Velikovsky and Amalek

While reading “Ages in Chaos”, I finally realized what got people into becoming Velikovskyans: the sheer ingeniousness of his theories. Velikovsky identifies el-Arish with Avaris, Avaris with 1 Sam 15’s “City of Amalek”, Apepi with Agog, and the one who destroyed Avaris with the Israelites. However, the only count on which he may be right is his idea of Sharuhen inspiring Manetho’s Jerusalem. In any case:

1. Avaris was not el-Arish, but Tell ed-Dab’a.
2. El Arish was almost certainly not the City of Amalek, which should be sought further east.
3. Havilah was not near the Euphrates(!!!), but in Arabia.

The Bible does not tell us where the City of Amalek was located, but, it seems from the mention of Telaim, the fact the region beyond the Besor was still in Amalekite hands (1 Sam 30), and the mention of Kenites, or Aravah copper-smiths, that the City of Amalek should be sought somewhere in a valley E. of Beersheeba. Perhaps it might be a Negev site such as Masos, Mahlata, or Nahas???

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

25 thoughts on “Velikovsky and Amalek”

  1. You’ve stated your position without providing supporting evidence. Can you explain why you believe Velikovsky’s Amalek Hyskos theory is incorrect?

  2. There is, in itself, nothing wrong with the idea of the Hyksos being civilized Amalekites, it only happens that Velikovsky’s chronological scheme has no credibility.

  3. I know this is a while after the event, so to speak, but a few thoughts.
    Avaris is indeed to be found at Tell ed-Dab’a, and not at el-Arish as Velikovsky proposed. However, the site of Avaris was unknown at the time Velikovsky was writing, so he was looking for a site that fulfilled two criteria given in the bible – it should be near the Egyptian border, and have a dry river bed. Tell ed-Dab’a meets both, so this error appears not to be fatal. The Amalekites are Arabian, so Havilah as, loosely, Arabia also gives a consistent picture.
    Following your link, Telaim is clearly where Saul mustered his forces, not the location of the city of Amalek.
    Again, if the Amalekites are the Hyksos, then the end of the Hyksos period and the end of the Amalekite period would be one and the same. That Saul lays in wait in the river bed, and that in the Egyptian account it is “One” who does this, not the Egyptians, is at least a remarkable coincidence.
    You may well be right that Velikovsky is wrong, but the correctness of the standard chronology appears in this post to be the premise, and the arguments therefore to be question-begging.

  4. The city of Amalek is clearly identified with the Border with Egypt., Also the Arab Historians say Al-Arish was the an Amalekite Fortress.

    There is plenty of continuned debate about Avaris even among conventional chronologists. And Vliekovsks argument that it was error to look for it in the Delta at all I find incredibly Valid.

    Hyksos related artifacts being found at the current traditional Avaris site doesn’t prove anything.

    1. Al-Arish has always been a border oasis site; I can see how you can make a border fortress out of it, but not a capital. Arab historians are a late source and deserve to be considered only with great caution. Also, please give sources for your claims.

      1. My source is Vliekvosky and the sources he cited mostly. 1 Samuel 15:7 is the basis for the City of Amalek being the Egyptian Border.

        The Arab historians like most historians draw on older sources. It is mostly the Western bias of the modern world that considers them less valid.

        The Hyksos were mostly ruling Egypt by shear force, a strong Fortress is all they should have wanted for their Capital.

        It might be they had more then one city they used as a Capital, all of which were called Avars or which got confused with each other. The Fortress site would be the one they”d hold out in when they were under siege.

        1. I place the City of Amalek somewhere in the Negev. Havilah is apparently the Arabian desert, so I can’t see how 1 Samuel 15:7 helps your case, unless you’re associating the Hyksos with the Amelekites, which I don’t.

            1. Yes. I expect the capital of the Amalekites to be located somewhere in the middle of the land between Havilah and Shur, not on the border of Shur.

            2. The option could also exist that the City of Amalek is Sharuhen. After all it was allotted to Simeon but plenty of he allotted cities were never really captured by their Tribes, at least not right away.

              and 1 Chronicles 4 suggests a long complex history between Simeon and Amalek.

      1. It’s possible they didn’t practice that custom I suppose.

        I read that the Egyptians considered having Red Hair a sign of decent from Seth. Maybe that had it’s origin in the Hyksos being Red heads. Esau is often assumed to be a Red head.

        I’ve heard there have been some Neanderthal remains found in Egypt.

        1. There seems to be no reason to dispute that Tell el-Daba is the site of the Hyksos city Avaris. If Amalekites = Hyksos it is not at El-Arish (though as I’ve pointed out before this is not fatal to Velikovsky’s chronological scheme). The location of the city of Amalek is not given unequivocally in the Bible. Depending on interpretation it could be near Telaim, or Havilah, or Shur “that is over against Egypt”. The objections to any of these from the Biblical text alone, unsupported by other evidence, would not be conclusive. The reference to Saul lying wait in the valley certainly has echoes in the memoirs of the general Ahmose (as I’ve said before), and the reference to the Kenites being allowed to depart has an echo in Josephus (quoting Manetho). These are not strong enough by themselves to establish the identity of Hyksos and Amalakites, but if this could be shown independently would be strong confirming evidence.

          Velikovsky thought that he had already made the case via the timing of the Exodus. I’d be interested to know from Pithom whether he thinks the Exodus story is based on a real event (and if not, why not), and if so, when he would date it.

          1. I have pointed out there are clear Iron Age elements in the Exodus story we have here:
            Some elements in the Pentateuch may date as late as the Persian period.
            I do not know the origin of the out-of-Egypt tradition. The out-of-Mesopotamia tradition is most likely Babylonian-Persian in date. The Egyptian elements mentioned in the Pentateuch by Hoffmeier (green book) are surely intriguing. I wonder why the Book of Exodus mentions Israel as living exclusively in the Eastern Nile Delta.

  5. Thanks for that. I agree with you that the Pentateuch is of a late date, though probably incorporating earlier material, and that the time of Ramses II is an unlikely one for the source of the story.

    Obviously, I think the origin of the out-of-Egypt tradition is a real event. Purely in a spirit of enquiry, not of polemics, it seems to me that if were looking for a real event as the origin, we should expect to find a period of Canaanite settlement that ended in some form of disaster, followed probably by a period of decline in Egypt. These we find very clearly at the end of the 13th dynasty. Granted proof might require more (suggestions?) but why is it that the ver possibility is rejected with such vehemence?

    1. I think the time of Ramesses II is one of the likelier times for the inspiration of the story, if only because the name of Pi-Ramesse is preserved in the Bible twice as “Ramses” and “Israel” is mentioned in Canaan in Merenptah’s time, just after Ramesses’s death. Though I don’t dispute the MB III collapse could be another inspiration, as you think, as Pi-Ramesse was in the same place as MB Avaris and the Middle Bronze IIB city-state system in Canaan was the last truly thriving, widespread, and independent city-state system in Canaan.

      It is important, however, to remember that the new arrivals in Canaan in Middle Bronze times are mainly Hurrians, not Israelites.

  6. In the days when Pi-Ramesses was thought to have been built on a greenfield site, that and the Merneptah Stele were reasonably seen as leaving only a small window of possibility for dating the Exodus. The Merneptah stele, however, was never obviously a reference to the Israelite conquest (not enough to establish a synchronism), so with the discovery of earlier settlement there and the expansion of the window, the lack of any evidence whatsoever for an Exodus in the time of Rameses II, this solution became much less likely.

    I was surprised that you agree that the story could have originated with the Middle Bronze III collapse (more accurately the Middle Bronze II/III transition. If this is possible then Velikovsky would stand or fall not on his relative dating of the Exodus, but on the identification of the Hyksos with the Amalakites.

  7. Well, I suspect that many scholars and Bible fans are still trapped in the conception that “Israel”, from its very beginning, was a consolidated group – with one consistent history – while in reality “Israel”, in its beginning, was a union of several different groups (some of whom might have even been Hurrians), *with different histories and different narratives*, which was formed in the highlands of Canaan at the end of the Late Bronze Age and early Iron Age periods.

    This is why, in the case of the Exodus story, many scholars and Bible fans expect to find traces of a group called “Israel” who lived in Egypt, came out from there, wandered in the desert, and then came to Canaan and occupied it… However, in reality, it is very likely that the people who actually lived in Egypt were not yet called “Israel” when they were still living there (or even when they first came to Canaan), and that other elements of the Biblical story, such as the “wandering in the desert” part, and/or some of the “conquest of Canaan” part, were not an integral part of the original (prebiblical) “Exodus” tradition, but were rather later additions that reflect traditions of other groups – which had nothing to do with Egypt and the Exodus in the first place – like a group of Southern Shasu who came to Canaan from the desert at the end of the LB, and perhaps a group of Northern immigrants who came to Canaan from the area of Harran at about the same time…

    To be more explicit, I suspect that the Joseph and the Exodus stories are generally based on the real historical events that took place around the Hyksos period (Hence the references to a city called “Ramses” may be an anachronism to Avaris) – events preserved in vague memories of a small group that settled in the area of Shechem at the beginning of the LB period – vague memories which became the basis for anti-Egyptian traditions & stories during the LB period (when Shechem was a haven for Habiru gangs) and later during the time Israelite union was formed there… As for the “Amalakites” I think they had nothing to do with Egypt, or with the Hyksos (which originally was not a name for a specific ethnic group), but they were rather a group of people that was living in the Negev,and which was connected to those Shasu tribes (Kenites/Shasu of Yhw) who came from the desert and joined the Israelites in Canaan at the end of the LB…

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