[Published in The Velikovskian, January 1997; this was the first scholarly work in nearly half a century to challenge Immanuel Velikovsky’s view of the Papyrus Ipuwer as an Egyptian version of the plagues described in the Book of Exodus, and yet show that Velikovsky’s connection of the two was correct]
By: Henry Zecher
In the spring of 1940, Immanuel Velikovsky (left) pondered what kind of natural catastrophe had turned the plain of Sodom and Gomorrah into the lake which Joshua and the Israelites came upon after the Exodus. He pondered the plagues described in the Book of Exodus, whether or not they were real and whether or not there was an Egyptian version of them.
In search of just such a document, he soon discovered in a reference book the mention of an Egyptian papyrus by a sage named Ipuwer declaring that the Nile River was blood. Locating and studying the English translation of the papyrus by Alan Gardiner, he was struck by the fact that the papyrus seemed to be a description of a great natural disaster. To Velikovsky, however, it appeared to be more than that. He believed he had found an Egyptian version of the plagues described by Moses in the Old Testament Book of Exodus.
“All the waters that were in the river were turned to blood,” Moses had written. “The river is blood,” Ipuwer concurred.
Moses wrote that “the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.” Ipuwer lamented, “Trees are destroyed” and “No fruit nor herbs are found…”
Finally, Moses wrote that “there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt.” As Ipuwer succinctly put it, “The land is not light.”
Verses common to both sources told of Egyptians searching frantically for water, the death (or loss) of fish and grain, massive destruction of trees and crops, plague upon the cattle, a great cry (or groaning) throughout the land, a consuming fire, darkness, and the escape of slaves. Moses did not specifically say that the pharaoh had perished in the Red Sea, but Ipuwer lamented the king’s disappearance at the hands of poor men under circumstances that had never happened before.
Published in full for the first time in Gardiner’s The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage from a Hieratic Papyrus in Leiden in 1909, the now famous Papyrus Ipuwer launched Velikovsky on a mission that would consume the rest of his life. In very short order he became, as he put it, “the prisoner of an idea.” That idea ~ all-encompassing and interdisciplinary ~ was the recent cataclysmic history of the earth and the solar system, and a reconstruction of the history of ancient Egypt. “I realized,” Velikovsky explained, “that the Exodus had occurred in the midst of a natural upheaval and that this catastrophe might prove to be the connecting link between the Israelite and Egyptian histories, if ancient Egyptian texts were found to contain references to a similar event. I found such references and before long had worked out a plan of reconstruction of ancient history from the Exodus to the conquest of the east by Alexander the Great.”1
The Papyrus Ipuwer (above) describes the final act in the downfall of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, an event which began the Second Intermediate Period in Egyptian history and which coincided with the story of the Exodus recorded by Mosesin the Scriptures. Followers of Velikovsky’s work are well aware of the list of parallel verses first published in Pensee. It’s an impressive list. “Professor J. Garstang, excavator of Jericho, read an early draft of the first chapter (of Ages in Chaos),” Velikovsky wrote. “It was his opinion that the Egyptian record of the plagues, as set forth in this book, and the biblical passages dealing with the plagues are so similar that they must have had a common origin.”2
The operative phrase, however, is “as set forth in this book.” Velikovsky took liberties in lifting many of the Egyptian’s words out of their original context and then holding them up alongside the Scriptures as contemporaneous parallels. A reading of the text of the Admonitions, in fact, leads one to suspect that Ipuwer was not really describing the plagues at all, but in part their aftermath in the context of the invasion that followed and the devastation wrought by that invasion. Velikovsky was often accused of psychoanalytically drawing more interpretation out of a single source than it really had to give, and of either misinterpreting or selectively interpreting sources that would support his thesis. In this case it would appear that he did just that.
The synchronism, however, is still valid, and Velikovsky was quite right to connect the two accounts. But, rather than simultaneously describing the same plagues, it appears that Moses recorded Act I of the drama: the devastation of Egypt and the escape of the Israelites at the hand of the Lord; and that Ipuwer described Act II: the conquest of Egypt by the Hyksos on the heels of the Exodus. Velikovsky identified the Hyksos as the Biblical Amalekites3 whom the Israelites battled in the desert at Rephidim after crossing the Red Sea.4 That provides a further link between the two accounts.
Yet, by focusing on Velikovsky’s belief that it was an Egyptian version of the plagues, we have missed entirely the true meaning of the Admonitions and its importance to the history of the world’s literature. And the Papyrus, though important to the Exodus story, may not be quite what Velikovsky thought it was.
The Papyrus Ipuwer was one of the most important documents in the history of the world’s early literature. It was, so far as we know, the first true example of free speech in the ancient totalitarian world and of Messianic prophecy at a time of national crisis. Many authors have referred to it in their writings and listed it in their handbooks and encyclopedias, but few have truly understood what it really was. Of those who did, the American James Henry Breasted and the German Adolf Erman had the most to offer. And it was Velikovsky who first viewed it in the light of its place in Hebrew history by its relation to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
The papyrus was first discovered in Memphis (or Sakkara), having belonged to one Anastasi, who sold it along with the rest of his antiquities to the Leiden Museum in 1828. The papyrus measures 378 centimeters in length and is 18 centimeters high. Both sides were fully inscribed, the recto consisting of 17 pages – some complete, some not – of writing in the type of hieratic signs used by scribes, and the verso containing hymns to a solar deity written during either the 19th or the 20th Dynasty. The papyrus is folded into a 17-page book, but the beginning is missing, and there are several gaps within. The writing, the spelling, and the language of the recto text are all characteristic of the late Middle Kingdom.
“Each page (of the recto) had fourteen lines of writing, so far as we were able to judge,” Gardiner wrote, “with the exception of pages 10 and 11, which had only thirteen lines apiece. Of the first page only the last third of eleven lines remains. Pages two to seven are comparatively free from lacunae (gaps), but in many places the text has been badly rubbed. A large lacuna occurs to the left of page eight, and from here onwards the middle part of each page is entirely or for the greater part destroyed. The seventeenth page was probably the last; at the top are the beginnings of two lines in the small writing typical of the recto; near the bottom may be seen traces of some lines in a larger hand apparently identical with that of the verso.”5
A facsimile copy of the papyrus itself was first published by Conrad Leemans in 1846; and, in an introduction to Leemans’ book, Francois Chabas commented that the first eight pages contained axioms and proverbs while the following fragmentary pages were philosophic in nature. Franz Lauth translated the first nine pages in 1872, interpreting the text as a collection of proverbs or sayings used by the Egyptians for didactic purposes.
German Egyptologist Heinrich Brugsch was quoted by Erman, and also by Hans Lange in his 1903 paper titled Prophezeiungen eines ägyptischen Weisen, as considering the papyrus to be a collection of riddles; but in 1904 Lange, having studied it intensely and translated many of its passages, informed the Berlin Academy of Sciences that the text contained “the prophetic utterances of an Egyptian seer.”
It may seem preposterous that anyone could read this papyrus and think it contains riddles, prophecies, axioms or proverbs, but it was in such a bad state of preservation, and parts of it were so obscure and difficult to understand, that few in those early days of Egyptology could even begin to grasp its true content and meaning. Gardiner even made special mention of “the extreme corruption of our papyrus… It is not unlikely that the scribe of the Leiden manuscript was himself responsible for a considerable number of the mistakes. A particularly large class of corruptions is due to the omission of words.”6
The reading of hieroglyphics was still a young and slowly developing science in the last century, so the first real translation of the Admonitions was not achieved until 1872, and then it was just the first nine pages translated by Lauth. Brugsch quoted many sentences in the Supplement to his Hieroglyphic Dictionary, but he never printed his view of the text as a whole and, in fact, did not appear to perceive it as being a continuing narrative at all. France’s Gaston Maspero gave several lectures on it at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes, but up to this time the Admonitions was thought to be composed of separate and independent sayings.
It was Lange, Chief Librarian of the Royal Academy at Copenhagan, who in 1903 demonstrated that the text was in fact a continuous whole. He furthermore declared that it was of poetical and semi-philosophical nature, prophetic (actually Messianic) in meaning, with linguistic ties to such Middle Kingdom literature as the Instructions of Amenemhet I and A Dispute Over Suicide. It was apparently spoken to the king who was responsible for a coming era of disaster being predicted in the papyrus. “The characteristic feature of this group of Middle Kingdom texts,” Gardiner explained, “is that, while the setting is that of a tale, the claim that they made to the admiration of their readers lay wholly in the eloquence and wisdom of the discourses contained in them.”7
In 1905, Lange was contacted by Gardiner, one of the 20th century’s foremost Egyptologists whose work over more than half a century greatly advanced our understanding of hieroglyphics. The two men read through the entire papyrus in Copenhagen, and Gardiner was able to establish an accurate text; but, although they had intended to collaborate on a book, official duties and ill health forced Lange to withdraw from the project. Alone now except for Lange’s council, Gardiner obtained indispensable assistance from German Professor Kurt Sethe, who studied Gardiner’s entire manuscript and furnished suggestions and criticisms. They accomplished much in reaching an understanding of its meaning, even though parts of it refused to yield their secrets, as many still do today.
While Gardiner and Sethe had trouble understanding what it meant, since the beginning is missing and the last eight pages have been reduced by lacunae to half their original bulk, it is easy to see that, as Gardiner explained it, “the Egyptian author had divided and subdivided his book, or rather the greater part of what is left of it, by means of a small number of stereotyped introductory formulae, which consist of a few words or a short clause usually written in red and repeated at short intervals. New reflexions or descriptive sentences are appended to these formulae, which thus form as it were the skeleton or the framework of the whole.” The mode of composition is monotonous, like parts of the Dispute Over Suicide and other early works. “The first part contains the ‘Messianic’ passage to which Dr. Lange called special attention. This leads into a passionate denunciation of someone who is directly addressed and who can only be the king; after which the text reverts to the description of bloodshed and anarchy.”8
It appeared to Gardiner that the king’s speech was contained in the damaged 14th or 15th page, but the speaker who addressed the king throughout was Ipuwer. Apparently, since Ipuwer reverted on occasion to the second person plural, courtiers of the king were also present.
Lost to us are any clues to the position or personality of the author in the damaged narrative which “must have introduced and preceded the lengthy harangue of Ipuwer, and about the circumstances that led to his appearance at the court of the Pharaoh.” The insightful Erman, however, hazarded a guess: “In view of the frequent references to storehouses and treasuries, it is natural to suppose that the sage was one of the treasury officials. Also…it may be inferred that he came from the Delta to report on the lack of treasure; possibly he had to do this himself, because his messengers refused to go. The catastrophe, however, is not confined only to the Delta, but extends, as is expressly stated…to Upper (southern) Egypt.”9
But whoever or whatever he was, one thing is clear: “Ipuwer was no dispassionate onlooker at the evils which he records. He identifies himself with his hearers in the question what shall we do concerning it? evoked by the spectacle of the decay of commercial enterprise; and the occupation of the Delta by foreigners, and the murderous hatred of near relatives for one another, wring from him similar ejaculations.”
While Lange believed the text to be a predictive prophecy foretelling the future, Gardiner determined that it was a description of current and past events. Prophets may present their forewarning in the present or past tense, Gardiner suggested, but never in such detail as Ipuwer employed. “The entire context from 1,1 to 10,6 constitutes a single picture of a particular moment in Egyptian history,” he concluded, “as it was seen by the pessimistic eyes of Ipuwer.”10
Eduard Meyer not only thought it prophetic, however, he saw the papyrus as having a bearing on ancient Hebrew Messianic prophecies. This Messianic character of the papyrus was upheld by T. E. Peet two decades later: “In the first place it is the purely physical product of the distressful days of the (First) Intermediate Period, whether we believe that some or all of it was actually written during that time or immediately after. And in the second place it reflects…the awakening of man to the moral unworthiness of society and the possibility of better things. In Petrograd 1116B a saviour is actually predicted, and again, in the Admonitions of Ipuwer, although there is no prediction, the poet cannot refrain from drawing a picture of the ideal ruler of a state under the form of the sun-god Re. This type of writing, whether definitely predictive or not, is closely akin to the prophetic writings of the Hebrews, and every discussion of the latter must reckon with the possibility of Egyptian models.”11
Interpretation of the Messianic nature of the Admonitions is no flight of fancy; but, to appreciate what a landmark achievement Ipuwer’s was, we need to look back to the literature which preceded him.
Among other reasons for the late Middle Kingdom date assigned to the Admonitions is the fact that Egyptian literature simply had not developed to that level by the end of the Old Kingdom. David Roberts recently revealed in National Geographic that, from its early dynastic beginnings, when early Egyptians dug canals to irrigate their fields and transport building materials such as timber and huge blocks of stone, “local agriculture became the force that knit together the kingdom’s economy. The need to keep records of the harvest may have led to the invention of a written language.”
That did not mean, however, that a newly invented language would produce a mature literature. “We know of no literature until around 2400 B.C., near the end of the Old Kingdom,” Roberts noted, “and that literature is in the form of braggart autobiographies of officers, inscribed in their tombs, and poetic incantations to ensure the dead king’s eternal rebirth with the gods.”12
Erman had observed that “the full development of the literature appears only to have been reached in the dark period which separates the Old from the Middle Kingdom, and in the famous Twelfth Dynasty… It is the writings of this age that were read in the schools five hundred years later, and from their language and style no one dared venture to deviate. The feature which, from an external standpoint, gives its character to this classical literature ~ it cannot be called by any other name ~ is a delight in choice, not to say far-fetched, expressions.”13
Old Kingdom literature consisted primarily of creation myths, religious hymns and prayers; heroic tales of gods and men triumphant; texts dealing with life after death; legal treatises; historical accounts of military conquest; records and accounts of agricultural, mining and other labor activities; royal decrees; and, most famous of all, didactic literature like the legendary treatise, The Instruction of the Vizier Ptahhotep, an early Egyptian precursor of the Hebrew Book of Proverbs.
Yet, even during this golden era of Egyptian unity and power there was an embryonic development of a new, more socially conscious, literature. Breasted noted in The Dawn of Conscience the appearance in the third millennium B.C., “for the first time historically what the modern psychologists have concluded from their observations of the life of man as it is found in modern times. I am referring to their conclusion that the moral impulses of the life of man have grown up out of the influences that operate in family relationships.”
The Pyramid Texts, a collection of 4th and 5th Dynasty formulae for furtherance of the afterlife, and didactic literature from both the Old and Middle Kingdoms, extol the virtues of family and friends and reveal what Breasted called “a much more highly developed stage of man’s unfolding moral life.”14
Erman described the early Egyptians as “a gifted people, intellectually alert, and already awake when other nations still slumbered; indeed, their outlook on the world was as lively and adventurous as was that of the Greeks thousands of years later…
“It is not to be wondered at that so gifted a people took a pleasure in giving a richer and more artistic shape to their songs and their tales, and that in other respects also an intellectual life developed among them – a world of thought extended beyond the things of everyday and the sphere of religion.”15
Justice is a prevailing theme in the early literature, as revealed by a 4th Dynasty tomb inscription as well as the Pyramid Texts. Ideas of justice were associated with the great sun-god Re. The 6th Dynasty Instruction of Ptahhotep represents the first known formulation of just conduct to be found anywhere. Egyptians in the Old Kingdom believed in the use of common sense and personal integrity. They prized worldly success as well as the wise conduct of one’s business affairs. Life itself centered almost wholly on culture and power, but the early Egyptians were more kind, tolerant and benevolent than those who followed, and some of their literature reflects that, too. Of course, preparation for life after death was critically important, as revealed most awesomely by the pyramids.
The citizens of Egypt were singularly devoted to their kings and to building pyramids to perpetuate their immortality. Rainer Stadelmann, Director of the German Institute of Archaeology in Cairo and a student of the Old Kingdom, commented, “What held the Old Kingdom together was not so much a belief in the divine nature of the king as a belief that through the king was expressed the divine nature of society itself. Much later, after the fall of the Old Kingdom, the people really believe in the importance of building a pyramid. It’s like a small town that builds a huge cathedral in the Middle Ages. Faith is the spur.”16
Of course our collection of Egyptian literature is by no means complete, most of the surviving papyri having been discovered in tombs, where the dry climate and structural protection preserved them. Only the most important documents went with their owners to their graves; but that was miraculous enough “seeing that the preservation of a literary work depends on unlikely chance making it possible for a fragile sheet of papyrus to last for three or four thousand years! Accordingly, out of a once undoubtedly large mass of writings, only isolated fragments have been made known to us, and every new discovery adds some new feature to the picture which we have painted for ourselves of Egyptian literature.”17
The early rise of a socially conscious literature was coincident with the end of the pyramid age and the somewhat eroding omnipotence of the king. The building of pyramids gave way to the erection of mortuary temples and formulation of a more elaborate and refined funerary practice. Nevertheless, such changes notwithstanding, it was a shattering blow to the people’s faith when the Old Kingdom collapsed. Pepi II, last known king of the Old Kingdom, reigned for 90 years as Egypt tottered and fell. For years governors of local nomes and a rising and growing priesthood had eroded the pharaoh’s power and undermined his authority. Furthermore, famine indicated the disfavor of the gods. Nothing is really known of the First Intermediate Period; and, in fact, some have theorized that the First and Second Intermediate Periods were one and the same. At any rate, from the kings seated in Memphis, power shifted to the rulers at Heracleopolis, where a feeble dynasty left little to testify to its existence beyond a few monuments and three masterpieces of wisdom literature: The Instruction Addressed to King Merikare, the Instruction of Duauf, and the Protests of the Eloquent Peasant.
Amidst the general collapse of all that was so grand, a new early Middle Kingdom outpouring of skeptical and pessimistic literature arose. The Song of the Harp-Player suggests a life of indulgence and pleasure as a means of coping with the dreariness and misery of life. The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant tells of a poor man seeking (and being granted) justice and compensation after being wronged. But saddest of all is A Dispute Over Suicide in which the misanthrope, weary of life, his fortunes lost in the general collapse, argues with his soul over whether or not to end it all. It is a dilemma without hope. “It is remarkable,” Breasted lamented, “that it contains no thought of God; it deals only with glad release from the intolerable suffering of the past and looks not forward.”18
And Breasted went on: “Such were the feelings of some of the Egyptian thinkers of the new age as they looked out over the tombs of their ancestors and contemplated the colossal futility of the vast pyramid cemeteries of the Old Kingdom.” The skeptics doubted “all means, material or otherwise, for attaining felicity or even survival beyond the grave. To such doubts there is no answer; there is only a means of sweeping them temporarily aside, a means to be found in sensual gratification which drowns such doubts in forgetfulness.”19
Egyptian writers had become more reflective of society and of life itself. Some exhorted themselves and others to good deeds, wise conduct, and noble hearts. Others, like the harp-player and the misanthrope, simply sank deeper into despair. Yet those who urged noble aspirations and wise conduct still failed to contrast in print their ideals with the realities of the corrupt society in which they lived. Some, like the writer instructing Merikare, noted the sins of individuals but somehow failed to enlarge their observations to include the whole of society. By the late Middle Kingdom, however, “the Egyptian sages have become fully aware of the glaring contrast between the inherited ideals of worthy character and the appalling reality in the society around them.”
A priest of Heliopolis named Khakheperre-sonb, during the reign of Sesostris II, expressed his somber musings on society in The Complaints of Khakheperre-sonb. This composition was still in circulation and widely read centuries later when the current copy was made on a writing board (British Museum 5645). “It is of especial interest,” Breasted observed, “as indicating at the outset that such men of the Feudal Age were perfectly conscious that they were thinking upon new lines, and that they had departed far from the traditional complacency which characterized the wisdom of the fathers.”20
It was about the time of the 12th Dynasty that, as Breasted noted, “we may discern a great transformation. The pessimism with which the men of the early Feudal Age, as they beheld the desolated cemeteries of the Pyramid Age, or as they contemplated the hereafter, and the hopelessness with which some of them regarded the earthly life were met by a persistent counter-current in the dominant gospel of righteousness and social justice set forth in the hopeful philosophy of more optimistic social thinkers, men who saw hope in positive effort toward better conditions.”21
For the first time along the Nile men were awakened to the moral depravity of the society in which they lived and wrote about it. To assuage their despair over the collapse of general order there had previously been no vision of better things to come, or of a Messianic ruler who would rule with wisdom and benevolence; but soon there were men of vision who dreamed of better things and said so. The Eloquent Peasant strived for it, and in his story the need for a righteous ruler was therefore inferred but not explicitly stated. It remained for others to express it, and among them ~ the first on record that we know of ~ was the futuristic prophecy of the lector priest Neferrohu to King Snofru in the famous Petersburg Papyrus (1116B). Written by a scribe named Mahu, it concludes a long description of calamity with these words spoken by the priest:
“There is a king shall come from the South, whose name is Ameny, son of a Nubian woman, a child of Chen-Khon. He shall receive the White Crown; he shall assume the Red Crown; he shall unite the Two Powerful Ones [“epithet of the two goddesses, Buto and Nekhebt, who preside over the double crown” ftnt. 3]; he shall propitiate Horus and Seth with what they love, the Surrounder of fields’ in his grasp, the oar…
“The people of his time shall rejoice, (this) man of noble birth shall make his name for ever and ever. Those who turn to mischief, who devise rebellion shall subdue their mouthings through fear of him. The Asiatics shall fall by his sword, the Libyans shall fall before his flame, and the rebels before his wrath, and the froward (sic) before his majesty. The Uraenus that dwelleth in front shall pacify for him the froward.
“There shall be built the ‘Wall of the Prince,’ so as not to allow the Asiatics to go down into Egypt, that they may beg for water after (their) wonted wise, so as to give their cattle to drink. And Right shall come into its place, and Iniquity be cast (?) forth. He will rejoice who shall behold and who shall serve the King. And he that is prudent shall pour to me libation when he sees fulfilled what I have spoken.
“It has come to a successful end. (Written) by the scribe [Mahu].”
Gardiner called this predictive passage “the culminating point of a pessimistic passage of the true prophetic type.” And he and subsequent Egyptologists believed the prediction to be of the coming of King Amenemhet I, first king of the 12th Dynasty who ended the chaos and disorder of the First Intermediate Period and who is also mentioned in the Story of Sinuhe as the builder of the Wall of the Prince which was intended to fend off the Bedouins and other nomadic invaders. The building of this wall not far from the Wadi Tumilat in the eastern Delta was the culminating point of Neferrohu’s prophecy and was further proof of Gardiner’s contention that “the period between the Middle and New Kingdoms witnessed considerable and historical Asiatic incursions into the fertile and therefore much coveted Valley of the Nile.”22
And finally there is the scribe whose lamentations came down to us as The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage. Ipuwer was neither a pessimist nor a fatalist. In The Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt Breasted observed, “There were men who, while fully recognizing the corruption of society, nevertheless dared dream of better days. Another moral prophet of this great age has put into dramatic setting not only his passionate arraignment of the times, but also constructive admonitions looking toward the regeneration of society and the golden age that might ensue.” TheAdmonitions, Breasted maintained, is “perhaps the most remarkable document of this group of social and moral tractates of the Feudal Age…
“We must regard the Admonitions of Ipuwer and the Tale of the Eloquent Peasant as striking examples of such efforts, and we must recognize in their writings the weapons of the earliest known group of moral and social crusaders.”23
What inspires this Messianic linkage is Ipuwer’s longing, late in his lamentations after describing the holocaust and then blaming it on the king, for an ideal ruler like the sun-god Re who “brings coolness upon heat; men say: ‘He is the herdsman of mankind, and there is no evil in his heart.’ Though his herds are few, yet he spends a day to collect them, their hearts being on fire (?). Would that he had perceived their nature in the first generation; then he would have imposed obstacles, he would have stretched out his arm against them, he would have destroyed their herds and their heritage… Where is he today? Is he asleep? Behold, his power is not seen” (11,13-12,6).
The phrase “He is the herdsman of mankind” in verse 12,1 is significant. Breasted commented, “The Sun-god is called ‘a valiant herdman who drives his cattle’ in a Sun-hymn of the Eighteenth Dynasty, and this, it seems to me, makes quite certain Gardiner’s conclusion (on other grounds) that this passage is a description of the reign of Re.”24
Furthermore, John Van Seters pointed out that the view of the king as the herdsman of his people was a late development unknown before the 12th Dynasty.25
This passage elevates Ipuwer’s prophecy in the Admonitions above Neferrohu’s in the Petersburg Papyrus because Neferrohu prophesied the coming of an earthly king in the more or less immediate future while Ipuwer longed for the benevolent reign of the sun-god in an idyllic heaven on earth. It is worth recalling that the sun-god Re was the source of justice in the Old Kingdom; and this passage, cited by Breasted as the most important and illuminating in the entire text, brings to mind the righteous reign of King David in Israel. Ipuwer appears to be confronting the king in precisely the same manner in which the prophet Nathan will later confront King David after the adultery with Bathsheba by pointing his finger at the king and declaring, “You are the man!” This similarity, by the way, was not lost on Gardiner, who nevertheless denied the prophetic nature of the text.
“Lange first called attention to the Messianic character of this passage,” Breasted continued. “His interpretation, however, was that the passage definitely predicts the coming of the Messianic king. Gardiner has successfully opposed Lange’s conclusion as far as prediction is concerned… But no student of Hebrew prophecy can follow Gardiner in his next step, viz., that by the elimination of the predictive element we deprive the document of its prophetic character. This is simply to impart a modern English meaning of the word prophecy as predictive into the interpretation of these ancient documents, particularly Hebrew literature… (Gardiner) states the ‘specific problem’ of the document to be ‘the conditions of social and political well-being.’ This is, of course, the leading theme of Hebrew prophecy. On the basis of any sufficient definition of Hebrew prophecy, including the contemplation of social and political evils, and admonitions for their amelioration, the utterances of Ipuwer are prophecy throughout.”26
Gardiner believed the papyrus was originally composed during the 12th Dynasty but that it described the chaos of the First Intermediate Period separating the Old and Middle Kingdoms. “The spelling is, on the whole, that of a literary text of the Middle Kingdom,” Gardiner explained. He found parallels to the Ramesseum text of Sinuhe and Middle Kingdom writing, some instances of New Kingdom spellings and the New Kingdom method of “appending the pronominal suffix to the feminine nouns…in swyt-f 7.13; hryt-f 10,1. The orthography of our text thus brings us to very much the same results as its palaeography: the date of the writing of the recto cannot be placed earlier than the 19th. dynasty, but there are indications that the scribe used a manuscript a few centuries older.”27
Erman later revealed that passages from the Admonitions which recur in these two documents cited by Gardiner also indicate its date. Verses from the Admonitions are “far more in place” in theDispute Over Suicide than in the Admonitions, and several verses from the Admonitions found in the Instruction of Amenemhet are “interpolated in a corrupt form” in the Instruction. “The Admonitions is thus later than the Dispute of One Who is Tired of Life, and older than the Instruction of Amenemhet.”28 The Instruction, however, survives – except for the 18th Dynasty Papyrus Millingen which was copied in 1843 and subsequently lost ~ only in schoolboy exercises on wooden tablets from the 19th Dynasty which are riddled with errors, a few fragments of papyrus, and numerous ostraca from the New Kingdom; and, as we shall see, there are numerous indications for a later date for the Admonitions than for the Instruction.
Lange and Gardiner both assumed that the text was directed toward some king who was to blame for the suffering of his people. In common with Sethe, Gardiner saw it as an admonition on great social changes. Therefore, in spite of the graphic nature of Ipuwer’s descriptions of what he saw, it was not until Velikovsky read it that it was seen as “the Egyptian version of a great catastrophe.”29
In 1964 Van Seters published his commentary on the Admonitions in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, which published Reginald Faulkner’s complete translation the following year. Van Seters recognized that “the Admonitions doubtless reflects a very troubled period in Egypt’s history, and this logically offers the alternatives of the First and Second Intermediate Periods…
“The events are described in such a way as to appear quite contemporaneous with the author himself, and if this is the case one would certainly expect the text to reflect at least the language of the Old Kingdom. On the other hand, it is difficult to see how the many intimate connexions with the Middle Kingdom can all be considered as anticipation. There is, in fact, a more acceptable alternative which does full justice to the matter of the orthography and language. This is a date late in the Thirteenth Dynasty.”30
Van Seters himself provided a deep historical understanding of the text, since the Second Intermediate Period and the Hyksos takeover are specialties of his. Like Velikovsky, he saw the Admonitionsas a description of a great calamity, though certainly not a cosmic one; and by establishing the 13th Dynasty as the proper time slot for the Admonitions, he ended decades of misdating. “Since the time of A. H. Gardiner’s study of the Admonitions of Ipuwer in 1909,” he explained, “there has been a general consensus among scholars that the work was written in, or at least reflects, the First Intermediate Period in Egypt. However, the general observations made by Gardiner himself relating to the problem of dating certainly do not inspire a firm conclusion on the matter.”31
More than half a century elapsed between Gardiner’s translation of the Admonitions and its study by Van Seters and Faulkner. “In the interval,” Faulkner commented, “our knowledge of Egyptian grammar and vocabulary has greatly increased, thanks very largely to the work of Sir Alan himself, with the result that, though his interpretation of the text as a whole endures, there are passages where in the light of current knowledge some advance can be made on the original English version.”32
In establishing the historical context of the writings, Van Seters noted Ipuwer’s use of sttyw, a Middle Kingdom term to denote Asiatics that was very rare in earlier texts. [To the Egyptians, all peoples beyond their northeast frontier were “Asiatics.”] Furthermore, sttyw includes a character designating archers, a derivation of stt, “to shoot.” The term pdtyw generally designates “foreign bowman,” a Middle Kingdom term associated frequently with Asiatics, though not an ethnic term as such. A third term, h3styw, meaning simply “foreigners,” was applied in the Middle Kingdom particularly to Asiatics. Beginning in the Middle Kingdom, however, the term hk3 h3s(w)t for foreigners was definitely applied to Asiatics. The term h3styw, used by Ipuwer, refers to Asiatics and was appropriate only to the Second Intermediate Period between the Middle and New Kingdoms. There was frequent trade between Egypt and Palestine during the Middle Kingdom, but very little contact during the Old Kingdom. And the term wr for “foreign rulers,” used by Ipuwer, does not appear in Egyptian literature until the 13th Dynasty.
Interestingly, Ipuwer frequently referred to slaves; and, as Van Seters pointed out, “The institution of slavery, apart from a type of serfdom associated primarily with royal land estates, is not attested in the Old Kingdom. It is, at the earliest, a product of the Middle Kingdom…” Not only that, but “the terminology of slavery points to a social development which is of late Middle Kingdom date.”33
Ipuwer makes mention many times of the loss of the royal Residence, to which Van Seters commented, “In these passages the author is speaking of the present or the very immediate past when the Residence of the king was a reality.”34
The Residence (hnw) was identified by William C. Hayes as “the common designation for Itj-towy in the Middle Kingdom” and “this remained the capital of the Egyptian kings until the Hyksos overthrew it. According to this alternative the Admonitions would portray the rise of the Hyksos of the Fifteenth Dynasty and be very nearly contemporary with it.”
Itj-towy was the Diospolis of Manetho or, in other words, Thebes.
Against the notion that the text is a predictive prophecy, Van Seters noted that “the reprimand of the king makes sense only if Ipuwer is referring to well-established dogmas, not just anticipating them, and the view of the king as a ‘herdsman’ to his people expressed in the passage 11:11f. is a dogma of the Middle Kingdom. The view of the king’s relation to his people was so entirely different in the Old Kingdom that Ipuwer’s appeal to the king would have fallen on deaf ears. There is, in fact, nothing in the Admonitions which reflects the view of royalty in the Old Kingdom.”35
This brings up the concept of freedom of speech, a concept nearly unknown in antiquity. According to the Dictionary of the History of Ideas, “the final impression is that in the crisis of the Old Kingdom freedom of speech became an issue. Writers were aware that protesting, debating, and accusing were ways of undermining the existing order. Silence appeared to be the remedy: it became a central virtue in later days. It did not necessarily mean compliance and obedience; it included an element of astuteness and perhaps of concealment. But it implied the essential acceptance of an unmodifiable order. The prospects of freedom of speech had never been brilliant, because there was no institution to which potential reformers could turn when they felt dissatisfied with the Pharaonic administration. There was no regular assembly in which to voice discontent.”
Certainly there had been advisers to kings and court officials since the dawn of Pharaonic Egypt, but to question the Pharaoh was deemed destructive to the established order. Therefore, what protests there were ~ the suicidal misanthrope, the harp-player ~ protested the futility of life but never directly criticized the king. Ipuwer is the first sage on record to directly confront the king with the misery he may have caused. After describing rebellion and loose tongues all around him, “the Sage Ipu-wer himself takes advantage of the freedom of speech he notices as a bad symptom in the maidservants. He blames the king. He compels him to defend himself and concludes by saying that what the King has done, though perhaps good, is not good enough.”36
The setting of the papyrus perfectly matches the situation leading up to the Exodus. The downfall of the Middle Kingdom began at its inception. Cyril Aldred in 1961 harkened back to the First Intermediate Period (to which he, in common with everybody else at the time, assigned Ipuwer) and observed, “With Egypt divided against itself, there was the inevitable immigration of foreigners into the rich pastures of the Delta. Famine in their own lands always drove Libyans and the wandering Semites of Sinai and the Negeb to graze their flocks on the borders of the Delta in the manner of Abraham and Jacob…”
Soon, however, these infiltrators were holding positions of responsibility in Egypt. “Recent study of a papyrus in the Brooklyn Museum and other documents has revealed that numerous Asiatics were in Egypt, perhaps from the time of the First Intermediate Period, acting as cooks, brewers, seamstresses, and the like. The children of these immigrants often took Egyptian names and so fade from our sight. Asiatic dancers and a door-keeper in the temple of Sesostris II are known, showing that these foreigners attained positions of importance and trust. It is not difficult to see that by the middle of Dynasty XIII, the lively and industrious Semites could be in the same positions of responsibility in the Egyptian State as Greek freedmen were to enjoy in the Government of Imperial Rome.”37
Torgny Save-Soderbergh described the roller-coaster fortunes of Egyptian regimes toward the end of the Middle Kingdom: “After the fall of the Twelfth Dynasty…there followed a short period ~ let us say about a generation ~ when the unity of Egypt was no longer upheld, but a number of ephemeral kinglets ruled the country contemporaneously. However, Egypt soon recovered its political unity and strength, and this passing weakness had not changed Egypt’s political position in the Near East.”38
Two brothers, Neferhotpe and Sebkhotpe, brought Egypt back to power in the 13th Dynasty, the former reigning for 11 years, the latter for at least eight that we know of, and both leaving us abundant monuments to remind us they were there.39 However, the renewed Egypt was not the same as it had been before. Foreign ceramic ware is found in increasing numbers in Egyptian tombs. “This ware and other goods,” Save-Soderbergh pointed out, “bear witness to an intense trade all over an immense area, a trade that was bound to modify to a certain extent the character of the Egyptian civilization and to some extent break down its conservative self-sufficiency, which is so typical of earlier periods.”
Time and the outside world were catching up with the dwellers of the Nile. Egypt traded extensively with Byblos, in what is now Lebanon. Babel under Hammurabi rose to power. The Kassites ruled in eastern, and the Hurrians ruled in southwestern, Babylonia. After Sebkhotpe’s reign ended, Egyptian power declined again, and “later king-lists and the contemporary monuments mention an overwhelming number of kinglets who must have reigned contemporaneously. Egypt was again in a state more or less of anarchy, a ripe fruit to be gathered by anyone with no great effort. At this time, and possibly as a result of the unrest in Syria, Asiatics filtered into the Delta and soon established themselves as local rulers there.”40
Ipuwer complained that the Asiatics were well established in the Delta. Since the time of Joseph the Hebrews had thrived in the land of Goshen by the Wadi Tumilat, in the northeastern section of the Delta. If Velikovsky’s identification of the Hyksos as the Biblical Amalekites is correct – and it certainly appears to be – then the Asiatics in the Delta were the Hebrews and other scattered peoples from Asia Minor, and the Hyksos/Amalekites were on the move from further north than the Delta because of the cosmic catastrophe unfolding over all their heads. Having failed to defeat the newly freed Israelites at Rephidim, they simply crossed Egypt’s northern frontier when that frontier was defenseless and picked on somebody a little less troublesome.
Ipuwer stated that the Asiatics had been assimilated into the Egyptian culture and held positions of authority. This, too, is in keeping with the situation at the close of the Middle Kingdom. Although enslaved by this time, the Hebrews and other semitic peoples had long been assimilated into the Egyptian civilization, and some held positions of authority. From the early second millennium B.C., Asiatic names, most of them household servants, appeared in Egyptian records. The Brooklyn Papyrus alone, from the 13th Dynasty reign of Sebekhotpe III, lists 79 household slave names of which 45 are northwest Semitic.41
Van Seters noted evidence of foreign workmen in the Faiyum of Kahun, of slaves possessing a variety of skills, and of slaves engaged in mining expeditions to the Sinai. Both groups, he pointed out, had “strong connexions to the Eastern Delta,” which is where Goshen was. But Semitic names were not restricted to slaves. George Steindorff and Keith Seele observed of the Theban 13th Dynasty based at Itj-towy and the more obscure 14th Dynasty at Xois [identified by Gardiner as “the modern Sakha in the central Delta”42]: “Both dynasties consisted of innumerable rulers enjoying usually the briefest of reigns. There is reason to believe that the throne lost its hereditary character in the Thirteenth Dynasty and that elected kings of common origin served for short terms, with the affairs of state controlled, for the most part with vigor and stability, by a series of hereditary viziers. Some of the kings left numerous monuments, large and small. A few of them bore Semitic names, a plain token of the increasing Asiatic population which was infiltrating the Delta and preparing the stage for that dire catastrophe which…was to burst upon Egypt ~ conquest by the Hyksos.”43
Ipuwer’s lament that Asiatics had become assimilated into Egyptian culture is also borne out by the fact that so many Asiatic slaves had Egyptian names, many held government and religious positions, and some held positions of authority, as Steindorff and Seele pointed out and as William A. Ward demonstrated when he revealed that the Ugaritic personal name bn hnzr was the Semitic original of the 13th Dynasty Egyptian royal name Hnjr, a name borne by two obscure kings from that dynasty. “While the prenomens of these kings are good Egyptian,” Ward pointed out, “the name Hnjr is not. The non-Egyptian origin of Hnjr has usually been accepted and the correct Semitic original, h(n)zr ‘swine,’ has been known for many years.”44
Van Seters added, “Many of the foreign officials have good Egyptian names, and, unless they are identified by the ethnic epithet c3m, cannot be distinguished as foreigners. It is precisely this situation which the writer of the Admonitions apparently laments.”45
Donald Redford made an interesting point: “Ipuwer does not dwell on the Asiatic threat to Egypt at length, but he does in fact mention their presence within the land as a consequence of the weakness of the government. ‘Lo, the face grows pale (for) the bowman is ensconced, wrong doing is everywhere, and there is no man of yesterday ‘ (2,2)… ‘Lo, the entire delta is no longer hidden…foreign peoples are conversant with the livelihood of the delta’ (4, 5-8).”46 This was an ongoing situation to which Ipuwer and his hearers had to be well accustomed. For several generations, perhaps even centuries, the influx and infiltration of too many foreigners and foreign influences had weakened the fabric of Egyptian society and diminished the role and power of the government. It was a situation that would be repeated in Jerusalem under the liberal reign of King Solomon and again in Egypt during the narcissistic reign of Akhnaton.
Ipuwer bewails the fact that the northeast frontier is open to invaders: “Indeed, the Delta in its entirety will not be hidden, and Lower Egypt puts trust in trodden roads. What can we do?” (4,5). In former times the Egyptians fortified this frontier most adequately, but now its defenses had broken down. There was much traffic through this area in the late Middle Kingdom, and the terrible holocaust described by Moses and amplified by Velikovsky would have certainly rendered these fortifications useless.
Erman added, “The natural protection of the Delta afforded by its swamps and lakes is no longer of any avail, the foreigners enter it in bands and practise its crafts themselves. It is to be borne in mind that the Delta in the later periods of Antiquity and during the Middle Ages was the centre of industry and export. Such may well have been the case also at this earlier date.”47
Finally, Ipuwer blames the overthrow of his kingdom on both Asiatics and Egyptians alike. Egyptians in the Middle Kingdom hired foreigners to serve as frontier police. It apparently worked well on Egypt’s southern frontier, but in the north the frontier police appear to have collaborated with the Asiatics in that Asiatics had assumed greater and greater administrative control over the northern regions and used Egyptian officials.48
To echo Save-Soderbergh, Egypt was ripe for plucking.
Velikovsky’s views of the Exodus, the plagues, and the Papyrus Ipuwer were first stated in his Theses for the Reconstruction of Ancient History in 1945:
4. The Egyptian and Jewish histories, as they are written, are devoid of a single synchronism in a period of many hundreds of years. Exodus, an event which concerns both peoples, is presumably not mentioned in the Egyptian documents of the past. The establishing of the time of the Exodus must help to synchronize the histories of these two peoples.
5. The literal meaning of many passages in the Scriptures which relate to the time of the Exodus, imply that there was a great natural cataclysm of enormous dimensions.
6. The synchronous moment between the Egyptian and Jewish histories can be established if the same catastrophe can also be traced in Egyptian literature.
7. The Papyrus Ipuwer describes a natural catastrophe and not merely a social revolution, as is supposed. A juxtaposition of many passages of this papyrus…with passages from the Scriptures dealing with the story of the plagues and the escape from Egypt, proves that both sources describe the same events.
8. The Papyrus Ipuwer comprises a text which originated shortly after the close of the Middle Kingdom; the original text was written by an eyewitness to the plagues and the Exodus.
15. The Israelites left Egypt a few days before the invasion of the Hyksos (Amu).49
In many of these points Velikovsky was correct, but in some he erred. Ipuwer must have witnessed the plagues, because everybody in Egypt did; but Ipuwer did not describe them.
The king to whom Ipuwer supposedly addressed his admonitions is thought to have been Dedumesiu I, the 33rd (or 34th) king of the 13th Dynasty, according to Theban monuments found at Thebes, Gebelein, and Deir el-Bahri. It could be that this is the same king as Tutimaeus, of whom the third century B.C. Egyptian priest Manetho wrote:
“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 seized 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.”50
This description by Manetho ~ if it was correctly left to us ~ perfectly fits the conditions described by Ipuwer. The 13th Dynasty may not have come to a complete termination with the invasion, however. Nicolas Grimal has pointed out that it continued to wield only local power under the Hyksos rule, although it eventually died out altogether.51
The drama begins when Moses goes before the pharaoh and says, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let My people go!'”
The pharaoh refuses, and thus follow the plagues: the river turning to blood, frogs throughout the land, gnats everywhere, a swarm of flies, pestilence on the livestock, boils breaking out in sores on the people, the hail stones (not ice, as is often believed, but hot stones) mingled with fire, locusts to devour the crops and foliage, a dense and prolonged darkness, and finally the death of the first-born by the hand of the Lord. The pharaoh tells Moses to take his people and go away, and Moses takes the nation of Israel ~ its men, its women, its children, its flocks, its livestock, and even proselytized Egyptians ~ and leaves the land of their sojourn. Along the way they take with them Egyptian spoils: silver, gold and clothing.
The pharaoh then changes his mind and pursues the Israelites with all his chariotry to Pi-hahiroth, where the most dramatic miracle of them all, the parting of the Red Sea, gives the Israelites an avenue of escape. The Egyptians pursue them across the seabed, only to be trapped and engulfed when the waters collapse. Whether or not the king goes with them, the entire military force of the Theban 13th Dynasty disappears in a seething whirlpool.
In the desert the Israelites defeat the Hyksos/Amalekites at Rephidim and both groups go their separate ways: the Israelites heading south to wander in the desert for 40 years while the Hyksos/Amalekites go west and sweep down into a defenseless Egypt. It is at precisely this point in the sequence of events that Ipuwer picks up the narrative.
For this analysis, Reginald O. Faulkner’s 1965 translation of the Papyrus Ipuwer will be used. A parenthetical reference, for example “(7,2),” designates the page and line, as in “Page 7, Line 2.”
As already stated, the beginning of the papyrus is lost. Unlike the Petersburg Papyrus 1116B in which Mahu recorded Neferrohu’s prophecy, we don’t know what prompted Ipuwer to take up pen in hand, for what specific purpose, or to which specific king. The situation described by him gave him an ample subject matter to record, to be sure, and it was surmised that he was addressing the king on whose shoulders he was placing the blame for Egypt’s woes. If Dedumesiu/Tutimaeus was the Pharaoh of the Exodus, and if he perished in the Red Sea, then he was not the king Ipuwer addressed. Perhaps Ipuwer addressed one of the following provincial 13th Dynasty rulers Grimal mentioned. This will be addressed again later.
Ipuwer begins his lamentations with a general description of the rebellion and Egypt’s distress: “The door-keepers say: ‘Let us go and plunder’. The confectioners… The washerman refuses to carry his load… The bird-catchers have drawn up in line of battle… The inhabitants of the Delta carry shields. The brewers…sad. A man regards his son as his enemy. Confusion…another. Come and conquer; judge…what was ordained for you in the time of Horus, in the age of Ennead…52 The virtuous man goes in mourning because of what has happened in the land…goes…the tribes of the desert have become Egyptians everywhere.
“Indeed, the face is pale; …what the ancestors foretold has arrived in fruition…” (1,1).
The plagues have already devastated the land, the Israelites have escaped across the Red Sea, and the Hyksos/Amalekites have entered Egypt in their brutal lust for blood and conquest. The government has been overthrown and the rich have been despoiled: “Indeed, poor men have become owners of wealth, and he who could not make sandals for himself is now the possessor of riches” (2,4).
There is violence and mass slaughter: “Indeed, hearts are violent, pestilence is throughout the land, blood is everywhere, death is not lacking, and the mummy-cloth speaks even before one comes near it” (2,5-6).
“Blood is everywhere” was likened by Velikovsky to the Nile turning to blood, but the context here is of blood from the overall slaughter. “Indeed,” Ipuwer adds, “many dead are buried in the river; the stream is a sepulchre and the place of embalmment has become stream” (2,6).
It is a time of revolution: “Indeed, noblemen are in distress, while the poor man is full of joy. Every town says: ‘Let us suppress the powerful among us'” (2,7-8).
Now comes the famous verse which Velikovsky interpreted as the earth rolling over on its terrestrial axis: “Indeed, the land turns round as does a potter’s wheel; the robber is a possessor of riches and the rich man is become a plunderer” (2,9).
Gardiner interpreted the phrase “the land turns round as does a potter’s wheel” as meaning that “the social order is reversed, so that slaves now usurp the places of their former masters,” and “he who was once a robber is now rich, and he who was formerly rich is now a robber.”53
Breasted agreed with Gardiner, noting that “In the longest series of utterances all similarly constructed, in the document, the sage sets forth the altered conditions of certain individuals and classes of society, each utterance contrasting what was with what is now.”54
Given the context in which the line is found, Gardiner’s interpretation appears to be correct, and one would also have to wonder how an Egyptian scribe in the midst of a terrible calamity would be aware that the planet was rolling over on its axis. However, the question cannot be dismissed so easily. In Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky wrote, “This papyrus bewails the terrible devastation wrought by the upheaval of nature. In the Ermitage Papyrus [Petersburg 1116b recto] also, reference is made to a catastrophe that turned the ‘land upside down; happens that which never (yet) had happened.’ It is assumed that at that time – in the second millennium ~ people were not aware of the daily rotation of the earth, and believed that the firmament with its luminaries turned around the earth; therefore, the expression, ‘the earth turned over,’ does not refer to the daily rotation of the globe.”55
The Ermitage Papyrus (1116B recto) containing Neferrohu’s prophecy, quoted earlier and above, also declares, “I show thee the land upside down; that happens which never happened before. Men shall take up weapons of war; the land lives in uproar. All good things have departed.”56
This sounds like an echo of Ipuwer’s lament, but Velikovsky had another ace up his sleeve: “Nor do these descriptions in the papyri of Leiden and Leningrad leave room for a figurative explanation of the sentence, especially if we consider the text of the Papyrus Harris ~ the turning over of the earth is accompanied by the interchange of the south and north poles…
“The Magical Papyrus Harris speaks of a cosmic upheaval of fire and water when ‘the south becomes north, and the Earth turns over.'”57
In the tomb of the general and king Horemhab, supposed 18th Dynasty successor to Tutankhamen, is a stela containing a relief depicting him worshiping three deities: Harakhte, Thoth, and Mat. Over Re, the sun-god, these words are inscribed: “Harakhte, only god, king of the gods; he rises in the west, he sendeth his beauty ~ ~” (emphasis added).58
On this inscription, Velikovsky commented, “Harakhte is the Egyptian name for the western sun. As there is but one sun in the sky, it is supposed that Harakhte means the sun at its setting. But why should the sun at its setting be regarded as a deity different from the morning sun? The identity of the rising and the setting sun is seen by everyone. The inscriptions do not leave any room for misunderstanding…
“The texts found in the Pyramids say that the luminary ‘ceased to live in the occident, and shines, a new one, in the orient.'”59
The ancients were well aware of the roundness of the earth, something Moses would have learned as a boy attending Egyptian schools, and they were excellent and accurate astronomers. It is therefore puzzling ~ not to mention mystifying to uniformitarians who assume that nothing in the solar system has changed for millions of years ~ that the ceiling in the tomb of Hatshepsut’s architect, Senmut, contains a panel showing the celestial sphere with the constellations and signs of the zodiac in what Alexander Pogo called “a reversed orientation.” In other words, it is a mirror image ~ i.e., exactly reversed ~ of the southern sky today.
Pogo noted that a “character-istic feature of the Senmut ceiling is the astronomically objectionable orientation of the southern panel; it has to be inspected, like the rest of the ceiling, by a person facing north, so that Orion appears east of Sirius…
“The list of the decans pre-ceding the Sah-Sepdet in the tradi-tional arrangement are listed in the western part. The southern strip of the Ramesseum, like the southern panel of Senmut, must be read in the temple, by a person facing north. On the ceiling of Seti I, on the other hand, the orientation of the southern panel is astronomically correct, so that Orion precedes Sirius in the westward motion of the southern sky.
“The irrational orientation of the southern panel has caused some confusion in the representation of Sah on the ceilings of Senmut and of the Ramesseum, both of which obviously follow the same tradition. On the ceiling of Seti I ~ which reflects another tradition ~ Osiris-Sah, participating in the nightly westward motion of the sky, is running away from Isis-Sepdet… With the reversed orientation of the south panel, Orion, the most conspicuous constellation of the southern sky, appeared to be moving eastward, i.e., in the wrong direction… The Senmut and the Ramesseum ceilings represent Orion in the <<reversed>> position…”
And Pogo, referencing the 20th century sky, observed that “Mythologically, both the Senmut-Ramesseum and the Seti traditions may be equally valuable; astronomically, the Seti representation is far more satisfactory.”60
Pogo and his uniformitarian brethren never understood how ancient astronomers could not have been aware that the sun had “always” risen in the east and set in the west; but Velikovsky commented, “The end of the Middle Kingdom antedated the time of Queen Hatshepsut by several centuries. The astronomical ceiling presenting a reverse orientation must have been a venerated chart, made obsolete a number of centuries earlier.” And “the southern panel shows the sky of Egypt as it was before the celestial sphere interchanged north and south, east and west. The northern panel shows the sky of Egypt as it was on some night of the year in the time of Senmut.”61
Gardiner’s interpretation of the Ipuwer verse might be favored over Velikovsky’s, but there are the Magical Papyrus Harris, the inscription in Horemhab’s tomb, and the panel in Senmut’s mortuary, to consider. It is also worth noting that ancient literature abounds with references to the sun reversing its direction in the sky. Plato in Statesman and Laws, Euripides in Electra and Orestes, Senaca inThyestes, and Caius Julius Solinus in Polyhister, among others, all mention a time when the sun rose in the west before changing its direction to rise in the east.
This westward rising had serious ramifications. Hans S. Bellamy noted that “The Aztecs regarded the west as the chief cardinal point. We regard the east as the most impor-tant direction, chief because the sun rises there. The sunset cannot have been the reason for their ‘occidation’…
“The Chinese say that it is only since the new order of things has come that the stars move from east to west. After the breakdown of the Tertiary satellite the shooting-star streams had rushed over the heavens from west to east. It should also be noted that the signs of the Chinese zodiac have the strange peculiarity of proceeding in a retrograde direction, that is, against the course of the Sun.”62
In Ugarit (Ras Shamra), a poem dedicated to the planet-goddess Anat credits her as the one who “exchanged the two dawns and the position of the stars.”63 Mexican hieroglyphics mention “four historic suns” as four world ages with shifting cardinal points.64 The Mexicans pictured the sun’s reversal as a heavenly ball game amidst upheavals and earthquakes on earth. The Eskimos in Greenland recalled a time in the distant past when the earth rolled over and its people became antipodes.65 The Tractate Sanhedrin of the Talmud declares, “Seven days before the deluge, the Holy One changed the primeval order and the sun rose in the west and set in the east.”66
Velikovsky explained that these and other sources do not all point toward the same event. Herodotus, who derived his information from the priests in Egypt, counted four reversals of the rising sun: “The sun, however, had within this period of time, on four several (sic) occasions, moved from his wonted course, twice rising where he now sets, and twice setting where he now rises.”67
What this all means is that, in the ancient but historical past ~ that is, within the memory of the human race, and on one or more occasions ~ the rising sun reversed its direction, and Velikovsky maintained that Ipuwer was referring to this.
Meanwhile, the slaughter continues. Ipuwer looks out at the Nile and writes, “Indeed, the river is blood, yet men drink of it. Men shrink from human beings and thirst after water” (2,10).
Velikovsky believed this referred to the first plague, when Moses touched his staff to the water and the Nile turned to blood. And, on the surface, it could have, but the context here is of the bloody slaughter throughout the land during the conquest. There have been recorded instances in battle of rivers and streams running red with the blood of fallen soldiers. Ipuwer’s description of the Nile as blood could sound figurative and yet describe a real phenomenon. During the Battle of Loos in Belgium during the First World War, the British Y Company received orders to jump off a point which was at the top of a small hill. At the bottom of the hill was a creek about five yards wide. As Y Company advanced, a German machine gun opened up on them, and the slaughter was on before the soldiers even came close to the stream. In all, 3,519 men were wounded or lost their lives to pay for 300 yards of mud, a typical bargain in the War to End All Wars. However, a unique feature in this battle was the stream. Quarter Master Sergeant R. S. McFie of the Lincolnshire Battalion recalled in his diary,
“The German machine guns started in right off and the entire first line of our charge went down like nine pins. It was hard to make your way over them in some places. Once we got to the stream it got worse if that were possible. It was hardly a foot deep and hardly no banks. But there were bodies everywhere…
“I don’t know how we survived when I looked back in the little brook. It was jammed full of us. The water was… It looked like something coming from a slaughterhouse it was so red. Later someone said a man could have walked on it the blood was so thick. Later I found it was worse than I thought. The regiment was practically wiped out.”68
Ipuwer has already informed us that bodies were buried in the river, possibly because, as Erman surmised, “The corpses are too numerous to be buried. They are thrown into the water like dead cattle.”69
But there are more grizzly things to come: “Indeed, crocodiles are glutted with the fish they have taken, for men go to them of their own accord” (2,12). Gardiner commented, “The crocodiles have more than enough to feed upon; men commit suicide by casting themselves into the river as their prey.”70 As to men drinking the water, Erman’s translation of the verse makes it clearer: “Nay, but the river is blood. Doth a man drink thereof, he rejecteth it as human, (for) one thirsteth for water.”71
It is also known that men who commit savage acts (i.e., cannibalism, drinking blood, etc.) don’t hang around other people and brag about it; the inherent shame or the necessary depression or mental aberration makes them more reclusive. Whatever it was that Ipuwer had in mind, it is still hard to square the overall context of these lines with Velikovsky’s synchronization of the verse with the first plague.
Death is everywhere: “Indeed, men are few, and he who places his brother in the ground is everywhere” (2,13).
The land has been devastated, first by the plagues and then by the conquering hordes: “Indeed, the desert is throughout the land, the nomes are laid waste, and barbarians from abroad have come to Egypt” (3,1).
The phrase “barbarians from abroad” could refer to the Hyksos sweeping into Egypt suddenly from beyond its northeastern frontier, and not simply as long-standing residents who gradually took over. In fact, the entire papyrus describes a sudden and bloody conquest, not the gradual infiltration most Egyptologists prefer. Ipuwer’s references to shepherd-kings are also new; no such kings were referred to in any of the previous late Middle Kingdom documents which abound with references to Asiatics living and prospering in Egypt. And his description of desert throughout the land and nomes being laid waste is ample evidence of the massive destruction wrought by the plagues, since a mere conquering army could not have caused it.
All commerce has ceased: “None indeed sail northward to Byblos today… They come no more; gold is lacking…and materials for every kind of craft have come to an end. The…of the Palace has been despoiled. How often do the people of the oases come with their festival spices, mats and skins, with fresh rdmt-plants, grease of birds…
“Indeed, Elephantine and Thinis(?) [are in the series(?)] of Upper Egypt, (but) without paying taxes owing to civil strife. Lacking are grain (?), charcoal, irtyw-fruit, m3rw-wood, nwt-wood, and brushwood. The work of the craftsman […] are the profit(?) of the Palace. To what purpose is a treasury without its revenues?… That is our fate and that is our happiness! What can we do without it? All is ruin!” (3,11-13).
Velikovsky likened these last lines to the loss of fish in the river and grain in the fields due to the plagues, but Ipuwer here appears to be talking about the stuff of commerce from foreign trade. With no import or export, revenues dried up and everyone suffered.
Ipuwer goes on to describe the misery around him: “Indeed, laughter has perished and is no longer made; it is groaning itself that is throughout the land, mingled with complaints… Indeed, great and small say: ‘I wish I might die.’ Little children say: ‘He should not have caused me to live.’
“Indeed, the children of princes are dashed against walls, and the children of the neck (perhaps “the equivalent of our ‘children in arms'”72) are laid out on the high ground” (7,13-14,3).
The verse about children being dashed against walls, and a later verse about the children of princes being laid out in the streets (6,12), were interpreted by Velikovsky as referring to the tenth plague, which was a time of earthquake and storm as well as the death of the first-born.73 The context, however, would appear to be that of children being slaughtered during the invasion and revolt, at which time the Israelites were long gone into the desert.
“Indeed, that has perished which yesterday was seen, and the land is left over to its weakness like the cutting of flax” (4,5). This could be figurative, referring to the world Ipuwer knew, but it probably refers to the devastation wrought by the plagues and the subsequent invasion. But, suddenly in the midst of his lamentations, Ipuwer bewails “…because of noise; noise is not…in years of noise, and there is no end to noise” (4,1-2). Gardiner could make no sense of this, but Velikovsky felt the entire cosmic cataclysm was responsible for such horrendous noise, and that could very well be the case.
Ipuwer describes female slaves who are free with their tongues and irked by orders from their mistresses, men knowing right but doing wrong, animals’ hearts weeping and cattle moaning, and people going hungry for lack of food. “Would that there were an end to man,” the scribe laments, “without conception, without birth! Then would the land be quiet from noise and tumult be no more” (6,1).
Egypt’s records are destroyed and its secrets revealed: “Indeed, the private council-chamber, its writings are taken away and the mysteries which were in it are laid bare.
“Indeed, magic spells are divulged; smw– and shnw-spells are frustrated because they are remembered by men” (6,5-7).
Erman explained of the magic spells, “Owing to their having become known, they are profaned. It should be observed that magical spells are here reckoned as a valuable possession of the Government.”74
“Indeed, the laws of the council-chamber are thrown out; indeed, men walk on them in the public places and poor men break them up in the streets” (6,9-11).
We cannot know the anguish felt by the Egyptians over this. Breasted was of the opinion that it greatly upset the Egyptian sense of order, but it was worse than that. Destruction of written records hit the Egyptians at the very core of a mania that took hold in the Old Kingdom when perhaps one percent of the population of Egypt was literate. “The Egyptians believed that writing had been invented by the god Thoth, usually pictured as a scribe with the head of an ibis,” Roberts wrote; “words, whether written or spoken, had a magical power. Thus the scribe played a special role in the kingdom, as he sat and recorded the daily quotas of workers’ rations and the results of their sweaty toil on his papyrus roll. Each scribe was taught to write by his father, who gave him stones and potsherds on which to practice his hieroglyphs before he was allowed to set brush to papyrus. Noblemen and priests would hire the young men as apprentices.”75
As Erman noted more than a century ago, “Nothing was done under Egyptian government without documents: lists and protocols were indispensable even in the simplest matters of business. This mania for writing (we can designate it by no other term) is not characteristic of the later period only: doubtless under the Old and the Middle Empire the scribes wrote as diligently as under the New Empire.”76
This led to a fierce division in Egyptian social status. Erman continued, “Through the Egyptian people from the earliest period there ran a deep cleavage, which separated him who had enjoyed a higher education from the common mass. It came into existence when the Egyptians had invented their writing, for he who mastered it, however humble his position might outwardly be, at once gained a superiority over his fellows. Without the assistance of his scribes even the ruler was now of no account, and it was not without good reason that the high officials of the Old Kingdom were so fond of having themselves represented in writing posture; for that was the occupation to which they owed their rank and their power. The road to every office lay open to him who had learnt writing and knew how to express himself in well chosen terms, and all other professions were literally under his control.
“There thus developed among the scribes a pride and a caste-consciousness, that are very evident in the old literature which they created (more so in fact than accords with our taste), and that also distinguish all their inscriptions.”77
Thus, after the king, the scribe was perhaps the single most important person in Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt. This makes Roberts’ last point compelling: “‘The Satire of the Trades,’ a poem written several hundred years after the fall of the Old Kingdom, tells how the scribes lorded themselves over barbers, potters, arrow makers, and other rival tradesmen… ‘There’s nothing better than books!/It’s like a boat on water.’ ‘See, there’s no profession without a boss,/Except for the scribe; he is the boss.'”78
One must wonder if retribution brought on by such arrogance is not part of the reason why Ipuwer now fears for his life: “Indeed, scribes are killed and their writings are taken away. Woe is me because of the misery of this time” (6,8).
The land is put to the torch: “Behold, the fire has gone up on high, and its burning goes forth against the enemies of the land” (7,1). Velikovsky thought this might refer to the pillar of fire which guided the Israelites, but again the context betrays him. This could well refer to the Hyksos burning of cities and temples described by Manetho, and the fires could have gotten out of hand. Gardiner felt the fire was symbolic of the accumulated evils Ipuwer had already described, but it could be argued that a narrative so steeped in realistic description of a national tragedy would hardly alternate to such blatant symbolism.
Tombs and pyramids were being looted: “Behold, things have been done which have not happened for a long time past; he who was buried as a falcon is devoid of biers, and what the pyramid concealed has become empty” (7,1-2). Gardiner felt the reference to the empty pyramids referred to robbery of the royal tombs, which is more than likely, but this would have had a disastrous long-lasting impact on the Egyptian people who placed great importance to their bodies being safe-guarded in death. If there was no security after death, what security was there in life?
Ipuwer declared that the king had been taken away by poor men. Velikovsky figured this referred to the king’s death in the Red Sea. Moses did not say the king himself had perished, only his army; but the Naos of el-Arish, a shrine found on the border between Egypt and Palestine, records that “his majesty of Shou” gathered his armies to fight “the companions of Apopi,” the god of darkness. Neither the king nor his army survived: “Now when the majesty of Ra-Harmachis [fought] with the evil-doers in this pool, the Place of the Whirlpool, the evil-doers prevailed not over his majesty. His majesty leapt into the so-called Place of the Whirlpool?…his legs became those of a crocodile, his head that of a hawk with bull’s horns upon it: he smote the evil-doers in the Place of the Whirlpool? in the Place of the Sycamore…” 79
Egyptian records of military defeats extolled the courage and might of the pharaoh over and above his defeated army, as in the cases of Amenhotep II at Mareshah in southern Palestine and Ramses II at Kadesh, and that could be the case here. When the pharaoh leapt into the Place of the Whirlpool, he was thrown high into the air with great force and ascended to heaven. In other words, he lost his life.
The pharaoh who perished in the Place of the Whirlpool was Thom, or Thoum. Manetho’s king who suffered the invasion was Tutimaeus, or Timaios. In his Theses, Velikovsky identified the pharaoh of the Exodus as the one who perished in the Place of the Whirlpool, Tom-Taoui-Toth.80 In Worlds in Collision he called him Taoui-Thom,81 and in Ages in Chaos he called him Thom, or Thoum.82
Beset by internal disintegration and revolt, oppressed by foreign invasion, and powerless to resist either, Egypt collapses. Ipuwer goes on to describe the topsy-turvy state of affairs and the defeat and destruction all around him: “Behold, noblemen flee; the overseers of…and their children are cast down through fear of death.
“Behold, the chiefs of the land flee; there is no purpose for them because of want…” (8,13-14).
Erman: “The disasters…far surpass those hitherto complained of. Even the kingship is now destroyed, and the masses are completely triumphant. It is pointed out over and over again how rich they have become, whereas the upper classes are sunk in misery.”83
Everything is destroyed. Over and over the Egyptian sage pleads,
“Destroy the enemies of the august Residence, splendid of magistrates…
“Destroy the enemies of that formerly noble Residence, manifold of laws…
“Destroy the enemies of that formerly noble Residence…
“Destroy the enemies of that erstwhile august Residence, manifold of offices…” (10,6-12).
The lamentations are finally over, and Ipuwer pleads with his listeners to remember the old ways: to fumigate with incense and to offer water in a jar in the early morning, to chew natron and prepare white bread, to erect flagstaffs and carve offering-stones, to observe regulations, to order dates correctly, to slaughter oxen, and to go forth purged.
It is at this point that Ipuwer utters his “Messianic” longing for the ideal king who will rule with benevolence and justice. This is the section, appearing out of the large lacuna on page 11, that Breasted called “the most important passage in the entire speech of the sage, and one of the most important in the whole range of Egyptian literature.”84
“Behold, why does he seek(?) to fashion men? The frightened man is not distinguished from the violent one. He [the supreme god] brings coolness upon heat; men say: ‘He is the herdsman of mankind, and there is no evil in his heart.’ though his herds are few, yet he spends a day to collect them, their hearts being on fire(?). Would that he had perceived their nature in the first generation; then he would have imposed obstacles, he would have stretched out his arm against them, he would have destroyed their herds and their heritage. Men desire to give birth(?), but sadness intervenes, with needy people on all sides. So it is, and it will not pass away while the gods who are in the midst of it exist. Seed goes forth into mortal women, but none are found on the road. Combat has gone forth, and he who would be a redresser of evils is one who commits them; neither do men act as pilot in their hour of duty. Where is he today? Is he asleep? Behold, his power is not seen” (11,11-12,6).
Breasted: “While there is no unquestionably predictive element in this passage, it is a picture of the ideal sovereign, the righteous ruler with ‘no evil in his heart,’ who goes about like a ‘shepherd’ gathering his reduced and thirsty herds. Such a righteous reign, like that of David, has been, and may be again. The element of hope, that the advent of the good king is imminent, is unmistakable in the final words: ‘Where is he to-day? Doth he sleep per-chance? Behold his might is not seen.’ With this last utterance one involuntarily adds, ‘as yet.'”85
Ipuwer, after watching the death throes of his kingdom and longing for the ideal king, goes on to recall all that was good: ships going upstream, nets being drawn, birds tied up, the hands of men building pyramids, ponds dug and plantations created, men shouting and getting drunk (which gives them happy hearts), beds prepared, needs satisfied, and fine linen spread out on New Year’s Eve.
After the Egyptian sage has concluded his speech, the king responds: “What Ipuwer said when he answered the Majesty of the Lord of All: […] all herds. It means that ignorance of it is what is pleasing to the heart. You have done what was good in their hearts and you have nourished the people with it(?). They cover their faces through fear of the morrow (16,1).
“That is how a man grows old before he dies, while his son is a lad without understanding: he begins […], he does not open his mouth [to] speak(?) to you, but you seize him in the doom of death […] weep […] go […] after you, that the land may be […] on every side. If men call to […] weep […] them, who(?) break into the tombs and burn the statues […] the corpses of the mummies […] of directing work […]” 17,1).
On this last passage Erman concluded, “Isolated words still surviving show that the subject under discussion was still the plight of the land, weeping, the forcing a way into the tomb-chapels, and the burning of statues.”86
What became of our friend the scribe is not known. That the Admonitions ended with this last verse was argued by Gardiner on the grounds that, like the Dispute Over Suicide, it ends with the question of “whether life or death is preferable…” And Gardiner’s comment on verse 16,1 is poignant:
“The concluding words of Ipuwer, if such they be, are by no means so clear as we could wish. The Egyptians are apparently likened to cattle, for whom ignorance is bliss. The sage now turns to the king: thou hast done what is good in their hearts. Thou has nourished them with it(?). These words can hardly be understood otherwise than ironically; the king has fostered misery and without will or intelligence to better their condition. The last sentence may perhaps be guessed to mean: they veil their faces(??) because of the fear of tomorrow, that is, they fear to look the future in the face. At all events the phrase fear of tomorrow touches the keynote of the book, and may very appropriately be its last utterance: today sorrow is everywhere; unless people mend their ways, what hope can they have for tomorrow?”87
Gardiner and all other interpreters of this verse assume that Ipuwer is speaking sarcastically to the king, but that may not be the case. If the pharaoh who was responsible for Egypt’s woes was lost in the Place of the Whirlpool, or by whatever means the poor people of Ipuwer’s text disposed of him, and if the king of this text is a successor who did his feeble best to help his people in the midst of a terrible disaster, then there is every reason for Ipuwer to tell this king “thou hast done what is good in their hearts. Thou has nourished them with it.” It is worth remembering that the exact circumstances of this confrontation would have been contained in the beginning of the papyrus, which is now lost to us, but that the audience with the king occurred after the conquest described by the sage.
T. E. Peet analyzed this work of Middle Kingdom literature:
“Thus the Egyptian has been brought to muse on the mutability of human fortunes, and an irresistible wave of pessimism sweeps through the land and gives us the world’s first literature in the true sense of the term. And let it not be forgotten that the disasters of this age affected not only the living but also the dead. We have seen how necessary it was in the eyes of the Egyptian that his corpse should rest undestroyed in his tomb and should receive the due mortuary offerings. No doubt in many cases the mortuary arrangements established by the great kings and nobles of the Pyramid Age had already lapsed; the ka-priests had ceased to function, and the tomb chapels had either been destroyed by the enemy or begun to fall into decay from natural causes. Gradually it was borne in upon the Egyptian mind that even the noblest and the richest had proved powerless to protect themselves against the attacks of time and circumstances. And, if this was the case, for what could ordinary men hope? It was typical of the Egyptian temperament that, instead of meeting the situation with a new and advanced theory of life and death, he tamely bowed to the inevitable and took refuge in a pessimistic literature.”88
But Breasted, dean of American Egyptologists after the turn of the century, saw Ipuwer not as a pessimist but as a realist with a prophetic vision: “The peculiar significance of the picture lies in the fact that, if not the social programme (sic), at least the social ideals, the golden dream of the thinkers of this far-off age, already included the ideal ruler of spotless character and benevolent purposes who would cherish and protect his own and crush the wicked. Whether the coming of this ruler is definitely predicted or not, the vision of his character and his work is here unmistakably lifted up by the ancient sage ~ lifted up in the presence of the living king and those assembled with him, that they may catch something of its splendor. This is, of course, Messianism nearly fifteen hundred years before its appearance among the Hebrews.”89
Each in the cast of characters met his separate fate. The king to whom Ipuwer addressed his admonitions, perhaps one of the provincial rulers of the late 13th Dynasty, suffered the same fate of historical oblivion as other local rulers of his time, who all fell under the tyranny of the Hyksos. That tyranny would not last forever, however, because the Lord had promised Moses that he would wipe Amalek from the face of the earth,90 and within half a millennium the Hyksos/Amalekites were no more.
Egypt suffered no such annihilation, but its sufferings only began with the Hyksos. “For the Egyptians…,” Hayes observed, “the Hyksos did two things. They rid them once and for all of the old feeling of self-sufficiency and false security, born of a misplaced confidence in Egypt’s unassailable superiority over, and aloofness from, the other nations of the world; and, because they themselves were Asiatics with a kingdom which appears to have embraced northern Sinai and much of Palestine, they brought Egypt into more intimate and continuous contact with the peoples and cultures of western Asia than ever before in her history.”91
However, a long road of subjugation lay ahead as one conqueror after another ~ from the Assyrians to Alexander the Great to the Moslems to the French under Napoleon and finally the Germans under Rommel ~ planted their heels squarely on the land of the Nile. Then throughout the 19th century British, French and German archaeologists plundered Egypt, removing its ancient treasures and placing them in museums and laboratories in their far off lands. Egypt remains today a nation living solely off of past glories.
And the Israelites, having wandered in the desert for 40 years, eventually found their way into the Promised Land, lived in bliss for a few centuries, thrived under the monarchy of David and Solomon, and then fell apart, to be eventually dispersed again from their homeland for nearly another 1,900 years. Yet, even in exile, they retained their culture and their ethnic identity, and in 1948 they reclaimed their homeland. Today, as then, they find themselves at the center of international controversy, universally despised, yet eternally triumphant.
Finally, Velikovsky published the book that would launch the greatest scientific controversy of the century and one of the blackest episodes in the history of academia. Along the way he turned conventional 20th century uniformitarian science upside-down and returned us to catastrophism, on which all of terrestrial and celestial science is now based. He dismantled the conventional history of the ancient Middle East and showed it to be the fabrication it really is, and he helped give us a truer understanding of the nature and history of our planet and our solar system. To date, six journals, nineteen symposia, and dozens of books and published papers have been devoted to discussing his theories and carrying on the work he began. And his ideas, once dismissed as the ravings of a crank, have for the past 40 years been finding their way into conventional mainstream scientific thought.
His work crossed over, and stimulated new directions of thought in, a vast number of academic fields, which alone is no mean feat; but he also showed us, as the Washington Evening Star put it, to “not be afraid to stake out new intellectual territory in defiance of fashionable thought.”92 He made mistakes, of course, and he couldn’t be right in every detail of a theory that swept so broadly across nearly the entire academic landscape. That he was so right about so much has left critics and admirers alike gaping at the wonder of it all.
More by the direction in which he pointed than the theory he proposed, Velikovsky pushed science and history in entirely new directions. He challenged the mysteries of the universe. He sought answers to our most perplexing questions, discovered many, and inspired inquisitive minds to search for more. That alone will mark him as one of the most profoundly influential scholars of the century, perhaps even of all time.
And it all began with the Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage.
1. I. Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos (Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1952), p. v.
2. Ibid, p. xiii.
3. Ibid, pp. 55-101.
4. Exodus 17:8-16.
5. A. H. Gardiner, The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage from a Hieratic Papyrus in Leiden (J. C. Hinrich’s che Buchhandlung, 1909; reprinted by George Olms Verlag, 1969), p. 1.
6. Ibid, pp. 3-4.
7. Ibid, p. 5.
8. Ibid, pp. 5-6.
9. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, translated by Aylward M. Blackman (Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1927), p. 93 ftnt. 1.
10. Ibid, p. 7-8.
11. T. E. Peet, “Life and Thought in Egypt Under the Old and Middle Kingdoms,” The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. I (The MacMillan Company, 1924), pp. 345-346.
12. D. Roberts, “Egypt’s Old Kingdom,” National Geographic, Vol. 187, No. 1, January 1995, p. 8.
13. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, pp. xxiv-xxv.
14. J. H. Breasted, The Dawn of Conscience (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1934), pp. 121-122.
15. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, p. xxiii.
16. D. Roberts, National Geographic, January 1995, p. 26.
17. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, p. xxiv.
18. J. H. Breasted, The Dawn of Conscience (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1934), p. 174.
19. Ibid, pp. 164-165.
20. Ibid, p. 178.
21. J. H. Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (Peter Smith, 1970), pp. 203-204, 249.
22. A. H. Gardiner, “New Literary Works From Ancient Egypt,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology (The Egypt Exploration Society, 1914), Vol. 1, p. 100-106.
23. J. H. Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (Peter Smith, 1970), pp. 203-204, 249.
24. Ibid, p. 211f.
25. J. Van Seters, “A Date for the ‘Admonitions’ in the Second Intermediate Period,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 50 (1964), p. 19.
26. J. H. Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, pp. 212-213f.
27. A. H. Gardiner, The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage from a Hieratic Papyrus in Leiden, pp. 2-3.
28. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, p. 93.
29. I. Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos, p. 25.
30. J. Van Seters, “A Date for the ‘Admonitions’ in the Second Intermediate Period,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 50 (1964), p. 14.
31. Ibid, p. 13.
32. R. O. Faulkner, “Notes on ‘The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage,'” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 50 (1964), p. 24.
33. J. Van Seters, “A Date for the ‘Admonitions’ in the Second Intermediate Period,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 50 (1964), p. 17.
34. Ibid, p. 19.
35. Ibid, p. 20.
36. Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Philip P. Wiener, editor (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1973), p. 256.
37. C. Aldred, The Egyptians (Frederick A. Praeger, 1961; paperback edition, 1963), pp. 102, 124.
38. T. Save-Soderbergh, “The Hyksos Rule in Egypt,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 37 (1951), p. 53.
39. A. H. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs (Oxford University Press, 1961; paperback edition, 1964), pp. 154-155.
40. T. Save-Soderbergh, “The Hyksos Rule in Egypt,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 37 (1951), pp. 54-55.
41. I. Wilson, The Exodus Enigma (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1985), p. 62.
42. A. H. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs, p. 147.
43. G. Steindorff & K. C. Seele, When Egypt Ruled the East (University of Chicago Press, 1942; 1957), p. 23.
44. W. A. Ward, “Comparative Studies in Egyptian and Ugaritic,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 20, January 1961, Sec. 10, p. 34; in Footnote 43 Ward added, “Burchardt long ago suggested Hebrew*hnzr as the Semitic original in ZAS, L (1913), 7. Cf. Beckerath, [JNES, XVII (1958), 265-55] and p. 266, n. 30, where he expresses doubt as to the Semitic origin of the name. The Ugaritic term goes a long way in removing this uncertainty.”
45. J. Van Seters, “A Date for the ‘Admonitions’ in the Second Intermediate Period,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 50 (1964), p. 21.
46. D. B. Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times (Princeton University Press, 1992), p. 67.
47. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, p. 97 ftnt. 7.
48. T. Save-Soderbergh, “The Hyksos Rule in Egypt,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 37 (1951), p. 65.
49. I. Velikovsky, Theses for the Reconstruction of Ancient History (Scripta Academica Hierosolymitana, 1945), pp. 3-5.
50. Manetho, Manetho, translated by W. G. Waddell (Harvard University Press, 1940; 1980), p. 79.
51. N. Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt (Blackwell Publishers, 1992; paperback edition, 1995), p. 85.
52. A. Erman: “Ennead (psdt in Egyptian) is the designation of the sun-god and the Eight Gods, who, according to the usually accepted legend, are his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren: Shu and Tefnet, Keb and Nut, and the brothers and sisters, Osiris, Seth, Isis, and Nephthys. Besides this Great Ennead there was also a Lesser Ennead, with Horus at its head…” In the Pyramid Texts, the Double Ennead is mentioned. The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, p. 4 ftnt. 9.
53. A. H. Gardiner, The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage from a Hieratic Papyrus in Leiden, p. 4.
54. J. H. Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, p. 208.
55. I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision (MacMillan and Company, 1950), p. 107; ref. A. H. Gardiner, “New Literary Works from Ancient Egypt,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 1 (1914), p. 104.
56. T. E. Peet, “Life and Thought in Egypt Under the Old and Middle Kingdoms,” The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. I, p. 344; A. H. Gardiner, “New Literary Works from Ancient Egypt,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 1 (1914), p. 104.
57. I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, p. 107; ref. H. O. Lang, “Der Magische Papyrus Harris,” K. Danske Viderskabernes Selskab (1927), p. 58.
58. J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt (Histories & Mysteries of Man LTD., 1988), III, Sec. 18, p. 11.
59. I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, pp. 107-108; ref. L. Speleers, Les Textos des Pyramids (Bruxelles, 1923), I.
60. A. Pogo, “The Astronomical Ceiling-decoration in the Tomb of Senmut (XVIIIth Dynasty), Isis, No. 44, Vol. XIV, October 1930, pp. 306, 315-316.
61. I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, pp. 108, 109.
62. H. S. Bellamy, Moons, Myths and Man (Faber and Faber Limited, 1936), p. 69.
63. C. Virolleaud, “La deesse ‘Anat,” Mission archeologique de Ras Shamra, C. F. A. Schaeffer, ed. (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1939), Vol. IV (1938); quoted by I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, p. 112.
64. I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, p. 112; ref. E. Seler, Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur amerikanischen Sprach- und Alter-tumsgeschichte (1902-1923), II, p. 799.
65. A. Olrik, Ragnarok (German Edition, 1922), p. 407; quoted by I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, p. 113.
66. Tractate Sanhedrin 108b; quoted by I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, p. 113.
67. Herodotus, The History of Herodotus, translated by G. Rawlinson (Tudor Publishing Company, 1928), Book II, p. 131.
68. Lyn Macdonald, 1915 – The Death of Innocence (Henry Holt and Company, 1993), pp. 537-538.
69. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, p. 95.
70. A. H. Gardiner, The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage from a Hieratic Papyrus in Leiden, p. 29.
71. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, p. 95.
72. R. O. Faulkner, “Notes on ‘The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 50 (1964), p. 27.
73. I. Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos, p. 30.
74. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, p. 96 ftnt. 6.
75. D. Roberts, National Geographic, January 1995, p. 25.
76. A. Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt, translated by H. M. Tirard (Macmillan and Company, 1894; Dover Publications, Inc., paperback edition, 1971), pp. 112-113.
77. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, pp. xxvii-xxviii.
78. D. Roberts, National Geographic, January 1995, p. 25.
79. F. L. Griffith, The Antiquities of Tell el Yahudiyeh (Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1890), p. 73.
80. I. Velikovsky, Theses for the Reconstruction of Ancient History, Thesis No. 13, p. 4.
81. I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, p. 87.
82. I. Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos, pp. 44-45.
83. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, p. 100.
84. J. H. Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, p. 211.
85. Ibid, pp. 211-212.
86. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, p. 108.
87. A. H. Gardiner, The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage from a Hieratic Papyrus in Leiden, p. 93.
88. T. E. Peet, “Life and Thought in Egypt Under the Old and Middle Kingdoms,” The Cambridge Ancient History, I, p. 341.
89. J. H. Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, p. 212.
90. Exodus 17:14.
91. W. C. Hayes, “Egypt: From the Death of Ammenemes III to Seqenenre II,” The Cambridge Ancient History (1970), Vol. II, Part I, pp. 56-57.
92. Editorial, “Immanuel Velikovsky,” Washington Evening Star, November 21, 1979.
© 2006 Henry Zecher
[Photo of Immanuel Velikovsky courtesy of Ev Cochrane, Editor and Publisher of Aeon, Ames, Iowa]
[Photo of Papyrus Ipuwer Copyright Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, P.O.B.
11114, 2301 EC Leiden NL.]