SHISHAK (shī’shăk, Heb. shîshaq, Egyp. Sheshonk). An Egyptian king, the founder of the Twenty-second or Libyan Dynasty. He was from a Libyan family that for some generations had been situated at Herakleopolis in the Fayyum. Libyan mercenaries were common in the Egyptian army in the Twenty-first Dynasty, and some of them rose to positions of rank. The weakness of Egypt during much of the Twentieth and Twenty-first Dynasties ironically permitted the Libyan-Egyptian Sheshonk to seize control of Egypt some two centuries after Ramses III had decisively defeated the Libyans. Shishak I located his capital at Bubastis (Pi Beseth,
Earlier in his reign he had provided asylum to the Israelite Jeroboam, who had fled to Egypt to escape the wrath of Solomon (
SHISHAK shī’ shäk (שִׁישַׁ֥ק or שׁוּשַׁק, meaning uncertain). King of Egypt (c. 950-929 b.c.) and founder of Egypt’s twenty-second dynasty. Several of his less important successors bore the same name.
Rise to power.
Shishak’s ancestors were among the Libyan lords of the Meshwesh who entered Egypt as mercenary soldiers. In Egypt, the Meshwesh became the dominant members of a militaristic, land-holding aristocracy. At the same time, they attempted to become completely Egyp., i.e. to adopt the lang. and culture of Egypt.
Shishak’s family settled in Heracleopolis in the Delta and, in several generations, succeeded in establishing a small feudal principality. His grandfather was important enough to have been given a royal princess of the twenty-first dynasty as a bride. (Though nominally rulers of all Egypt, the twenty-first dynasty effectively ruled only northern Egypt leaving southern Egypt in the hands of the Theban priests of Amon.) When the last ruler of the previous dynasty died, Shishak’s power was such that he was able to assume royal power in Bubastis (i.e. Pi-beseth, q.v.). He gained legitimacy for his dynasty by marrying his son to a princess of the former dynasty. Within five years he had extended his power to include southern Egypt also.
Relations with Palestine.
Shishak’s predecessors had maintained an interest in Asia. Hadad of Edom took refuge in Egypt, prob. with Siamon of the twenty-first dynasty (c. 1000-984 b.c.; cf.
With Jeroboam’s flight to Egypt (
Shishak’s raid into Palestine.
In Rehoboam’s fifth year, about Shishak’s twentieth year, the latter raided Judah and Israel. The Bible reports only the plundering of Jerusalem (
The raid was not a conquest; Egypt no longer had sufficient strength for permanent conquest. However, Shishak still may have aimed at more than the plunder which helped to finance his building program. He also may have desired to divert the profitable trade routes from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, from Heb. territory to Egypt by destroying the cities located along the routes through Heb. territory.
J. Breasted, A History of Egypt (1905), 440-446; Ancient Records of Egypt, IV (1906), 344-361.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
1. Shishak, 952-930 BC:
Sheshonk or Sheshenq I, as he is called on the monuments, the founder of the XXIInd Dynasty, was in all probability of Libyan origin. It is possible that his claim to the throne was that of the sword, but it is more likely that he acquired it by marriage with a princess of the dynasty preceding. On the death of Pasebkhanu II, the last of the kings of the XXIst Dynasty, 952 BC, Shishak ascended the throne, with an efficient army and a well-filled treasury at his command. He was a warlike prince and cherished dreams of Asiatic dominion.
2. Patron of Jeroboam:
He had not long been seated on the throne when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, of the tribe of Ephraim, whom Solomon had promoted but afterward had cause to suspect, fled from the displeasure of his sovereign to the court of Shishak (
3. Syrian Campaign:
So it came to pass that in the 5th year of Rehoboam, Shishak came up against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots, and 60,000 horsemen, and people without number out of Egypt, the Libyans, Sukkiim, and Ethiopians, and took the fenced cities of Judah, and came to Jerusalem. At the preaching of the prophet Shemaiah, Rehoboam and his people repented, and Jerusalem was saved from destruction, though not from plunder nor from servitude, for he became Shishak’s servant (
4. Shishak’s Record at Karnak:
There is, however, a remarkable contemporary record of the campaign engraved on the south wall of the Temple of Amon at Karnak by Shishak himself. Not only is the expedition recorded, but there is a list of districts and towns of Palestine granted to his victories by Amon-Ra and the goddess of Thebes engraved there. A number of towns mentioned in the Book of Jos have been identified; and among the names of the list are Rabbath, Taanach, Gibeon, Mahanaim, Beth-horon and other towns both of Israel and Judah. That names of places in the Northem Kingdom are mentioned in the list does not imply that Shishak had directed his armies against Jeroboam and plundered his territories. It was the custom in antiquity for a victorious monarch to include among conquered cities any place that paid tribute or was under subjection, whether captured in war or not; and it was sufficient reason for Shishak to include these Israelite places that Jeroboam, as seems probable, had invited him to come to his aid. Among the names in the list was "Jud-hamalek"--Yudhmalk on the monuments--which was at first believed to represent the king of Judah, with a figure which passed for Rehoboam. Being, however, a place-name, it is now recognized to be the town Yehudah, belonging to the king. On the death of Shishak his successor assumed a nominal suzerainty over the land of Canaan.
Flinders Petrie, History of Egypt, III, 227 ff; Maspero, Struggle of the Nations, 772 ff; Nicol, Recent Archaeology and the Bible, 222-25.