Biblical Archaeology Review 5:5, September/October 1979

The First Peace Treaty Between Israel and Egypt

3000 year old treaty sealed by marriage of Pharaoh’s daughter to King Solomon.

By Abraham Malamat

The recent peace treaty between Egypt and Israel may have a historical precedent from almost 3000 years ago. Then too, these two nations wisely decided that peaceful co-existence was better than military confrontation.

The peace accord in ancient times is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. The Bible was not written, however, for the purpose of recording history, but rather to record God’s relationship with a particular people. The Biblical historian is not concerned with facts in the same way as the modern historian. The Biblical writer’s world-view was such that he could not conceive of a Davidic-Solomonic empire in a “global” context. Even so, the modern historian can often reconstruct political events and the history of Biblical times from the traces and clues in the Biblical text.

The first peace agreement between Israel and Egypt was concluded about 960 B.C. At that time, the “cosignators” were King Solomon of Israel and most likely Pharaoh Siamun of Egypt. Since the Bible does not mention the existence of the treaty, naturally it does not allude to the circumstances leading to this singular event. But many of the facts can be ascertained from a sensitive reading of the text, supplemented by external sources, some of them archaeological, as well as from the modern historian’s analytical conceptualizations.

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