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Egyptian Tales

Taking Joppa by Ruse

Dramatis Personae


private collection

It is unknown when this story was created, since tales about the time of Egypt's glory under the revered pharaoh Thutmose III continued to be told ever after. (Similarly, the beetle-shaped charm shown in two views here probably dates to Roman times —1500 years later— and was found in Libya, but it bears Thutmose's name and shows him as a bull trampling his enemies, an ability presumably to be conveyed across time and space to the bearer of the charm.)

It is most likely that the tale dates from Thutmose's reign or a little after, since General Tahutia was a real person, some of whose tomb furnishings appeared in the antique market in the XIXth century and gradually made their way to major European museums.

This version of the story has been modified from an 1899 rendering by W. M. Flinders Petrie, preserving the original pictures. The full two-volume work, unchanged, is available to the public elsewhere on this web site. (Link)

Part 1: Rebels in Joppa

There was once, in the time of King Thutmose III, a revolt of the servants of his majesty who were in the town of Joppa on the coast of the Levant.

His majesty said, "Let Tahutia go with his infantry and destroy this wicked Foe in Joppa." And he called one of his followers, and said moreover, "Hide my great cane, which works wonders, in the baggage of Tahutia so that my power will go with him."


Now when Tahutia came near to Joppa, with the infantry of Pharaoh, he sent to The Foe in Joppa, and said, "Behold now his majesty, King Thutmose, has sent all this great army against you; but what is that if my heart is like your heart and my sympathies are with you? Come and let us talk in the field, and see each other face to face."

So it was arranged that Tahutia came with certain of his men; and The Foe in Joppa came likewise, but his charioteer that was with him was secretly loyal to the king of Egypt. And they spoke with one another in a great tent, which Tahutia had placed far away from the soldiers.

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Part 2: Tahutia's Secret Plan

But Tahutia had prepared two hundred sacks, with cords and fetters, and had made a great sack of skins with bronze fetters, and many baskets: and they were in his tent, the sacks and the baskets. And he had placed them the way forage for horses is put in baskets.

While The Foe in Joppa drank with Tahutia, the people who were with him also drank with the infantrymen of Pharaoh, and made merry with them.

And when their bout of drinking was past, Tahutia said to The Foe in Joppa, "If it please you, while I remain with the women and children in your city of Joppa as a sign of my good faith, let someone let in some of my people with their horses, so as to feed them,."

So the soldiers came, and hobbled their horses, and fed them, and one found the great cane of Thutmose, and came to tell Tahutia.

Hearing this, The Foe in Joppa said to Tahutia, "My heart is set on examining the great cane of Thutmose, which is named 'Tautnefer.' By the ka of the King Thutmose it will be in your hands to-day; Do bring it to me." And Tahutia did thus, and he brought the cane of King Thutmose.

And Tahutia suddenly laid hold on The Foe in Joppa by his garment, and he arose and stood up, and said, "Look on me, O Foe in Joppa; here is the great cane of King Thutmose, the terrible lion, the son of Sekhet, to whom Amon his father gives power and strength."

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Part 3: The Fall of Foolish Joppa

And with that he raised his hand and struck the forehead of The Foe in Joppa, who fell helpless before him. He bound with gyves the hands of The Foe in Joppa, and put on his feet the fetters with four rings, and then he put him in the sack of skins.


Then he ordered his soldiers to bring the two hundred sacks which he had cleaned, and ordered two hundred soldiers to get into them. And he filled the hollows with cords and fetters of wood, he sealed them with a seal, and added to them their rope-nets and the poles to bear them. And he made every strong footman bear them, six hundred men in all, and said to them, "When you come into the town you shall open your burdens, you shall seize on all the inhabitants of the town, and you shall quickly put fetters upon them,"

Then someone went out and said to the loyal charioteer of The Foe in Joppa, "Your master is fallen. Now go and say to your mistress, 'Good news! The god Sutekh has surrendered Tahutia to us, with his wife and his children; behold the beginning of their tribute!' That way she may order the two hundred sacks to be brought in, which are full of men and cords and fetters."

So the charioteer went ahead of them to please the heart of his mistress, saying, "We have laid hands on Tahutia."

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Part 4: Tahutia Returns to in Glory

Then the gates of the city were opened before the infantrymen. They entered the city, they opened their burdens, they laid hands on everyone of the city, both small and great, they put on them the cords and fetters quickly; the power of Pharaoh seized upon that city.

After he had rested, Tahutia sent a message to Egypt to King Thutmose his lord, saying, "Be pleased, for Amon your good father has given you The Foe in Joppa, together with all his people and also his city. Therefore send people to take them as captives so that you can fill the house of your father Amon Ra, king of the gods, with man-servants and maid-servants, and so that that they may grovel beneath your feet forever and ever."

An interactive quiz is available to doublecheck your understanding of this story: Quiz.


This text has been modified from:

PETRIE, W.M. Flinders (ed.)
1899 Egyptian tales translated from the papyri. Second series, XVIIIth to XIXth dynasty. Illustrated by Tristan Ellis. New York: Frederick A. Stokes. (2nd edition, 1913). LC: PJ1949.P3 1899.

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