Column of Soleb

Date: 14th century B.C.


At the base of its massive columns, the Amun-temple in Soleb (Sudan), dating from the time of Amenophis III (1391 B.C.-1353 B.C.), depicts captives with their hands bound behind their backs. Racial features are clearly portrayed and there is also a name-ring, which gives information about the prisoners. Different peoples are pictured.


(Facsimile made by B. Bonte – the upper portion is a scientific reconstruction based on the remains, the bottom portion is the remains of the original)


Details of the name-ring:



In the correct order:
t3 s3 sw w / y h w3 (w)

Some specialists correctly point out that the Egyptian vowels are not known very well. However, for foreign words – as in this case - Egyptians used a sort of standard alphabet with ‘matres lectionis’ (semi-consonants which served as vowels). In this system you pronounce: ‘3’ = ‘a’; w = u en ÿ = i.

Using this system, the hieroglyphic above says:
“ta sasûw yehûa(w)”

Or translated in English: “land of the nomads (or Bedouins), those of Yehua(w).”

Some specialists choose to identify 'Yehua' with an unknown toponym. This cannot be proven because there are places with names like: land of Judah (Deuteronomy 34:2) and land of Rameses (Genesis 47:11). Or if we look at Asiatic toponyms from that time: land of Jakob-El, land of Josep-El, land of Lewi-El, etc. Clearly names of people were used in names for places! (1)

Jean Leclant writes: “It is evident that the name on the name-ring in Soleb that we are discussing corresponds to the "Tetragrammaton" of the god of the Bible YHWH." He adds: "The name of God appears here in the first place as the name of a place." In a footnote he explains that place-names are often derived of the names of gods. (2)

It is interesting to know that the expression ‘Shasus’, used by Egyptians, referred to Bedouins living with their bundles in the region North of the Sinai. From the 15th to the 12th century B.C. the Hebrew settlers conquering Palestine were called ‘Hapirus’. The word ‘Apiru’ or ‘Habiru’ in Semitic languages means “wanderings”.


(1) Gerard Gertroux: zie boek: “The Name Of God Y.eH.oW.aH Which is pronounced as it is written I_Eh_oU_Ah – Its Story”
(2) Jean Leclant, Le “Tetragramme” à l’époque d’Aménophis III, in “Near Eastern Studies dedicated to H.I.H. Prince Takahito Mikasa on the Occasion of His Seventy-Fifth Birthday,” pages 215-219, 1991 Wiesbaden.



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