In Genesis 12, a famine in Canaan drove Abram to travel to Egypt. In this story, Egypt served its role as an important producer of food for the ancient Near East.
In the late 13th through early 12th century BCE, the ancient Near East endured the Late Bronze Age collapse. The largest kingdoms of the time were either reduced or disappeared entirely. By the 11th century BCE, the New Kingdom of Egypt had collapsed, ushering in the Third Intermediate period, a period in which Egypt experienced a decline in centralized authority and various dynasties ruled different parts of its land mass. The loss of the great powers led to a reduction in cross-border trade and record keeping, making the period somewhat of an archaeological dark age.
In the 9th century BCE, Egypt was ruled by primarily by two dynasties, the 22nd Dynasty and the 23rd Dynasty.
The 22nd Dynasty was led by a dynasty of Meshwesh rulers, descendants of a Libyan tribe. Their rule may have originated at Bubastis, but in the main they ruled from Tanis in northern, or Lower Egypt. The first pharaoh of this dynasty was Shoshenq I, who in the 10th century BCE attempted to take control of Canaan, an invasion that is recorded in the Bible. Ultimately the Egyptians could not hold Canaan, freeing it to be led by local rulers.
The 23rd Dynasty was an offshoot and rival of the 22nd Dynasty and it ruled over southern, or Upper Egypt. The reigns of these 22nd and 23rd Dynasty kings were challenged at times and their control of territories waxed and waned, contributing to this period in Egypt’s history being described as an ‘Intermediate’ period.
An interesting artifact from this period is Padiiset’s Statue. Padiiset’s Statue was originally carved in the 18th century BCE. The statue was of a government official. The original inscription was later erased and replaced in the 9th century BCE with an inscription that identified it as being of Padiiset, an envoy for Canaan and Peleset.
The Peleset would refer to the Philistine region in the southwestern corner of the southern Levant. The naming of Canaan is notable as it is the first known mention of the Cisjordan for 300 years, since before the Late Bronze Age collapse, indicating a resumption of trade. It is also the last known mention of Canaan, a land area that would come to be known by its other inhabitants, Israel and Judah.
Padiiset’s Statue is housed at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore it is shown in the image above.