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Horemheb’s Grudge Rule

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

   

Ephraim’s successor devotes to expunging Moses and fellow Amarna Kings from human memory

When Pharaoh Tutankhamen (King Tut, the son of Moses/Akhenaten) died circa 1352 BC, at age 21,  he had  no qualifying heirs at all,  having gone to the grave without issue. He had, however, long anointed a successor. The terms of the succession were that in the event that Tut died childless, the army general Horemheb would assume the reins.

Horemheb had no connection geneticwise to the royal family but he was an outstanding diplomat and a proficient general.  A career dog of war, he first served as Secretary of State under King Tut before he was given the powerful portfolio of army commander-in-chief and adviser to the pharaoh.  Aware that Horemheb was the main man behind his father’s ouster, King Tut  thought, and wisely at that,  that Horemheb had to be won over utterly and completely. Thus from practically the word go, King Tut designated Horemheb  as the Hereditary Prince of Upper and Lower Egypt and Deputy of the King in the Entire Land. The message was unequivocal: the young King intended Horemheb to succeed him all other things being equal. 

But it so happened that at the time of King Tut’s death, Horemheb  was away in Asia on a military campaign and his highly  influential uncle Ephraim (Aye to the Egyptians), who loathed the notion of a non-Josephite succeeding to the throne, persuaded King Tut’s half-sister widow, Ankhesenamen, also a child of Moses, to take the throne.  But fearful of the perils of pharaonic office under a political climate in which the army now reigned supreme, Amkhesenamen decided that she would rather a new husband of hers became pharaoh rather than she herself, which was perfectly in line with constitutional provisions. 

The ranks of Horemheb’s lieutenants, who had remained behind,  insisted that  Horemheb had to be the next pharaoh come rain or shine, whether in his own right or as Ankhesenamen’s new husband. The proposal was repugnant both to Ephraim and Ankhesenamen and to Amkhesenamen for one, it was anathema. First and foremost, it was Horemheb, along with  two other members of the army top brass, Pa-Ramses and Seti, who had forced the abdication of her father Moses and were possibly the behind-the-scenes mastermind of the slaying of her husband. Even more pertinent was the fact that Horemheb had no pedigree: as a commoner, he didn’t have a drop of royal  blood coursing in his  veins.  

So Amkhesenamen decided to look elsewhere for a suitor. This  was in foreign territory, in Hatti, the Hittite Kingdom across the Mediterranean Sea. But to Amkhesenamen, the Hittite empire was not strictly foreign territory.  At the time, the Hittite Kingdom was the most formidable challenge to Egypt’s geopolitical clout. It had taken advantage of Moses’ tumultuous reign and pried Syria from the clutches of Egypt. Presently, the Hittite Kingdom encompassed  modern-day Turkey and  Lebanon.

At the time, the largest concentration of the Hykso-Hebrews  was found in Harran in Turkey. Harran not only was founded by Terah, Abraham’s father,  but the Hittite King’s senior wife  was a Hykso-Hebrew and a descendant of Abraham.  In a way,  therefore, Amkhesenamen  was related to Hittite royalty.

JOSEPH’S SON EPHRAIM IS NEW PHARAOH

Amkhesenamen accordingly wrote a letter to King Suppiluliumas of the Hittite Kingdom beseeching him to find her a husband from amongst the Hittite royalty. The letter said, “My husband is dead and I do not have a son. It is said that you have many sons. If you sent one, he could be my husband.” Amkhesenamen underscored in the letter that she wanted a Hittite prince because at home, the powerful Egyptian establishment wanted her to marry “a servant”, that was the abysmally low esteem in which she held Horemheb.

Receiving the letter, Suppiluliumas at first was wary: he thought it was simply a ruse meant to get him to walk into a snare of some sort. So he sent his chamberlain to Egypt with a view to ascertaining the veracity of the message in the letter. The chamberlain was satisfied with his findings and when he returned to Hatti, he carried a second letter from  Amkhesenamen,  which was at once a plea and a remonstration. “Why do you say,   ‘do not deceive me’?” she wondered aloud in the letter. “If I had a son,  would I write to a foreign country in such a humiliating way for me and my country? Give me one of your sons and he will be my husband and the king of Egypt.”

Content with the report of his chamberlain, and excited at the prospect of his own son being Egypt’s sovereign, the Hittite King obliged King Tut’s widow and chose one of his princes, Zannanza, as her new spouse. Horemheb and company were wroth and moved quickly to nip the whole affair right in the bud. Zannanza was waylaid  whilst journeying to Egypt and was killed. Amkhesenamen was gutted. On his part, the Hittite King was so incandescent with rage that he invaded Canaan, which was under Egyptian hegemony, and appended much of the territory to Hatti. 

Be that as it may, Amkhesenamen was adamant that she could marry Horemheb only over her dead body. Acknowledging that  the iron-willed lady simply would not budge, Ephraim then suggested that  she and he  marry to ensure  the throne remained firmly in the hands of the Josephite clan.  Although  Ephraim was significantly older than her, Amkhesenamen meekly gave ground. Thus it was that Ephraim took the Egyptian throne as Pharaoh  Aye in 1352 BC, with Amkhesenamen supplanting her great-aunt Tey (Aye’s first wife) as the Chief Wife.

When Horemheb returned from Asia (he scarcely knew what had transpired as in those days of no mass media and telecommunications,  news travelled glacially slowly), he found Ephraim already ensconced as Pharaoh. In order to at once placate him and co-opt him into the royal dynasty, Horemheb was offered a princess of his choice for espousal. He chose Benretmut, the younger sister of Nefertiti (Moses’ senior wife).  Benretmut was a true-blue Egyptian royal. She had the blood of Amenhotep III (her father) and Tuthmosis IV (her grandfather). Horemheb already had a first wife, Amenia, but she too was supplanted in prestige by the well-connected Benretmut.

HOREMHEB SEIZES POWER

Yet Ephraim as the new pharaoh did not go far enough in endearing himself to the obviously disaffected and disgruntled Horemheb. Whereas under King Tut Horemheb was army commander, under Ephraim he was no more than 2IC.  The rank of army general was given to Nakht Min, who was a relative of Ephraim on his father’s side, which made him a Hykso-Hebrew. To add insult to injury, Ephraim not only adopted General Min as his son but went on to declare him his successor, as some Roman emperors would later do post- first century AD.

It goes without saying that Horemheb was indignant at this virtual snub when King Tut had held him in very high esteem. In any case, Horemheb had always begrudged the Josephite clan. To him, Moses, Aaron, Tut, and Ephraim were all foreigners in that they all were offspring of Joseph, who did not have a single drop of Egyptian blood in him. Of the last six pharaohs, the only true Egyptians, so Horemheb reckoned, were Thutmosis IV and Amenhotep III: the rest were infiltrators whose aim was to   steal the Egyptian throne from the sons of the soil and firmly ensconce it in the hands of the Hykso-Hebrew usurpers.  Horemheb’s dim view of the Josephite scions was the reason he settled for  Benretmut, who was not related to Joseph in any way, shape, or form.

Horemheb’s aversion to the Amarna regime (the pharaohs Moses, Aaron, Tut, and Ephraim) was shared by the dissident establishment in the corridors of Egyptian power. They too resented the Amarna stranglehold on the Egyptian throne. They thus rooted for a true Egyptian to reclaim the throne. They were particularly incensed that Horemheb, an indigenous Egyptian, not only had been elbowed out by Ephraim but he had been sidestepped in the line of succession in favour of another Hykso-Hebrew in Nakht Min, thus perpetuating Hykso-Hebrew control of Egypt.

For the first three years of Ephraim’s rule, Horemheb served him loyally and dutifully but all he was doing was biding his time. Then in year four, he struck. Ephraim was overthrown and both he and his anointed heir Nakht Min were killed. The dude at the helm now was Horemheb. The year was 1348 BC. Horemheb’s power grab ended the Armana era, which lasted a total of 33 years. The number 33 is of special Masonic significance. That Horemheb shot himself to power in the 33rd year of Amarna rule was no coincidence.   
    
THE PHARAOH OF THE OPPRESSION

The name Horemheb means “Triumph of Horus,” one of the most popular of Egyptian gods. In a war both of vengeance (in relation to Set’s killing of Osiris, father to Horus)  and the control of Egypt,  Horus  trounced Set and ejected him from Egypt. No doubt, Horemheb saw himself as Horus and the now terminated Amarna kings as a Setean cabal. Indeed,  his coronation text formally credited “my god Horus”  for establishing him on the throne. Indigenous Egyptians now ruled Egypt. The country had been redeemed from the iron grip of the Hykso-Hebrews.

Upon taking the throne, Horemheb appointed Pa-Ramses, a supine henchman of his, as army commander as well as his first vizier, thus making him the most powerful man in Egypt after Horemheb himself. Pa-Ramses’ son, Seti,  was appointed deputy army commander and second vizier. Both Pa-Ramses and Seti would in future take turns as pharaohs of Egypt. That all the first four pharaohs after King Tut – Ephraim, Horemheb, Ramses I, and Seti – were from the ranks of the army attests to just what a sway the army had on the politics of Egypt. 

HOREMHEB IS THE PHARAOH DESCRIBED IN EXODUS 1:8 AS “A NEW KING OVER EGYPT WHICH KNEW NOT JOSEPH”.  But the proper rendering of this statement should have been of a king who was “not related” to Joseph. Joseph died during the rule of his son Ephraim and therefore Horemheb must have been  well-acquainted with him.  What set Horemheb apart from his four predecessors was that he was not descended from  Joseph.

In fact, he was an implacable enemy of the Hykso-Hebrews. Under his rule, it were the Hykso-Hebrews he targeted first and foremost and saw to  it that he made a misery of their lives. As such, he has become known to scholars who place him in that timeframe as the Pharaoh of the Oppression. The Hykso-Hebrews abounded in the Goshen region in the eastern delta and were concentrated at Avaris and Zaru.

Since Pa-Ramses came from the eastern delta, he was also entrusted with the post of Mayor of Zaru and Overseer of the Fortress of  Zaru.  Pa-Ramses seemed to have devoted himself to making the Hykso-Hebrews lives “bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field”. In the olden days before the time of Thutmosis IV, Zaru used to be a fortress prison. Under Thutmosis IV, it was rehabilitated as one of Egypt’s principal garrison cities.

Horemheb decided to restore it to the prison it used to be and had Pa-Ramses   conscript the Hebrew-Hyksos and set them to the harsh work of rebuilding it along the lines of a prison-city.  Pa-Ramses personally supervised the project, seeing to it  that  Hebrew-Hyksos were subjected to the harshest labour imaginable just out of sheer callousness and not because of desperate necessity.

Once the reconstruction was complete, Pa-Ramses gathered all the hardcore criminals both from among the Hykso-Hebrews and the Egyptians and massed them into the prison-city, with the Egyptian criminals under express instructions to ensure they made hell of  the lot of Hykso-Hebrew prisoners. Because Zaru was reconstructed under the mayoralship of Pa-Ramses, the Bible causes it Pi-Ramses. But it was the plush residence of Pa-Ramses, again built on Hykso-Hebrew slave labour, that Egyptians dubbed Pi-Ramses.

HOREMHEB SETS OUT TO ERASE MEMORY OF AMARNA STREAK

When Horemheb came to power, his aim was to tippex into oblivion the memory of the Amarna Kings, who he regarded as foreign encroachers and appropriators of Egypt’s monarchical institution. As such, he went to unseemly lengths to ensure they were rendered obscure   to posterity and even in the annals of the world altogether. 


The names of the four Amarna Kings were removed from the official Kings’ List of the 18th Dynasty and all other Egyptian records for that matter, so that the next king after Amenhotep III was listed as Horemheb himself.  Horemheb was so phenomenally successful in this purge that for the next 3000 years, the world was unaware totally  that once upon a time, Egypt was ruled by pharaohs  Akhenaten, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamen, and Aye.

All the standing monuments of the Amarna Kings, including their milestone installations, were systematically dismantled. For example, Ephraim’s titulary, which was carved on the back of a  towering  17-ft statue,  was deleted and Horemheb’s own was carved in its place.  In an extreme act of sacrillege, Ephraim’s tomb was ransacked: his sarcophagus was smashed to pieces and his name was chiseled out of the tomb. Although Horemheb spared, by and large, King Tut’s tomb, obviously on account of the fact that it was under his rule that he rose to prominence, he still replaced many of Tut’s cartouches  with his own.  

In the wide-ranging judicial reforms that he instituted, Horemheb laid down strict reprisals even for crimes that were not felonies as such but  were simply misdemeanours. One such barbarism was the decree that all those who misappropriated  monies meant to boost the national fiscus, such as tax receipts, were to have their noses hacked off before being  taken  to the fortress prison at Zaru,  there  to die a slow and agonising death. 

The Theban priesthood were not entirely left to their own devices either. They were allowed unfettered religious freedom alright,  but their ranks were heavily diluted with deployees from the army whose allegiance first and foremost was to the pharaoh and only secondarily to matters of faith.  That way, Horemheb intended to ensure that the priesthood did not undermine his authority or secretly connive   with pro-Armana dissidents to oust him.

HOREMHEB HAUNTED BY MOSES

Of the four Armana Kings, two were dead. Of the two who were alive, that is, Moses and Aaron, it was Moses who represented the greater threat to Horemheb: it didn’t matter that he was no longer based on Egyptian soil but was practically in another country. It transpired that the Cult of the Aten that Moses had pioneered and fiercely championed as pharaoh did not die with his departure: in point of fact, it had been gaining ground in the intervening years.

A great number of Egyptians had adopted Atenism and were no longer a peripheral religious constituency. Horemheb feared that if these continued to rally in force and make a great deal of  politico-religious commotion, they would transform into a serious pro-Moses movement that could pose a serious threat to his  rule. Horemheb thus decided to put his foot down and drown away the potential clamour for the return of Moses.

In what one scholar has termed the ruthless Amunism of Horemheb (his fanatical devotion to Amen-Ra-Marduk),   Horemheb declared Moses his Enemy No. 1. He prohibited the worship of Aten and designated the very mention of the name Akhenaten punishable by death. In public pronouncements,  Moses was referred to as the Fallen One of Akhetaten (the original name of Amarna); the Scoundrel of Akhetaten; or the Rebel of Akhetaten. Egyptians who secretly continued to venerate Aten were dubbed “Polluted Persons”. The monuments that Moses had erected and which were still standing up to the time of Ephraim were pulled down and the rabble thereof used as part of  the building  material for Horemheb’s pylons.

With the mention of Akhenaten’s name outlawed, his underground followers had decided to come up with a coded name. This was Mos, or Mosis. In the Egyptian language of the day, Mos had two meanings. One was “son” and the other was “the rightful son and heir”, the “Royal Mosis”.  To his followers, Akhenaten was not only the firstborn son of Amenhotep III, the 8th Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty,  but he remained the rightful King of Egypt given the circumstances under which he left office.

IT WAS THE MONIKER MOSIS WHICH IN THE HEBREW VERSION OF BIBLE APPEARS AS MOSHE  AND AS MOSES IN ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS.  Says the renowned Egyptologist Ahmed Osman: “The biblical editor, who may not have had any knowledge of the original name of the greatest Jewish leader, attempted to put forward a Hebrew explanation of the Egyptian word Moses in order to sever any possible link between Moses and Egypt.”

Horemheb has been characterised by scholars as akin to the Spanish dictator Franco. But his reign was not entirely without its bright spots. He was “a prolific builder who erected numerous temples and buildings throughout Egypt”. Under him, “power and confidence were once again restored after the internal chaos of the Armana period”.  For that he deserves a bit of credit and not wholesale pillorying.

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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