222 Egypt an& Israel the most interesting mass of documents surviving from the early East, have preserved to us this glimpse across the kingdoms of hither Asia as one might see them on a stage, each king playing his part before the great throne of the Pharaoh.'1 Never- theless, in spite of this widespread recognition of Egyptian over- lordship, the actual hegemony of Egypt over Syria-Palestine was little more than nominal. This, after the victories of Tuthmosis III and his immediate successors, mentioned above, sounds strange; but the fact is that the Tell-el-Amarna letters make it abundantly clear that a new menace to Egyptian suzerainty over Syria-Palestine had arisen. Among these letters, most of which are addressed to Amenhotep IV (1376-1359 B.C.),2 there are a krge number from the vassal kings to the Pharaoh which contain reiterated requests for help against the attacks of ene- mies. And here we come to what, from the point of view of the present essay, is of particular importance. Among these enemies were those who are called the Habiru. The question as to who the Habiru were has occasioned a great deal of controversy; to discuss it here would take us too far afield;3 but we may without hesitation adopt the conviction of the majority of experts, namely that the name is equivalent to the 'Hebrews'; the ideo- graphic form of the name is SA.GAZ (which occurs more fre- quently than Habiru), and it is equivalent to the tyrw occurring on Egyptian inscriptions. This is not to say that the Habiru are to be identified with the Hebrews, or Israelites, as we know them; the people of Israel of later times were the descendants of the union of Habiru—Hebrews with Aramaic tribes; but it 1 A History of Egypt, p. 332 (1912). 2 A blue porcelain ring, with the cartouche of this king, was found at Tell Zakariya, in the vale of Elah. 3 See, e.g., Winckler, *Die Hebraer in den Tel-Amarna-Briefen', in Semitic Studies in memory of Alexander Kobut, pp. 605 ff. (1897); Burney, Tbf Book of Judges, pp. bodiiff. (1918); Peet, Egypt and the Old Testament, pp. 115 ff. (1922); Jirkuj 'Die Wanderungen der Hebraer im 3. und 2. Jahrtausend v. Chr.J, in Der alts Orient, xiv. 2 (1924).