Shebitku was the second king of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. He was the nephew and successor of Shebaka. During
Shebaka's reign, there was a policy of conciliation and cooperation with the Assyrians. This kept the Assyrians from
coming further into Egypt. Shebitku had a different policy; resistance. A stela from Kawa tells of Shebitku asking
his brothers, including Taharqa, to come to him at Thebes from Nubia. The army went with Taharqa. On another stela
that is the story told that when Jerusalem was under attack by the Assyrians, that the king of Ethiopia (Kush) came
against Sennacherib (of Assyria). Shebitku joined in the resistance against Sennacherib and an Egyptian army was sent
to Palestine, led by Shebitku's brother, Taharqa.
Shebitku (or Shabatka) was the third king of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt who ruled from (707/706 BC-690 BC) according to Dan'el Kahn's
most recent academic research. He was the nephew and successor of Shabaka. He was a son of Piye, the founder of this dynasty. Shebitku's
prenomen or throne name, Djedkare, means "Enduring is the Soul of Re."
In 1999, an Egypt-Assyrian synchronism from the Great Inscription of Tang-i Var in Iran was re-discovered and re-analysed. Carved by Sargon II
of Assyria (722-705 BC), the inscription dates to the period around 707/706 BC and reveals that it was Shebitku, king of Egypt, who extradited
the rebel king Iamanni of Ashdod into Sargon's hands, rather than Shabaka as previously thought. The pertinent section of the inscription
by Sargon II reads:
" "(19) I (scil. Sargon) plundered the city of Ashdod, Iamani, its king, feared [my weapons] and...He fled to the region of the land
of Meluhha and lived (there) stealthfully (literally:like a thief). (20) Shapataku' (Shabatka) king of the land of Meluhha, heard of the
mig[ht] of the gods Ashur, Nabu (and) Marduk which I had [demonstrated] over all lands...(21) He put (Iamani) in manacles and handcuffs...he
had him brought captive into my presence." "
The Tang-i Var inscription dates to Sargon 15th year between Nisan 707 BC to Adar 706 BC. This shows that Shebitku was ruling in Egypt by
April 706 BC at the very latest, and perhaps as early as November 707 BC to allow some time for Iamanni's extradition and the recording of
this deed in Sargon's inscription. A suggestion that Shebitku served as Shabaka's viceroy in Nubia and that Shebitku extradited Iamanni to
Sargon II during the reign of king Shabaka has been rejected by the Egyptologist Karl Jansen-Winkeln in Ancient Egyptian Chronology (Handbook
of Oriental Studies), which is the most updated publication on Egyptian chronology. As Jansen-Winkeln writes:
"there has never been the slightest hint at any form of coregency of the Nubian kings of Dynasty 25. Had Shabaka been ruler of Egypt in the
year 707/706 and Shebitku [was] his "viceroy" in Nubia, one would definitely expect that the opening of diplomatic relations with Assur as
well as the capture and extradation of Yamanni would have been part of Shabaka's responsibility. Sargon can also be expected to have named the
regent of Egypt and senior king, rather than the distant viceroy Shebitku [in Nubia]. If, on the other hand, Shebitku was already Shabaka's
successor in 707/706 [BC], the reports of the Yamani affair become clearer and make more sense. It had hitherto been assumed that the Nubian
king (Shabaka) handed over Yamani more or less immediatedly after his flight to Egypt. Now it appears...certain that Yamani was only turned
over to the Assyrians a couple of years later (under Shebitku instead)."
Consequently, Shebitku's reign should be dated to c.707 or 706 BC (at the very latest) to 690 BC.
The alleged coregency of Shebitku -
Turin Stela 1467, which depicts Shabaka and Shebitku seated together (with Shebitku behind Shabaka) facing two other individuals across an
offering table, was once considered to be clear evidence for a royal co-regency between these two Nubian kings in William Murnane's 1977 book
on Ancient Egyptian Coregencies. However, the Turin Museum has subsequently acknowledged the statue to be a forgery. Robert Morkot and
Stephen Quirke who analysed the stela in a 2001 article, also confirmed that the object is a forgery which cannot be used to postulate a
possible coregency between Shabaka and Shebitku.
Secondly, Shebitku's Year 3, 1st month of Shemu day 5 inscription in Nile Level Text Number 33 has been assumed to record a coregency between
Shabaka and Shebitku among some scholars. This Nile text records Shebitku mentioning his appearing (xai) in Thebes as king in the temple of
Amun at Karnak where "Amun gave him the crown with two uraei like Horus on the throne of Re" thereby legitimising his kingship. Jürgen von
Beckerath argued in a GM 136 (1993) article that the inscription recorded both the official coronation of Shebitku and the very first
appearance of the king himself in Egypt after comparing this inscription with Nile Level Text No.30 from Year 2 of Shebitku when Shabaka
conquered all of Egypt. If correct, this would demonstrate that Shebitku had truly served as a coregent to Shabaka for 2 years.
Kenneth Kitchen, however, astutely observes that the "verb xai (or appearance) applies to any official 'epiphany' or official manifestation of
the king to his 'public appearances'." Kitchen also stresses that the period around the first month of Shemu days 1-5 marked the date of a
Festival of Amun-Re at Karnak which is well attested during the New Kingdom Period, the 22nd Dynasty and through to the Ptolemaic period.
Hence, in the third Year of Shebitku, this Feast to Amun evidently coincided with both the Inundation of the Nile and a personal visit by
Shebitku to the Temple of Amun "but we have no warrant whatever for assuming that Shebitku...remained uncrowned for 2 whole years after his
accession." William Murnane also endorsed this interpretation by noting that Shebitku's Year 3 Nile Text "need not refer to an accession
or coronation at all. Rather, it seems simply to record an 'appearance' of Shebitku in the temple of Amun during his third year and to
acknowledge the god's influence in securing his initial appearance as king." In other words, Shebitku was already king of Egypt and the
purpose of his visit to Karnak was to receive and record for posterity the god Amun's official legitimization of his reign. Therefore, the
evidence for a possible coregency between Shabaka and Shebitku is illusory at present.
During Shebitku's reign, there was initially a policy of conciliation with Assyria which was marked by the formal extradition of Iamanni back
into Sargon II's hands. After Sargon II's death, however, Shebitku appears to have adopted a different policy by actively resisting any new
Assyrian expansion into Canaan under Sargon's son and successor Sennacherib. A stela from Kawa relates that Shebitku asked his 'brothers',
including Taharqa, to travel north to Thebes from Nubia. The Nubian army travelled along with Taharqa presumably to fight the Assyrians at the
Battle of Eltekh in 701 BC. Another stela records that when Jerusalem was under attack by the Assyrians, the king of Kush marched against
Sennacherib. Shebitku joined in the resistance against Sennacherib and an Egyptian army was sent to Palestine, led by Shebitku's brother,
Prince Taharqa. Shebitku also completed the decoration of the Temple of Osiris Heqadjet in Thebes during his reign. The Temple had been
constructed under Osorkon III. The decorations are notable for proving that Osorkon III's daughter, Shepenupet I was still the serving God's
Wife of Amun at Karnak and had outlived her two brothers Takelot III and Rudamun by at least three full decades. In 690 BC, Shebitku died and
was succeeded by Taharqa, his younger brother.