE). Every date was relative to something else. Ancient sources are all fragments of relative lists that needed to be pinned down to a date in our present calendar system, which began with Rome. Fixed points in history are rare. One such fixed date, or anchor point, is Shishak’s plundering of Jerusalem in 925 B.C.

 

I find it notable that a biblical event is used to “pin down” the more flexible Egyptian dates. That’s because Bible dates are consistently precise over the years, while Egyptian history has three “dark ages” or Intermediate Periods, where kings were weak and history was poorly recorded. Authorities on biblical dating, such as Edwin Thiele, agree that 2 Chronicles 12:2 describes an event that happened in 925 B.C. In the fifth year of Rehoboam, king of Judah, a certain pharaoh named Shishak came from Egypt and plundered the city of Jerusalem. Since the relative dates of the Bible have been pinned to know events, they can then be used to establish clear dates for earlier biblical events.

 

Egyptian history, however, depends upon knowing which pharaoh in Egyptian history corresponds to Shishak of 2 Chron. 12. In the early 1800’s, Jean-Fran├žois Champollion make the regrettable mistake of deciding that Pharaoh Shoshenk I sounded close enough to Shishak, king of Egypt, that they were one and the same. As a result, biblical history and secular history have become skewed and biblical history has been the laughing stock of the secular world. It hasn’t been that long since Champollion’s mistake has been challenged. It remains to see if it can be fixed.

 

In 1995, David Rohl published A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History and Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest. First, he shows that the names Shoshenk and Shishak are not equivalent. Then he lists the cities of Shoshenk’s 10th year campaign to prove that he never reached Jerusalem but was far north of it. Furthermore, Shoshenk I would never have had an army of 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen, as given in the Bible. The year 8 campaign of Ramses II, on the other hand, did plunder Jerusalem with an enormous army. This drastically changes history and reestablishes the credibility of biblical history. This also shortens the Third Intermediate Period (TIP) of Egyptian history and adjusts all secular history of the second millennium BC.

 

So if Ramses II was not the pharaoh of the Exodus, who was?

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