July 22, 1942
Professor Harry A. Wolfson Harvard University
After reading with great interest the monograph of Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky (or rather its first part), which you kindly allowed me to see, I should like to make a few remarks.
Although the English diction and style of the paper require thorough revision before It may be printed, the monograph is very interesting and holds the attention of the reader. The author shows considerable familiarity with a great variety of ancient sources. In general the author seems to prefer the information, no matter how legendary, given by ancient sources to the conclusions of modern historians, based on the criticism of available evidence. This method may be defended, but the disregard of the work of modern scholars may cause the latter to dismiss the work with a shrug of the shoulders as unworthy of their attention.
The main thesis of the paper—the identification of the Hyksos with the Amalekites—is entirely new to me; as far as I know it has never been advanced. The arguments of the author to prove this thesis are extremely ingenious, if not always convincing. In dealing with a period of history which, owing to the extreme scarcity of contemporary sources, is extremely obscure, new hypotheses are legitimate.
If I am not mistaken, the historical reconstruction of Dr. Velikovsky disregards the chronological data which are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt. We know that the Hyksos invaded the Nile Delta about 1730, ruled as the Pharaohs of the Dynasties XV and XVI from ca. 1680 to 1580, Ahmose took Avaris in 1580, thus founding the 18th dynasty, drove out the Hyksos and after a siege of 3 years captured their fortress in Southern Palestine, Sharuen. Thereafter the Hyksos disappear from history. On the other hand the author discovers an account of the Egyptian plagues in Exodus, in The Writing of Ipuwer which, according to Egyptologists was written long before the Hyksos invasion and refers to the misery of Egypt during the first (not the second) Intermediary Period (ca. 2270-2100). The same applies to the prophecy of Neferrohu, announcing [post eventum] the coming of Ameni (1.58) or Amenemhet I (ca. 2000-1790), the founder of the 12th dynasty. If such is the case the Hyksos could hardly have invaded. Egypt during the calamities described by these two texts, nor could the Exodus of the Israelites have taken place during those calamities in the latter part of the third millennium.
Assuming however that the author is correct in connecting those calamities with the second Intermediary period, during which the Israelites invaded Egypt, he alone of all scholars (to the best of my knowledge) would date the Exodus from Egypt a few days or weeks before the invasion of the Hyksos (ca. 1730). In other words Moses lived about 700 years before David, for we know positively that David was alive in 1000 B.C. Even if the period of the Judges lasted 400 years (which most scholars refuse to admit), more than 200 years elapsed, according to this theory, between the Exodus and the invasion of Canaan (traditionally 40 years in the desert).
The identification of Agag, the Amalekite king defeated by Saul and killed by Samuel (in the period 1050-1000 B.C.) with Apop II, one of the last kings of the Hyksos or the last one, requires us to either bring Saul and Samuel up to 1580 (when Avaris the stronghold and residence of Apop was taken), or dating Apop in the 21st dynasty (1090-945), and not in the 17th.
It is possible that I have not understood the author correctly: he refrains from giving any dates for the events which he describes. In any case we know positively that Sharuhen fell shortly after 1580 and could not have been captured by Saul who lived five centuries later.
The preceding remarks show merely that I cannot accept the conclusions of Dr. Velikovskynot that he is wrong and I am right. I should say, however, that the author should give us his chronology of the second millennium, which apparently differs radically from that accepted by all historians known to me, before proceeding to identify the Hyksos (who are usually thought of riding in horse-drawn chariots) with the Amalekitea (described in the Bible as camel-riding Bedouins). Unless he overthrows the current chronology, he identifies events which in our chronology are separated by more than five centuries. The only date which is still debatable is that of the Exodus, variously placed in 1580, 1440, 1300, 1225.