Conquest as a Cosmic Organization
The standard motivation given by the Egyptian Königsnovelle for an expedition against foreign peoples is that these ‘rebels’ are threatening the borders of Egypt, whether merely by their intentions or the actual start of hostilities. 1 Egypt cannot tolerate the thought that the surrounding chaos may spill into its own territory. In the inner country the active presence of both gods and Pharaoh had successfully established a regime which preserved order, peace, harmony and prosperity. This cosmic organization took place much earlier, but elsewhere it has not yet been established, foreign countries remaining in a ‘pre-creation’ condition, or in one which might be better described as ‘pre-cosmic organization’. 2 The central country is like an oasis, isolated in space from the surrounding chaos, and emerging in time from a past when chaos was generalized.
It is not necessary for foreigners to attack directly the inner country in order for them to cause it alarm. Fights among themselves carry the risk that violence will boil over the frontier, and as a result this can justify Pharaonic intervention:
Now for a long period of years Retenu had fallen into a state of anarchy, each man showing hostility toward his neighbour. 3
One came to say to His Majesty: ‘The vanquished Shasu, they plan rebellion. Their tribal chiefs are gathered together, rising against the Asiatics of Haru. They have begun cursing and quarreling, each of them slaying his neighbour, and they disregard the laws of the Palace’. 4
His Majesty was informed that the ‘Apiru of Mt Yarmutu, along with the Tayaru (tribe), had arisen and attacked the Asiatics of Raham. 5