The pyramid of Pharaoh Khafre at Gizah – Historical Background From the Old Kingdom to the 25th Dynasty

Pyramid of Pharaoh Khafre at Gizah:

Possibly identify which of the 12th Dynasty pharaohs is shown in this  photograph.

Old Kingdom:  2700 B.C. – 2200 B.C.

Middle Kingdom:  2060 B.C. – 1800 B.C.

            Dynasties Seventh Dynasty to 12th Dynasty

New Kingdom:  1560 B.C. – 1070 B.C.

            18th Dynasty:  1570 B.C. – 1293 B.C.

Pharaoh Akhenaton:  1350 B.C. – 1334 B.C.

Eighth Century B.C. and Seventh Century B.C.:

Eighth Century B.C.:  800 B.C. – 700 B.C.:


The kingdom of Kush rose to power in the second half of the Eighth century B.C. …

Isaiah 20 is probably the earliest reference to Kush in the Old Testament.

25th Dynasty:  712 B.C. – 656 B.C.  – (Pharaoh Shabataka:   (702 B.C. – 690 B.C.))

Seventh Century B.C.:  700 B.C. – 600 B.C.:

Pharaoh Shabataka:   (702 B.C. – 690 B.C.)

            Pharaoh Taharqa (Tirhaka (689 B.C. – 664 B.C.)

“Pharaoh Taharqa’s was the only pharaonic name known to “The author of 2 Kings 19 for the period about which he was writing and his arrival in Egypt from his native Nubia is described in plain and unequivocal terms in the famous Kawa Text.  Pharaoh Taharqa is said in 2 Kings 17:4 to have been the Egyptian king who was expected to help Hoshea (Josiah).

“Pharaoh Taharqa formed alliances with the Phoenician rulers of Tyre and Sidon and with his forces moved into the Philistine plain and turned Ashkelon into a base of sorts, and may have attempted to organize a coalition of the local rulers. … The outcome of the two superpowers (Egypt and Assyria) defied prediction.

In “Egyptian Literature”:

During the Middle Kingdom literature began to flourish, particularly folk tales and collections of proverbs.

Fifteen hundred years before the Eighth Century B.C., during the First Intermediate Period anAfrican‑Egyptian pharaoh wrpte “The Instruction for Merikare.”


First Intermediate Period:  2280 B.C.-

Pharaoh Merikari:

The “The Instruction for Merikare by Kheti” and “Instruction for Merikare” … (who Kheti may have been” ?) …

In Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms” –

Section III: The Testament of a Heracleopolitan King” –

“The Instruction” addressed to King Merikare” (University of California Press: Berkeley, Los Angeles, London), 1973, –

(Source from Papyrus Leningrad dated from the second half of the 18th Dynasty)

The Instruction for King Meri‑ka‑re,

This is an extract from a work composed by an Egyptian Pharaoh for the benefit of his son Meri‑ka‑re during the First Intermediate Period (2280 B.C.) “

The first few senences advising Meri‑ka‑re to act justly and to protect the oppressed find their parallel in the utterances of the great Eighth Century B.C. prophets of Israel:

Eighth Century B.C.:

To feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, bury the dead … formed the first duty of a pious man.” The doctrine of the ‘transmigration of the soul’ is as old as this period. [This inscription is in the British Museum]

 “Thus Isaiah says: Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow (Old Testament, Isaiah 17)


“Jeremiah also says:

“Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place (xxii. 3).


In Psalm lxxxii. 3f, we read: “Judge the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. rescue the poor and needy: deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.”

‘Do justice … oppress not the widow. … do not kill: it shall not profit thee. it is the mild man who … in a lifetime.’ [Leningrad Papyrus]


12th Dynasty:

Inscriptions of the 12th Dynasty:

“Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, a Russian Aristocrat and mystic, who made pilgrimages to India and Tibet and Wrote a Compendium of Ancient Occult Knowledge, Isis Unveiled, that was published in 1877, quoted Christian Bunsen, who published Egypt’s Place in Universal History, translated from the German by Charles H. Cottrell, (1848), Volume V, p. 94), as having stated that:

The inscriptions of the 12th Dynasty are filled with ritualistic formulae. ..Extracts from the Hermetic books are found on monuments of the earliest dynasties and in those of the 12th dynasty portions of an earlier ritual are by no means uncommon.

 “To feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, bury the dead … formed the first duty of a pious man.”

The doctrine of the ‘transmigration of the soul’ is as old as this period.

[This inscription is in the British Museum]

“T. W. Thacker stated:

“The second paragraph is concerned with life after death and is one of the most remarkable utterances that have survived from Ancient Egypt. … The Egyptians held that not merely a man’s soul, but also his personality and whatever other attributs go to make up the individual, lived on after death. In order that they should do so it was necessary that the physical body should be preserved in its entirety. … The Fourth Dynasty pyramids and the royal tombs hewn in the cliffs of Thebes by the rulers of the 18th Dynasty are examples of the lengths to which the Egyptian kings would go to preserve the body.


18th Dynasty:

Pharaoh Akhenaton:  1350 B.C. – 1334 B.C.

The most beautiful surviving piece of Egyptian literature is Ikhnaton’s “Hymn to the Sun.

Most of the literature was expressed in poetic language, even though in prose form.  The most beautiful surviving piece of Egyptian literature is Ikhnaton’s “Hymn to the Sun.  A few lines will suffice to give some idea of its poetic quality and its conception of an all-powerful creator and heavenly father:

“Thy dawning is beautiful in the horizon of the sky,


O living Aton, beginning of life!

When thou risest in the eastern horizon,

Thou fillest every land with thy beauty

Thou are beautiful, great, glittering, high above every land,

Thy rays, they encompass the lands, even all that thou hast made,

How manifold are thy works!

They are hidden from before us,

O sole god, whose powers no other possesseth,

Thou didst create the earth according to thy heart

While thou wast alone
[Footnote: Quoted by James H. Breasted, in The Development Of Religion And Thought In Ancient Egypt (Charles Scribner’s Sons: New York), 1912, p. 324, 326.  Erik Hornung, translated from the German by John Baines, Conceptions Of God In Ancient Egypt: The One And The Many (Cornell University Press: Ithaca, New York), 1971, 1982, 1996



About Harold L Carter

Bachelor of Science, Columbia University Masters degree, Ohio State University Undergraduate National Officer, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Eastern Asst Vice President, when a student at Columbia University Profile Photograph: Mom & Me, when I was a graduate student
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