Watchman's Teaching Letter #33 January 2001
This is my thirty-third monthly teaching letter and continues my third year of publication. In the last couple of lessons, I have been trying to reconcile Biblical and Egyptian history. If you don’t have those last two lessons, you may want to get them to prepare a foundation for the present lesson. In lesson 31, we learned what Egyptian history definitely is not. It was established with substantial archaeological evidence that Israel’s stay in Egypt surely happened during the 18th Dynasty, or New Kingdom. It was proposed that Moses was named after a line of pharaohs, namely the pharaohs whose names ended with “mosis.” In lesson 32, we were able to place the contemporary time periods of Joseph, Moses and the Exodus with 18th Dynasty Egyptian history.
WALKING STEP BY STEP THROUGH ISRAEL’S SOJOURN IN EGYPT
FROM JOSEPH UNTIL JOSHUA
Beginning with this lesson, we are going to take a walk with Israel through Egyptian history, starting with Joseph and continuing through time up until and including the time of Joshua. To start with, this will require the proper placing of Joseph into this historical narrative. Almost every book reference tries to place Joseph during the Hyksos period claiming that Joseph and the Hyksos would have had much in common. It is probably true that Joseph, when he was sold by his brothers and taken to Egypt, did go there during the Hyksos era. If Joseph had been sold to the Hyksos, and his family had later come to Egypt being placed in the Delta area, when Pharaoh Amosis finally drove the Hyksos out of the Delta area, he would, in the process, have driven the Israelites out with them. If Joseph would have been a vizier to a Hyksos pharaoh, he would have been considered an enemy to Pharaoh Amosis. That scenario doesn’t fit the picture of this time-period very well. It is more likely that Joseph was taken by his captors to Amosis’ area at Thebes and sold there. Werner Keller’s The Bible As History, pages 88-90, implies that Joseph was sold to the Hyksos as follows:
“The Biblical story of Joseph and the sojourn of the children of Israel in Egypt belong to this period of turbulent conditions on the Nile under the rule of the foreign Hyksos. It is therefore not surprising that no contemporary Egyptian information has come down to us. Nevertheless, there is indirect proof of the authenticity of the Joseph story ... We know too that the Hyksos rulers were the first to use a ceremonial chariot on public occasions in Egypt. Before their day this had not been the practice on the Nile. The ceremonial chariot harnessed to thoroughbred horses was in those days the Rolls-Royce of the governors. The first chariot belonged to the ruler, the ‘second chariot’ was occupied by his chief minister.”
You have to understand that, while the Hyksos ruled the Delta area, and southern Egypt was subservient to them, Amosis at Thebes was a pharaoh there. In other words, there were two pharaohs ruling Egypt at the same time. And just because the Hyksos brought the chariot to the Delta area is no sign that the Egyptians at Thebes didn’t adopt and copy the idea of the chariot for themselves very quickly. To understand more about the Hyksos, I will quote from a Reader’s Digest book extra, Great People of the Bible, pages 30-31. While the article is informative, it also tries to place Joseph with the Hyksos:
“The idea that Joseph, a Hebrew slave, could have become the Pharaoh’s highest official, is not as fanciful as it might sound. About the time of his arrival, between 1720 and 1700 B.C., Egypt was invaded by a Syro-Canaanite alliance called the ‘Hyksos’ by the Egyptians. These invaders established their own line of Pharaohs and ruled the country for about 150 years. Hated foreigners themselves, it is likely that the Hyksos might trust someone like Joseph sooner than they would a native Egyptian, and the account of Joseph’s rise to power has an undeniably authentic flavor. Another part of the narrative, in which the Pharaoh acquired most of the country’s land during a famine, would be easy to understand if Egypt had been under the Hyksos.”
Of course, this last sentence is referring to Joseph imposing a 20% income tax on some of the land owners. It is my view that Joseph placed the 20% income tax on the Hyksos as a requirement to get food during the famine. The main point I wanted to bring with this quotation is the fact that the Hyksos were a “Syro-Canaanite alliance.”
SCRIPTURE ATTESTS JOSEPH NOT SOLD TO THE HYKSOS
The setting of this can be seen when Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food. At this time, his brothers didn’t recognize him as their brother, but as an Egyptian. While the brothers were in Egypt, they were invited to dine at a banquet with Joseph. The seating arrangement was quite unusual for the meal. In order to see the situation clearly, I am going to take the obligation of rendering this passage in a manner to make it understandable, as in most translations it’s not quite clear. The passage under consideration is Genesis 43:32:
“They served Joseph by himself, and his brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians attending the banquet ate by themselves, for the Egyptians would not eat bread with the Hebrews, for it was an abomination to the Egyptians.”
If you are wondering why the Egyptians refused to eat with the Hebrews, it was because they considered anyone who herded animals as abhorrent. As the Hyksos were also animal herders, they wouldn’t have taken this attitude. It was the Egyptians at Thebes and on toward the south of Egypt during this time-period that considered it repugnant to associate with animal herders. I believe this verse of Scripture is evidence that Joseph wasn’t sold as a slave to the Hyksos, but rather to Amosis’ realm around Thebes.
Later when Joseph brought his father and brothers to dwell in Egypt, Joseph advised his brothers that the Egyptians considered shepherds to be an abomination, saying (Genesis 46:33-34):
“33 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? 34 That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.”
This brings up another question: Where in Egypt was the “land of Goshen”? If the Hyksos were controlling the entire Delta area at that time-period, the pharaoh at Thebes would have no authority to grant the Hebrews any land in that region, for it was out of his jurisdiction. Is it possible the so-called “land of Goshen” was somewhere else in the land of Egypt other than the Delta area? It will be necessary, therefore, to do some research in order to investigate this question. There are two different Goshens mentioned in the Bible, one in Palestine and the other in Egypt. Indeed, there is a lot of speculation where Goshen might have been in Egypt, but not a lot of proof. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology indicates that in the late Hyksos period the Theban princes sent their cattle to pasture in the Hyksos-controlled Delta [Found in The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, volume 2, page 779.]. Likely, Joseph and his family were given the so-called “land of Goshen” area before the end of the “late Hyksos period.”
ISRAELITES GIVEN BEST LAND IN EGYPT
Genesis 47:6 and 11 tell us that the Israelites were to be given the very best land in Egypt. Let’s read these two verses:
“6 The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell ... 11 And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land ...”
By this time, the pharaoh was aware that Joseph’s prediction of a seven-year famine was a valid prophecy. No doubt, this is what motivated him to be so generous with Joseph and his family. If the pharaoh gave Jacob and his sons the very best land in Egypt, it may have been in the Faiyûm area. For information on this particular area in Egypt, I will quote from Werner Keller’s The Bible As History, page 90:
“Joseph was thirty years of age when he ‘went out over all the land of Egypt.’ (Gen. 41:45) The Bible says no more about this, but there is a spot by the Nile which still bears his name. The town of Medinet-el-Faiyûm, lying eighty miles south of Cairo in the middle of the fertile Faiyûm, was extolled as the ‘Venice of Egypt.’ In the lush gardens of this huge flourishing oasis grew oranges, mandarins, peaches, olives, pomegranates, and grapes. Faiyûm owed these delicious fruits to the artificial canal, over 200 miles long, which conveyed the water of the Nile and turned this district, which would otherwise have been desert, into a paradise. The ancient waterway is not only to this day called ‘Bahr Yusuf’ — ‘Joseph’s Canal’ — by the fellahin, 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.”
TWO FAMOUS 7 YEAR FAMINES IN EGYPTIAN HISTORY
The famine during the time of Joseph was not the only seven year famine in Egyptian history. For information concerning the previous famine, I will quote from two sources referring to it. First, I will quote from The Bible And Archaeology by J. A. Thompson, page 46:
“We have a great deal of information about the famines of Egypt. Years of drought and bad harvests are well attested in Pharaoh’s domain. There is even evidence of a seven-year famine. The famous King Zoser (about 2700 B.C.) once sent a message to the governor of one region down the Nile. Here are his words:
“I am very concerned about the people in the palace. My heart is heavy over the calamitous failure of the Nile floods for the past seven years. There is little fruit; vegetables are in short supply; there is a shortage of food generally.”
The second quote concerning this seven-year famine is from The Bible As History by Werner Keller, page 91:
“In very early times, for example, at the beginning of the third millennium, there is said to have been a seven-year famine according to a rock inscription of the Ptolemies. King Zoser sent the following message to the governor of the great cataracts of the Nile at Elephantine: ‘I am very much concerned about the people in the palace. My heart is heavy over the calamitous failure of the Nile floods for the past seven years. There is little fruit; vegetables are in short supply; there is a shortage of food generally. Everybody robs his neighbor ... Children weep, young folk droop. The aged are depressed, they have no power in their legs, they sit on the ground. The court is at its wit’s end. The storehouses have been opened, but everything that was in them has been consumed’.”
As you can plainly see, this former famine is very much different from the one Joseph was associated with. Whereas with the famine of Joseph’s time the Egyptians had plenty to eat, in the famine during the time of Zoser, the people suffered terribly from hunger. Also, there was no previous warning before the Zoser famine indicating that it was coming so they could have seven years to prepare for it as in the case of Joseph. In fact, Egypt, during the famine of Joseph, had more than enough food for itself and was supplying the countries around her. This situation probably strengthened Egypt’s monetary and political position tremendously. F. David Fry, Jr. in his Hebrew Sages of Ancient Egypt (A Revised Discipline In Antiquity), in trying to shave a thousand years off of Egyptian history by refuting that Joseph’s famine could have happened during the 18th Dynasty, alludes to an earlier famine in Egypt. As matter of fact, he refers to Zoser’s famine on page 34 of this same book and highly suggests that it was actuality the famine of Zoser. But, as you can see, from the forgone evidence presented, Zoser’s seven-year famine doesn’t fit the conditions during Joseph’s time. I will now quote what F. David Fry, Jr., has to say on page 34 of his book:
“Then, another famine took place early in Dynasty 3, while Zoser reigned as king. It is recorded on what archaeologists call the ‘Famine Stela.’ A stela (or stele) is an upright stone or pillar engraved with an inscription or design, and usually used as a monument or grave marker. The Famine Stela seems to confirm the biblical report of a seven year famine which occurred at the beginning of Joseph’s service to Pharaoh [I don’t think so]:
“The name Zoser does not occur on any monument before the Twelfth Dynasty. On his contemporary monuments he is called Iry-Khet-Neter ... Zoser’s name was closely associated with the region South of Aswan known in Greek times as the Dodekaschoinos. The names of Zoser and his architect, Imhotep, are recorded on the well known ‘Famine Stela’ of the Ptolemaic period, more than 2700 years after Zoser’s death. The stela is carved on a rock on the Island of Sehel, South of Aswan. According to the inscription, there was a great famine during the reign of Zoser because for seven years the Nile had failed to rise. When Zoser asked Imhotep for advice, he replied that to stop the famine it was necessary to gain the favor of the god Khnum, the god of the First Cataract, the birth place of the Nile. It was only Khnum who could fill the granaries of Egypt. [Ahmed Fakhry, The Pyramids, P. 23]
“Scholars understand this Famine Stela was written hundreds of years after the fact, its story corrupted by religion; nonetheless, they deem its basic details as valid and true ...
“Can the seven year famine of King Zoser and his prime minister, Imhotep, possibly be the same as the seven year famine of the Genesis story? ... Chances are extremely remote there existed more than one seven year famine, especially since the Nile River is so regular ...”
Some of what F. David Fry, Jr., is saying here is true, but with the evidence we have considered in the past two lessons, Zoser’s famine cannot be the same famine as Joseph’s. With the Jericho archaeological finds and the shipwreck evidence, the time-period for Joseph, Moses and the Exodus must be contemporary with the 18th Egyptian Dynasty. I simply cannot over-stress how important this archaeological evidence is. Joshua had placed a curse on Jericho that no one was ever to occupy Jericho after the Israelites destroyed it. Therefore, there would only be archaeological evidence found at Jericho up until Joshua’s time, nothing after. So, the finding of scarabs of Queen Hatshepsut, Tuthmosis III, and Amenhotep III of the 18th Egyptian Dynasty, it highly suggests that these pharaohs were just previous to Joshua. In other words, if the Exodus took place in the 6th Dynasty, as Fry implies, they would not have found scarabs of these particular pharaohs at Jericho. The article in the National Geographic magazine of December 1987 entitled the “Oldest Known Shipwreck Reveals Splendors Of The Bronze Age” disclosed evidence serving as a double witness to corroborate the archaeological finds at Jericho. If I did not make all this clear in lesson #31, I hope it is crystal clear with this writing!
We really need to take a look at the curse which Joshua put on Jericho. It is found in Joshua 6:26 and reads:
“And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before Yahweh that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.”
I found an outstanding comment on this verse in the Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary On The Whole Bible, page 172:
“THE REBUILDER OF JERICHO CURSED. Joshua adjured them at that time — i.e., imposed upon his countrymen a solemn oath, binding on themselves as well as their posterity, that they would never rebuild that city. Its destruction was designed by God (Yahweh) to be a permanent memorial of His abhorrence of idolatry and its attendant vices. Cursed be the man ... that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho — i.e., makes the daring attempt to build. he shall lay the foundation thereof in his first-born, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it — shall become childless — the first beginning being marked by the death of his oldest son, and his only surviving child dying at the time of its completion. This curse was accomplished 550 years after its denunciation (See on 1 Kings 16:34.)”
There is no doubt that Jericho was an idolatrous city, if you consider 12 acres a city. A fort might possibly be a better representation of it. An even better description might be a staging area for making attacks on other places. Actually, archaeologists found that Jericho was used as a place to store food and war implements. No doubt, the Hyksos probably used Jericho as a staging area for its attacks on Egypt. By the Israelites destroying Jericho, they cut off the possibility of some foreign power using it as a jumping off place to attack them. It appears that the destruction of Jericho was a very critical move on Israel’s part to stave off attacks on them in their future. The main thing we should be interested in, for this lesson, is the fact that scarabs were found at Jericho, of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt, showing its (18th Dynasty’s) dated existence was before the time of Joshua. The archaeological finds at Jericho set a very definite timeline for Israel being in Egypt.
2,letter-spacing: 1.0pt/spanDefaultText1span style=/span0% FOOD COLLECTION TO BE USED FOR LEAN YEARS
Howard Rand in his book Primo-genesis, page 116 says: “He (Joseph) also urged him (pharaoh) to appoint officers over the land who would take up the fifth part of the produce of the land in the seven years of plenty.” (This is not the same as in Genesis 47:24 where Joseph imposes a 20% income tax.) If we do a little calculation, we can soon see that a 1/5th collection of the produce for the seven years of plenty would not be enough to hold Egypt over the seven years of lean, let alone feeding all the other nations around her. A collection of 1/5th would not even be enough to hold Egypt over in the lean years for a year and a half. What I am wondering at this point is: Did Joseph have enough time to build a 200 mile long canal to control the waters in the Faiyûm area and put it into production before the seven years of plenty? It’s the one area in Egypt that could have accounted for the tremendous yields recorded in the Bible during those years. The only thing which could account for ample production during the years of plenty would be: if the crops were almost twice the normal yield, or an increase of land was put into production. The only way a 1/5th produce collection would fit in this story is if there was a government project to increase land use. In which case 100% of this produce would have been put into storage. Faiyûm anyone?
LET’S GO A STEP FURTHER
There is another consideration we should take into account concerning the story of Joseph as it is recorded in the Bible. Sometimes little details are hidden just under the surface until we take the time to really analyze them. Joseph’s marriage to Asenath is one of these hidden cases. Let’s read the account in Genesis 41:45:
“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.”
Did you notice what we just read about the pharaoh giving Joseph his wife? There is only one way that he would have had the authority to do such a thing. That is if the pharaoh was of the House of Shem himself. At that time period, evidently the pharaohs were Shemites. Obviously, the lower class of the Egyptians were not though, only the ruling class. If this is true, it puts our story in an entirely different light! Also, if this is true, we can be sure Joseph wasn’t sold by the Ishmaelites to the Hyksos, but to Amosis’ area at Thebes. Also, if this is true, it brings up a whole host of questions! Not only that, but it will clear up a lot of unusual situations.
LET’S TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT JOSEPH’S
20% INCOME TAX AND LAND CONFISCATION
Under Shemitic-Hebrew Law, it is not permitted to charge usury, income tax or to confiscate one’s brother’s land. But to non-Shemitic-Hebrew peoples, it is permitted. I cannot go into the details of this in this short lesson, but only observe it from Joseph’s perspective. If all this is correct, Joseph had every right to take the Egyptian’s land and money from them and give it to the Shemitic pharaoh. Also, it explains why the priesthood, being Shemitic, was not taxed. Maybe by this time the priesthood was not all it should have been, but if they were racial brothers, it would exclude them from the tax and land confiscation. As you can start to see, this Joseph story is beginning to make a lot more sense. This should also make us aware why it was such a disaster when the pharaohs started to take the Hurrians and Hittites as wives in the 18th and 19th Dynasties. It will also explain why a racial war developed between the Shemitic pure line pharaohs and the pharaohs mixed with Hurrian blood. As a result of the seven years of famine, Egypt was brought totally under Shemite control. Being under Shemitic control, the Israelites would naturally be exempt from any income tax. All this would change when non-Shemitic pharaohs later came to power.
It would appear, with the marriage of Joseph to Asenath, there was a close family relationship between Joseph and the pharaoh. Howard B. Rand in his book Primo-genesis, page 117 seems to agree with this when he says:
“The priestly caste to which Joseph’s father-in-law, the Priest of On, belonged was undoubtedly of the line of Shem. Apparently Shem’s descendants were established in the office of the priesthood in Egypt at the time of the building of the Great Pyramid. Thus, the purity of the racial stock of the appointed seed was preserved in the birth of these boys to Joseph and Asenath.”
If what Rand is saying concerning the House of Shem going back to the building of the Great Pyramid is correct, it can’t be referring to the Hyksos, for their rule in the Delta area lasted only just a little over a hundred years.
While Dr. William J. Hale in his book Chemivision believes the Hyksos were the people Joseph was associated with, nevertheless, he has some interesting remarks on pages 15 & 16 as follows:
“Joseph found favor in the sight of the Royal House of the Eighteenth Dynasty and was soon appointed as administrator in charge of granaries. To Joseph to wife was given Asenath, — daughter of Potipherah, priest of On ... In the course of a rising surge of Egyptians from the upper (southern) Nile it was not long before the Hyksos were totally expelled from Egypt, possibly around 1583 B.C.”
MORE EVIDENCE JOSEPH COULDN’T HAVE CHARGED
HIS KIN A 20% INCOME TAX
For verification on this, I will quote from Adam’s Tree by Della Stanley, page 44:
“... He (Joseph) returned and took Simeon and had him bound before their eyes. Then he commanded their sacks to be filled with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack. And he sent them on their way home. Joseph knew the purpose for his being in Egypt, and he could not take money from his brothers. There could be no price paid in money for the salvation of his family. Also he wanted these brothers to learn a lesson that they would never forget.
“On the road home, the sons of Jacob stopped to rest and to eat, and one found his money in his sack. When they arrived home, the others found their money restored also, and they were sorely disturbed. They told their father all that had happened; that Simeon was forced to stay in Egypt as security and that the ruler demanded they return with Benjamin, else they would never see Simeon again.”
TWO GROUPS IDENTIFIED AS “SHEPHERD KINGS”
In an article published by Destiny magazine, October 1962, entitled “Enoch’s Mission and Shem’s Responsibility” (pages 201-204 in the 1962 yearbook), Howard B. Rand quotes Manetho as saying that the “Hyksos” were “shepherd kings.” Yet, at the same time, his article places the “shepherd kings” with Pharaoh Cheops of the 4th Dynasty several hundreds of years before. I am quite surprised that Rand didn’t recognize this discrepancy before he wrote the article. As the Hyksos were only in Egypt for a little over a hundred years in the reigns of Kamose at the end of the 17th Dynasty and Amosis at the beginning of the 18th Dynasty, there is no way the Hyksos could be the same people as the “shepherd kings” at the time of Cheops. Outside of this disparity, the rest of the article is outstanding in bringing many interesting facts into perspective from which I will now quote excerpts:
“During the construction of the Great Pyramid in Egypt, the records indicate that the Egyptian government was in opposition to the idolatrous worship that had been established in the land. Cheops, the Pharaoh ruling at that time, was accused by the idolatrous worshippers of being very arrogant toward the gods, having shut up their temples and having compelled the priests to labor.
“The Shepherd Kings. Historical fragments set forth the fact that at this time there was a notable stranger in Egypt who remained at the site of the Great Pyramid. The priests whom Herodotus the historian consulted regarding the earlier history of Egypt described this stranger as a shepherd to whom, rather than to Cheops, the Egyptians attributed the building of the Great Pyramid.
“Cheops apparently furnished the site, the workmen and the materials. The record refers to this stranger as a keeper of sheep and he is called ‘Philition’ or ‘Philitis’ ...
“When the people of Israel left Egypt and were moving through the wilderness, in order to bolster their morale, they were told of a much earlier people who, in like manner, had been led out of Egypt. They were called Caphtorims who came out of Caphtor, to whom Moses referred in Deuteronomy 2:23. [See also Genesis 10:14]
“This place called Caphtor was the very region in Egypt where today the Great Pyramid stands. The Lord, through the Prophet Amos, refers to the people as Philistines whom He brought up from Caphtor (Amos 9:7). Therefore, we learn from the historian Herodotus (confirmed in the Scripture) of Philistines [Caphtorims] once living in the neighborhood of the Great Pyramid, who were the object of Divine favor and who were led out of Egypt before the Israelites left the land.
“These were not the Philistines of the time of the judges and David, but a much earlier people who feared and reverenced the true God ... Coming to Palestine from the Nile Delta, they were known in Egypt as ‘The Shepherd Kings.’
“... after the Deluge, Shem became the first of the shepherd kings who reigned in Egypt. He was held in highest honor by the people in that land for having delivered them from the Cushite yoke ... Thus, when the idolatrous priests were again in the ascendancy, everything possible was done to blacken Shem’s memory.
“The Reforms of Shem. During the reign of the Shepherd King Set, or Shem, and his immediate successors, the complete overthrow of the Egyptian gods occurred; their temples were demolished and idolatry in any form was forbidden throughout the land ... This was mainly the work of Shem, the Shepherd King was also Priest of the Most High God, in his conflict with the gross idolatry of Egypt. The heathen temples were literally smashed to pieces ...
“Manetho says that the shepherds were finally prevailed upon to leave Egypt, which they did without molestation, and went to Judea where they built the city of Jerusalem. Josephus, the Jewish (Judean) historian, calls these shepherds ‘our ancestors’, which is definitely the case if Shem was the first and most powerful Shepherd King of Egypt ...”
I doubt very much whether the Hyksos were ever really called “shepherd kings”, and I plan to go further in detail in future lessons. It appears in the Hyksos we have some shepherd kings who were not shepherd kings, and in the Caphtorims some Philistines who were not Philistines. We can now see the important fact that the pharaoh related to Asenath was a Shemite. Understanding this is to understand the Bible. We will be researching deeper into Egyptian and Biblical history in the next few lessons as we continue. While there are many enlightening things written by Howard B. Rand, in future lessons, I will be scrutinizing some of his premises.