Ramesses II, one of several suggested pharaohs in the Exodus narrative
Ramesses II, one of several suggested pharaohs in the Exodus narrative

The Bible makes reference to various pharaohs (Hebrew: פַּרְעֹה, Parʿō) of Egypt. These include unnamed pharaohs in events described in the Torah, as well as several later named pharaohs, some of whom were historical or can be identified with historical pharaohs.

Unnamed pharaohs

In the Book of Genesis

Joseph presenting his father and brethren to Pharaoh (1896)
Joseph presenting his father and brethren to Pharaoh (1896)

Genesis 12:10–20 tells of Abram moving to Egypt to escape a period of famine in Canaan. Abram worries that the unnamed pharaoh will kill him and take away his wife Sarai, so Abram tells her to say she is his sister. They are eventually summoned to meet the pharaoh, but God sends plagues against the pharaoh because of his intention to marry Sarai. After discovering that Sarai is Abram's wife, he releases her and orders Abram to take his belongings and return to Canaan.

The final chapters of the Book of Genesis (Genesis 37–50) tell how Joseph, son of Jacob, is sold by his brothers into Egyptian slavery, promoted by the unnamed pharaoh to vizier of Egypt, and later given permission to bring his father, his brothers, and their families into Egypt to live in the Land of Goshen (eastern Nile Delta around modern Faqus). Ahmed Osman argued that this pharaoh was Thutmose IV and identified Joseph as the Egyptian figure Yuya.[1] Other scholars generally reject Osman's claims.[2]

In the Book of Exodus

In the Book of Exodus, the Israelites—the descendants of Jacob's sons—are living in the Land of Goshen under a new pharaoh who oppresses the Hebrews. He forces them to work long hours, which includes building Pithom and Ramses, making mortar, and baking bricks. He also issues a decree to kill their newborn males in order to reduce their numbers due to concerns about their growing population (Shiphrah and Puah briefly tries to prevent this with no avail). Moses, a Levite, is saved by his mother who instructs his sister Miriam to watch over him after he is placed in a reed basket in the Nile River. He is discovered and adopted by the pharaoh's daughter. Miriam asks the princess if she would like an Israelite woman to help nurse the child and returns with Moses' own mother, who is then able to raise her child under royal protection. During his infant years, Moses is instructed about the customs and history of the Israelites, and is taught about Yahweh. Later, Moses is returned to the pharaoh's daughter and raised as part of the royal household.

Though most scholars do not recognize the biblical portrayal of the Exodus as an actual historical event,[3] various historical pharaohs have been proposed as the corresponding ruler:

In the Books of Kings

Main article: Pharaoh's daughter (wife of Solomon)

In 1 Kings 3:1, it is narrated that to seal an alliance, the pharaoh of Egypt gave a daughter in marriage to Solomon. The same ruler later captured the city of Gezer and gave it to Solomon as well (1 Kings 9:16). No name is given for the pharaoh, and some hypotheses have been proposed:

Conjectural pharaohs

Historical pharaohs

Taharqa offering to Falcon-god Hemen (close-up)
Taharqa offering to Falcon-god Hemen (close-up)

See also


  1. ^ Osman, Ahmed (1987). Stranger in the Valley of the Kings. New York: Harper & Row. pp. 14–15. ISBN 9780062506740. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  2. ^ Sweeney, Deborah (1992). "Review of The Stranger in the Valley of the Kings". The Jewish Quarterly Review. 82 (3/4): 575–579. doi:10.2307/1454900. JSTOR 1454900 – via JSTOR.
  3. ^ Grabbe, Lester (2014). "Exodus and History". In Dozeman, Thomas; Evans, Craig A.; Lohr, Joel N. (eds.). The Book of Exodus: Composition, Reception, and Interpretation. BRILL. pp. 61–87. ISBN 9789004282667.
  4. ^ Anati, Emmanuel (2016). Esodo. Tra mito e storia (in Italian). Atelier. ISBN 978-88-98284-24-5.
  5. ^ Finkelstein, Israel (14 July 1988). "Raider of the Lost Mountain—An Israeli Archaeologist Looks at the Most Recent Attempt to Locate Mt. Sinai". Biblical Archaeology Review.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Hoffmeier, James K. (1999). Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-19-513088-1.
  7. ^ Rohl 1995, pp. 341–348
  8. ^ Bennett 1996
  9. ^ Meyers, Stephen C. "IBSS – Biblical Archaeology – Date of the Exodus". www.bibleandscience.com. Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  10. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica, Book 1
  11. ^ Edersheim, A., Old Testament Bible History, originally published 1876-1887, ISBN 156563165X, p. 134
  12. ^ Douglas Petrovich. "Amenhotep II and the Historicity of the Exodus Pharaoh". biblearchaeology.org. Associates for Biblical Research.
  13. ^ "Who Was the Pharaoh of the Exodus?". Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology.
  14. ^ Moses and Monotheism, ISBN 0-394-70014-7
  15. ^ Osman 1987, p. 119.
  16. ^ Geraty 2015, pp. 58–59.
  17. ^ Stephen L. Caiger, "Archaeological Fact and Fancy," Biblical Archaeologist, (9, 1946).
  18. ^ Isaac Asimov, Asimov's Guide to the Bible, Random House, 1981, p. 130–131, ISBN 0-517-34582-X
  19. ^ Igor P. Lipovsky, Early Israelites: Two Peoples, One History: Rediscovery of the Origins of Biblical Israel ISBN 0-615-59333-X
  20. ^ "Exodus: The History Behind the Story".
  21. ^ Rendsburg, Gary. "The Pharaoh of the Exodus – Rameses III - TheTorah.com". www.thetorah.com.
  22. ^ Shanks, Hershel; Dever, William G.; Halpern, Baruch; McCarter, Peter Kyle (1992). The Rise of Ancient Israel. Biblical Archaeology Society. ISBN 978-1-880317-07-5.
  23. ^ Bietak, Manfred (2015). "On the Historicity of the Exodus: What Egyptology Today Can Contribute to Assessing the Biblical Account of the Sojourn in Egypt". In Levy, Thomas E.; Schneider, Thomas; Propp, William H. C. (eds.). Israel's Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective: Text, Archaeology, Culture, and Geoscience. Springer. pp. 17–37. ISBN 978-3-319-04768-3.
  24. ^ Tacitus, Histories, Book V, Paragraph 3
  25. ^ a b Assmann, Jan (2009-06-30). Moses the Egyptian. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-02030-6.
  26. ^ Brian Roberts. "ANE - Solomon taking an Egyptian wife (to David Lorton)".[dead link]
  27. ^ "The Bible Chronology from Solomon to Hezekiah". nabataea.net. CanBooks. 1935. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  28. ^ Kenneth Kitchen (2003), On the Reliability of the Old Testament. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids and Cambridge. ISBN 0-8028-4960-1, p. 108.
  29. ^ Dever, William G. (2020-08-18). Has Archaeology Buried the Bible?. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4674-5949-5.
  30. ^ Gabriel Oussani (July 1, 1912). "Solomon". The Catholic Encyclopedia.
  31. ^ Lipinski, Edward (2006). On the Skirts of Canaan in the Iron Age(Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta). Leuven, Belgium: Peeters. pp. 96–97. ISBN 978-90-429-1798-9.
  32. ^ Patterson 2003, pp. 196–197
  33. ^ Peter A Clayton: Chronicle of The Pharaohs, Thames & Hudson, (2006), pp. 182–183
  34. ^ Theis, Christoffer (2020). "Contributions to the Vocabulary of the Old Testament: The Connection of the Name סוֹא with Greek Σηγωρ in 2 Kings 17, 4". Biblica. 101 (1): 107–113. doi:10.2143/BIB.101.1.3287517.
  35. ^ Troy Leiland Sagrillo. 2015. "Shoshenq I and biblical Šîšaq: A philological defense of their traditional equation." In Solomon and Shishak: Current perspectives from archaeology, epigraphy, history and chronology; proceedings of the third BICANE colloquium held at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge 26–27 March, 2011, edited by Peter J. James, Peter G. van der Veen, and Robert M. Porter. British Archaeological Reports (International Series) 2732. Oxford: Archaeopress. 61–81.
  36. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Tirhakah". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
  37. ^ Kitchen, Kenneth A. (2006). On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-8028-0396-2.
  38. ^ Encyclopædia britannica. Edited by Colin MacFarquhar, George Gleig. p785
  39. ^ The Holy Bible, According to the Authorized Version (A.D. 1611). Edited by Frederic Charles Cook. p131