Victory Stele of Merneptah

The stele of Merneptah was originally erected by King Amenhotep III in his mortuary temple on the west bank of Thebes. King Merneptah, the thirteenth son and successor of King Ramesses II, reused the back face of this gray granite stele. The round top of this face, topped by the winged sun disk and flanked by the cartouches of Merneptah, is divided into two parts.

Each part shows King Merneptah before the god Amun-Re and followed by the other members of the Theban triad, the god Khonsu on the right and goddess Mut on the left. Under this scene, a hymn consisting of 28 lines commemorates Merneptah’s victory over the Libyans in his fifth regnal year.

Victory Stele of King Merneptah
Victory Stele of King Merneptah

In the final strophe of the hymn, Merenptah mentions various entities that he had subdued. In the middle of line 27 of this text appears the name ‘Israel’ inscribed in hieroglyphs. The name refers to the people and not to the state, like other localities mentioned on the stele. The occurrence of this word indicated to some scholars that this king is the pharaoh of the Exodus but there is no evidence to prove that. 

The stele was discovered by Flinders Petrie in 1896 at the Temple of Merneptah, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 31408