There are many stories in religious books about Abraham meeting the pharaoh of Egypt.

Also Jacob, Josef, Moses, etc.

Did any of these pharaohs believe in Abrahamic religions?

Was there any proof from the hieroglyphic writings that pharaohs believed in these religions?

Was there any proof from the hieroglyphic writings that the prophets met the pharaohs or existed in these eras?

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    This is an interesting question as I believe the pharaohs considered themselves living gods, which would preclude any belief in the Abrahamic religions. I'm interested in the answers.
    – JBH
    Jul 1, 2019 at 2:57
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    AFAIK, there is no verifiable historical account of this happening, or of those people even existing as other than mythical figures of a religion. Indeed, I don't think Egyptian writings even mention the existence of Hebrews as a specific people.
    – jamesqf
    Jul 1, 2019 at 4:14
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    Some of the Canaanite pharaohs might have retained belief in the ancient Semitic religion of their ancestors, which were precursors to the later Hebrew one.
    – Semaphore
    Jul 1, 2019 at 5:08
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    See Akhenaten.
    – Lucian
    Jul 1, 2019 at 7:43
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    @Lucian: The religious beliefs of Aknenaten (so far as we know them, anyway) really have nothing in common with the beliefs of the Hebrews, except that each tries to elevate their particular god above all others.
    – jamesqf
    Jul 1, 2019 at 17:39

3 Answers 3


By "religious books" I assume you mean basically the Hebrew Scriptures and possibly commentaries on them?

While these quite often mention Egypt, it is hard to find much the other way round.

The 'Amarna letters' (a collection of diplomatic correspondence received by the Egyptian court in the fourteenth century BC, mainly in the reign of Akhenaten) contain a few references to a people called the 'Habiru' (who could be the 'Hebrews') seemingly living on the fringe of the civilized parts of Canaan and causing or joining in trouble, but we are told nothing about their religion and little else about them.

Later Egyptian records, mainly from after Egyptian power was past its peak, contain a few references that are or could be to Israel or Judah, sometimes mentioned as enemies defeated by the King of Egypt see e.g. Merneptah_Stele#Israel

These mostly late and cursory references show little or no interest in or knowledge of the religion of the Israelites.

For most of their history, the Ancient Egyptians considered themselves superior to the inhabitants of the Palestine/ Syria area and indeed other countries generally. While possible, it would not have been a particularly natural thing for them to look for enlightenment from such foreigners.

The inscriptions, temples, tombs and manuscripts surviving from Ancient Egypt show the Egyptians and their kings honouring a great variety of gods, often portrayed as taking the form of a bird or animal or human body with the head of a bird or animal e.g. Horus as a falcon or falcon-headed man. These gods do not include anything like the Jewish God Yahweh.

The nearest thing is the worship of the Sun Disc the Aten which King Akhenaten (reigned circa 1351–1334 BC) briefly imposed as the religion of the country. Akhenaten had the temples of the other gods like Amun and Horus closed. He not only had the names of other gods chiselled out of inscriptions but also deleted from inscriptions the plural form 'netjeru' (gods) of the word netjer meaning a god. This implies that the Aten was meant to be the only true god. Details of the Aten religion (e.g. roofless temples open to the sun's rays, the 'ankh' life symbol, the weird deformed looking portrayal of the human form in art, and eschewing the usual Egyptian bright primary colours in art in favour of a pale blue) have no parallel as far as I know in Judaism.

This was probably unpopular and certainly reversed and the whole episode, and even the name of Akhenaten, written out of Egyptian history, within a few years of his death.

However, I do not know if anyone has satisfactorily explained whether it was pure coincidence that two very early monotheistic religions (Akhenaten's and Judaism) both came into existence in the same part of the world.

Also, Psalm 104 praising God the Creator is so close to Akhenaten's Great Hymn to the Aten as to be nearly a translation of it. I personally attach no great significance to that beyond the fact that Egypt and Israel being nearby countries a song or poem might spread from one to the other, but some people try to read more into it.

I have to qualify the above by adding that Ancient Egyptian civilization began around 5,000 years ago and died out nearly 2000 years ago. Of course many of its writings have been lost, so naturally there are gaps in our knowledge of it. Hence it is usually more accurate to say that 'we have no evidence for' something happening and that it is 'unlikely', rather than that it definitely did not happen.

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    It's at least three more-or-less monotheistic religions from that region/period, if yout include Zoroastrianism: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism Might be even more, but of course a lot of knowledge of other religions was lost in the Islamic conquests.
    – jamesqf
    Jul 2, 2019 at 5:53
  • jamesqf - you could be right about Zoroastrianism although if Wikipedia is right its origin is hard to date because the Persians/ Iranians left fewer written records than other major ancient civilizations of the region. The first clear written reference to Zoroastrianism is by the Greek historian Herodotus in the mid-fifth century BC, although it was already established as the religion of Persia by then so must have an origin earlier.
    – Timothy
    Jul 4, 2019 at 12:46

Nothing of that sort.

While all these religious developments describe a very slow process both are not that compatible with one another.

In Egypt we have a short episode of monotheism invented by Amenophis IV (Akhnaten) around 1400 BCE that ended quite definitely after his death and for Hebrews/Israelites we have long development towards monotheism from 800 BCE to around 100 AD when we finally get Judaism as we think to know it.

Thus even for the Hebrew Bible the concept of monotheism is limited in its persuasiveness. (DOI)

Pharaos didn't meet any prophets and everything reading as seemingly 'historical' in the Tora is legendary in nature up to the beginning of Northern Kingdom under Omri. That means the very existence of the person Abraham from the 'Abrahamic religions' cannot be ascertained at all.

There is no archaelogical record for this, there are no written sources record for this – outside of the bible, and the texts in there are much younger than literalists like.

As other Abrahamic religions only diverged into distinctness much later than the last pharao lived, the entire premise is incongruent with recorded history.

We see no Moses, no Josef, no Jacob outside the legends.

–– Israel Finkelstein: "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts", Free Press, 2001.
–– John van Seters: "Abraham in History and Tradition", Yale university Press: New Haven, London 1975. (archive.org)
–– Th. L. Thompson: "The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives. The Quest for the Historical Abraham", de Gruyter: Berlin, New York 1974.

  • So maybe the Hebrews got the idea from Akhnaten? Well, that would be another question...
    – RedSonja
    Jul 2, 2019 at 10:56
  • @RedSonja One that Freud already tackled, with 'interesting' results. But that 'idea' was certainly floating arounfd the general area, earliest precursors found in Mesopotamia. And at least a certain influence can be traced in parts. Perhaps you are interested in this Jul 2, 2019 at 11:07
  • @RedSonja: If you read the older parts of the Old Testament with an open mind, you'll see that the early Hebrew religion wasn't really monotheistic. It accepted the existence of other gods - e.g. "Thou shalt have no other gods BEFORE me...", but made Yahweh their only tribal god. And of course all those other gods were vastly inferior to other people's gods, just as your football team is superior to all the others...
    – jamesqf
    Jul 2, 2019 at 17:34
  • @jamesqf Oh, yes, I know about Ashera and the rest of the family. I'm a fan of Robert Graves and of Frazer.
    – RedSonja
    Jul 3, 2019 at 6:37
  • RedSonja - this may be an 'ad hominem' argument but, given how often Freud was wrong was even about his own subject of the human psyche and treatment of its problems, I would not pay much attention to what he thought about Moses and Akhenaten.
    – Timothy
    Jul 4, 2019 at 12:53

Were there a pharaoh who believed in any of the Abrahamic religions?

That would be proto Judaism, as Judaism as we come to know it later on wasn't invented yet. Other Abrahamic religions were far (= many thousands of years) in the future. At that time Judaism wasn't yet monotheistic. Even that comes later.

There are many stories in religious books about Abraham meeting pharaoh of Egypt. Also Jacob, Josef, Moses, etc.

Not many religious books. Only in a few books of the old testament / torah.

Did any of these pharaohs believed in Abrahamic religions?

None that I know of. It didn't work that way. Egypt, at that time, was a super power, if not the superpower. The tribes of Israel hadn't settled down permanently. They were semi nomads. It's not impossible but highly unlikely for a pharaoh to start following a religion of an insignificant tribe outside his realm.

Was there any proof from the hieroglyphic writings that pharaohs believed in these religions?

None that I know of.

Was there any proof from the hieroglyphic writings that the prophets met the pharaohs or existed in these eras?

We don't know if any (or many) of the prophets actually existed. Some no doubt did. Others are definitely mythical. for most we simply do not know. Neither do we know which pharaoh was in charge during the exodus. It's very likely no exodus ever took place. If only for the lack of records.

The Egyptians practically invented bureaucracy. Everything noteworthy they wrote down. Especially with regard to bookkeeping. A sizeable number of slaves revolting/running away is of vast economic importance. Yet, nobody wrote it down.

Same for the 10 biblical plagues: not a word about it. Frogs and locusts are one thing, but a river of blood and/or all the first born dying is something that definitely would have been mentioned.

As this story is in the Bible (Torah), read a bit on. How long ago after the biblical flood? Only a couple of generations. It is physically impossible, even under lab conditions, to multiply that fast in order to generate a surplus of workers that can build pyramids or used in slavery.

The Bible (Torah) is not a history book.

  • While I agree with some things in this answer at least from the Egyptology courses I have attended and books read, I would not say:
    – Timothy
    Jul 2, 2019 at 12:34
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    Of course "the Exodus" might have been Moses and his extended family loading up their donkeys and leaving town (maybe one step ahead of the Egyptian cops), something which the Egyptians would scarcely have noticed, let along bother to record. Then the tale got a bit exaggerated in the re-tellings, as tales often do :-)
    – jamesqf
    Jul 2, 2019 at 17:28

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