The only lasting evidence of Joseph in Egypt that one might expect to have survived the last 4000 years are the grain silos that were cut into the ground in key Egyptian cities.
Grain silos date back to the Third dynasty and were utilized extensively in the Djoser Complex designed by Imhotep. In fact, the Step Pyramid seems to have been built on top of a shaft that could originally have been used to store grain. The complex seems to be a grain storage and distribution center. When Djoser (Netjerikhet) died, he was entombed in this protypical grain silo and a series of Mastabas were build on top resulting in the Step Pyramid.
The Famine Stele not only confirms that Djoser and Netjerikhet were the same person, it confirms that Djoser was a hereditary Land Lord and left the land to the Priests. The Famine Stele tells the story of how Imhotep came to Djoser in his 18th year and interpreted his dream. It records how Imhotep saved Egypt from a seven year famine.
These archaeological findings and historical records are strong evidence that Joseph and Imhotep were the same person.
The problem remains how to account for the discrepancy in chronological timeline if the Israelites were in Egypt 430 years and the Exodus took place in the 13th dynasty.
The Step Pyramid complex of Djoser contains a dozen shafts that appear to be grain storage bins accessible via tunnels connected to the bottom of the pits and linking to a central open stairwell. Interestingly, there is a shaft with similar dimensions right underneath the center of the Step Pyramid. The shaft obviously predates the pyramid. Access to the shaft was via a closed in stairwell linking to tunnels around it’s base. It would appear that this was a prototype grain silo. Ventilation would have been a problem and it was likely that it was abandoned as a silo once the better ventilated silos were operational. The abandoned silo was subsequently used as a burial chamber for the Pharaoh when he died in the 5th year of the famine. It was encased with ornate limestone and sealed with a granite slab after the pharaoh’s sarcophagus had been lowered into it. A mastaba was built on top of it using solid limestone blocks. Successive mastabas were added to bury the the Pharaoh’s 3 wives and 11 daughters. The result was the Stepped Pyramid.
Is it really surprising that Egypt’s most accomplished vizier would be none other than the Joseph of the Bible?
Joseph (son of Jacob) is a key figure in the Old Testament of the Bible , who became a vizier (sage / viceroy) for an Egyptian pharaoh and during this time was responsible for saving ancient Egypt from a seven year famine. Joseph was able to acquire all the land of Egypt (except that of the priests) by selling grain during the famine. In this way, Joseph made the Pharaohs very rich. Joseph was only 30yrs old when he became vizier and 44yrs old when he had saved Egypt and bought up all the land. He lived to the age of 110yrs and was given a royal Egyptian burial. The Bible is silent about what Joseph did for the last 66yrs of his life although the Bible does say that he was able to not only ensure the survival of his family, he was able to protect them as they grew into a great nation numbering over 2 million at the time of the Exodus (which occurred 430 years after Joseph’s family entered Egypt).
Given Joseph’s position and achievements, one would expect to find some evidence for his existence in Non-Biblical Egyptian records and archaeological discoveries. (See Evidence for the Israelite Sojourn in Egypt).
Imhotep is perhaps the most highly acclaimed vizier in Egyptian history, having designed the first pyramid; the Djoser Pyramid (also called the Step Pyramid). This Pyramid has a large vertical shaft under it and the complex contains many similar structures that seem to have been used to store grain, hence the connection to Joseph. Imhotep is also credited with having saved Egypt from a seven year famine (see Famine Stele). Imhotep is reputed with having designed the first buildings with columns, written many literary works, and developed preservation techniques. Hundreds of years after his death, his legend had grown so much so that he was worshiped as a deity, particularly during the Ptolemaic period. Pilgrims would bring mumified animals to his tomb in the hope of being healed.
Is it really surprising that Egypt’s most accomplished vizier would be none other than the Joseph of the Bible? If Joseph had saved all of Egypt and brought up all the land in Egypt, one would expect him to be a very prominent vizier, if not the most prominent. Imhotep built grain silos and saved Egypt from a seven year famine and his pharaoh, Netjerikhet (Djoser) was considered a hereditary Land Lord (see Famine Stele).
If Joseph and Imhotep were the same person, this would mean that chariots existed in Egypt as early as the third dynasty.
In the third dynasty, only high officials like the pharaoh and his chancellor / sage / vizier were afforded a chariot to travel in.
Chariots in the 3rd dynasty were not horse drawn, they were carried by a procession of servants.
The Hebrew word ‘merkabah’ in the Bible can be translated as ‘chariot’ or ‘riding seat’. It does not distinguish between a vehicle that is horse drawn or a vehicle that is carried.
Horse drawn chariots with wheels were used for military purposes and were not introduced until the late 12th / 13th dynasty.
Most of the chariots of the 12 & 13th dynasty were lost in the Red Sea at the time of the Exodus. Paintings depicting horse drawn chariots in the 12th dynasty would not have survived.
It is hardly surprising then that there are no findings of horse draw chariots before the Hyksos (15th dynasty) unless, of course, one accepts that the chariot wheels found in the Red Sea by Wyatt in 1978 were from the 12th and 13th dynasty.
The pyramids of Egypt remain one of the great wonders of the world.
How the Ancient Egyptians managed to cut the huge solid limestone blocks, transport them and lift them into position before the wheel was even invented remains a mystery.
The first pyramid to be built was the Stepped Pyramid of Djoser (Netjerikhet) which is part of a complex in Saqqara Egypt that appears to be a grain storage and distribution center. The Step Pyramid itself was built on top of a shaft that was originally used as a grain silo but then converted into a tomb for the Pharaoh. The Step Pyramid is really a series of Mastabas, made from solid limestone blocks, stacked up on top of one another. The Step Pyramid was used to bury Netjerikhet’s 3 wives and 11 daughters and Netjerikhet’s sarcophagus was placed on a platform in the shaft beneath the Stepped Pyramid.
The Step Pyramid was designed by Imhotep who may well be the Joseph of the Bible. Joseph and Imhotep have many similarities but have not been thought to be one in the same person because of discrepancies between the estimated dates of their existence.
The Step Pyramid became the standard for the burial of pharaohs in subsequent dynasties.
Joseph would have lived well into the fourth dynasty if he was Imhotep of the 3rd dynasty and would no doubt have served more than one pharaoh.
The great pyramids of Giza far surpass the size of the first pyramid at Saqqara and contain enormous blocks that still leave the experts puzzled as to how they could have been lifted into place with the technology of the day.
The 12th dynasty appears to have arisen out of the 11th dynasty based in Thebes which was contemporary with the 6th dynasty based in Memphis. The Middle Kingdom of Egypt, therefore, directly followed the Old Kingdom. There was no First Intermediate Period as such.
The pyramids of the 12th dynasty were made from mudbricks that contained straw as a reinforcement. Each pyramid would have contained millions upon millions of these mudbricks which were about 24 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches in size. The 12th dynasty pyramids thus had a core that was made of mud bricks but the outer veneer was made of limestone which was becoming more difficult to quarry by the 12th dynasty and therefore in short supply. Over the centuries, the outer veneer of limestone has fallen down and been pilfered exposing the inner mudbrick core.
Paradoxically, the first pyramids to have been built, those of the 3rd and 4th dynasty (Old Kingdom Pyramids), have stood the test of time better than those built in the 12th dynasty (Middle Kingdom Pyramids). This is because the Old Kingdom Pyramids were made entirely out of solid limestone blocks while the Middle Kingdom Pyramids were made largely from Mud Bricks (the core) and only had a veneer of limestone.
The pharaohs of the 12th dynasty would have required a large slave labor force to make the mudbricks for the 12th dynasty pyramids.
The Israelites had come to number around 2 million by the time of the Exodus. The seven pyramids of the 12th dynasty were built over a 200 year period. Flinders Petrie found evidence of a sudden massive exodus of slaves from the town of Kahun in the 13th dynasty. The town of Kahun was a semetic workers village where the builders of the 12th dynasty pyramids lived.
If the Israelite exodus took place in the 13th dynasty then it would seem likely that it was the Israelites who were enslaved during the 12th dynasty and given the task of making mudbricks for the pyramids. After the Exodus in the 13th dynasty, no more pyramids were built.
If the first pyramid was designed by an Israelite, Joseph-Imhotep, and the Israelites were slaves in Egypt up until the last pyramid of the 12th dynasty was built, then the Pyramid age would coincide with the Israelite Sojourn in Egypt! It therefore follows that the pyramid age spanned a 400 year period from around 1900BC to 1500BC.
Joseph directed the physicians in his service. He developed embalming techniques. Another one of his titles was Son of Ptah
Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, (Genesis 50:2)
Joseph-Imhotep produced many medical writings and was considered the father of modern medicine. The Greeks regarded him as the God of Healing.
Pilgrims in the Ptolemaic dynasty use to bring offerings to Imhotep (mummified animals) hoping to be healed, over 1000 years after his death. Thousands and thousands of mummified Ibis were found in pots in the Ibis Galleries connected to Imhotep’s tomb. The tomb contained an empty sarcophagus orientated to the North. The sarcophagus was orientated to the North indicating that Imhotep did not worship the Sun God ‘Ra’ but rather the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Yhvh. His sarcophagus was empty because Moses and the Israelites took his bones when the Israelites left Egypt at the time of the Exodus.
Joseph was a very prominent person in Egyptian History. By the 18th dynasty, Netjerikhet was known after his vizier as Pharaoh Djoser; the Pharaoh of Joseph (or Zozer in Greek).
Joseph saved Egypt from a seven year famine and brought all the land of Egypt for the Pharaoh. He would have been a very prominent person in Egyptian History.
The Bible is silent about what Joseph did in the last 66 years of his life but it does say that when he died at the age of 110 years, he was given a Royal Egyptian burial.
It is quite likely that Joseph was the Imhotep of the third dynasty, the vizier of Pharaoh Netjerikhet and the designer of the Step Pyramid complex at Saqqara (which was really a grain storage and distribution centre).
After saving Egypt from a seven year famine, he continued to serve the Pharaohs of the 3rd and 4th dynasty and was, therefore, in a position to ensure the safety of his family, the Israelites who had settled in the best part of the Land of Ra and were rapidly increasing in number.
Joseph-Imhotep was responsible for burying the pharaoh when Netjerikhet died in the 5th year of the famine. Joseph-Imhotep decided to bury Netjerikhet in the first grain silo that he built (it was fraught with ventilation issues making it difficult to use as a grain silo anyway). The grain silo was to make an excellent tomb in which to place Netjerikhet’s sarcophagus. Joseph-Imhotep just had to make a platform at the bottom of the silo and line the silo with ornate limestone and then lower the Sarcophagus into place. There was already a number of access tunnels which could be extended to become the galleries in which Netjeriket’s funerary vessels and treasures were placed. Joseph-Imhotep sealed the tomb with a granite slab and then built a mastaba out of solid limestone on top. Prior to this, mastabas were much smaller structures and made out of mud bricks with a much smaller shaft in which the pharaoh was buried. As time went by, Joseph added more mastabas, made from solid limestone, to that of Netjerikhet’s, to bury his 3 wives and 11 daughters. The mastabas were added initially on the same level but eventually were stacked on top of one another to give rise to a step pyramid structure that was finally faced with smooth limestone.
As time went by, Netjerikhet eventually became known after his vizier as Pharaoh Djoser (the Pharaoh of Joseph).
The Egyptians and the Greeks tried to deify him (Imhotep). Temples were built in Imhotep’s name and pilgrims in the Ptolemaic period would bring mummified animals to offer to his tomb in the hope of being healed; over a 1000 years after Joseph-Imhotep’s death!