Archive for the ‘Egyptian History’ Category
Landmarks in the Biblical timeline from Noah to Christ (Long Sojourn) aligned with Down’s revised Egyptian Chronology.
‘If Joseph and Imhotep were the same person’……Djoser would have died in the 4-5th year of the famine. Joseph would have been responsible for embalming and burying Djoser and constructing his Mastaba.
If Joseph and Imhotep were the same person, what we know about Joseph from the Bible can be combined with what we know about Imhotep from Egyptian historical records to build up a more complete picture of Joseph / Imhotep and his dealings with the Pharaoh in Egypt. Of course, there would have to be considerable overlap between the Biblical and the Egyptian accounts otherwise one would have to question whether or not they were the same person. Information omitted in one source can be can be recovered from the other source if indeed they were the same person. Allowance needs to be made for the reliability and accuracy of the historical documents.
The Famine Stella tells us that Joseph (if he was Imhotep) came to Djoser in the 18th year of his reign. Manetho tells us that Djoser reigned for 29 years. Djoser would, therefore, have died in the 4th or 5th year of the famine when Joseph / Imhotep was his vizier. Joseph / Imhotep would have been responsible for embalming the pharaoh and would have had to bury Djoser after his death and construct his mastaba.
If Joseph and Imhotep were the same person, Joseph would have been appointed as the vizier to Djoser (second in charge of Egypt) in the 18th year of Djoser. In his first seven years, Joseph would have concentrated on building grain silos in key Egyptian cities to store the grain.
Joseph also constructed canals which turned the desert into a fertile oasis (although legend says it was in the later part of his life and it is not clear which pharaoh he served). The ‘Canal of Joseph’, as it is known, irrigates the area known as the Faiyum which is like an oasis in the middle of Egypt quite close to Saqqara where the 3rd dynasty of Djoser was centered.
Arab historians not only attributed the canal project to Joseph but reported its circumstances. It was, historians related, when Joseph was more than 100 years old but still held a high position in the Egyptian court. The other viziers and court officials, envying Joseph, persuaded the Pharaoh that to remain venerated Joseph should not rest on his laurels. He must prove again his abilities. When the Pharaoh agreed, the viziers suggested an impossible project – to convert the desert into a fertile area. “Inspired by God,” Joseph confounded his detractors by succeeding. He dug feeder canals and created a vast artificial lake in 1000 days. 
Deep square pits cut into the bedrock can be found in several key Egyptian cities. Joseph / Imhotep imposed a 20% tax on the grain produced in Egypt. The grain was poured into the these pits (silos) for storage so it could be used in times of famine. A tunnel system allowed access to the bottom of the pits in order to retrieve the grain that had been stored the longest. Joseph / Imhotep developed a progressively more and more elaborate system of pits and tunnels to store and retrieve the grain.
The first grain silo that Joseph constructed at Saqqara was enormous. It was big enough to hold enough grain to cater for the needs of the surrounding cities and more for many years. A complex maze of tunnels allowed access to the bottom of the silo from four different directions underground but there was only one main entrance which was quite steep and ventilation would have been poor.
Newer silos constructed by Imhotep / Joseph were even more elaborate. At Saqqara, within the Step Pyramid complex, a series of eleven pits can be found in a row. These pits all drain in to a common pit which is accessible via stairs in an adjacent pit. Grain was poured into the top of these pits and drained into a common pit. The grain from all of the pits could be retrieved via tunnels that could be entered from a single pit within the Step Pyramid complex. No wonder people would worship the God of Joseph / Imhotep. Servants would disappear down some stairs in the Step Pyramid Complex and emerge with a seemingly endless supply of corn while the rest of the world was starving! Interestingly, the columns of the building at the entrance to the Step Pyramid had the shape of a giant cob of corn .
The original pit that Joseph built to store grain in became redundant and was superseded.
When Djoser died unexpectedly in the 11th year of Joseph / Imhotep’s service, it was Joseph / Imhotep who was responsible for embalming the Pharaoh and building his tomb.
What better place to bury Djoser than in the bottom of the first grain silo that he had used to save Egypt from famine.
The burial chamber of Djoser is a huge shaft that is situated under the Step Pyramid. The shaft has the same dimensions as the grain silos in other parts of the complex. It had a complex series of tunnels connecting to the bottom of the shaft at four points (North South East and West). If the tunnels were used to deter grave robbers, they would not have achieved their purpose as they all lead to the burial chamber. There was one common entrance which divided into four sections of underground tunnels that all lead to the burial chamber. The tunnels were narrow and steep and ventilation would have been poor. They were no doubt created to allow access to the bottom of the central pit under the Step Pyramid.
When Pharaoh Djoser died unexpectedly, Imhotep (Joseph) needed a place to bury the pharaoh and decided to bury him in the first grain silo that had enabled Imhotep to save the Egyptians from famine, making the Pharaoh rich and enabling him to acquire all the land of Egypt except that of the Priests.
When it was time to bury Djoser, the silo was lined (or cased) with beautifully adorned limestone blocks. Large slabs of granite were lowered into the silo to construct a sarcophagus for Djoser, into which, the coffin and mummy of Djoser was placed. A massive slab of granite was used to seal the top of the central pit. Joseph / Imhotep then constructed a mastaba on top of the burial chamber. The mastaba of Djoser was the first to be constructed out of solid limestone blocks. Prior to Djoser, mastabas were made out of mud bricks.
As subsequent members of Djoser’s family died, the limestone masaba was extended, first horizontally and then upwards with successive mastabas stacked on top of one another. The result was the Step Pyramid (The first pyramid to be built in Egypt). The largest building of it’s time. Made out of solid limestone blocks and finally faced with nicely cut limestone.
As a result of erosion, pilfering and earthquakes, the outer facing has largely fallen away over the centuries revealing the inner core of mastabas stacked on top of one another to bury Djoser himself in the central shaft beneath the pyramid, and his three wives and 11 daughters in the multiple extensions of the original mastaba above Djoser’s burial chamber.
In approximately 500BC, the limestone casing lining the central shaft under the pyramid caved in crushing the Sarcophagus of Djoser at the bottom of the shaft.
It was only in recent years that the rubble could be removed without damaging the tomb or causing it to cave in.
Unfortunately, when the sarcophagus was opened, all that remained of pharaoh Djoser’s mummy was one of his feet. Grave robbers had been there first. The tunnels that lead to the bottom of the burial chamber went right under Djoser’s sarcophagus. These tunnels, rather than deter grave robbers, lead them straight to Djoser’s sarcophagus.
If Joseph and Imhotep were the same person, Joseph would have constructed the Step Pyramid to bury Djoser and his family after the famine. The burial chamber of Djoser would have been used as a grain storage silo first and then converted to a burial chamber for Djoser on top of which the Step Pyramid was constructed in stages to bury the rest of Djoser’s family!
The tomb of Imhotep adjoining the Ibis Galleries in Saqqara. The coffin was empty and orientated to the north. The tomb dated to the 3rd dynasty. The Ibis galleries dated to the Ptolemaic period when pilgrims brought offerings to Imhotep hoping for healing.
Imhotep’s mummy has never been found
In 1964, Walter Emery found huge underground galleries containing the mummies of sacred animals that were dedicated to Imhotep, the builder of the Step Pyramid and the high priest of Heliopolis.
Emery found an inscription in the Animal Galleries indicating that that Imhotep was buried there. Emery died before Imhotep’s tomb was found.
Eventually, a third dynasty tomb was found that had a funerary chamber connected to the Ptolemaic Animal Galleries that Emery had discovered, dedicated to Imhotep.
The tomb was connected to the passages of the Ibis Gallery that were filled with thousands of mummified Ibis birds in pots dedicated to Imhotep by pilgrims in the Ptolemaic period some 2000 years after Imhotep lived.
The tomb contained pots that had the seal of Djoser on them. This was, no doubt, the tomb of an important figure in the time of Djoser. The complex was dedicated to Imhotep and so one would assume that this was the tomb of Imhotep. A sarcophagus was found that had titles that Imhotep had been given.
The sarcophagus in the tomb, however, was empty.
Imhotep’s mummy was never found.
This is no surprise for people who believe that Joseph and Imhotep were the same person as the Bible records that Joseph was embalmed and buried in a coffin in Egypt but that his bones were removed by the Israelites when they left Egypt and finally buried in the promised land when the Israelites arrived there 40 years after the Exodus.
Long after his death, Imhotep became an object of worship. He was deified by the Greeks and the Egyptians. Many temples were erected to worship him. 2000 yrs after his death, pilgrims would come to his tomb hoping to be healed. They would bring offerings of mummified animals in jars (Ibis birds, falcons, hawks, baboons etc). These were stored in underground passage ways called galleries which were within a mile of the Step Pyramid at Saqqara.
The search for Imhotep’s mummy and tomb had been revived by the discovery of the base of the statue of Djoser with the name and titles of Imhotep on it by Firth in 1926 and later the discovery of the animal galleries by Emery in 1964.
When this tomb was eventually found, people did not like what they found. There were no treasures, there were no writings and there were no inscriptions on the walls by Imhotep. Just a coffin in a mastaba that was orientated to the North indicating that Imhotep did not worship Re. What’s more, the coffin was empty. While it was clearly one of Djoser’s officials, people could not believe it was Imhotep’s tomb.
While believers (Christians and Jews) struggle with the fact that the Egyptians worshipped Imhotep who seems to be the high priest of a pagan god, the non believers (Egyptians) struggled with the fact that Imhotep’s sarcophagus and mastaba were orientated to the North indicating that he did not worship Re.
It should not surprise us that Joseph, if he was Imhotep, was a priest of Re as the Bible tells us that Joseph married the daughter of the high priest of On (Heliopolis) whose name was Potiphera (or perhaps Ptah as it is known in Egypt).
This would explain one of Imhotep’s titles; “son of Ptah”.
Archaeologists argued that Joseph could not be Imhotep because Imhotep lived a thousand years before Joseph according to the traditional chronology derived from Manetho.
Wanting to find the Imhotep they envisaged, archaeologists brushed aside this discovery and continued to search for Imhotep’s tomb.
Since 1964, the search for Imhotep’s tomb and mummy has continued but nothing his been found.
Perhaps this is the tomb of Imhotep after all.
What better place for pilgrims to come to bring their offerings to Imhotep; even if his mummy was not there.
With a better understanding of the Egyptian Chronology, it may be possible to reconcile the differences between the Biblical Chronology and the History of Egypt.
Christians can understand man’s tendency to deify God’s messenger. The Greeks and the Egyptians did not deify Imhotep until 1000 years after his death. This does not alter the facts in Imhotep’s (Joseph’s) time that he was able to save Egypt and the surrounding nations from a famine that lasted seven years and that by selling grain he was able to make the pharaoh rich and buy up all the land of Egypt except that of the priests. He was able to protect his family as they grew to be a nation in Egypt. In his spare time, he built canals, pyramids, buildings with columns, store houses and grain silos. He wrote many literary works including medical writings. He developed mummification techniques.
He was embalmed when he died and was buried in a tomb close to the Step Pyramid. When the Exodus of the Israelites took place, his mummy was removed from the tomb and carried by the Israelites to the Promised Land where he was finally put to rest. In later times, Imhotep became an object of worship and was deified by the Egyptians and the Greeks who built temples to honor him and brought mummified animals to offer to his empty tomb.
Today, most Egyptians are either Muslim or Christian and there are not many worshipers of Re.
The Pharaoh and the Egyptians recognized Joseph / Imhotep as a great ‘seer’ and Joseph was able to help save Egypt. In so doing, Joseph / Imhotep became quite an influential figure in Egypt. With his influence, he was able to ensure the safety of his family.
God used Joseph to save His chosen people, the Israelites. Joseph may have tried to steer the Egyptians towards Jehovah, but his main objective was to save his family and allow them to grow into a Nation.
It may well have been Joseph / Imhotep who introduced circumcision to Egypt.
Imhotep / Joseph’s children, Ephraim and Manasseh, were born before the famine and lived with the Israelites. Legend has it that Imhotep / Joseph’s wife, Asenath, died in child birth . Ephraim and Manesseh’s descendants became two of the largest of the twelve tribes of Israel. Imhotep / Joseph’s descendants left Egypt with the Israelites when the Exodus took place 430 years after Imhotep / Joseph first came to Egypt. At the end of his life, Joseph / Imhotep wanted his bones to be carried back to the promised land to be buried with his fore fathers. He was clearly loyal to the God of Abraham.
Both Christianity and Islam (as well as Judaism) are Abrahamic religions that believe the Old Testament is true.
Identifying the correct historical counter parts of Abraham, Joseph and Moses would not only help to affirm these religions for those who doubt, it would give added meaning and significance to ancient history which has been lost or distorted as a result of wars and natural disasters or white washing over the ages.
Genesis 41:45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.
Genesis 41:50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.
Genesis 46:20 In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.
Genesis 50:25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”
Genesis 50:26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Exodus 13:19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”
Joshua 24:32 And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants.
Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
The empty sarcophagus of Imhotep in a funerary pit connected to the Ibis Gallery. Dating to the time of Djoser, third dynasty, the tomb was orientated to the North indicating Imhotep did not worship the Egyptian Gods. (Jonathan Gray)
forward video to 29min 10 seconds to see the entrance of the Step Pyramid complex. The columns had the shape of a corn cob.
forward video to 33min 10 seconds to see the Grain storage system designed by Imhotep / Joseph.
forward video to 38min 0sec to see the Ibis Gallery
forward video to 38min 35seconds to see Imhotep’s tomb with an empty sarcophagus orientated to the north