The Story of Sinuhe

This story probably comes from the tomb inscription of a real nobleman, although we don't know where his tomb is. The story begins with the death of King Amenemhat I, in about 1960BC (that's 630 years before Tutankhamun). Sinuhe is with the army when he hears about it. For some reason he is afraid, so he flees the country and goes to a land called Retenu (modern day Israel). The prince of this land makes friends with him and makes him an officer in his army. But one day Sinuhe is challenged to a fight...

'There came a strong man of Retenu to challenge me at my tent. He was a champion without equal, and he had defeated all of Retenu. He said that he would fight with me, for he sought to ruin me. He planned to take off my cattle, at the urging of his tribe. But the prince talked with me, and I said: I do not know him. I am not his friend that I could stride about in his camp. Have I ever opened his door, or climbed his walls? He is jealous, for he sees me carrying out your affairs. I am like a bull of a grazing herd amid another herd. This bull attacks him, but the Egyptian bull wins against him. Is a subject loved when he acts the master? There is no foreign bowman who is an ally of a Delta man.

What is it that can join a papyrus plant to a rock? Does a bull wish to fight? Then a champion bull will wish to run away through fear of one who might equal him. But if he wishes to fight, let him say so. 

Does God not know what He has ordained, knowing, as he does, how things are?

Pharaoh Amenemhat I


I spent the night stretching my bow and I shot my arrows. I practiced with my dagger, and I fixed up my weapons. When daybreak came, Retenu had come. It had urged on its tribes, and it had collected the lands of both its halves. 

It had intended this combat. The strong man came out to me where I was waiting, and I went near to him. Every heart burned for me, men and women yelled. Every heart was sick for me, saying - Is there another strong man who could fight him? He took up his shield, his axe, and his armful of javelins. But when I had come away from his weapons, I made his remaining arrows pass by me, as one was not close enough to the other. The he let out a yell, for he thought to ruin me, and he approached me. I shot him, my arrow fixed in his neck. He shouted and fell upon his nose. I felled him with my axe. I yelled my war cry over his back. Every Asiatic yelped. I gave praise to Montu (the god of war), and His people celebrated my victory. I brought away his possessions, I seized his cattle. What he had thought to do to me, I did to him. I took away what was in his tent. I uncovered his camp, and it was abundant for me. I became rich in treasure, a great owner of cattle.'