Friday, May 27, 2011


And he heard say, Tiharkah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with thee.
Isaiah 37:9

Two statues of King Tiharkah on display in the British Museum

Tiharkah kneeling in obeisance to the falcon god Horus with an offering of two clay jars

Taharqa, (the Biblical Tiharkah), who reigned from 690 B.C. to 664 B.C. was a black African king from the Sudan and the third sovereign, but the most famous, of the ‘black Pharaohs’ that ruled the 25th Dynasty of Egypt (II Kings 19:9).  He was crowned king in Memphis, Egypt and he wore the double serpent (uraeus cobra) on his forehead to show his rule over Egypt and Nubia.  He was a descendant of the Biblical Cush (Gen. 10:6, 7) and was most famous for his construction work throughout Egypt and Nubia, especially his renovation of old temples.  National Geographic did some scholarly research on this king and his almost forgotten legacy.

‘The black Pharaohs reunified a tattered Egypt and filled its landscape with glorious monuments, creating an empire that stretched from the southern border at present-day Khartoum all the way north to the Mediterranean Sea.  Until recently, theirs was a chapter of history that largely went untold.  Only in the past four decades have archaeologists resurrected their story – and come to recognise that the black Pharaohs didn’t come from nowhere.  They sprang from a robust civilization that had flourished in the southern banks of the Nile for 2,500 years, going back at least as far back as the first Egyptian dynasty.  Famed Harvard Egyptologist George Reisner – whose discoveries between 1916 and 1919 offered the first archaeological evidence of Nubian kings who ruled over Egypt – besmirched his own findings by insisting that black Africans could not possibly have constructed the monuments he was excavating.  The neglect of Nubian history reflected not only the bigoted worldview of the times, but also a cult-like fascination with Egypt’s achievements – and a complete ignorance of Africa’s past.                                                

So sweeping was Taharqa’s influence on Egypt that even his enemies could not eradicate his imprint.  During his rule, to travel down the Nile to Napata to Thebes was to navigate a panorama of architectural wonderment.  All over Egypt, he built monuments with busts, statues, and cartouches bearing his image or name, many of which sit in museums around the world.  Taharqa had ascended at a favourable moment for the 25th dynasty.  The delta warlords had been laid down.  The Assyrians, after failing to best him at Jerusalem, wanted no part of the Nubian ruler.  Egypt was his and his alone. (1)

He is one of the most hardest sovereign’ to research, who is mentioned in the Holy Scriptures.  Bible dictionaries, Encyclopaedia Britannica’ and books on ancient civilisations don’t even mention him due to deep rooted racial prejudice by biased Western historians, yet he played a pivotal role on the stage of world history. 

When King Hezekiah’ kingdom was being severely threatened by the might of Assyria headed by King Sennacherib, rather than leaning on the Almighty God for his strength and power, he formed an alliance with ‘Tiharkah king of Ethiopia’.  God wasn’t too pleased with Israel forming an alliance with the Egyptians (Isa. 31:1-5).  Rabshakeh, an Assyrian official and chief of the officers for King Sennacherib, mocked Hezekiah for forming an alliance with the Nubian king Tiharkah.

…thou trustest in the staff of the broken reed, on Egypt, whereof if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. 
Isaiah 36:6

English Assyriologist and later M.P., Sir Austen Henry Layard (1817-1894) and English scholar George Rawlinson (1812-1902), the Camden Professor of History at the University of Oxford were one of the very few open minded western scholars of the 19th century who mentions the 25th dynasty and Nubian/Kushite King Tiharkah in their works, rescuing it from the archives of oblivion.  They allowed the evidence they uncovered to interpret itself and didn’t let colonialist prejudices to cloud their academic research.  This is what Layard uncovered with the evidence of his day:

The twenty-fifth dynasty of Manetho, consisted of three AEthiopic kings, the seat of whose empire was originally at Gerbel Baskal, or Napata, and who subsequently conquered the whole of Egypt.  The first monarch of this line was called Sabaco by the Greek writers; the second Sebechos, or Senechos, his son; the third was Tarkos or Taracus.  The hypothesis originally proposed by Marsham, and subsequently adopted by others is, that Sabaco is the king Sua or So, mentioned in Kings, xvii. 4., to whom Hoshea, in the sixth year of his reign, sent an embassy.  The duration of the AEthiopian dynasty, according to Africanus and Eusebius, is,

- 8 (Africanus)
12 (Eusebius)
- 14 ”
12 ”
- 18 ”
20 ”


Total    -
- 40

George Rawlinson was a modern day Herodotus and is probably the greatest antiquities historian of modern times.  He recorded the military campaigns of Nubian King Tiharkah, where his detailed accounts of historical events are so tight, that he can stimulate your imagination and make you feel that you are actually there.

The immediate successor of Shabatok appears to have been Tirhakah, whom Manetho made the third Ethiopian king.  The form of his name in Egyptian is Tahark or Tahrak, which Manetho rendered by Tarakos and the later Greeks by Tearchon.  His monuments are found at Memphis, at Medinet-Abou, at Thebes, and at Napata.  It is not probable that from Napata he exercised the supreme authority over Egypt even during the reign of Shabatok, and it appears to have been with him that Hezekiah negotiated, when the continued existence of Judaea was menaced by Sennacherib.  Sennacherib had in B.C. 701 taken Ascalon and Ekron, defeated an Egyptian army which marched to the relief of the latter city, invaded Judaea, and made Hezekiah tributary, after which he had returned to Nineveh.  The Jewish monarch took advantage of his absence to send an embassy to Egypt, and received such encouragement that, in the next year, Sennacherib deemed it necessary to march a second time into Palestine (B.C. 699) for the purpose of chastising both Judaea and Egypt.  Regarding the Egyptians as his main enemy, and hearing that Tirhakah was on his way to oppose him, he marched past Jerusalem, by way of Libnah and Lachish towards Pelusium, and found there an Egyptian army encamped under a leader whom Herodotus calls Sethos, possibly Shabatok, but more probably another Egyptian sub-king, whom Shabatok or Tirhakah had established at Memphis.  The two hosts were encamped opposite each other, when in the night occurred a terrible calamity, explained by different writers in different ways, whereby the Assyrians were utterly discomfited, their invasion brought to an end, and Egypt for the present relieved from any danger of further attack.  Sabatok having soon afterwards died, Tirhakah established himself as sole ruler of Egypt (B.C. 698), and probably transferred his abode in Napata to Memphis, where so many of his memorials have been discovered. (3)

A Nubian, probably a monarch or prince offering incense to one of their pagan deities 

The highest numbers of pyramids on earth are in the Sudan and among them lays the tomb of Tiharkah whose name is also inscribed in one of them.

This Nubian empire of Tiharkah continued right up until the fourth century and was also mentioned in the New Testament when one of the eunuchs from the courts of that empire under one of the queens that were titled Candace (a title similar to Caesar or Pharaoh), was studying the book of Isaiah and after a conversation with the evangelist Philip converted to Christ (Acts 8:26-40). The empire later became a Christian empire like the Ethiopian empire in the fourth century which fulfilled a very interesting prophecy:

From  beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.
Zephaniah 3:10

Source: (1) NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, February 2008 pp. 39, 40, 53; (2) Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon by Austen Henry Layard pp. 157, 158; (3) History of Ancient Egypt, vol. II by George Rawlinson pp. 450, 451

Further reading: Africa and the Bible by Edwin M. Yamauchi; The Black Pharaohs by Robert G. Morkot; The Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire by Drusilla Dunjee Houston; They Came Before Columbus by Ivan Van Sertima

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