Did Pharoah Have Horses?

Did Pharoah Have Horses?

Biblical minimalists and skeptics are always looking for ways to discredit the Bible and support their claim that it is a useless collection of ancient myths. For example, skeptics claimed that the mention of horses in passages like Genesis 47:17, Exodus 9:3, and 14:9-23 could not be accurate because horses had not been domesticated at that time. So, did Pharoah have horses or not?

Previous studies had shown that domesticated horses arrived in Mesopotamia around 2000 BC, so they considered any claim of horses before that time to be in error. Recently, researchers from the Jaques Monod Institute in Paris led by paleogeneticist Eva-Maria Geigl have laid that claim to rest.

Sumerian scribes wrote about “kungas”–a type of horse in the equid family, but unlike today’s domesticated horses. Researchers had not studied these animals until recently when they sequenced the genomes of kunga skeletons found in Syria. They discovered that kungas were a hybrid of an extinct wild ass called a “hemippe” and a female domesticated donkey. Dr. Geigl explained that the ancient Mesopotamians deliberately hybridized these animals to create “fast, strong equids that they could train to carry soldiers into battle.”

This is another case where skeptics have taken erroneous understandings of the practices of ancient people. The use of equids by people at the time of Joseph and the Egyptians was accurate. Breeding animals for specific purposes involved high levels of understanding, and this is “the earliest known evidence of animal hybridization.”

Did Pharoah have horses? Yes, he did, but they may have been different from modern horses. The historical accuracy of the Bible continues to be verified by discoveries using new techniques that science makes available.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Archaeology Magazine for May 2022 page 12 and archaeology.org.