Merneptah or Merenptah was the fourth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty  of Ancient Egypt . He ruled Egypt for almost ten years, from late July or early August 1213 BC until his death on 2 May 1203 BC, according to contemporary historical records. He was the thirteenth son of Ramesses II, only coming to power because all of his older brothers had died, including his full brother Khaemwaset, or Khaemwase.

By the time he ascended to the throne, he was around seventy years old. He is arguably best known for his victory stele, featuring the first known mention of the name Israel. His throne name was Ba-en-re Mery-netjeru, which means “The Soul of Ra, Beloved of the Gods”.



Merneptah was likely the fourth child born to  Isetnofret I and Ramesses II, and his thirteenth son in total. He married Isetnofret II , who was likely his full sister or niece, and she would be his Great Royal Wife when he became pharaoh Merneptah. They had at least two sons, Merenptah, named after his father, and Seti II, and a daughter, Twosret. When Seti II became pharaoh, his sister Twosret became his Great Royal Wife. She became pharaoh in her own right after the death of pharaoh Siptah.

Takhat, the mother of Amenmesse, may have been a secondary queen, though scholars are yet to confirm this.

Prior to accession

Ramesses II lived well into his nineties and was one of the oldest pharaohs in Egyptian history, if not the oldest. He outlived many of his heirs and eventually Merneptah would be the son to succeed him. They prepared Merenptah to be pharaoh through the responsibility of his government roles. By year 40 of Ramesses II, Merneptah had been promoted to Overseer of the Army. In year 55, he was officially proclaimed crown prince. At that point, he gained additional responsibilities by serving as Prince Regent for the last twelve years of Ramesses II’s life.