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George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 284 pages of information about Ancient Egypt.

XIX.

SHISHAK AND HIS DYNASTY.

The rise of the twenty-second resembles in many respects that of the twenty-first dynasty.  In both cases the cause of the revolution Is to be found in the weakness of the royal house, which rapidly loses its pristine vigour, and is impotent to resist the first assault made upon it by a bold aggressor.  Perhaps the wonder is rather that Egyptian dynasties continued so long as they did, than that they were not longer-lived, since there was in almost every instance a rapid decline, alike in the physique and in the mental calibre of the holders of sovereignty; so that nothing but a little combined strength and audacity was requisite in order to push them from their pedestals.  Shishak was an official of a Semitic family long settled in Egypt, which had made the town of Bubastis its residence.  We may suspect, if we like, that the family had noble—­shall we say royal?—­blood in its veins, and could trace its descent to dynasties which had ruled at Nineveh or Babylon.  The connexion is possible, though scarcely probable, since no eclat attended the first arrival of the Shishak family In Egypt, and the family names, though Semitic, are decidedly neither Babylonian nor Assyrian.  It is tempting to adopt the sensational views of writers, who, out of half a dozen names, manufacture an Assyrian conquest of Egypt, and the establishment on the throne of the Pharaohs of a branch derived from one or other of the royal Mesopotamian houses; but “facts are stubborn things,” and the imagination is scarcely entitled to mould them at its will.  It is necessary to face the two certain facts—­(1) that no one of the dynastic names is the natural representative of any name known to have been borne by any Assyrian or Babylonian; and (2) that neither Assyria nor Babylonia was at the time in such a position as to effect, or even to contemplate, distant enterprizes.  Babylonia did not attain such a position till the time of Nabopolassar; Assyria had enjoyed it about B.C. 1150-1100, but had lost it, and did not recover it till B.C. 890.  Moreover, Solomon’s empire blocked the way to Egypt against both countries, and required to be shattered in pieces before either of the great Mesopotamian powers could have sent a corps d’armee into the land of the Pharaohs.

Sober students of history will therefore regard Shishak (Sheshonk) simply as a member of a family which, though of foreign extraction, had been long settled in Egypt, and had worked its way into a high position under the priest-kings of Herhor’s line, retaining a special connection with Bubastis, the place which it had from the first made its home.  Sheshonk’s grandfather, who bore the same name; had had the honour of intermarrying into the royal house, having taken to wife Meht-en-hont, a princess of the blood whose exact parentage is unknown to us.  His father Namrut, had held a high military office, being commander

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