El-Arish Revisited

Copyright © 1986 by Sean Mewhinney (df736@freenet.carleton.ca).

Originally published in Kronos XI:2 (Winter, 1986).

Were there ever duller legends
And a more senile phantasy!
-- Gaston Maspero

Late in the last century an unimposing shrine of Ptolemaic times was found at el-Arish (see map), overturned to serve as a cattle-trough. The inscription had suffered accordingly, but some 74 lines yet remained. In this text Velikovsky saw a parallel Egyptian account of the Exodus, confirming the plague of darkness and the miraculous parting of the Sea of Passage. He believed that useful historical information could be elicited from it, by means of which the pharaoh of the Exodus and the route taken by the fleeing Israelites might be identified.

Map of the Sinai showing location of El-Arish

Figure 1: Map of the Sinai showing the location of El-Arish.

My interest was aroused in the el-Arish inscription because, in many respects, it provides an excellent example, not only of how not to analyze a text, but how not to conduct a scholarly debate. This text has been the subject not only of fairly lengthy discussions by Velikovsky in two of his books, but also of attacks and counter-attacks by his critics and defenders. In spite of the fact that a number of important points have been raised about its interpretation, the two sides have been able to agree on virtually nothing concerning the nature and significance of this inscription, and because every discussion of the sources to date has been incomplete, the issues may still be clouded by a certain doubt

The text has been translated several times. 1 There are two full publications with text and translation. The first was made by F. L. Griffith in 1890 in English; the other by Georges Goyon in French in 1936. These are the sources used by Velikovsky. Some of the differences between these two versions have a bearing on Velikovsky's interpretation. He does not consistently follow either translation, but relies now more on one, now more on the other. Both are reproduced here for reference, side by side.

In the biblical account, following the plagues of blood, frogs, lice, flies, a disease of the cattle, boils, hail, and locusts, comes the plague of darkness:

And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. 2

Writing in Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky finds in the el-Arish inscription "the same description of the darkness as Exodus 10:22," and he quotes:

The land was in great affliction. Evil fell on this earth.... There was a great upheaval in the residence.... Nobody could leave the palace [there was no exit from the palace] during nine days, and during these nine days of upheaval there was such a tempest that neither men nor gods [the royal family] could see the faces of those beside them. 3

Velikovsky continues his comparison on the following page:

That both sources, the Hebrew and the Egyptian, refer to the same event can be established by another means also. Following the prolonged darkness and the hurricane, the pharaoh, according to the hieroglyphic text of the shrine, pursued the "evil-doers" to "the place called Pi-Khiroti." The same place is mentioned in Exodus 14:9: "But the Egyptian pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh ... and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-ha-khiroth." The inscription on the shrine also narrates the death of the pharaoh during this pursuit under exceptional circumstances: "Now when the Majesty fought with the evil-doers in this pool, the place of the whirlpool, the evil-doers prevailed not over his Majesty. His Majesty leapt into the place of the whirlpool." This is the same apotheosis described in Exodus 15:19: "For the horse of pharaoh went in with chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them." 4

On a later page in the same volume, Velikovsky returns to this subject again, quoting this line from Psalm 66: "Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads...", which he interprets as signifying the

tossing of the Egyptian host into the air by an avalanche of water... referred to also in the Egyptian source I quoted before: on the shrine found in el-Arish the story is told of a hurricane and of a prolonged darkness when nobody could leave the palace, and of the pursuit by the pharaoh Taoui-Thom of the fleeing slaves whom he followed to Pi-khiroti, which is the biblical Pi-ha-khiroth. "His Majesty leapt into the place of the whirlpool." Then it is said that he was "lifted by a great force." 5.

Velikovsky discussed the el-Arish inscription again in greater detail in Ages in Chaos, published two years afterward, and what he had to say about it there will be examined later on. The opening shot in the controversy over the interpretation of this text, so far as I am aware, was fired by Howard Margolis in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Margolis' review article was written in reaction to the September, 1963 issue of the American Behavioral Scientist, which eventually grew into a book, The Velikovsky Affair. In April, 1964, Margolis' article appeared under the title "Velikovsky Rides Again." The opinions in it are interesting and forcefully expressed, but this was no masterpiece of scholarship. Margolis was careless and overconfident. The article is sprinkled with misspellings. And not only did he reveal no sensitivity to the issue of intellectual freedom, Margolis used insulting language not calculated to establish communication with Velikovsky's supporters. He opened by stating that "Velikovsky's work, as clearly as anything can be in this world, is plain hokum." Here is the gist of his analysis:

Except in the most general way, Velikovsky offers no explanation of how it is possible that things could happen the way he suggests.... As a consequence, there are limited opportunities for a technical argument with Velikovsky.... As a result, Velikovsky must be met on his own chosen ground, with an examination of his use of the "accumulated records of human experience." ....as anyone who spends a few hours in a library checking Velikovsky's sources will discover, Worlds in Collision is, if nothing else, a matchless compendium of how you can prove anything if you are only careless enough. If you wish to find refutation of Velikovsky's arguments, you have merely to look up the sources he cites in his footnotes. 6

The only specifically named sources that Margolis looked up were the el-Arish inscription and Augustine's City of God, with the former getting most of his attention. Unfortunately, Margolis was not aware of Velikovsky's later comments in  Ages in Chaos, and he looked only at Griffith's translation. He went on to raise some very serious charges:

Now if you look up the actual inscription, you notice some curious things: for example, the two incidents of the storm and the leap into the whirlpool are not sequential, as Velikovsky presents them. They are described as taking place at widely different places at widely different times with no relation between them, and they involve not the same king, but two diferent kings, neither of them named Taoui-Thom. There is no mention of the pharoah [sic] pursuing the fleeing slaves to Pi-Khiroti, or any other place. In fact, there is no mention of fleeing slaves. But there is mention of a place called Pekharti, which Velikovsky alters into Pi-Khiroti, so making it more similar to the place actually mentioned in Exodus, Pi-ha-Hiroth, which Velikovsky has altered into Pi-ha-Khiroth, further enhancing his evidence. But Pekharti is not the name of the place near the whirlpool. It is the place where a king (not the king who leaps into the whirlpool) catches and rapes a lady. Furthermore, the king does not leap to his death when he jumps into the whirlpool; rather, to quote from the inscription, "his legs became those of a crocodile, his head that of a hawk with bull thorns [sic] upon it: he smote the evil doers in the Place of the Whirlpool." In fact, the whole inscription has nothing to do with historical events at all, but is about the mythological god-kings of Egypt, from whom the Pharoahs [sic] were to claim descent, and the king who leaps into the whirlpool after his enemies is none other than Ra, the great sun god of Egypt. 7

The reaction to this attack at the American Behavioral Scientist was sharp. ABS editor Alfred de Grazia wrote to the editor of the Bulletin, threatening to take legal action if he did not repudiate "the many distortions in Margolis's article." 8 Eric Larrabee was promised space in the Bulletin for a reply and then denied it. Velikovsky was invited to submit a rebuttal, but he "would not consent to enter into debate with Margolis on matters of Hebrew and Egyptian philology and palaeography." 9 Instead he submitted "Venus, a Youthful Planet," which was rejected. In its October issue, the American Behavioral Scientist counter-attacked. Under the heading "Notes on 'Scientific' Reporting," de Grazia reprinted Margolis' article in its entirety, followed by an itemized list of 54 alleged "tricks and errors" in it, keyed to the text. Here de Grazia denied every single accusation Margolis had made over Velikovsky's handling of the el-Arish inscription, point by point, and he accused Margolis of giving "a preposterous and irrelevant account of the...text."

My scorecard does not tally with de Grazia's. 10 But Margolis really came to grief over the rendering of one place name, a name which occurs only once in the text. Griffith rendered it "Pekharti". At issue is whether Velikovsky was guilty of misrepresenting the evidence to make his identification with the biblical Pi-ha-Khiroth look better. Here Margolis was made to look ridiculous and hopelessly out of his depth. Whether he was or was not ignorant "of the elementary French required to read" Goyon, as Ralph Juergens asserted, he did not do so, and in Goyon's version the place is "Pi-Kharoti". In Worlds in Collision Velikovsky did change the spelling to Pi-Khiroti (or Pi-khiroti) without explanation, but in Ages in Chaos, he tacitly corrected that to Pi-Kharoti, adding in a note that "The vowels in the translation of the Egyptian text are a conjecture of the translator: the name can also be read Pi-Khirot." 11 This may be perfectly true, though at least the translator's conjecture is presumably based on a knowledge of Coptic, while Velikovsky's was not. Yet this is a small point, and the name is similar enough to the Pi-ha-hiroth of Exodus 14:9 that they could well be the same place.

In Worlds in Collision Velikovsky spelled the biblical locality "Pi-ha-khiroth"; in Ages in Chaos as "Pi-ha-hiroth", with "Khiroth" beside it in brackets -- all very proper. "Ha", he explained, is merely the definite article in Hebrew. Margolis was lectured by de Grazia for not knowing

that het and khet are two different letters in Hebrew (as in Handel and Bach, they are pronounced differently); he argues as if the original text of the Old Testament was written in King James Version.... "Ha" is in Hebrew what "the" is in English; Margolis should have known this or, at least, read it in the footnotes of Worlds in Collision, or in Ages in Chaos. 12

As I mentioned, de Grazia denied all the rest of Margolis' allegations, too. His arguments will be examined later. But for the readers of The Velikovsky Affair, which appeared two years later, it was Ralph Juergens who raked Margolis over the coals again: "His vulgar and thoroughly irresponsible article...is filled with misrepresentation and misquotations, jeers and sneers, [and] bald statements of unfounded charges..." 13 But Juergens had more to say about events behind the scenes than about the contents of the el-Arish text or the points under dispute. 14 According to Juergens, "From the confused arguments presented by Margolis the only facts to emerge are that he does not understand that Egyptian was written without vowels and that he is not even aware of the use of 'ha' in Hebrew as the definite article." 15

In another essay in the same volume, Livio Stecchini called Margolis' piece "an outrageous caricature of historical documentation." According to Stecchini, Margolis "mis-quoted passage after passage, referred to statements that did not exist, submitted erroneous translations, and subverted the most elementary rules of linguistics." 16

Recently, in his Velikovsky's Sources, Bob Forrest took up the el-Arish text again and, quite independently, made many of the same points made earlier by Margolis: that there is no mention of fleeing Israelites, only of invaders, that the pharaoh is not drowned, he becomes "a tower of strength," that "Pekharti is the place where Seb seizes Tefnut by force, not, as V. Has it, the place where pharaoh catches up with the 'evil doers'," 17 and that

Whereas V. Has the hurricane and the darkness, the pursuit to Pekharti, and the events at the Place of the Whirlpool, as connected incidents in the life of the same pharaoh, Taoui Thom, the shrine itself has them as distinct incidents in the lives of three different pharaohs. 18

Forrest, like Margolis, consulted only Griffith's English translation. (Later, Forrest got an English translation of Goyon's French version, and considered rewriting his discussion, but abandoned the project.) Although aware that Velikovsky also dealt with this text in his Ages in Chaos, Forrest confined his comments to the treatment in Worlds in Collision. Is Griffith's translation so different from Goyon's that dependence upon it could account for these gross discrepancies? Did Velikovsky present any new argument in Ages in Chaos that would cast everything in a new light?

Velikovsky's introduction to the section "Pi-ha-Khiroth" in  Ages in Chaos has a rather defensive ring, as though he were responding to criticisms directed against his earlier discussion in Worlds in Collision, or perhaps anticipating a challenge. Velikovsky called Goyon's rendition "a new  attempt to translate the text," which, he said, "deserves...a new definitive translation." According to Velikovsky, "Not even the sequence of the text is conclusively established." 19 If this were so, he might feel justified in rearranging the narrative in a different order from that followed by the translators. But one cannot shift the various episodes around freely. We are not dealing with a pile of fragments. The text is heavily damaged, but what remains is in one piece.

The shrine itself was hollowed out from a single block of stone. It stands about four and a half feet high. (See fig. 2.) Originally it was fitted with doors, and probably contained a statue. The text is on the outside -- on the back and both sides. The section on the right-hand side is almost entirely destroyed, but the other two sections are well-preserved except at the very beginning and end of each line. I use "left" and "right" here in the ordinary sense: from a point of view facing the shrine. Griffith uses these terms with a reversed orientation: looking outward from the shrine.

Shrine at El-Arish

Figure 2: Shrine at El-Arish

In his introductory description of the shrine, Goyon follows the usage adopted here, and labels the sections: A (left side), B (right side), and C (back). But to the reader's confusion, during the course of his translation he reverts to the same terminology as Griffith, so that on page 29 section B is labelled "left side". Nevertheless, Griffith and Goyon follow the same order, no matter how the sections are labelled.

Since the panel on the right-hand side is almost entirely destroyed, it is merely a question of whether panel A precedes panel C, or vice versa. That the first alternative is correct seems obvious enough just from reading the first lines of each panel. But the correct sequence can be established in another manner, which will be mentioned in a moment.

This "strange text," Velikovsky wrote,

has been regarded as rather mythological, though kings, residences, and geographical places are named and an invasion of foreigners described. The names of deities appearing in the text are royal cognomens.... In this inscription the name of King Thom is written in a royal cartouche, a fact that points to the historical background of the text. 20

This is a rather naive argument. The Egyptians pictured their gods as being ruled by kings, just as they themselves were. In primeval times, they believed, Egypt had been ruled by gods, living on earth among men. These facts are well known.

It is inconsistent for Velikovsky to take gods here to be historical personages, when ordinarily, he takes them to be planets. Osiris, for example, is supposed to represent Saturn, while Isis, Horus, and Amon are names for Jupiter, according to Velikovsky. 21 But who are the deities whose names appear in the text?

We have Shu, the son of Ra or Atum, Tefnut, and Geb, son of Shu. In the theological system of Heliopolis, Atum or Ra was the primeval creator. His offspring, Shu and Tefnut, were the first couple. From their union arose Geb and Nut, or earth and sky (who in turn produced Osiris, Isis, Set, Nephthys, and Horus). Atum-Ra, Shu, and Geb succeed one another as rulers of creation. The same order of succession is followed in our text, which confirms that panel C follows panel A.

Where does Velikovsky's "King Thom" fit in? In Worlds in Collision (p. 88) he was "Taoui-Thom"; in Ages in Chaos, "Thom" or "Thoum". None of these spellings appears in either translation. Griffith's "Tum" is Goyon's "Toum' (pronounced the same). The insertion of an "h" accentuates its similarity to the "Pithom" of Exodus. And Taoui? "In Ages in Chaos," wrote Velikovsky, "evidence will be presented to identify the pharaoh of the Exodus as Taoui Thom, the last king of the Middle Kingdom. He is Tau Timaeus (Tutimaeus) of Manetho... The name of his queen is given in the naos of el-Arish as Tephnut." 22

Actually, "Taoui" is not part of this name at all: "Hy-taoui" is the name of the royal palace of the XIIth Dynasty, south of Memphis, as Goyon explains in a note. Velikovsky joined these two unrelated elements with a hyphen and created another form, "Tau Timaeus," intermediate between this combination and Manetho's "Tutimaeus". Velikovsky must have had another look at the text before releasing Ages in Chaos, as in that book we find only the forms "Thom" and "Thoum".

But Tum is merely a variant form of Atum: Tum, Atum, and Ra are used interchangeably in the text. At the very beginning of his translation, Goyon notes that "in the continuation of the narrative, the first king of the universe is sometimes Ra, sometimes Toum." Cartouche or no cartouche, none of these names is any more historical than the others.

Another of Velikovsky's conjectures was more fortunate, however. The Tum of the el-Arish text is the same name found in the inscription which helped Edouard Naville to identify the biblical Pithom with Tell el Maskhuta, in the Wadi Tumilat. 23 Only it is the name of a god, not a man. Velikovsky wrote that in the inscription a pharaoh suffers "the same apotheosis" as in the book of Exodus. The word "apotheosis" was artfully chosen. But if this means anything at all, it must mean that he met his death by drowning in the Sea of Passage. According to Velikovsky, the text "narrates the death of the pharaoh during this pursuit [of the Israelites] under exceptional circumstances," and he quotes a passage from Griffith's translation. Here is that passage, with all omissions restored (C, lines 21-23):

Now when the majesty of Ra Harmachis [fought] with the evil-doers in this pool, the Place of the Whirlpool, the evil-doers prevailed not over his majesty. His majesty leapt into the so-called Place of the Whirlpool?

(Velikovsky's quotation stops at this point.)

His legs became those of a crocodile, his head that of a hawk with bull's horns upon it: he smote the evil-doers in the Place of the Whirlpool? In the Place of the Sycamore.

Velikovsky was right about the "exceptional circumstances," but the text has nothing to say about the death of this pharaoh. Indeed, his magical transformation seems to have made him invincible.

Griffith's "Place of the Whirlpool" may have suggested to Velikovsky "the death of the pharaoh in the whirling waters," 24 but Griffith himself was unsure of his reading: It is followed by a question mark, and he noted, "The reading of this name is unknown." The place in question is Goyon's Yat-Desoui, not Pi-Kharoti. It is written <hieroglyphs)" (With minor variations). Goyon translates it as "the hill of the two knives." This pool seems to have been an artificial construction in the temple compound of Yat-Nebes ("the Place of the Sycamore"). Czerný describes a similar pool found at Hermopolis:

In Hermopolitan theology, Hermopolis itself was the place where the primordial hill first appeared and thus the first step towards the creation of the universe was made. It formed there a sacred district, rectangular and surrounded by a high wall within which was the replica of the scene of creation: a lake called "Lake of the Two Knives" representing Nun, and in it the "Island of Flames" with a hill. 25

What the significance was of the two knives, I do not know. At any rate, whatever the correct reading of this name may be, Velikovsky would need a waterspout, not a whirlpool, to toss "the Egyptian host into the air."

No such detail is mentioned in the book of Exodus, but that is what Velikovsky reads into this line from Psalm 66: "Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads." It is true that verse 6 clearly alludes to the Sea of Passage: "He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot." But a number of different images are presented to the mind's eye in this psalm, and taken in its context (verses 10-12), this phrase suggests something quite different:

For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

Rather than horses and chariots tossed into the air, the men riding over the heads of the Israelites suggests to me the image of people being trampled by horses. This is one of the torments by which the Israelites were tried, like the net of verse 11. Velikovsky takes the walls of water suspended on either side of the fleeing Israelites quite literally. According to him they were suspended by some kind of electromagnetic attraction of the planet Venus, rushing together when a tremendous electrical discharge passed between Venus and the earth. When these two walls of water met, "the force of the impact threw the pharaoh's army into the air." 26 It is hard to see what kind of physical force could have separated the waters into two walls lining the Israelites' path of retreat. 27

In any case, the text does not say that a pharaoh was "lifted by a great force" at Pi-Kharoti. Margolis wrote that "It is the place where a king (not the king who leaps into the whirlpool) catches and rapes a lady." He was ridiculed for this by de Grazia, who questioned his mental health:

The notion that the king raped a lady may be appealing to the subconscious of Mr. Margolis, but is not mentioned in either translation of the text. Anyhow the "lady" talked about in the text was the King's mother. (Of course, nothing is impossible.) 28

Is there no rape in either translation? Here is Griffith's version (C 3-4, 6):

Then Seb saw [Tefnut] and loved her greatly, his heart desired her: he wandered over? The earth in search of? Her in great affliction.... Then the majesty of [Seb met her] he found her in this? Place which is called Pekharti?: he seized her by force.

It may be that when Geb seized Tefnut by force, his intentions were entirely honorable, but there is little doubt of what Griffith thought he had in mind. (Budge captioned this section "Gebb Forces his Mother Tefent"; and Roeder, "Geb Rapes [vergewaltigt] his Mother Tefênet.") Instead of inquiring into the state of Margolis' subconscious, should we not ask why de Grazia denied the plain sense of Griffith's words? Goyon's rendering of lines 3-4 is rather different:

Behold, Geb saw his mother who loved him very much. His (Geb's) heart was neglectful of her. The land......for her in great affliction.

But line 6 is essentially the same:

Then the Majesty of ..... Behold, he found her in this place called Pi-Kharoti and he carried her off by main force.

The last part of this in French is "voici qu'il l'enleva de vive force." Here is where Velikovsky got the idea that a pharaoh was "lifted by great force." Enlever has several different meanings -- to carry off, abduct, lift, or translate to heaven. My dictionary translates l'enlèvement des Sabines as "the rape of the Sabine women." De vive force is a stock phrase meaning "by main (or brute) force." The clause is in the active voice. That l'enleva is followed by de vive force makes it perfectly plain that an act of personal violence is signified. In Goyon's version, Geb (if it is he) is certainly grim about it. Perhaps he only removes Tefnut to allow his own succession to take place. Juergens' crack as to Margolis' "ignorance even of...elementary French" seems ironically misplaced. But it is not merely a question of linguistic competence.

The end of line 4 says that "The Majesty of Shu flew to heaven with his companions. Tefnut remained at the place of his coronation at Memphis." Now one can see why "apotheosis" was such an artfully chosen word. Ra or Tum is the "pharaoh" who leaps into the pool before battling the invaders from the east, Geb is the "pharaoh" who seizes Tefnut by force, and Shu, who also participates in the battle, is the "pharaoh" who flies up to heaven. But he certainly doesn't drown or die in the battle, since at the beginning of the last panel, C, the text tells us that Shu took "for himself the whole earth. No one resisted before his face. No other god was in the mouth of his troops." Shu's flying up to the sky also seems to have inspired Velikovsky's mistranslation of l'enleva de vive force.

Right after Geb grabs Tefnut, there follow nine days of storm and darkness, during which no one can leave the palace. Then Geb appears "crowned on the throne of his father Shu." Remember that according to Velikovsky, "Following the prolonged darkness and the hurricane, the pharaoh... pursued the 'evil-doers' to 'the place called Pi-Khiroti'." The actors, scenes, and sequence of events are all mixed up. Velikovsky added more to this in Ages in Chaos:

In the midst of the savageries of nature, "his majesty of Shou" assembled his hosts and ordered them to follow him to regions where, he promised, they would again see light: "We shall again see our father Ra-Harakhti in the luminous region of Bakhit." 29

Notice that the text does not say they would again see light, it says they would see "our father Ra-Harakhti in the luminous region of Bakhit." As Griffith explains in a note, Bakhit was the mythical mountain on the eastern horizon where the sun rose. And in fact, Yat-Nebes, Shu's destination, was on the eastern frontier of Egypt. It makes sense to say that they would see Ra there if he is recognized as a solar deity. This passage, of course, occurs at the very beginning of the story, long before the storm and darkness. Velikovsky continues:

The inscription... relates that after a time a son of the pharaoh, "his majesty Geb," set out himself. "He asks information....' The eyewitnesses from neighboring abodes "give him the information about all that happened to Ra in Yat Nebes, the combats of the king Thoum." All who accompanied the prince were killed by a terrible blast, and the prince, "his majesty Geb," sustained burns before he returned from his expedition to seek his father, who had perished. 30

Geb was Ra's grandson, not his son. Velikovsky's "eyewitnesses from neighboring abodes" are the gods who accompany Geb everywhere. Velikovsky tells us that at the time of the Exodus, petroleum fires rained down from a comet. 31 Was this the "terrible blast" that burned Geb? Not according to the text: When Geb reaches out to take the royal uraeus from its coffer, the cobra on it magically comes to life and spits venom, inflicting the "burns".

Without any mention of the children of Israel, the parallel to Exodus rests on an extremely slender basis. The text does speak of a people called the children of Apopis who invaded Egypt from the east, sacking all the towns that lay in their path. In Goyon's opinion, the story of their attack was inspired preeminently by memories of the Hyksos invasion. But Velikovsky pressed them into service as fleeing Israelites. When Ra goes forth to meet the invaders in battle, this becomes "the pursuit by the pharaoh Taoui-Thom of the fleeing slaves."

But in Velikovsky's reconstruction of ancient history, the Exodus coincided with the invasion of the Hyksos. So ironically, in view of Velikovsky's assertion that anti-semitism began with a confusion between these two peoples, the children of Apopis do double duty as both fleeing Israelites and invading Hyksos.

Stitching together excerpts from lines 10 and 26 of panel C, although years are said to have passed during the interim, Velikovsky has Geb making "an attempt, entirely unsuccessful, to communicate with 'the foreigners and the Amu,' that they leave the country." 32 This is supposed to refer to a time when the Hyksos controlled lower Egypt. Actually, though, the text says that Geb sent messengers to bring the foreigners to him from their own land.

Earlier, I agreed that "the name [Pi-Kharoti] is similar enough to the Pi-ha-hiroth of Exodus 14:9 that they could well be the same place." If Pi-ha-hiroth was a real place in Egypt, there is no reason it should not be mentioned somewhere in an Egyptian text. But I cannot agree that

The question... as to where the Sea of Passage was, can be solved with the help of the inscription on the shrine. On the basis of certain indications in the text, Pi-ha-Khiroth, where the events took place, was on the way from Memphis to Pisoped. 33

For unfortunately, the event which took place at Pi-Kharoti -- Geb's abduction of Tefnut -- has nothing to do with the story of the Exodus. Velikovsky hedged somewhat by stating that "the topographical distribution of sea and land did not remain the same as before the cataclysm of the days of the Exodus," 34 but he conjectured that the Sea of Passage was Lake Serbon (actually a lagoon on the Mediterranean coast, east of the Delta). There, he wrote, "on the bottom of the sea where the spellbound Israelites saw the upheaval of nature" lies the comet, or dragon, Typhon. "In the same pit of the sea lie the pharaoh and his hosts." 35 But if Pi-ha-hiroth was on the way from Memphis to Pi-Soped, it was nowhere near Lake Serbon, since Pi-Soped has been identified with Saft-el-Hennah in the Wadi Tumilat from inscriptions found there. 36


In the preface to Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky described the method he would use:

The task I had to accomplish was not unlike that faced by a psychoanalyst who, out of disassociated memories and dreams, reconstructs a forgotten traumatic experience in the early life of an individual. In an analytical experiment on mankind, historical inscriptions and legendary motifs often play the same role as recollections (infantile memories) and dreams in the analysis of a personality. 37

Velikovsky claimed that ancient traditions had been watered down in the retelling to repress disturbing memories of terrible catastrophes. Or in his words, "Man disfigures the past to purge it of anything that violates his need to have harmony and stability." 38 He mused: "If we could help this witness on the stand -- the annals of ancient Egypt -- to remember some vast catastrophe, we might perchance obtain a precious clue to an obscure problem..." 39 -- namely the date of the Exodus. We have seen how this method was applied in one example. The witness needed a great deal of help.

Velikovsky prided himself on his memory, boasting that "Sometimes I quote from books that I read as a child and have not seen for seventy years." 40 Yet his memory played strange tricks. All too often, the "disassociated memories" are Velikovsky's own.

His interpretations of the el-Arish inscription are so obviously, blatantly wrong in so many particulars that it is hard to see why there should have been any controversy over the facts of the case, excepting only minor details. We find names altered and combined, words mistranslated, characters confused with one another or split into two, and events set in the wrong time and place. To permit Velikovsky to make the associations he does, one would have to take a sledgehammer to the shrine, smash it to bits, and reassemble the pieces in a different order. Mistakes such as these are characteristic of Velikovsky's writings, so much so that they might be called "Velikovskian slips." Most of the sources used by Velikovsky are not quoted so extensively. Commonly, he juxtaposes snippets from sources of different periods and cultures, so that for the most part we are dealing with isolated elements. The connections that Velikovsky draws, while generally not impossible, continually stretch the limits of plausibility. But in this case the snippets are taken from the same text, and it is easy to see how the constructions imposed upon them violate the order of the text.

Rejecting Velikovsky's treatment of the el-Arish text will not bring all his theses crashing down. But the method -- a sort of "free association" in which a whole complex of ideas is summoned up by an isolated word or phrase -- must be rejected as well.

More deplorable even than this example of textual analysis was the manner in which criticisms of it were received. In an honest debate, when one's opponent scores a point, you concede it, assess the damage to your case, and go on to discuss other points. A dishonest debater denies any error or misrepresentation and draws attention away from the issue by making countercharges.

Margolis accused Velikovsky of taking unconnected incidents out of their proper sequence in the text and combining them. In his "Notes", de Grazia labelled this "False. It is fairly certain on its face that the document tells one story and the events are described as parts of the story: tempest, darkness, Pi-Kharoti, battles of King Tum, the apotheosis in the surges of the whirlpool."

Margolis charged that "the two incidents of the storm and the leap into the whirlpool.... Involve two different kings, neither of them named Taoui-Thom." To this de Grazia gave a very cagy answer: "Thom = Toum = Tum."

We saw that all the personages named in the el-Arish text are gods and goddesses. Margolis charged that "the whole inscription has nothing to do with historical events at all, but is about the mythological god-kings of Egypt." De Grazia had an ingenious answer to this:

The text deals with some local events that contributed to the fame of the sanctuary.... A struggle against 'rebels' ... accompanied by terrific physical disturbances.... So catastrophic that the story... took on the style and characters of the standard Egyptian myth of creation. For this reason the events are ascribed to god-kings of the Egyptian myth of creation.

But if the style and characters are indistinguishable from the standard Egyptian myth of creation, what historical elements are left by which we may know that this is a work of history and not mythology? This is pure rationalization.

It was also a common practice of ancient Oriental historical annals to change defeats into something else. Here too the text seems to explain away a defeat: "When the Majesty of Ra was fighting the enemies in this water of Lake Yat Desui, the rebels did not reveal a military power [?!] against His Majesty. When His Majesty made contact with Lake Yat-Desui, he took the form of a crocodile..." 41

In other words, when the Egyptian redactor says that Ra turned into a hawk-headed crocodile and so forth, he means to express that pharaoh was drowned in a tidal wave. De Grazia accepts this as the "apotheosis" of Exodus 14.

De Grazia thought so well of his 54 notes that he later reprinted them in a collection of essays. 42 Many people, among them myself, were introduced to the ideas of Immanuel Velikovsky by the little book called The Velikovsky Affair. All that one can gather there from the essays of Juergens and Stecchini about Margolis' discussion is that he was a hopeless incompetent who made "ad hominem" attacks on Velikovsky. According to the proponents of the concept of "collective amnesia," Velikovsky's works aroused a storm of resistance and denial because he uncovered secret truths which are too traumatic for the critics to face. In Mankind in Amnesia, Velikovsky dismissed Margolis as an "ignoramus" and critiques such as his as "an emotional reaction against that which may bring awareness of the cause of mental disturbance." 43

Granted that among Velikovsky's critics have been many who misrepresented facts and used irrational arguments. To expose them is a public service and a positive contribution to the discussion of the issues. But how do Velikovsky's defenders react when the criticisms are valid? One doesn't need any scholarly apparatus to see in a common-sense way that something is fundamentally wrong with Velikovsky's treatment of the text. In this case the resistance and the irrational denials came from the Velikovskian camp. What are the truths that they were unable to face? In Mankind in Amnesia, Velikovsky also gave us a very concise definition of a condition called "psychological scotoma": It "is an inability to observe certain phenomena or to recognize certain situations though they are obvious to other persons. A man may not see an evident fact or not recognize an obvious situation, though his intelligence and rationality should produce an immediate realization and proper reaction." 44 This puts me very much in mind of the man who could see the mote in his brother's eye, but could not cast out the beam from his own eye.

In this case the proper reaction would be to confess that Velikovsky badly garbled the el-Arish text, that it will not serve as a parallel to Exodus, and to begin a major task of reassessment.


1. Francis L. Griffith, The Antiquities of Tell el Yahûdîyeh and Miscellaneous Work in Lower Egypt during the Years 1887-1888, (London, Egypt Exploration Fund, 1890), pp. 70-74; Günther Roeder, Urkunden zur Religion des Alten Ägypten, (Jena, Diederichs, 1915), pp. 150-156; E. A. Wallis Budge, From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt, (N.Y., Blom, 1972 reprint of 1934 London ed.), pp. 438-444; Georges Goyon, "Les Travaux de Chou et les tribulations de Geb d'après le naos 2248 d'Ismaïlia," Kêmi, Vol. 6, (1936), pp. 1-42. There is also a partial translation in Gaston Maspero, History of Egypt, tr. M. L. McClure, (London, Grolier Soc., n. d.), Vol. I, pp. 242-245.

2. Exodus 10:21-23.

3. Worlds in Collision, p. 59.

4. Ibid., p. 60.

5. Ibid., pp. 87-88.

6. Howard Margolis, "Velikovsky Rides Again," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, (April, 1964), p. 39.

7. Ibid., pp. 39-40.

8. Ralph E. Juergens, "Aftermath to Exposure," in Alfred de Grazia, ed., The Velikovsky Affair, (Hyde Park, N.Y., University Books, 1966), p. 65.

9. Ibid., loc. cit.

10. Nor did Henry Bauer's. See his   Beyond Velikovsky, (Univ. Of Illinois Press, 1984), pp. 241-242.

11. Ages in Chaos, p. 44, note 15.

12. Alfred de Grazia, "Notes on 'Scientific' Reporting," The American Behavioral Scientist, (October, 1964), pp. 15-16.

13. Juergens, op. cit., pp. 62-63.

14. De Grazia goes over the matter in more detail in his Cosmic Heretics, reproducing some of the letters exchanged. (Princeton, Metron, 1984). See especially pp. 256 ff.

15. Ibid., p. 63.

16. Livio C. Stecchini, "Astronomical Theory and Historical Data," in The Velikovsky Affair, pp. 135-136.

17. Bob Forrest, Velikovsky's Sources, Part 3 (privately published, 53 Bannerman Ave., Prestwich, Manchester, 1982), 209.

18. Ibid., p. 210.

19. Ages in Chaos, pp. 39-40.

20. Ibid., loc. cit. "Regarded as rather mythological" is an amazing understatement. Gaston Maspero was moved to say, "Were there ever duller legends and a more senile phantasy!" Op. cit., p. 245.

21. Immanuel Velikovsky, "On Saturn and the Flood," Kronos V:1 (Fall, 1979), pp. 4 and 6; idem., "My Challenge to Conventional Views in Science," Kronos III:2 (Winter, 1977), p. 6.

22. Worlds in Collision, p. 82, note 3.

23. Edouard Naville, The Store-city of Pithom and the Route of the Exodus, (London, Egypt Exploration Fund, 1903), plate 7a and passim.

24. Ages In Chaos, p. 43.

25. Jaroslav Czerný, Ancient Egyptian Religion, (London, Hutchinson, 1952), p. 44. A lake with a similar name is mentioned in the Book of the Dead.

26. Worlds in Collision, p. 87.

27. On another page, Velikovsky says that the Mediterranean "broke into the Red Sea in an enormous tidal wave." Ibid., p. 73.

28. De Grazia, op. cit., p. 16.

29. Ages in Chaos, p. 42.

30. Ibid., p. 44.

31. In the section "Naphtha" in Worlds in Collision, pp. 53-58.

32. Ages in Chaos, p. 44.

33. Ibid., p. 45.

34. Worlds in Collision, p. 69.

35. Ibid., p. 82. Since according to Velikovsky, Venus was the comet Typhon, this should not be taken too literally. Perhaps he thought that a piece from the planet broke off and landed there. The idea that the Israelites followed the narrow strip of land between Lake Serbon and the Mediterranean in their flight from Egypt was put forward in the last century by Mathias Schleiden and by Heinrich Brugsch, and is mentioned in Naville's Store-city, passim.

36. Edouard Naville, The Shrine of Saft el Henneh and the Land of Goshen, (London, Egypt Exploration Fund, 1888), passim.

37. Worlds in Collision, p. viii.

38. Mankind in Amnesia, p. 46. Cf. Worlds in Collision, pp. 298 ff.

39. Ages in Chaos, p. 22.

40. In his closing address at the 1974 University of Lethbridge Symposium. Earl R. Milton, ed., Recollections of a Fallen Sky, (Lethbridge, Alberta, Unileth Press, 1978), p. 153.

41. Goyon has, "Les rebelles ne montrèrent aucune vaillance contre Sa Majesté," that is, they did not show any valor against His Majesty. "Reveal a military power" was a blind guess. "Elementary French," indeed!

42. The Burning of Troy, (Metron, 1984).

43. Mankind in Amnesia, p. 88.

44. Ibid., p. 10.

Translators' Notes

(I have included only such of the translators' notes as seem relevant.)

F. L. Griffith Georges Goyon

"The majesty of Shu was as a good? King of heaven, earth, and the underworld, of water and winds, of the primeval waters, of hills and of the sea, [giving] all regulations upon the throne of his father Ra Harmakhis as triumphant. Now behold the majesty of Shu was in [his] palace in Memphis: his majesty said to the great cycle of nine gods which followed him, "Come now, let us proceed to the Eastern 1 [horizon], to my palace in At Nebes, 2 and see our father Ra-Harmakhis in the Eastern horizon: let us pass? [thither] by the canal (??), let us employ ourselves? in ordering our palace at At Nebes." Then they did according to all that his majesty decreed:

Gouvernement de Chou

[Or donc] la Majesté de Chou était le parfait roi du ciel, de la terre, de l'enfer, de l'eau, des vents, des eaux primordiales, des montagnes et de la mer. .2. [faisant] toutes les lois sur le trône de son père Râ-Harakhté 1 devenu juste de voix. Or donc la Majesté de Chou se trouvait en sa résidence de ...3.... à Memphis. Sa Majesté parla auprès de la grande Ennéade des dieux qui était à sa suite: "Allons marchons vers ....4.... de l'est, vers ma résidence de Yat-Nebes. 2 Nous verrons notre père Râ Harakhté dans la région lumineuse de Bakhit, 3 nous circulerons dans le fleuve ...5.... et nous passerons du bon temps à notre cour de Yat-Nebes." Alors ils agirent selon tout ce que Sa Majesté avait ordonné.

The majesty of Shu [proceeded] to his palace in the House of the Aart. Then were built all the apartments? Of Hat Nebes 3 [like] heaven upon its four supports: then was built the house of Sepd anew for(?) the majesty of Shu, it is the temple that he loves; [account of] all its arrangements as to the points to which it faced, whether towards the south the north the west or the east: the temples were erected [in] all the [pla]ces where they had been: eight chapels were made on the left, eight on the right, eight in the court? of the Eastern Horizon: This [temple belongeth] to Shu in his name of Sepd lord of the East: the face of each of these chapels was towards its fellow: [they were] the apartments? [of the] great cycle of nine gods, and of the lesser cycle, of the gods who attend on Ra and the gods who attend on Shu: moreover there were built enclosures for Shu in [Hat Nebe]s? surrounding his temple: (now) the face of this temple was towards the East, the sun's rising; and those (deities) who dwelt [in the places of] the temples of each nome dwelt in it, in case? the nome should fall into confusion, let one explain? this arrangement: [the enclosure of Hat?] Nebes reached to Hat Nebes on its north, and its face was towards the South: the temples were on [its] sides and their faces [were] towards the East: a pool was on its South side, a pool on its North side: a great storehouse? of [....] was in front of this temple reaching to Per Art. Now Per Art was of the time of? Ra: the majesty of Shu placed his staff upon the At [... and it became] a sacred locality in At Nebes, its southern face was towards the Per Art: gods, goddesses, men, and all flesh (animal creation?) had not entered it [to] see the secrets in the horizon: it (the privilege?) was granted in the time of Ra, who made a great wall standing around it of [....] cubits on its four sides, 20 cubits high, 15 cubits thick. As to the sacred lake in At Nebes it was [.....] cubits [....] of At Nebes: Shu himself digged it in the time of the majesty of Ra: its arrangement was not seen nor sealed? to [gods--goddesses?] men and flesh: A circuit was set up on every side of it, of 190 cubits (in length), 110? cubits in its breadth [.... cubits] in height, 15 cubits in thickness: separating all temples from? it by mysterious and secret work? in [....] Then came the majesty of Shu and raised up At Nebes even as the sky is fixed, and all its temples even as the horizon. Now it happened that [he] departed [to be enthroned] as king of the gods in At Nebes, at the time that he ascended? the throne of Harmakhis.

Les Constructions de Chou à Hat-Nebes.

6. Quand la Majesté de Chou fut allée à sa résidence à Pi-Yarit, 4 voici que l'on construisit toute la crypte de Hat-Nebes 5 [solide] .7. comme le ciel sur ses quatre supports. Voici que l'on construisit à nouveau Pi-Soped pour la Majesté de Chou. C'est là son temple qu'il aime plus que tout. .8. Tous ses plans furent faits d'après ce qui était en face au sud, au nord, à l'ouest, à l'est. On éleva le temple .... .9. toute place qui existait. On fit huit pavillons sur la droite, huit sur la gauche, huit dans le parvis de "Akhit jabtit." Ce [magasin] .10. appartint pour la Majesté de Chou en son nom de Soped, seigneur de l'est. La face de ces pavillons était tournée vers son sembable qui était parmi eux. Les cryptes [appartenaient]? à la .11. grande Ennéade des Dieux, à la petite Ennéade des Dieux, aux dieux de la suite de Ra et aux dieux de la suite .12. de Chou. Avec cela l'on construisit les sanctuaires de [Hat-Nebes]? aux environs de son temple. Ce temple faisant face à l'Est [où] brille le soleil. Etaient les habitants .... .13..... temples où chaque nome était représenté. Pour le cas où les nomes venaient à être troublé, on montrait le plan .14. de Hat-Nebes, pour Hat-Nebes sur son nord. Sa face était tournée vers le sud. Les temples des dieux qui étaient dans le territoire [de Hat-Nebes]? .15. leur face était vers l'est. Un bassin existait au nord. Une grande allée de ... .16. en face de ce temple jusqu'à Pi-Yarit.

Quant à Pi-Yarit, c'est le visage de Râ. Ayant apporté la canne de la Majesté de Chou à Yat-[Nebes]? .17.. [qui devint]? la butte sacrée dans Yat-Nebes, dont la face sud était la face de Pi-Yarit. Ni les dieux, ni les déesses, ni les hommes, ni les animaux n'y entrent pour voir .18. ses mystères. C'est son palais datant du temps de Râ qui a fait les grandes murailles dressées dans son territoire ayant [x] coudées .19. sur ses quatre côtés, 20 coudées de haut et 15 coudées de large.

Quant au lac sacré dans Yat-Nebes, il était ...... .20...... de Yat-Nebes. C'est Chou lui-même qui l'a creuse au temps de la Majesté de Ra. Ni les dieux .21. ni les déesses, ni les hommes, ni les animaux, ne l'avaient vu, ni n'avaient scellé ses plans. Une enceinte s'élevait dans tout son territoire mesurant 190 coudées [de long] et 110 coudées de large; les murs: 20 coudées .22. de hauteur et 15 coudées d'épaisseur. 6 On y fit toutes les fonctions des temples. Ce sont les travaux secrets dans..... .23.

Ainsi la Majesté de Chou éleva Yat-Nebes solide comme le ciel et tous ses châteaux comme l'akhit. Il arriva ... .24..... comme roi des Dieux dans Yat-Nebes. Il avait parachevé le trône d'Harakhté.

Then the children of the dragon Apep, the evil-doers [of Usheru?] and of the red country 4 came upon the road of At Nebes, invading Egypt at nightfall........ now these evil-doers came from the Eastern hills [upon] all the roads of At Nebes:

Attaque des enfants d'Apopis.

Mais alors les enfants d'Apopi, les rebelles qui sont dans .25. Oucheron 7 et dans le désert, ils vinrent par les chemins de Yat-Nebes, fondant sur l'Egypte à la tombée de la nuit ... .26.... sur l'Egypte. Ils ne conquéraient que pour détruire. Tout lieu qu'ils saccageaient sur l'eau, sur terre, ils devenaient [abandonnés]? ... .27...... par tous les habitants à cause de cela. Ces rebelles, donc, ils venaient des montagnes de l'Orient sur .28. tous les chemins de Yat-Nebes. 8

then the majesty of Shu, the gods who attend Ra and the gods who attend Shu caused [to be fortified?] all the places around At Nebes: these places were since the time of Ra when the majesty of Ra was in At Nebes...... At Nebes they are the mighty walls of Egypt repelling the evil-doers when Apep penetrates? to Egypt: the gods who are in them are the defences of this land, they are the supports of heaven that watch? the ... of the eternal horizon: they are the throne? of Shu in Hat Nebes: those who dwell in the places in At Nebes they raise the land ....... Per Sepd: they are the spirits of the East to ... Ra Harmachis they elevate Ra to heaven in the morning upon? the pillars of heaven: they are the possessors of the Eastern hills: they are the rescuers of Ra from Apep. Account of all the [places] around Hat Nebes together with the gods who are in them: the Place of the Whirlpool? 5 in At Nebes is a pool upon the East of Hat Nebes in which the majesty of Ra proceeded." (Another pool is mentioned on the East of Hat Nebes.)

Mesures de défense.

Voici que la Majesté de Chou plaça les dieux qui suivent Râ et les dieux qui suivent [Chou] .29. sur toutes les buttes qui se trouvent dans le territoire de Yat-Nebes. C'étaient les buttes du temps de Râ, du temps où la Majesté de Râ était dans Yat-Nebes . .30... pour Yat-Nebes. Ce sont les grands murailles de l'Egypte qui repoussent les rebelles lorsqu'Apopis entreprend l'attaque? .31. de l'Egypte. Les dieux de ces buttes sont le rampart de cette terre, ils sont les quatre piliers du ciel, la garde? .... .32.... de l'horizon éternel, le trône de Chou dans Hat-Nebes. Ceux qui résident dans les buttes de Yat-Nebes, ils sont les frappeurs de la terre ..... .33..... magasin. Ils sont les Ames de l'Orient à ..... de Râ Harakhté. Ils sont les soutiens de Râ au ciel et dans l'autre monde .... .34.... du ciel. Ils sont les maîtres des montagnes de l'Est, défendant Râ contre Apopis, connaisant toutes les .... .35.... dans le territoire de Hat-Nebes, avec les dieux qui les habitent Yat-Desoui, 9 dans Yat-Nebes c'est le lac .... .36.... est de Hat-Nebes, dont sortit la Majesté de Râ, pour se battre avec les compagnons d'Apopis .... .37..... dans Yat-Nebes, l'est de Hat-Nebes, c'est le lac ..... dans Hat-Nebes.

Pl. xxvi. 1, 2. The fragments of the inscription show that the list of localities was continued on the left side.

Côté gauche B.

Le texte de 37 lignes qui couvrait le côté gauche du naos est presque entièrement détruit, mais ce qui reste suffit pour montrer que ce texte faisait suite directement au texte A et que l'énumération commencée à la fin de A se poursuivait dans les premières lignes de B.

Pl. xxv. (back). "Now it came to pass that the majesty of Shu obtained the whole land, none could stand before him, no other god was in the mouth of his soldiers? [but sickness came upon him?] ..... confusion seized the eyes? he made his chapel .... evil fell upon this land, a great disturbance in the palace, disturbed ...... those who were of the household of Shu.

Texte C. Dos.
Révolution au palais de Chou.

............. avec Chou? prenant pour lui la terre entière. On ne résistait pas devant sa face. Aucun autre dieu n'était dans la bouche de ses troupes ..... .2.... ses ..... furieux de face au regard impérieux. Il avait fait son pavillon avec le concours des méchants. Le mal tomba sur cette terre. Il y eût une grande révolution dans la résidence. Les rebelles .3. portèrent le dèsordre aux habitants de la demeure de Chou.

Then Seb saw [Tefnut] and loved her greatly, his heart desired her: he wandered over? the earth in search of? her in great affliction. 6

Intervention de Geb.

Voici que Geb vit sa mère qui l'aimait beaucoup. Son coeur (de Geb) était négligent après elle. La terre ... .4... pour elle en grande affliction.

The majesty of Shu departed to heaven with his attendants: Tefnut was in the place of her enthronement in Memphis. Now she proceeded to the royal house of Shu in the time of mid-day: the great cycle of nine gods were upon the path of eternity, the road of his father Ra Harmakhis. Then the majesty of [Seb met her] he found her in this? place which is called Pekharti?: he seized her by force: [the palace was in great [affliction]. Shu had departed to heaven: there was no exit from the palace by the space of nine days. Now these [nine] days were in violence and tempest: none whether god or man could see the face of his fellow.

Départ de Chou.

La Majesté de Chou vola vers la ciel avec ses compagnons. Tefnout resta dans le lieu de son couronnemnt à Memphis. .5. Elle se rendit vers la demeure royale de Chou à l'heure de midi. La grande Ennéade des dieux se trouvait sur le monde(?) d'éternité qui est le chemin de son père Harakhté. .6. Alors la Majesté de ..... 11 Voici qu'il12 la trouve en ce lieu appelé Pi-Kharoti 13 et voici qu'il l'enleva de vive force. .7. Ce fut une grande révolution dans la résidence. C'était Chou qui montait au ciel. Il n'y eut aucune sortie du palais pour une durée de neuf jours, et pendant ces .8. neuf jours de révolution ce fut une tempête telle que ni les hommes, ni les dieux ne voyaient la face de leur prochain.

The majesty of Seb came forth appearing? upon the throne of his father Shu: every royal dwelling? did him homage. Then after 75 days Seb proceeded to the North country: Shu had flown up to heaven, the great chief of the plain at the head of his city?? the prince of the hills ... came? he went not to Heliopolis: moreover? certain Asiatics carried his sceptre, called Degai, who live on what the gods abominate; behold he went to the East of Usher: He entered the house of the Aar the Eastern gate? of At Nebes:

Règne de Geb.

La Majesté de Geb parut couronnée sur le trône de son père Chou, et tous les habitants .9. de la résidence baisèrent la terre devant lui. Après 75 jours Geb se rendit dans le Delta et Chou volait au ciel, par-dessus la terre, au devant de son fils ainé à travers les montagnes [de l'Orient] .10. Il n'alla pas à On avec comme compagnons des voleurs de sceptre, appelés Dagai, qui vivaient de ce que les Dieux abominent. Et voici qu'il passa .11. à l'est d'Oucher. Il fit son entrée à Pi-Yarit qui est la porte orientale de Yat-Nebes.

he discussed the history of this city with the gods who attended him [and they told him] all that happened when the majesty of Ra was in At Nebes, the conflicts of the king Tum in this locality, the valour of the majesty of Shu in this city, the deeds of Shu in .... the [wonders] of the goddess Ankhet done to Ra when he was with her: the victories of the majesty of Shu, smiting the evil ones, when he placed her (the serpent) upon his brow. Then said the majesty of Seb I also [will place] her upon my head even as my father Shu did.

Geb prend une grande décision.

Il demande des informations concernant cette ville aux dieux qui étaient à sa suite. .12. Ils lui donnèrent des informations sur tout ce qui était arrivé à Râ dans Yat-Nebes, les combats du roi Toum en ce lieu, la vaillance de la Majesté de Chou en cette ville, les hauts faits de Chou en [ce nome] .13. les victoires de l'uraeus vivante pour la Majesté de Râ qui était avec elle, les actes excellents de la Majesté de Chou quand il frappait les ennemis en la plaçant sur sa tête. Et voici que la Majesté de Geb dit: "Moi [aussi] .14. je la placerai sur ma tête, comme l'a fait mon père Chou."

Seb entered Per Aart together with the gods who were with him: then he stretched forth his hand to take the case in which [Ankhet] was: the snake came forth and breathed its vapour upon the majesty of Seb, confounding him greatly: those who followed him fell dead: his majesty? burned with this venom? his majesty proceeded to the north of At Nebes with this burning of the uraeus Hert Tep,

L'Accident de Geb.

Puis Geb entra à Pi-Yarit avec les dieux qui l'accompagnaient. Voici qu'il allongea le bras pour saisir le coffre qui contenait l'uraeus .15. vivante. Mais alors le serpent "fils de la terre" sortit et son souffle fut vivant contre la Majesté de Geb avec une trés grande rage pour elle. Tous ceux qui étaient avec lui moururent et la Majesté de .16. ce dieu fut brûlée. Sa Majesté traversa vers le Nord de Yat-Nebes ayant toujours la brûlure que lui avait faite: celle-qui-est-sur-la-tête.

then his majesty reached the fields of henna 7 but [his majesty] was not healed? then he said to the gods who followed him, "Come! let this Aar (cap? or wig?) of Ra be brought here." [They said to him: "Nay] let thy majesty go to see its mystery: it will heal his majesty [of that which is?] ... upon thee": behold the majesty of Seb had the Aart placed upon his head in? the Per Aart and had made for it a box of real hard stone (or metal), it was hidden in [this?] place, namely, the Per Aart near the sacred Aart of the majesty of Ra: then was healed this heat in the limbs of the majesty of Seb.

Guérison de Geb.

Voici que Sa Majesté atteignit la prairie des plantes henou 14 et cette brûlure n'était pas guérie. .17. Voici qu'il dit aux dieux qui l'accompagnaient: Faites apporter la perruque de Râ! ....... [ils dirent: "....] de là pour que Ta Majesté aille voir ses secrets. Elle guérira Ta Majesté .... .18..... ta bouche.

Voici que la Majesté de Geb fit prendre la perruque sur sa tête jusqu'à Pi-Yarit. On fit fabriquer pour elle un coffre en pierre véritable qui fut caché dans [ce] lieu [sacre?] .19. de Pi-Yarit, dans le territoire de la perruque divine de la Majesté de Ra.

Ainsi guérit cette brûlure des chairs de la Majesté de Geb.

Now years passed after this, then this Aart of the majesty of Seb was taken [back] to the Per Aart in? the At Nebes: it was carried to the great lake of Per Aart: (the place of the whirlpool? is its name) to wash it: behold this Aart became a crocodile: when it reached the water it became Sebek in At Nebes.

Now when the majesty of Ra Harmachis [fought] with the evil-doers in this pool, the Place of the Whirlpool, the evil-doers prevailed not over his majesty. His majesty leapt into the so-called Place of the Whirlpool? his legs became those of a crocodile, his head that of a hawk with a bull's horns upon it: he smote the evil-doers in the Place of the Whirlpool? in the Place of the Sycamore: the Aart of Seb also in its turn did after this sort.

Miracle de la perruque de Râ.

Des années passèrent sur ces événements .......... .20. d'emporter cette perruque de la Majesté de Geb à Pi-Yarit dans Yat-Nebes. .....On l'emporta au grand lac de Pi-Yarit appelé Yat-Desoui. .21. pour la laver. Voici que cette perruque se changea en crocodile. Elle prit contact avec l'eau, elle devint le Sobek de Yat-Nebes. Lorsque la Majesté de Râ-Harakhté combattait .22. avec les ennemis dans cette eau de Yat-Desoui -- les rebelles ne montrèrent aucune vaillance contre Sa Majesté -- Sa Majesté prit contact avec Yat-Desoui, elle prit la forme d'un crocodile ..... .23. il eut une face de faucon, les cornes d'un taureau sur sa tête. Et il frappait les ennemis dans Yat-Desoui à Yat-Nebes. .24. Voilà ce qui concerne les faits de la perruque de la Majesté de Geb.

Now the majesty of Seb appeared in the seat of the crocodile gods, of Sebek-Ra, of Shu, of Seb, and of Osiris-Ra, upon the throne of his father Shu as king of gods of men and all flesh, in heaven, earth and the underworld, water, hills, winds, the ocean and the rocks:

Puissance de Geb.

Et alors, la Majesté de Geb se leva en la place des quatre crocodiles, Sobek-Râ, Chou, Geb, Osiris-Râ, sur le trône de son père Chou, comme roi de tous les dieux, déesses, .25. hommes, animaux dans le ciel, la terre, les enfers, les eaux primordiales, les montagnes, les vents, la mer et les pierres.

his majesty was in his castle of Ruling the Two Lands in the Land of Henna? his majesty had sent messengers to summon to him the foreigners and Asiatics from their land. Now the majesty of Seb said to the great cycle of nine gods that accompanied him, "What did my father Shu when first he appeared upon the throne of his father Atum, when the majesty of Shu was in his castle in At Nebes."

Geb interroge les dieux.

Comme Sa Majesté se trouvait à sa résidence de Hy-Taoui15 dans la terre des plantes henou .26. Sa Majesté avait envoyé une expédition pour lui amener les étrangers et les Amous de leurs pays. Alors la Majesté de Geb dit auprès de la grande Ennéade des Dieux qui était derrière lui .27. "Qu'à fait mon père Chou depuis le commencement de son règne sur le trône de son père Atoum?"

This cycle of nine gods said to the majesty of Seb: "When thy father Shu appeared upon the throne of his father Atum, he smote all those who injured his father Atum: he slew the children of Apep: he made all the enemies of his father Ra to shrink. Now after he had given refreshing shade? to the two lands, to the gods and mortals who followed Atem, lord of the Northern? Anu, he brought water to the cities, he ordered the nomes, he raised up the walls of Egypt, he built the temples in the South country and the North":

Les dieux exaltent l'ouevre de Chou.

Cette Ennéade dit auprès de la Majesté de Geb: .28. Depuis que ton père Chou était sur le trône de son père Atoum, il battit tous les rebelles de son père Atoum en massacrant les enfants d'Apopis et il remit à la raison tous les ennemis de son père Râ et après que .29. l'air fut refroidi, que les terres furent séchées, que les dieux et les humains eurent formé la suite d'Atoum seigneur d'On du Sud, il irriga les villes, fondant les nomes, et il dressa les murailles de l'Egypte, construisant .30. les temples dans les pays du Sud et du Nord.

the majesty of Seb said to these gods, "Tell me the places which were made in the time of the majesty of Ra which he set up over the land: also tell me the nomes which the majesty of Shu formed (lit. built) in his time: I will proclaim? the places of the time of the majesty of Ra in all the nomes formed by the majesty of [Shu]. For I shall form them anew, I desire to make them in my reign." They read before the majesty of Shu, out of the hieroglyphics ..... myriads of?? localities proclaimed by the majesty of Ra in all the nomes which the majesty of Shu formed and registered in writing in the time of the majesty of Atum when he was [on earth?] and at the time that Shu ascended the throne of his father Ra, and at the time that Seb ascended the throne of his father Shu. Names of? the places themselves? the nomes according to their names excepting the nomes formed by the majesty of Ra in his time.


Geb inventorie les fondations de Chou.

La Majesté de Geb dit à ces dieux:

Vous me direz les lieux qui existaient au temps de Râ, que Sa Majesté fit élever sur la terre .31. et vous me direz ces nomes que la Majesté de Chou a construits en son temps. Et moi j'appellerai les lieux qui sont du temps de la Majesté de Râ dans les nomes qu'a construits la Majesté de Chou. .32. Je les construirai à nouveau, car je veux faire en sorte qu'elles existent de mon règne.

On se mit à lire en présence de la Majesté de Geb dans les lettres divines. .33. Des milliers de fondations et des millions de lieux qu'appela la Majesté de Râ dans tous les nomes que la Majesté de Chou avait fondés, avaient été mis par écrit au temps de la Majesté d'Atoum quand il était sur .34. terre, jusqu'au couronnement de Chou sur le trône de son père Râ, et jusqu'au couronnement de Geb sur le trône de son père Chou. Les lieux eux-mêmes disaient les nomes par leur nom, excepté les nomes que la Majesté de Râ avait construits de son temps:

Notes for Griffith Notes for Goyon

1. Or the horizon of Bekhat. Bekhat was the mountain from which the sun rose. At Nebes was particularly the city of the rising sun....

2. The place of the Sycamore? Sanctuary of the city of Goshen.

3. The house of the sycamore?

4. The desert on the north-east border.

5. The reading of this name is unknown.

6. Or for a long time.

7. Henu plant (hieroglyphs): in l. 25 the district is called the "land of the henu." The modern name of Goshen, Saft el henna, suggests a meaning: large quantities of henna, Lawsonia inermis, are grown there now. The henu plant was used in the treatment of stings or snake-bites (cf. Pap. Ebers 29, 11), and the name occurs even in the Pyramid Texts as of a green plant or shrub (Pyr. Teta 1. 100)...

1. Dans la suite du récit, le premier roi de l'univers est tantôt Râ, tantôt Toum.

2. "La butte du jujubier." Il sera constamment question dans le récit de cette résidence et des sanctuaires voisins de Pi-Yarit, de Hat-Nebes, de Pi-Soped dans la région de Saft el Henneh, à l'est de Zagazig, où se trouvait primitivement le naos.

3. 3ht Bhtt, une des nombreuses expressions qui désignent l'est.

4. Pr í3rt et parfois írt = domaine de la perruque, car d'après la vignette gravée dans l'intérieur í3rt est (hieroglyph) c'est-à-dire une perruque. Pi-Yarit est au voisinage immédiat (au sud d'après A, 17) de Yat-Nebes.

5. Ht Nbs "le chateau du jujubier." Il n'est pas facile de voir, à cause des lacunes du texte si Yat-Nebes est une partie de Hat-Nebes, ou si ces deux lieux sont indépendants. En tous cas ils sont voisins.

6. Cette enceinte n'a à la verité que des dimensions assez modestes, à peu près celles du petit temple d'Anta à San el Hagar. D'après la description qu'on vient de lire et les renseignements qu'on trouve dans la suite, voici, avec toutes les réserves d'usages, comment on peut envisager le plan de cette région.

Plan of Hat Nebes

7. Oucheron, localité non identifiée dont le nom signifié "sterile, sec."

8. Le récit de cette attaque s'inspire du souvenir des invasions venues de l'Est, et, en particulier, de l'invasion des Hyksos, qui ont suivi le Ouadi Toumilat, saccagé les premières villes qu'ils rencontrèrent et parmi elles en premier lieu Pi-Soped, avant d'atteindre Memphis.

9. Yat-Desoui "la butte des deux couteaux." Cf. (hieroglyphs) Gauthier I. 50.

10. Il est assez difficile de rattacher les événements dont il va être question à ceux qui étaient rapportés dans le texte A non seulement parce que le texte B est presque complètement perdu, mais parce que les lignes 1 et 2 du texte C sont elles-mêmes endommagées. Le nom du personnage qui était devenu si puissant et qui apporta la révolution dans la résidence royale fait défaut. Il est probable que Chou, après l'attaque des enfants d'Apopis ne réussissait pas à remettre de l'ordre dans l'univers et que son ennemi ou peut-être un de ses alliés le détermine à abdiquer.

11. Ici un espace non gravé.

12. (hieroglyph) parait bien une erreur de scribe pour (hieroglyph) . [i.e., "she" for "he" -- S.M.]

13. N'est connu que par cet exemple; sans doute peu éloigné de Saft el Henneh ou sur la route de Memphis à Pi-Soped.

14. shthnw "la prairie des plantes hnw." C'est une plante de marais non identifiée, qui devait être fort répandue en Egypte, puisque le signe (hieroglyph) hn est devenu le déterminatif général des noms de plantes. Il n'est pas certain du tout que hnw soit le lawsonia inermis qui fournit le henneh (Cf. Loret, La Flore pharaonique, 2e éd. No. 134), mais on peut supposer que le surnom de Saft el Henneh vient de shthnw.

15. Hy-taoui est la résidence des rois de la XIIe dynastie au sud de Memphis, souvent cité dans cette histoire. La terre des plantes henou mentionée ici ne doit pas être confondue avec la prairie des plantes henou dont il a été question précédemment.

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Last modified by pib on October 28, 2003.