we come now to the time when the contact between Egypt and
Israel becomes definite and direct.
Soon after Merneptah came to the throne of Egypt (1225) a
widespread revolt against him arose in Asia; among those who
revolted were the various States of the whole of Palestine-
Syria, including the Israelites. The revolt was quelled, and
Merneptah set up a stele to commemorate his victory; part of
the inscription runs:
The kings are overthrown, saying, Salam!
Not one holds up his head among the nine nations of the bow.
Wasted is Tehenu,
The Hittite Land is pacified,
Plundered is the Canaan, with every evil,
Carried off is Askalon,
Seized upon is Gezer,
Yenoam is made as a thing not existing.
Israel is desolated, her seed is not,
Palestine has become a (defenceless) widow for Egypt.
All lands are united, they are pacified;
Everyone that is turbulent is bound by King Merneptah.1
This is the earliest direct mention of Israel on an ancient
inscription; it is worthy of note that they are spoken of as a
people, and must, therefore, have been settled down in the land
for some time. This shows, by the way, the untenability of the
contention that the exodus took place under Merneptah; a con-
tention further weakened by the fact that his body has been
found in Thebes, so that he cannot have been drowned in the
Soon after the time of Merneptah a period of continuous
decline began to set in; this is well illustrated somewhat later
by the story of Wen-Amon, the envoy of the Pharaoh Hrihor
1 A German translation of this important document is given by Gressmann,
Altorientaliscbe Texts ssvm Alien Testament^ pp. 71-7 (1936).