Skip to: Site Menu | Main content

David, Solomon and Egypt

Scholar claims evidence suggests limited relationship between the kingdoms of David and Solomon and Egypt.
(Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999)

|Page 1|Page 2|Page 3|

By Paul S. Ash

    David, Solomon and Egypt: A Reassessment is a study into the life and times of David and Solomon and ancient Israel's relations with and dependence upon ancient Egypt. The study's two goals are:

  1. To broaden the base of evidence used to determine the relations and contacts between Egypt and Palestine at the time of David and Solomon.
  2. To engage the biblical evidence once again from a standard historical-critical perspective.

    Up to now, the many studies that commented on relations and contacts between Egypt and Palestine at the time of David and Solomon have engaged and elucidated only the biblical statements, giving little or no attention to what effect any Egyptian evidence might have on the question. Moreover, until this point no one has sought to compile the archaeological evidence for contacts and draw conclusions from it based on the broader contacts between Egypt and Palestine throughout ancient history. The first goal of the study, then, seeks to correct this problem.

    In realizing the study's second goal, I have concluded that contrary to the generally accepted supposition that this period witnessed significant contacts between Egypt and Palestine, which resulted in significant Egyptian influence on Palestine, contacts were minimal. Indeed, they were considerably less intense and influential than Egyptian/Palestinian contacts earlier or later.

    Consequently, the book is divided into three chapters, as well as an Introduction and Conclusion. The Introduction provides the backdrop for the study, as well as a delineation of some of the past studies that have argued that contacts between Egypt, David and Solomon were strong, with many Egyptian influences on Israelite life during the time. Chapter 1 gives a discussion on the written evidence from Egypt pertaining to the issue. Chapter 2 details the archaeological evidence of Egyptian and Egyptian-related artifacts found dated to this time. Chapter 3 analyzes the biblical evidence. Finally, the conclusion summarizes the evidence and employs it to briefly reevaluate the many theories about Egyptian influence on Israel at the time of David and Solomon.

    After discussing the problems associated with the chronologies of Egypt and Palestine for the early first millennium BCE, Chapter 1 looks at the small handful of texts and art from Egypt that have been used to argue that significant contacts existed between Egypt and Palestine at the time of David and Solomon (ca 1000-920 BCE, the time of the late 21st and early 22nd dynasties in Egypt). Three of these are associated with the 21st dynasty:

  1. Siamun's battle relief, a fragment of a limestone relief portraying a defeat of foreigners, allegedly Philistines, by Pharaoh Siamun;
  2. Papyrus Moscow 127, which mentions "Seir" (perhaps Edom); and
  3. The Abydos Stela of Shoshenq, which mentions two individuals from Khor, the Syro-Palestinian coast.

    The other three texts are associated with the 22nd dynasty and include:

  1. Inscriptions pertaining to Shoshenq I's campaign to Palestine;
  2. The inscription on the statue of a certain Pediest, mentioning the "city of Canaan" and the Philistines; and
  3. References to Shoshenq found at the remains of Byblos.

    Close analysis of these six texts shows that none are evidence of any close ties between the peoples of Egypt and Palestine during the time of David and Solomon. Generally, they have been misinterpreted or over-interpreted. For example, Siamun's Battle Relief, used to argue that Pharaoh Siamun campaigned to Palestine, has largely been misinterpreted. An object in the conquered individual's hand, almost invariably claimed by scholars to be a Philistine axe, almost surely is not. Consequently, there is nothing to connect the relief with Palestine. Indeed, the only indisputable Egyptian evidence for contact between Egypt and Palestine at this time is Shoshenq's campaign, and this indicates hostile relations, not close ties of alliance. Moreover, this was a period of relative weakness and isolation for Egypt, not a time of bustling trade, political activity, and cross-cultural pollination of ideas with Palestine. The broad history of Egypt depicted in the written remains from Egypt shows strong contacts with Palestine during the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1550-1150 BCE), a steady decrease through and past the time of David and Solomon, and a resuscitation only late in the reign of Shoshenq, probably after the death of Solomon.

|Page 1|Page 2|Page 3|