What Archaeology Suggests About Joseph in Egypt (Week 12, Part 5/7) Genesis 42–50 | Mar 14 – Mar 20 – powered by Happy Scribe
Today for Genesis chapter 46 and 47, I’d like to give some historical and cultural insights that might help make these chapters a bit more understandable. So the story continues where Joseph has actually now been reunited with his family. Jacob is bringing the whole family only into Egypt. And we’ll get in Genesis chapter 47, what happens when the famine hits in Egypt? And because of the for planning and preparation that Joseph had had everyone in Egypt do it, Enos up saving everybody and actually empowering the Pharaoh.
Now, there’s a couple of interesting things here. Now, we don’t have exact dates of when all these stories happened. The Bible was not written by people who had our modern conception of chronology and science and specific database accuracy. They often wrote stories for different purposes. And so we have to be a little forgiving of the ancient authors that if they don’t always write with a specific accuracy that we’re looking for, that we need to actually learn to listen to the stories from the perspective they were sharing and to recognize that our expectations for, say, like, chronological accuracy or we want specific dates that maybe those ancient authors didn’t care as much about those details that maybe we care about.
So having laid all that out, what we’ve learned from Archeology is that right around 18, 1716, 500 BC, there were a bunch of Semites from the area of Israel who actually came into Egypt and actually took over power from the native Egyptians and actually ran a couple of dynasties for a couple hundred years. They’re called the Hiksos. They’re a Semitic group, and they seem to have actually been quite friendly with other Semitic Peoples living in the Middle East. But the Egyptians themselves were now being ruled by a foreign power called the Hicksils, the Semites. And what’s really fascinating to readers of the Bible is that Joseph and his family and Jacob and all his family are Semites.
And so when they’re coming into Egypt, it may be during this time when other Semites, perhaps some relatives of theirs, or at least people who are ethnically and linguistically related to them, are now ruling Egypt. And so when Joseph comes into power second in command, it seems that he’s actually coming into power with somebody who is from his own ethnic background back in the Middle East and not Egyptian. And this might play into the story of Exodus, where a new Pharaoh rises to power. We actually know that the Hicksil see Semites later got overthrown by the native Egyptians, and they launched their own dynasties again of Pharaonic kingship. And then we get the story in the Bible where they started persecuting and oppressing the Israelites and other Semites.
What’s interesting is that this might have started or at least the Egyptians might have been a little bothered with the sunlights who are in power, even though what we have in the story here is that Joseph actually saved the Egyptians if you look carefully, it turns out that the people in Egypt, as they were starving, ended up having to sell all their land to the Pharaoh in order to get food. And by the end of the story, everybody in Egypt had given up their land except the priests. And now the Pharaoh owned all of the land. What we have is this interesting thing where Joseph was able to empower the existing Pharaoh somebody he may have been related to, to be able to both save all the Egyptians, but also at the same time, get access to all the land. And after that, they set up a law that people could use all the grain to plant seed that Joseph had stored up.
But they’d have to pay 20% of whatever they had grown back in taxes. And so this is a way to enrich the Egyptian elite or the people who are ruling in Egypt. These stories, I believe, are actually preserved in the Bible to help us to see that when people listen to God like Joe of did and are humble and work hard, they can be the means of Salvation for many.