James K. Hoffmeier is Professor of Old Testament and Near Eastern Archaeology at Trinity International University, Divinity School (Deerfield, IL). Since 1994, Dr. Hoffmeier has directed the North Sinai Archaeological Project that is devoted to researching and studying Egypt’s frontier during the New Kingdom and how this area may relate to the Israelite exodus from Egypt. Investigations at Tell el-Borg began in 1999, and concluded in 2008. Hoffmeier has consulted for and appeared in a number of TV programs on Egypt and the Bible for the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel, the History Channel and National Geographic. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including his most recent book The Immigration Crisis: Immigration, Aliens and the Bible (Wheaton: Crossway, 2009).
Spring Bible & Archaeology Fest 2023
Who is Tirhaka and What is He Doing in Hezekiah’s Judah in 701 B.C.?
The purpose of this presentation is to address the two questions raised in the title of the lecture. While Tirhaka – Taharka of Egyptian texts – appears just twice in the pages of the Bible (Isa 37:9 & 2 Kings 19:9), he is better known outside of the Old Testament. He was a member of the Kushite 25th Dynasty that ruled Egypt from present-day Sudan between ca. 747 and 664 B.C. Taharka left his mark throughout Egypt, building temples and adding to others, while building extensively in Nubia. He also followed the Egyptian royal tradition of burying in a pyramid. Indeed he was buried at Nuri near Gebel Barkal (Sudan) where the Nuri Archaeological Project has been working for the past six years, but investigation of Tirhaka’s complex only began briefly in January of 2020, but due to Covid and other complications was only renewed this year. I serve as co-director with the Taharka team, and thus have the opportunity to share new materials from the 2023 season in this lecture.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XX, November 17 – 19, 2017
Where Did the Battles between the Sea Peoples/Philistine and Ramesses III Take Place?
The marvelous carved scenes of the Sea Peoples on the Temple of Ramesses III at Medinent Habu depict both sea and land battles. The most important people group among this coalition were the Philistines who settled in the southern coast of Canaan as neighbors of the Israelites. It may well be that the failed attempt to invade Egypt resulted in their settlement in the southern Levant. The nature and circumstances of the Sea People’s origins is a matter of ongoing debate. Traditionally, it has been thought that the Sea Peoples represented a diverse groups of peoples that originated in the Aegean and Anatolian worlds. According to Egyptian records, the Sea Peoples conquered the Hittite empire, moved down the Levantine coast, hit Cyprus and attempted to take Egypt, but were turned back by Ramesses III.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XIX November 18 – 20, 2016
Egyptian Religious Influences on Early Israel
According to the Biblical tradition, the Hebrews spent four centuries in Egypt. While this affirmation has been regularly questioned by many Biblical scholars and archaeologists due to the absence of any direct textual or archaeological evidence to support the Israel-in-Egypt tradition, this presentation examines the evidence that shows the ways Israel’s earliest religious traditions were influenced by ancient Egyptian religion.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVIII, November 20 – 22, 2015
Akhenaten, Moses & Monotheism
Akhenaten was not, as is often said, a radical advocating a different religion, but rather a primitivist: that is, one who reaches back to a golden age. This lecture suggests that Akhenaten was a genuine convert to the worship of Aten, the sole creator God, based on the Pharaoh’s own testimony of a theophany, a divine encounter that launched his monotheistic religious odyssey. Thus this religious revolution presents something new that is rooted in something old. Akhenaten’s inspiration was the Old Kingdom (2650-2400 B.C.), the great pyramid age, when the sun-god Re/Atum ruled as the unrivaled head of the Egyptian pantheon. Through a careful reading of key texts, artworks, and archaeological studies, this presentation also explores the Atenist religion’s possible relationship to Israel’s religion, offering a close comparison of the hymn to the Aten to Psalm 104. This lecture is based on the new book Akhenaten and the Origins of Monotheism (Oxford University Press, 2015).
Bible & Archaeology Fest XV, November 16 – 18, 2012
Egypt in Jeremiah’s Day: Friend or Foe?
This lecture explores some of the different ways in which Egypt figures in the Book of Jeremiah. First there is the political-military reality of the day, in which Egypt is seen as a potential counterbalance to Babylon, but is rightly shown to be an unreliable ally. Second, because of this reality, Egypt figures in Jeremiah’s messages in different ways. Third, Egypt also serves as a place of refuge for Judeans in the early 6th century and beyond. Jeremiah not only comes to Egypt, but he also prophesies to the diaspora community scattered from Egypt’s farthest north to its southern border. In the end, according to the prophet, Egypt was not a reliable support, and in fact was not to be trusted.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XII, November 20 – 22, 2009
Exploring David’s Strange Antics after Defeating Goliath.
The story of David and Goliath is surely one of the best-known dramatic narratives in the Bible. Biblical scholars and archaeologists have been investigating the duel from the perspective of archaeology, especially concentrating on the weaponry involved. One aspect of the story that has not been sufficiently studied and clarified is found in 1 Samuel 17:54, which reads, “David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armor in his tent.” These rather enigmatic statements will be the focus of this talk. We will examine the significance of removing Goliath’s head to Jerusalem, a Jebusite stronghold, and attempt to resolve the question of “whose tent” was taken and why. By carefully examining the text of 1 Samuel 17:54 and offering some contextual data about ancient near eastern military practices, we will attempt to illuminate what was behind David’s strange antics after slaying the Philistine champion.