Manetho on the Hyksos

Manetho on the Hyksos

Manetho, Aegyptiaca., frag. 42, 1.75-79.2

Tutimaeus [0]. In his reign, for what cause I know not, a blast of God smote us; and unexpectedly, from the regions of the East, invaders of obscure race marched in confidence of victory against our land. By main force they easily overpowered the rulers of the land, they then burned our cities ruthlessly, razed to the ground the temples of the gods, and treated all the natives with a cruel hostility, massacring some and leading into slavery the wives and children of others. Finally, they appointed as king one of their number whose name was Salitis. He had his seat at Memphis, levying tribute from Upper and Lower Egypt, and leaving garrisons behind in the most advantageous positions. Above all, he fortified the district to the east, foreseeing that the Assyrians, as they grew stronger, would one day covet and attack his kingdom.

In the Saite [Sethroite] nome he found a city very favorably situated on the east of the Bubastite branch of the Nile, and called Auaris (= Avaris ) after an ancient religious tradition. This place he rebuilt and fortified with massive walls, planting there a garrison of as many as 240,000 heavy-armed men to guard his frontier. Here he would come in summertime, partly to serve out rations and pay his troops, partly to train them carefully in manoeuvres and so strike terror into foreign tribes.

Josephus Flavius quoting passages concerning the Hyksos from Manetho's Aegyptiaca

Flavius Josephus: Against Apion

Book 1, section 73

Under a king of ours named Timaus (Tutimaeus) God became angry with us, I know not how, and there came, after a surprising manner, men of obscure birth from the east, and had the temerity to invade our country, and easily conquered it by force, as we did not do battle against them. After they had subdued our rulers, they burnt down our cities, and destroyed the temples of the gods, and treated the inhabitants most cruelly; killing some and enslaving their wives and their children.

Then they made one of their own king. His name was Salatis [1]; he lived at Memphis, and both the upper and lower regions had to pay tribute to him. He installed garrisons in places that were the most suited for them. His main aim was to make the eastern parts safe, expecting the Assyrians, at the height of their power, to covet his kingdom, and invade it. In the Saite Nome there was a city very proper for this purpose, by the Bubastic arm of the Nile. With regard to a certain theologic notion it was called Avaris. He rebuilt and strengthened this city by surrounding it with walls. and by stationing a large garrison of two hundred and forty thousand armed men there. Salitis came there in the summer, to gather corn in order to pay his soldiers, and to exercise his men, and thus to terrify foreigners.

After a reign of thirteen years, he was followed by one whose name was Beon [2], who ruled for for forty-four years. After him reigned Apachnas [3] for thirty-six years and seven months. After him Apophis [4] was king for sixty-one years, followed by Janins for fifty years and one month. After all these Assis reigned during forty-nine years and two months. These six were their first kings. They all along waged war against the Egyptians, and wanted to destroy them to the very roots.

"These people, whom we have called kings before, and shepherds too, and their descendants," as he [5] says, "held Egypt for five hundred and eleven years. Then," he says, "the kings of Thebes and the other parts of Egypt rose against the shepherds, and a long and terrible war was fought between them." He says further, "By a king, named Alisphragmuthosis [6], the shepherds were subdued, and were driven out of the most parts of Egypt and shut up in a place named Avaris, measuring ten thousand acres." Manetho says, "The shepherds had built a wall surrounding this city, which was large and strong, in order to keep all their possessions and plunder in a place of strength.

Tethmosis [7], son of Alisphragmuthosis, attempted to take the city by force and by siege with four hundred and eighty thousand men surrounding it. But he despaired of taking the place by siege, and concluded a treaty with them, that they should leave Egypt, and go, without any harm coming to them, wherever they wished. After the conclusion of the treaty they left with their families and chattels, not fewer than two hundred and forty thousand people, and crossed the desert into Syria. Fearing the Assyrians, who dominated over Asia at that time, they built a city in the country which we now call Judea. It was large enough to contain this great number of men and was called Jerusalem.

Book 1, section 93

I shall quote Manetho again, and what he writes as to the order of the times in this case. He says "After this people or shepherds [8] had left Egypt to go to Jerusalem, Tethmosis [2], who drove them out, was king of Egypt and reigned for twenty five years and four months, and then died; ..."

Book 1, section 227

He [5] writes these words: "Those sent to work in the quarries lived miserably for a long while, and the king was asked to set apart the city Avaris, which the shepherds had left, for their habitation and protection; and he granted them their wish.

According to the ancient mythology, Avaris was Typho's [10] city. But when these men had entered it, and found it suitable for a revolt, they chose a ruler from among the priests of Heliopolis, whose name was Osarsiph [9]. They swore an oath that they would obey him in all things. The first laws he gave them were that they should not worship the Egyptian gods, nor should they abstain from any of the sacred animals that the Egyptians held in the highest esteem, but could kill them, and that they should not ally themselves to any but those that were of their conspiracy.

After making such laws as these, and others contrary to Egyptian customs, he ordered that the many the hands at their service to be employed in building walls around the city and prepare for a war with king Amenophis. He colluded with the other priests, and those that were polluted as well, and sent ambassadors to those shepherds expelled by Tethmosis to Jerusalem, informing them of his own affairs, and of the state of those others that had been treated so shamefully, and desired that they would come united to his assistance in this war against Egypt. He also promised their return to their ancient city and land of Avaris and plentiful support for their people; that he would protect them and fight for them if need be, and that the land would easily be subdued. The shepherds were delighted with his message, and assembled two hundred thousand men. Shortly they arrived at Avaris.

King Amenophis of Egypt, when he heard of their invasion, was perplexed remembering what Amenophis, the son of Papis, had foretold him. He gathered many Egyptians, and deliberated with their leaders, and sent for their sacred animals, above all those worshipped in the temples, and ordered the priests to hide the images of their gods with the utmost care. He also sent his son Sethos, who was also called Ramses, and only five years old, from his father Rhampses to a friend of his. He continued with three hundred thousand of the most warlike Egyptians against the enemy, who met them. But he did not join battle with them, afraid to be fighting against the gods. He turned back and returned to Memphis, where he took Apis and the other sacred animals which he had sent for, and continued to Kush, together with his whole army and masses of Egyptians.

The king of Ethiopia was under an obligation to him and received him, and took care of the masses that were with him, while the land supplied all that was necessary for the men's sustenance. He gave them cities and villages to live in, that was to be from its beginning during those fatally determined thirteen years. He sent his army to guard the borders of Egypt in order to protect King Amenophis. And this is what happened in Kush."

This is some of what the Egyptians tell about the Jews, I omit much for brevity's sake. Manetho continues:

"Later Amenophis returned from Kush with a great army, his son Ahampses led another army, and both of them joined battle with the shepherds and the polluted people, and conquered them, and killed a great many of them, and pursued them to the borders of Syria."

These and more accounts like them are written by Manetho.


[0] Tutimaeus: Also Tutimaios, Timaios, perhaps Dedumos? There were two kings of this name during the Second Intermediate Period, Djedneferre and Djedhetepre, variously assigned to either the 13th or the 16th dynasty. Many historians reject the suggestion that Tutimaeus is identical with Dedumos.
[1] Salatis: Salitis, possibly Sheshi
[2] Beon: Yakubber?
[3] Apachnas: Khyan
[4] Apophis: Apepi I
[5] He: Manetho
[6] Alisphragmuthosis: Kamose
[7] Tethmosis: Ahmose
[8] An Egyptian term misunderstood by Flavius: This whole nation was styled Hyksos, that is, Shepherd-kings: for the first syllable Hyk, according to the sacred dialect, denotes a king, as is sos a shepherd; but this according to the ordinary dialect; and of these is compounded Hyksos: but some say that these people were Arabians." Now in another copy it is said that this word does not denote Kings, but, on the contrary, denotes Captive Shepherds, and this on account of the particle Hyk; for that Hyk, with the aspiration, in the Egyptian tongue again denotes Shepherds, and that expressly also; and this to me seems the more probable opinion, and more agreeable to ancient history. Josephus Flavius,Against Apion, 1,73
[9] Moses: It was also reported that the priest, who ordained their polity and their laws, was by birth of Heliopolis, and his name Osarsiph, from Osyris, who was the god of Heliopolis; but that when he was gone over to these people, his name was changed, and he was called Moses.
[10] Typho: Set (Seth)

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