Hershel Shanks

INTO EGYPT. While talking about the historical context that Egyptian archaeology can provide for some of the earliest Bible stories, Hawass mentioned this painting from one of the Beni Hassan tombs, located on the east bank of the Nile about 150 miles south of Cairo. Dating to the 19th century B.C.E., the once-colorful painting depicts a group of Asiatics in bright garments coming to trade in Egypt. Their leader is called Abishai, or Ibsha. Although this group of traders or merchants certainly isn’t a famine-starved group of Israelite refugees, the tomb painting is evidence of the substantial presence of Asiatics who came from Syria and Canaan to settle in the lush land east of the Nile toward the end of the Middle Kingdom (2055–1650 B.C.E.).