Ramses, Ramesses

RAMSES, RAMESSES (râ-ăm’sēz). The most common royal Egyptian name in the Nineteenth and Twentieth dynasties. Ramses I was the founder of the Nineteenth Dynasty, but the most illustrious of the bearers of this name was his grandson, Ramses II. He was ambitious and imperious. He made a determined effort to recover the Asiatic Empire, but his errors in judgment in the Hittite encounter at Kadesh on the Orontes brought about a stalemate, which later produced an Egyptian-Hittite treaty. Ramses established his capital at Tanis, in the Delta, but his building and rebuilding activities extended throughout the land and even beyond Egypt proper. Among his impressive constructions are the completion of the hypostyle hall at Karnak, his father’s funerary temple at Abydos, his own temple at Abydos, the forecourt and pylon of the Luxor temple, the Ramesseum at the Theban necropolis, and Abu Simbel in Nubia. Extensive building operations were supplemented by his usurpations of monuments of his predecessors, a practice that enhanced his reputation beyond his merits. This, plus the presence in the OT of the name Rameses for a city and district in the Delta, brought about the acclamation of Ramses II as the Pharaoh of the Oppression, in spite of chronological complications with OT data. Among the varying interpretations of the Exodus, this identification of Ramses II is not widely held at present. Ramses III was the second king of the Twentieth Dynasty; perhaps his most outstanding accomplishment was the repelling of an invasion of the Delta by the Sea Peoples. His best-known construction is his mortuary temple at Medinet Habu, not far from the Ramesseum. At the end of his reign a serious harem conspiracy occurred. The other eight kings of this name, who followed in Dynasty Twenty, are relatively unimportant, though documents relating to the tomb robberies in the Theban necropolis in the reign of Ramses IX are of interest. Although certain of these kings, such as Ramses II and III, must have had at least indirect influence on Israelite life, none of them is mentioned in the OT.——CEDV