Biblical Archaeology Review 17:6, November/December 1991
Scholars Disagree: Can You Name the Panel with the Israelites?

Yurco’s Response

By Frank J. Yurco

Anson Rainey’s article is most welcome. He presents strong support for my overall interpretation of the battle reliefs on the western outer wall of the Cour de la Cachette in the Karnak temple in Egypt. He has interpreted the evidence much as I did, including an overall consideration of Merenptah’s work in the decoration and inscribing of these reliefs.

He disagrees, however, with my interpretation of what I called scene 4 and its identification with Israel. As Rainey acknowledges, the parallels and precedents for my reinterpretation of the sequence of the battle scenes are valid, but he doubts that the Canaanite dress and chariot in possession of pharaoh’s foes in scene 4 could be Israelite.

First, on the order of the scenes, since Ashkelon is the first among the defeated enemies named on Merenptah’s Israel Stele—and is the southernmost geographically—I took it to be the first place pharaoh attacked, and that accordingly establishes the flow of the battle reliefs. Pharaoh’s direction of attack shows the direction of the action, and it is to the left (northward). The next scene to the left is the one I called Gezer. Yano‘am then must lie above Gezer, as it has a fortress. Israel can only be scene 4, above Ashkelon, for that is the only remaining battle scene.

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