Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – We are still looking at the famous image carved into the wall of the tomb of Khanoum Hateb II in the Beni Hassan cemetery in the Egyptian Al Minya governorate that portrays the arrival of an Asian delegation made up of men, women, children, and animals, to Egypt.
The ancient Egyptians portrayed this Asian delegation, led by the Bedouin chief Ibsha, as having short beards and wearing embroidered and brightly coloured clothing. Ibsha is also given the title ‘Ruler of the Desert.’ As I mentioned in my previous article, some researchers have linked the arrival of this Asian delegation to Egypt to the visit made by Prophet Abraham [pbuh], citing the following evidence as proof of this:
Firstly, the date of the scene portrayed inside the tomb of Khanoum Hateb II is recorded as being the sixth year of the reign of King Senusret II, which many researchers believe is the same year that Prophet Abraham and his companions arrived in Egypt.
Secondly, the name “Ibsha” is a description or a kind of nickname used for the people of Syria and Palestine, and its transliteration into Arabic is “Abu al Sham” [Father of the Levant]. Researchers claim that Prophet Abraham [pbuh] concealed his real name in fear that the King would recognize him and order his death.
On the other hand, some researchers have categorically dismissed any ties between this scene and Prophet Abraham [pbuh], viewing the scene as being nothing more than a depiction of commercial ties between ancient Egypt and some Asian tribes.
I believe that those who advance this second point of view [that there are no ties between Ibsha and Prophet Abraham] have a more credible hypothesis, especially once we take into account the fact that during the Middle Kingdom, regional rulers [like Khanoum Hateb II] had great influence, and some of them were able to establish direct commercial and diplomatic ties with their neighbours, such as with African, Asian, and Libyan tribes.
Here we come to an important question that is often asked by archaeologists when meeting with Egyptologists. Considering the fact that the ancient Egyptians recorded all aspects of their lives, from the important to the minute, as well as the historic events of the time, on the walls of their tombs and temples, as well as in papyrus scrolls, why are there no references to the arrival of Prophet Abraham [pbuh] in Egypt, or the story of Prophet Joseph [pbuh] or Prophet Moses [pbuh]?
In order to answer this question the reader should be aware that when we talk of ancient Egyptian civilization, we are talking about something that happened approximately 3000 years ago, as this is when writing first appeared in Ancient Egypt. This age was preceded by other ages dating back thousand of years [prior to the written record]. Each prophet’s presence in ancient Egypt either lasted only a few months, as was the case with Prophet Abraham [pbuh], or perhaps thirty years, as was the case with Prophet Joseph [pbuh]. As for Prophet Moses [pbuh] he may have been present in Egypt for forty or even forty-five years.
However when compared to the age of Egyptian civilization such periods of time are extremely short, and so do not occupy a large space in the overflowing history of the Pharaohs. Also the ancient Egyptian antiquities that we have discovered do not exceed 10 percent of what they left behind, and so it is understandable why we have not found any evidence of the presence of God’s prophets in Egypt.