MANETHO (Greek, Mαυεθώς or Mανεθώυ):

Greco-Egyptian writer whose history of Egypt, forming a source of Josephus, especially in his book "Contra Apionem" (i. 14 et seq.; ed. Niese, §§ 73-105; 228-251), possesses special interest for the history of Israel.

Manetho was high priest of Sebennytus in the Delta (according to some, erroneously, of Heliopolis), and lived under the first two Ptolemies. His history was written after 271 B.C.; its importance rests on Manetho's ability to use hieroglyphic sources directly. Though he seems to have enjoyed considerable reputation among the contemporary Greeks, it does not appear that his history was much read in the first century of the common era. Josephus is the only writer who furnishes coherent extracts. After him, Julius Africanus (221) and Eusebius (326) extracted chronological tables of Egyptian dynasties and kings for their Biblical chronographies. Both extracts were preserved by Georgius Syncellus (c. 792). The confusion of facts and names in Josephus' extracts (especially on the Exodus, "Contra Ap." i. 26; ed. Niese, §§ 228 et seq.) is almost incredible. Some of the errors may be attributed to Josephus himself. What Josephus reports about the Hyksos (or Hykussos) dynasty contains valuable information; but the connection of those kings and the Israelites is an untenable theory. What remains of the Manethonian Exodus account after the correction of the most manifest blunders seems, however, to show that the writer used the Biblical narrative and tried to combine it with some popular Egyptian tales.

  • The extant fragments of Manetho have often been collected (by Rosellini, Bunsen, and others). They are most conveniently accessible in C. Müller, Historici Grœci Minores, ii. 511;
  • and the most valuable treatise on them is Unger, Die Chronologie, des Manetho, 1867. For scattered literature see Wiedemann, Gesch. Aegyptens, p. 121.
T. W. M. M.
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