The Tempest Stela
Chris Ogilvie-Herald, co-author of "Giza, the Truth" was poking around the
library of the Egypt Exploration Society one day, when he happened upon a copy
of a booklet by Ritner and Foster regarding an inscription on an Egyptian
stele of Ahmose I. Chrisı prime interest was the meteorology of Egypt, but
knowing my interest in the Hyksos period, he
popped a copy in the post to me as well. It was rather fortunate that his
eagle eye had spotted the pamphlet, because it was to lead to a whole new
avenue of research for me.
The book "Jesus, Last of the Pharaohs" was primarily a comparison between the
Hyksos exodus out of Egypt and the Israelite exodus out of Egypt. To me, the
parallel texts were far too close to each other to be the result of
coincidence; they had to be one and the same event. The only real problem with
the whole thesis, however, was the fact that outside the biblical type texts,
there is little or no historical evidence for the Israelite exodus. Even some
Jewish historians have been inclined to regard the biblical exodus as a fable
inspired by ancient myths and some eager scribes.
So the arrival of the pamphlet from Chris was quite an extraordinary and
fortuitous event. My eyes were immediately drawn to a few paragraphs in the
translation of the Stele, for they were familiar but why should the long
lost scribbling of an ancient Egyptian scribe appear familiar to me? It was
temporarily a little baffling. Was this quote something I had read about
regarding the Hyksos pharaohs in Egypt? Was it from the many Egyptian text
books that littered my office? Then the penny began to drop; I had seen these
paragraphs before, not in a book on Egyptology, but in the Bible.
I was somewhat taken aback, for this biblical quotation detailed the events
that occurred during the biblical exodus of the Israelites. Here was, quite
possibly, the historical evidence for the exodus that had been sought after by
so many people for so long. The "Tempest Stele", as it came to be known known,
had been translated and poured over by Egyptologists and historians alike for
over 30 years, yet nobody seems to have noticed the fact that a large section
of the text was identical to sections in the Torah, Bible and Koran. It seemed
impossible that these people had not spotted it before, but there again,
perhaps they were not in the right frame of mind to accept such a finding even
if it were noticed.
Tempest Stele was erected by the pharaoh Ahmose I at the beginning of the
eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, which equates to about 1550 BC. The stele derives
its dramatic title from the great storms that it details, which evidently
struck Egypt during the reign of Ahmose I. Climatically speaking, southern, or
Upper Egypt can be thought of as being in the midst of the Sahara desert, and
although the occasional desert thunderstorm will create a flash flood every
decade or so, the area is otherwise bone dry. Ahmoseıs account of a raging
nationwide tempest of rain continuing without cessation and being louder than
a waterfall at Aswan, can therefore be considered to be highly unusual in this
... now then ... the gods declared their discontent. The gods
[caused] the sky to come in a tempest of rain, with darkness in the western
region and the sky being unleashed without [cessation, louder than] the
cries of the masses, more powerful than [...], [while the rain raged] on the
mountains louder than the noise of the cataract which is at Elephantine.
This was certainly a notable occurrence, it was not only worthy of an
Egyptian stele being cut to record these events, but was it also worthy of a
scroll being written too? Was the Israelite equivalent of the stele the second
book of the Torah Exodus?
The biblical plagues have often been dismissed as being far too late,
chronologically speaking, to be coincident with a stele being written by
Ahmose I. But for various reasons detailed more fully in the book "Jesus, Last
of the Pharaohs", I believe that the biblical exodus was much earlier than
currently thought. In essence, I agree with the first century historian
Josephus when he says that the Israelite exodus was, in fact, the exodus of
the Hyksos peoples from Egypt. The Hyksos exodus has been determined as being
in the reign of Ahmose I, which would therefore place the biblical exodus at
just the right time for the biblical plagues to be coincident with the Tempest
The biblical plagues have a similar theme to that which has been translated
from the Tempest Stele:
... a thick darkness, without the least light, spread itself over
the Egyptians; whereby their sight being obstructed, and their breathing
hindered by the thickness of the air ... under a terror least they be
swallowed up by the dark cloud ... Hail was sent down from heaven, and such
hail it was, as the climate of Egypt had never suffered before ... the hail
broke down their boughs laden with fruit.
This brings us to the rather interesting translation of the Tempest Stele,
which accords so well with the biblical account, indeed it appears to be a
direct quotation from the Bible. There are a number of biblical quotations and
similarities inscribed on the Tempest Stele and one of them reads as follows:
Then his Majesty began ... to provide them with silver, with gold,
with copper, with oil, and of every bolt [of cloth] that could be desired.
Then his majesty made himself comfortable inside the palace.
In the Bible, an exact equivalent of the description above is to be found.
During the exodus the Bible says:
This is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, silver, and
brass [copper]. And cloth of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen
... oil for the light, spices for anointing oil and for sweet incense ...
and let them make a [palace] sanctuary that I may dwell among them.
The quotations that I discuss in the booklet consist of three successive
sentences, plus another three in another related chapter on the same topic.
Here however, I will just look at just this one similar sentence and what we
appear to have here is a section of the Bible written upon an Egyptian stele
(or vice versa).
The reference in the Tempest Stele, to tributes of gold, silver, oil and
cloth, makes little sense; were these precious materials supposed to be
offerings to the gods? But in the stele text, a gold offering had already been
given to the gods, so what was this second offering for? The biblical version
of this text gives us the vital clue to the true meaning of the Egyptian text
the biblical version is not describing an offering to the gods, but the
expensive materials that were brought to Moses for the building of the mobile
temple known as the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant.
This stupendously extravagant construction was a mobile copy of the
standard Egyptian temple, with outer courts, an outer altar, rows of pillars
and an inner Holy of Holies. The Bible describes this lavishly decorated and
very expensive construction in the minutest of detail, it was certainly the
centerpiece of Israelite culture, perhaps more so than even the Ark of the
Covenant, which eventually resided inside it. Once the Ark and the Tabernacle
had been constructed by the people, Moses made himself comfortable inside the
palace (Tabernacle), exactly as the pharaoh does in the Tempest Stele.
So was this a description of the same event in both the Egyptian and the
Israelite accounts? Was Ahmose I making a Tabernacle?
If this was a description of the same events, however, it might initially
seem that Ahmose I would then have to be a pseudonym Moses! It is highly
unlikely that Ahmose I is being confused with Moses, although the name is
undeniably similar Ahmose I was not Hyksos and he did not flee Egypt as far
as we are aware, thus it is unlikely that Ahmose I would have required a
mobile temple as the fleeing Hyksos would have done. As a possible explanation
of the similarity between the texts, this version has too many problems
attached to it and a more plausible explanation is required.
If Ahmose I was not Moses, what other scenarios are there that would make
more sense of the two texts? One obvious solution would be that one of the two
scribes had simply copied the text from the other; but it is difficult to see
why this would have been done if the events being described did not apply to
that particular political grouping.
A much more likely scenario is, perhaps, to be glimpsed from the different
context of the two texts. If the texts can be understood to be accurate in
some detail, it is significant that Ahmose was giving the precious materials
of gold, silver, copper, oil and cloth, but Moses was receiving them. Does
this small observation make more sense of the two texts? I think it does. The
alternative scenario is that there were two sides to everything that was being
discussed two pharaohs, two sets of priests, two parties of advisors and two
different perspectives from which the accounts of these events were eventually
What I am saying here is that Ahmose I had actually met his counterpart,
the northern Hyksos pharaoh, and the tributes of precious materials were being
passed from the Theban Pharaoh to the Hyksos pharaoh. Each side at this
meeting would then have written their own, but obviously very similar, account
of the proceedings. This does rather infer, of course, that Moses was either
the Hyksos pharaoh himself, or, more probably, a high ranking enough official
within the Hyksos royal court to accept these extremely valuable Gifts. As
Moses was, by the admission of the various biblical type texts, brought up in
the court of the pharaoh, an Egyptian army commander and also a High Priest of
Heliopolis, perhaps this is elevated rank is not too surprising.
A summary of the events leading up to the exodus is perhaps required at
this point. We know, from both the historical and biblical records, that the
people of Egypt thought that the gods were angry during this period; clearly,
both the Tempest Stele and the Bible talk of great storms deluging the
otherwise arid lands of Egypt. We also know that there were tensions between
the Theban pharaohs and the Hyksos pharaohs, and likewise between the Egyptian
pharaoh and the Israelites; both records again speak of political / religious
tensions between the two parties involved. Furthermore, we know that both the
Hyksos and the Israelites were thrown out of Egypt and that both these events
involved a battle with the Egyptian army. Finally, both the entire Hyksos and
the entire Israelites population embarked on an exodus towards Palestine, the
Egyptian historian Manetho even indicating that the destination of the Hyksos
refugees was Jerusalem.
The similarity between these two historical events is perfectly obvious and
so it should not be surprising that someone should propose that they are in
reality one and the same event. But even if they were the same event, what we
are not quite so sure of is whether this exodus was initiated by a simple
pitched battle followed by a hasty retreat, or whether there was some kind of
treaty signed and a more orderly withdrawal initiated.
The constant biblical dialogue between the Israelites and the Egyptians
would tend to infer that there was some form of discussion and possible
agreement between the parties and not just outright conflict. According to the
Bible, the Israelites wanted to leave Egypt, but the (Theban) pharaoh would
not let them go. I think the Bible is nearly correct in this, but that the
true situation was not that the (Theban) pharaoh would not let them go, but
that the he would not agree to their terms. Thus the Israelites go back to the
pharaoh time and time again asking if he will agree; he accedes at last, but
only after there were a number of national calamities (plagues), including
deaths among the Egyptian people.
So was there a negotiation between the parties and an orderly withdrawal?
Was there an agreement that allowed the Israelites/Hyksos to leave Egypt on
their terms, with heads held high and their pockets brimming with gold? The
Tempest Stele could, just possibly, be a recording just this when it mentions
the bounty of gold, silver, copper oil and cloth that was being given to some
unknown party. The Theban pharaoh Ahmose I is clearly giving a kingıs ransom
to someone, and in a similar fashion the biblical Moses is clearly receiving
exactly the same items of tribute from someone. So was this two independent
reports of the same event? The third century BC Egyptian historian Manetho is
often derided as being an unreliable reporter, however he clearly asserts that
the above scenario was historically correct for the Hyksos people and their
exodus from Egypt:
The [Theban] pharaoh attacked the walls [of Avaris] with an army of
480,000 men, and endeavoured to reduce [the Hyksos] to submission by siege.
Despairing of achieving his object, he concluded a TREATY under which they
were all to evacuate Egypt and go whither they would unmolested. Upon these
terms no fewer than 240,000 families with their possessions, left Egypt and
traversed the deserts to Syria [later explained as being Jerusalem].
Clearly there was an ancient tradition that indicated that the Hyksos were
bought off by the Theban Egyptians with a large tribute of precious metals and
materials just before their exodus from Egypt. But what of the Israelite
traditions? If the Israelites were the Hyksos peoples, as the historian
Josephus says, then surely their traditions should say something similar? This
is not only sound reasoning, but it also seems to be remarkably correct. The
biblical texts say of this same event:
Speak now in the ears of the [Israelites], and let every man borrow of
his neighbour [the Egyptians] ... jewels of silver and jewels of gold. And
the Lord gave the [Israelites] favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that
they lentı them such things as they required. And they spoiled the
They [the Egyptians] also honoured the Hebrews with gifts; some in
order to get them to depart quickly, and others on account of their
neighbourhood and the friendship they had with them.
The Israelites, like their alter-egos the Hyksos, were apparently given a
financial inducement to leave Egypt; and like the Hyksos, the Israelites also
set off on a great exodus across hostile territory towards the city of
Jerusalem. How many coincidences do we need before it is recognised that the
Hyksos were the Israelites?
If the tributes mentioned in the Bible were really those that were
mentioned on the Tempest Stele, then the reparations also seem to have
included the expensive materials that were specifically required for the
construction of the mobile Egyptian temple, known to Israelite history as the
Tabernacle, and also for the construction of the Ark of the Covenant. It seems
highly likely, therefore, that the gold, silver, oil and cloth mentioned on
the Tempest Stele, was being donated to the Hyksos/Israelites by Ahmose I as
an inducement for them to leave the country. Any nation as deeply religious as
the Hyksos/Israelites would have needed a mobile temple before even
contemplating their long journey across the Sinai.
What we seem to have in the Tempest Stele is not only an account of the
biblical plagues, but also an account of the beginning of the Hyksos/Israelite
exodus and how it was organised and implemented by the two parties involved in
the dispute. Although the biblical and the historical accounts of the exodus
both hint darkly about a great deal of looting, pillaging and murder of the
(Theban) Egyptians by the Israelites/Hyksos, it can now be seen that these
apparently independent Israelite and Egyptian records both strongly allude to
a diplomatic agreement between the parties involved; with substantial
financial reparations being given to the impending Israelites/Hyksos
This has been just a small snippet of the Tempest Stele analysis that is
detailed more fully in the book "Tempest & Exodus", and I hope it will
stimulate some interesting debate and comments. This booklet will be revised,
expanded and published as a complete book sometime in the near future.