Apologetics, Archaeology, Bible, z5
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Another confirmation of Exodus: Has a statue of Joseph been found?

Egyptian ruins Photo: Dorena wm/foter/CC BY-ND

Egyptian ruins Photo: Dorena wm/foter/CC BY-ND

If you ever watch any movies about the Exodus, they usually portray Ramses as the Pharaoh. One thing secularists have complained about is the lack of extra-Biblical evidence of the Exodus in archaeological excavations in Egypt. The Biblical portrayal of the ten plagues as being catastrophic and national would certainly call for a mention somewhere, they suggest.

Well there are such mentions but the problem is we are not looking at the right Pharaoh. The Ipuwer Papyrus, on display in a Dutch museum, lists six of the plagues including water turning to blood and a great darkness. But it dates to a period connected to the Hyksos who ruled Egypt many centuries before Ramses.

A second, the Ahmose Tempest Stela, goes into detail on a great darkness that covered Egypt — again dated to the Hyksos period. There is now a third confirmation — possibly a statue of Joseph — also from the time of the Hyksos, but at the beginning of their reign.

Who in the world are the Hyksos?

Around 2000 BC, a Semitic group named the Hyksos invaded Egypt. They conquered the Northern half of Egypt driving the Egyptian leadership south. Any Egyptians remaining in the North were under Hyksos occupation.

It was during the Hyksos reign that Joseph rose to power. Being Semitic, like the Hyksos, Joseph had a similar language and culture that easily fit in with the Hyksos rulers. In fact, there are a number of references in the Book of Genesis that show Joseph’s arrival in Egypt coincided with the Hyksos occupation.

In Exodus 1:8-10, we are told a new king arrived in Egypt who did not know Joseph. This is Ahmose, an Egyptian pharaoh, who finally drove the Hyksos out of northern Egypt. Worried the Israelites would join with the Hyksos if they tried to retake Egypt, the Pharaoh began to subjugate the Jews.

Because of the time involved, he and his son were the pharaohs referred to in Exodus. This is the time frame referenced in the “Ipuwer Papyrus” and “Ahmose Stela.”

Joseph’s statue — a third confirmation

In his article, The Statue of an Asiatic Man from Tell El-Dabca, Egypt, Robert Schiestl says while excavating tombs in the ancient Egyptian city of Avaris, archaeologists with the Austrian Archaeological Institute discovered the remains of a large statue. Over a two-year period, 1986 to 1988, they uncovered its broken pieces and were able to put much of it back together.

The cemetery, where this tomb was found, dates back to the 13th Dynasty Egyptian period and early stages of the Hyksos rule in Egypt. It is a “palace cemetery” reserved for royal and high-ranking families.

The tomb where the statue was found has a mixture of both Egyptian and Asiatic/Semitic themes indicating it was from the Hyksos period.

After piecing together the statue they discovered it was 2 meters tall — one and half times life-size. This “larger than life” statue indicated a person of importance, but oddly it was not the representation of a pharaoh.

Schiestl writes:

Larger than life-size statuary of non-royal Egyptians in the Middle Kingdom is very unusual, but rare examples do exist throughout the 12th Dynasty, both from tombs and from temples. They seem to be limited, however, to families of highest ranks.

The person’s importance is further substantiated by what appears to be a crook in his hand. The crook and flail were symbols of the Pharaoh’s authority in Egypt. The crook looks like a miniature shepherd’s staff. To have a non-royal family member with a crook would not only be unusual, but would symbolize a man of Pharaoh-like authority in Egypt.

According to Schiestl, there is no doubt the person is Asiatic/Semitic. An Egyptian symbol found on the base of the statue — on which the person sits — is the start of the Egyptian word for Asiatic. The coloring of the skin and hair was the way Egyptians traditionally depicted Asiatics. He also has an unusual hair style that looks like a saucer sitting on his head, with hair protruding out from the side, again a common depiction of Asiatics.

What is also stunning is his clothing. It would have been striking. The collar area that fell on the chest is made up of horizontal stripes of black, white, red and black. The robe has vertical stripes of black and red — four red, two black.

Is this Joseph?

Joseph and the Hyksos

In my article, The Mystery of the Egyptian Guard, I outline several passages in Genesis that show Joseph’s arrival in Egypt coincided with the start of the Hyksos rule in Egypt. This tomb is dated to the early years of the Hyksos.

Joseph’s rise to power

Secondly, the Bible speaks of Joseph’s unusual rise in power. Though Joseph was Semitic like the Hyksos it was only the Hand of God that enabled a slave and non-royal family member to rise to such a prominent role.

Speaking to his brothers, Joseph describes the various power positions he held in Egypt:

Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 45:8 NASV)

These are Hebrew terms describing Egyptian titles. The phrase “Lord of all his household” is the Egyptian equivalent of “Chief Steward of the Kings.” He was responsible for all the Pharaoh’s personal holdings — agricultural fields, palace and property.

The term “Father of the Pharaoh” undoubtedly refers to the Egyptian title “Father of god” which referred to the Pharaohs who were considered gods. Apparently Joseph wasn’t convinced they were. The phrase referred to people who had a unique impact in the Pharaoh’s life, including tutors. It was also awarded to people who had faithfully served the pharaoh for a several years and/or performed remarkable deeds on his behalf. Joseph’s interpretation of dreams would have easily satisfied this designation (Genesis 41:1-37).

The “Ruler over all of Egypt” meant Joseph was “Vizier” or Prime Minister of Egypt. The Vizier was basically the administrative head of Egypt: he appointed lower officials, kept the accounting records (which Joseph did), controlled those who visited the pharaoh and he also met visiting dignitaries, a role Joseph fulfilled when his brothers showed up.

So the larger than life statue, pictured with a crook in his hand, definitely fits the unique authority of Joseph in the Bible.

Joseph’s clothing

Finally there is the multi-colored robe. Of course, it was just such a robe that got Joseph in trouble in the first place. Joseph was the favorite son of his father, who showed his preference by giving Joseph a unique gift:

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic. (Genesis 37:3 NASV)

Joseph’s brothers took offense at this gift and when Joseph told them about a dream they would be bowing down to him, it was the last straw and they sold Joseph into slavery which started his journey to Egypt.

I am not suggesting that the robe was similar to the one he received from his father but it may have been. This style of robe was popular among Asiatics as displayed in Egyptian drawings.

Considering how rare these type of statues and people were and its timing to the early Hyksos rule, I think there is strong evidence this is Joseph.

The City of Raamses

One of the problems with the Hyksos theory is the Bible mentions the Pharaoh forcing the Jews to build the storage city of Raamses, which they believe refers to Pharaoh Ramses:

 So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. (Exodus 1:11 NASV)

Filmmaker Timothy Mahoney has just produced a documentary called “Patterns of Evidence: Exodus” where he looks at the evidence showing this statue discovered in Avaris is none other than Joseph.

In an interview with Worldnet Daily, Mahoney explains the Raamses storage city issue:

“Mainstream archaeologists would say that if the Exodus ever happened, it happened at the time of Rameses, because of the biblical text that said the Israelites were building the city of Rameses. Yet when people understood Rameses lived around 1250 B.C., they didn’t find evidence for this type of story in that time period.

“But other archaeologists said to look deeper. Beneath the city of Rameses, was another city, much older, called Avaris. And that city was filled with Semitic people. It started very small, just as the Bible says, and over time it grew into one of the largest cities of that time. And that is where we find, I think, the early Israelites. That’s the pattern that matches the story of the Bible. It’s not at the time of Rameses, but it’s at the location of Rameses.

Read more in this series:


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