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The Mirrored Sphinxes

Docunovel – sheds historically accurate and scientifically credible light on the Biblical story of (Sen-en-mut Tut-) Moses, from adopted Egyptian prince to the design for the Holy Ark; the greatest love story of all time with the Egyptian princess who found him in the Nile… the man behind Queen-Pharaoh Khat-shepset!

Moses' Search for the Communication Link
To the Realm of the Divine

The Quest That Produced
The Holy Ark,
The Greatest Love Story of All Time,
And Shaped the World's Civilizations

A docunovel


Yirmәyahu Ben-Dawid, Paqid 16

The Netzarim

Ra'anana, Israel


© 2004-5 by Yirmәyahu Ben-Dawid. All rights reserved. Published by the Nәtzarim, 23 Aqiva Box 12, Ra'anana 43261, Yisra·eil, www.netzarim.co.il. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without written permission from the publisher.

Printed in Yisra·eil

Table of Contents


Please note that Torah forbids the uttering of the names of idols and false gods. To hyphenate all of the names of Egyptian gods in this story would have made this book unmarketable to the general public who are most in need of a historically accurate and realistic view of the life of Moses and the Exodus. The reader is encouraged to refrain from speaking, or reading aloud, the names of the Egyptian (or other) gods.

Archeologists and vulcanologists continue to converge on circa B.C.E. 1467 as the approximate year of two world-shaking events: the greatest volcanic eruption in human history, at Thera (also called Santorini), and the Exodus. Effects of the former can explain all of the miracles of the latter. What is miraculous about a miracle is its timing, designed into a perfect system by an Intelligent Creator from the creation, not super-natural magic that contradicts the perfect laws of the Perfect Creator — implying that the Creator is self-contradicting. It defies reason to suggest that such a convergence, which explains the miracles, was an irrelevant coincidence. (This doesn't imply predestination. It merely constrains free will within limits in the same way as the law of gravity and the other laws of physics. You cannot fall up simply because, in your free will, you decide to. Yet, no one considers gravity or the other laws of physics as contradicting free will.)

Dating the Exodus, therefore, to B.C.E. 1467 places the birth of Moses (which, in Egyptian, means "incarnate"), 80 years earlier — in the reign of Pharaoh Amun-hotep I (B.C.E. 1548-1528), several generations before "Ramses" (corrupted from Ra-Moses, Ra-incarnate). Having been found among the reeds of the Nile by the Egyptian Princess, Moses was brought up in her household, the household of her father — the future Tut-Moses I. Being raised in the royal household of Tut-Moses, sharing the name Moses with the royal household cannot be coincidence. Thus, though the Bible never acknowledges Moses' Egyptian first name — as we would expect in such case, a Hebrew boy adopted into the royal household of Tut-Moses would assume the honorific surname. Moses simply means, "incarnate," and the Jewish tradition prohibits uttering the name of pagan gods, including Tut. Hence, Tut-Moses, when applied to the son of Amram Ben-Qehat and Yokheved, would have eliminated the pagan name, Tut, shortening the name to Moses, with no Egyptian first name.

Archeologists remained baffled why, a few decades later, Tut-Moses III, successor to his mother who had been the only Queen-Pharaoh in the history of Egypt, waited 18 years after she voluntarily stepped down from the throne, before furiously erasing her, along with her daughter and Sen-en-Mut, from Egypt's history. No other pharaoh was deliberately erased from Egyptian history. Egyptologists report that both her rise to power and her exercise of power were backed by a mysterious lover named Sen-en-Mut, who was born of unknown, non-Pharaonic parents. (In those days, pharaohs practiced incest to keep royal blood in the family, literally.) There is no Egyptian record of what happened to this Queen-Pharaoh, her daughter or Sen-en-Mut. There is no evidence that their bodies were ever in their tombs. Interestingly, 18 years after the Queen-Pharaoh relinquished her throne and retired into the background is also the approximate date of the Exodus. What could have angered Pharaoh Tut-Moses III enough to erase his mother, the Queen-Pharaoh, from Egyptian history? The historical accounts mesh with the Bible.

Chapter One
Building a Regional City in the Delta

It was a sweltering late afternoon in the Nile Delta of northern Kemmit in the spring of the second regnal year of Pharaoh Amun-hotep. The sun blasted down like a foundry furnace, as though it were angry with the hundreds of Hyksos construction workers toiling under the waning sun. The work was brutal and the discipline was harsh. Pharaoh's Chief of Staff, General Ah-Kheper-Ka-Ra Tut-Moses, had come north to check on the construction of Pharaoh's new regional capital: Pi-Tom.

Ruins of Pi-Tom (Pithom, later Pi-Rameses), near modern Qantir in Egyptian Delta
Ruins of Pi-Tom (Pithom, later Pi-Rameses), near modern Qantir in Egyptian Delta.

The young girl riding spear beside the general, clinging tightly to the handrail of the jolting Merkavah chariot, was the general's 12 year-old daughter, Princess Ma'at Ka-Ra Khat-shepset of the house of Tut-Moses, daughter of Queen Ah-Moses and the oldest of his 4 children. After the Princess, Gen. Ka-Ra had two sons by Queen Ah-Moses: four year-old Crown Prince Wadyeh-Moses — the eldest son and Gen. Ka-Ra's heir apparent to the throne — and three year-old Prince Amun-Moses. Additionally, the gen-eral's youngest son, by Queen Mut-Nophrat, was one year-old Prince Ah-Kheper-En-Ra.

Situated on the west bank of one of the Nile's eastern tributaries so that it would be accessible by papyrus-barge, Pi-Tom was located two-days by Merkavah northeast of the Great Pyramids. Pharaoh planned Pi-Tom to be the headquarters city supporting a planned large Armored Corps (Merkavah) regiment; complete with a Merkavah factory, a huge military stable complex and a training arena. The Pharaoh had attached great urgency to completing Pi-Tom, with its armored Corps complex, quickly, to counter an increasing threat from waves of colonizing Mycenaean-Greek sea merchants, attracted to the reliable agricultural wealth of the Delta's Nile-irrigated, fertile soil. The Greeks, called Pilosin after their hometown — Pilos — in Mycenae, had already established a major colony on the Delta-Sinai border.

The nascent city was rising with all haste — almost suddenly. In fact, the city the building was so frenetic that the Hyksos construction laborers began using the city's name, Pi-Tom, as a synonym for any-thing urgent or sudden. No one would have guessed that, 14 Pharaohs into the future, foreign languages would corrupt the name of Pharaoh Ra-Moses (the sun god Ra-incarnate) to "Ramses," and that he would rename Pi-Tom after himself — Pi-Ra-Moses ("Pi-Ramses"), or that the tributary on which Pi-Tom was being built would one day dry up to a nearly indiscernible riverbed.

Mummy of <s>Tut</s>-Moses I (formerly Gen. A-Kheper-Ka-Ra)
Mummy of Tut-Moses I (formerly Gen. A-Kheper-Ka-Ra).

At five hands taller than a donkey, Gen. Ka-Ra was taller than were most ancient Egyptians. He was a well built, combat tested, man of 28. He appeared even taller in his Merkavah chariot as he traveled in-line between his two escort-Merkavahs. Even at an easy trot, the Merkavahs' bronze-rimmed wooden wheels bounced and pounded mercilessly over the rough dirt and rock-strewn roads, punishing the passengers with a hammering that had no equal in the ancient world, and an endless chattering roar.

Years earlier, as reward for Gen. Ka-Ra's long string of outstanding military victories, Pharaoh had rewarded Gen Ka-Ra with both of his own sisters for wives: Queen Ah-Moses ("moon-god incarnate") and Queen Mut-nophret, thereby absorbing the general into the royal household. Then, last year, Pharaoh Amun-hotep's only son, Prince Amun-akht, died in infancy. Having no heirs and knowing that the general had the power to ensure the continuation of the royal Pharaonic bloodline through his queen-sisters, Pharaoh named Gen. Ka-Ra to succeed him on the throne of the world's first and only superpower.

Gold-plated Royal Egyptian Merkavah from tomb of <s>Tut</s>-Ankh-Amun
Gold-plated Royal Egyptian Merkavah from tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amun.

The young girl riding spear beside the general, clinging tightly to the handrail of the jolting Merkavah chariot, was the general's 12 year-old daughter, Princess Ma'at Ka-Ra Khat-shepset of the house of Tut-Moses, daughter of Queen Ah-Moses and the oldest of his 4 children. After the Princess, Gen. Ka-Ra had two sons by Queen Ah-Moses: four year-old Crown Prince Wadyeh-Moses — the eldest son and Gen. Ka-Ra's heir apparent to the throne — and three year-old Prince Amun-Moses. Additionally, the gen-eral's youngest son, by Queen Mut-Nophrat, was one year-old Prince Ah-Kheper-En-Ra.

Khat-shepset bust (modern stone)
Khat-shepset bust (modern stone).

In the ancient world, a 12 year-old female was a young woman of marriage age, no longer a child. In different circumstances, the 12-year-old Princess was old enough to be queen. Still, it was unprecedented for a woman to ride spear in a general's chariot. However, her father considered this a reasonably safe, low-risk trip. Two merkavahs, manned by highly experienced combat veterans, escorted them and Princess Khat-shepset, accustomed to dealing with everyone from the Pharaoh to her servants to her three younger princes, was anything but ordinary. So, the general had brought her along to further her education her as royal Princess of Egypt, teaching her how to build a city.

Princess Khat-shepset and her father had traveled to the Delta to check on the construction of Pi-Tom, a new Merkavah Corps garrison project. Pi-Tom was a two-day journey north by Merkavah from the palace in Ankh-Tawi, the Egyptian capital on the west bank of the Nile that was a short ride to the north of the three great pyramids. (Centuries later, the Greeks would conquer Ankh-Tawi and rename the city Heliopolis. Even later, it would be renamed Memphis.)

The Princess was eight years old when Crown Prince Wadyeh, was born. Now, four years later, Prince Amun was three and her baby-brother, Prince Ah-kheper-En-Ra, was one year old. During that first eight years, the general had lavished his attention on her as if she were his firstborn son. When her little brothers were born, the general granted Crown Prince Wadyeh the rights and privileges of firstborn son as required by law. But, by that time, the Princess held a permanent special place in his heart and her regal bearing and dominant personality had also been fixed. She had already come to regard herself as a prince who just happened to be female. By Egyptian standards of beauty, she was also one of the most beautiful young women in Egypt, which complemented her compelling charisma.

In the course of her royal studies and priestly tutoring, Princess Khat-shepset had already learned that, opposite to other rivers in the northern hemisphere, the Nile flows from south to north; from high in the mountains of the south downward to the Delta in the north, where the Nile branches into myriad small tributaries and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. In her studies of astronomy, she learned that the Nile paralleled the "Heavenly Nile" (Milky Way) in the night sky. So, opposite to most of the world, in Egypt, "down" refers to the Delta in Lower Egypt, in the north, while Upper Egypt is in the south.

Making Mud Bricks
Making Mud Bricks.

As their Merkavah pounded loudly along the rock-strewn dirt road and Pi-Tom finally came into view, the Hyksos construction workers looked like a mangle of tiny wriggling worms as they mixed the dark mud and straw. The whole site writhed with activity. Other workers packed the mud into brick molds and carried them to the drying area where lines of filled molds baked under the sun. In still another section of the storage area, laborers removed the cured mud bricks that had baked dry, loading them onto ox-drawn carts for transporting to the individual construction sites of homes and buildings going up on the bank of one of the myriad Nile tributaries that crisscrossed the area. The queue of carts crept along the entire circuit in an endless chain, carts laden with mud bricks on their way to the construction sites and empty carts returning for their next load.

Pharaoh Amun-hotep was building Pi-Tom to serve as a regional base and training center of the Merkavah Corps of the ancient world's mightiest power — Egypt. Branched with winding streets, the budding city was sprouting housing, palaces, and a great temple. Pi-Tom would also house the families and function as a supporting city for Egypt's regional Merkavah headquarters. Medium-sized by ancient stan-dards, the city would soon accommodate several hundred Egyptian families. But Gen. Ka-Ra was more interested in seeing the site of "his baby" — the planned Armored Corps base where they were building a Merkavah factory and repair center, an arms foundry and six enormous stables that would accommodate nearly 500 horses and 200 Merkavahs.

Captain Huni (hoonee), an Egyptian Merkavah commander appointed foreman of the construction site, sat on the back of his Merkavah in the shade of a date palm, one foot propped up on the floor of his Merkavah and the other foot on the ground, lazily recounting war stories with his spearman and archer, Merkavah-Archer Ishpi. The two-man Egyptian Merkavah, standard for the Egyptian Merkavah Corps, was lighter and far nimbler than the three-man Khitine (corrupted to Hittite) chariots pulled by three horses. From a standing start, the Merkavah could literally accelerate and circle a Khitine chariot and attack it from behind before the Khitines could get their chariot turned around. All chariots were expensive, not even considering the horses (which had to include at least one replacement horse) or their maintenance. Only noblemen could afford to command a Merkavah and only noblemen were afforded the training and commission as a Merkavah commander.

Spotting the general approaching, Capt. Huni leapt to his feet as suddenly as if he was dodging an arrow. "Archer," he yelled as he reached for the reins. It was the battle command for Merkavah-Archer Ishpi to station himself in the Merkavah prepared to fight and he, too, moved as if his life depended on it. The two were standing at the ready, saluting, well before the general pulled up. Capt. Huni was startled to see the young girl riding spear for the general; not because she was twelve, most women married around that age in Egypt, but because women didn't serve in the Merkavah Corps. They guessed it must be his daughter, the Princess of Egypt.

"Captain Huni and Merkavah-Archer Ishpi, sir," Huni barked. The general and his daughter both stood regally in their Merkavah, looking as if they were posing for a statue. The general's Merkavah was emblazoned with his rank of full general and Egypt's Chief of Staff: two pair of silver reeds, each pair facing the other — matching the two pair of silver reeds insignia decorating his shoulder sash. Two escort Merkavahs flanked him, parking respectfully behind him. Like the rest of the royal household, Princess Khat-shepset was well versed in military protocol. She knew that the typical Merkavah crew comprised the commander-driver, who was an officer, and his Merkavah-spearman who was an NCO (non-commissioned officer). However, Ishpi's rank was Merkavah-Archer, not Merkavah-Spearman.

The rank of Merkavah-Spearman, embroidered in a soldier's shoulder sash, featured a Merkavah with its team of horses in addition to a spear. The Merkavah-Spearman was no mere Infantry-Spearman. Only a soldier who was fully trained and qualified, first as swordsman like all soldiers, and then additionally cross-trained and qualified as an Infantry-Spearman, was accepted for advanced training in the use of a sword and spear from a moving Merkavah. A Merkavah-Spearman could handle both spear and sword from a moving Merkavah better than most infantrymen could handle their sword or spear on the ground.

Merkavah Archer (Ra-Moses)
Merkavah Archer (Ra-Moses).

Ishpi's shoulder sash, however, was embroidered with a Merkavah, with its team of rearing horses plus a bow and quiver of arrows. This was the rank of Merkavah-Archer, the most elite soldier in the Egyptian Army, distinguished even above a Merkavah-Spearman. Even the Pharaoh depicted himself as a Merkavah commander and archer. In addition to the training required to qualify as a Merkavah-Spearman, Merkavah-Archer Ishpi had also mastered the use of the bow, not only from the ground, but from a lurching and careening Merkavah maneuvering in combat as well. Nor would he take kindly to being mistaken for an ordinary Infantry Archer whose shoulder sash lacked the prestigious Merkavah and team of horses. Merkavah-Archer Ishpi was not only a warrior in the most elite combat unit in the Egyptian Army, the Merkavah Corps, he was one of the crème de elite soldiers in the Merkavah Corps. Though the general's daughter was riding spear on this trip, his regular crewman, having a few days off back in Ankh-Tawi, was a Merkavah-Archer; as were the crewmen of both of his escort Merkavahs.

Khat-shepset's dark eyes turned to scrutinized Capt. Huni. He looked close to retirement age, yet he hadn't made Major. This indicated that he was a competent but average Merkavah driver, primarily ferrying Merkavah-Archer Ishpi to strategic points around the battlefield; more noble background and family money than military tactician, she judged.

"Captain Huni, Merkavah-Archer Ishpi," the general intoned majestically, "this is Khat-shepset, Princess of Egypt and fifth heir to the throne." Egyptian soldiers on duty never compromised their alertness, even to bow. Remaining at attention, both soldiers saluted the Princess. Already worldly-wise, Khat-shepset knew that men, especially soldiers, tend to dismiss a woman. Even a queen, while they dared not show it, wasn't taken seriously; much less a young woman such as herself.

However, the Princess also knew that soldiers were required to hold their salute until their superior either returned their salute or passed by them. Since their merkavahs were parked, however, they had to wait for her to return their salute. Shrewdly, she didn't return the salute reflexively as they expected, as the queen always did. For a moment, she just eyed them pensively, evaluating them as if they were a piece of fruit. This momentary departure from the norm not only disconcerted the soldiers, it forced them to hold their salute a moment — just long enough for her to exert her authority and get her message. They needed her permission to drop their salute and they realized that she could make them stand there saluting at attention until they dropped if she wished. When she was unhurried, in acknowledging their salute, they realized immediately not only that she was in charge but, also, that she knew she was in charge... and that to annoy Princess Khat-shepset would be exceedingly unwise.

"As you were," she commanded, returning their salute. Even when coming from combat-hardened officers, acknowledgement of a salute had never seemed like a command before. Capt. Huni and Merkavah-Archer Ishpi were flustered and bewildered by the young Princess. General Ka-Ra seemed not to notice anything unusual in her charismatic demeanor and command of the situation.

"Where are you billeted?" the general asked. Capt. Huni responded. "We and our families are billeted in Avaris, Sir. Almost two months now." Princess Khat-shepset was familiar with Avaris. It was the former capital of the Hyksos, the next village an easy walk (or, for the Princess, an even easier drive) north of the Pi-Tom construction site. "Are you and your families comfortable there?" the general continued. "Yes sir," Capt. Huni replied, wondering at the general's unusual personal interest in their homes and families. "Minister Bes-en-Mut advised me that your work crew has fallen behind in your production quotas. We cannot have the construction crews standing around waiting for bricks. When can you bring the brick production back up to quota?"

The general's words had taken a suddenly menacing direction and Capt. Huni was quick to reas-sure him that they would get back on schedule immediately. After receiving the captain's reassurances that they would meet his production quota, the general and his daughter-Princess took their leave and went to inspect progress in construction of the city and its emerging military facilities.

Egypt's Minister of Public Works and Minister in the Royal Court, Bes-en-Mut, set the quota. Min. Bes-en-Mut also exercised overall authority for the project, reporting directly to Pharaoh Amun-hotep. He was also responsible for overseeing the assignment of workers and other resources for the project. As minister in the Royal Court, he had direct access to Pharaoh's ear, as did General Ka-Ra. Capt. Huni understood the subtle threat: he stood to lose his Merkavah, his horses (all horses in Egypt were in the service of the Pharaoh), his income and his government-provided home in Avaris. He had no illusions — and no intention of disappointing either Min. Bes-en-Mut or Gen. Ka-Ra.

Still smarting from the implications of Gen. Ka-Ra's rebuke, Capt. Huni took a long drink from his goatskin and stood up to face the waning sun. Using his left thumb to block the bright disc of Ra (the sun-god) from his eye, he held up a finger from his right hand, horizontally, underneath his left thumb, just touching the underside of his thumb. The bottom of his finger appeared to rest on the horizon. "The time is one finger. That's a day," he declared. "You're behind in your quota," he announced, "and you will make up the shortage before you go home tomorrow." It was impossible to be heard by everyone but he made sure that those nearby understood him. He was about to make sure that his message would get around quickly.

Leaping into his waiting Merkavah, he snatched the reins from Ishpi, who, alertly, scrambled aboard, grabbing the handrail to brace for the inevitable starting lurch. Capt. Huni expertly cracked his whip between the two horses, near their flanks. The two startled horses bolted forward as one. The Merkavah yanked violently forward, its wheels momentarily jerking off the ground, giving the Egyptian a rush of power and exhilaration. Except for a perceptible lag of his head as the Merkavah bolted forward, Capt. Huni, tightly gripping the Merkavah's handrail, seemed fastened in place like part of the chariot. Merkavah-Archer Ishpi, more soldier than chariot-rider, was unprepared for the wild start. The railing nearly pulled out of his grasp, which would have caused him to fall out the rear of the Merkavah. With one hand he barely hung on to the handrail while, with the other, he clung to his spear (which was, thankfully, anchored in its mount).

Capt. Huni circled his Merkavah around toward the laborers, who, seeing the look in his face, scattered in all directions trying to get out of his way. Like a shepherd gone mad in a chariot, Capt. Huni herded the laborers in the direction of their village just outside Pi-Tom, repeatedly cracking his whip into the backs of stragglers. When he had run them to the outskirts of Pi-Tom, he pulled up his Merkavah and shouted to them, "Anyone not at work when I arrive with Ra (the sun-god, in other words "at dawn") will feel his wrath from my whip. You will be back on schedule tomorrow before you go home. How hard you work tomorrow will determine how late you work."

While their escort home wasn't routine, neither was it rare. Over a long period of harsh treatment, the Hyksos brick makers had become hardened to it. Those who hadn't felt his whip that day even showed matter-of-fact admiration for the driving skills of the hated Egyptian. Amos (pronounced Ah-mos) sounded almost admiring of the Egyptian foreman as they watched him racing home in swirls of hot sand. The sand was so fine it looked, and floated in the air, like dust. "Ya gotta admit, Yitzhar," Amos mused in his native Hebrew, "that Egyptian can drive. Who else can make a chariot jump like a locust?"

Immigrants, mostly Greek and African, assigned to the Hyksos labor camp by the Egyptians quickly picked up the Hebrew of the Hyksos majority. "A locust?" protested one of the wiry Berber laborers who had a fresh whip mark on his back. "Look at the chariot's tracks. It never left the ground." Before attempting to invade the Delta, the Berbers had primarily lived as livestock herders. As a result, the Berbers shared an affinity for livestock with the Hebrews, along with a shared reputation for inexperience in chariots.

Unlike the Hebrew and Berber cultures, Mycenaean-Greek chariots were fearsome in battle and Mycenaeans were justifiably proud of their chariots. The Egyptian Merkavah had been partly inspired by Mycenaean chariots and partly by the heavier, three man (driver, shield-bearer and spearman) chariots of the Khitine (corrupted to Hittite), which the Syrians had also adopted.

"What does a Cushine know about driving chariots?" laughed one of the Mycenaean-Greek settlers. For Egyptians, the region of Cush neighbored Egypt on the south. To Egyptians, Cush referred to the area settled by the tribe of Cush, the grand-descendant of Noakh ("Noah") through his son, Kham ("Ham"). Hebrew history held that the Cushine were descendents of Kham, the disgraced son of Noakh, and that they had migrated into North Africa. Mitzrayim, the founder after whom Egypt was named, was also a grand-descendant of Noakh through Kham, a brother of Cush. The distinction between Cushine and Egyptian, however, was a subtlety not recognized by the Greek sea merchants or other non-Egyptians. To non-Egyptians, Cushine meant indigenous Africans — including Egyptians. However, Egyptians took great offense at being called Cushine; and Egyptians ruled the ancient civilized world.

Most Mycenaean-Greek immigrants, like their Minoan-Greek cousins who preceded them, enjoyed peaceful business with Egypt as sea merchants, trading in Egypt's exports to the rest of the world. Indeed, the majority of the Delta's inhabitants were almost evenly split between the long-time Minoan-Greek and newcomer Mycenaean-Greek immigrants. Several Mycenaean villages in the Delta, however, had rebelled against Egypt's rule, attempting to transform the bountiful Delta into a Mycenaean-Greek colony, as they were also doing along the southeastern Mediterranean coast. When the Egyptians quelled the uprising in the Delta, they enslaved the Mycenaean rebels in the Hyksos labor camp.

The Greek's condescension visibly offended the Berber, a Cushine himself. He wasn't offended at being called a Cushine. He was a Cushine. He had been a Cushine warrior and was proud of his North African heritage. However, the Greeks had brought the concept of chariots to Egypt and looked down on Berbers and pastoral Hebrews whom they disdainfully regarded as "foot-bound shepherds" lacking culture. They also looked down on the Berbers literally. The height of a typical Berber enabled him to look eye-to-eye with a donkey, almost a full handbreadth shorter than the average Greek or Egyptian.

Amos stepped forward to calm the situation. "Cush has better drivers than that Egyptian," he declared with a mischievous grin. "Our Hebrew history tells of a Cushine warrior named Nimrod, a great warrior and chariot-driver who would've left that Egyptian choking on his sand. Besides, it's the horses, not the driver. All the driver has to do is crack the whip and not fall out — like his archer almost did." A short burst of laughter rippled through the brick makers. Though it relieved the tension, the jocularity quickly waned from the exhausted men as a drop of water from a leaking goatskin evaporates upon touching the scorching sand.

Capt. Huni's Merkavah dwindled in the distance. As it churned through the still-baking, late afternoon air, it appeared to rock back and forth on waves of hot air like a small papyrus Nile-skiff on rolling swells of the Mediterranean. The laborers who had been struck that day by the Egyptian's whip nursed their wounds as they headed home to their families.

Habiru & Hyksos

Gen. Ka-Ra pulled his Merkavah into an almost-complete section of the new Egyptian palace. The roof wasn't finished yet in one section of the palace, but the mud brick walls were complete and the living quarters were finished, including furnishings. (Early Egyptians reserved stonework for the Temples of their gods and the royal Temple-tombs, in which, Egyptians believed, the royal family transformed into one of their gods.) Handing the reins to the new stable keeper, he and Princess Khat-shepset stepped down from the Merkavah and went in to dinner.

Over roasted goat, assorted vegetables and wine, Princess Khat-shepset asked numerous questions about the dimensions, functions and scope of the great Merkavah garrison Pharaoh was building there. Gen. Ka-Ra had personally designed the complex that included a Merkavah manufacturing plant and repair facility and six buildings to stable 460 horses. Adjoining the stable complex was a huge training arena for training new Merkavah crews.

As father and daughter relaxed over wine and assorted fresh and dried fruits, conversation turned to the politics of imposing Ma'at — the goddess (spirit) of truth, law and universal order, which encapsulated the Egyptian religion — in the Delta. "I know that the rebellious Hyksos insurgents are an intolerable threat in the Delta," she noted, "and the population explosion among the Hyksos is the reason that Pharaoh Amun-hotep decreed that they must sacrifice all of their firstborn male babies to Ammut, the crocodile god of the Nile. This will help keep the rebel population from increasing to the point that they threaten Egyptian rule in the Delta. But aren't most of the Hyksos immigrant sea merchants? Aren't these sea merchants, Minoan- and Mycenaean-Hellens from Greece called Kaslukhines and better known as Hellenist Greeks? Are the Berber immigrants in the Delta also Hyksos? Why are the Habirus considered part of the Hyksos? And why are they called Hyksos?" Munching on dates, figs, grapes and almonds, Gen. Ka-Ra summoned the Habiru waitress. "Bring Amram Ben-Qehat to me," the general commanded. Turning to his daughter, he explained. "Amram Ben-Qehat may be the oldest living Habiru. He's well over 100. He's also one of their most knowledgeable priests. He can best answer these questions for you."

Although a Hyksos, Amram was a master metal smith with many decades of research and experience in furnace and foundry work, in metalworking, pottery and glassmaking. The foundry furnace had been adapted from the kilns used by potters. Over many generations of experimentation, potters had branched out to experiment in heating copper to beat it into weapons and utensils. Later experimentation led to mixing tin with copper to produce the harder bronze, used to make improved weapons and mirrors. Finally, potter-metallurgists learned to make glass in their furnaces. Thus, pottery, metallurgy and glass making were all products of the ancient foundry worker.

Amram reckoned he was a bit over 130 years old. His eyes were too weak and his hands to feeble to do the actual work anymore. However, because of his expertise in foundries and furnaces, making fine weapons, pottery and glassware, Pharaoh Amun-hotep had appointed Amram as the non-titled adviser to the operational head of the Royal Foundry in the capital of Ankh-Tawi. This meant that Amram and his family were required to live in the capital of Ankh-Tawi and could not live with their Hyksos relatives in the labor camp on the outskirts of Pi-Tom. Over a period of many years, the Leiwi tribe developed unmatched expertise in metallurgy. The operational head of Pharaoh's foundry was Amram's own prot?g? and nephew, Sitri, who would reportedly be 100 years old himself next year.

Because of Amram's advanced age and feebleness, Gen. Ka-Ra had sent him ahead by cart-drawn wagon for temporary duty in Pi-Tom to advise the construction crews on the design and building of the new metal foundry there. Pharaoh needed the foundry to manufacture metal components for the new Merkavah factory, which they were also constructing in Pi-Tom, as well as to produce swords, spear points and arrow points for the soldiers who would be stationed there. Pharaoh had also sent Qorakh to help him. Qorakh, his youngest prot?g?, only 18, was Amram's youngest nephew, by his brother Yitzhar. He had recently finished his apprenticeship and the Egyptians had directed that he stay in Pi-Tom to operate the new foundry. Gen. Ka-Ra knew that Amram, in addition to his wide knowledge of foundries and metalworking, was a Habiru priest, from their tribe of priests, and knew the history of the Habiru tribes as well as all of the Habiru priestly secrets that were rumored to rival the magical arts of the Egyptian priests.

"When Amram arrives," he advised his daughter, "don't insist on him acknowledging our gods. Habirus are ignorant of Egyptian gods. They worship an imaginary Creator, sort of like Amun (meaning "unseen"), which even they admit no one has ever seen. They don't know any better and most of them prefer to die rather than acknowledge other gods. We'd have to kill all of them if we tried to force them to worship our gods. The Pharaohs learned this, generations earlier, and no longer require it of them. So, there's no point in destroying our work force over it. That wouldn't get our city built."

The last part was the clincher for Princess Khat-shepset. At her young age, she had already developed into an independent-minded pragmatist.

Amram had difficulty walking because of stiff knees. Consequently, he walked with the aid of a staff. Qorakh, who had escorted Amram to the palace, assisted him into the dining room and stood respect-fully behind him as he sat down; holding his walking staff beside him. Because of his advanced age, the General permitted Amram to sit in his presence and in the presence of Princess Khat-shepset. "Princess Khat-shepset, it is an honor to meet you. General Ka-Ra, how may I serve you?"

"Amram," the general continued, "the Princess desires to know how the Habiru and several other peoples in the Delta came to be called the Hyksos."

"With pleasure, sir" Amram replied. Reserving the term "majesty" for his own unseen Creator rather than earthly royalty, yet remaining genuinely respectful of their high position, Amram continued. "Honorable Princess Khat-shepset, Hyksos is the Egyptian term introduced three and a half centuries earlier by Iyoteiph-oker, the Prime Minister of Egypt under Pharaohs Amun-emhet I and his son, Sen-wosret I.

Amram was a Habiru teacher-priest, who taught Habiru history, as well as passing on the priestly secrets, to his tribe — Leiwi. It was natural for him to assume the professorial mantle of oral teaching and he didn't appear nervous before the Chief of Staff and Princess of the world's greatest nation. "Egyptians pro-nounce our language Habiru — Hebrews. Our language is the language of Kәna…an — Ivrit (spelled Ibrit in Hebrew), and this is the derivation of your Egyptian term, Habiru.

While many call us Ibrim, after our Ivrit language, we are the descendants of our patriarch, Ya…aqov Ben-Yitzkhaq (Jacob or James, the son of Isaac). Ya…aqov's name was changed to Yisra·eil (corrupted to Israel). This is why we, his descendants, are called Yisra·eil and we are Israelis.

"Iyoteiph is the Egyptian pronunciation of an Ivrit name — Yoseiph," Amram explained, "which, in other languages, is corrupted to Joseph. Yoseiph was an Israeli born in Kәna…an, which you know as Canaan, and brought to Egypt as a slave by Arabs in a camel caravan. Yoseiph so excelled in his service for the royal household that Pharaoh Sen-wosret promoted him to Prime Minister of Egypt and awarded him the honorific Egyptian name Tzaphnat Pa…әneiakh.

Princess Khat-shepset seemed to absorb every fact, every word, as the Hebrew priest spoke. She was also impressed at how mentally alive this feeble old man was.

"During a particularly severe famine in Kәna…an, his relatives — not knowing the Prime Minister was their long lost brother — visited Egypt to purchase food supplies. Convinced that the famine would last a considerable time, Prime Minister Iyoteiph, after identifying himself to them, convinced his relatives to move to Egypt temporarily so that they would have food."

The Princess was becoming a little impatient. The presence of the Habiru in the Delta made it ob-vious that the Prime Minister's Habiru relatives had accepted his invitation.

"Back in Kәna…an, all of Iyoteiph's family had been ranchers of livestock," Amram circuitously explained in Egyptian, "Hyksos (livestock ranchers) in your language. Since our sojourn began here in Egypt we haven't been able to return home. As a result, squatters from the surrounding areas have moved in and taken over the expansive ranges of our ranches. Not only does Pharaoh not allow us to return home; but, also, the squatters who took over our ranches won't allow us back. Because the Egyptian religion deplores Hyksos, Prime Minister Iyoteiph elected to settle his relatives far away from the Pharaoh, in the Nile Delta, knowing, too, that they would be a stabilizing influence in that chronically tumultuous region."

"Stabilizing?" the Princess asked incredibly. "The Hyksos are the source of endless uprisings in the Delta," she remonstrated.

"Yes, honorable Princess," Amram judiciously agreed. "However, due to the immigrations of Minoan and Mycenaean Greeks, along with many other foreign settlers, we Habiru are now only a small minority of today's Hyksos. We are the descendants of our patriarch Ya…aqov Ben-Yitzkhaq, whose name was changed to Yisra·eil (Yisra·eil), and this is the name of our nation of people in the land of our aggregate ranches between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

"You belong to Egypt now," Princess Khat-shepset retorted.

"Yes, honorable Princess," Amram replied out of necessity but without conviction. "We under-stand that we haven't yet finished repaying the debt to Pharaoh for preserving the people of Yisra·eil from starvation during that famine. But we shall always hope someday to pay off this debt to Pharaoh so that we can return to our homeland."

"That will be a matter for Pharaoh to decide," Gen. Ka-Ra interjected, ensuring that the Princess didn't inadvertently preempt the Pharaoh.

"So how are the Habiru different from the Minoan or Mycenaean Hyksos?" the Princess demanded.

"Due in large measure to our isolation in the Delta," Amram responded, "we've mostly governed ourselves according to our tribal traditions, which are nothing like the Greeks, the Egyptians or any other people. We have continued developing and refining our distinct and unique culture and tribal laws for all these generations. We eat differently and stay apart, distinct from all other peoples. We are a peaceful people who want only to be able to serve the Lord of Yisra·eil Who is the Almighty Creator."

"The god no one can see?" she taunted.

Amram simply nodded in polite acknowledgment of her comment and continued answering her original question. "As you know so well, honorable Princess, the Delta is a rich garden. Consequently, there have been waves of immigrants who have joined us, beginning with the Minoan Greeks and then the Mycenaean Greeks, who continue to pour into the Delta even now. In the Greek language, the word for 'Greek' is 'Hellen.' Beside the Hellens (Greeks), there are many non-Greek advocates of the Hellenist culture, called Hellenists.

"Besides the Hellens — Minoan and Mycenaean — the Berbers (Africans from west of the Delta) and various others have tried, by various means, to stake a claim to a portion of this region's wealth. While we were the Hyksos at first, as each wave of immigrants moved in and settled, they were included in the definition. Gradually, the composition of the Delta's inhabitants changed from predominantly Israelis to predominantly Hellen; and the meaning of Hyksos has evolved accordingly. Today, Hyksos refers to the Hellens who have settled in the Delta."

Amram paused, and then asked if there were further questions. The Princess, having begun to bore of Amram's explanation marveled at how his seemingly rambling discourse had so suddenly, and startlingly, all come together with such clarity.

Gen. Ka-Ra, seeing the Princess was satisfied with Amram's lecture, thanked him. Amram took that as a dismissal and excused himself to leave, but Gen. Ka-Ra, perhaps as an afterthought, seized the opportunity to acquire additional intel. He motioned Qorakh to stay where he was and questioned Amram further. "What do your people say of the situation here," he inquired. Though Amram had worked for Pharaoh for a number of years and Pharaoh treated him and his family exceptionally well, he remained a priest of Yisra·eil in his heart and deeply resented the Egyptian repression of his people. Nevertheless, Am-ram also realized that the Pharaoh, and therefore Gen. Ka-Ra, didn't distinguish between the Mycenaean Hyksos and the peaceful Hebrew and Minoan Hyksos. Any trouble from the Mycenaeans would cause a reprisal against his fellow Israelis along with the other Hyksos, not just against the Mycenaean Hellens who were instigating the uprisings.

"There is a small nucleus of Mycenaean Greek 'Sea People' invaders who have settled a new vil-lage on the coast near the Delta. The Greek invaders have named their village 'Pilos,' after their hometown of the same name in the Mycenaean region of Greece. As your father, being a General, already knows, Princess, they are distinguishable as Mycenaean Greeks by their national uniform, their fluted Mycenaean Greek helmets that depict the rays of their Hellenist sun god. According to their Hellenist religion, they are ecumenicals, who syncretize whatever gods they encounter wherever they go, incorporating them into their own Pantheon like a sponge soaks up water.

"You add the Egyptian "et" ending to 'Pilos,' to call them the 'Piloset,' which, in Hebrew, we pronounce as 'Piloshet' and add our own Hebrew plural ending, "im" to form Pelishtim. To us, the Pelishtim have become the epitome of invaders so much so that, in our conversations, the term Pelishtim has come to mean "invaders," and their distinctive battle tactics, in Hebrew. In the Aramaic of Kәna…an, which we also speak, the plural ending "ine" (pronounced "een") makes it Pilosetine. These Pilosetines are the fomenters of the unrest, honorable Princess and General. To be clear, these Pilosetines are local Greek immigrants from the village of Pilos on the northwestern coast of the Sinai, not from the region called Pilosetine that they've settled in southwest Kәna…an. These local Pilosetines are operating in this area try-ing to foment rebellion. Their attacks against Egyptian authorities are no different than we see, sporadically, in other parts of the Delta. The Hebrews aren't involved in these insurgencies."

"How many are involved," the general pressed. "We don't know, sir," Amram replied. "As I said, we aren't involved in their activities and they neither trust us nor confide in us. Our customs are different than their customs and, aside from periodic trade and commerce, we have nothing to do with them."

The general was well aware that the Hebrews' customs forbade them socializing, or even eating, with other peoples. Satisfied with Amram's answers, the general dismissed him.

As Qorakh and he made their way through the courtyard of Pi-Tom's new palace, Amram admired the new garden under construction, and his thoughts flashed home. The foundry was now up-and-running and Qorakh had assumed responsibility. Because Amram's foundry skills were highly prized, the general had assigned a squad of soldiers, headed by a captain, to escort Amram's cart. Now they escorted him back home to Ankh-Tawi.

Chapter Two
Recruiting a Princess

Building a mud brick home with yard and fence
Building a mud brick home with yard and fence.

Amram was anxious to get back home to the capital. Despite his age, his wife, Yokheved, was in the last stage of pregnancy and he wondered whether she had given birth already. Though he had hidden it from Gen. Ka-Ra and Princess Khat-shepset, Amram was terrified for Yokheved and their expected child.

The Egyptians weren't satisfied with scapegoating the Israelis in with the other Hyksos for every-thing that went wrong in Egypt. Pharaoh also taxed away all of their valuables, leaving them financially dependent upon his largess. As things were going, the Israelis would never be able to return to their homeland in Kәna…an. To make matters even worse, now the Pharaoh was growing increasingly concerned that the burgeoning population in the Delta might result in one of the periodic insurrections, throwing off Egyptian rule. In his fear of the increasing population among the discontented Hyksos, Pharaoh Amun-hotep (I) had ordered that all firstborn male Hyksos babies be thrown into the Nile to Am-Mut — their crocodile-deity.

Since Pharaoh Amun-hotep's decree, many Israeli, and other Hyksos, families had watched in horror as Egyptian soldiers threw their firstborn sons to the crocodiles. Amram's relatives, who lived in the Delta, could more easily hide their sons from Pharaoh. But Yokheved was back in Ankh-Tawi, the capital. "Blessed be the Lord of Yisra·eil," thought Amram, that his first son, Aharon, (corrupted to Aaron) had been born almost four years earlier and had escaped this plight. Especially because he lived so close to Pharaoh, Amram worried because his baby, who was due any day, might be a boy.

Mud brick home with thatch roof in Egypt
Mud brick home with thatch roof in Egypt.

As Amram's cart neared home, Yokheved turned to her daughter. "Miryam, thank you for helping me with Aharon, but now it's time for you to go outside and practice your throwing." At eight years old, Miryam was their oldest child. She was mystified why her mother made her throw rocks into a papyrus box every day. It made no sense. Sometimes boys might do something like this for a game, but none of her girl friends played such a game; and not even the boys had to practice throwing, much less every day. Still, her mother seemed to attach great urgency to it, and she dutifully obeyed.

Gathering the dozen-or-so smooth, date-sized stones that she used every day, she began tossing them toward a papyrus basket on the far side of the dirt yard. Eight-year-olds, especially girls, aren't very good at throwing. She rarely got a rock actually in the papyrus box, but sometimes the rock would bounce or roll against the outside of the papyrus box. Like every other day except Shabbat, she repeated this several times, trying to make a game of it by keeping count of how many times she hit the papyrus box.

Upon entering his yard, Amram touched the Leiwi tribal scroll-case, attached to the gatepost, according to their tradition with his right hand and then kissed the fingers of his hand. His daughter, Miryam, ran to hug him shrieking "Abba (daddy)!" Amram sat down, helped her onto his lap and hugged her. "What did you learn today, moteq?" he asked. Bursting with pride she blurted excitedly, "I helped Eema seed the barley bread with sourdough starter. See?" She pointed to the stack of rolls on the table. As always, Yokheved had a hearty dinner almost ready.

"You're a big help to Eema, sweetie," Amram acknowledged. "You're becoming more like Eema every day." She giggled, then, as he kissed her, shrieked with laughter as his beard tickled her neck. As she hopped down, he helped his son up into his lap. "Aharon, if you keep growing like this you'll be big-ger than your great-grandpa Yisra·eil." At four, Aharon was a lot for Yokheved to take care of, especially because her advanced stage of pregnancy transformed every move into an exhausting effort. "Bless the Lord of Yisra·eil," he whispered with a knowing look and loudly enough that both Yokheved and Miryam would be sure to hear, "Who has given us Miryam to help Eema take care of Aharon." Miryam beamed proudly as Yokheved smiled tiredly at her husband. Miryam was only eight, but she was quick to pick things up, and precocious well beyond her years.

Aharon, meanwhile, was preoccupied sailing his toy fa?ence Nile-boat across the thatch flooring. Amram had made it for him while experimenting with different substances to produce fa?ence in different colors. The objects Amram made while experimenting how to produce various colors of fa?ence weren't good enough for Pharaoh, but they provided the kids of the entire neighborhood with great toys. Though most girls in Egypt made do with carved sticks and pieces of cloth tied together for rag dolls, Miryam had a collection of fa?ence dolls that were the envy of the other Israeli children.

For the Egyptians, the onset of darkness was merely the continuation of the day into the evening's revelries. For the Israelis, however, whether in Ankh-Tawi or one of the villages of the Delta, twilight marked the end of the day. The Israelis couldn't wait until morning to begin a new day in which they could bless the Lord of Yisra·eil and, they trusted, He would ease the oppression of the Egyptians and make it better than the previous day.

At dusk, Amram heard the Israeli crier for their neighborhood, walking the main dirt street of the village calling "Arvit, Arvit!" Amram downed a cup of homemade Egyptian beer (which didn't make one sick like water often did), grabbed Aharon's hand in one hand and his walking staff in the other. Kissing Yokheved as he left, he led Aharon out into the dirt street, joining the other men on their way to the evening prayers. It was dusk of the sixth day, celebrating the commencement of Shabbat (the seventh day of the week).

Meanwhile, Yokheved ushered in Shabbat by calling Miryam to join her, carefully helping Miryam to transfer fire from the cooking fire to four oil lamps that the two had prepared earlier with fresh wicks and filled with olive oil. So as not to desecrate Shabbat by lighting a fire, Sitri, Amram's nephew by his youngest brother, Uziyeil, had earlier brought over an ember and kindled their cooking fire well before Shabbat. Miryam lit one oil lamp for each member of her immediate family and one for herself. Then the two re-cited the Hebrew blessings over the lamps, inaugurating Shabbat. The oil lamps would be kept burning until the next evening.

It was a short walk to the hut of the neighborhood shokheit, where the Leiwi tribe maintained their altar and assembled to chant their prayers together. Because he walked slowly and with difficulty, Amram and Aharon were the last to arrive. It was the sixth day of the week and, inside the hut, they began chanting Arvit, the first prayers of the new day, for Shabbat. Sitri led the congregation in the evening's recitation of prayers according to their oral tradition. Qorakh, who had the finest voice and was one of the most persuasive orators in the community, usually led the prayers but he had moved to Pi-Tom where he would be praying with most of their relatives. Amram wished he could pray with his less fortunate brothers who lived in the Delta too. They would be chanting Arvit to inaugurate Shabbat now.

Returning home after Arvit with Aharon, Amram could smell the aroma of mingled garlic, leeks and coriander emanating from Yokheved's barley soup, suspended over the tiny cooking fire in the typical outdoor "kitchen" in their yard. The fragrance of the barley soup was augmented by the scent of her barley rolls, still hot in the round mud brick oven nearby. Tender hearts of reed stalks, gathered from the banks of the Nile and peeled, were toasting over the fire. Yokheved was a good cook. Living in Ankh-Tawi and working for the Pharaoh had its advantages too. Yokheved could afford to add an array of spices, as well as potatoes or cabbage, to the soup. This Shabbat she had added both, potatoes and cabbage.

The family could hear the men chanting just a few doors away and Yokheved, hearing them finish, set out the reed mat "tablecloth" on the low limestone bench that served as their dining room table — in the yard by their mud brick bedrooms. Hearing some of the men's voices as they talked among themselves on their way home, Miryam ran to wait for her Abba by the gate to the yard. Low wooden stools completed the outdoor dining room furniture. Each stool had four short, stubby legs and a raised horn on each corner, to which the gray woolen cushion, stuffed with dried leaves, was tied.

The cushions didn't stay soft very long. Amram often told the children that the stools would seem softer if they would pretend that the grayish cushion was a soft cloud. "These are comfortable," he joked. "Think of the Egyptian idols that have to sit forever on stone thrones. How comfortable is that?" he asked incredulously. "We should build a great bronze stool for a throne, with much smoke forming a great cushion — with nothing sitting on it. This would illustrate the invisible The Lord of Yisra·eil-Creator on a great bronze stool sitting on a smoke cushion. Wouldn't that perplex the Egyptians?"

Dinner was always ready to serve as soon as Amram returned from chanting Arvit. To the Israelis, their dining table symbolized their tribal altar, and their evening meal an extension of the evening prayers. Since it was Shabbat, a special service preceded the meal. Yokheved had filled Amram's elegant fa?ence goblet full to overflowing with grape wine and set it at his place on the table.

Miryam led Aharon before Amram. Following the Leiwi tribal tradition, he placed his hand on Aharon's forehead and recited the traditional blessing, in their native Hebrew, to his oldest son first. "May Elohim make you like Ephrayim (corrupted to Ephraim) and Menasheh (corrupted to Manasseh). May the Lord of Yisra·eil bless you and watchguard over you. May the Lord of Yisra·eil radiate His Face upon you and may He be gracious to you. May the Lord of Yisra·eil bear His Face to you and set peace upon you."

Miryam helped Aharon onto his stool. Then she stood before Amram and he placed his hand on her forehead and blessed her. "May Elohim make you like Sarah, Rivqah (corrupted to Rebecca), Rakheil (corrupted to Rachel) and Leiah (corrupted to Leah). May the Lord of Yisra·eil bless you and watchguard over you. May the Lord of Yisra·eil radiate His Face upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord of Yisra·eil bear His Face to you and place peace upon you"

Miryam went back to her stool and he addressed his wife, lovingly chanting Eishet Khayil to her in their native Hebrew.

Faience Goblet, lapis lazuli color
Faience Goblet, lapis lazuli color.

Having first properly honored his family according to tribal tradition, Amram stood, leaning on his walking staff, raised the goblet of wine and continued in his native language, reciting the Qidush. "I will lift the cup to national-salvation and in the name of the Lord of Yisra·eil I will call. Give thanks to the Lord of Yisra·eil for He is Good, because His loving kindness is forever. Blessed are You, the Lord of Yisra·eil, Who is Elohim ('the gods') to us, the King of the World Who creates the fruit of the vine." Then he sipped wine from his goblet and passed it to his family; first Aharon (males from oldest to youngest), and then Yokheved (females, likewise from oldest to youngest).

Millennia before the invention of soap, washing one's hands consisted of pouring water on one's hands. Virtually all ancients recognized that cleanliness is a prerequisite to holiness. In reverse order of their blessings, each member of the family rinsed off their hands, a tradition before eating bread, and re-cited the blessing for 'raising holy hands.' After washing, each member of the family sat at the table, waiting in silence, for Amram to chant the hamotzi ("who brings forth") blessing over the barley rolls. No other activity (such as conversing) was permitted to intervene between reciting a blessing and accomplishing the purpose for which the blessing was recited.

The soup was hot and Yokheved had covered the warm barley rolls on the dining bench with a small linen cloth to keep off the flies. Amram was the last to sprinkle water over his hands, rinsing off the dust and dirt. "May You be blessed, the Lord of Yisra·eil, Who is Elohim to us, the King of the world," he chanted in a soft voice lifting his hands into the starry kitchen ceiling, "Who makes us holy in His commandments and commanded us to lift up holy hands." Drying his hands, Amram returned to the reed mat-covered dining bench, removed the linen cloth that covered the barley rolls, salted them, and held them up in his hands. "May You be blessed the Lord of Yisra·eil, Who is Elohim to us, the King of the world, Who brings forth bread from the earth." Taking a bite of his roll, he then placed a roll on the table in front of each member of the family. As each took a bite of their roll, conversation resumed.

Turning to his wife, Amram asked, "Yokheved, how are you feeling this evening? Is the baby active?" Yokheved rolled her eyes. "Any more active and we'll need to get the midwife before the Egyptian woman shows up. No Egyptian soldier is taking my baby to sacrifice to their stupid crocodile-idol." Am-ram deeply admired her resolve. "But if it's a boy how will we, unarmed, stop the soldiers?" She studied Amram intently. They'd been married a little more than fourteen years and Amram recognized the onset of a deeply ser-i-ous discussion.

Yokheved continued. "I've been thinking about that quite a lot," she replied. "That Egyptian woman is religious. She loves to talk about all of her deities. She's constantly ridiculing us as worshipping the invisible. Did you know that they believe that one of their deities, 'Horus,'" she spelled to avoid pronouncing the name of the pagan idol, "was found in the Nile among the papyrus reeds by their holy-mother deity, Assis, may their names be obliterated? I've been paying special attention." (Israelis deliberately mispronounce the names of false deities, in this case Horus and Isis-Hathor, to avoid articulating the real names.)

Amram thought to himself how the soldiers, too, often spoke of Assis (may its name be obliterated) and the Egyptian priests seemed unable to speak about anything without bringing that name into it. Many assimilated Israelis emulated the Egyptians, striving for acceptance. Religious Israelis, by contrast, did their best to stay away from the Egyptians when they could, preferring not to invite a lecture on top of breaking their backs. Amram nodded in agreement. "Well," she continued, "the Egyptians also believe that the Pharaohs are incarnations of the deities." "Yes," Amram agreed with creeping impatience, "everyone knows that."

Following the Israeli convention of not uttering the names of pagan deities — including when they're contained in Egyptian names — Yokheved abbreviated the Princess' royal name. The Princess' full name, Ma'at Ka-Ra Khat-shepset Tut-Moses, contained the names of several Egyptian gods. Ma'at was the Egyptian goddess of order. The Princess was the daughter of Ah-kheper-Ka-Ra Tut-Moses I. So the part of her name identifying her father, Ka-Ra (of the "soul of Ra"), was also objectionable to Israelis. Likewise, her family's household was called the house of Tut-Moses, which meant, "Tut incarnate" — and Tut was one of the gods of Egypt. Therefore, Israelis pared this to simply to the surname Moses. Khat-shepset meant "foremost of noble women," which wasn't objectionable. As she continued in the muted voice of private conversation, Yokheved referred to the Egyptian Princess according to the dictates of Israeli tradition. While remaining respectful, religious Israelis sanitized the name to "Princess Khat-shepset Moses" (meaning "foremost of noble women incarnate").

"Princess Khat-shepset Moses is twelve now. She's only four years older than Miryam. The Princess is a young woman who has already begun to take on her responsibilities as Princess-in-waiting. Like the rest of the royal family, she'll be marrying any day now within the royal blood, probably the eldest son of Queen Ah-Moses and Gen. Ka-Ra — Crown Prince Min-hotep-Wadyeh-Moses, who is the same age as Aharon. Not only that, her grandfather, Pharaoh Amun-hotep, is growing old. Her father, Gen. Ah-kheper-Ka-Ra, because he is married to Pharaoh's sister, Queen Ah-Moses, might even be the next Pharaoh.

"In any case," Yokheved continued, "Princess Khat-shepset will be very close to the next Pharaoh, maybe even the Queen of Egypt. And look almost any day when the weather is warm. In the morning, she goes down to the Nile, only a few minutes walk from here, to bathe and to frolic in the water with her friends. Last week I asked one of the Israeli women who serves in the palace to ask Princess Khat-shepset if she is destined when she becomes queen to be their Isis incarnate," Yokheved spelled out, "may that name be obliterated. I have a reason for planting the seed of that ambition in Princess Khat-shepset's mind"

Amram could only marvel at the elaborate scheme that Yokheved was unfolding. "How long have you been working on this?" he asked grinning. "Why haven't you mentioned it before?" Trying hard not to be disrespectful to her husband in stating the obvious, she replied, "If the Egyptian woman hears of it, the plan won't work. This pregnancy feels more like when I had Aharon than when I had Miryam. I think our baby is a boy and I don't want to risk anyone leaking my plan, even inadvertently. I didn't even explain the reason when I asked my friend to ask Princess Khat-shepset. I just asked her to do it as a favor to me saying, 'Don't ask,' and not to say anything to anyone."

"Ok," Amram acquiesced skeptically — and more than a little impishly, "I've been forging too many swords and arrow-heads to be devising such clever schemes. If our baby is a boy, how does Princess Khat-shepset's ego save him?"

With a triumphant smile, she sprang the punch line. "August 15 is the Egyptian astrological day of Horus, may the name be obliterated. That falls next week. What would Princess Khat-shepset think if she found her Horus in the bulrushes on the 15th?"

Still not seeing the cleverness of her plan, Amram chuckled. "Yokheved! You know that neither Horus nor any of their idols actually exist for her to find among the papyrus reeds along the Nile or any-where else. What is this silliness?"

Yokheved's face flushed red with embarrassment. "Amram, of course I know there's no real Ho-rus, may its name be obliterated," she explained, spelling the name to avoid transgressing the Leiwi tribal prohibition against uttering the name of a pagan god. "But we can't turn her beliefs to our advantage unless we first understand her beliefs. According to Egyptian belief, the sun god Amun Ra was chief of the gods of Egypt and sired three human-gods. Two were man-gods — Osiris and Seth." Having to spell so many pagan names in order to review the essential points of Egyptian mythology seemed almost as distracting to Amram as he tried to follow the story as it was taxing for Yokheved but she persevered. "The third was a woman-goddess — the cow-god Isis Hathor (rhymes with vices hah-thor). She's supposed to be the wife of Amun Ra, as well as both sister and wife of Osiris. According to their mythology, Amun Ra enthroned his firstborn, Osiris, on the great throne over the world. However, Seth, coveting the great throne, killed his brother Osiris, chopped him into pieces and spread the pieces all over Egypt. This myth was the basis for Egyptians regarding Seth as the god of night, disorder, foreigners and evil.

Grieving and distraught over the death of her brother-husband, Isis Hathor searched all of Egypt for the pieces of Osiris. She was able to find every part except his phallus, which, after Seth threw it into the Nile, a fish devoured it. By causing a scorpion to sting Ra repeatedly (eventually killing him), she wrested from him an incantation of Tut (yet another Egyptian god). Reciting the magical words, she conjured up the missing phallus from clay and resurrected Osiris. However, she was only able to resurrect him as a spiritual god, no longer both man and god. Hence, according to their mythology tradition, Osiris thereafter became the god of order — in polar contrast to his brother Seth who was the god of disorder. Hence, the Egyptians believed that Osiris is the Great Judge of the Final Judgment Day who sits on the Great Throne of the eternal spiritual world.

Then Isis Hathor mounted the phallus of Osiris that she had conjured up and became pregnant, giving birth to the baby who would become man-god and hawk-god — Horus, whom Egyptians believed was the earthly King of Gods. Then, however, Seth sought to slay Horus. As a result, Isis Hathor hid her "infant-god of the House of the Prince" among the papyrus reeds on the bank of the Nile, in the Delta. Seth, disguised as a snake, found baby-god Horus," this time she repeated with emphasis, "among the papyrus reeds on the bank of the Nile in the Delta, and bit him, killing him. Later, Isis Hathor found baby-god Horus dead among the papyrus reeds on the shore of the Nile and used her magical incantation to res-urrect him, thereafter becoming first the mother, and later the wife, of Horus."

Yokheved had reached her summation. "Now, Princess Khat-shepset believes that she is Isis Hathor incarnate, wife of Amun Ra and mother-wife of Horus. If our baby is a boy," Yokheved declared triumphantly, "and we put him in a pitch-caulked wicker basket among the papyrus reeds where Princess Khat-shepset is sure to find him, then she'll think that she — because she believes she is Isis Hathor — has found her Horus!!! Now I don't know what would become of our son, but the Egyptian myth certainly doesn't allow for Isis throwing her son Horus to their crocodile-idol!!!"

Amram was stunned by the brilliance of her plan; using the Egyptians' own paganism to overcome them. He was also deeply ashamed for having doubted and embarrassed her. "Yokheved my beloved wife," he gushed, "how could I have doubted you? Your plan is truly inspired by the Lord of Yisra·eil, may He be blessed."

Touring the Delta — Physiography & Population

As dawn broke in the Delta, Gen. Ka-Ra took his daughter for a familiarization ride through the countryside of the Delta. They and the crews of their two escort Merkavahs planned to eat military-style, out in the country, along the way. Father and daughter had set out just as a lighter shade of darkness hinted that Ra was awakening to invade the night from somewhere beyond the horizon. Sunrise in the Delta seemed to her a vision of antediluvian paradise. It was already a perfect day, she thought. The general and his soldiers viewed eating out in the country as a routine hardship soldiers endure. For the Princess, though, this was a chariot ride in the country, outdoor picnics in the countryside and camping in the wilder-ness with her father; the kind of special day that the brain stores in long-term memory. She was enchanted by the idyllic, lush green beauty of the forest that lined both sides of the road bathed in just the right amount of cool, Edenic, dawn mist. And she was enthralled by the symphony of the jarring juddering of the three bronze-rimmed Merkavahs' on the countless stones in the road as they sounded a syncopated staccato blending overtop a rhythm section of the regular, clip-clopping beat of the horses' hooves; all playing background accompaniment to the serenading, morning choir, of birds.

Watered by the innumerable tributaries branching throughout the region as they neared the mouth of the Nile, the luxuriant Delta was a sharp contrast to the North African desert to the west and the arid badlands and rugged mountains of the Sinai to the east. The Princess had already learned how, every year, fed by rushing torrents from the mountains of Cush in the south, the river's annual flooding washed in a new supply of rejuvenating topsoil. When the floodwaters reached the Delta, the myriad branchings of the Nile dispersed and dissipated the strong current that had brought the life-giving earth. This caused the waters relax their grip, releasing yet another layer of rich silt to settle into the topsoil of the Delta and rejuvenating the region as a perennial Garden of Eden in the Middle East, breadbasket to the world — even in times of widespread famine.

From her teachers back in the capital, Princess Khat-shepset already knew that along the coast of the Delta, where the Nile emptied into the Mediterranean, great seas of papyrus reeds thrived, forming immense expanses of swamp. The reeds were an important resource providing the raw material for a host of local industries. The general took her to a nearby village beside one of the inland marshes where workers were producing papyrus Nile-skiffs, Nile-barges and arrow shafts. He took her to see the weaving of papyrus mats and to watch them make thatched roofs for the new homes being constructed in Pi-Tom. She watched as workers wove papyrus coverings for the dirt floors and tablemats for dining tables. She listened to them explain how, unrolled at night over the reed-mats that covered the dirt floors, a second layer of reed-mats served as the ordinary man's bed. She, too, slept on reed mats, but on a wooden bed frame. She shuddered at the thought of sleeping on the dirt floor with the snakes and scorpions. Just down the street, she watched other workers fashion papyrus reeds into sandals and wicker furniture. Finally, the general took her to watch the making of papyrus paper for the scribes.

As she rode through the countryside with her father, between two escorts in the Merkavah bearing his insignia as Egypt's Chief of Staff, she admired the reed-lined banks of the Nile's myriad tributaries that quilted the Delta into tracts of dark, rich, fertile soil. The Delta was a cornucopia of garden vegetables that included piquant onions, savory leeks, pungent garlic, tasty lentils and beans, great heads of crunchy cabbage that wafted the most fragrant aroma when cooked in soup, bright crispy clumps of lettuce, plump cucumbers, crunchy radishes and the most fragrant, luscious and mouth-watering melons. Vineyards of fine grapes and plantations of date palms, fig trees and pomegranate bushes painted the Delta in lush shades of green. Wheat and barley were so plentiful that after everyone had their annual supply of bread and beer the farmers exported surpluses to Hellen sea merchants as far away as the islands of Crete, Thera-Minoa and beyond to mainland Mycenaean Greece. Olives, and olive oil, introduced to Egypt by the Habiru Hyksos, was already becoming an important export.

Princess Khat-shepset wasn't at all like any other Egyptian Princess had ever been. She wasn't satisfied to lay around on a couch with the other women of Egyptian royalty, expected to keep her mouth shut and dutifully produce children for one of her brothers when he became Pharaoh. Her father, being a general, had introduced her to innumerable aspects of Egyptian leadership that first fascinated, then obsessed, her. Like a sponge, she absorbed information, from import and export facts — and figures — to politics and royal court intrigues. She was already beginning to rival the expertise of many of the government ministers, many of whom depended upon their noble connections for their positions rather than ability. She was also developing a reputation, and commensurate charisma, for not only understanding what was going on, but being able to fix it; and government ministers feared clashing with her.

As she and her father rode past the fields in the countryside, the general explained how, in addition to the sea merchants, traders from all over the Middle East imported grains from the Delta overland too, plying the Middle East trade routes with bull-drawn carts and filling Egypt's coffers. Though wild camels roamed the deserts of Egypt, and foreigners transported goods in and out of Egypt in camel caravansaries, it would be another five centuries before Egyptians would overcome their revulsion of the cantankerous, foul-breathed beasts, whose best-known traits were spitting and biting. Even foreign camel caravansaries only occasionally accented the endless line of bull-drawn carts bringing all manner of goods and spices into Egypt. On their return leg, they transported grain and food exports from the Delta west into North Africa, south into "Two Lands" (Upper and Lower Egypt) and eastward across the northern coast of the Sinai into Pilosetine (later Gaza), Kәna…an (Canaan, later Yisra·eil), Levanon (Lebanon) and Assyria (Syria).

Back home in Ankh-Tawi, Princess Khat-shepset had her own horse, Sneferu, stabled with her father's Merkavah team. Sneferu was a great white horse; quick, spirited and almost a handbreadth taller at the withers than the average horse. As part of her royal equestrian training, she had not only become an expert horsewoman who sat a horse majestically and charismatically, she had also learned how to care for horses and some of the history of horses. The pharaohs had acquired horses from the Mycenaean Hyksos within the past couple of centuries. Not yet widely bred in Egypt, horses were expensive and virtually exclusive to the Pharaoh, his Merkavah Corps and those subjects upon whom the pharaoh desired to bestow great honor. The shortage and expense of horses was the reason why freight carts were pulled by bulls and oxen.

Father and daughter camped overnight under the stars with the ever-present two escort Merkavahs keeping guard. At dawn, the two sat on the bank of a tributary fishing for breakfast while Maj. Naqada, one of the escort Merkavah drivers, gathered wood and kindled a fire. His crewman, Merkavah-Archer Bes-en-Mut, hunted in the nearby woods for their breakfast. The other driver and archer, Maj. Tyeti and Merkavah-Archer Seneb, went into a nearby village to buy beer, bread, fresh garden salad vegetables and eggs to go with the anticipated fish, and perhaps wild game, breakfast.

Fish were plentiful in the many tributaries of the Nile and a main staple of the Hyksos table. When not fresh-caught, the ancients served fish sun-dried or salted. Barley bread, garden vegetables and beer completed the breakfast menu. The Hyksos family's diet also included domesticated duck and geese, along with seasonal quail. Although the Delta was Egypt's 'livestock country,' livestock was primarily the cur-rency of wealth among ranchers, eaten only on special occasions. It was customary to slaughter a sheep or goat at festivals, where a large family gathering, or perhaps a gathering of several families, would share in the feast. Beef, like wine, was expensive and more often found on Egyptian tables. For Gen. Ka-Ra and his daughter, however, this morning's breakfast was a field breakfast. Soon, fish were grilling over an open campfire and Gen. Ka-Ra and Princess Khat-shepset feasted on a typical Mediterranean breakfast — grilled Nile perch with fresh salad vegetables, bread and beer.

It was no wonder, she mused, that the Delta had, for the last several centuries, attracted merchants from both the Minoan Hellens (Greeks), whose commercial and cultural dominance throughout the civilized world seemed to have peaked, and their ascendant rival Hellen cousins, the Mycenaeans. About a century earlier, the Minoan Hellen sea merchants had discovered that the Delta was a veritable Garden of Eden. Soon, multitudes of Minoans thronged from Crete and the Aegean into the Delta, many of them settling in the Delta. Recently, a growing stream of Minoans were augmenting their numbers, fleeing their idyllic island paradise of Thera due to a series of increasingly violent, and frequent, volcanic eruptions signaling that the gods were displeased with the Hellen islanders.

Death of a Princess

Princess Khat-shepset noticed a lone fisherman downriver casting his net as he worked his way up the tributary toward them. He was obviously having trouble with his net and didn't seem to be catching anything. As he worked his way closer, she could tell that his net wasn't opening up properly the way she had seen fishermen throw nets back in Ankh-Tawi. It seemed odd to her that he didn't seem to be casting it quite the way the fishermen in Ankh-Tawi did. His throws seemed clumsy.

Hearing the hiss of an arrow piercing the air, the two looked in the direction of Bes-en-Mut who had been hunting game for breakfast. He was somewhere in the forest, apparently stalking game. It was if time had stopped for a moment. The arrow hadn't come from Bes-en-Mut. By the time the realization had struck them, that they were under attack, it was over. The arrow, a warning, had struck the ground between the general and the Princess, kicking dirt into the fire. Mycenaean archers had drawn bows trained on each of them and the "fisherman" had dropped his net and now held a knife at Princess Khat-shepset's throat.

The Mycenaean holding Princess Khat-shepset seemed to be in charge. The Mycenaean knew exactly whom he had attacked. The general's Merkavah, emblazoned with two sets of opposing silver reeds, was unmistakable. From long experience, the general knew that their best chance of surviving was by keeping calm. He spoke few words, matter-of-factly. But his eyes spoke volumes. "If you harm any of us Pharaoh Amun-hotep will roast you alive. If you harm my daughter, the Princess of Egypt, your families will be roasted alive in front of you while your eyes are held open, your villages will be burned with their women and children in them and then your eyes will be gouged out and you will be roasted alive. Your head will be impaled on a stake at the village gates. This shall be known throughout the Delta as a lesson."

Looking into the eyes of the Hellen 'fisherman' one could see he was nervous, shaken by the threat he knew was real, but still resolved. Replying in thickly accented Egyptian, the 'fisherman' announced, "I am Aiguptios from Pilos, of the region of Mycenae in Greece. We are both military men, Gen. Ka-Ra. We can be straight to the point. We realize what you say is true and we wish to harm no one. Nor do we wish to bring vengeance upon our families or villages. On the other hand, you will find the execution of such a plan more difficult than you suppose. However, we can avoid an unfortunate conflict. There can be peace between us and there is enough business here in the Delta to be lucrative for all of us. What we demand, however, is for Pharaoh to cease his ambitions of imposing Egyptian hegemony over the Delta, particularly over our village-colony of Pilosim, east of the Delta. Mycenaeans will not pay taxes to your Pharaoh. Nor, as we have demonstrated to you today, do Mycenaeans require Egyptian Merkavahs for protection. We will take your Princess with us. We will treat her as royalty as best we are able. When you bring us a papyrus with the Pharaoh's seal agreeing to our demand we will exchange your Princess, unharmed, for your Pharaoh's decree." With that, the 'fisherman' signaled the band of Hellen Pilosim to withdraw, taking the Princess with them.

Again, the hiss of an arrow pierced the air, this time punctuated by a sickening "thwock." The arrow hit the 'fisherman' in the head and he was dead before he hit the ground as a second arrow came hissing through the air to its mark and another Mycenaean fell. Though she couldn't see him, somewhere in the edge of the forest Merkavah-Archer Bes-en-Mut, who had been hunting for breakfast, had returned just in time to avert disaster. His marksmanship had saved her life, something she vowed never to forget. The Princess ran to take shelter behind the armor of her father's Merkavah. "Throw out the bow and arrows and go for help!," the general shouted to his daughter as he dove for shelter in the back of Maj. Naqada's Merkavah. He really only wanted her out of danger so that he and his remaining escort could deal with the situation without worrying that she would become a hostage again or be injured by an arrow. If he simply told her to flee, she might be hesitant to leave him. However, he knew that if he sent her for help she was courageous and would leave with all haste.

By the time that Princess Khat-shepset spanked the reins against the horses' flanks, screaming for them to go, Gen. Ka-Ra had reached his feet and taken command — as acting spearman of Maj. Naqada's Merkavah. Princess Khat-shepset, accelerating as fast as the horses could go, huddled as low as she could in the Merkavah to present as small a target as possible. Several arrows hissed by where she had been standing. Fortunately, her escape path was at an angle to the attackers and the Merkavah's side armor af-forded her good protection. Fleeing away from battle would have left her back completely unprotected.

Generally, generals drive. However, Gen. Ka-Ra was a master archer and Maj. Naqada was qualified only as a driver and spearman (and swordsman, of course) — and this situation required a Merkavah with an expert archer. The Mycenaeans were in the open with Bes-en-Mut keeping them there, picking off anyone coming toward him hoping to find cover in the forest. Only trouble was, though it saved Princess Khat-shepset's life that Bes-en-Mut had his bow and arrows with him, that, unfortunately, left Maj. Naqada's Merkavah without a bow and arrows.

The general's quick thinking under fire, telling the Princess to leave the bow and arrows from his Merkavah, was crucial to this skirmish. As soon as Gen. Ka-Ra had crashed into the back of the remaining Merkavah, Maj. Naqada raced straight for a point between the attackers and the bow and arrow, lying on the ground. The Merkavah would shield the general as he retrieved them. With arrows bouncing off the Merkavah's armor, Maj. Naqada brought the horses to a violent stop beside the bow and arrows. Gen. Ka-Ra quickly retrieved the vital weapons as Bes-en-Mut, stranded on foot, continued to snipe Mycenaeans from the cover of the forest. For a Merkavah archer, sniping from a stationary position was like target practice.

The small band presented perfect targets for an archer-equipped Merkavah. The Hellens were having difficulty recovering from the surprise and were still in disarray as Maj. Naqada circled the small band within bowshot, making the Mycenaeans sitting ducks for Gen. Ka-Ra. By contrast, the speeding Merkavah made it very difficult for the Mycenaeans to return fire effectively at the two Egyptians, huddling protected behind its armor. Picking his shots, Gen. Ka-Ra stood and fired repeatedly at the Mycenaeans with the calm deadly accuracy of a combat veteran.

With the element of surprise gone, the small band of Mycenaeans were no match for an Egyptian Merkavah with an expert archer on board, particularly when supported by crossfire from a second expert archer sniping unseen from somewhere in the forest. The two archers' arrows had a withering effect on the foot-bound Mycenaeans. Even with one of the chariots gone into the village, the small band of Mycenaeans had unknowingly picked a fight with two of the most expert Merkavah-Archers in all of Egypt and were soon routed, fleeing into the forest, as far from Bes-en-Mut as they could get, where the Merkavah couldn't follow.

When the last Mycenaean had fled or fallen, the general congratulated his men and checked that they were all ok. Both Merkavahs had several arrows stuck in them and the drivers set about removing them. The holes left behind were sufficient for the war stories they'd recount later. The general and Bes-en-Mut went around retrieving their arrows with their precious bronze arrow points. Most of them had found their mark in Mycenaean bodies. Maj. Naqada, meanwhile, watered the horses in the tributary, checking them for wounds, and performed a quick walk-around check of the Merkavah and its rigging to see if anything needed repair. The general wanted to check on Princess Khat-shepset's well being as soon as possible. The three quickly finished their tasks and Maj. Naqada and Merkavah-Archer Bes-en-Mut set out after Princess Khat-shepset with Gen. Ka-Ra riding as a passenger.

On the road back to Pi-Tom, Princess Khat-shepset was unaware that the crisis had passed. She raced the horses as fast as they would go. She desperately wanted to get to Pi-Tom to raise the alert and bring Capt. Huni and his squadron of Merkavahs stationed there. At full gallop over a rock-strewn road, a Merkavah bounces and careens wildly. Controlling it, and the horses, is often a handful for a strong man. Without a second occupant, and exacerbated by her own diminutive size, the Merkavah was much lighter than usual and caromed uncontrollably off of every jolting rock or hole, first one wheel would come off the ground then the other, pounding her severely and at times threatening to launch her into the air.

She'd gotten almost halfway to Pi-Tom when she heard, and felt, a loud snap beneath her feet. The Merkavah dropped out from under her and she saw the right wheel, or rather what was left of it, bouncing crazily off to her right. Time seemed to slow down. She knew that something very bad was about to happen when she came down. The right axle hit the ground with a jolting thud followed by the ugly grating sound of the axle dragging on that side as the chariot wrenched to the right, breaking the tongue of the Merkavah and separating it from the horses. The chariot went one way, the horses continued racing ahead and she came crashing down into the front railing of the Merkavah, catapulting her into the air. Reflex-ively, she held onto the reins, which only made her trajectory more awkward. Taking the slack out of the reins in the blink of an eye, the racing horses snapped her in the air, like a whip, as they tore the reins out of her hands and she hit the packed road, strewn with rocks, like a rag doll flung to the ground by an angry child.

The wreckage of the Merkavah crashed into a tree as the spooked horses raced off into the distance. Finally, silence fell over the small, crumpled body lying deathly still in the road.

Concerned about a possible ambush, Gen. Ka-Ra and Merkavah-Archer Bes-en-Mut scoured the forest on both sides of the road. Maj. Naqada was first to see Maj. Tyeti 's Merkavah stopped in the road-way up ahead with both crewmen huddled over a body. They had been on their way back to camp with the breakfast provisions. Maj. Tyeti had fought many battles with the general and his heart ached at the sight. As Maj. Naqada slowed to a stop in the road, the general put him and Bes-en-Mut on battle alert. Debark-ing to investigate, Gen. Ka-Ra spotted his own wrecked Merkavah twisted into the edge of the forest and realized the horrible truth. The body lying beside the road was his daughter, Princess Khat-shepset.

Maj. Tyeti said nothing, but he could tell from his face that the news wasn't good. Kneeling over her, he looked carefully at her chest to see if she was breathing but her there was no movement. Bes-en-Mut, who only minutes earlier had saved her life, handed him a thin blade of grass. The general held it under Princess Khat-shepset's nose to detect any sign of breathing. The grass didn't move. Carefully, he checked her throat for any sign of a pulse, but he could detect no heartbeat.

The escort soldiers stood in silent and respectful anticipation. Egypt's Chief of Staff Gen. Ka-Ra was the senior officer present. It was his duty to state the official declaration, which would later be recorded in the royal court. Clearing his throat, he struggled to filter the pain from his words: "Each of you is witness before Amun-Ra." The words seemed to squeeze through his throat and his chin quivered. "Princess Khat-shepset, fourth in line to the throne of Egypt..." With a stifled heave of his chest, the general choked back the emotions and struggled to keep his voice from cracking as he finished his sentence: "is dead."

Tears welled up in the eyes of the combat-hardened general as he lifted her limp body and lovingly placed it in the back of Maj. Tyeti's Merkavah. Maj. Naqada had already removed the general's insignia, one silver reed of which had been smashed, from the wrecked Merkavah and attached it to Maj. Tyeti's Merkavah for the general and his daughter to make the sad ride back to Pi-Tom. Knowing that Maj. Naqada and Merkavah-Archer Bes-en-Mut might be tired from their recent skirmish, not to mention feeling awkward that, through no fault of theirs, they hadn't been there for the fight, Maj. Tyeti volunteered for him and Merkavah-Archer Seneb to walk behind the general and the Princess.

They were on the western edge of a marshy area almost a half-day's drive south of Pi-Tom, which situated them about a day and a half's drive back to the capital where she would be mummified and receive a royal burial. The general didn't want to take up a full day just heading north to Pi-Tom and then retracing his steps back to this point, enroute to Ankh-Tawi. With Seneb carrying his bow and arrows in case they were attacked again, Maj. Tyeti and he walked somberly behind the war chariot serving as Princess Khat-shepset's hearse as they headed home, traveling into the night, to the Egyptian capital, Ankh-Tawi.

The two Merkavahs pulled into Pharaoh Amun-hotep's palace as dawn was breaking. The general immediately dispatched a messenger to notify Pharaoh of the Princess' death, and then summoned the priests who took her body into the temple and placed her before the idol of Ra where the priests recited the incantation that Ra now be pleased to accept Princess Khat-shepset into his company. Consistent with her earthly role, the priests awarded her the additional name of Isis-Hathor Moses (meaning Isis-Hathor incarnate), wife of Ra and mother-wife of Horus. After concluding the ritual incantations and tending the candles and incense for the night, the priests left, posting two soldiers to stand vigil outside the holiest inner sanctuary of Ra.

Pharaoh Amun-hotep was genuinely grieved over the loss of his Chief of Staff's daughter. He sent criers into the streets to announce the tragic news to the populous of Ankh-Tawi, requiring all of Egypt to mourn during the 70 days between her death and burial, including the remaining two days of the three-day vigil followed by 12 days of treatments interspersed with a 40-day mummification period, 15 days of bandaging and her burial.

Yokheved was on her way to the shuq (produce market, rhymes with "nuke") to buy the day's produce and a week's supply of beer when the crier came within earshot. Upon hearing that Princess Khat-shepset was dead Yokheved was devastated. Before she even had a chance to consider the implications, her baby kicked with such force that Yokheved reflexively cried out clutching her stomach, shocking the women standing nearby who came to her aid, helped her sit down in a shady spot in the shuq and brought her a drink of water. Yokheved assured them that she was ok.

But she wasn't ok at all. The baby was all right. For now. But Khat-shepset's death eviscerated her plan to save her baby from being thrown to the crocodiles by Pharaoh's soldiers. There wasn't another Princess in the immediate royal succession. If her baby was a boy, his fate now seemed doomed and she could think of no way to save him. She began sobbing quietly as she sat in a corner of the Hebrew shuq. Shoppers in the shuq looked on incredulously. It was incongruous, perhaps blasphemous, for an Israeli to mourn over an Egyptian ruler. It was unthinkable that the wife of a Kohein would cry over the Princess' death.

Yokheved was more convinced than other Israeli mothers that her child would be the hoped-for mashiakh (Hebrew for "anointed"), whom the Lord of Yisra·eil would use to lead Yisra·eil out of Egyptian bondage back home to Kәna…an. But since Pharaoh had order the Egyptian soldiers to throw Israeli male babies to the crocodiles, other Israeli mothers had given up hopes for a mashiakh to save Yisra·eil from the Egyptians. Yet, how could he be saved from the crocodiles now, with the Princess-goddess, who was the key to the whole plan, dead? Still crying, but with the valor of a woman soldier, Yokheved resolved to trust in The Lord of Yisra·eil to show her a solution. She stood and began walking home, dutifully clutching the vegetables and beer she had purchased for her family with one hand while holding her other hand to her belly, as if to reassure herself that her baby was ok. Praying softly to herself, she implored the invisible Singularity, The Lord of Yisra·eil of Yisra·eil, pleading that He would show her a solution.

When Amram came home from the foundry that evening, he could see that Yokheved was grievously discouraged and she had been crying. He, too, had heard the news of the Princess' death, from the crier there, and had worried about how she would react to the news. It broke his heart to see his wife cry. "Amram," she begged him, "For the sake of ten just men the Lord of Yisra·eil was willing to spare Sedom ("Sodom"). Surely, for ten just men He will provide a mashiakh to save Yisra·eil from the clutches of Pharaoh. I beg you to gather a minyan (a prayer quorum of ten men of Yisra·eil) to supplicate for His kin-dred Yisra·eil and His mashiakh by whose hands He will save His kindred. If not my baby, then another," she implored, "but provide us with a mashiakh to save Yisra·eil."

There was nothing contrary to the Oral Law in her request. He called the men of his tribe, Leiwi, to a special meeting and, as they customarily did, they prayed toward Har Moriyah in Shaleim, where Avraham had bound Yitzkhaq for sacrifice and the Lord of Yisra·eil had provided salvation.

Now they waited, trusting The Lord of Yisra·eil to reveal His solution.

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Yokheved's plan depends upon the Pharaoh's only Princess, Khat-shepset, to save Mosheh from being thrown to the crocodiles in the Nile. What will happen now? Find out in Chapter Three and read the rest of this exciting and eye-opening docunovel The Mirrored Sphinxes.

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