Could Joseph and Imhotep have been the same person?

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The Pyramid Age began with Joseph and ended with Moses

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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.

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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.

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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.

see Evidence for the Israelite Sojourn in Egypt

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

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

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).

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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!

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.

Were the tunnels under the step Pyramid used to trick robbers or were they used to retrieve grain?

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On careful inspection of the above diagrams, it would appear that the entrance tunnel connects with 4 other tunnels that lead directly to the central chamber where the sarcophagus of Djoser was placed. These tunnels actually go right under the platform on which the sarcophagus was placed. While these tunnels do have branches with blind endings, it is unlikely that somebody would get lost in them and not find the central chamber.

These tunnels would have lead grave robbers straight to the tomb once they had been breached. This is exactly what happened. The mummy of Netjerikhet (Djoser/Zozer) was in fact stolen by grave robbers and all that remains is one of Netjerikhet’s feet.

It is much more likely that the central shaft was originally used as a grain silo and the grain flowed into these underground tunnels to some degree thereby increasing the capacity of the silo and making it safe to retrieve the grain without being buried in it.

There would have been a problem of ventilation and hence the necessity to construct another series of interconnected shafts to store grain very close to the Step Pyramid and accessible through tunnels whose entrance was at the bottom of pits within the walls of the Step Pyramid Complex.

The Step Pyramid complex was originally designed as a grain storage and distribution center. It’s entrance is through a building with tall columns shaped like corn. This building would have been where the corn was traded; a short walk to the pit where the grain was retrieved from the underground tunnels connecting to the grain silos.

When the time came to bury Djoser (Netjerikhet), Joseph / Imhotep constructed a platform at the bottom of the first silo and lined the shaft with ornate limestone. Djosers Sarcophagus was lowered into the shaft from above. The top of the shaft was then sealed with an enormous slab of granite and a mastaba was constructed on top. Successive mastabas were added to bury the other members of Djoser’s family when théy died. Eventually, the stack of mastabas took the form of a Stepped Pyramid. The Stepped Pyramid was eventually faced with smooth limestone which over the centuries has fallen down leaving the Step Pyramid in it’s current state.

The Step Pyramid complex was therefore originally intended to be a grain storage and distribution center in Saqqara. When Jospeh / Imhotep’s pharaoh died, the original shaft was used as a burial chamber for Netjerikhet (Djoser/Zozer) and a mastaba was built on top. Successive mastabas were added to form the Step Pyramid and a Morturary complex was built next to it within the walls of the Step Pyramid complex which continued to be used as a grain storage and distribution center for many centuries.

The Egyptions attributed Jospeh / Imhotep’s achievements to Ra but in fact it was Yahweh / Jehovah who was behind it all!

Grain silos were the hallmark of Joseph

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Joseph built silos to store grain in key Egyptian cities. If one was to look for some lasting legacy of Joseph in Egypt that is mentioned in the Bible, it would be grain silos. Similarly if one was to look for a lasting legacy of the Israelites in Egypt, it would have to be mudbricks, and lots of them. These are the two things that the Bible mentions that could have stood the test of time and are unique enough to positively confirm the existence of Joseph and his family in ancient Egypt. Joseph was the first to think of building grain silos in Egypt and so naturally, one would look for the oldest grain silos to be built in Egypt.

 

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Written by gospelclips

December 1, 2014 at 9:11 am

Tentative arrangement of the dynasties with diagram expanded to show the major Nomes of Egypt aligned with the Bible and History

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Expanding the diagram to include the major Nomes of Egypt.  Tentative arrangement of the Old and Middle Kingdom dynasties.

Expanding the diagram to include the major Nomes of Egypt. Tentative arrangement of the Old and Middle Kingdom dynasties.

Tentative arrangement of the dynasties with diagram expanded to show the major Nomes of Egypt – view PDF

Statues of Imhotep in the Louvre

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Are Joseph and Imhotep the same person?

Written by gospelclips

January 13, 2014 at 11:01 am

Imhotep’s mummy has never been found (because Moses took Joseph’s (Imhotep’s) bones with him when the Israelites left Egypt).

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Advance to 24min 24seconds to see the tomb of Djoser

Advance to 37min 24seconds to see the tomb of Imhotep

Who was Imhotep?

This video is a documentary about Imhotep from a secular point of view.

Imhotep was the vizier of Pharaoh Djoser (Netjerikhet) of the 3rd dynasty of Egypt.  He functioned like a Prime Minister, running the country for the King (Pharaoh Djoser).

He was responsible for building the first pyramid in Egypt which is part of a complex containing the tombs of the Pharaoh (accessed by underground tunnels), a mortuary temple, grain silos and buildings that contain columns.

Imhotep has many similarities to the Biblical figure “Joseph”.  He was a commoner.  He lived until the age of 110 years, he married the daughter of the high priest of Heliopolis (capital city On).  He interpreted the dream of the Pharaoh and saved Egypt from a seven year famine.

He was a great architect who made the first building with columns.

He wrote many literary works.  He was the first to use the papyrus.

He performed operations and developed mummification techniques.

He may have served four pharaohs.

He was eventually deified by the Egyptians and the Greeks after his death.

He was embalmed and given a Royal Egyptian burial, however, his mummy has never been found.

If Joseph and Imhotep were the same person, you would not expect to find the mummy of Imhotep in Egypt because the Israelites carried Joseph / Imhotep’s bones with them when they left Egypt at the time of the Exodus.

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 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 major objection to Joseph being Imhotep is the dates, however, new insights into the Egyptian chronology are slowly but surely resolving this issue.

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There are many theories about who Joseph was in Egyptian History.  Similarly, people theorize  about  who was the Exodus Pharaoh and who was the Pharaoh of Moses Birth and who was the pharaoh of Abraham.

As these Biblical and Historical figures are related to each other in time, sequence and position, the identification of one of these figures (a point of reference) determines where and when to look for the others.

As there are different views about the way the various Egyptian dynasties are ordered and as there are two schools of though regarding the length of the Israelite’s Sojourn in Egypt, many different permutations and combinations are possible when everybody logs in their answers for who they think just four of these iconic Biblical figures may have been in Egyptian History.

For a theory to hold, there needs to be a good character match, sufficient archaeological evidence, any discrepant dates need to be explained and the sequence and time frames needs to be right.

As a point of reference, one might ask, what lasting legacy did the Israelites leave behind (for us to find) when they were slaves in Egypt?  The Bible records that the Israelites were forced to make mud bricks that were reinforced with straw.  The Bible says that there were over 600 thousand Israelite men of fighting age by the time of the Exodus.  The Bible says that the Israelites Sojourned in Egypt for 400 years.

Even if the the Israelites only produced one mud brick per person per day for half of their sojourn, that would be 600000 people x 200 years x 365 days x 1 mud brick per day per person = 43.8 billion mud bricks.

That is a lot of mud bricks!!

Where can we find this many mud bricks in Egyptian History? 

The answer is: In the 12th dynasty  (and the 12th dynasty lasted about 200 years)!!

DSC04562 DSC04635 DSC04631 DSC04588 DSC04621 DSC04627 DSC04626

There is considerable evidence to suggest that the 12th dynasty was the period when the Israelites were oppressed.  The 12th dynasty pyramids had a mud brick core and a limestone veneer.  (The limestone veneer has fallen away over the centuries leaving the mud brick core exposed.)  There were seven such pyramids constructed over about 200 years.  The Labyrinth, another monolith of the 12th dynasty, was also made from mud bricks.

There was a massive Exodus of slaves from Egypt in the 13th dynasty, after which, no more pyramids were constructed.

The only other significant exodus from Egypt was at the end of the second intermediate period when The Hyksos were chased out of Egypt in a rebellion lead by the family of Ahmose who went on to found the 18th dynasty.  The Hyksos were rulers of Egypt and are clearly not the Israelites.

The only reasonable conclusion is that the Exodus of slaves in the 13th dynasty was in fact the Israelite  Exodus.   This is supported by good character matches for Moses, Moses’ pharaoh, Moses’ adoptive mother and the Exodus pharaoh.  The profiles of Amenemhet III, Sobekneferu Amenemhet IV and Neferhotep and the chronology and time frames make it very likely that they were The pharaoh of Moses Birth, the princess that adopted Moses, Moses himself and the Exodus pharaoh respectively.

People have suggested the 12th dynasty vizier Mentuhotep (of Sesostris I) to be Jospeh of the Bible based on a 200 yr sojourn but there is little evidence and a poor character match.

The Bible says that the Israelites were in Egypt for 400 years. They were able to enjoy the protection of Joseph for the first 70 years and some time elapsed before there was a change of dynasties to a pharaoh who neither remembered Joseph, nor was sympathetic to the Israelites.

It is unlikely that the Pharaohs of the 12th dynasty changed their tune half way thru the dynasty.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest Joseph was Imhotep of the third dynasty and this would fit with Menez being Mizraim.  Abrahams pharaoh (Abimelech) was somewhere in between Menes and Imhotep.

A statue of Imhotep in the Louvre. It is likely that he is the Joseph of the Bible who saved Egypt from a 7yr famine buy building grain silos such as these in cities around Egypt. He was able to buy up all the land of Egypt with the proceeds from selling the grain.  This had to take place early in Egypt's history.  Joseph and Imhotep have many other similarities.  For example, they both lived to the age of 110yrs, were embalmed when they died and given a royal Egyptian burrial, they imposed a 20% tax and they both married the daughter of the high pries of On.  They both saved Egypt from a 7 yr famine.  They were both visiers of non-royal blood.

A statue of Imhotep in the Louvre.
It is likely that he is the Joseph of the Bible who saved Egypt from a 7yr famine buy building grain silos such as these in cities around Egypt.
He was able to buy up all the land of Egypt with the proceeds from selling the grain. This had to take place early in Egypt’s history. Joseph and Imhotep have many other similarities. For example, they both lived to the age of 110yrs, were embalmed when they died and given a royal Egyptian burrial, they imposed a 20% tax and they both married the daughter of the high pries of On. They both saved Egypt from a 7 yr famine. They were both visiers of non-royal blood.

A grain silo in the Step Pyramid complex.  Access to the bottom of the silo is from the steps in the pit next to it.

A grain silo in the Step Pyramid complex. Access to the bottom of the silo is from the steps in the pit next to it.

The Famine Stele.  Inscription number 81.  Carved on a high point on the Island of Sehel during the Ptoleemaic period.  It mentions Djoser, Imhotep and a seven year famine.  It also makes reference to Djoser giving land to the priests of Khnum.  (The priests of Isis also make the same claim elsewhere).

The Famine Stele. Inscription number 81. Carved on a high point on the Island of Sehel during the Ptoleemaic period. It mentions Djoser, Imhotep and a seven year famine. It also makes reference to Djoser giving land to the priests of Khnum. (The priests of Isis also make the same claim elsewhere).

We know that the Egyptian chronology has been stretched out too far, that dynasties overlapped and so we cannot use dates to match Biblical figures with their historical counterparts.

If the long sojourn is right, then Joseph would have arrived in Egypt about 200 years before the 12th dynasty began.

The first intermediate period is likely to have been contemporary with other dynasties (3-6th dynasties).  As a consequence, the 12th dynasty (middle kingdom) followed directly on from the old kingdom (dynsasty 3-6).

The pharaohs of the dynasties 7-11 (erroneously referred to as the First Intermediate Period) were probably Nomarches and high officials and not pharaohs at all.  The only record we have of them is there name and how long they reigned.  They were not even buried in pyramids.

Amenemhet I who founded the 12th dynasty was the vizier of Mentuhotep IV of the 11th dynasty.  Amenemhet I assassinated Mentuhotep IV and took over the whole country.  It was he who had a different attitude to the  Israelites and made them into slaves, forcing them to make mud bricks for the 12th dynasty pyramids.

The major objection to Joseph being Imhotep is the dates, and new insights into the Egyptian chronology are slowly but surely resolving this issue.

I think it is likely Joseph was Imhotep.  Hopefully, as new evidence comes to light, we will understand Egyptian chronology better and reconcile the dates.

In any case, I have no doubt that the Bible is true and that Moses and Joseph were real people and one day we will know their Egyptian names and the names of the Pharaohs that they served with more certainty.

Nigel Hawkins