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Shishak or Susac (Hebrew: שישק, Tiberian: [ʃiʃaq]) or Shishaq is the biblical Hebrew form of the first ancient Egyptian name of a pharaoh mentioned in the Bible.

Shishak's Reign[edit]

The Bubastite Portal at Karnak, depicting a list of city states conquered by Shoshenq I in his Near Eastern military campaigns.

Shishak is best known for his campaign against the Kingdom of Judah, as recorded in the Hebrew Bible (1 Kings 14:25; 2 Chronicles 12:1-12).

Shishak had provided refuge to Jeroboam during the later years of Solomon's reign, and upon Solomon's death, Jeroboam became king of the tribes in the north, which became the Kingdom of Israel. In the fifth year of Rehoboam's reign (commonly dated between 926 and 917 BC), Shishak swept through the kingdom of Judah with a powerful army, in support of his ally. According to 2 Chronicles 12:3, he was supported by the Lubim (Libyans), the Sukkiim, and the Kushites" ("Ethiopians" in the Septuagint).

According to the biblical story, Shishak carried off all of the treasures of the temple and the royal palace in Jerusalem, including the "shields of gold" that Solomon had made: "When Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem, he carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including the gold shields Solomon had made." (2 Chronicles 12:9 NIV) The story is not specific about the means by which he acquired these treasures, though it is most likely that he received them as a tribute from Rehoboam to secure peace.

Shishak's name[edit]

Texts written in various ancient languages seem to indicate that the first vowel was both long and round, and the final vowel was short. For example, the name is written in the Hebrew Bible as שישק [ʃiːʃaq]. The variant readings in Hebrew, which are due to confusion between the letters < י > Yod and < ו > Vav that are particularly common in the Masoretic Text, indicate that the first vowel was long in pronunciation. The Septuagint uses Σουσακιμ [susakim], derived from the marginal reading שושק [ʃuːʃaq] of Hebrew. This indicates during the 2nd century BC Hebrew-speakers or Alexandrian Greek-speakers pronounced the name with an initial long close back rounded vowel [u].

Shishak identified as Pharaoh Sheshonk I[edit]

The Bubastite Portal at Karnak, showing the cartouches of Sheshonk I.

In the very early years after the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs, on chronological, historical, and linguistic grounds, nearly all Egyptologists identified Shishak with Sheshonk I. This position was maintained by most scholars ever since, and is still the majority position. The fact that Shoshenq I left behind "explicit records of a campaign into Canaan (scenes; a long list of Canaanite place-names from the Negev to Galilee; stelae), including a stela [found] at Megiddo" supports the traditional interpretation.[1]

Other identifications have been put forward which have been considered fringe theories. In his book Ages in Chaos, Immanuel Velikovsky identified him with Thutmose III. More recently, David Rohl's New Chronology identified him with Ramesses II, and Peter James has identified him with Ramesses III.



  1. ^ K.A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, William Eerdmans & Co, 2003. pp.10, 32-34 & p.607. Page 607 of Kitchen's book depicts the surviving fragment of Shoshenq I's Megiddo stela which bears this king's cartouche

Other sources[edit]

  • Muchiki Yoshiyuki (1999). Egyptian Proper Names and Loanwords in North-West Semitic. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. 
  • Rohl, David M. (1995). Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest. New York: Crown Publishers, inc.