Erich Lessing

A scene at Beni Hasan, on the Nile about halfway between Cairo and Luxor, shows a group of Semites visiting Egypt to conduct trade or possibly in search of grain. One figure on the wall painting, identified as Abisha and bearing the title Hyksos, leans over an ibex (third from right). Hyksos is a Greek term derived from an Egyptian phrase meaning either “ruler of foreign lands” or “shepherd-kings.” The Hyksos were Semites from Canaan who ruled Egypt for roughly two and a half centuries, starting in about 1800 B.C.E. The scene from Beni Hasan brings to mind the biblical journey of Jacob’s sons to Egypt seeking food during a time of drought.