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Thutmose III at Megiddo

Summary

This page briefly reviews the Egyptian textual information relating to Thutmose III's victory over Canaanite kings near Megiddo. In the New Chronology, this battle is of no especial significance. Conventionally, however, with an early Exodus at the start of the Hyksos era, the possibility of matching this with Barak's involvement with the defeat of Jabin and Sisera arises.

Contents

  1. Geography
  2. Egyptian texts
  3. Judges texts
  4. Analysis and conclusions

Geography

Megiddo Battle area The following map shows the route Thutmose III chose to approach his adversaries, together with other salient features nearby. The pass he chose to lead his army along had been considered unsuitable for a large body of men - part of the Egyptian texts lay stress on the Pharaoh's skill and judgement in insisting on this in the face of reluctance. There was a vulnerable time when the Egyptian army began to emerge into the Jezreel Valley, as only a small fraction of the whole was present at first. It is something of a mystery why the Canaanite coalition did not take advantage of this - perhaps it was assumed to be only a small diversionary tactic while the main body of men followed the major routes round towards either Taanach or Megiddo.

The account in Judges describes Barak and his men descending from Mount Tabor, on the northern side of the Valley of Jezreel. This was of course from an entirely different direction to the advance of the much more powerful Egyptian force. If Barak was present at the battle, the Egyptian sources do not record this, their main purpose being to highlight the skill and prowess of Thutmose himself.

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Egyptian texts

The Armant Stela
This is a red-granite stela found at Armant in Upper Egypt
His majesty made no delay in proceeding to the land of Djahi ...
[Proceeding] from Memphis to slay the countries of the wretched Retenu ... His majesty entered upon that road which becomes very narrow, as the first of his entire army, while every country had gathered, standing prepared at its mouth ... The enemy quailed, fleeing headlong to their town, together with their prince who was in ...

The Annals at Karnak
The early parts of the relevant section may be interpreted in several ways, but could mean that an Egyptian garrison in northern Palestine - possibly at Megiddo itself - had been driven out and withdrawn to Sharuhen
His majesty ordered a conference with his victorious army, speaking as follows: "That [wretched] enemy of Kadesh has come and has entered into Megiddo. He is [there] at this moment. He has gathered to him the princes of [every] foreign country [which had been] loyal to Egypt, as well as (those) as far as Naharin and M[itanni] ..."
There follows a debate about the road to choose, and the hazards of the one chosen
Then his majesty issued forth [at the head of] his army, which was [prepared] in many ranks. [He had not met] a single [enemy. Their] southern wing was in Taanach, [while their] northern wing was on the south side [of the Qina Valley.]
Now while the rear of his majesty's victorious army was (still) at [the town] of Aruna, the vanguard had come out into the [Qi]na Valley ... His majesty reached the south of Megiddo on the bank of the Qina brook ... The southern wing of his majesty's army was at a hill south of [the] Qina [brook], and the northern wing was to the northwest of Megiddo, while his majesty was in their centre.
Thereupon his majesty prevailed over them at the head of his army. Then they saw his majesty prevailing over them, and they fled headlong [to] Megiddo with faces of fear. They abandoned their horses and their chariots of gold and silver, so that someone might draw them [up] into this town by hoisting on their garments ... Then their horses and their chariots of gold and silver were captured as an easy [prey. Ranks] of then were lying stretched out on their backs light fish in the bight of a net.
There followed a siege of about 7 months, after which the occupants surrendered and handed over hostages and tribute. During this time other towns to the north of Megiddo were taken. The list of booty from Megiddo includes:
340 living prisoners and 83 hands; 2041 horses, 191 foals, 6 stallions, and [...] colts; 1 chariot worked with gold, with a body of gold, belonging to that enemy, [a] fine chariot worked with gold belonging to the Prince of [Megiddo] ... and 892 chariots of his wretched army - total 924; ...

The Barkal Stela
This granite stela, found at Gebel Barkal, summarises the accomplishments of Thutmose III's life
He [Amon-Re] entrusted to me the foreign countries of Retenu on the first campaign, when they had come out to engage with my majesty, being millions and hundred-thousands of men, the individuals of every foreign country, waiting in their chariots - 330 princes, every one of them having his (own) army.
When they were in the Qina Valley ... good fortune befell me among them, when my majesty attacked them. Then they fled immediately or fell prostrate. When they entered into Megiddo, my majesty shut them up for a period up to 7 months ... Then that enemy and the princes who were with him sent out to my majesty, with all their children carrying abundant tribute: gold and silver, all their horses which were with them, their great chariots of gold and silver, as well as those which were plain, all their coats of mail, their bows, their arrows, and all their weapons of warfare.

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Judges texts

Judges 4
2 Jabin, a king of Canaan who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim ... 3 he had 900 iron chariots.
4 Deborah ...6 sent for Barak ... "lead the way to Mount Tabor.7 I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and troops to the Kishon River." ...
12 When they told Sisera that Barak ... had gone up to Mount Tabor,13 Sisera gathered together his 900 iron chariots and all the men with him, from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River.
14 So Barak went down Mount Tabor followed by 10,000 men. 15 At Barak's advance, Yahweh routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled on foot. 23 On that day God subdued Jabin, the Canaanite king, before the Israelites. 24And the hand of the Israelites grew stronger and stronger against Jabin, the Canaanite king, until they destroyed him.

Judges 5
19 Kings came, they fought,
the kings of Canaan fought
at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo,
but they carried off no silver, no plunder.
20 From the heavens the stars fought,
From their courses they fought against Sisera.
21 The River Kishon swept them away.

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Analysis and conclusions

Both Thutmose III's battle and Barak's took place in broadly the same location. Using the conventional chronology with an Exodus and Conquest at the start of the Hyksos era, the account of Barak is at broadly the same time as Thutmose III. There are certain similarities and differences between the accounts:

√ Similarities √ × Differences ×
The battle area was broadly the same, and Megiddo, Taanach, and the River Kishon figure prominently in both accounts Neither account recognises the existence of the other party

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Judges