Pharaoh’s Nine Bows -- By: Glenn A. Carnagey, Sr.

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 003:1 (Summer 1997)
Article: Pharaoh’s Nine Bows
Author: Glenn A. Carnagey, Sr.

Pharaoh’s Nine Bows

Glenn A. Carnagey, Sr.*

Chafer Theological Seminary

[*Editor’s note: Dr. Carnagey earned his B.A. at the University of Houston, Th.M. at Dallas Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. at the University of Tulsa. Glenn has done extensive archaeological work in the Near East and editorial work for a major archaeological journal, as well as presenting scholarly papers at meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society. Dr. Carnagey has also pastored churches in Texas, Oklahoma, and Minnesota. He is a member of Chafer Seminary’s National Board of Advisors, is a contributing editor to the CTS Journal, and was instrumental in the formation of CTS.]


In the year 1210 B.C., Merneptah, 13th son of the mighty Pharaoh Ramses II (already an old man), assumed the throne of Egypt. Almost immediately in his third year he had to fight one nation after another along the long borders of Egypt. Breasted describes the menacing armies like this:

[W]ith the Libyans on the one hand and the peoples of remoter Asia Minor on the other, they broke in wave on wave upon the borders of the Pharaohs empire. Egypt was inevitably thrown on the defensive, her day passed for conquest and aggression, and for six hundred years the empire made no serious effort to extend her borders.1

According to his account of the results of his battles (never totally reliable in Egyptian history) on the Merneptah Stele: “Israel is laid waste, his seed is not.”2 This is indeed a strange comment in such an important document. How did Israel come to be reckoned among the most dangerous nine enemies of Egypt by the year 1210 B.C.? Furthermore, Merneptah had to go north and east into the interior of Palestine to find and fight the Israelites. Why would he do this if Israel had just recently arrived in Palestine and had no real army of substance to be a threat? More to the point, if the Liberal late-date theories are even partially true, why would Merneptah even bother with Israel, since Israel at this time would not have even partially left Egypt, if indeed it existed at all?

Toward a Biblical Answer

The answer, of course, is found in the biblical chronological framework of the Exodus, Conquest, and Settlement of Palestine. If we accept the literal numbers of 2 Kings 6:1, then the period of time between the Conquest and the time when Merneptah noted his victory over Israel is about 190 years (about 1400 B.C. to 1210 B.C.). Allowing approximately 30 years per generation, there would have been roughly six generations ...

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