Place names can be indicator of a location’s history, and the values that location holds in high esteem. Washington D.C., (Abraham) Lincoln, Nebraska, Louisville, Knoxville, Nashville and Kiryas Joel all carry the name of figures that its founders deemed important or representative of its values. The same might be said of Abraham of the Bible.
In Genesis 17, God tells Abram that his name is to be changed to Abraham. With this freshly minted name, in Genesis 20 Abraham settles in the Negev, the southern region of the land of Canaan. If God’s order for Abraham to leave Haran had Abraham pass through northern Canaan, it is in south where Abraham eventually settles.
In the biblical book of 2 Chronicles, in Chapter 12, the Egyptian pharaoh Shishak invades the southern kingdom of Judah. He conquers the fortified cities of Judah and then marches on Jerusalem. He attacks Jerusalem and loots the temple and the royal palace.
In Egyptian records, Shoshenq I was a mid to late 10th century BCE pharaoh and the founder of the 22nd Dynasty during the Third Intermediate Period. There is not unanimous agreement about whether Shishak and Shoshenq are one and the same, but the general consensus is that these are the same person.
Over the course of Egypt’s history, the primary capitals of Egypt were Memphis in the north, near today’s Cairo, and Thebes in the south, today’s Luxor. If the pyramids at Giza, outside of Cairo, are Egypt’s most important tourist site, the Karnak Temple in Luxor is a close second. Karnak Temple is one of the world’s largest temple complexes, developed over the course of nearly 2000 years BCE.
The central temple of the Karnak Temple complex is the Temple of Amun-Ra. Within the Temple of Amun-Ra is the Bubastite Portal gate. Photos of the Bubastite Portal gate can be seen with the following link: (http://dlib.etc.ucla.edu/projects/Karnak/feature/BubastitePortal). The Bubastite Portal records a list of Shoshenq I’s military victories. Much of the list is no longer legible, so the exact sites are not all known. The list that can be deciphered does not include Jerusalem, but covers a wide swath of the area corresponding to Canaan. Shoshenq lists sites across the coastal plain, the Shephelah, Megiddo, Jezreel and the Negev. In an article written in 1911 in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, M. G. Kyle argues that the locations listed on lines 71 and 72 combined have a possible reading of ‘Field of Abram.’
If ‘Field of Abram’ is indeed the correct reading, then in the 10th century BCE, Abraham’s original name could be identified with a place in a region that the Bible says Abraham settled. This would be an indication that at that time, for that Negev location’s inhabitants, Abram was an important enough figure worthy of having an area named for him, a veritable Abrahamville.