Ramses - The True Name of the Pharaoh Who Died in the Red Sea

February 14, 2024

When most people think of the pharaoh that sent his army into the Red Sea to pursue Israel, they envision a man called Ramses (also spelled Raamses). This name is the one suggested in the Bible and echoed in movies such as The Ten Commandments and Exodus: Gods and Kings. But what is the truth about this king?

The pharaoh was the preserver of Egypt's god-given order, called maat. He owned a large portion of Egypt's land, directed its use, oversaw the country's economic and spiritual welfare, and dispensed justice to his subjects. He ruled by royal decree, but he also delegated authority to his ministers, including the chief justice, head of the treasury, and overseer of all records.

Pharaoh Seqenenre Taa II was one of these ministers, and he was the pharaoh who led Egypt against the Hyksos, the Asian invaders of the 1625 to -1549 era. When his mummy was found in 1886, a foul smell gave way to wounds on his skull that were thought to have been the result of a battle.

The wounds were significant and potentially fatal. A cut across his forehead measured 2.75 inches (7 centimeters), possibly from an ax, and slices above his right eye and nose likely came from the same weapon. The pharaoh had died in the course of battle. Throughout the biblical account of Moses' encounter with the Egyptians and the Exodus journey and conquest of Canaan, much is made of God defeating the kings of Egypt and destroying them (Deuteronomy 3:3; Numbers 21:34-35; Joshua 12:9-24). But what happened to this pharaoh?

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