Could Joseph and Imhotep have been the same person?

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Who were the pharaohs of the Oppression?

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The Israelites numbered about 70 when they first came to live in Egypt at the invitation of the Pharaoh whose vizier was Jacob’s 11th son Jospeh-Imhotep. They were allowed to live in the best part of the land; Goshen. Here they flourished and multiplied under the protection of Joseph who was second in charge of Egypt and had saved the country from a seven year famine by storing up grain to sell before the famine started. Joseph had brought up all the land of Egypt and had made the Pharaoh very rich and powerful. Joseph lived until the age of 110 years and served several pharaohs. When he died, he was embalmed and given a royal Egyptian burial – some 80 yrs after he first entered Egypt.

The Israelites came to Egypt in the 3rd dynasty when Netjerikhet was the Pharaoh. Pharaoh Netjerikhet came to be know as Pharaoh Djoser as time went by (the pharaoh of Joseph). The Israelites flourished and multiplied during the 3rd & 4th dynasties while Joseph was alive and continued to multiply during the 5th & 6th dynasties after his death. The 6th dynasty, which was based in Memphis in Lower Egypt, was contemporary with the 9th and 10th dynasties based in Herakleopolis and the 11th dynasty based in Thebes.

About 100 years after Joseph’s death, a pharaoh who did not know Joseph came to power. Amenemhet I was the vizier of Mentuhotep IV of the 11th dynasty based in Thebes (Upper Egypt). He assassinated Mentuhotep IV of the 11th dynasty and took over both Upper and Lower Egypt to start what is known as the 12th dynasty (or Egypt’s Middle Kingdom). The pharaohs of the middle kingdom did not like the Israelites and felt threatened by them. Fearing that they would join their enemies, they forced the Israelites into slavery.

The 12th dynasty pharaohs constructed their pyramids from mud brick with only a veneer of limestone. The 12th dynasty pharaohs needed a large slave labor force to make the mud bricks required for their pyramids. This became the task of the Israelites who by the time of the Exodus had come to number over two million. The 12th dynasty lasted some 200 years and during this time, 7 pyramids were constructed as well as the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth was considered one of wonders of the ancient world by Heroditis.

Moses was born during the co-reign of Senusret III and Amenemhet III about 4yrs into Amenemhet III’s reign. Amenemhet III built two pyramids and the Labyrinth. He was very cruel to the Israelites and it was probably he who ordered the midwives to kill the Hebrew baby boys. His daughter Sobeknefru was childless and there was no male heir to the throne. Sobeknefru adopted a Hebrew baby Moses that she found in a basket amongst the reeds of the Nile and she brought him up as her own in her household. He was known as Amenemhet IV.

When Amenemhet IV was old enough, 30yrs, he began a co-regency with Amenemhet III. This lasted 9 yrs and then Amenemhet IV suddenly disappeared. This left no male heir to the throne. Consequently, Sobeknefru had to assume the throne but she only lived for 8yrs and then she died. When she died, the 12th dynasty ended and Egypt became unstable. There was a rapid succession of pharaohs in the 13th dynasty. The longest ruling was Neferhotep I who reigned for 11 years. It was Neferhotep I who was the pharaoh when Moses-Amenemhet IV returned from exile. Neferhotep I was the Exodus Pharaoh who chased the Israelites and whose army and chariots were drowned in the Red Sea.

Egypt was crippled by the Exodus of the Israelites and became vulnerable to invasion. Not long after the Exodus, the Hyksos, shepherd kings from Arabia, invaded Egypt and built a fort at Avaris. From there, they occupied and controlled Lower Egypt for the next 400years.

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

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

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If Joseph was Imhotep of the 3rd dynasty and Moses was Amenemhet IV of the 12th dynsasty, where do David and Solomon fit in?

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A schematic diagram illustrating the relationship the Egyptian Kingdoms and dynasties and the various phases of Israel as the Israelites grew to be a nation while they were in Egypt and then traveled to the promised land where they were ruled initially by Judges and later by Kings. The nation of Israel became divided into North (Israel) and South (Judah) after Solomon.

A schematic diagram illustrating the relationship between the Egyptian Kingdoms and dynasties and the various phases of Israel as the Israelites grew to be a nation while they were in Egypt and then traveled to the promised land where they were ruled initially by Judges and later by Kings. The nation of Israel became divided into North (Israel) and South (Judah) after Solomon. There was no first intermediate period.

The Bible says that Joseph was a sage or vicroy for the Pharaoh and Imhotep fits the bill perfectly.   Moses was an Israelite baby who was adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as her own.  Maybe he would have been a pharaoh if he did not have to go into exile in Midian for 40 yrs at the age of 40.  The Israelites had to make mud bricks and work the fields for pharaoh.  There were 2 million Israelites and they were slaves in Egypt for at least half of the time that they were there. Even if they only made one mudbrick per person per day, that’s a lot of mudbricks.  The 12th dynasty pyramids had a core that was made of mudbricks.  Amenemhet III was the last pharaoh of the 12th dynasty to build a pyramid.  In fact, he built two pyramids that had mudbrick cores and he also built the labyrinth.  He reigned for 46 yrs and had a daughter called Sobekneferu who had no children of her own.  Another figure called Amenemhet IV who had no genealogical records, co-reigned with Amenemhet III for 9 yrs and then suddenly disappeared.  Moses may well have been Amenemhet IV.  This would make sense and agree with Bible as Moses was raised by pharaoh and was being groomed to be the next pharaoh. This was around the time that Moses had to flead to Midian.  Sobekneferu took over after Amenemhet III died but only reigned 4-8 years and then she died and the 12th dynasty ended.  There was a rapid succession of pharaohs in the 13th dynasty and second intermediate period. Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt 430 years after they first came to Egypt at the age of 80 during the reign of Neferhotep I. The Israelites were in the wilderness for 40 yrs. Then they were lead into to promised land by Joshua.  The period of the Judges lasted around 400 yrs.  Then Saul became the first king of Israel who was succeeded by David who was succeeded by Solomon.  The dates for Solomon building the temple are fairly established and accepted even by worldly archaeolgists as around 960BC.  The bible says that the exodus took place 480 years before this.
Saul and David were Kings of Israel.  It does not make sense to try and equate them with an Egyptian pharaoh.  It would be good to know which pharaoh in Egypt was ruling when David and Solomon were ruling in Israel.
From what I can see, it appears that Apopi II, the last pharaoh of the second intermediate period – a Hyksos was driven out of Egypt by a rebellion lead by Kahmose, the son of Sequenre and the brother of Ahmose I.  When Apopi II and the Hyksos left Egypt heading north, they encountered the Israelites who were lead by Saul at the time.  Samuel instructed Saul to put them all to death.  Saul all but wiped out the Hyksos as instructed  but disobeyed Samuel by sparing Agag (Apopi II).  Samuel put him to death himself.  Ahmose I became the first pharaoh of the New kingdom of Egypt while Saul continued to reign in Israel.  Saul in Israel was then succeeded by David and then Solomon and Ahmose I in Egypt was succeeded by Amenhotep I, then Thutmoses I followed by Thutmose II and then Hatshepsut (the Queen of Sheeba who visited Solomon).  Thutmoses III succeeded Hatshepsut and became the most powerful pharaoh of Egypt plundering Israel during the period of the divided kingdom of Israel. He was the Shishak of the Bible.  David was 1000BC and Saul about 1040BC.  If the Egyptian dates do not match it is because they are wrong.  The Egyptian dates need to be revised – I could go on and on as to why they are wrong but just accept this for now.

United_Israel_synchronisms

How long was the Israelite Sojourn in Egypt?

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It was foretold to Abraham in a dream that his descendants would serve as slaves in a foreign land for 400 yrs (or 4 generations of priests).  Genesis 15:12-16

Yet the Bible also tells us that the Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years to the very day. Exodus 12:40-41

The Israelite Oppression ended when the 12th dynasty ended, about 10 years after Moses / Amenemhet IV went into exile at the age of 40 years.  This was 400 years after Jacob and his family came to Egypt.  The Exodus did not take place until 30 years into the 13th dynasty when Moses / Amenemhet IV returned to confront Neferhotep I at the age of 80 years.

The Israelite oppression lasted 400 years – it ended when the 12th dynasty ended.  No more pyramids were built after the 12th dynasty.  The 13th dynasty was very chaotic and the Pharaohs did not focus on oppressing the Israelites because their thrones were not stable enough and maybe their attitude towards the Israelites was slightly more sympathetic than that of the 12th dynasty pharaohs.  The Exodus occurred 30 years into the 13th dynasty during the reign of Neferhotep I who was the longest ruling pharaoh of that dynasty (11 years).

Amenemhet III would have reigned between 2-6 years after Moses fled to Midian and Sobekneferu would have reigned between 4-8 years after her father Amenemhet III and then she died.  When she died, the 12th dynasty ended as there was no heir to the throne.  The result was that Egypt fell into Chaos.  There was a rapid succession of Pharaohs in the 13th dynasty and as a result, the Israelites were not oppressed during this time.  They were able to keep multiplying and prepare to leave Egypt.

The Exodus occurred exactly 40 years after Moses fled to Midian and about 30 years after the 12th dynasty ended with the death of Sobeknefru.

The relationship between the Kingdoms of Egypt and the Phases of Israel

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The relationship between the Israelite sojourn (430yrs) and the dynasties of Egypt.

The relationship between the Israelite sojourn (430yrs) and the dynasties of Egypt.

A schematic diagram illustrating the relationship between the Egyptian Kingdoms and dynasties and the various phases of Israel as the Israelites grew to be a nation while they were in Egypt and then traveled to the promised land where they were ruled initially by Judges and later by Kings. The nation of Israel became divided into North (Israel) and South (Judah) after Solomon.  There was no first intermediate period.

A schematic diagram illustrating the relationship between the Egyptian Kingdoms and dynasties and the various phases of Israel as the Israelites grew to be a nation while they were in Egypt and then traveled to the promised land where they were ruled initially by Judges and later by Kings. The nation of Israel became divided into North (Israel) and South (Judah) after Solomon. There was no first intermediate period.

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

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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).

The identity Joseph in Egyptian history is debated, but some scholars identify him with Imhotep, who was the vizier during the Third Dynasty under Pharaoh Djoser ( also called Netjerikhet / Zoser).

Given Joseph’s position and achievements, one would expect to find some evidence for his existence in Non-Biblical Egyptian records and archaeological discoveries.

Joseph built silos to store grain in key Egyptian cities. Massive underground silos can be found in many cities of Egypt dating back to the third dynasty. [1] [2] [3] It is not unreasonable to suggest that these may have been built by Joseph. In particular, Joseph may have built the silos associated with the first pyramid built in Egypt (The Step Pyramid which is part of the Djoser Pyramid complex at Saqqara, designed by Imhotep). [4] [5] [6] [7]

The Djoser Pyramid at Saqqara, Egypt. (otherwise known as the ‘Step Pyramid’ or The ‘First Pyramid’ )

Large pits can be found within the Step Pyramid complex at Saqqara. The bottom of the pit can be accessed from an adjacent pit that has stairs. It would have been ideal for storing grain and, most likely, it was used for this purpose. It could have been made by the Hebrew vizier Joseph who had many similarities to the vizier Imhotep who designed the Step Pyramid complex. This has caused many historians to propose that Joseph and Imhotep were the same person.

One of three statues of Imhotep in the Louvre. Imhotep and Joseph may be the same person.

There are many similarities between the profile of Joseph and Imhotep. [8] [9] [10] [5] Imhotep is also credited with saving Egypt from a seven year famine after hearing of the Pharaoh’s dream. Imhotep, like Joseph, was a commoner with some divine connection and was placed second in charge of Egypt by the King (Netjerikhet). [8] Joseph bought up all the land for Pharaoh by selling the grain he stored during the seven years that preceded the famine [11]; a feat that could only have been performed once, early in Egypt’s history, and explains how the Pharaohs became so powerful and able to build the pyramids. Given that Joseph was one of the Patriarchs of Israel, and figures very early in the Biblical record, less than 1000 years after the flood of Noah, it is quite possible that he may have figured in the early parts of Egyptian history, namely the Third Dynasty as the vizier for Pharaoh Djoser. [9][12][13]

Until recently, the most compelling argument against Joseph and Imhotep being the same person, has been the discrepancy between the estimated times during which they lived. [4][14]

Egypt was not always united and sometimes there were different rulers in upper and lower Egypt. Sometimes, a conquering Pharaoh would let regional rulers (Nomarchs) stay on as governors when a new dynasty began (eg 12th dynasty). The division of the kingdom into up to 42 ‘nomes’ (regions or provinces) can be dated back to the Old Kingdom and it continued until the Roman period.

Clearly, there are many problems with the “traditional Egyptian chonology” that assumed the Egyptian dynasties were sequential and did not allow for co-regency and dynasties running in parallel. Evidence is now accumulating to suggest that Egyptian dynasties may overlap and may not date back as far as was once thought. [15][16][17][18]

Egyptian records are not chronological and dates have been calculated from very sketchy notes of third parties who saw the original documents (eg Manetho‘s records in the Alexandrian Library before they were destroyed in a fire). [12] Other documents such as the Turin King list are very fragmented and incomplete. In many cases, all that is known about some pharaohs are their names and how long they reigned. The pharaohs of dynasties 7-11 (the first intermediate period) were not buried in pyramids as were the pharaohs of the Old Kingdom (dynasty’s 3-6) and the Middle Kingdom (dynasty 12). Some pharaohs in this first intermediate period may turn out to be ‘Nomarchs‘ or ‘other high ranking officials’ and not ‘pharaohs’ at all! The result of this is that Egyptian history is probably a lot shorter than previously thought and the pyramids were probably constructed much later than many historians have previously estimated. [19]

If David Down is on the right track with his “modern alignment” of the Egyptian dynasties and allowing for a long sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt of 430 years (Exodus 12:40), it is quite likely that Joseph and Imhotep were the same person, particularly if some pharaohs in dynasties 7-11 (the first intermediate period) turn out to be ‘high ranking officials’ or ‘Nomarchs‘. [20][21][22][23][18]

The Israelites had a profound influence on Egyptian culture

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Djoser Pyramid Complex at Saqqara, Egypt. Note the large man made holes in the ground near the Step Pyramid that were used to store grain. They were most likely made by Joseph, the designer of the Step Pyramid, also known as Imhotep.

If it is true that Joseph and Imhotep were the same person, then the first pyramid (the Step Pyramid in Saqqara) was designed by an Israelite at the beginning of Israel’s Sojourn in Egypt. What’s more, if the last of the great pyramids (those of the 12th dynasty) were constructed with a core made from mudbricks which were made by Israelite slave labour, then the Israelites were in Egypt while all of the great pyramids were being constructed. After the Israelites departed from Egypt in the 13th dynasty, lead by Moses, there were not enough slaves left in Egypt to construct pyramids any more. If this is correct, the pyramid age would coincide with Israel’s sojourn in Egypt and all of the Great Pyramids would, therefore, have been constructed over a period of around 430 years.

The Black Pyramid of Amenemhet III. The inner core made of mud bricks is exposed. Josephus records that the Israelite slaves were given the task of building the Pyramids. The Pyramids of the 12th dynasty had an inner core that was made of mud bricks.

Egypt’s wealth and power reached it’s peak in the 12th dynasty under Sesostris III and his son Amenemhet III but as they had no successors, the Middle Kingdom started to fall apart when they died. Moses, an Israelite baby, was adopted by the Princess Sobekneferu and groomed to be the next Pharaoh (Amenemhet IV). Amenemhet IV did in fact co-reign with Amenemhet III for a period of 9 yrs but when he had to flee to Midian at the age of 40 years, there was suddenly no successor for Amenemhet III. His daughter Sobekneferu had to take over the reigns when Amenemhet III died. She only lived for another 4 yrs and when she died, the 12th dynasty ended and Egypt fell into turmoil and became politically unstable. There was a quick succession of Pharaohs in the 13th dynasty until Neferhotep who was the Pharaoh who was ruling when Moses (Amenemhet IV) returned from exile in Midian. After a series of ten plagues that were inflicted on Egypt, Neferhotep let Moses take the Israelities into the desert. When they did not return, he pursued them with his army. The Israelites were able to cross the red sea at the Gulf of Aqaba but Neferhotep and his army drowned when they tried to follow.

Moses and the Israelites Crossed the Red Sea at Nuweiba in the Gulf of Aqaba in 1446BC.

Not only did Egypt lose its slave labour force, it lost it’s monarch, it’s entire army and it’s transportation system. It was a massive defeat and not something that Egyptian historians would want to memorialize.

When the Israelites left Egypt, Pharaoh and his son died and all the Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea taking all of Egypts chariots with them. Egypt was then thrown into turmoil. Thy Hyksos were able to take control of lower Egypt and the second intermediate period began. (The Hyksos were foreigners to Egypt who reigned for 400 yrs until they were finally defeated and then the 18th dynasty began).

The Israelites, therefore, had a profound influence on Egypt. Joseph saved Egypt from 7 yr famine, brought up all the land of Egypt and made the Pharaohs wealthy. Joseph designed the first pyramid (in the third dynasty), was the first to build with columns, write on papyrus and practice medicine and preservation methods. Later in their sojourn, the Israelites provided slave labour for various public works which included making mudbricks for the construction of the last of the great pyramids (those of the 12th dynasty).The Israelite Sojourn, therefore, coincides the Pyramid Age. Egypt was destabilised when Moses (Amenemhet IV) went into exile as there was nobody to continue the 12th dynasty. Egypt suffered massive losses as a result of the Exodus 40yrs later (1446BC) and as a result became vulnerable to invasion – (the end of the 13th dynasty). The Hyksos took over and ruled Lower Egypt for the next 400 yrs (the second intermediate period).