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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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.

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).

Placing Joseph in the 3rd dynasty and Moses in the 12th dynasties not only fits very well with the archaeological evidence, it fits very well with the Biblical account and shows how Majestic God is.

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Many scholars now realize that Moses was born during the 12th dynasty when Amenemhet III was pharaoh and the Exodus occurred around 1445bc during the 13th dynasty when Neferhotep was Pharaoh.

There is much archaeological evidence to support this revelation, however, it means that the traditional dates of the 12th and 13th dynasties need to be revised.

http://www.diggingsonline.com/pages/rese/dyns/yusef.htm

When it comes to locating Joseph in the history of Egypt, there are two schools of thought.

The Bible says that the Israelites sojourned in Egypt for 430 years.  Exodus 12:40 says “the length of time that the Israelites live in Egypt was 430 years.”

The New Testament also refers to this 430 years.  Galations 3:17 says ” The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. ”

Because of this many scholars believe that the 430yrs commenced with the promise being given to Abraham 215yrs before Jacob and his family moved to Egypt.

The result of this is that some scholars believe that Joseph came only 215 years before Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

http://www.ancientexodus.com/topics/index/new-york-times-book-review/

http://www.specialtyinterests.net/exodus.html

Other scholars believe that the Joseph was 430 years before the Exodus.

Joseph went to Egypt some 9-10 yrs before Jacob did.

When Jacob and his family went to Egypt, the Israelites numbered about 70.   When they left Egypt they numbered around 2 million.  They needed time time multipy to this number.  Not withstanding this, it is obviously very important to know whether the Isralites were in Egypt for 430 years or 215 years so that we know in which dynasty to look for Joseph.

It is also important to know how the Egyptian dynasties are ordered.

People who believe in a 215 yr sojourn in Egypt look for Joseph earlier in the 12th dynasty and have nominated Mentuhotep as a possibility.

People who believe in a 430yr sojourn in Egypt look for Joseph in an earlier dynasty and given the similarities between Joseph and Imhotep, have tended to place Joseph in the 3rd dynasty.

Placing Joseph in the 3rd dynasty would require an even greater revision of Egyptian history and a complete revision of the Chronology to allow for parallel dynasties running concurrently in the North and the South and also for the common practice of coregency.

This would bring Egyptian history into complete agreement with the Bible.

One of the problems of placing Joseph in the 12th dynasty means that the flood of Noah would most likely have occurred during during one of the earlier dynasties (2450bc) and this is not only out of keeping with the Bible but there is no archaeological evidence of a worldwide flood during any Egyptian dynasty.

The Bible records that Noah had a grandson named Mizraim who seems to be one of the Patriarchs of Egypt.   The flood would, therefore, have preceded even the predynastic periods of Egyptian History.

Even Manetho, whom most archaeologist regard as the most authoritative source of information on the chronology of Egyptian history, believed that Mizraim and Menes (the first Pharaoh) were the same person.

Placing Joseph in the 3rd dynasty and Moses in the 12th dynasties not only fits very well with the archaeological evidence, it fits very well with the Biblical account.  What we know about these people from the Historical records can then be used to fill in the gaps in the Biblical record revealing how miraculous, amazing and glorious the Hand of God has been in dealing with mankind.

Dr Nigel Hawkins