Could Joseph and Imhotep have been the same person?

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‘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.

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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 Allowance needs to be made for the reliability and accuracy of the historical documents.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.

Location of Saqqara in Egypt

Location of Saqqara in Egypt

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. [1]

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 [2].

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.

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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!

Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s Dream

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Written by gospelclips

January 24, 2014 at 2:23 pm

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.

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The tomb of Imhotep with an empty coffin orientated towards the North.  The burial chamber is a pit that is part of a mustaba type tomb.  Found within the tomb were jars bearing Djoser's imprint.  On the coffin were titles of Imhotep.  The pit connects to the Ibis Galleries which contains thousands of mummified Ibis birds in pots dating to the Ptolemaic period found by Emmery in 1964.

The tomb of Imhotep with an empty coffin orientated towards the North. The burial chamber is a pit that is part of a mastaba type tomb. Found within the tomb were jars bearing Djoser’s imprint. On the coffin were titles of Imhotep. The pit connects to the Ibis Galleries which contain thousands of mummified Ibis birds in pots dedicated to Imhotep about 1000 years after his death – dating to the Ptolemaic period – found by Emery in 1964.

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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.

The relationship between the dynasties of Egypt and the Phases of Israel.

The relationship between the dynasties of Egypt and the Phases of Israel.

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 [1].  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.


Tombs of Sacred Animals in Saqqara

The Search for Imhotep’s tomb

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)

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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


The tomb of Imhotep was connected to the Ibis Gallery. The tomb contained a coffin / Sarcophagus that was empty. It was empty because the Israelites took Joseph / Imhotep’s bones with them when they left Egypt at the time of the Exodus. This was Joseph’s (Imhotep’s) wishes before he died.

It was a mastaba type tomb with a burial pit that connected to the animal gallery containing thousands of mummified Ibis birds, falcons and baboons; even bulls.

The Mastaba was orientated to the North indicating that Imhotep did not worship Re.

The sarcophagus had many titles on it that could have applied to Imhotep or Joseph.  Pots with the imprint of Zozer were also found in the tomb.

Over a thousand years after his death, Imhotep was deified by the Greeks and the Egyptians.

The pit containing Imhotep’s empty sarcophagus was connected to the Ibis Gallery containing thousands of jars with mummified Ibis birds that were dedicated to Imhotep by pilgrims who visited his tomb in the Ptolemaic period; over a thousand years after his death.  People came to the tomb hoping to be healed.

David Down’s revised Egyptian Chronology fits with Moses in the 12th dynasty. With a long sojourn and no first intermediate period, his chronology also fits with Joseph being Imhotep.

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Wyatt was right about Imhotep being Joseph and did find the site of the Red Sea crossing and the real Mt Sinai in Arabia but wrongly concluded that Moses was in the 18th dynasty.

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Wyatt believed Joseph was Imhotep but placed Moses in the 18th dynasty because the chariot wheels he found at the bottom of the Red Sea were thought to date from the 18th dynasty.

There is no evidence for a massive exodus of slaves in the 18th dynasty.  It would be very hard to explain how Joseph was third dynasty and Moses 18th dynasty particularly if there was a short sojourn.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the Israelites were enslaved during the 12th dynasty. Moses was born during the co-regency of Sesostris III and Amenemhet III in 1526BC. Moses fled from Amenemhet III at the age of 40 after showing his loyalty to the Hebrews. Moses remained in Exile in Midian for 40 yrs. When he was 80 years old, Moses returned to confront a different pharaoh (Neferhotep I of the 13th dynasty). He lead the Israelites out of Egypt in the 13th dynasty in 1446BC. Pilars were left by Solomon to mark the site of the Red Sea crossing which occurred 480 years before Solomon began building the temple.  With a revised chronology and a long sojourn, it is quite possible that Joseph may have existed in the third dynasty and Moses lived towards the end of the 12th and 13th dynasty.

Wyatt found these pillars in 1978 and went on to find chariot wheels in the Red Sea at this point. Unfortunately, experts insisted that the chariot wheels could not have been from the 12th dynasty and sent Wyatt on a wild goose chase looking for evidence of the Israelites in the 18th dynasty. There is, however, no evidence for the Israelite slaves and a mass exodus in the 18th dynasty.

The Hyksos exodus at the end of the second intermediate period was not the Israelite Exodus either. The Hyksos were rulers of Egypt. The Hyksos were foreigners to Egypt who were able invade and rule over Lower Egypt after Egypt had been devastated by the Israelite Exodus in the 13th dynasty when Neferhotep was the Pharaoh. The Hyksos ruled Egypt for some 400yrs (Egypt’s second intermediate period). Eventually, the family of Ahmoses based in Thebes (Upper Egypt in the 17th dynasty) contemporary with the Hyksos 15-16th dynasties in Lower Egypt, lead a rebellion against the Hyksos and successfully chased the Hyksos out of Egypt. The Hyksos (Amelekites) headed towards Israel where they had encounters with King Saul and David. The prophet Samuel instructed Saul to wipe them out but Saul spared their king Agag (Apopi II) and brought him to Samuel. Samuel put Agag to death. David had a few encounters with the Hyksos (Amalekites) too. The Amelekites plundered David’s camp and abducted his wives and children. David managed to catch up with them and wipe them out and get his family back. Ironically, it was an Amelakite who slew King Saul after he had been fatally wounded.

In summary, Wyatt seems to have been right about Imhotep being Joseph and did discover the route of the Exodus, the site of the Red Sea crossing and the true or biblical Mt Sinai in Arabia. Unfortunately, the Chariot wheels that he found at the bottom of the Red Sea were erroneously dated to the 18th dynasty which lead him on a wild goose chase looking for Moses in the 18th dynasty. He, nevertheless, made some critical discoveries which have helped to reconstruct history and reconcile it with the Bible.

Flinders Petrie discovered the famine stella in 1887 on the Island of Sehel. The Famine Stella tells the story of Imhotep saving Egypt from a seven year famine and buying up the Land for his Pharaoh – Djoser (Netjerikhet).

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Advance video to 2 minutes 35 seconds to see the discovery of the Famine Stella on the Island of Sehel

Flinders Petrie, who conducted numerous excavations in Egypt over a 40 yr period, also discovered the Merneptah stella in Thebes in 1896 and the Middle kingdom workers village of Kahun.  He found evidence of a sudden mass exodus of slaves from Kahun  in the 13th dynasty. From the well documented collection of scarabs that he found in Kahun, he was able to show that the village was occupied from the time of Sesostris II of the 12th dynasty up until Neferhotep I of the 13th dynasty.  [1] [2]

Petrie also developed a system of dating based upon pottery and ceramics found in the layers! [3]

[1]  Scarabs and Cylinders with Names by Flinders Petrie

[2] Flinders Petrie – A life in archaelogy 

[3] Flinders Petrie