Wednesday, June 23, 2021

A new inscription of Pharaoh Hophra

EGYPTIAN EPIGRAPHY: Biblical-era Egyptian stele discovered by farmer. The stele is accredited to the reign of the pharaoh Apries and may discuss a military campaign of his. One campaign saw him try to fight the Babylonians as they sought to destroy the First Temple (Aaron Reich, Jerusalem Post).
The pharaoh Apries, also known as Wahibre Haaibre and identified in the Bible as Hophra, was the fourth ruler in the 26th dynasty.

During his reign, Apries had conflicts in the Levant, east of Egypt. In one such occasion, he led a campaign to Jerusalem to defend it from the Babylonian Empire's Nebuchadnezzar II. This was unsuccessful, however, and the Babylonians would eventually breach Jerusalem and destroy much of the city, including the First Temple. These events were described in the biblical Book of Jeremiah.

For the biblical references to Apries/Hophra, see Jeremiah 37:3-11, 44:29-30, 46:13-17.

Here's a fun fact that I don't think anyone else has noticed in this connection. Jeremiah's oracle against this Pharaoh (which came true) was addressed to two messengers sent by King Zedekiah. One of them was Jehucal (Yehukhal) son of Shelemiah, whose bulla was discovered by the late Eilat Mazar in her City of David excavation.

The new Apries/Hophra inscription is not yet deciphered. It would be cool if it shed light on his campaign against the Babylonians at Jerusalem.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.