Who were the Hyksos?

One of the new articles/ sidebars in the new edition of All Through the Ages concerns the Hyksos and their place in Egyptian history. This article has bearing on a recent question I received comparing Story of the Ancient World to Unwrapping the Pharaohs, so before I answer that, here is Who were the Hyksos?:

The native Egyptians, the people of Mizraim, at first did not build up the elaborate society by which history knows them, for they lived simply, their chief town being Memphis. But in the course of time the Cush-ites, descendants of Cush, rebelled against the Divine will (Nimrod was their king at the Tower of Babel rebellion), became wandering nomads, and began troubling the settled peoples in many places. In 2084 bc, or a little more than one hundred years after Mizraim first entered Egypt, a large group of Cush-ites invaded the country from the east, and overtook the land. The Egyptians recorded that event thus:

“Of a sudden there came upon this country, a large body of noble people from the east (two hundred and forty thousand!); who with great boldness invaded the land, and took it without the least opposition: not a single battle was hazarded. The chief of our people they reduced to obedience, and then in a most cruel manner, they set fire to our towns, and overturned our temples. Their behavior to the natives was very barbarous, for they killed the men, and made slaves of the wives and children.

“At length they consitituted one of their body to be their king. He resided at Memphis, holding all the Upper and Lower country tributary; and having garrisons in every place of consequence. He took particular care to secure every part to the east; as the Assyrians (i.e., the sons of Shem) were then very powerful.”

–Josephus, Against Apion, Book I, 14.75, quoting Manetho’s Egyptian History, Book II.

Josephus goes on to identify these invaders, whom Menetho calls Hyksos, with shepherds, and his own ancestors, who were shepherds in Egypt when Joseph was governor there. But this could not possibly be the case, as it grossly contradicts the Biblical account of the Hebrews. Instead, the Greek “Hyksos” was originally U-Cousos, a Chaldean and Egyptian word meaning “noble Cush-ite,” (Jacob Bryant, Observations and Inquiries upon Ancient History, p. 196, and A New System, or an Analysis of Ancient Mythology, Vol. 1, pp.94-95).

The Cush-ites established Nimrod’s religion throughout Egypt. Their chief deity was the sun, which they worshipped by the name of Amon-Ra, which means, Ham, the sun god; for who the Hebrews called Ham, the Cush-ites called Am or Amon. They were the first to deify their ancestors.

However, for all their tyranny, the Cush-ites did improve the country in many ways. They built reservoirs, and drained the marshes of the Delta using canals, which they had also employed to improve Sumer, their country of origin. They turned the Delta into the most beautiful land in Egypt, and there the Cush-ites settled.

They introduced hieroglyphics, which were from Chaldean characters. The Cush-ites were great builders, as they had shown in Sumer. It was during the reign of the Hyksos, or Shepherd Kings, that the great pyramids were built; the Cush-ites likewise built towers, temples, and pyramids in many places around the world to which they migrated. They furthermore built beautiful cities, and palaces; and were learned in all the science, astronomy, and mathematics of the Chaldeans; as well as pagan rites, and the occult. It was the Shepherd Kings who established all the rites of the dead, for which Egypt became famous. It was from these kings that the rulers of the Egyptians were first called Pharaoh, for such a title meant, “voice of the sun god.” In Sumer also, the people believed that the gods gave their messages to the king, who relayed the god’s will to the people (Christine Miller, Story of the Ancient World, pp. 68-70).

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