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, Ezek.30.17) in the eastern Delta. To secure the succession of his newly founded dynasty he married his son to the daughter of the last king of the Twenty-first Dynasty. Shishak was a vigorous leader, who inaugurated an aggressive foreign policy and attempted to recover the lost Asiatic Empire by force of arms. In the fifth year of Rehoboam king of Judah, c. 926 b.c., he marched on Palestine, reaching as far north as Megiddo and Beth Shan and east into Transjordan.

Earlier in his reign he had provided asylum to the Israelite Jeroboam, who had fled to Egypt to escape the wrath of Solomon (1Kgs.11.40). With Jeroboam on the northern throne, Shishak showed no favoritism but impartially overran both Judah and Israel. Jerusalem was a victim of this campaign, and the temple was looted of its treasures (1Kgs.14.25-1Kgs.14.26; 2Chr.12.1-2Chr.12.9). At Megiddo a badly damaged stela of Shishak was found by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. In Egypt the record of the campaign was carved on the south exterior wall of the temple of Karnak, just east of the Bubasite Portal. Shishak is depicted in the traditional attitude of conquering his enemies, here Asiatics, and the god Amon is shown leading before the king a total of 156 captives in ten lines, each prisoner representing a conquered Palestinian town. The captives are portrayed in stylized form, an oval containing the name of the city surmounted by the head, shoulders, and pinioned arms of the victim. Many of the names that can be read and identified occur in the OT. Among them are Megiddo, Taanach, Shunem, Beth Shan, Aijalon, Beth Horon, Gibeon, and Socoh. The interesting place name, “Field of Abraham,” appears in this list. The undisturbed burial of Shishak I was found at Bubastis (Tanis) by P. Montet in 1938-39. Although his dynasty endured for roughly two hundred years, internal conflict, stagnation, and incapability kept it at, or below, the level of mediocrity.——CEDV

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. 1 Kings 11:14-22). The identity of the Pharaoh who conquered Gezer (9:16) is not clear. Breasted argues that only Shishak of the Egyp. kings of that time was capable of such a venture. On the other hand, a bas-relief from Siamon shows this king striking at the Asiatics, and this has been taken as an indication that Siamon captured Gezer. If Siamon captured Gezer, some difficulty is involved in compressing the last years of Siamon’s reign, thirty odd years of Peshibkhenno II (c. 984-950 b.c.), and about fifteen years of Shishak’s reign into the forty odd years of Solomon’s reign. Perhaps the Bible uses “Pharaoh” in a general sense; Pharaoh (i.e. Siamon) captured Gezer, and—some years later—Pharaoh (Pesibkhenno II) gave it to Solomon. Evidence does not permit a firm conclusion.

With Jeroboam’s flight to Egypt (11:40) Shishak’s personal role is clearly attested. He continued the policy of sheltering enemies of the Jewish kings while keeping an eye on Palestinian affairs. Solomon’s death, the division of the state, and the weakening of Heb. power are well known to Bible readers.

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 (14:25, 26; 2 Chron 12:2-12), but Egyp. records reveal the true scope of the raid. This record is found on a huge relief in the classical Egyp. stele at Karnak. Amon and a goddess are shown presenting ten lines of Asiatic captives to Shishak. Each of the 156 captives bore the name of a site captured by Shishak. From these names one learns that his raid extended N as far as the Sea of Galilee; thus he had plundered Israel as well. About half the names are legible and include the following: Taanach, Beth-shean, Gibeon, Bethhoron, Ajalon, and Socoh. There is little doubt that Jerusalem was originally included in the list. The name, “Field of Abram,” was the first extra-Biblical occurrence of the patriarch’s name known to scholars.

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)

(shishaq (1Ki 14:25); Sousakeim):

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 (1Ki 11:26 ). There Jeroboam remained till the death of Solomon, when he returned to Canaan, and, on Rehoboam’s returning an unsatisfactory answer to the people’s demands for relief from their burdens, headed the revolt of the Ten Tribes, over whom he was chosen king with his capital at Shechem (1Ki 12:25 ). Whether there was not in the XXIst Dynasty some kind of suzerainty of Egypt over Palestine, when Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter and received with her Gezer as a dowry, seems not to be clearly established. It is, however, natural that Jeroboam’s patron in the day of adversity should take sides with him against Rehoboam, now that the kingdom was divided. Active support of Jeroboam would be in the line of his dreams of an eastern empire.

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 (2Ch 12:8). Shishak took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, carrying off among the most precious of the spoils all the shields of gold which Solomon had made (1Ki 14:25 ff; 2Ch 12:1-9). From the Scripture narrative it does not appear that there was any occupation of Palestine by the Egyptian forces on this occasion.

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.