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Merneptah stele or Stele of Israel is a black granite, stele erected by the Egyptian ruler Amenhotep III and modified later by Merenptah.
Shows the date “Fifth year, the third month of Shemu third day”, which corresponds approximately to 1209-1208 BC It was rediscovered in 1896 by Flinders Petrie at the mortuary temple of Merenptah in Thebes and is currently preserved at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The stele bears a record of a military victory against the Libu peoples and meshwesh in the current Libya.
In the last lines, it is told the victorious outcome of a different military expedition led by Merenptah to the land of Canaan.
Between peoples and defeated city is listed ysrỉr. The ysrỉr name is not accompanied, as is the case for cities or states listed, ideogram depicting three stylized mountains, indicating a country or state. The ideogram associated Instead, a man and a woman, indicates a nomadic nature of the population. The stele is the oldest archaeological evidence which shows the name of Israel and anticipates by 400 years the first extra-Biblical reference to God’s people, an exceptional fact that prompted him to rename the find “Stele of Israel.” Without it, there would be no external evidence of the settlement of Israel in Canaan Bible before 1200, C. Thanks to this testimony the scholars, often critical of Biblical chronology, had to revise the date of the Exodus, placing it in a necessary period prior to the thirteenth century BC, as it not only Israel was already in Canaan at the time of the pharaoh Merneptah, but it was also strong enough to fight against Egypt, like other political entities mentioned in the inscription.
In the last two lines of the stele it reads: “Canaan is deprived of all his wickedness; Ashqelon is deported; There has seized Gezer; Yanoam it as if it were longer; Israel is destroyed and has no more seed. “… How important is this inscription? The essayist Hershel Shanks replied: “The Merneptah stele shows that in 1212 a.E.V. He existed a people called Israel, and that the Pharaoh of Egypt not only knew but also believed to boast the fact of defeating him in battle. “
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