“Gather together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days,” said Israel who is about to die.
Calling together his twelve sons, he blessed them. He’s already blessed Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Adopting them as his sons, they will become part of the tribes of Israel.
It doesn’t start well. The first three sons are cursed rather than blessed.
Reuben, the first born:
In Genesis 35:22 Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it. It was after Rachel’s death. Perhaps he did it to secure his mother Leah’s position in the household, but now it’s payback time. Reuben is described as being as unstable as water and told he will not excel. He has lost his position and double portion as the firstborn. Genesis 49:3-4
Simeon and Levi
It’s payback time for Simeon and Levi too, they lost their position as the second and third sons for their cruelty killing the men of Shechem in Genesis 34. They will be divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel.Genesis 49:5-7
Judah, the fourth son, is prominent in the blessing of the sons, as Jacob prophesied the others will bow down to him. The sceptre, a staff or wand held in the hand by a ruling monarch means royal or imperial authority or sovereignty. Genesis 49:8-12
Judah is described as a lion’s whelp. Who then, is the lion? Kings are going to come from Judah, the greatest of who will be Jesus Christ, “the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” Revelation 5:4-5
Zebulun was prophesied to dwell by the sea and become a haven for ships, and his border shall adjoin Sidon.Genesis 49:13
It’s hard to see that as the territory of Zebulun on the maps of the tribes is landlocked.
But Josephus, a Jewish historian from the first century, reported “The tribe of Zebulon’s lot included the land which lay as far as the Lake of Genesareth, [Sea of Galilee] and that which belonged to Carmel and the [Mediterranean] sea” (Josephus 1992: 131-2 [Ant. 5.1.22]). Josephus, as leader of the Jewish forces in the Galilee in their fight against the Romans in the first Jewish war (AD 66-73), was certainly familiar with the history of the area he was defending so he’s speaking with authority.
Isaachar also understood the times. The men of Issachar are described in 1 Chronicles 12:32 as men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do. We all need the Isaachar anointing.
Dan is complicated. Jacob prophesied that Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel but he will be as a serpent by the way and a viper by the path that bites the horse’s heels.Genesis 49:16-17
Gad, a troop shall tramp upon him, But he shall triumph at last.
“Bread from Asher shall be rich, and he shall yield royal dainties.”
“Naphtali is a deer let loose; he uses beautiful words.“
Jacob noted that even though Joseph had been hated and bitterly grieved, he had remained strong. The prince among his brothers, he was blessed the most; “Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.”
It appears Joseph’s family tree would prosper and spread; “Joseph is a fruitful bough, A fruitful bough by a well; His branches run over the wall.”Genesis 49:22-26
“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; In the morning he shall devour the prey, And at night he shall divide the spoil.”
All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father spoke to them. And he blessed them; he blessed each one according to his own blessing. Genesis 49:27
And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.
In accordance with his wishes, Jacob was taken back to Canaan and buried in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron with Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca and Leah.
After Jacob’s death his brothers worried that Joseph would hate them, but Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Death of Joseph
So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. When he died they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. And before he died Joseph obtained a promise from the children of Israel that when they went to the promised land they would carry his bones from Egypt.
The Lion ofJudah
The Lion of the tribe of Judah is a symbol found in Genesis and Revelation.
It is better to experience the help and protection of the Lion than to deny His kingship and face His fierceness.
Israel and his sons arrived in Goshen with their livestock, as Joseph had arranged. Selecting five of his brothers, he prepared them for their meeting with Pharoah.
Hearing that Joseph’s family were shepherds with flocks, Pharoah came to the logical conclusion they should settle in Goshen; “The land of Egypt is before you. Have your father and brothers dwell in the best of the land; let them dwell in the land of Goshen. And if you know any competent men among them, then make them chief herdsmen over my livestock.”
It all went to plan and Joseph situated his father and his brothers in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.
The Land of Rameses
When Israel settled in Goshen the place they lived was named Avaris. Rameses is named to locate it within Goshen and foreshadow the later building projects in Rameses (Exodus 1:11;Exodus 12:37) which led to Israel’s ultimate departure from Egypt.
Joseph’s family arrived in the second year of the famine as the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished. Joseph gathered up all the money for the grain and brought it into Pharaoh’s house. When the money failed he bought their livestock, giving them bread in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the cattle of the herds, and for the donkeys.
When that year had ended, they came to him the next year and they sold their land to him for Pharoah. And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end. The only land not sold was the land belonging to the priests.
When the famine ended Joseph gave the people seed so they could sow the land, and he instituted a tax of one-fifth of their produce for Pharaoh. So they said, “You have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.” And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt that Pharaoh should have one-fifth, except for the land of the priests only, which did not become Pharaoh’s.
So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly. And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the length of Jacob’s life was one hundred and forty-seven years.
Joseph heard his father was sick, so he brought his sons to be blessed. “Your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt, are mine” said Israel.
Joseph brought his sons forward for the blessing, saying to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me in this place.”
Blessing them, Israel placed his right hand on the Ephraim, the younger son.
And he blessed Joseph, and said:
“God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day, The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; Let my name be named upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”
So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’ ” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
The pattern of choosing the younger son over the older has happened again. I wrote about why this was so in an earlier post.
Joseph wanted his brothers, all except Benjamin, to go back to Canaan. He’d framed Benjamin for the theft of his silver cup so he could keep his younger brother with him in Egypt, but he hadn’t thought about what that would do to their father Jacob. The time had come for him to reveal himself.
“Make everyone go out from me!” he cried out. So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loud, that the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard of it.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.
I can imagine their shock, disbelief, horror, sorrow and shame. They would have been thinking of what they’d done to him back in Canaan. Reuben and Benjamin were the only ones who hadn’t tried to kill him.
Telling them to come near to him, he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.
Giving God the glory, Joseph said, “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and depart; go to the land of Canaan. Bring your father and your households and come to me; I will give you the best of the land of Egypt.”
When the sons of Jacob arrived back in Canaan they told their disbelieving father, “Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.” When Jacob heard what they had to say and saw the carts which Joseph had sent to carry him, his spirit revived. Then Israel said, “It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
So Israel took his journey with all that he had. On his way to Egypt he came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to him there, saying “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes when you die.”
Sixty-six people went to Egypt, excluding his son’s wives. And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.
Jacob sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out the way to Goshen. So Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; and he presented himself to him, and fell on his neck and wept.
And Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face, because you are still alive.”
Joseph hadn’t told Pharaoh were his father and brothers were to be settled. He said said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘My brothers and those of my father’s house, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. And the men are shepherds, for their occupation has been to feed livestock; and they have brought their flocks, their herds, and all that they have.’ So it shall be, when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ that you shall say, ‘Your servants’ occupation has been with livestock from our youth even till now, both we and also our fathers,’ that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”
Goshen was away from everyone and it would be a logical choice to settle people that the Egyptians would dislike. Joseph wanted Pharaoh to think that settling the shepherds in Goshen was his own idea.
The famine was so severe that Jacob needed his sons to get more grain from Joseph. Judah told his father that Joseph would not see them again without Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest son.
“Why did you deal so wrongfully with me as to tell the man you had still another brother?” Jacob asked.
His sons replied, “The man asked us pointedly about ourselves and our family, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’ And we told him according to these words. Could we possibly have known that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?”
Jacob reluctantly relinquished his hold on Benjamin, to let him go to Egypt.
Meanwhile goodness knows how long Simeon has been in the prison house awaiting the return of his brothers with Benjamin. Genesis 42:18-20
The brothers arrived in Egypt and seeing his brother Benjamin, Joseph told the steward of his house to take them home and prepare a meal for them.
When Joseph arrived home, his heart yearned for his brother; so he made haste and sought somewhere to weep. And he went into his chamber and wept there. Then he washed his face and came out; and he restrained himself, and said, “Serve the bread.”
They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves. The Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews as it was an abomination to them.
The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s.
They brothers still hadn’t twigged who this Egyptian ruler was.
So they feasted and drank freely with the second most powerful man in Egypt, but they must have wondered why their grain was free, how the man knew their birth order, and why Benjamin was being favoured.
Joseph wanted to keep Benjamin with him in Egypt, so he hatched a plan and gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.”
As soon as the morning dawned, the men were sent away, they and their donkeys. When they had gone out of the city, and were not yet far off, Joseph said to his steward, “Get up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? Is not this the one from which my lord drinks, and with which he indeed practices divination? You have done evil in so doing.’ ”
The brothers each man speedily let down his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack. When the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack, they tore their clothes, and each man loaded his donkey and returned to the city.
So Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, and he was still there; and they fell before him on the ground. And Joseph said to them, “What deed is this you have done? Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?”
““What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves?” Judah asked, offering himself and his brothers as Joseph’s slaves.
Joseph said, “Far be it from me that I should do so; the man in whose hand the cup was found, he shall be my slave. And as for you, go up in peace to your father.”
Interceding for for Benjamin, Judah said Jacob would die without his youngest son; “his life is bound up in the lad’s life and when he sees that the lad is not with us, he will die,” he explained, offering himself in Benjamin’s place. “Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers.“
Joseph only wanted Benjamin and he hadn’t given his father much thought. Now he was forced to think about what his keeping Benjamin would do to Jacob.
Divination, hmmm. Did Joseph really use divination, or did he pretend? If divination is mentioned twice, as in Genesis 44:5 and Genesis 44:15, then it’s a thing.
The silver cup could have been a bowl. In those days, a sage or a seer was given a special bowl from which he alone drank. After Joseph successfully interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, he no doubt would have been considered the best “diviner” in all of Egypt. That cup or bowl could have been a special gift from Pharaoh, or from his father-in-law Poti-Pherah, the priest of On.
Joseph didn’t need to sprinkle gold dust on water to see what patterns it made as he already had prophetic dreams. His usage of the cup may have been to maintain his appearance of being an Egyptian.
Another scenario could have been that Joseph did use divination. He was thoroughly immersed in Egyptian culture.
Divination would not have been a forbidden practice in Egypt. It was only after the children of Israel left Egypt over 400 years later, that we see them commanded not to practise divination, see Leviticus 19:26 and Deuteronomy 18:10.
As a boy Joseph probably saw his mother Rachel worshipping her household gods, and as a man married to Asenath, the daughter of the above mentioned Egyptian priest, he would have witnessed her religious practices. Both women would have had an influence on him. Which influence was greater? The point is that Joseph remained loyal to God despite the culture. Man looks at outward things, God looks at the heart.
Today divination is rampant in the church. It is just as poisonous to the faith today as divination was to Israel’s faith in the Old Testament. It is rebellion in that it involves refusing to stay within the boundaries God has set for our own good. Those who are thus deceived have put themselves into that horrible state because they did not receive the love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12). The truth is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to purge divination from the church and replace it with Gospel preaching and Bible teaching.
At some point in the famine Joseph’s brothers all went to buy grain in Egypt, all that is except Benjamin. When they appeared before Joseph they bowed down before him with their faces to the earth and Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them. Genesis 37:5-11
I can only imagine what he must have been feeling. After he accused them of being spies, they said; “Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and in fact, the youngest is with our father today, and one is no more.”
That wouldn’t have helped their cause. In the end, his desire to be reunited with Benjamin trumped his need for revenge.
Speaking roughly to them, Joseph said, “By the life of Pharaoh, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of you, and let him bring your brother; and you shall be kept in prison, that your words may be tested to see whether there is any truth in you; or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies!”
Joseph put them all in prison for three days.
Joseph said to them the third day, “Do this and live, for I fear God: If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined to your prison house; but you, go and carry grain for the famine of your houses.And bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die.”
Knowing it was payback time, the brothers spoke amongst themselves, admitting their guilt over what they’d done to Joseph; “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.”
Reuben said, “Did I not speak to you, saying, ‘Do not sin against the boy’; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us.”
Joseph had pretended not to understand their language.
Hearing what he needed to hear, their remorse, he turned himself away from them and wept. Then he returned to them again, and talked with them. Knowing that Reuben had tried to save him, he took Simeon, the second eldest, and bound him before their eyes.
Then he played a bit of a mind game on them. He wanted them to start asking questions. Joseph gave a command to fill their sacks with grain, to restore every man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey.
As one of them opened his sack to give his donkey feed at the encampment, he saw his money; and there it was, in the mouth of his sack. So he said to his brothers, “My money has been restored, and there it is, in my sack!” Then their hearts failed them and they were afraid, saying to one another, “What is this that God has done to us?”
When they returned to Canaan without Simeon; Jacob was not happy. Writing off two of his sons, he said, “You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin.” And Jacob refused to let them take Benjamin to Egypt.
Jacob was looking at things in the natural. He didn’t understand. He didn’t ask himself why the grain cost him nothing. Joseph wasn’t selling the grain to everyone who came to buy from him, see below. Sometimes you have to release the thing or person you treasure the most to God in order to trust him.
As the book of Genesis recorded, the seven-year famine was so severe in Egypt that Joseph, as chief administrator, had to be very careful in selling food from the precious grain reserves to satisfy the hunger of all the inhabitants of the surrounding countries. Joseph could not sell the grain reserves of Egypt for gold and silver to everyone because of the danger that the grain would run out. When the famine was at its peak, grain was much more valuable than gold or money.
Explorers during the last century discovered a number of other fascinating ancient inscriptions in the Middle East that provided confirmation of facts recorded in the sacred Scriptures…. The greatest treasure of all was a fascinating engraved stone tablet [found in the tomb of a rich Yemenite noblewoman of the patriarchal age] bearing her final inscription which confirmed the biblical account of Joseph’s careful management of the remaining food reserves during the seven years of famine in Egypt. A Yemenite Inscription About a Famine During the Time of Joseph
In thy name O God, the God of Hamyar, I Tajah, the daughter of Dzu Shefar, sent my steward to Joseph, And he delaying to return to me, I sent my hand maid With a measure of silver, to bring me back a measure of flour: And not being able to procure it, I sent her with a measure of gold: And not being able to procure it, I sent her with a measure of pearls: And not being able to procure it, I commanded them to be ground: And finding no profit in them, I am shut up here. Whosoever may hear of it, let him commiserate me; And should any woman adorn herself with an ornament From my ornaments, may she die with no other than my death. (reported in Niebuhr’s Voyage en Arabie, PL. LIX. Translation by Rev. Charles Forster).
Two years passed since Joseph interpreted the dreams of the Butler and Baker and he was still in prison. I wonder if his own dreams had died?
Now, it was Pharoah’s turn to dream. Standing by a river, Pharoah saw seven health cows eating in a meadow beside the river. Then seven ugly, gaunt cows came out of the river and ate them.
Troubled, he woke up. He slept and dreamed a second time; and suddenly seven heads of grain came up on one stalk, plump and good. Then behold, seven thin heads, blighted by the east wind, sprang up after them. And the seven thin heads devoured the seven plump and full heads.
What did it mean? The wise men and magicians of Egypt couldn’t interpret the two dreams. The chief butler finally remembered Joseph.
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh.
Joseph was able to interpret the dreams; “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do: The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years; the dreams are one. And the seven thin and ugly cows which came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty heads blighted by the east wind are seven years of famine.”
Telling Pharaoh the famine would be severe and would deplete the land, Joseph advised Pharaoh to select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years.
The grain would be stored up under the authority of Pharaoh, and that food would be kept in the cities as a reserve for the seven years of famine, that the land may not perish during the famine.
Because God had shown Joseph this, Pharaoh set Joseph up as his second in command over Egypt, saying, “only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.”
Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-Paaneah. And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On. So Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
Two sons were born before the years of famine came, Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.” And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
Spending the seven good years storing food in the cities; Joseph gathered so much grain he stopped counting it. When the famine hit Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians. The famine affected many countries, not just Egypt. So all the countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain.
When God Repeats Himself
Have you ever experienced a confirmation of something you’ve seen or read? That’s God. Joseph knew that too, as he told Pharaoh; “And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. Genesis 41:32
Evidence of Joseph
Joseph lived thousands of years ago. Is there anything of him left in Egypt?
First, there’s a canal called the ‘Bahr Yussef, or ‘Bahr Yusuf’ meaning the ‘Joseph canal.’ Yusuf is not an arabic name. The canal still supplies the Faiyum with irrigation water. There are around 200 waterwheels scattered across the area that redistribute the water from Bahr Yussef, which is responsible for giving the region its fertility and identity.
This stele is an Egyptian record of a seven year famine.
Grain Silo, Saqqara, Egypt
The oldest pyramid in Egypt is located at Saqqara, in Giza near Cairo.
Saqqara contains numerous pyramids, including the Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb, and a number of mastaba tombs (or flat-topped rectangular tombs.)
Mastabas became the foundation — literally — for the step pyramid where several mastabas were stacked on top of each other, building up into the sky.
What was the complex built for? Conventional thinking is that the complex was built as a place to bury their dead. But could the structures have been used first for something besides a burial complex?
Ben Carson, one of the Republican frontrunners in the race to be U.S. president, believes archeologists got it wrong about Egypt’s pyramids. The huge stone structures were built to store massive quantities of grain, not to serve as tombs for rulers, according to what Carson said in a 1998 graduation speech at Michigan’s Andrews University.
He was laughed at for mooting that idea. We look at ancient history through the lens we’re given, a tomb or grain silo. Why couldn’t the grain silos have become tombs later? Were there remains of grain?
Have a look for yourself and choose your own lens.
Egyptian Pyramids: The first pyramid to be built was the Step Pyramid in Sakara (see figure). Around this pyramid, and the parts pertaining to it, is a big wall (see figure). In comparison, the pyramids in Giza, including the mighty Cheops pyramid, are not surrounded by a wall. The Sakkara complex had only one entrance, which implies that there were reasons for security (see figure).
At the main entrance in the eastern wall one comes into a long hall with 40 columns, 20 on each side. When one has passed these columns, one comes to a number of very large shafts going deep down into the ground (see figure). The hypotesis of today claims that these shafts are burial chambers, but they are exceptionally large, far bigger than any other burial chamber, and diferent in shape and function. All these shafts are conected to each other by a central tunnel. The shafts reach up above the surface of the ground, and one shaft has a stairway that goes right down to the bottom (see figure). Remains of grain have been found at the bottom of these shafts. The Bible shows how Joseph acted and organized the grain storage throughout the country: “And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.” (Gen. 41:49)
The 11 shafts which are just inside the columns are extremely large, with a volume that meant they could hold about 40.000 cubic metres of grain altogether, corresponding to approximately 4.000 trucks each loaded with 10 cubic metres. In all probability, Pharaoh Djoser´s minister of state, Imhotep, had at least 11 huge shafts built in which to store grain, or silos as we call them today. This amount of grain was more than an individual town needed. Since there is a large area around the Step Pyramid which has not yet been excavated, one can speculate that there were even more silos in the area.
Joseph is associated with the land of Ramses according to Genesis 47:11. The place wasn’t named that in Joseph’s day, there’s an earlier settlement under Ramses called Avaris, where the archeologists have found the remains of a palace and twelve tombs. One of the tombs was a pyramid shape, with the remains of a smashed up statue of an important man with red hair, a mushroom hairstyle and a striped coat. The body had been removed … and we know that Joseph’s body was taken back to Canaan.
Avaris was the Hyksos capital of Egypt located at the modern site of Tell el-Dab’a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta. Avaris was reoccupied when PharaohRamses 1 founded his new capital city at the old site and renamed Ramses.
Hyksos is used ethnically to designate people of probable West Semitic, Levantine origin. While Manetho portrayed the Hyksos as invaders and oppressors, this interpretation is questioned in modern Egyptology. Instead, Hyksos rule might have been preceded by groups of Canaanite peoples who gradually settled in the Nile delta from the end of the Twelfth Dynasty onwards and who may have seceded from the crumbling and unstable Egyptian control at some point during the Thirteenth Dynasty.
The Seal of Joseph in His Palace at Tell Ed-Daba (Re-edited)
The symbolism on a cylinder seal impression found in the ruins of the Middle Bronze Age palace at Tell ed-Daba, dated to what some understand to be the ‘early Israelite period’ at Avaris, is given a fresh, thorough examination. A new interpretation is presented that replaces the inferior, Canaanite interpretation currently accepted by academia. This adds considerable weight to the already profound evidence linking the palace to the Israelites of the early Sojourn. When viewed through a biblical lens, the bulla clearly depicts early symbols of the Israelite tribes, evoking themes found in the blessings of Jacob to his sons in Genesis chapter 49, with motifs that would have been well understood among ancient Egyptians of the late 12th and early 13th Dynasties. The arrangement of the symbols indicates a strong, Joseph-centered bias. Accordingly, it seems likely that the owner of the seal, most likely the high official that owned the estate, may have been none other than the figure behind the biblical traditions of Joseph, or a chief among his heirs.
One would expect to find evidence for Joseph in Egyptian records given the enormity of his achievements.
Egyptian records, however, have not been as well preserved as one would hope. In fact many of the most useful historical documents were deliberately destroyed eg the works of Manetho which were lost when the Alexandrian Library was burnt down. Various wars, erosion and earthquakes have resulted in many of Egypts monuments being destroyed or defaced. Some pharaohs have even tried to whitewash their predecessors records leaving no trace of them.
In order to find evidence for the Israelites in Egypt, one needs to look in the right place in the right time period.
The only lasting legacy of the Israelites mentioned in the Bible may just be ‘grain silos’, ‘mud bricks’ and the embalmed bodies of Jacob and Joseph.
If the Egyptian identities of these Biblical figures were known, we may be surprised to learn what else they did that was not recorded in the Bible.
The truth is not always convenient or what we would have liked, but if it supports scripture, then Christians should celebrate because history and the Bible agree with one another.
Despised by his brothers and sold into slavery, Joseph ended up in Egypt working as a slave for Potiphar, a captain of the guard of Pharaoh.
You probably know the story. The Lord was with Joseph and he was a successful man. Potiphar made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. Joseph was a handsome man and Potiphar’s wife wanted him. Joseph resisted her advances until the day came when they were alone inside the house. She caught him by his garment and he fled, leaving his garment behind.
Joseph’s struggles remind me of Job’s, who complained to the Lord that even his own clothes would detest him. Job 9:31
Here, Joseph’s clothes are being used against him. Back in Canaan, Joseph’s brothers kept his garment as ‘proof’ he’d died when he was sold into slavery. Now in Egypt, Potiphar’s wife kept his garment as ‘proof’ of attempted rape and he was sent to prison.
First he’s dead and now he’s a rapist? Joseph is not having a happy time of it, but the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Genesis 39:21
I believe Satan knew Jesus was going to descend from Jacob but didn’t know from which tribe. The other brothers weren’t amounting to much so he pegged Joseph as the one to attack. He never factored Judah and Tamar from the previous chapter into the equation.
The level of warfare over a life reflects the Devil’s measure of a person. Think of that if you’ve been given what-for!
The story of Joseph is interrupted by Judah and Tamar.
Have you heard the saying, “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your relatives?”
God can, and he was watching the family line of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, closely. This family line was going to be in the genealogy of Jesus through Judah, see Matthew 1.
But Judah mixed with the Canaanites and married Shua, a Canaanite woman. They had three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah.
Judah found a wife for Er called Tamar. Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord killed him.
There was a custom, later codified into Levitical law, where the brother marries the widow so the family line is continued and the property stays in the family. So Onan married Tamar.
“But Onan knew that the heir would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; therefore He killed him also.” Genesis 38:9-10
So goodbye Er and Onan. Judah told Tamar to remain a widow in her father’s house till his son Shelah was grown – but Judah had no intention of marrying them off; “Lest he also die like his brothers” he thought. He’s obviously blaming Tamar for the deaths, not God.
Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house while Judah ‘forgot’ about her. The years passed and she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife. So she took matters into her own hands.
Finding out Judah was going to Timnah to shear his sheep, Tamar took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil and and sat by the road to Timnah. She must have known Judah well enough to know how he’d react.
When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face. So Judah hired Tamar as a prostitute. They negotiated payment;
And he said, “I will send a young goat from the flock.”
So she said, “Will you give me a pledge till you send it?”
Then he said, “What pledge shall I give you?”
So she said, “Your signet and cord, and your staff that is in your hand.”
Tamar conceived and went back to her home and her widow’s clothes. Judah turned up with the goat but couldn’t find her.
About three months later, Judah was told Tamar was pregnant.
So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”
He wanted her killed because she’d committed adultery against Shelah!
When she was brought out, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “By the man to whom these belong, I am with child.” And she said, “Please determine whose these are—the signet and cord, and staff.”
So Judah acknowledged them and said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son.” And he never knew her again.
Tamar gave birth to twin boys, Perez and Zerah. Zerah put his hand out first and the midwife took a scarlet thread and bound it on his hand. But Zerah withdrew his hand and Perez was born first.
Perez is in the genealogy of Jesus; Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Matthew 1:2-3
Normally the mothers aren’t mentioned in the genealogy, but Tamar is, along with Rahab a Canaanite, and Ruth a Moabite.
The Book of Ruth has this strange blessing; where the the elders and all the people at the gate of Bethlehem Ephrathah said, “Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”
Why did Tamar get this special honour? Is it because she refused to be forgotten, and she held Judah accountable? Who knows, but God honours vows.
Five generations of the family tree of the Messiah are hidden within the text of Genesis 38. The names Boaz, Ruth, Obed, Jesse, and David are placed in chronological order at 49-letter intervals.
Discern, I pray thee, whose sign this is?
The Bible codes or Torah codes are hidden texts within the Hebrew texts, discovered by Israel mathmetician Eliyahu Rips in the 1990s. Hebrew characters have a numerical value and it was with these and computers that messages were discovered using equidistant letter sequences. It’s like a watermark or stamp of authenticity. The codes are not needed as the plain meaning speaks for itself, but the codes are real, they’re interesting and they prove the Bible is the inspired word of God.
Here we have the text from Genesis 38:25, “Discern, I pray thee, whose sign this is.”
The hidden text spells out, “God encoded, God is truth.“
It’s interesting that in Canaanite practise it was harlots who covered their faces. Don’t the Mohammedans know that? They’re all descended from Abraham.
Joseph comes into view aged seventeen. He’s different from all his half-brothers, he’s younger and Jacob’s favourite. He and his little brother Benjamin are all Jacob has left of Rachel. Jacob made Joseph a tunic of many colors.
When his brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.
Joseph did not help himself, he worked in the fields and brought back a bad report to his father about Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
Also he had dreams which he unwisely told his brothers, and they hated him even more.
One day Jacob sent Joseph on a journey to his brothers who were feeding their flocks at Shechem. He found them at a place called Dothan, but they weren’t happy to see him; “Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!”
All of them wanted to kill him except Reuben, who convinced them to throw him into a waterless pit so he could come back and rescue him. They, minus Reuben, sat down to eat a meal. Seeing an approaching company of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead with their camels bearing spices, balm, and myrrh on their way down to Egypt, Judah suggested selling him. And so Joseph was sold for twenty shekels of silver.
In Egypt the Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard.
The brothers took Joseph’s tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood. Bringing the tunic of many colors to their father they said, “We have found this. Do you know whether it is your son’s tunic or not?”
Recognising it, Jacob said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.”
Jacob mourned Joseph and refused to be comforted.
The brothers haven’t changed, they were bad for deceiving and killing the men of Shechem in chapter 34 and they’re still bad. How can God make a nation of them?
Joseph said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed:
And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”
So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
Joseph was probably trying to make sense of the dreams but his brothers weren’t the right people to hear them. He didn’t know that one day he’d be described as “the prince among his brothers,” Genesis 49:26.
Perhaps the stars are the crown of the Woman in Revelation 12; Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars, Revelation 12:1-6
And perhaps Joseph as one of those stars is a precursor of Jesus, the ruler to come.
Here in Genesis 37:9 we see the sun, moon and eleven stars, with the twelth star rising to preeminence. In Revelation 12:1 the focus changes to the Woman wearing a crown of stars.
The Woman is Israel and the names of the sons spell out a message, one that is not assembled yet. The message is explained in my book “The End, the Wayfarer’s Guide to the Apocalypse” and it’s a gold nugget.
The Coat of Many Colours
There are hints of Joseph in Psalm 45 which speaks of Messiah and His Bride. Verse 14 says, “She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors; The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You.”