Middle Kingdom Egyptian official of the 12th dynasty (1938-1756 BC) who fled Egypt to settle in Syria. His biography yields information about political and social conditions of the time.

He was an official of the harem maintained for Amenemhet I by his queen. While on an expedition to Libya he learned of the king's assassination (1908 BC) and fled, either from fright or because of his complicity. He intended to travel southward but was blown to the north while crossing the Nile, and he passed into Palestine. After much wandering in Palestine and Lebanon, he was invited to settle with a chieftain of southern Syria, who adopted him and married him to his eldest daughter. In that land he raised a family and became a veritable patriarch. He defended his father-in-law's territory and entertained emissaries traveling to and from Egypt.

The pharaoh Sesostris I invited Sinuhe to return to Egypt, and Sinuhe eagerly accepted. The king forgave him his real or imagined crimes and welcomed him with rich gifts; thereafter Sinuhe remarried in his homeland, while the pharaoh ordered a fine tomb built for him.

In nonreligious literary prose there is preserved the story of Sinuhe, an account of the life of a Middle Kingdom official, his prosperous peregrination in Asia but continued yearning for the homeland, relieved at last by a chance to join the pharaonic court. Papyri and ostraca tell this story in a long succession of attestations through most of the 2nd millennium BC. Of later date (c. 1100 BC) is the "picaresque" narrative of the hieratic-script "Moscow papyrus," detailing the ill-financed mission of a certain Wen-Amon from Karnak to Byblos to buy timber for a ceremonial barge of Amon. Britannica Online Members

In the Tale of Sinuhe, Sinuhe has just told how he escaped the guards in the fort which stood at the eastern frontier of Egypt and continues:
I went on at the time of evening,
As the earth brightened, I arrived at Peten.
When I had reached the lake of Kemwer (north gulf of suez)
I fell down for thirst, fast came my breath,
My throat was hot,
I said: "this is the taste of death."
I upheld my heart, I drew my limbs together,
As I heard the sound of lowing cattle,
I beheld the Bedawin.
That chief among them, who had been in Egypt, recognized me.
He gave me water, he cooked for me milk.
I went with him to his tribe,
Good was that which they did (for me).
One land sent me on to another,
I loosed for Suan,
I arrived at Kedem;
I spend a year and a half there.
Emuienshe, the shiek of Upper [Ru]tenu, brought me forth
saying to me: "Happy are thou with me,
(for) thou hearest the speech of Egypt."
He said this (for) he knew my character,
He heard my wisdom;
The Egyptians, who were there with him, bare witness of me.
The Amorite chieftain then questioned Sinuhe concerning his flight. He gave evasive answers in a hymn in praise to the king. After this Emuienshe said to himn:
Behold, thou shalt now abide with me;
Good is that which I shall do for thee.
He set me at the head of his children.
He married me to his eldest daughter.
He let me choose for myself of his country (tribe),
of the choicest of that which was with him
on his frontier with another country.
It was a good land, named Yaa.
Figs were in it, and grapes.
It had more wine than water.
Plentiful was its honey, abundant its (oil) olives.
Every (kind of) fruit was on its trees.
Barley were there, and spelt.
There was no limit to any (kind of) cattle.
Moreover, great was that which accrued to me
as a result of the love of me.
He made me ruler of a tribe of the choicest of his country.
Bread was made for me as daily fare,
wine as daily provision, cooked meat
and roast fowl, beside the wild beasts of the desert, for
they hunted (go) for me and laid before me, beside the
catch of my (own) hounds. Many . . . were made for me,
and milk in every (kind of) cooking.
I spent many years, and my children grew up to be
strong men, each man as the restrainer of his (own)
tribe. The messenger who went north or who went south
to the Residence City stopped over with me, (for) I
used to make everybody stop over. I gave water to the
thirstv. I put him who had strayed (back) on the road. I
rescued him who had been robbed. When the Asiatics
became so bold as to oppose the rulers of foreign
countries, I counseled their movements. This ruler of
(Re)tenu had me spend many years as commander
of his army. Every foreign country against which I went
forth, when I had made my attack on it, was driven
away from its pasturage and its wells.
I plundered its
cattle, carried off its inhabitants, took away their food,
and slew people in it by my strong arm, by my
bow, by my movements, and by my successful plans. I
found favol in his heart, he loved me, he recognized my
valor, and he placed me at the head of his children, when
he saw how my arms fiourished.
A mighty man of Retenu came, that he might
challenge me in my (own) camp. He was a hero
without his peer, and he had repelled all of it.l7 He said
that he would fight me, he intended to despoil me, and he
planned to plunder my cattle, on the advice of his tribe.
That prince discussed (it) with me, and I said: "I do not
know him. Certainly I am no confederate of his,
So that I might move freely in his encampment. Is it the
case that I have (ever) opened his door or overthrown his
fences? (Rather), it is hostility because he sees me
carrying out thy commissions. I am reallv like a stray
bull in the midst of another herd, and a bull of (these)
cattle attacks him....
During the night I strung my bow
and shot my arrows, I gave free play to my dagger, and
polished my weapons. When day broke, (Re)tenu was
come. It had whipped up its tribes and collected
the countries of a (good) half of it. It had thought (only)
of this fight. Then he came to me as I was waiting, (for) I
had placed myself near him. Every heart burned for me;
women and men groaned. Every heart was sick for me.
They said: "Is there another strong man who could fight
against him?" Then (he took) his shield, his battle-axe,
and his armful of javelins. Now after I had let his
weapons issue forth, I made his arrows pass by me
uselessly, one close to another. He charge me, and I shot
him, my arrow sticking in his neck. He cried out and fell on
his nose. ) I felled him with his (own) battle-axe
and raised my cry of victory over his back, while every
Asiatic roared.
I gave praise to Montu, while his
adherents were mourning for him. This rule Ammi- enshi
took me into his embrace. Then I carried off his goods
and plundered his cattle. What he had planned to do
to me I did to him. I took wha was in his tent and
stripped his encampment. I became great thereby, I
became extensive in my wealth,
I became abundant in my cattle.
Various sources of the Tale of Sinuhe including George A. Barton, Archaeology and the Bible, 7th Edition, p. 372-373
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