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Tell el-Farah South

Sharuhen was an ancient town in the Negev Desert or perhaps in Gaza. Following the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt in the second half of the 16th century BCE, they fled to Sharuhen and fortified it. The armies of Pharaoh Ahmose I seized and razed the town after a three-year siege.


The destruction of Sharuhen was merely the first stage of a new policy of pre-emptive warfare waged by the Egyptians. Because the Egyptians of the 17th Dynasty felt deeply humiliated by the 15th and 16th Dynasty rule of the Hyksos (ca. 1650 BCE-ca. 1540 BCE), the Theban dynasty launched an ambitious war, led by Seqenenre Tao, against the foreign king, Apepi, to reclaim lost territory. Though his own campaign to expel the Hyksos from Egypt failed, and he himself was killed in battle, his son, Kamose, launched an attack on the Hyksos capital of Avaris.

It was his much younger brother, Ahmose I, however, who finally succeeded in recapturing Avaris, razing it, and expelling the Hyksos rulers from Egypt altogether.

The profound insult of the foreign rule to the honour and integrity of Egypt could be corrected, and its recurrence prevented, only by extending Egypt's hegemony over the Asiatics to the north and east of Egypt. Ahmose I engaged in a retaliative three-year siege of Sharuhen, thereby launching an aggressive policy of pre-emptive warfare. His success was continued by his successor but one, Thutmose I, who extended Egyptian influence as far as the Mitanni kingdom in the north and Mesopotamia in the east, thereby creating what was to become the most extensive empire in the ancient world.

Sharuhen is mentioned in the bible in Joshua 19:6 in the description of the allotment of the Tribe of Simeon.


The following sites, all within the same small area along the Nahal Besor and Nahal Gerar rivers, have been identified as possibly being ancient Sharuhen;


  1. ^ Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Amsterdam University Press. 31 December 2000. pp. 1194–. ISBN 978-90-5356-503-2. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Donald B. Redford, The Wars in Syria and Palestine of Thutmose III. Volume 16 of Culture and History of the Ancient near East Series. BRILL, 2003 ISBN 9004129898 p11