Joseph And Imhotep

It is written:

“And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-Paaneah. And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On. So Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:45)

Archeological evidence continues to mount regarding the biblical Joseph. Other sources identify this great patriarch with the Egyptian Imhotep. Johnson has noted:

“In 2228 AM, Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream of seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. This same year Joseph became Viceroy of Egypt. We are told in Genesis 41:45 that Pharaoh renamed Joseph “Zaphnath-Paaneah.” Manetho records a seven-year famine occurred in the eighteenth year of the reign of Djoser. If this seven-year famine is the same as the one Joseph predicted, then the eighteenth year of Djoser was 2235 AM. The Viceroy of Djoser, Imhotep, designed the step pyramid at Sakkara. On a rock monument at Sehel, there is an inscription telling how Pharaoh consulted the wise Imhotep about a seven-year famine. In another inscription near the step pyramid, the builder is referred to as Zanakht – very close to Joseph’s Egyptian name Zaphnath-Paaneah as given in Genesis. Both Imhotep and Joseph lived to be one hundred and ten years old. When Imhotep was one hundred years old, his wisdom was tested by new court officials by asking him to create an oasis in the desert. He engineered a feeder canal from the Nile to his man-made lake. Today in the region of El-Fayoum, southwest of Cairo, there still remains the man-made fresh water lake called Birqet Qarun. It is fed by a canal stretching from the Nile to the Basin. The canal is known as Bahr Yousef or the Sea of Joseph! Since this was built during the last ten years of Joseph’s life, we can date Birqet Qarun’s construction between 2299-2309 AM.” (Ken Johnson, Ancient Post-Flood History, 152-153 (Kindle Edition))

Writing of the many connections between Joseph and Imhotep, another researcher has noted:

“The inscription which links together Joseph and Imhotep exists on the island of Sihiel, just below the first cataract of the Nile. This inscription claims that it is a copy of a document written by Pharaoh Djoser in the 18th year of his reign. This copy was carved more than a thousand years after the events it claims to cite. The inscription tells of seven meager years and seven rich years. Figure 158: The Nile River is central to Egypt, the most important places have always been situated near it (Sakkara, Memphis, Giza, Thebes, Luxor etc.). Let us compare certain parts of this inscription (15) with some biblical texts: 1. „ I was in distress on the Great Throne…“ (Inscription). „And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled…“ (Gen. 41: 8). 2. In the text of the inscription Pharaoh is worried about the coming famine, and asks Imhotep who the god of the Nile is, so that he can pray to this god. „… I asked him who was the Chamberlain, … Imhotep, the son of Ptah… What is the birthplace of the Nile? Who is the god there? Who is the God?” Imhotep answers: „I need the guidance of Him who presides over the fowling net…” (Inscription) Joseph answers Pharaoh: „ And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.“ (Gen. 41: 16). Figure 159: An ancient golden signet ring (seal) from Egypt. In the Egyptian text Imhotep is called the son of Ptah, who was the Egyptian god known as the greatest god, creator of all, including other gods. Joseph professed faith in the one and only God, creator of all things. In that sense Joseph was different because he only prayed to the one God, creator of all things. The God who was over all other gods in Egypt was called Ptah. It is then logical that Joseph is given the title of the son of Ptah in accordance with Egyptian custom. The god-like character of Joseph was most likely given to him long after his death. It should be noted that the inscription asserts that Imhotep and the son of Ptah are one and the same person. 3. In the inscription Imhotep answers Pharaoh‘s question about the Nile god and describes where he lives. In the biblical text Joseph explains Pharaoh‘s dream. The text of the inscription relates that while the king slept the Nile god, Khnum, appeared to him in a dream and promised that the Nile would give its water, and that there would be famine for seven years followed by seven good years. This corresponds in detail to the dream that Joseph interpreted for Pharaoh except that the order is reversed. The Bible speaks of seven good years followed by seven years of famine (Gen. 41: 25-32). Bad years occur now and then, but there is only one occasion spoken of in the history of Egypt when seven years of plenty were followed by seven very difficult years of famine, even if the order is reversed, as in this inscription. It should be noted that the biblical text has greater credibility in stating that seven years of plenty are followed by seven years of famine than the reverse in the inscription, since this was made about 1,000 years after the event. Egypt and all the countries around were almost destroyed in spite of the preparatory measures taken during the seven good years. Had they not taken these measures the entire eastern Mediterranean region would have been wiped out. During the seven years of famine they could neither sow nor reap. Without enormous stocks of grain and other food, no nation could have survived those seven years of famine. 4. The inscription goes on to tell of Pharaoh Djoser‘s promise to the Nile god, Khnum, that the population, with the exception of the priests in the god‘s house, would be taxed 10% on all that was harvested. “Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.” (Gen. 41: 34) “And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.” (Gen. 47: 24) “Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands.” (Gen. 47: 22) Here we have an inscription that relates how Pharaoh Djoser asks Imhotep to help him with the coming seven years of famine. Imhotep answers that he must communicate with God as he does not have the answer himself. Pharaoh has a dream foreseeing the event (in reverse order). Imhotep taxes the people 10%, with the exception of the priesthood, in order to cope with the crisis. Figure 160: The meaning of the dream is not only found in the biblical text, but also in the history of Egypt. All these components are in the biblical account. Pharaoh asks Joseph what he must do to survive the coming seven years of famine. Joseph relied solely on God in all that he did. This occasion arises because Pharaoh has a dream which Joseph interprets. During the seven good years Joseph imposes a 20% tax on the people, with the exception of the priesthood, in order to cope with the crisis. All the biblical components of the story are there, however the account is „Egyptianised“ in order to fit in with the Egyptian system of gods. For example, the god Khnum was responsible for seeing that the Nile produced its annual flooding, leaving mud which provided the right conditions for good harvests. Low water in the Nile and no floods were also the work of the god Khnum, in the view of the Egyptians. The inscription is thought to have been made during the second century BC by the Khnum priests, to show that they had rights to certain privileges. Part of the inscription maintains that Pharaoh gave some of the land and tax rights to their god. This is not the only account. There is a similar inscription on the island of Philae in the Nile (17), but there it is the priests of Isis who claim that Pharaoh Djoser granted the same privileges to their god. In other words, the same story occurs in different connections to justify the privileges of various groups of Egyptian priests (15, 16).” (Lennart Moller, The Exodus Case,: New Discoveries Of The Historical Exodus, 1235-1287 (Kindle Edition); Copenhagen NV, Denmark; Scandinavia Publishing House)

Despite the claims of critics of the Bible that Genesis is mythology, we see more and more evidences which demonstrate that it is indeed historically accurate. Joseph was a real person, and stands as a great example to us today of a godly man who was able to stay faithful to God even in the midst of great suffering, tragedy, and temptation.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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