Who founded Rome – Aeneas or Romulus?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted November 28, 2016

Most versions of ancient chronology put the Mycenaean Age c.1600-1100 BC, the Greek Dark Ages c.1100-900 BC, and the Greek Archaic Period c.900-500 BC.  My chronology, however, which takes the Bible as its point of departure, but which also owes much to Immanuel Velikovsky, amends this sequence. First, the Mycenaean Age existed c.1008-754 BC and constituted what the Ancients called the Greek Heroic Age. Second, the Greek Dark Ages never existed. Third, the Greek Archaic Period existed c.754-487 BC.

In the Aeneid, Virgil relates that, after the sack of Troy by the Greeks, the Trojan prince Aeneas sailed southwest across the Mediterranean Sea to Carthage, where he dallied with its Queen Dido, and then sailed northward to Italy, where he settled on a site that is now called Rome. In Roman records, their authors related that the twins Romulus and Remus founded Rome, for which the traditional date is 754 BC. Because of the muddled state of the chronology of the ancient world, there is a discrepancy of several centuries here, and both accounts are regularly dismissed as myths and legends.

According to my chronology, the Trojan War occurred from 812 to 802 BC. According to Virgil, Aeneas’s trip from Troy to Carthage took 7-10 years and his trip from Carthage to Rome took roughly three years. Thus he and his cohorts must have arrived in Rome, at the southern edge of Tuscany, sometime between 792 BC and 789 BC.

At the time, Tuscany was inhabited by the Etruscans. Because no dramatic, historical, philosophical, poetic, or religious texts have been found among their remains, very little is known about them.  I believe that they were central Europeans who descended into Tuscany in the tenth century BC to escape the glacial conditions in their native land and probably the predations of the Gauls. During the next couple of centuries, they developed from a primitive culture to an extensive agricultural community (a) bordered roughly by the Arnus River in the north, the Tiber River to the east and south, and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west and (b) studded with towns such as Arretiuum, Caisra, Curtun, Clevsin, Felathri, Fufluna, Perusia, Tarchna, Veii, Velch, Velzna, Vetluna, and Volsinium. They reached the pinnacle of their vitality and prosperity circa 754 BC, when they suffered a blow from which they never recovered.

I believe that the blow was caused by a celestial thunderbolt discharged by Mars during its close passage to the earth circa 754 BC. In a later close approach of the planet Mars circa 665 BC, a celestial thunderbolt destroyed the Army of Sennacherib in Palestine. Such a  thunderbolt circa 754 BC probably created the basin in which Lake Bolsena now exists, and which lies about 50 miles northwest of Rome. According to Velikovsky:

A vivid picture of an interplanetary discharge is given by Pliny: ‘Heavenly fire is spit forth by the planet as crackling charcoal flies from a burning log.’ If such a discharge falls on the earth, ‘it is accompanied by a very great disturbance of air,’ produced ‘by the birth-pangs, so to speak, of the planet in travail’ (Pliny, Natural History, ii. 18).

Pliny says also that a bolt from Mars fell on Bolsena, ‘the richest town in Tuscanny,’ and that the city was entirely burned up by this bolt (Pliny, Natural History, ii. 53). He refers to Tuscan writings as the source of his information. By Tuscan writings are meant Etruscan books.

Bolsena, or the ancient Volsinium, was one of the chief cities of the Etruscans, the people whose civilization preceded that of the Latin Romans on the Apennine Peninsula. The Etruscan states occupied the area of what was later known as Tuscany, between the Tiber and the Arno. Near Bolsena, or Volsinium, is a lake of the same name. This lake fills a basin nine miles long, seven miles wide, and 285 feet deep. For a long time this basin was regarded as the water-filled crater of a volcano. However, its area of 117 square miles exceeds by far that of the largest known craters on the earth – those in the Andes in South America and those in the Hawaian (Sandwich) Islands in the Pacific. Hence, the idea that the lake is the crater of an extinct volcano has recently been questioned. Moreover, although the bottom of the lake is of lava, and the ground around the lake abounds with ashes and lava and columns of basalt, the talus of a volcano is lacking. Taking what Pliny said of an interplanetary discharge together with what has actually been found at Volsinium, one may wonder whether the cinders and the lava and the columns of basalt could possibly be the remains of the contact Pliny mentions.[1]

This thunderbolt would have devastated, not just Volsinium, but the entire area, thereby severely weakening other Etruscan cities in Tuscany and its southern neighbor Rome. Such conditions would have been an open invitation to invasion and occupation by a new force.

The origin of the Roman Monarchy is shrouded in mystery and myth, which may be due to the conditions created by the cataclysm of 754 BC.

The Roman stories concerning the foundation of Rome contain a number of common elements, some of which defy acceptance. One element is the identification of Alba Longa, a city 12 miles southeast of Rome, as the source of the founders of Rome. A second element is the upheaval in the royal family of Alba Longa, in which Amulius (a) seizes the throne from his brother, King Numitor, (b) kills his brother’s male heirs, and (c) forces his brother’s daughter Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin, which requires chastity. A third element is the identification of Rhea Silvia as the mother of twin boys – Romulus and Remus. A fifth element is the identification of either the god Mars or the demi-god Herakles as the father of the twins.[2] A sixth element is the abandonment of the boys in the Tiber river by order of Amulius. A seventh element is the miraculous preservation of the boys by animals. An eighth element is the raising of the two boys by a shepherd and his wife. A ninth element is the discovery by the youths of their identity as princes of Alba Longa. A tenth element is the youth’s successful venture to kill Amulius and restore the throne of Alba Longa to their father Numitor. An eleventh element is their decision to found a new city together. A twelfth element is a quarrel between the two brothers concerning the exact site of the new city – either the Palentine Hill or the Aventine Hill – which resulted in the death of Remus. A thirteenth element is the foundation of the new city by Romulus alone, who named it after himself.

Certain Roman historians reckoned that the birth of Romulus and Remus occurred in 771 BC, which means that Romulus would have been 17 years old at the time he founded Rome in 754 BC. That seems young. He might have been that or he might have been older. The important consideration here, however, is that there was no catastrophe involving Mars circa 771 BC, whereas there was such a catastrophe in 754 BC. I surmise that Mars was given credit (a) for the conception of the boys circa 771 BC rather than (b) for the creation of the opportunity for the boys to take over the site of Rome in 754 BC because doing so both preserved the role of Mars in the city’s founding and conferred semi-divinity on the city’s founder. Excepting for the seventh element above, the rest of the story is believable.

So who founded Rome: Aeneas circa 790 BC or Romulus in 754 BC? Take your pick.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.

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[1] Immanuel Velikovsky in Worlds in Collision, pp. 272-273.

[2] Attributing conception to a god is an easy way for a young woman to avoid charges of fornication and was ubiquitous in the ancient world.

Is the Heroic Age of Greece myth or history?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted November 21, 2016

Most versions of ancient chronology put the Mycenaean Age c.1600-1100 BC, the Greek Dark Ages c.1100-900 BC, and the Greek Archaic Period c.900-500 BC.  My chronology, however, which takes the Bible as its point of departure, but which also owes much to Immanuel Velikovsky, amends this sequence. First, the Mycenaean Age existed c.1008-754 BC and constituted what the Ancients called the Greek Heroic Age. Second, the Greek Dark Ages never existed. Third, the Greek Archaic Period existed c.754-487 BC. 

According to the testimony of the Greek and Roman historians, the Greek Heroic Age saw the following heroic exploits:

The Labors of Herakles probably occurred about five years before the slaying of the Minotaur because Herakles and Theseus were contemporaries and probably sailed together on the Argo.

The Slaying of the Minotaur by Theseus probably occurred just a few years before the Voyage of the Argo;

The Voyage of the Argo probably occurred just a few years prior to the 1st Theban War.

The 1st Theban War is memorialized in Greek and Roman literature as the “Seven Against Thebes.” It probably occurred sometime after the Voyage of the Argo.

The 2nd Theban War is memorialized in Greek and Roman literature as the War of the Epigoni, who were the sons of the Greek heroes of the 1st Theban War. It probably occurred about a decade after the 1st Theban War.

The Trojan War commenced when the Greeks invaded Asia Minor and besieged Troy. According to one Greek historian,[1] it started exactly 20 years after the 1st Theban War and lasted ten years.

The Voyage of Odysseus from Troy to his home in Ithaca started soon after the fall of Troy and lasted ten years.

The 1st Olympic Games probably occurred in 777 BC. Historians identify 776 BC as year 1 of the 1st Olympiad, which would have started in 777 BC. No one knows what prompted the event.

Unfortunately, most historians dismiss most of these exploits as myth – either gross exaggerations of actual events or outright fabrications. I don’t.

First these exploits provide a framework for organizing the participants into generations. In the Iliad and the Odyssey, Homer, who, according to my chronology, lived about 100 years after the Trojan War, provided a great deal of information about the Greek and Trojan heroes of the war, as well as information about their progenitors and current relatives. This genealogical information was supplemented by later Greek historians such as Herodotus and Thucydides and Greek playwrights such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripedes. Taken together, this body of literature contains extensive genealogical information concerning the Greek and other (e.g. Trojan) royal families. Harold Newman and Jon O. Newman present this genealogical information in their exhaustive  A Genealogical Chart of Greek Mythology. What is missing from their study, however, is the separation of this information into generations so that a comprehensive picture of the Mycenaean Age can emerge. See my attempt to provide this comprehensive picture in my table, A Synchronization of Greek Generations.

Second, the testimony of the archaeologists divides the Mycenaean or Late Helladic III era into three periods that are connected to Egyptian history as follows:

Its early period (Late Helladic IIIa) coincided with the reigns of Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, and his sister Hatshepsut.

Its middle period (Late Helladic IIIb) coincided with the reigns of Thutmose III, Amenhotep II, Amerhotep III, Tiy, and Amenhotep IV (=Akhnaton).

Its late period (Late Helladic IIIc) coincided with the reigns of Smenkhare, Tutankhamen, and Ay.

According to my chronology, the Mycenaean or Late Helladic III era lasted roughly 254 years (c. 1008-754 BC). Concerning its three periods,

Late Helladic IIIa lasted roughly 51 years (c.1008-957 BC). It coincided, not only with the reigns of Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, and his sister Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty in Egypt, but also with the reigns of David and Solomon of the United Kingdom of Israel in Palestine.

Late Helladic IIIb lasted roughly 102 years (c.957-855 BC). It coincided, not only with the reigns of Thutmose III, Amenhotep II, Amerhotep III, Tiy, and Amenhotep IV (=Akhnaton) of the 18th Dynasty in Egypt, but also with the reigns of Rehoboam, Abijam, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athalia of the Kingdom of Judah in Palestine.

Late Helladic IIIc lasted roughly 101 years (c.855-754 BC). It coincided, not only with the reigns of Smenkhare, Tutankhamen, and Ay of the 18th Dynasty, but also with the reigns of Sheshonk I, Osorkon I, Takelot I, Osorkon II, and Sheshonk II of the Libyan Dynasties (22-24) in Egypt and the reigns of Jehoash, Amaziah, and Azariah (=Uzziah) of the Kingdom of Judah in Palestine. As will become clear, most of the heroic exploits about which the Greek and Roman historians wrote fell in last period.

Given the above genealogies and time periods, I treat the heroic exploits as historical events and order them as follows:

C. 855 BC – The Labors of Herakles. Although the tales of these labors certainly contain many fanciful elements, I have no doubt that these tales are based on some actual occurrences in which Herakles demonstrated great valor. As a result, Herakles became a legend in his own time. He set a standard of physical stature and prowess to which the men of the Heroic Age could aspire. Moreover he whet their appetites for adventurous exploits that might earn them a place in Greece’s pantheon of heroes.

C. 850 BC – The Slaying of the Minotaur. C.865 BC, Androgeus, son of King Minos of Crete, competed in the quadrennial Pan-Athenian games. He did so well that some jealous Athenians killed him. Upon receiving the news, Minos sailed to Athens and demanded that King Aegeus of Athens relinquish the assassins to him. The identity of the assassins was not known, however, and so Androgeus turned over the entire city to Minos. Minos then demanded a septennial tribute of seven youths and seven maidens, who would be given to the Minotaur, a deformed and undoubtedly demented son of Minos, to devour. When the third tribute was due (c.850 BC), King Aegeus’s son Theseus volunteered to be one of the seven youths. He traveled to Crete, slew the Minotaur with the help of Ariadne, a princess of Crete, thereby putting an end to the tribute, and then returned to Athens with Ariadne and her sister Phaedra.

C. 845 BC – The Voyage of the Argo. Jason[2] and his crew on the Argo undertook a voyage from Iolcus on the eastern shore of Thessaly to Colchus on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, in order to obtain the Golden Fleece, which had been hung in a sacred grove dedicated to Ares by Phrixos. This voyage resulted in one of the greatest exploratory expeditions in human history. In my opinion, the expedition took the band of mostly young adventurers (a) southeastward across the Aegean Sea to the Hellespont (=Dardenelles), (b) northeastward across the Propontis (=Sea of Marmara), and through the Bosporus to the Euxine (Black Sea), (c) eastward across the north coast of Asia Minor to Colchus, then (d) westward back across the Euxine to the mouth of the Danube, (e) northwestward up the Danube and one of its tributaries to their common headwaters (just north of modern Zagreb), (f) overland to the headwaters of the Arsia River, (g) southwestward downriver to the Adriatic Sea, (h) southward along the Dalmatian coast almost to Sicily, (i) northward along the eastern coast of Italy to the mouth of the Po River, (j) westward upriver to its headwaters south of Pavia, (k) overland to the headwaters of the Scrivia River, (l) southward downriver to Genoa on the Ligurnian Sea, (m) southeastward along the Italian coast and through the Strait of Messina, (n) southward across the Mediterranean Sea into the sandbanks of the Gulf of Syrtis (off the west coast of Libya),  (o) eastward overland to Lake Triton (no longer extant), (p) northeastward across the lake, (q) northward down a river (no longer extant) to the south shore of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, (r) northeastward to Crete, (s) northward from Crete to the Peloponnesus and finally back to Iolcus. This adventure provided the young Greeks with both maritime expertise and a wealth of demographic, geographic, and navigational information – to say nothing of a fund of stories to tell.

832 BC – The 1st Theban War. A Greek army invaded Egypt and besieged Thebes with the intent of restoring the Egyptian throne to Smenkhare, whom the Greeks knew as Polyneices. The army was under the command of King Adrastus of Sicyon and his six captains: (a) his brother-in-law Amphiaraus (an Argonaut) of Argos, (b) his nephew Capaneus of Corinth, (c) his brother Hippomedon of Mycenae, (d) his friend Parthenopaeus of Tegea, (e) his son-in-law Polyneices (=Smenkhare) of Egyptian Thebes, and (f) his son-in-law Tydeus of Calydon. Together they were known in Greek literature as the “Seven Against Thebes.” They were accompanied by Adrastus’s friend Eteoclus of Argos and his brother Mecisteus of Sicyon. The siege of Thebes was unsuccessful, and Amphiarus, Capaneus, Hippomedon, Parthenopaeus, Polyneices, Tydeus, Eteoclus, and Mecisteus were killed. Only Adrastus returned to Greece with the remnant of the Greek army.

820 BC – The 2nd Theban War. After the debacle of the 1st Theban War, in which so many prominent Greek heroes were killed, the sons of the dead, who were known as “the Epigoni,” decided to seek revenge. They were (a) Aegialus, son of Adrastus, (b) Alcmaeon, son of Amphiarus, (c) Amphilocus, also son of Amphiarus, (d) Euryalus, son of Mecisteus, (e) Medon, son of Eteoclus, (f) Polydorus, son of Hippomedon, (g) Promachus, son of Parthenopaeus, (h) Sthenelus, son of Capaneus, and (i) Thersander, son of Polyneices. Under the leadership of possibly Adrastus (questionable: Adrastus may have died prior to the 2nd Theban War since his son Aegialus is numbered among the “sons of the dead”) and certainly his nephew Alcmaeon, the Epigoni raised a second army from among the cities of the Argolid that were ruled by the relatives.of Adrastus and launched a second invasion of Egypt and a second siege of Thebes. This time the Greeks enjoyed a measure of success. Some historians claim that they invested the city, razed it to the ground, and installed Thersander on the Theban throne. According to Egyptian records, however, Ay was the last pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. Also, according to my chronology, Egypt was invaded and conquered by the Libyans c.820 BC, presumably because the 2nd Theban War had left Egypt in a severely weakened condition. Thus Thersander’s occupancy of the Theban throne – if it occurred at all – was brief.

812-802 BC – The Trojan War. Eight years after the 2nd Theban War, the Greeks began flexing their muscles again. For years they had been irked by the control which the Trojans exercised over the Dardanelles and the maritime trade between (a) the Aegaen Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to the west and south and (b) the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea to the north and east. On the pretext of being outraged over the supposed abduction of Helen, the beautiful wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, by the Trojan prince Paris, King Agamemnon of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, led an armada of over a thousand ships filled with Greek warriors to besiege Troy and liberate Helen. The siege lasted ten years and ended with a Greek victory. It was undoubtedly the most dramatic event of Greece’s Heroic Age.

800-790 BC – The Voyage of Odysseus. In the Odyssey, Homer relates that, after the fall of Troy, the Greek hero Odysseus commenced a voyage from Troy to his home in Ithaca that lasted ten years.

777 BC – The 1st Olympic Games. 777 BC would have been the 25th anniversary of the Greek victory at Troy. Celebrating that anniversary may have been the reason for the games.

 As the above people and events are put in their proper times and places, they lose the vagueness of myth and take on the definition of history, which answers my original question, “Is the Heroic Age of Greece myth or history?” It looks like history to me.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.

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[1] I cannot remember where I saw this, which is unfortunate because it plays an important role in my chronology of this period.

[2] The Argonauts regarded Herakles as the natural commander in chief among them, but he declined the position and suggested that Jason be their leader.

 

What went wrong in ancient Thebes?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted November 14, 2016

Most versions of ancient chronology put the 18th Dynasty of Egypt in the 2nd millennium BC – specifically c.1550-1320 BC. My chronology, however, which takes the Bible as its point of departure, but which also owes much to Immanuel Velikovsky, puts it almost entirely in the 1st millennium BC – specifically c.1041-820 BC [1] – a period roughly coincident with the Mycenaean or Heroic Age in Greece (c.1008-754 BC).

Despite its fame, the last portion of the 18th Dynasty, which began with the death of Amenhotep III, is shrouded in mystery. When he was killed, his wife Queen Tiy assumed the throne and ruled for eight years. During this time her chief advisor was her brother Ay. Suddenly Akhnaton succeeded to the throne.

In Oedipus and Akhnaton, [2] a brilliant piece of detective work, Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky established to my – and many others’ – satisfaction that the events at the end of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty had provided the basis and inspiration for the Greek tales concerning Oedipus and his family. Velikovsky made the following identifications: Akhnaton was known to the Greeks as Oedipus;[3] his mother Queen Tiy, as Jocasta; her brother Ay, as Creon; Akhnaton’s son Smenkhare, as Polyneices; his son Tutankhamen, as Eteocles; and his daughters Meritaten and Beketaten, Antigone (the two sisters were conflated in the Greek tales). Thus, Velikovsky argued, the Greek tales can provide details in the drama that occurred in the court of ancient Egypt.

The trouble started with Akhnaton. He was a strange figure, and he played the central role in this drama.

Akhnaton was born with some unusual deformities – a thin torso and markedly swollen legs. Velikovsky surmised that these deformities were probably due to progressive lipodystrophy, a rare affliction that causes the elimination of subcutaneous fat in the upper body and the accumulation of adipose tissue in the lower body.

Egyptian history is silent concerning Akhnaton’s origins. Fortunately, the Greek tales are not. They indicate that, probably due to his deformity, he was abandoned in the wilderness as a baby, but was saved by a shepherd, who conveyed him to Mitanni, where he was raised in the royal household.

After the death of his father in 861 BC, Akhnaton appeared out of nowhere and married Queen Tiy, apparently unaware that she was his mother. The Greek tales supply a mechanism for this stunning elevation to the throne of Thebes: he solved the riddle of the Sphinx.

During his reign, Akhnaton demonstrated intense hostility toward both the priests in Thebes and the memory of his father. He destroyed the Theban Oracle, defaced statues of his father, and assumed his father’s name, Amenophis, which was the cultural equivalent of patricide.

Akhnaton maintained an aberrant household. His first wife appears to have been Nefertete, who was the daughter of Ay and Ty, whom he probably married before becoming pharaoh, and with whom he sired Tutankhamen, Ankhesenpaaten (eventually the wife of Tutankhamen), Meketaten, Meritaten (eventually the wife of Smenkhare), and three other daughters. His second wife was Queen Tiy, whom he married as he became pharaoh and with whom he sired Smenkhare and Beketaten (his favorite). A few years later, Tiy supplanted Nefertete as his chief wife, but then disappeared from the royal annals in his regnal year 13 (848 BC). She does not appear to have been buried in the tomb which was built for her. The Greek tales indicate that she committed suicide and was denied a proper burial. His third wife was Tadukhipa, who was the daughter of the King of Mitanni. She was sent by her father to be a wife to Amenhotep III, but arrived after he died, during the reign of Queen Tiy. She lived in the royal harem and became available to Akhnaton when he ascended to the throne.

In his year 4 (857 BC), much to the horror of the priests in Thebes, with whom Ay sided, Akhnaton formally rejected the gods of Egypt, and established the monotheistic cult of Aten.[4]

Akhnaton then built a new city at El Amarna, which he named Akhet-Aton. It was dedicated to the worship of Aten. In his year 5 (856 BC), he moved the royal court from Thebes to Akhet-Aton

In his year 6 (855 BC) Egypt was inflicted by a plague or some other affliction, which caused the oracles to maintain that an unacknowledged and un-atoned for patricide existed in the land. The oracles regular insistence on this interpretation of the disturbance caused Akhnaton to commence searching for the criminal in question, and his investigation eventually led to himself.

Meanwhile, Akhnaton flaunted his deformities by appearing nearly nude in public, maintaining that they indicated he was divine and had been divinely elected to rule Egypt. At an unknown point, however, consumed with guilt and opposed by many for his bizarre behavior, he became blind – possibly by his own hand. At that point, his physical condition matched his spiritual condition.

In his year 16 (845 BC), Akhnaton retired from public life and lived as a semi-prisoner in the palace while his son and co-regent ruled the land.

In year 20 of his reign (841 BC), Akhnaton was officially deposed and driven into exile for unknown reasons, accompanied by his devoted daughter Beketaten. Thus he disappeared from Egyptian history.

Upon Akhnaton’s deposition, a rivalry between his two sons Smenkhare and Tutankhamen immediately surfaced, undoubtedly nurtured by their uncle Ay, who brokered an agreement between them that the two brothers would occupy the throne of Egypt on alternate years.

The elder Smenkhare went first and reigned for one year (841-840 BC). During his reign, Akhet-Aton was abandoned and the government returned to Thebes (archaeologists estimate that Akhet-Aton was inhabited for 15 years, which would place its abandonment in 841 BC, immediately after Akhnaton’s deposal and in Smenkhare’s year 0. At the end of that year, Smenkhare turned the throne over to his brother Tutankhamen in accordance with the agreement between them.

Tutankhamen ruled Egypt for 8 years (840-832 BC). At the end of his first year, he was supposed to return the throne to his brother in accordance with the agreement between them, but he failed to do so. Instead he sought his brother’s death – undoubtedly due to the influence of his great uncle Ay. Smenkhare fled to Greece, where he stayed with King Adrastus of Sicyon and married Adrastus’s daughter Argeia.

In order to reinstate his son-in-law on the Egyptian throne, King Adrastus undertook the 1st Theban War (832-831 BC) (also known as the Seven Against Thebes). He raised an army from the cities of the Peloponnesus, invaded Egypt, and besieged Thebes. The war was a debacle for the Greeks. Most of the Greek heroes were killed. Both Smenkhare/Polyneices and Tutankhamen/Eteocles were killed; they fell in mortal combat with one another.

On the death of the two legitimate heirs to the throne, Ay, who had harbored designs on the throne for years, seized it and ruled Egypt for 12 years (832-820 BC). He immediately issued two commands: (a) that Tutankhamen/Eteocles be buried in the traditional manner for royal figures (the photograph below shows a sample of the splendid artifacts that were crowded into his tomb) and (b) that Smenkare/Polynices be left to rot on the battlefield.

Tutankamen (2)

Disregarding Ay’s decree concerning Smenkhare, his wife Meritaten (Antigone) buried him ritually by sprinkling dust on his body as it lay where it had fallen on the battlefield, for which she was condemned by Ay to spend the rest of her life in a small pit immediately outside Queen Tiy’s tomb, where Smenkhare was laid to rest.

In Ay’s year 11 (821 BC), King Adrastus invaded Egypt and besieged Thebes again in what became known as the 2nd Theban War (821-820 BC) or the War of the Epigoni, who were the sons of the dead heroes of the 1st Theban War. The Greeks undertook the war to avenge the dead heroes and install Thersander, the son of Polyneices and Argeia, on the Egyptian throne. The war was won by the Greeks, and their victory left Egypt badly wounded. Oddly, it did not result in Thersander assuming the throne of Egypt. The Greeks may have learned that a storm was brewing in the west and left Ay on the throne to face it.

In Ay’s year 12 (820 BC), the Libyans invaded Egypt, seized Thebes, deposed Ay – his fate is unknown – and established the Egyptian Dynasties 22-24.

So ended a royal dynasty riddled with betrayal, blasphemy, deceit, incest, idolatry, intrigue, and self-aggrandizement.

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[1] According to my chronology, the pharaohs of Egypt’s 18th Dynsasty reigned as follows: Ahmose, who assisted Saul in destroying the Hyksos/Amalekite fortress Avaris at El Arish, reigned for 25 years (1041-1016 BC); Amenhotep I reigned for 13 years (1016-1003 BC); Thutmose I reigned for 21 years (1003-982 BC); Queen Hatshepsut, who was known in the Bible as the Queen of Sheba and visited Solomon in Jerusalem, reigned for 35 years (982-947 BC); Thutmose III, who was known in the Bible as Shishak and sacked Jerusalem and its Temple, reigned for 32 years (947-915 BC); Amenhotep II reigned for 15 years (915-890 BC); Amenhotep III reigned for 21 years (890-869 BC): Queen Tiy, who was Amenhotep III’s wife, reigned for 8 years (869-861, Akhnaton, who was the son of Amenhotep III and Tiy, reigned for 20 years (861-841 BC); Smenkhare, who was Akhnaton’s eldest son, reigned for 1 year (841-840 BC); Tutankhamen, who was one of Akhnaton’s younger sons, reigned for 8 years (840-832 BC); and Ay who was Queen Tiy’s brother and Akhnaton’s uncle, reigned for 12 years (832-820 BC).

[2] Velikovsky, Immanuel, Oedipus and Akhnaton, Doubleday & Company, Garden City NY, 1961. I highly recommend it. It is a tour de force.

[3] Akhnaton was also known to the Greek historian Herodotus as Anysis.

[4] Some people assert that the cult of Aten was the first monotheistic religion. A little thought will undercut that assertion. The cult of Aten (est. c. 857 BC) was preceded by the Adamic religion (est. 3977 BC), the Noachic religion (est. 2321 BC), the Abrahamic religion (est. 1894 BC), and the Mosaic religion (est. 1464 BC), all of which were monotheistic and focused on the God of the Bible who created the heavens and the earth.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.

What did Abraham & Cheops discuss?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted November 7, 2016

Most versions of ancient chronology put the Egyptian Pharaoh Cheops in the 26th century BC and the Hebrew patriarch Abraham in the 20th or 19th century BC – a difference of six or seven centuries. In my chronology of the ancient world, which takes the Bible as its point of departure, Cheops and Abraham were contemporaries.

According to my chronology, Abraham lived 175 years (1965-1794 BC). In 1894 BC, at the age of 75, Abraham received a communication from God. [1] God gave him (1) a Command to leave his home in Ur-of-the-Chaldees and travel to a land to which God would lead him and (2) a Promise that his descendents would constitute a great nation. When Abraham informed his father Terah of the vision which he had received from God, Terah believed his son and decided to move the entire family from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran, which his older son had apparently founded, and presumably from there into Canaan. When he reached Haran, however, Terah died, leaving the family in the hands of Abraham.

After burying and mourning for his father, Abraham departed from Haran with his household, crossed the Euphrates River, and entered into Canaan. He traveled through Sichem to the Plain of Moreh, where he camped for an unspecified time. There God visited Abraham and issued his first promise of the land of Canaan to Abram and his descendants. Abraham built an altar on the Plain of Morel to commemorate God’s visit. He then traveled to a mountain between Hai on the east and Bethel on the west, where he camped and built another altar.

Circa 1893 BC, the land of Canaan suffered from an extensive famine, and so Abraham led his family south out of Canaan and into Egypt.[2] Because his sister and wife Sarah was a beautiful woman and Abraham was afraid that some Egyptian would kill him in order to take her, he instructed Sarah to identify herself as his sister. As soon as they arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians, as Abraham had anticipated, took an interest in Sarah and brought her to the attention of Pharaoh. When Pharaoh saw Sarah, he desired her and asked Abraham to relinquish her, which Abraham did. After taking Sarah into his harem, the pharaoh treated Abraham well, giving him servants, cattle, and probably other gifts.

Because Pharaoh had taken Sarah into his harem, the Lord visited great plagues upon him and his house. Interestingly, Pharaoh must have learned of the Lord’s displeasure directly from the Lord, because he approached Abraham with the question, “What is this that thou hast done unto me? Why didst thou not tell me that that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, she is my sister? So that I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.” The implication of “I might have taken her to me to wife” is that he discovered the truth about Sarah before he took her into his bed. Thus Abraham’s sojourn in Egypt probably did not last very long. Nonetheless, Abraham and Pharaoh were undoubtedly intelligent, educated and formidable men and undoubtedly spent much time talking while Abraham was Pharaoh’s guest.

Now according to my chronology of the ancient world before 1464 BC, , which relies heavily on the work of Donovan Courville, the ruler of Egypt in 1893 BC was Osirophus, the first pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty. He ruled Egypt for 23 years (1901-1878 BC). He was also known as Cheops, Khufu, and Sufi I. Abraham’s visit would have fallen in his year 9.

 

Pyramid of Cheops & camel

Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza – weepingredorger.wordpress.com

Osirophus is credited with building the largest of the pyramids at Giza, which has earned it the title “the Great Pyramid.” It is one of the wonders of the ancient world, and it has engendered much speculation concerning its purpose, the manner of its construction, and whether or not the form and dimensions of its structure carry information concerning the past and future of mankind. Would not the pyramid have been a prime topic of conversation between Osirophus and Abraham? Would not Osirophus have taken Abraham on a tour of the construction site? My answer to both questions is, “Yes, without a doubt!”

Does the Great Pyramid provide any evidence of being influenced by Abraham. In response to the question, I would point to some curious aspects of the structure. First, its capstone is missing, and second, the sarcophagus in the king’s chamber is empty. Archaeologists assume (a) that the capstone has been the victim of either erosion or theft, along with much of the pyramid’s exterior sheathing, and (b) that the sarcophagus was emptied by thieves. Both are possible and reasonable explanations. On the other hand, the capstone may have been omitted and the sarcophagus may have been empty since its installation for reasons that did not occur to the archaeologists. The phrase ‘the stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner’ appears five times in the Scriptures (Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, and 1 Peter 2:7) and there are many references in Scriptures to the sepulcher in which Jesus was laid as being empty on the Sunday morning following the Friday on which he was laid to rest. Is it possible that, while he was a guest of Osirophus, Abraham shared with the pharaoh some details of the vision of the future which God had entrusted to him?

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.

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[1] See Genesis 12:1-3.

[2] See Genesis 12:10- 20 for the record of Abraham’s visit to Egypt.

Was Noah’s ark overcrowded?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted September 19, 2016

One of the many Bible stories on which skeptics like to jump with both feet is the account of Noah’s ark – particularly the claim that the ark carried a male and female of every sort or kind of animal on earth. How, they ask, could the ark contain elephants, lions, tigers, rhinoceroses, giraffes, etc. and the food necessary to sustain them– let alone how eight people could tend them and keep the ark from becoming an unsanitary and nauseous dungeon? Surprisingly, the answer is simple and came to me from an unlikely source.

According to my chronology of ancient history, the Antediluvian Era lasted roughly 1656 years (3977-2321 BC). The Bible makes clear that the men of this era (a) failed to honor God and his commandments and (b) indulged in every form of iniquity. Some of the trouble appears to have been caused by (a) the nephilim (sometimes translated “giants”), who were mighty men of renown and may have been warriors that introduced conflict and war into antediluvian life and (b) marriages between “the sons of God” (perhaps God-honoring covenant-keepers) and the “daughters of men” (perhaps God-dishonoring covenant-breakers), thereby becoming “unequally yoked.”

In any event, God became disgusted by the behavior of his creatures and decided to destroy the civilization which they had managed to construct.[1] God instructed Noah to build an ark in which to preserve his family and representatives of every animal and avian species on earth.

God provided Noah with the plans and specifications of the Ark.

Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. (KJV Gen 6:14-16)

The Ark’s passengers were Noah and his wife, his oldest son Japheth and his wife, his middle son Seth and his wife, and his youngest son Ham and his wife – four men and four women. In addition, there was a pair (male and female) of every animal species on earth.

…and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. (KJV Gen 6:18-21)

The LORD himself shut Noah and his fellow passengers in the Ark. I believe that the door was closed and locked from the outside.

And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him [Noah]: and the LORD shut him [Noah] in. (KJV Gen 7:16)

In 2321 BC, when Noah was 600 years old, a global flood devastated the earth. It utterly destroyed and buried the Antediluvian civilization and left the land surface devoid of plant and animal life and overflowing with mud and muck. For the next 370 days, the ark carried its passengers safely through the cataclysm.

Now the idea that the ark carried pairs of every animal and avian species for 370 days without touching land has engendered vigorous debate over the past four millennia. It is often ridiculed by representatives of the Academy.[2]  The questions are always the same: How could pairs of dinosaurs, elephants, lions, and tigers, etc. fit into and coexist peacefully in the ark? How could four men and four women feed all the animals and birds, let alone keep their respective cages clean and dispose of the refuse?

Is this what the ark looked like from the exterior?

Exterior of Noah's Ark (1)

Is this what the ark looked like from the interior?

Interior of Noah's ark (1)

In 1982, I was a member of a house church, and one Sunday, after the worship service, all the men were gathered in the living room discussing the Scriptural text for the day,[3] which was a portion of the story of the flood.[4]

The men took turns commenting on the above questions. The discussion touched on the size of the ark, the number of interior decks, the number of species involved, the various sizes of the cages necessary to accommodate them, the difficulties of storing and distributing the food, the dangers involved in dealing with dinosaurs, elephants, lions, tigers, etc., the herculean task of cleaning the cages and disposing of the refuse. The discussion produced more questions than answers.

Meanwhile, an eight year old girl, the daughter of one of the men, sat in our midst. Her name was Jennifer. She had obviously been raised to listen to, but not interrupt her elders. After sitting still and silently for some time – at least half an hour – she finally couldn’t stand it another minute and said in a quiet voice, “Maybe they were babies.”

All of us men were struck dumb. I don’t exaggerate. We said nothing for several minutes, and then one of us said, “Out of the mouth of babes…!” [5]

In all the reading that I have done, I have never run across the suggestion that all the animals, birds, etc. on the ark were babies. Yet it is the obvious answer to all the troubling questions that I have noted above.

The adults in our house church that morning were given two lessons:

First, the Lord has a role for everyone among His followers to play. He can and does use every man, woman, and child, no matter how humble their abilities and circumstances, to contribute to the equipping of the saints for ministry. Everyone of us there that morning went out into the world better able to explain the Word of God to unbelievers because the Lord spoke to us through the mouth of an eight year old girl.

Second, when you are confronting a puzzling situation, it is essential to ask yourself, “Have I put this situation in a box? Have I made one or more inferences that prevent me from seeing the truth of this situation? If I have, what are the inferences and what possibilities emerge after they are eliminated – that is, how do I start thinking outside the box that I have created in my mind?”[6]

In the case of the Biblical account concerning Noah’s ark, people infer – the story does not imply – that the pairs of species are adults. They know, however, that God specifies pairs (a male and a female) because he intends that they reproduce and thereby preserve their respective species. This intention catapults people’s thoughts into the adult world. They infer that adults are meant because babies cannot reproduce – yet. They have created a box in their minds that leads to a disbelief in the story because pairs of all species on earth can neither fit in the ark nor be cared for by four men and four women. In the case of our discussion on that Sunday morning, the box in our minds was smashed by four, softly spoken words, “Maybe they were babies.”

Thank you Jenny.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.

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[1] The civilization was undoubtedly singular, for it occupied a single land mass, and its people spoke a single language.

[2] I use the term Academy to refer to the scientists and scholars who rely on the consensus of their peers rather than the written Word of God.

[3] All the women were in the kitchen preparing a sumptuous meal.

[4] The story runs from Genesis 6:13 to 8:19. I can’t remember the exact portion that was read that morning.

[5] See Psalm 8:2 and Matthew 21:16.

[6] One of my favorite examples of a puzzling situation, which tripped up most adults in the 20th century, is the following story: While driving in the family car, a man and his son are in a terrible accident. Both are severely injured, rushed to the nearest hospital, and put in separate operating rooms. The doctor who is assigned to work on the son enters the operating room, looks at the boy with horror, and cries out, “I can’t operate on him. He is my son!” (Many hospitals will not permit its medical personnel to operate on members of their own families.) Then who is this doctor?  This question stumped most people in that era, some of whom devised intricate attempts to identify this “man” who is not the man lying on the table in the operating room next door. The only trouble is – this doctor is not a man. This doctor is the boy’s mother. Why couldn’t most people see this immediately?  Because, when they heard the word “doctor,” they saw in their minds’ eyes first someone in a surgical gown (inference #1) and second a man in a surgical gown (inference #2). Then, since the doctor exclaimed, “He is my son!,” they inferred that the doctor is the boy’s father (inference #3). Thus they believed that they were dealing with two fathers (an impossibility excepting to homosexuals, who are now siring children with surrogate mothers and adopting other people’s children, about which I will not comment), which threw them into confusion. That they had been culturally conditioned to make inference #2 does not alter the nature of what was going on here. They were seeking to understand and evaluate reality on the basis of erroneous inferences, to which they clung despite the impossibility of inference #3. Alas, we humans do this all the time.

Was the Ark’s landfall in Turkey or Tadzikistan?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted September 12, 2016

Most readers of the Bible and many people who have never read the Bible believe that they know where Noah’s ark is supposed to hand landed after the flood – Mount Ararat in Turkey. The problem here is that they have missed two important clues in the Biblical text and thus misplaced the ark’s landfall. The point is important because the position of the landfall governed the nature of the post-flood migrations via which mankind dispersed across the globe.

Voyage of the Ark (2321-2320 BC)

The Flood started when Noah was 600 years old, on the 17th day of the 2nd month of the year.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened (KJV Genesis 7:11).

The Flood ended when Noah was 601 years old, on the 27th day of the 2nd month of the year – that is, just 1 year and 10 days after it began (or 360 + 10 = 370 days later).

According to my chronology, Noah was 600 years old in 1656 AM = 2321 BC, and thus the voyage of the Ark lasted just over a year, from 2321 BC to 2320 BC.

The Ark’s Landfall (2320 BC)

Genesis 8:4 states, “And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.” Genesis 11:2 states, “And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found the plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.” There are two problems here.

First, the ark’s landfall was east of the Land of Shinar. Shinar is another name for Mesopotamia, which includes the lands of Assyria, Babylonia, and Sumer. Yet the Mount Ararat that we know today is in eastern Turkey, at the conjunction of the Turkish, Armenian, and Iranian borders. It is therefore west of Shinar. To travel from Mount Ararat to Shinar is to travel eastward, not westward as Genesis 11:2 maintains.

Second, the text does not say that the ark rested upon the mountain (singular) of Ararat, but rather upon the mountains (plural) of Ararat. Ararat must have been, not a singular peak, but a mountainous region.

Thus, the ark must have landed in a mountainous region east of Shinar.

Samuel Shuckford points out that a number of scholars have sought to identify this region in which the Ark landed.[1] For instance, Portius Cato placed it “in the same latitude with Bactria (now eastern Afghanistan), between the Caspian Sea and Imaus (now the Tian Shan Mountains on the western border of Sinkiang, the westernmost province of China), north of Mount Paraponisus.”[2] Shuckford himself placed it “on the hills beyond Bactria, north of India,”[3] between the headwaters of the Oxus River (now Amu-Darya) to the northwest and the Indus River to the southeast.

These “hills beyond Bactria,” would be the mountains at the northern end of the Hindu Kush. From there, Noah’s descendants would have traveled westward to Shinar (Mesopotamia), as Genesis 11:2 maintains. In my opinion, the three likeliest candidates for the mountain on which the Ark landed are Kungur (25,825 ft.) and Mustagh-Ata (24,400 ft.) to the east (just over the border with China), and Pik Komminizma (24,590ft.) to the north, but there are also two lesser possibilities: Khan Tengri (22,949 ft.) further to the north and K2 (28,250 ft.) to the southeast, although neither can be regarded as between the Oxus and Indus rivers.

Initial Settlement (c. 2320-2295 BC)

Now I speculate: After being submerged for over a year and then being scoured by runoff from high-ground to low-ground, the land must have been a sea of mud, and the Ark’s inhabitants must have lived initially in the Ark and local caves. With the return of grass, shrubs, and trees to the land and the re-population of the local territory with animals and birds, they probably left the Ark and caves and created a settlement in the vicinity of the Ark’s landfall consisting of buildings, barns, water reservoirs, gardens, grain fields, etc. It probably took about 25 years (2320-2295 BC) to construct. There Noah, who was roughly 625 years old and therefore not fit for the rigors of traveling through virgin territory, probably remained for the rest of his life. His sons, who were roughly 125 years old, may have done so as well, although I believe that Seth probably migrated as far as Mesopotamia. Staying in the Initial Settlement would not have been an option for most of Noah’s grandchildren, some of whom would have been in their early twenties by 2295 BC. They would have been restless and ready to explore the unknown lands that lay over the horizon. Thus, although Noah remained mankind’s titular leader until his death in 1971 BC, he and his sons must have increasingly taken on the aura of legend, and leadership in practice must have passed to the leaders of the migrating groups.

Initial Migrations (c. 2295-2220 BC)

The initial, post-flood migrations occurred over the next 75 years (2295-2220 BC).

Although I am deeply indebted to Henry Morris[4] for his discussion of the Table of the Nations, I differ with him on the geographic origin of the initial, post-flood migrations. As I have just explained, I believe these migrations originated in eastern Tadzikistan, not eastern Turkey. Thus the paths that Morris and I trace for these migrations differ. The destinations, however, remain the same.

I speculate that, once the initial settlement was built and fully functioning circa 2295 BC, Noah’s grandchildren began migrating to the four points of the compass:

Northward into the great Siberian Plain between the Enisej River to the east and the Ural Mountains to the west, and from there fanning out in all directions.

Eastward into Sinkiang (northwest China), and from there to the Pacific coast from Siberia and the Koreas in the north to Indochina in the south.

Southward into the Indus Valley (Pakistan and India), from the Punjab in the north to Mohenjo-Daro in the south, and from thence across India to Bengal in the east and Tamil Nadu in the south.

Westward through Afghanistan and Iran into Iraq (ancient Mesopotamia), and from there north into Georgia, south through Palestine and into Egypt, and west across Asia Minor to the Balkans.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.

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[1] Samuel Shuckford, The Sacred and Profane History of the World Connected, Volume 1, 5th edition (1819), Tolle Lege Press, Whitehall WV, 2009, pages 87-92.

[2] Shuckford, Volume 1, page 89. The Paropamisus Mountains extend from the southwestern end of the Hindu Kush across northern Afghanistan to the border of Iran in the west, but modern maps do not show a Mount Paraponisus. It may have one of the peaks at the northeastern end of the Hindu Kush. Only the area north of there (eastern Tadzikistan) lies north of India, between the Oxus River and the Indus Rivers.

[3] Shuckford, Volume 1, page 92.

[4] Morris, Henry, The Genesis Record (1976), Baker Book House, Grand Rapids MI, 1980.