Erich Lessing

Pharaoh’s mighty steeds rear menacingly at left in this depiction of the Battle of Kadesh, preserved on the walls of the Ramesseum at Luxor, Egypt. The battle occurred in about 1273 B.C. on the banks of the Orontes, in modern Lebanon, and pitted the two great superpowers of the day—the Egyptians and the Hittites—against each other. Ramesses II (1279–1212 B.C.) tried to put the best face on the outcome with heroic battle scenes such as this, but the Hittite account states that the pharaoh’s forces were routed. In the wake of the battle, Egyptian hegemony over Canaan went into eclipse and numerous local rulers broke away in revolt. Some scholars have suggested that this period of Egyptian decline would have been a likely time for the Israelite Exodus.