Seti Becomes an Ally
Two campaigns against Egypt and Ethiopia and one against
Tyre, and Assurbanipal found himself surrounded by enemies. The instigator
was his brother Shamash-shum-ukin, to whom Esarhaddon had bequeathed
Babylonia, leaving Assyria to Assurbanipal. Shamash-shum-ukin corresponded
with Tirhakah the Ethiopian until the death of the latter, and with
the kings of Elam, Aram (Damascus), and other countries that were alarmed
by Assyrias aggressive policy.
After a campaign toward Elam, whose king plotted
against him, Assurbanipal became aware that his own brother was his
chief enemy. In these days Shamash-shum-ukin, the faithless brother
of mine, king of Babylon, stirred to revolt against me the people of
Akkad, Chaldea, the Arameans . . . along with the kings of Gute, Arnurru
and Melukha [Ethiopia] . (1)
Assurbanipal was no longer able to interfere in the affairs
of Egypt, and Seti succeeded in overcoming the eleven vice-kings of
the nomes and regained the throne of his father. The revolt stirred
up all around Assyria absorbed Assurbanipals entire attention.
In the fraternal war he captured Babylon, and his brother Shamash-shum-ukin
killed himself. But a number of years later a new opponent, an untiring
avenger, arose in the person of Nabopolassar.
Nabopolassar, together with the king of the Medes, waged
a protracted war against Assurbanipal, who desperately needed an ally.
Assurbanipal found him in Seti, whose father had been pardoned and crowned
by him. In this way Seti rose from the status of a vassal to that of
a partner of the Assyrian king in a long war.
Seti may have numbered the years of his reign from the
day he became the sole king of Egypt, or from the day he achieved independence
for Egypt and was recognized as Assurbanipals ally. This explains
the fact that already in his first year Seti, in recording his accomplishments,
could refer to his campaigns in Palestine, Arabia, and Libya.(2)
The princes of Babylon, Nabopolassar and his brother,
revolting against Assyria, sent emissaries to Aleppo, Hamath, and Damascus,
and to the chieftains of the unsettled tribes of the desert, inciting
them to create disturbances in the Assyrian domain. At that time, in
the reign of Assurbanipal, the provinces were ruled more by anarchy
than by the will of the despot. Usurper replaced usurper, to be assassinated
in his turn, and there was neither order nor authority in northern Palestine
and Syria. They have taken to cursing and quarrelling, each of
them slaying his neighbor, (3)
He moved into Galilee. The land of the Ten Tribes was
desolate after the exile, and th new settlers were unable to protect
their habitations against bands from the desert or even against wild
beasts (II Kings 17:25f.).
In the days of Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal, Menashe (Manasseh),
son of Hezekiah, reigned in Judea. For fifty-five years he occupied
the throne of Jerusalem. The Scriptures do not mention any war of Menashe,
only his being carried away into a short captivity in Babylon. In those
turbulent times fifty-five years could hardly have passed without involving
Judea more than once in greater or lesser conflicts. Menashe certainly
must have been successful in his politics if he could keep Judea out
of war that long.
Seti repeatedly led military expeditions toward the Euphrates;
he also took measures to secure the safety of the cities of Galilee
and defended them against bands from the desert. His activities in Galilee
and his numerous marches across the plains of the Philistines, close
to Judea, might easily have infringed on Menashes territorial
rights. But apparently Menashe leaned toward Assyria and Egypt; he called
his son Amon, a sacred name among the Egyptians. He tried to avoid a
The latter part of Menashes long reign coincided
with the earlier part of the long reign of Seti, and it would be strange
indeed if, in Setis account of his march to Galilee and Syria,
he did not mention Menashe. With this thought in mind, it is worthwhile
to reread the annals of Seti. There we find Setis boast that he
had set terror in Retenu [Palestine], had taken from there
every costly stone of Gods land, and had beat
down the men of Menate (M-n-ty). The men of Menate, twice named
in this passage of Setis annals,(4)
are the men of Menashe. We have here the name we had every reason to
expect to find, inasmuch as Seti and Menashe were contemporaries.
The question, ‘Why do the Scriptures not mention
the presence of a pharaoh in Palestine in the days of Menashe?’
is not the point. Although the Scriptures contain no reference to this
fact, the historians admit that a pharaoh went with his army on a prolonged
expedition to Palestine in the time of Menashe, but they call him Psammetichos,
as Herodotus narrated.
The reason for the omission on the part of the Scriptures
is at hand. Since the time of Hezekiah, the father of Menashe, the land
of the Ten Tribes had been settled by non-Israelites, and the Books
of Kings and of Chronicles no longer occupy themselves with the history
of the place, in respect to this or any other event.
"Not far into Asia, Seti apparently meets a fortified
town, to which the relief gives the name Pekanan [Pekanon]. . . . Exactly
what this name means here is not certain. (5)
A scene on a bas-relief illustrates the occupation of the fortress Pekanon
in Palestine. The accompanying inscription reads:
Town of Pekanan (P -k -n -n
), Year I, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Menmare (Seti). The destruction
which the mighty sword of Pharaoh made among the vanquished of the
Shasu (invading Bedouins) from the fortress of Tharu (in Egypt) to
Pekanan, when his majesty marched against them like a fierce-eyed
lion, making them carcasses in their valleys, overturned in their
blood. . . . (6)
A few other places in the plain of Jezreel are also mentioned
as having been occupied with the intention of repelling the invasion
of the foreigners, but prominence is given to Pekanon.
No reference to the city of Pekanon is found in previous
lists of Palestinian cities compiled by the pharaohs, nor had the Israelites
found a city by that name when they occupied Canaan. Some scholars presume
that it may mean Pi-Canaan or The Canaan, but others disagree.(7)
The name has the sign of a country, but it is pictured on the bas-relief
as a city. This suggests that the city was the capital of a country.
The city of Pekanon must have existed for but a short
moment. It is conceded that Egyptian documents before Seti (whose reign,
according to the conventional chronology, started in -1310) do not know
such a city. Hebrew annals containing a list of the Palestinian cities
of the thirteenth century (the supposed time of the conquest by Joshua)
do not know it either. In the Egyptian sources Pekanon is met once more
on the stele of Merneptah (the grandson of Seti), who mentions the Israelites
in Palestine. Thus the name Pekanon became a hopeless issue in historical
Pekanon was a city fortified by Pekah, the next to the
last king of Israel.(8)
Cities built, rebuilt, or fortified by kings were often named in their
honor. Pekah, son of Remaliah, reigned in Samaria
for twenty years (II Kings 15:27). He was a ruler eager
for enterprises, from the day he slew Pekahiah, his master, until the
day he slaughtered 120,000 people of Judah and carried away captive
of their brethren two hundred thousand (II Chronicles 28:8), only
to release them shortly thereafter.
According to the reconstruction of history offered here,
Pekah preceded Seti the Great by two generations. This order of things
explains why, in the list of Thutmose III containing the names of hundreds
of Palestinian and Syrian localities, the name of Pekanon does not appear,
and why, in the biblical register of cities of Canaan, there is no mention
of this name in the days of Joshuas conquest or later. Judging
by the significance attached to Pekanon in the records of Seti, it was
an important city in or near the Esdraelon Valley, renamed by King Pekah,
who rebuilt or fortified it.
Luckenbill, Records of Assyria, II, Sec. 789.
Breasted, Records, Vol. Ill, Sec. 81.
Ibid., Sec. 101.
Breasted, Records, III, Sec. 118. On M-n-ty,
meaning the tribe Menashe, see Ages in Chaos, 1,173.
Breasted, Records, Vol. III, Sec. 87. See
W.M. Muller, Asien und Europa nach Altagyptischen Denkmalern, p.
Breasted, Records, Vol. III, Sec. 88.
G. Steindorff, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology,
XXV (1939), 32, supports this equation; Gauthier, Dictionnaire des
noms geographiques contenus dans les textes hieroglyphiques (Cairo,
1925-31), V, 187-88, questions it.
The form Pekanon is derived from
Pekah, like Shomron from Shemer (I Kings 16:24). Pekanon could also
be Shomron (Samaria) renamed by Pekah.