Bible and History

עמוד בבניה

INTRODUCTION

Back in Talmudic times, one scholar called Yossi ben Halafta, often simply referred as Rabbi Yossi in the Talmud, wrote a text called Seder Olam (meaning the Order of the World). When it comes to Biblical chronology, this text has been the reference for Jewish scholars until today. Yet, his calculations, based on Biblical verses and completed by traditions, do not match the Historical sources from a certain point in time. They ultimately reach a wall where, in order to fit the date of the destruction of the Second Temple (in 69-70 CE), which was contemporary to rabbis mentioned in the Talmud, and to fit in previous historical periods (Hellenistic, Roman) with known dated events, Seder Olam had to assume a very short period of the "Persian rule" over the Land of Israel. This assumption however doesn't match historical records. In the following pages, I have attempted to reach a consensus between Bible and History by trying the resolve this issue and others. I hope you would find it interesting. It will be later completed with the History of the Jewish People since the exile caused by the Romans until today's affairs. A long way to go... Be patient  and come re-revisit these pages often to see what will come new. 

Here are the topics covered in this page: Click to follow the links:  The Flood, The origin of the Hebrews, HammurabiThe Tower of Babel, Abraham in Egypt, the burial of Sarah, Jacob in Canaan, Joseph viceroy of Egypt, Jacob arrives in Egypt, Burial of Jacob

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THE FLOOD (2104 BCE)

From Adam to Noah, there were 10 generations (see chronological table above), all precisely dated in the Book of Genesis. So we know from the Bible that the Flood has occurred in Hebrew year 1656 which corresponds to 2104 BCE, at the death of Methusalach (Methusalem) who walked in the path of God. The Biblical narrative says that God had ordered Noah to build an ark, 120 years before the Flood came. There are many parallels between the stories of the Flood and of the Exodus, such as Noah was saved from the Flood with the "ark" and Moses from the Nile waters with the "cradle": both words ark and cradle are the same word in Hebrew, teva (תֵּבָה), and this Hebrew is not used anywhere else in the Bible: this shows that the divine salvation must be understood as an expiation in both case, first Noah saves humanity and second Moses saves the Hebrews, the people "chosen" by God to be His witness to humanity. Here is another hint of such parallel. The Flood started as follows: "In the 600th year of Noah’s life, in the 2nd month, in the 17th day of the month, on that day, all the springs of the great abyss busted and the windows of the skies opened up." --- Genesis 7:11. And it ended as such: "And the rain was upon the earth for forty days and forty nights." --- Genesis 7:12. So 40 is the number for two divine punishments: for the duration of the Flood, and for the number of years the Hebrews will have to remain in the desert. 

And finally the ark came to a rest, "upon the mountains of Ararat" (written אררט which reminds of word ארור, meaning cursed), 150 days after the rains had stopped. Mount Ararat culminates at  5137 m (16,854 feet), higher than any mountain of Europe.

Is there non-Biblical evidence of the Flood?

Its timing corresponds to an incomprehensible period between 2200 and 2000 BCE during which, as archaeologists have noticed, all mankind had abandoned their sedentary city-states and went back to a more nomadic style of life. This period is called the "EB-MB transition" (from EB, Early Bronze, to MB, Middle Bronze). This sudden change cannot find a reasonable explanation: only the Flood can explain this enigma.

More compelling, the catastrophe of "a flood" has been found in many ancient civilizations, such as the Mesopotamian and the Pre-Colombians. It was the very first story that was recorded in human texts, all over the globe. This disaster had obviously left a deep psychological scar on the ancient human race.

Closer to us, In Mesopotamia, the flood story has been found in cuneiform texts (see British Museum item K.3375 for which the curator stated: "This object is the single most famous cuneiform text and caused a sensation [...] because of its similarity to the Flood story in the Book of Genesis."). Among these clay tablets, there is also the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, that tells the story of a hero called Gilgamesh to whom the high god "brought information [of the time] before the Flood" (in the Biblical narrative, the hero Noah was foretold of the Flood 120 years before it happened). This clay tablet was dated of about the 18th century BCE, and obviously records events happening earlier, maybe sufficiently contemporary with the Biblical account of the Flood. 

What happened after the Flood? 

The Bible clearly says that humans will no longer live long lives. Maybe genetics disease would start from that time. And not just humans, but Nature was globally affected too. Below is a table of life duration from the first Biblical characters, showing a clear progressive drop after Noah. This is also recorded in the Sumerian Kings List tablet which was shows the earliest rulers of Earth. And similarly to the Bible, after the 10th rule (generation), human lifetime dropped by half. The number of years do not match, because this list was based on human legends, but the pattern of the same happening is identical.

After the Flood, the human race got corrupt again, except for Shem son of Noah, who continued to follow the path of God.

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THE ORIGIN OF THE HEBREWS - BIRTH OF ABRAM (1812 BCE)

While Shem remained where Jerusalem will be later founded, one of his sons, Arpachshad went East and founded the dynasty of Ur, called Ur-Kasdim meaning "Ur of the Chaldeans". This name comes in fact from the name Arpachshad which is written אַרְפַּכְשַׁד while Ur-Kasdim is written אוּר כַּשְׂדִּים : removing voyels and plural, we are left with the following sequence of letters:  א ר כ ש ד  ; so the words Ur and Chaldean are directly taken from the name Arpachshad. This correspondence can only be noticed in Semitic language, but is lost in translations.  

Historically, the one who founded Ur from around 2100 BCE, soon after the Flood, king Ur-Nammu. See his depiction below, with a long beard (humans still lived long life at these times, a few hundred years) and, more interestingly, his throne is made with a pattern of multiple layers or lines: this is a pattern that is found in many antique sites and is always dedicated to holy or royal places. His symbolism is to represent power and rule. Where did it start? Maybe in Ur, as it may depict the rainbow that God made after the Flood, a sign of divine will power in other words ! The gates to the entrance of the Temple of Solomon, several hundreds years later, also had a similar pattern, but on 3 layers.

After Arpachshad, the dynasty of Ur continued through Eber, the ancestors of the Hebrews (Eber means "beyond" the river, and so does the word Hebrew).

And a few generations later, Abraham (first called Abram) was born in  Hebrew year 1948 which is 1812 BCE. Abraham was the 20th generation from Adam. He was the oldest of Terach's three sons, and the two others were Nachor (named after Terach’s father), who died early, and Haran who was the first of the three sons to marry and have a child, Lot.

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NIMROD-HAMMURABI (1792 BCE)

Then, when Abram was 20 years old, a powerful king emerged in what will be Babylon (Babel), and started to overcome the neighboring city-states: "And Cush [son of Cham] begot Nimrod; he started to be a ruler (גבר) on earth. He was a ruler (גבר) hunting in the face of God, and so it is said: "Like Nimrod a hero (גבור) hunter in the face of God." And the start of his kingdom was Babel, then Erekh, then Akkad, then Chalneh in the land of Shinaar [Mesopotamia]." --- Genesis 10:8-10

Who was this Nimrod? In the Bible, he is described as a son of Cush, grandson of Cham, and first ruler of a great dominion. In historical records, one of the greatest rulers of these times was Hammurabi who reigned from 1792 BCE for 42 years until 1750 BCE. He is remembered as having vastly expanded the kingdom of Babylon for the first time. So Hammurabi was most certainly the Biblical Nimrod. His throne also featured the layers as with Ur-Nammu.

Hammurabi is very famous for his "code", an attempt to unify the first dominion under a same code. It is understandable that he established such code because, during his reign, his capital city was hit by the "confusion of languages", caused by God when mankind wanted to build a tower to reach God and defy Him. This tower was named the Tower of Babel (1764 BCE) because the word Babel (which gave Babylon) means "confusion" in Hebrew. The Hammurabi Code may just have started because of the different languages of his dominion, so by a need to build an unified rule.

Is there a connection with the Bible? The source for Hammurabi Code is most certainly Biblical because, in its prologue, Hammurabi declares himself appointed by Enlil (actually written Ellil, similar to El meaning God, and called God of Heaven and Earth, similarly to the God of the Creation in Genesis 1:1) to make a justice that will prevail over the land. Further, in the code, the concept of "an eye for an eye and of a tooth for a tooth" is also stated in articles 196 and 200 respectively, a concept which also guided the Biblical Noachide Laws

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THE TOWER OF BABEL (1764 BCE)

The arrogance of Nimrod had no limit. He endeavored to build a tower to reach heavens and defy God. The story follows in the Bible: "God came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of Adam had built. God said: 'Behold, they are one people with one language for all of them, and this is what they started to do. And now, they will not fortify from all what they have initiated to do. Come, let us descend and let us confuse there their language, so that one would not understand the language from another.' And God dispersed them from there on the face of the earth, and they stopped building the city. This is why it was called Babel (בבל) because there God confused (בלל) the language of the whole earth and from there God scattered them on the face of the whole earth. --- Genesis 11:5-9. This confusion happened in 1996 Hebrew year (AM= Anno Mundi), which corresponds to 1764 BCE, during Hammurabi's long reign.

The story of the confusion of the languages has also been recorded by ancient civilizations, not as the result of an evolution but rather as the result of a single one-time event ! For example, in the epic of Enmerkar, this ruler lamented this new diversity of languages and expressed the wish to return to one common one! "At such a time, may the lands of Šubur and Ḫamazi, the many-tongued, and Sumer, the great mountain of the me of magnificence, and Akkad, the land possessing all that is befitting, and the Martu land [Amorites], resting in security -- the whole universe, the well-guarded people -- may they all address Enlil together in a single language ! For at that time, for the ambitious lords, for the ambitious princes, for the ambitious kings, Enki, the lord of abundance and of steadfast decisions, the wise and knowing lord of the Land, the expert of the gods, chosen for wisdom, the lord of Eridug, shall change the speech in their mouths, as many as he had placed there, and so the speech of mankind is truly one." --- Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, lines 134-155

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ABRAHAM IN EGYPT (1736 BCE)

Eventually one man was distinct from the rest of the human race and God decided to establish a covenant with him. He told him to leave his homeland and family, and moved to a land that He will show him, the land of Canaan. But, due to famine, Abraham and his wife Sarah moved down to Egypt (Genesis 12:10). There the Bible tells us that the officials of Pharaoh noticed the beauty of Sarah and took her as a concubine for their master, Then, God's wrath fell upon the land of Egypt and finally they expelled Abraham and Sarah with riches to return to Canaan. This took place in Hebrew year 2024 AM, which corresponds to 1736 BCE. 

What was Egypt in this time? 

It was a period of decline and instability called the Second Intermediate Period, with the 13th Dynasty. Historians know little about this period of transition, except that, in the 12th Dynasty, famine drove masses of Semitic immigrants to the Nile delta, and they ultimately controlled a big part of Egypt. They were known as the Hyksos. One of their leader was called Khendjer, but his Semitic name was written HNZR (no vowels in Semitic languages), which are the same letters as the Hebrew word ha-nazir (הנצר) which means the "scion" (the same word will later be used for Nazareth and the Christians). This Semitic arrival is known to Historians and is confirmed by the decoration of the tomb of an official called Khnumhotep II, from the previous the 12th Dynasty. His tomb, in Beni Hasan, shows immigrants of Semitic character called the "Aamu" (some Historians see here a reference to the "Hebrews"). The Egyptian official on the right side is a superintendent who holds a papyrus roll on which it is written that the number of "Aamu of Shu" amounts to 37 people. 

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It is interesting to note the richness of their Semitic clothing, with very elaborated weaved robes as compared to the plain white ones from Egyptians. They also brought with them products, tools and techniques that were unknown or rare to Egyptians. One of these them was glass making, which is known to have been brought to Egypt from the Levant or Asia. 

What happened when Abraham arrived there? 

God intervened and caused great plagues against Egypt and the own house of Pharaoh (Genesis 12:17). Abraham finally left Egypt on 15 Nisan 2024 (Passover, 1736 BCE). According to historical chronologies of Egypt, the ruling Pharaoh at that time was Sobekhotep IV, who reigned for 10 years and, because of his attitude towards Abram and Sarai, he may have been blessed in his endeavors as he is considered to have been the most powerful king of the 13th Dynasty.

Is there an historical proof of these "plagues" against Egypt?

There is a document called the Ipuwer Papyrus, actually titled "the Dialogue between Ipuwer and the God of All". The God of All is not something from the "Egyptian" cult. It is generally assumed that the document dates back from the troubled Second Intermediate Period, so about 1850-1600 BCE: this would be contemporary with the passage of Abram in Egypt in 1736 BCE. The interesting extract from this document goes as follows:

[...] The tribes of the desert [Hyksos invasion?] have become Egyptians [immigrants] everywhere. Indeed, the face is pale [because Semitic or Asian] ; [...] the bowman is ready [...] Indeed, the women are barren and none conceive.

[...]

[Plagues?] Indeed, [hearts] are violent, pestilence is throughout the land, blood is everywhere, death is not lacking, and the mummy-cloth speaks even before one comes near it. [...] Indeed, the river is blood, yet men drink of it. Men shrink from human beings and thirst after water. Towns are destroyed and Upper Egypt [under control of the Egyptians, unlike Lower Egypt controlled by Hyksos] has become an empty waste. --- Extracts from the Admonition of Ipuwer

 

We will later show that there is a direct parallel between Abraham's "exodus" from Egypt and the "Exodus" of the Hebrews, his descendants, later on. You can already notice the similarities of the plagues: blood, pestilence, death.

THE BURIAL OF SARAH (1675 BCE)

Sarah died in the Hebrew year 2085, so 1675 BCE, at the age of 127 in Kiriat-Arba which is Hebron today (Genesis 23:1-2). Abraham was then 137 years old and their son Isaac was 37 years old. The land of burial was at the times under the control of the sons of Heth, meaning the Hittite. Abraham paid 400 silver shekels for the purchase of a burial place which featured an underground cave. Why there? Because, according to Jewish tradition, he entered this cave once before trying to rescue one of his goats and, inside, he felt the presence of Adam and Eve, the first couple. The place is called Kiriat-Arba, with the word Arba that means the number four in Hebrew. Because 4 couples will end up buried there: Adam/Eve. Abraham/Sarah, Isaac/Rebecca, Jacob/Leah. In later periods (such as the Crusaders time), the configuration of underground cells in this cave was confirmed.

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Can we place this burial in its historical context?

Yes because the rule of the Hittite at the time of the Patriarchs is indeed correct. The Hittites will later lose their control after the conquest of the Land of Israel by Pharaoh Thutmoses III. So the Biblical text is correct to mention that Abraham bought a tract of land from a Hittite, and he paid a huge amount of money for this time.

The other detail is the method of burial, "in a cave" as described in the Bible. In these time of History, in the Middle and Late Bronze, people were indeed buried in underground caves shut with a large stone. Many such "shaft tombs" have been found in the Holy Land dating from these times. So the burial described in the Bible is indeed contemporary to the archaeological findings of the same period. 

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JACOB IN CANAAN (1550 BCE)

After Abraham and Isaac, we read the Biblical story of Jacob, who spent 20 years in "exile" to his brother-in-law, Laban the Aramaean in Charan which is still a very fertile area between Turkay and Syria of today. But, after 20 years, he decided to return to Canaan where his father Isaac was still alive, as well as his evil twin brother Esau who swore to kill Jacob upon his return. Finally the dispute was settled between the two brothers: Jacob will remain in Canaan and Esau will go south to Edom (today in Southern Jordan). 

Is there some evidence of the presence of Hebrews in this time?

In 1939, an archaeological expedition found in Alalakh (modern-day Tell Atshanah) the statue of the king Idri-mi who ruled in that area around 1550 BCE. The statue bears cuneiform inscriptions that narrated the story of this king, his flee south into Canaan and his dwelling there for 7 years among the... Hebrews (called the "Hapiru" in this chronicle):
 

"On the next day, I left and went towards Canaan. In Canaan, Ammi-ja is situated. Also staying in Ammi-ja were people from Halab, people from the country Mukish, people from the country Nihi and people from the country Amae. They lived there. When they saw me (and knew) that I was the son of their lord, they assembled around me. Thus I was made noble and received the command authority. I stayed among the Hapiru people for seven years. I let birds fly and sacrificed lambs. In the seventh year, Teshub turned to me. Thereupon I built ships." --- Idri-mi inscription


The interest of this text is that Idri-mi mentioned the people he met in the land of Canaan. It is a first historical evidence that confirms that the land in this time was called Canaan, and that the land was still at the hands of Hittites, because of the sacrifice (Egyptians, who ruled there a few years later, did not sacrifice lambs which was sacred to them). As the Bible says it, various people lived in Canaan, and the land was not a single dominion: all these people were ruled by the Hittite masters though. These Hapiru lived in a place called Ammi-ja which means in Hebrew the People (=Ammi) of the Almighty (Ja/Ya= the Hebrew name for God). The Hebrews sacrificed in a specific fashion, unique to them, with two animals or parts: one to be actually sacrificed and one to be let free to its fate. Here Idri-mi mentions "I let birds fly and sacrificed lambs": it is not typical of the other ancient people to "let go" animals of sacrifice. Later in the desert, God will instruct the Hebrews to do the same approach to sacrifice: one animal to be indeed sacrificed on the altar, and another to be let free "to Azazel". This Hebrew/Jewish unique practice continued for over 1500 years, until the destruction of the Second Temple in Roman times.
Last, Idri-mi mentioned that he remained seven years with the Hebrews/Hapiru. This may have be the time when the famine fell upon Egypt and all the region. The Hebrews went down to Egypt, while other people either moved elsewhere or invaded richer lands in order to survive the natural ordeal. 

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JOSEPH BECOMES VICEROY OF EGYPT (1531 BCE)

The Biblical story of Joseph, son of Jacob and Rachel, sold by his jealous brothers, at the age of 17 years (Genesis 37:2), as a slave and employed in Egypt in the house of Potiphar, a senior official, in well-known. After false accusations he is imprisoned for 12 years but is finally released to interpret Pharaoh's strange dreams. Joseph explained to Pharaoh that there will be 7 years of abundance followed by 7 years of famine in the land of Egypt. Joseph told Pharaoh that he must prepare for this ordeal, and Pharaoh named him viceroy of Egypt, second to none except Pharaoh himself, to carry out a survival plan and save Egypt. Joseph was 30 years old when he stood in front of Pharaoh (Genesis 41:46), so the Hebrew year was 2229 AM, i.e. 1531 BCE. The Bible says: "And Pharaoh removed a ring from his hand and gave it to the hand of Joseph, and he dressed him in fine clothes, and put a golden chain upon his neck. He had also him ride on his second chariot and they proclaimed him Avrech [the Blessed One] and he gave him all the land of Egypt." --- Genesis 41:42-43. What an extraordinary reversal of fortune ! One minute a prisoner, another minute the viceroy of Egypt ! 

What are the historical facts that could eventually match the Biblical narrative? 

First, it is interesting to note the mention of "his second chariot". Was this chariot something worth a special mention in the Biblical text? Yes, because, at this time, chariots were a rarity. It was the present Pharaoh who defeated the Hyksos invaders and had them thrown out of Egypt. This Pharaoh was Ahmose I, who regained control of all Egypt, and founded the powerful 18th Dynasty. As of the chariots, it was the Hyksos who had brought this warfare to Egypt, and made use of it to conquered that land. Ahmose I was the first Pharaoh to use this technological advantage. In the following years, the Egyptians perfected the chariot as we know it. When Joseph stood in front of the Pharaoh of 1312 BCE, chariots were still a rarity and a bounty from the defeated Hyksos. This Biblical encounter indeed matches the Egyptian timeline. After Ahmose, the chariot became a commodity. 

Second, Pharaoh gave an Egyptian name to Joseph: Zafenath-Paneach. It was customary in Egypt for people of the royal household to have an official name in addition to their private name. The same applied to pharaohs too. So, the fact that Pharaoh gave an official name to Joseph meant that he embraced him as an official of the royal household. In the British Museum, there is a statue of an official called Panehsy, who lived in the 19th Dynasty: his role was the "overseer of the treasury", a role that Joseph also obtained. And the names Paneach and Panehsy are close enough to show that they may be related to a similar role.

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Third, the Bible says that, after 7 years of abundance, famine struck all the lands, except Egypt thanks to a master plan that Joseph had executed. "All the earth came to Egypt to count on Joseph because the famine had become severe in all the earth." --- Genesis 41:57. Some archaeologists have found evidence that massive grain silos were indeed built during the reign of Ahmose I, thus adding confirmation to the Biblical narrative.

Fourth, a stele has been found in Karnak around 1950: it records a meteorological disaster that fell upon Egypt during the reign of Ahmose I, and thus has been called the "Tempest Stele of Ahmose". It is interesting to note some details of this historical narrative:

 

- Ahmose is described as "living forever"; this suggests that he had recently died; indeed, the famine stroke in Hebrew year 2236, corresponding to 1524 BCE, and Ahmose is known to have died the previous year, in 1525 BCE; his son Amenhotep I was too young to reign, so his wife Nefertari became regent; then the text is more specific about the fact that Ahmose was dead as it says that his body was installed (lit. “united with”) in this temple (the so-called pyramid of Ahmose, in Abydos) 

- the text mentions that the disaster was caused by a storm that caused a flood; this is compatible with the description of the dream of Pharaoh, which took place in two occurrences, one with the cows that came up from the river and the other with the wind that blew the crops; water and wind are the two factors of the disaster described in both the Tempest Stele and in the Biblical text

 

Fifth, when the famine started, the Egyptian people bought grain from Joseph who collected the money for Pharaoh. When the famine continued and people's finances were over, they then sold their land and themselves, as serfs, to Pharaoh, as the Bible tells: "So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine was sore upon them; and the land became Pharaoh's. And as for the people, he removed them city by city, from one end of the border of Egypt even to the other end thereof. Only the land of the priests bought he not, for the priests had a portion from Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them; wherefore they sold not their land. Then Joseph said unto the people: 'Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh. Lo, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass at the in-gatherings, that you shall give a fifth unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.' And they said: 'You have saved our lives. Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's bondmen.' And Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; only the land of the priests alone became not Pharaoh's." --- Genesis 47:20-26. This text suggests that the tax system in Ancient Egypt, calculated as a 20% percentage of the production of the land, was established by Joseph to save Egypt and strenghten the power of Pharaoh over his land and subjects. And indeed, Historians are noticed the existence of a tax system started from the 18th Dynasty, founded by Ahmose I, and not before.

Lastly, during thie 18th Dynasty, the most important government official was someone called Ineni, which means "Here I am" in Hebrew, and has been used by the Patriarchs since Abraham as a response to God's call. It is recorded in Egyptian annals that this particular person served all Pharaohs from Ahmose I until the reign of Thutmose III. This Ineni must have been Joseph himself because of the official role is described as: "Hereditary prince, count, chief of all works in Karnak; the double silver-house was under his charge; the double gold-house was on his seal; sealer of all contracts in the House of Amon; Excellency, overseer of the doubler granary of Amon.--- Boussac, Hypolite, Mission archéologique française au Caire, volume XVIII, 1895, cited in Breasted, James Henry, Ancient records of Egypt, Volume 2. So this Ineni was in charge of the granary and also of the supply of grain to the House of Amon (the priests, as stated in Genesis 47:22,26), also in charge of the works in Karnak, a city near Luxor located far south in Egypt, where he would have needed to move people from one end of Egypt to the other (Genesis 47:21). Also he had lived long enough to serve under six Pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty: Ahmose I, Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Hatshepsut (wife of the former), and Thutmose III. Who else but Joseph could have held such important role in Egypt and lived for so long (about 100 years of royal service)?? 

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JACOB ARRIVES IN EGYPT (1522 BCE)

Jacob, the last of the Patriarchs, and his clan the Hebrews left Canaan to join Joseph in Egypt in the second year of the famine. Joseph arranged that his family would settle in Goshen, in the Nile delta, a region called Raamses (רעמסס), which was uninhabited by the Egyptians so that the Hebrews would not mix with them: the Egyptians occupied themselves in agriculture while the Hebrews in breeding cattle. At the time, Ahmose had died and his son was a child. The Bible says: "And Joseph brought his father Jacob and he made him stand in front of Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked Jacob: 'How many days of years of your life?' Jacob said to Pharaoh: 'The days of years of my sojourns have been a hundred and thirty years. Few and bad (מעט ורעים) have been the days of years of my life, and they have not achieved the days of years of life of my fathers, in the days of their sojourns.' And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and left Pharaoh’s presence." --- Genesis 47:7-10

It is worth noting that Jacob did not bow to Pharaoh but Joseph made him stand in front of Pharaoh. Because he was very young at the time and the real ruler was his mother who was helded in her role by the able hands of Joseph. This also explains why, in the Bible, Joseph states: "He [God] has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and ruler over all the land of Egypt." --- (Genesis 45:8). Although Joseph was not the biological father of course, he was however the de facto ruler of Egypt, adviser to Nefertari, and an educator to her son.


This passage is also very important for the timeline of the Bible. Jacob stated that he was 130 years old, hence he came down to Egypt in year 2238 AM, or 1522 BCE. From this detail, we can adjust the timeline which otherwise was blur from the time of Joseph. We can re-construct the timing and realize that Joseph was 30 years old when he became governor of Egypt, and when the 7 years of abundance started. So Joseph was born in year Hebrew year 2199 AM. It is with this calculation that the years of the other events of the Biblical timeline can be derived. This also concurs the historical context of the Patriarchs in Canaan because, unlike in other periods when this land was disputed by many invaders, from the North or the South, it happens that the time of the Patriarchs was devoid of "wars" because it corresponds to the Hyksos invasion of Egypt, and their presence lasted until Ahmose I. When Egypt was weak, the land of Canaan was peaceful and, when Egypt raises their head, wars started in the land of Canaan against the rule of the Hittites. 

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BURIAL OF JACOB (1495 BCE)

Before his death, Jacob asked his sons to bury him in the Cave of Machpelah (near Hebron), next to his wife Leah (Genesis 49:33). Joseph arranged for the body to be embalmed, and then: "Joseph spoke to the house of Pharaoh, saying: 'If, please, I found grace in your eyes, please speak to the ears of Pharaoh by saying.' --- Genesis 50:4. Joseph wanted to ask permission from Pharaoh to go to Canaan and bury his father. Strange isn't? These questions may be asked: 1- why did Joseph embalm Jacob? 2- why did the powerful Joseph not speak to Pharaoh directly to ask permission? 


The answer is in Egyptian historical chronology. When Jacob died in 2255 AM (1506 BCE), Pharaoh Amenhotep I had just recently died too, also in 1506 BCE (the most commonly agreed date). If he had been alive at the time of Jacob's death, there is no doubt that Joseph would have addressed himself to him directly (he once declared himself as being a father for the young Pharaoh) and that the burial in Canaan would have been granted. But, that year when both his father and his "son" died, Joseph was uncertain about the dispositions of the new Pharaoh, who may have only been the son-in-law of Amenhotep (so not directly from royal lineage). So Joseph had his father embalmed just in case of delays to travel to Canaan for burial. And there was delay.

But Nefertari survived her husband Ahmose and her son Amenhotep as she died later in 1495 BCE, around the age of 70. She had known Joseph for quite some years. So, when Joseph "spoke to the house of Pharaoh" to grant him permission, he probably addressed himself to the queen mother, Nefertari, as either she was senior enough to influence the new Pharaoh, or she was still a co-regent due to his young age. Nefertari would probably have needed to have Joseph as her advisor and could not take the risk to have him leave her in these transition times. So, the permission was not granted. This is why, fearing such delay, Joseph had Jacob embalmed.  

But, when Nefertari died in 1495 BCE, Thutmose took control over Egypt. Joseph then finally received approbation, from Pharaoh himself, to go to Canaan to bury his father: "And Pharaoh said: 'Go up, and bury your father, according as he made you swear.' And Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, and all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father's house; only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company. [...] And his sons did unto him [Jacob] according as he commanded them. For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field, for a possession of a burying-place, of Ephron the Hittite, in front of Mamre [a hill overlooking Hebron]. --- Genesis 50:6-13

In total, Jacob lived 147 years but his body was returned to Canaan on his 157th year. The number of years he (or his body) had been outside Canaan was the 20 years he had spent in Charan + the 17 years he lived in Egypt (he came down when he was 130 years old and met young Amenhotep, and died when he was 147 years old) + the last 10 years his body remained in Egypt until being returned to Canaan. So Jacob actually lived 110 years in the promised land. In comparison Abraham lived there 100 years because he left Charan when he was 75 years old and lived for 175 years (he did spent some months in Egypt, but probably less than a completed year). As of Isaac, he was born and had never lived outside the promised land, so God blessed him with a longer life of 180 years. 

Thutmose I reigned for about 13 years until 1493 BCE. He had two children whom he married together: his heir Thutmose II and his sister, or half-sister, Hatshepsut. Thutmose II reigned for about 14 years but he had a disease towards the end of his reign, as evidenced by analysis made on his mummy. 

THE EXODUS (1306 BCE)

In progress

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Bible et Histoire

עמוד בבניה

Pas de traduction en Français pour le moment. Voir celle en Anglais ci-dessus. Désolé.