Re-examining the Hebrew-Hyksos Connection
Re-examining the Hebrew-Hyksos Connection

Re-examining the Hebrew-Hyksos Connection

Tommy Baas
“For Every Shepherd is an Abomination unto the Egyptians”:
Re-examining the Hebrew-Hyksos Connection
Putting into historical perspective the major interactions between the Ancient Hebrews
and their proverbial foils the Egyptians in Genesis and Exodus can be tricky. No dates nor
names of pharaohs are ever given, and what Ancient Egyptian records we have can be rather
obscure and mysterious. Revisiting Flavius Josephus’s claim that the Ancient Hebrews share a
lineal heritage with the Semitic Hyksos kings who occupied Egypt during the Second
Intermediate Period may give us a more nuanced perspective on the ancient world that might not
answer all questions and put to rest all doubts, but it helps the biblical stories starring Abraham,
Joseph, and Moses fall into a historical context that more or less aligns with Ancient Egyptian
records. Even if it cannot be satisfactorily verified that the Hyksos and the Hebrews were one
and the same people, as Josephus interprets the Egyptian priest Manetho’s version of history, it
might make even more sense to consider that they were at the very least kindred allies of a
shared Semitic heritage who interacted with and impacted each other’s histories at key moments
in their respective plights. Close attention to small details in the Bible, supplementary Midrash,
and what primary sources we have of Ancient Egyptian accounts from the time helps to draw a
picture that only makes historical sense set before, during, and after the Hyksos Invasion of the
17th and 16th Centuries BC. This is more or less exactly where traditional biblical dating would
place the stories of Abraham, Joseph, and Moses respectively anyway. To verify, we will piece
together the history between these two nations from the very beginning up through the Exodus,
see how the legacies of the Ancient Hebrews and the Hyksos Dynasty intertwine, and determine
the nature of their relationship.
To set the perspective, we acknowledge from the outset of Genesis that there have always
been two classes of men, represented by the twins Cain and Abel: the former a “tiller of soil,”
symbolic of kingship, statehood, and the active aspect of man; and the latter a “keeper of sheep,”
symbolic of the priesthood and the more passive and contemplative aspect of man (Gen. 4:2). If
we fast forward to the time directly following the Flood when the respective pro-genitors of each
the Semites, Egyptians, Canaanites, and Europeans were all still of one immediate family, we
find this dichotomy continuing to play itself out in the power struggles between men. Genesis 9
describes a scandal whereby the line of Canaan becomes forever cursed for something that his
father Ham did while grandfather Noah was drunk and naked. The result is that Canaan is made
subject to his uncles Shem and Japheth, the pro-genitors of the Semites and Europeans
respectively. This episode serves to illustrate why the Semites should feel a certain moral
superiority over the Canaanites, which plays out in the rest of the Torah. Canaan’s father Ham
meanwhile is the progenitor of the African race, including the Egyptians. His role in this episode
also seems to be reflected in how events pan out amongst the three nations as their interrelated
histories develop.
Genesis 10 proceeds with the respective generations of Noah’s sons. For Ham, this
includes, among others, Mizraim and Put (10:6), who each pro-generate a segment of the
Egyptian nation; as well as Canaan, ancestor of the Canaanites, whose descendents include,
among others, the Amorites (10:16). The descendents of Shem, ie, the Semites, include Eber
(10:21), from whence we derive “Hebrew.” Eber has two sons, Peleg and Joktan (10:25).
Genesis 10:26-29 proceeds with the lineage of the latter, and 10:30 tells us that they settled in the
region extending from Mesha to the eastern hill country of Sephar. Beyond this, we do not read
much more of the descendents of Joktan, who could be called a separate stream of Hebrews in
the sense that they descended from Eber. Peleg’s lineage is reserved for Genesis 11 and must be
the more important one for biblical purposes, as it culminates with the birth of Abram in his
father Terah’s native land of Ur of the Chaldeans (Hamite territory, according to 10:8-10). All
we are told of Peleg in Genesis 10 is that the earth became divided in his days (10:25).
This section of Genesis is commonly referred to as the “Table of Nations,” as it refers to
how the earth was divided up amongst the descendents of Noah after the Flood. In an
elaboration upon it in the Book of Jubilees, we learn that the Middle East, covering the Garden of
Eden and the land East of that extending along the tongue of the Egyptian Sea, had originally
been designated for the descendents of Noah’s eldest son Shem (8:12-17).1 This includes the
land that would come to be known as Canaan; hence why the Semites would refer to it as their
“Promised Land.” The descendents of Noah’s second son Ham are granted the hot lands of
Africa, whereby Cush is allotted the land covering parts of Mesopotamia and Seba (modern
Ethiopia), Misraim receives the land west of that, and Put receives the land further west of that
along the sea to Canaan. Misraim and Put each found parts of Egypt; the former colonizing a
valley by the Nile. When Canaan notices how choice the land from Lebanon to the river of
Egypt is, he elects not to settle in the land of his due inheritance, but instead to take up the land
of Lebanon around the border of Jordan and the sea. This territory, which had otherwise been
promised to the Semites (Jubilees 8:29), would cover what is modern day Phoenicia and
Jerusalem. In the Torah we come to know of it as the land of Canaan. In response to Canaan’s
greed, his father Ham and elder brothers Cush and Misraim scold Canaan for settling in a land
1 Lumpkin, Joseph B. The Lost Books of the Bible (2009), pp. 239-240.
that does not belong to him, predicting that his people will end up being violently uprooted from
the land and reinforcing the curse upon his seed (Jubilees 10:30-32).2
Returning to the Semite lineage, we learn from Jubilees that Peleg’s son Reu marries Ora,
the daughter of Ur, builder of the Sumerian city Ur of the Chaldees (11:1-3). The same is
otherwise known as Ur-Nammu, founder of the third Chaldean dynasty who reigned between
2113-2096 BC and builder of the last great ziggurat,3 associated with the biblical Tower of
Babel. The city of Ur was infamously rampant with sin and idolatry and the Chaldeans were
famously known as practitioners in astrology and such oracular arts (11:3-7). From Midrash like
the Books of Jubilees and Jasher, we know that Reu’s descendent Terah engages quite a bit
himself in the production and sale of idols. We learn from Jubilees 11:13-144 that Terah marries
a woman named Edna, who was the daughter of his father Nahor’s sister and a man named
Abram, in whose honor Terah names his own son, just as he would name his son Nahor after his
late father (Gen. 11:24-27).
Genesis 11:29 introduces us to Abram’s wife Sarai and Nahor’s wife Milcah, and also
conspicuously adds what seems to be a third woman named Iscah, who is apparently Milcah’s
sister by their shared father Haran, Terah’s third son. According to the Midrash, this is none
other than Sarai under a different name; one which makes her a “seer” (ie, prophet) and of royal
blood.5 This tells us that she was actually a brother to her husband Abram and that she was of
royalty before she was even re-named Sarah (“princess”). The question becomes, where did she
inherit this royalty? On the surface there is no indication that Terah or any of his family
members were of royal blood, nor is there any semblance of a Hebrew/Israelite monarchy until
2 Ibid., pg. 244.
3 Gardner, Genesis of the Grail Kings (2000), pg. 177.
4 Lumpkin, pp. 244-5.
5 Ginzburg, Luis. Legends of the Jews, Vol. 2, V:232.
the time of Saul and David (1 and 2 Samuel). On the other hand, we know from the Midrash that
Abram’s ancestry would have inherited some Chaldean royalty through Reu’s wife Ora, daughter
of Ur-Nammu.
In Ancient Mesopotamia, kingship was synonymous with kinship (ie, blood relations),6
typically of matrilinear descent,7 and believed to have come down from the gods.8 It was
customary in Mesopotamia that kings descended from such gods would take on the functional
title of “shepherd” or “shepherd king” and yield a shepherd’s crook as their royal staff,9 some
2,000 years before the same title “good shepherd” became associated with Abraham’s
descendent Jesus, called the “King of the Jews.” Numerous Sumerian “praise poems” have been
found in which the king is repeatedly exalted as a “good shepherd” over his people.10 A good
handful of such relate to King Shulgi (ca. 2100) and his successor Ur-Namma, both who reigned
not long before, if not contemporary with, the time Abram and his family lived in Ur.11
Among the vast pantheon of Mesopotamian gods, there is a prominent pair of brothers
named Enki (or Ea) and Enlil, by whose divine grace the kingship is ordained. The former is
variously referred to as the “Serpent King” or the “Great Shepherd.” The latter is also known as
El Elyon, meaning “the God Most High.” Another variation on the same is El Shaddai; the name
by which Abraham knows God as it is revealed to him in Genesis 17:1. His cult extended from
Mesopotamia into Canaan. This would explain why, when the former land fell into the worship
of Enki’s son Marduk (aka Baal, that pagan god whose worship the Israelites continually fall
back to throughout the Bible) and the worshippers of El Shaddai become a persecuted
6 Gardner, Genesis of the Grail Kings lecture transcript.
7 Gardner, Genesis of the Grail Kings, pg. 88.
8 Ibid., pg. 67.
9 Ibid., pg. 82.
11 Gardner, pg. 82.
minority,12 the faithful Abraham is called upon to leave town and head to the latter country (Gen.
12:1), where he is blessed for his military leadership against the invading kings by the priest-king
of the same God Most High, Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-20). Abraham’s meeting with this
shepherd king who rules Salem (that which would become Jerusalem) gives us our first biblical
instance of a ceremonial breaking of bread and wine. Abraham’s descendents King David
(Psalms 110:4) and Jesus Christ (Hebrews 6:19-20) are also known to be priest-kings, ie,
shepherds, of the same Order of Melchizedek. According to Jasher 16:11, Melchizedek is none
other than Abraham’s ancestor Shem, the progenitor of the Semitic race. He acts as a spiritual
guide for the patriarch throughout the text.
Just before meeting Melchizedek, the patriarch is referred to as “Abram the Hebrew”; the
first time in the Bible where that designation is used (Gen. 14:13). This term “Hebrew,” which
we associate with his ancestor Eber, relates to the Mari word hibirum, referring to “the part of
the tribal people who live with the flocks,” and the derivative hibrum, meaning a man who has
left his home, as in a nomad.13 Mari was an ancient town on the banks of the Euphrates under
the control of western Semites between the 21st and 18th Centuries BC, right around the time
traditionally attributed to the ancestors, family, and descendents of Abraham. In the early 19th
Century BC it was ruled by the Amorites,14 whom we know to be of Canaanite (Gen. 10:16). In
Genesis 14:13, we find the nomadic Abram dwelling in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother
of two of his confederates in the war at hand, when he receives the news that his nephew Lot has
been captured in Sodom. Abram is here called a Hebrew in the sense that he and his small tribe
12 Gardner, pp. 63-64; 88-89.
13 Fleming, Daniel. “Mari and the Possibilities of Biblical Memory.” Beall, Judith. Class Reader, History 370: Judaism in the
Ancient World, Fall 2015, pg. 1.
14 Ibid., pg. 30.

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