|Listen to the Bible|
Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:Biblical archaeology truly fascinates me. Seeing the artifacts and evidences of the Bible stories is very faith-affirming - not that we need to see to believe, of course.
Joseph is of great interest to me. The story of Joseph in the Scripture has been one of my favorites since I was a child. More recently, my husband and I were blessed to be the artists and designers creating a museum display on the life of Joseph for a Biblical History Museum. All the research and work that went into building those displays and creating those informational videos only served to deepen my appreciation for the story of Joseph. As a result, I would like to share just a few of the things we learned in our research of Joseph and some of the displays we created for the museum. It may make the story of Joseph come alive for you as it did for us.
To start, I'm going to share with you a bit of the Egyptian backstory of Joseph. In our research, we found that Joseph went by another name in Egypt. Egyptians called him Imhotep. In our Bible reading today, we read of the dreams of the cows and corn. These dreams were God's Way of conveying a warning about the seven-year long famine and about the importance of preparing for that coming hardship during the seven-year long preparation period.
|A life-like sculpture of Imhotep - Joseph|
For many years, Egyptologists doubted that Imhotep had been a real person -- theyfound it rather difficult to believe the various accomplishments credited to him in the accounts written over a thousand years after he was supposed to have lived. At times Imhotep has been termed the Leonardo da Vinci of ancient Egypt, but in fact he was more than that. Da Vinci gained the reputation of a genius -- Imhotep was eventually elevated to the status of a god (wrongly so, of course).
Ancient Greek historian, Manetho, wrote that "during his [Pharaoh Djoser of the 3rd Dynasty] reign lived Imouthes [i.e., Imhotep], who, because of his medical skill has the reputation of Asclepius [the Greek god of medicine] among the Egyptians and who was the inventor of the art of building with hewn stone."
|Joseph was the Architect of Saqqara - Egypt's 1st Pyramid|
It was this statement that caused the specialists to doubt the existence of a real man named Imhotep. But in 1926, the question was settled once and for all -- Imhotep was a real man.
When excavations were carried out at the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, fragments of a statue of
pharaoh Djoser were found.
pharaoh Djoser were found.
|The Stele of Famine tells of Imhotep, who Saved Egypt from a Famine|
The base was inscribed with the names of Djoser and of "Imhotep, Chancellor of the King of Lower Egypt, Chief under the King, Administrator of the Great Palace, Hereditary Lord, High Priest of Heliopolis, Imhotep the Builder, the Sculptor, the Maker of Stone Vases..."
A famous stone monolith, found on the island of Sihiel just below the First Cataract of the Nile, tells the story of how Imhotep saved Egypt from a seven-year-long famine. The huge stone, named the Stele of Famine is pictured on the right.
There is so much more that I could share on this, but I will suffice it say that among the many titles which Joseph held, there is one that really caught my attention. One of Joseph's (Imhotep's) was "High Priest" of Egypt. Now this part makes the Bible story just come alive... The High Priest is the religious leader for the whole country. As the High Priest, Joseph would have taught all of Egypt Who to Worship - and how to Worship. Most of us have been taught that the Egyptians were sun-worshipers, who also worshiped the many false gods for which Egypt is well-known. But, this was not true of Egypt, under the leadership of Joseph. During the time of Joseph's spiritual leadership, he taught the Egyptians to worship Yahweh - the God of Heaven! This was the function of Egypt's High Priest... But there is also Scriptural evidence to show that Joseph taught the Egyptians to worship Yahweh (the Hebrew Name of God).
Psalm 81:1-5 "...Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob. Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery. Blow up the trumpet in the new moon (this is the Feast of Trumpets, which takes place on the 7th New Moon), in the Time Appointed, on our solemn Feast Day. For this was a Statute for Israel, and a Law of the God of Jacob. This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt..."
Joseph invented the pyramid, and built the first one (at Saqqara). This was not to honor any pagan deities. The pyramid is most likely the shape of God's Throne. Thus, Joseph was honoring Yahweh in building the pyramid shape, which later came to be associated with paganism.
Is there any Scriptural evidence to support the claim that God's Throne is shaped like a pyramid? Actually, yes! First, we are told that God's Throne is both 4-square and high and lifted up. A pyramid does fit this description. Additionally, the prophet Ezekiel told how the devil was once a covering cherub, who served God at His Throne. In this passage, God's Throne is described as a "holy Mountain" - which again fits the pyramid description... And it also says the Lucifer (as Satan was then called) walked up and down amidst the "stones of fire". Stones of fire is "fire-in-the-midst" or "pyramid".
Ezekiel 28:14-16 "Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire."Because the pyramid originally represented the Throne of the one true God, the sphinx was also associated with it. A sphinx had the face of a man, the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle and the feet of a bull. Sometimes the ancients changed it up a bit and made a sphinx with the face of a man, the body of bull, the feet of a lion and the wings of an eagle. But however they were combined, the same four creatures always made up the sphinx, even in other
|A Babylonian Sphinx|
Next, Yahweh was really the One Who made Egypt great. This happened in the time of Joseph. During the seven-year-long famine, people had to come to Egypt from far and near to buy food. We know this historically and because the Bible tells us that even Jacob and his sons, who lived far away in another land, we afflicted by the famine. Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy food.
First, the people paid for the food, which Egypt had in store. They paid with gold - and Egypt became rich. But as the famine persisted and the gold ran in short supply, people then came to Egypt and traded land for food. And Egypt grew in size. Lastly, when people no longer had anything to trade for food, they came to Egypt offering themselves. They traded their labor for food. And Egypt developed a tremendous labor force, allowing for a huge uptick in architectural projects (as we see happened in the time of Pharaoh Djoser - Djoser was Pharaoh in the time of Imhotep).
|During the 7 Years of Preparation, Joseph stored grain like the sands of the sea|
Now advance the story about 430 years into the future... Joseph was dead. His God - the only God - was forgotten in Egypt. The Children of Israel had become enslaved. Things were dramatically different. Have you ever wondered why God was so "rough" on the Egyptians as to send those 10 devastating plagues upon them? It was God Who had made Egypt great in the first place! And Egypt, which had been led to worship Yahweh under the leadership of Joseph (remember, he was the High Priest of all the land of Egypt) forsook God and returned to the worship of their former false gods. Yahweh judged Egypt because they knew better than to worship their former false gods!
But when the Egyptians proudly resisted Yahweh and refused to worship Him, He began preaching in the plagues, taking down Egypt's false gods plague by plague... But that's a story for another day - another blog :-) For now, let's conclude with a video. This is the video which my husband and I made to play in the Joseph/Imhotep display of the Biblical History Museum. I hope you enjoy it! Here's the youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixk_9OBe1lQ