NELC 150

Introduction to the Bible

Slide 1

Beni Hasan wall painting, ca. 1890 BCE. This mural, from the wall of a tomb at the site of Beni Hasan in Egypt, shows a band of "Asiatic" nomads from Syria-Canaan visiting Egypt. (In the original this is one painting; it is split into two halves here to fit on the screen.) The painting gives an impression of what semi-nomads like the Hebrew patriarchs in Genesis, during what the Bible describes as the patriarchal period (give or take a few centuries), may have looked like. Note headbands, style of clothing, style of beards, donkey as beast of burden, weapons, tools? (NOTE: The identification of this group as "Asiatics" appears in the hieroglyphic "caption" at the upper right. In Egyptian paintings, "Asiatics" refers to people from Syria-Palestine/Canaan. The men are usually identifiable by their style of beard and, often, headbands [here worn by the women]. We cannot identify their specific ethnicity because usually Egyptian artists depicted everybody from that region the same way and Egyptian writers used the term "Asiatic" for everybody from that region.) The caption above the scene describes the occasion as "the arrival, bringing stibium [a mineral used as a cosmetic for painting the eyes], which thirty-seven Asiatics brought to him [the owner of the tomb]." The caption in front of the leader of the "Asiatics" identifies him as "The Ruler of a Foreign Country, (whose name is) Ibsha" [perhaps Abi-Sha, a name related to Biblical Elisha]. To see the original layout, click here and scroll right and left.