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Joseph and Pharaoh—History and Archaeology Give a Big Thumbs Up!

This Joseph became the most powerful man in the world. It was he who, by God’s hand, made Pharaoh the ultimate Egyptian power that he became. Joseph was truly a king-maker. Thus he became a father to Pharaoh. Could such a magnificent account disappear without a trace from history? Was it just a fairy tale? Is there a record in secular history?
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Joseph and Pharaoh—History and Archaeology Give a Big Thumbs Up!

11/20/2014 (Topic#: 1491)

Jesus Christ is the Lord of Glory and glory is radiant light.   Jesus Christ is called “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).  He is the Light of the world and called “the bright and morning star” (Revelation 22:16), and He returns at the great battle of Armageddon and destroys “with the brightness of His coming:” (II Thessalonians 2:8).  Prior to seeing the true Light which occurs when one is born again, the Bible declares that we sat in darkness (Luke 1:79). 

Have you been born again?  Are you ready to arise out of your darkness and embrace Jesus Christ, the radiant Light?  Your life can be filled with hope and promise, and you can be free of past sin and shame.  This opportunity is yours today.  Click onto “Further With Jesus” for childlike instructions and immediate entry into the Kingdom of God.  NOW FOR TODAY’S SUBJECT.

GOD SAID, Genesis 41:41-45:

41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.

42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.

44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

45 And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

MAN SAID: The Bible is not a credible historic record; its miraculous accounts are mere fabrications by religious fanatics and none of its pronouncements have any root in academic reality.  It is irrelevant. 

Now THE RECORD.  The position of the unbelievers takes on a multitude of faces, but they all have one thing in common: They reject the inerrancy of God’s Holy Word found in the majority-text.  (See Which Bible? Series.)  This should be no surprise when Revelation 19:13 speaks of Jesus Christ and says, “…and his name is The Word of God.”  Those who reject the Bible are, by definition, anti-Christ. 

Are the miraculous and glorious accounts recorded in the Word of God fabrications of dead old men?  Does God actually interact directly in the lives of men?  Is His handiwork readily displayed and seen by those who look?  The answers to the above three questions, as you should suspect, are NO, YES, and YES. 

Can you rely on the Bible? 

In Genesis, the very first book of the Bible that is a record of great antiquity, an account is given of a young man whose name was Joseph, the son of Israel (Israel’s birth name was Jacob).  Joseph’s mother’s name was Rachel.  Joseph was Rachel’s first-born son.  This was the Joseph who was given the coat of many colors, and was sold into slavery by his jealous half-brothers (excluding Benjamin) who would later become the heads of the tribes of Israel.  Joseph was sold to an Ishmaelite caravan of merchants.  These Ishmaelite merchants were distant kin to Joseph because their progenitor, Ishmael, was the half-brother to Isaac, the grandfather of Joseph.  The Ishmaelites purchased the 17-year-old Joseph from his jealous brothers and sold him to a rich Egyptian by the name of Potiphar.  After a period of time, Joseph was placed in charge of all of Potiphar’s affairs.  Potiphar had an evil wife who attempted to seduce the young Joseph, but Joseph refused to commit this evil with his master’s wife.  After her repeated attempts at seduction, Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of attempting to rape her and he was thrown into an Egyptian prison.  Because the favor of God shined upon Joseph, he was quickly elevated to the head of affairs of the prison and resided there until the age of 30. 

During his confinement in prison, Joseph interpreted the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s former officers, whom Pharaoh also had imprisoned.  Both interpretations came true.  According to Joseph’s interpretation, one officer was put to death, and the other, Pharaoh’s butler, was restored to his position.  A short period of time passed and the Pharaoh of Egypt also had two troubling dreams.  No one in his kingdom could interpret their meaning.  But Pharaoh’s butler remembered a young man named Joseph who had the supernatural ability to interpret the deep secrets of dreams, for this butler had once had a dream while in prison and it was Joseph who declared its meaning. 

Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s two dreams: Joseph said that Pharaoh's dreams meant that Egypt would have seven years of great abundance, followed by seven years of great famine—a famine so great that the seven years of abundance would be consumed by its dearth and fully forgotten.  Because of Pharaoh’s dreams and Joseph’s interpretations of them, Joseph counseled Pharaoh to build grain centers in Egypt and store one-fifth of all crops during the years of plenty to preserve life during the great famine.  The Pharaoh followed Joseph’s counsel. 

This Joseph became the most powerful man in the world.  It was he who, by God’s hand, made Pharaoh the ultimate Egyptian power that he became.  Joseph was truly a king-maker.  Thus he became a father to Pharaoh. 

Could such a magnificent account disappear without a trace from history?  Was it just a fairy tale?  Is there a record in secular history? 

According to author David Rohl, who wrote the research book Pharaohs and Kings, during the time of Joseph:

Three regional departments were set up to oversee the agricultural labor, conscript labor and storage of grain supplies for redistribution to the Egyptian population during periods of famine.  Avaris [in Goshen] is the site of one of the three regional departments. 

Now, Goshen was where the children of Israel resided.  There is also archaeological evidence that a famine was preceded by a bumper harvest during the time of Joseph. 

During the seven years of famine, things were so bad that the people of Egypt were forced to sell their animals, lands, and their own selves to Pharaoh in exchange for food.  Rohl continues:

The local chieftains found their own grain silos exhausted and were forced to sell their land holdings to the Pharaoh.  The power of the governors of Egypt was broken and Pharaoh became the sole authority in Egypt—the evidence for this is that the grand tombs of the governors of Egypt ceased to be built.  This signals the diminution of the authority of a semi-independent nobility and the return of political control to the kingship. 

According to the great Jewish historian Josephus in his account of The Antiquities of the Jews, Joseph was honored by Pharaoh with the title “’Psothom Phanech’ out of regard for his prodigious degree of wisdom, for that name denotes the revealer of secrets.” 

Halley’s Bible Handbook writes:

The following is in regard to Joseph and Potiphar’s wife: The “Tale of Two Brothers” on an ancient papyrus now in the British Museum, written in the reign of Seti II—shortly after the Exodus—has such close resemblance to the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife that the editor of the English edition of Brugsch’s History of Egypt surmised that it must have been worked up from the incident, which must have been recorded in the annals of the Egyptian court: A married man sends his younger brother, who was unmarried, and to whom he had entrusted everything about his place to his home, to bring some seed corn.  The wife tempts him.  He refuses.  She, angered, reports to her husband that he had tried to force her.  The husband plans to kill him.  He flees, and later becomes King of Egypt. 

Finally, Halley’s records that in 1912, archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie reports the discovery of palace ruins he believes was the palace of Joseph, the father of Pharaoh. 

The following papyrus uncovered by archaeologists establishes the famine in the times of Joseph and also the fact that the other nations of the region were coming to Egypt to find food.  It reads:

A frontier official writes to his superior: “I have another matter to bring to the attention of my lord and it is this: We have permitted the transit of the Bedouin tribes from Edom via the Menephta fort in Zeku, to the fen-lands of the city of Per-Atum…so that they may preserve their own lives and the lives of their flocks on the estate of the king, the good Sun of every land…”

The next excerpt is taken from Werner Keller’s widely-read and recognized book, The Bible as History:

The town of Medinet-el-Faiyum, lying 80 miles south of Cairo in the middle of the fertile Faiyum, is extolled as the “Venice of Egypt.”  In the lush gardens of this huge flourishing oasis grow oranges, mandarins, peaches, olives, pomegranates, and grapes.  Faiyum owes these delicious fruits to the artificial canal, over 200 miles long, which conveys the water of the Nile and turns this district, which would otherwise be desert, into a paradise.  The ancient waterway is not only to this day called “Bahr Yusuf”—“Joseph’s Canal”—by the local people, but is known by this name throughout Egypt.  People say that it was the Joseph of the Bible, Pharaoh’s “Grand Vizier,” as Arab legends would describe him, who planned it.  [End of quotes]

Researcher and author Grant Jeffrey, in his 336-page book The Signature of God, writes under the section heading, “Joseph and the Seven Years of Famine,” the following:

An intriguing inscription confirms the Bible’s account of the “seven years of great plenty” followed by the “seven years of famine” when Joseph served Pharaoh in Egypt (see Genesis 41:29-30).  This inscription was discovered during the nineteenth century in southern Saudi Arabia. The inscription was found on a marble tablet in a ruined fortress on the seashore of Hadhramaut in present-day Yemen.  An examination of the writing suggests that it was written approximately eighteen hundred years before the birth of Christ, a time that corresponds with the Biblical narrative about Jacob and his twelve sons.  This inscription was first rendered in Arabic by Professor Hendrik Albert Schultens and was later translated into English by Rev. Charles Forster:

We dwelt at ease in this castle a long tract of time; nor had we a desire but for the region-lord of the vineyard.

Hundreds of camels returned to us each day at evening, their eye pleasant to behold in their resting-places.

And twice the number of our camels were our sheep, in comeliness like white does, and also the slow moving kine. 

We dwelt in this castle seven years of good life—how difficult for memory its description!

Then came years barren and burnt up: when one evil year had passed away, then came another to succeed it.

And we became as though we had never seen a glimpse of good.

They died and neither foot nor hoof remained.

Thus fares it with him who renders not thanks to God:

His footsteps fail not to be blotted out from his dwelling. 

However, the greatest treasure of all was an engraved stone tablet bearing the woman’s final inscription, which appears to confirm the Biblical account of Joseph’s careful management of food reserves during the seven years of famine in Egypt.  The original engraving was photographed and appeared in Professor Carsten Niebuhr’s Voyage en Arabie (plate 59).  The Yemenite inscription reads as follows:

In thy name O God, the God of Hamyar, I Tajah, the daughter of Dzu Shefar, sent my steward to Joseph,

And he delaying to return to me, I sent my hand maid

With a measure of silver, to bring me back a measure of flour:

And not being able to procure it, I sent her with a measure of gold:

And not being able to procure it, I sent her with a measure of pearls:

And not being able to procure it, I commanded them to be ground:

And finding no profit in them, I am shut up here.

Whosoever may hear of it, let him commiserate me;

And should any woman adorn herself with an ornament

From my ornaments, may she die with no other than my death.

This inscription reveals a Yemenite Arab noblewoman’s complaint that she could not purchase Egypt’s grain with her gold.  The tragic history of famines often recorded the bartering of the most valuable jewels and precious metals in trade for the smallest amount of food available. [End of quotes]

Then again, under the heading “Ancient Egyptian Coins Bearing the Image of Joseph,” Jeffrey writes:

Recent research conducted on previously overlooked Egyptian coins confirms the Biblical story of Joseph and his role in government service in ancient Egypt.  In 2009, archaeological authorities from the Egyptian National Museum announced that a cache of ancient coins had been “rediscovered.”  Initially discovered almost a century earlier, the coins had been in storage.  They were uncovered in the vast storage vaults of the national museum and the Antiquities Authority.  Cairo’s Al Ahram newspaper reported that the coins bear the name and image of the Biblical Joseph. 

The cache of more than five hundred coins had been set aside decades earlier in the belief that they were miscellaneous objects of worship and likely of no significance.  However, scientists re-examined the coins using recently-developed technology and discovered that a number of them dated to the time of ancient Egypt.  Most of the coins were engraved with the year they were minted and their monetary value and the effigies or images of the pharaohs ruling Egypt when the coins were minted.  Researchers concluded that the “Joseph coins” originated in the period when Joseph served as Pharaoh’s treasurer—during the seven years of plenty and seven years of famine (see Genesis 41:17-45).  Biblical history suggests a date for Joseph’s high position in the Egyptian government that coincides with the date of the minting of the coins in the cache (approximately 2000 BC).  Amazingly, some of the coins bear both Joseph’s name and image.

On its website, Israel National News reported that the Egyptian archaeologists “discovered many charms from various eras before and after the period of Joseph, including one that bore his effigy as the minister of the treasury in the Egyptian pharaoh’s court.” 

Archaeologists had previously believed that the Egyptians of Joseph’s day did not use coins but rather used barter to trade.  However, Dr. Sa’id Muhammad Thabet, head of the research team, found several Koranic verses that speak of coins being used in ancient Egypt.  He concluded that the coins were genuine and that their stated date of minting was accurate. He confirmed that the dates agreed with both Biblical and historical chronology. 

Thabet’s team described the “Joseph coins” as having:

two faces: one with an inscription, called the inscribed face, and one with an image, called the engraved face—just like the coins we use today… Some of the coins are from the time when Joseph lived in Egypt… [T]here was one coin that had an inscription on it, and an image of a cow symbolizing Pharaoh’s dream about the seven fat cows and seven lean cows, and the seven green stalks of grain and seven dry stalks of grain.

Joseph’s name appears twice on this coin, written in hieroglyphs: once the original name Joseph, and once his Egyptian name, Saba Sabani, which was given to him by Pharaoh when he became treasurer.  There is also an image of Joseph, who was part of the Egyptian administration at the time. [End of quotes]

The Word of God is true and righteous altogether—a place to build a life that will last forever. 

GOD SAID, Genesis 41:41-45:

41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.

42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.

44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

45 And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

MAN SAID: The Bible is not a credible historic record; its miraculous accounts are mere fabrications by religious fanatics and none of its pronouncements have any root in academic reality.  It is irrelevant. 

Now you have THE RECORD. 

 

 

 

References

Authorized King James Version

GodSaidManSaid, “Joseph”

Jeffrey, G., The Signature of God, WaterBrook Press, 2010

 

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