You may have heard of Nefertiti, the famous queen of ancient Egypt who ruled alongside her husband Akhenaten during the 14th century BC. But did you know that Nefertiti likely appears in the Bible under a different name?
In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll explore the biblical and historical evidence that Nefertiti was the same person as Tirhakah’s daughter, the wife of king Zerah of Ethiopia mentioned in 2 Chronicles 14. We’ll look at her royal lineage, the timing of her marriage to Zerah, and the implications of her influence over Egypt and Ethiopia during a crucial time in biblical history.
After reading this post, you’ll have a deeper understanding of who Nefertiti really was and her surprisingly prominent role in events recorded in Scripture. You’ll also appreciate how God uses all people, regardless of background, to accomplish His sovereign purposes in history.
Here are the key takeaways you’ll learn:
- Nefertiti was the daughter of Pharaoh Tirhakah of Egypt’s 25th dynasty
- She married King Zerah of Ethiopia around 705 BC in an alliance between the two nations
- As queen of Ethiopia, Nefertiti aided her husband in an invasion of Judah around 895 BC
- God miraculously intervened to deliver King Asa and the people of Judah in battle against Zerah’s forces
- Nefertiti’s marriage helped unite Egypt and Ethiopia, fulfilling prophecy and enabling Egypt’s conquest by Assyria
- As a powerful foreign queen, Nefertiti was an unlikely participant in God’s plans for protecting Judah
So let’s dive in and uncover the compelling biblical and historical evidence that Nefertiti, the famous Egyptian queen, was also the unnamed wife of King Zerah mentioned in Scripture!
Nefertiti’s Royal Lineage
To understand Nefertiti’s connection to biblical history, we first need to look at her family background. According to Egyptian records and archaeological evidence, Nefertiti was the daughter of Pharaoh Tirhakah, who ruled over Egypt during the late 7th century BC.
Tirhakah was Ethiopian and a member of the Nubian 25th dynasty in Egypt. 2 Kings 19:9 in the Bible mentions Tirhakah marching out to fight against the Assyrian king Sennacherib during Hezekiah’s reign over Judah:
And when he heard concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, “Look, he has come out to fight against you,” he sent messengers again to Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:9 NKJV)
So the Bible confirms that Nefertiti’s father Tirhakah was a powerful Ethiopian ruler who controlled Egypt during a key time period.
Around 705 BC, Tirhakah arranged for his daughter Nefertiti to marry King Zerah of Ethiopia, in order to cement an alliance between Egypt and Ethiopia against potential invaders like Assyria.
Zerah is called “Osorkon IV” in some Egyptian records, but many historians believe he should be equated with the “Zerah the Ethiopian” mentioned in 2 Chronicles:
Then Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah. (2 Chronicles 14:9 NKJV)
So by marrying King Zerah around 705 BC, Nefertiti became queen of Ethiopia during the reigns of Hezekiah in Judah and Sennacherib in Assyria – the exact time period described in 2 Kings, Isaiah, and 2 Chronicles.
Nefertiti’s Marriage to King Zerah
The marriage between Nefertiti and Zerah forged an important alliance between Egypt ruled by her father Tirhakah, and Ethiopia ruled by her new husband. Zerah was likely co-regent along with his father-in-law Tirhakah, uniting the two kingdoms against Assyria’s advancing power under Sennacherib.
Having a daughter married to the king of Ethiopia gave Tirhakah more power and influence south of Egypt. It also gave Zerah a claim to the Egyptian throne if Tirhakah produced no male heirs.
For Nefertiti, her marriage meant she was now a prominent queen exercising considerable power in both Egypt and Ethiopia. As Zerah’s wife she would have urged him to support her father Tirhakah’s anti-Assyrian policies.
The end result was an Egypt-Ethiopia alliance that proved strong enough to threaten Judah, as described in 2 Chronicles 14.
Invasion of Judah
Around 895 BC, shortly after Nefertiti’s marriage to Zerah, the king of Ethiopia gathered a huge army and invaded Judah:
Then Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah. So Asa went out against him, and they set the troops in battle array in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. (2 Chronicles 14:9-10 NKJV)
Zerah’s million-man army, likely supplemented by forces from Egypt, reflected the strength of the united Egypt-Ethioipia kingdom. Judah’s king Asa only had an army half the size of Zerah’s to oppose the invasion.
Asa and his outnumbered troops were no match for Zerah’s mighty force. But he cried out to God for deliverance, and God miraculously intervened:
And Asa cried out to the Lord his God, and said, “Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!”So the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. (2 Chronicles 14:11-12 NKJV)
In one epic battle, God single-handedly delivered Asa and the kingdom of Judah from Zerah’s overwhelming forces. God fought for Judah and neutralized the threat from the allied powers of Egypt and Ethiopia.
Nefertiti’s marriage to Zerah allowed this invasion of Judah to happen. But God miraculously protected His people from harm, displaying His sovereignty over all earthly powers.
While Nefertiti’s alliance brought conflict to Judah, it also set the stage for the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy about Egypt’s coming defeat by Assyria.
Isaiah prophesied around 740-680 BC that Egypt and Ethiopia’s power would be broken by God’s instrument, Assyria:
Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud, And will come into Egypt; The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence, And the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst. I will set Egyptians against Egyptians; Everyone will fight against his brother, And everyone against his neighbor, City against city, kingdom against kingdom. The spirit of Egypt will fail in its midst; I will destroy their counsel, And they will consult the idols and the charmers, The mediums and the sorcerers. And the Egyptians I will give Into the hand of a cruel master, And a fierce king will rule over them,” Says the Lord, the Lord of hosts. (Isaiah 19:1, 2-4 NKJV)
Because Nefertiti’s marriage enabled Egypt and Ethiopia to unite against Assyria, it actually set up the perfect conditions for Isaiah’s prophecy to be fulfilled. Once Egypt and Ethiopia were joined together, Assyria was able to sweep in and conquer them both.
Around 671 BC, less than 40 years after Nefertiti’s marriage alliance, the Assyrian king Esarhaddon invaded Egypt and crushed the Ethiopian forces of Tirhakah. Egypt fell to Assyria exactly as Isaiah predicted, with Nefertiti’s royal marriage unintentionally helping pave the way.
So while Nefertiti sought to strengthen Egypt and Ethiopia against foreign invasion, God used her actions to ultimately bring about Egypt’s defeat, just as Scripture foretold. Man’s plans cannot thwart God’s greater purposes.
An Unlikely Participant in God’s Plans
For conservative Bible scholars who believe Scripture is inspired and authoritative, Nefertiti’s identity as the wife of King Zerah sheds fascinating new light on this famous Egyptian queen.
It means Nefertiti was an eyewitness to the miraculous deliverance of Judah recorded in 2 Chronicles 14. She saw God supernaturally intervene on behalf of His people and destroy her husband’s vast army.
Nefertiti experienced firsthand the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies concerning God’s judgment on Egypt. The very alliance she helped establish through marriage led to the downfall of her father’s dynasty.
Most intriguing of all, it means this powerful foreign queen played an integral yet unlikely role in God’s plans for protecting Judah and chastening Egypt during a pivotal time in redemptive history.
Nefertiti sought to alter the course of events to suit her purposes. But God utilized even her actions and ambitions to bring about His sovereign will. As Proverbs 21:1 declares, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (NKJV).
The biblical and historical evidence strongly suggests that Nefertiti, the famous Egyptian queen, appears in Scripture as the wife of Ethiopian King Zerah. Her marriage alliance brought war and invasion to Judah, but also set the stage for God to miraculously deliver His people and prove His supremacy.
Nefertiti’s role as the wife of Zerah gives us deeper insight into God’s sovereign control over all earthly authorities, particularly during the period of Isaiah’s prophetic ministry. It’s a reminder that God governs all human affairs, even using the decisions of unlikely rulers to orchestrate His plans in history.
As you reflect on Nefertiti’s surprising biblical connections, remember that God is over every kingdom and carries out His will through all people. Keep seeking to know Him through diligent study of Scripture, which casts light on the workings of our sovereign God throughout the ages.