Welcome Logo

Animated Bible flipping pages

Current Lecture Button

Home Button

Lecture Button

Library Button

Announcement Button

Who Is MSS  Button

Book Shop Button

Amazon Books Button

Press Button

Expedition Button

Site Index


Last week, in showing how flimsy the pillar of Egyptian chronology is, we identified Merneptah rather than the weak and ineffectual Siamun, with the father-in-law of Solomon

This week, we will solve one of the most troubling mysteries of the Bible, which has baffled both Biblical scholars and Egyptologists alike for literally hundreds of years. The identification of Zerah the Kushite who:

"came out against them (i.e. King Asa and the people of Judah) with an army of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots: and he came unto {Mareshah}. Then Asa went out to meet him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephath at Maresha." (2 Chronicles 14:8)

They inflicted upon the Egyptians, according to the Biblical record, the greatest defeat any Egyptian army was ever going to suffer. Now we know that the Egyptians were notorious for hiding their defeats, but surely such an humiliation could not go unnoticed somewhere in the Egyptian account.

Let us first describe what the conventional chronology forces the Egyptologists to say about Zerah. It is surely fascinating. In the 1970 edition of Volume III of the Cambridge Ancient History, two authors in the same volume come to two totally different conclusions. The first, H.R. Hall, former keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities in the British Museum states, "In this reign (Osorkon I, the son of Sheshonk {sic}), the only event that interests us is one that, for obvious reasons, is not recorded in the Egyptian inscriptions, namely the defeat, about 895 BC, of 'Zerah, the Ethiopian' by Asa of Judah. In the opinion of the present writer, there is little doubt that this 'Zerah" was Osorkon, the name having been corrupted from "Oserakhon' (see further page 360). p. 261.

When we, in fact, turn to page 360 in the same volume, we read, a passage written by Stanley Cook, Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge: "The historical basis of the story is disputed. Although the name, Zerah, can hardly be identified with Osorkon I, a battle with Egyptians (and Libyans. 2 Chron.xvi,16) is not improbable (see p.261 ). p. 360.

So, in the authoritative history of the area, there is total disagreement as to whether Zerah ever existed, who he was, and even what he was.

Let us turn to the leading expert of the era, our old friend Kenneth Kitchen. It is always useful to quote from his masterpiece, "The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt" (#268).

"There is no question of identifying Osorkon with Zerah as is sometimes done: the names differ entirely. Osorkon is a king and of Libyan origins, whereas Zerah is not called a king and is a Nubian."

Well, there you have it! Because Champollion decreed that Shishak was Shoshenq I, with everyone following unquestioningly behind, we have an obscure King Siamun conquering a city twenty miles away from Jerusalem at the time of King David and another king, Osorkon, living at a time when a Zerah, presumably under his control, lost the greatest battle ever fought by an Egyptian army, at least according to the Biblical account.

But, look how the Egyptologists strain to keep the chronology intact, instead of recognizing the inevitable and asking the obvious question: "Is there not something very wrong here?"

Well, we will find a General, one who lost a war (in the Egyptian records, a very, very rare event), and one whose title was "King's son of Kush". And we will find him exactly where we would expect to find him, if the father-in-law of Solomon was Merneptah, and if Shishak was Ramesses III. That is, in the reign of the king Ramesses IX.

The whole story was laid out in the Egyptian records for all to see. The problem was they were all looking on the wrong page.

During the reign of Ramesses IX, the High Priest of Amun was the formidable Amenhopte (Amenhotep). It was a time in Egypt when the high priest had unprecedented powers. He was often head of the Army, and had numerous titles, including the honorary one, known as "King’s son of Kush". Amenhotep was probably the most powerful of all such high priests. In an unprecedented way, his portrayal in the inscriptions shows him to be the exact size as his Pharaoh:

"Before this time, a subject of the pharaoh would never have dared to represent himself as equal in stature to his royal master. The two reliefs of Amenhotpe are therefore eloquent testimony to the high degree of power to which the high priest had attained by then ..... Except for their titles, the king and the high priest were, for all practical purposes, equal." (Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. II, Part 2 B p. 629 ).

(For those professional and amateur Egyptologists, a homework task is to find an alternative name or designation of Amenhotep, which could have been mistaken for the sound of the name Zerah).

But then, we have more .... For the inscriptions show that a great tragedy befell Amenhotep, and worse, marauders and invaders were reported as far south as Thebes:

"There had been, therefore, prior to the year 19 of Ramesses IX, a "war" or "suppression" (transgression is the literal rendering) directed against the High Priest Amenhotpe. In the sixth month of the war, the enemy, 'the foreigners', stormed the fortified temple of Medinet Habu...." p. 630.

This is all there in the Egyptian records. So we now have a choice. Do we accept the conventional chronology which shows the following identification:


Father in Law of Solomon
Shishak Zerah
Shoshenq I ??????

or is the revision more in keeping with the evidence, thus?


Ramesses III

High Priest of Amun
"Binder of Gezer"
Richest of all Kings Amenhotpe
King's Son of Kush

(read the above as if it were a table, thus the choice for the father-in-law is either Siamun or Merneptah etc.)

Any questions?


  1. Volume III of the Cambridge Ancient History (ISBN: 0521227178)
  2. The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt. by K. A. Kitchen (ISBN: 0856682985)
  3. Two Nations Under God: The Deuteronomistic History of Solomon and the Duel Monarchies: The Reign of Jeroboam Vol. 2. Gary N. Knoppers (ISBN: 1555409148)


Vision Video Associate

Vision Video Associate

Send your comments or suggestions to Michael S. Sanders
© 1999 - 2009 Michael S. Sanders.  All Rights Reserved.