Digging Up the Past

Chapter 1 - Land of the Pyramids

Plagues strike Egypt

These plagues, as described in Exodus 7-12, must have devastated
Egypt. A sage by the name of Ipuwer wrote on a papyrus found at
Memphis, and now in the Leiden Museum in Holland. It probably
describes the conditions at this time. In part it says, 'Plague stalks
through the land and blood is everywhere ... Nay, but dead
men are buried in the river ... Nay, but the river is blood ...
The stranger people from without are come into Egypt. ... Nay,
but corn hath perished everywhere.'
The Ancient Egyptians,
pages 95-99.

A plague of blood is described in Exodus 7:14-24.

Nile River turns to blood in the ten plagues of Egypt

Flies and locusts plaguing the nation of Egypt

Egypt's cattle died from the hail and from disease

The 'strangers' were the Hyksos migrants who invaded the land
at this time. Quoting from Manetho, Josephus wrote, 'There was
a king of ours whose name was Timaus. Under him it came to pass,
I know not how, that God was averse to us, and there came, after
a surprising manner, men of ignoble birth out of the eastern parts,
and had boldness enough to make an expedition into our country,
and with ease subdued it by force, yet without our hazarding a
battle with them.'

Egypt usually had a well-trained standing army. It is hard to explain
how the Hyksos could occupy Egypt without a battle – unless, of
course, the Egyptian army had recently been destroyed in the Red
Sea, as described in Exodus 14:28. Certainly, by the 13th Dynasty
there was a large Hyksos population in Egypt. As the central
govenment entered a period of decline, their presence made
possible an influx of people from coastal Phoenicia and Palestine
and the establishment of Hyksos dynasty.

Ipuwer's Papyrus records the plight of Egypt

This marks the beginning of the Second Intermediate Period, a time
of turbulence and disunity, a 'dark ages' that lasted some 214 years.
The Hyksos of the 15th Dynasty ruled from Avaris in the eastern
delta, controlling middle and northern regions of the country. At the
same time the 16th Dynasty also existed in the delta and Middle
Egypt, but it may have been subservient to the Hyksos. More
independence was exrted in the south by a third, contemporaneous
power, the Theban 17th Dynasty, which ruled over the territory
between Elephantine and Abydos. It was the Theban Kamose
(1576 to 1570 BC) who battled successfully against the Hyksos,
but it was his brother Ahmose I who finally subdued them, reuniting
Egypt.

The Ipuwer Papyrus in the Leiden Museum

Leiden Papyrus number 344, style of script