Ægyptian Influence in Palestine and Ancient Israel
Palestine (Greek: Παλαιστίνη, Palaistinē; Latin: Palaestina; the Hebrew name Peleshet (פלשת Pəléshseth); also פלשׂתינה, Palestina; Arabic: فلسطين Filasṭīn, Falasṭīn, Filisṭīn) is a conventional name used, among others, to describe a geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands.
As a geographic term, Palestine can refer to "ancient Palestine," an area that today includes the State of Israel and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, as well as part of Jordan, and some of both Lebanon and Syria.
The earliest known mention is thought to be in Ancient Egyptian texts of the temple at Medinet Habu which record a people called the P-r-s-t (conventionally Peleset) among the Sea Peoples who invaded Egypt in Ramesses III's reign. The Hebrew name Peleshet (פלשת Pəléshseth)- usually translated as Philistia in English, is used in the Bible to denote the southern coastal region that was inhabited by the Philistines to the west of the ancient Kingdom of Judah.
The boundaries of Palestine have varied throughout history. Prior to its being named Palestine, Ancient Egyptian texts (c. 14 century BCE) called the entire coastal area along the Mediterranean Sea between modern Egypt and Turkey R-t-n-u (conventionally Retjenu). Retjenu was subdivided into three regions and the southern region, Djahy, shared approximately the same boundaries as Canaan, or modern-day Israel and the Palestinian territories, though including also Syria.
The boundaries of the area and the ethnic nature of the people referred to by Herodotus in the 5th century BCE as Palaestina vary according to context. Sometimes, he uses it to refer to the coast north of Mount Carmel. Elsewhere, distinguishing the Syrians in Palestine from the Phoenicians, he refers to their land as extending down all the coast from Phoenicia to Egypt. Josephus used the name Παλαιστινη only for the smaller coastal area, Philistia.
An archaeological textual reference concerning the territory of Palestine is thought to have been made in the Merneptah Stele, dated c. 1200 BCE, containing a recount of Egyptian king Merneptah's victories in the land of Canaan, mentioning place-names such as Gezer, Ashkelon and Yanoam, along with Israel, which is mentioned using a hieroglyphic determinative that indicates a nomad people, rather than a state.
The Hebrew Bible calls the region Canaan (כּנען) (Numbers 34:1–12), while the part of it occupied by Israelites is designated Israel (Yisrael). The name "Land of the Hebrews" (ארץ העברים, Eretz Ha-Ivrim) is also found, as well as several poetical names: "land flowing with milk and honey", "land that [God] swore to your fathers to assign to you", "Land of the Lord", and the "Promised Land".
The wide area appears to have been the home of several small nations such as the Canaanites, Hebrews, Hittites, Amorrhites, Pherezites, Hevites and Jebusites. According to Hebrew tradition, the land of Canaan is part of the land given to the descendants of Abraham, which extends from the "river of Egypt" to the Euphrates River (Genesis 15:18) – some identify the river of Egypt with the Nile, others believe it to be a wadi in northern Sinai, cf. Numbers 34:5; Joshua 15:3-4; Joshua 15:47; 1 Kings 8:65; 2 Kings 24:7.
The Canaanite city-states held trade and diplomatic relations with Egypt and Syria. Parts of the Canaanite urban civilisation were destroyed around 2300 BCE, though there is no consensus as to why.
In the Middle Bronze Age (2200–1500 BCE), Canaan was influenced by the surrounding civilisations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Minoan Crete, and Syria. Burial customs from this time seemed to be influenced by a belief in the afterlife remarkably similar to that of the Ægyptians.
Political, commercial and military events during the Late Bronze Age period (1450–1350 BCE) were recorded by ambassadors and Canaanite proxy rulers for Egypt in 379 cuneiform tablets known as the Amarna Letters. The Minoan influence is also apparent at Tel Kabri.
There was an at least partial Egyptian withdrawal from Palestine in this period, though it is likely that Bet Shean was an Egyptian garrison as late as the beginning of the 10th century BCE. The socio-political system was characterised by local patrons fighting other local patrons, lasting until around the mid-9th century BCE when some local chieftains were able to create large political structures that exceeded the boundaries of those present in the Late Bronze Age Levant.
Archæological findings from this era include, among others, the Mesha Stele, from c. 850 BCE, which recounts the conquering of Moab, located East of the Dead Sea, by king Omri, and the successful revolt of Moabian king Mesha against Omri's son, presumably King Ahab (and French scholar André Lemaire reported that line 31 of the Stele bears the phrase "the house of David" (in Biblical Archaeology Review [May/June 1994], pp. 30–37).); and the Kurkh Monolith, dated c. 835 BCE, describing King Shalmaneser III of Assyria's Battle of Qarqar, where he fought alongside the contingents of several kings, among them King Ahab and King Gindibu.