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QUESTION: Who Was Pharaoh During Joseph’s Life?


Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt

The book of Genesis records the story of Joseph in chapters 37 – 50. This is as many chapters as the story of Abraham occupies (chapters 12 – 25).

In all of these chapters, however, the name of Pharaoh is not recorded. The name of his “Captain of the Guards” is there, but not the name of Pharaoh himself. Interestingly enough, the Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus in Exodus 1-15 is not given either. Both are simply called Pharaoh.

In the lists of Pharaohs of Egypt, there are many “dynasties.” A “dynasty” is a group of rulers who rule in succession from parent to child. Sometimes dynasties simply die out, but usually a dynasty ends when a palace coup or other disaster overtakes a particular Pharaoh – sometime by being overthrown by foreign rulers.

There was a dynasty known as the Hyksos rulers of Egypt who were foreign to Egypt. This group had overpowered the Egyptian family of Pharaohs and ruled for many years before being ejected. Following is an excerpt from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia article on “Egypt,” as found in http://www.e-sword.net.

The Semitic tribes had long been filtering into Egypt, and Babylonian Semites even ruled the land until the great migration of the Hyksos took place about 2700 bc. These tribes were ruled by kings entitled “princes of the desert,” like the Semitic Absha, or Abishai, shown in the tomb of Beni-hasan, as coming to settle in Egypt. By 1700 bc the Berbers who had adopted the Egyptian civilization pressed down from the South, and ejected the Hyksos rule. This opened the most flourishing period of Egyptian history, the 18th Dynasty, 1587-1328 bc.

The Hyksos were contemporaries of Abraham (c. 2000 BC), and were ejected from Egypt about 1700 BC, which would have been after the death of Joseph. It is likely the Hyksos Pharaohs were in power during the lifetimes of both Abraham and Joseph.

Note that these were Semitic tribes, that is people descended from Shem (see Genesis 10). The Egyptians were descendants of Ham. Thus, the Hyksos were relatives of the Hebrews, which could help explain the warm reception Pharaoh gave to Joseph and his family. This would help, also, to explain that Genesis 39:1 observes that Potipher (the captain of Pharaoh’s guards) was an Egyptian. This statement makes more sense if the reader realizes that Pharaoh himself was not an Egyptian. (It would hardly be remarkable that the head of the Secret Service guarding the American President is an American, would it? It would only be note worthy if he were not an American.)

Again, when Joseph’s family moved to Egypt, Joseph instructed them to tell Pharaoh that they were shepherds and that they would be given the land of Goshen, the best part of the country, “for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians” (Genesis 46:34).

Why did Pharaoh give the best part of Egypt to the Hebrews when the Egyptians hate shepherds? Well, the Hyksos are also sometimes called “The Shepherd Kings.” As Semites, they were shepherds. As foreign rulers, they were hated by the Egyptians – who then hated all shepherds! After Jacob and some of his sons met with Pharaoh, he asked Joseph to put some of them over his own herds (Genesis 47:6). This also suggests that Pharaoh was not one of the Egyptians who hated shepherds, but that he had herds of his own that needed experienced herdsmen to care for them – who were scarce in Egypt.

Exodus 1:8 says that “a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power.” This is not just a son or grandson of the king whom Joseph served – but a new dynasty. This would be, if my thesis is correct, the Berbers who came in from the South (the upper Nile region) about 1700 BC or roughly 150 years before Moses led Israel out of Egypt.

This, of course, comes from secular sources, not from the Bible. These do present interesting coincidences with the Biblical account of Joseph and Moses, however.

Hopefully this information, sketchy as it is, will be of some assistance to you.

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25 Responses

  1. [...] when “a new king arose who knew not Joseph.” (You can read about what this means here.) This new king, actually a new dynasty, saw the Hebrews or Children of Israel as a threat. So, he [...]

    • Thanks for that it does open my eyes to the it does make more sense . i had read about that years ago and it blew me away . thanks for your Knowledge

  2. In the Quran, the old rulers of Egypt have been mentioned and the Glorious Quran makes difference between them. When it narrates about Egypt rulers at the age of Moses, peace upon him; they are not called with any name other than the word” pharos”. This is in more than sixty Ayah(verse) like the following Ayah:

    And(remember) when we did deliver you from pharaoh’s folk, who were afflicting you with dreadful torment slaying your sons and sparing your women: that was a tremendous trial from your Lord. (Al-Baqarah) between them. But when it narrates about Egypt rulers at the age of Joseph, peace upon him; they are not called with any name other than the word “king”.

    Allah says:

    And the king said: I saw in a dream, seven fat kine which seven lean were eating, and seven green ears of corn and seven dry. (Surat Joseph).

    And Allah says:

    And the king said: Bring him unto me. And when the messenger came unto him, he (Joseph) said: Return unto thy lord and ask him what was the case of the women cut their hands. My Lord knoweth thee guile.

    The mentioning of the old rulers of Egypt in the Torah.

    In Torah, there is no difference between the rulers of Egypt at the age of the prophet Moses and the rulers at the age of the prophet Joseph, they are called pharaoh without any difference between them.

    In Torah (Exodus) chapter 9(13). And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.

    For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.

    But when it (Torah) narrates about the ruler of Egypt At the age of Joseph in the Genesis(chapter 41):

    And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.

    38: And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?
    39: And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
    40: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled.

    The ancient Egyptian civilization.

    The ancient Egyptian civilization was still unknown. No one knew any thin about it except some obvious monuments most of which have plunged into the sand of the desert in Giza, Aswan and Luxor. So had been the case until Gan Franso Shmbelion, a French scientist broke the symbols of the ancient Egyptian language using Rosetta stone which was discovered during the French campaign on Egypt. A text in two language and three writings has been carved out of it: the ancient Egyptian one and it was written in Hieroglyph which means the sacred writing because it was specialized for writing inside the temples,Dimutiqi which means the popular writing and the Greek language . Through comparing between them , he succeeded to break the codes of the Hieroglyphic language . That discovery led to other monumental discoveries and recognizing the life of Pharaohs and ancient Egyptian.

    The word of Pharaohs.

    The word Pharaohs means The Great House in the old Egyptian language which had been used after that as a title for Egyptian rulers . That title was not discovered until from the beginning of the eighteenth dynasty i.e. (1539Bc) on. That means that all that period preceded that date , the title of the Egyptian rulers was The King and there is no disagreement about that even at the time of Hyksos occupation of Egypt (whose name means the king of the sponsors in the old Egyptian language) from 1648 to 1540 BC or before that period.

    Joseph, peace be upon him traveling to Egypt.

    It is agreeable that Joseph going to Egypt and his reign had been before the mission of Moses, peace be upon him. This is because Allah says narrating what was said by a believer one of Pharaoh’s folk: And verily Joseph brought you of old clear proofs, yet ye ceased not to be in doubt concerning what be brought you till, when he died, he said : Allah will not send any messenger after him. Thus Allah deceiveth him who is a prodigal, a doubter.(Surat Ghafir).

    The Egyptian said that Allah would not send a messenger because the long period after him in when Allah did not send a messenger in contrast to the prophets of the children of Israel who were sent by Allah throughout short periods of time. Since Moses mission was at the age of the Pharaoh of Egypt (Ramsees the second) as it was clear in a previous research, thus undoubtedly; Joseph was in Egypt before the age of the eighteenth dynasty i.e. the period in which the Egyptian rulers were called kings regardless of being Egyptians or they were Hyksos , as all people called them kings.

    A stone dating back to the third dynasty and exactly to the age of king Zoser was discovered. The following text was carved out of it:( king Zoser asked the gods to end the starvation that struck Egypt and lasted for seven years etc…). I believe that Joseph ruled Egypt at the age of king Zoser , at the time of the third dynasty because it was credited that this starvation lasted for seven years . It was also hinted that the ruler of Egypt was the king not the Pharaoh and this is in accordance with the glorious Quran.

    The Quran miracle about The Unknown.

    The Quran makes different between two important ages in the history of Egypt which are the age of the pre-Pharaohs i.e. before the eighteenth dynasty who called their rulers the kings and the age of the post-Pharaohs who called their rulers the Pharaohs and this started from the eighteenth dynasty. That is in contrast to the Torah that has not made difference between the two ages and the two titles: in Torah, Pharaoh is a title for the rulers of Egypt whether at the time of the prophet Joseph or at the time of the prophet Moses and this contradicts the modern science.

    As for the glorious Quran, it was and is still the book of Allah at which falsehood cannot come from before it or behind it and which does not have any contradiction.

    Allah says:”will they not then ponder on the Qur’an? If it had been from other than Allah they would have found therein much incongruity.”

    • Since I believe Moses to the the human author of the Torah, which is given by Yaweh, I do not find it surprising that Moses consistently speaks of the rulers of Egypt as Pharaoh. However, I seriously doubt that the Pharaoh (King) of Egypt at the time of Joseph was from the third dynasty with Moses being in the eighteenth dynasty. The Torah clearly says that the Exodus was 430 years from the time of Joseph’s father, Jacob, joining him in Egypt during the 7 year famine of Joseph’s day (see Exodus 12:40). Earlier, we read in Exodus 1:8, prior to the birth of Moses, “Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to the throne.” This was following the Hyksos dynasty. It was at this time that the Egyptians began enslaving the Hebrews, the period in which Moses was born. Fifteen dynasties would have lasted much more than 430 years.

      Jerry

    • Thank you for your reply Alif Rafik Khan – but can you please give a reply from mind and not your heart. You see, we are trying to think of this question in a scientific rational way which I realise is in full compliance with Quran – but your reply is not clear.

      Using your knowledge can you please provide this audience with a conclusion – who was or what was the name of the Pharoah during Joseph time?

      • Thank you for your comment and question. However, I did give a reply from my mind to Alif Rafik Khan. In that reply I said:

        I seriously doubt that the Pharaoh (King) of Egypt at the time of Joseph was from the third dynasty with Moses being in the eighteenth dynasty. The Torah clearly says that the Exodus was 430 years from the time of Joseph’s father, Jacob, joining him in Egypt.

        I also noted that the time from the third dynasty to the eighteenth dynasty would have been much more than 430 years. In other words, I doubt that Alif Rafik Khan’s reconciliation of the Koran with the Torah is correct. To you this may seem irrational. To me, if there is a difference between the Torah and the Koran, I accept the Torah over the Koran; apparently, you wish to accept the Koran over the Torah. While I mean no disrespect to you or to your belief, I rationally see no comparison between the Bible, which includes the Torah, and the Koran. I find no compelling reason to need to reconcile the two. This is a rational, not an emotional decision.

      • I know who it was. He was the richest King with the vastest empire ever one had at that time. He was known as a king of kings and a diplomatic ruler.

        Nebmaatre Amenhotep III

        p.s. – Jesus was God in the flesh, not a mere prophet.

      • You are entitled to your opinion – but I doubt that your opinion is accurate. According to Wikipedia, “Amenhotep was born around 1388 BC.” “An examination of his mummy by the Australian anatomist Grafton Elliot Smith concluded that the pharaoh was aged between forty and fifty years old at death.” This would make his death occur about 1348 BC, at the earliest. Moses and the Exodus from Egypt came hundreds of years later. Yet, 1 Kings 6:1 says, “In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the LORD.” Even if you telescoped the birth of Moses to the beginning of the next reigning monarch of Egypt, this would mean the Exodus occurred c. 1260 BC and Solomon’s Temple was built, beginning about 780 BC. This is at least 200 years too late – and that is even without reckoning the time between the death of Joseph and the birth of Moses, which could have been as much as 300 years. If you added this in, the temple (destroyed in 586 BC) would have been destroyed by Nebuchadnazer of Babylon a hundred years before Solomon began to build it!

        Sorry, friend. The dates just do not correlate. You need to try again. Next time, I would suggest you take the chronological notes in the Bible more seriously.

  3. Jerry – I really appreciate your thoughts on this. I have often wondered at the warm reception of one pharaoh as compared to the other – thank you – keep blogging!
    tim

  4. Nebmaatre Amenhotep III

    or the magnificent king. Also known as the king of kings at that time. A diplomatic ruler.

    This was the Pharoah Joseph served aside from God Himself, for sure.

  5. Thanks for your wonderful, articulate, and historical exposition. But please, I need to know about the plague in Egypt.

    • The story of the plagues in Egypt is in Exodus from chapter 7:14 through chapter 12:50. There were ten of these plagues in all, arranged in 3 groups of 3 plus the tenth plague.

      First Group: In Egypt and in Goshen (where Hebrews lived)
      Water to blood – announced to Pharaoh by the river.
      Frogs – announced to Pharaoh in his palace.
      Gnats – unannounced.

      Second Group: In Egypt only
      Flies -announced to Pharaoh by the river.
      Cattle – announced to Pharaoh in his palace.
      Boils – unannounced.

      Third Group: In Egypt only
      Hail – announced to Pharaoh by the river.
      Locusts – announced to Pharaoh in his palace.
      Darkness – unannounced.

      Final Plague: In Egypt only – Hebrews had first Passover and were protected by virtue of the blood of the slain lamb.
      Death of the firstborn – announced to Pharaoh

      All of these, coming as they did one after the other over a period of a few months, left the land of Egypt devastated. It is interesting that Joseph, the first Israelite to come to Egypt as a slave, had saved the Egyptians (and his own family) from a terrible 7 year family. Now when Joseph’s family (now a nation that the Egyptians feared might join with some enemy to overpower them) leaves Egypt, they leave behind famine and devastation.

      I hope these few remarks will be of some help to you in your studies.

      • I sometimes wonder how the Egyptians managed to erace traces of the Hebrews in Egypt so much so that it is hard to archeologically trace them

  6. I appreciate your insight and i also think the warm reception given to the he crews was bit odd except t to think there was a bitof lineage between the two.
    I think it was a hyskos or shepherd king that ruled when Joseph was there. Cos how can just interpreting a dream lead to a prime minister position for Joseph.
    And to orchestrateJoseph desttiny the dream Joseph interpreted had to do with livestock interpreted to a king who appreciated livestock

  7. Thank you for this information, it is very helpful. I, myself thought that the pharaoh was not an Egyptian because of what is said in Genesis 41:45 “Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife….” I didn’t believe that Joseph’s father-in-law was an Egyptian priest and therefore didn’t believe the Pharaoh was Egyptian.

  8. Hi folks, can anyone please tell me who was king of Babylon for the period Nebuchadnezzer was animalized by God?

  9. […] Egyptians who despised them. Here they were able to live and increase in number in safety. (Click here or here for more on […]

  10. Great. well when was this?

  11. I think the pharaoh during the life of Joseph was Amenhotep III/Akhenaten, for he is known for abondoning polytheism. I did found several arguments for this opinion.

  12. Joseph son of jacob served as a treasury chancellor to Rameses III, the last “great” pharaoh from the New Kingdom. In his period of reign, the heavy cost of this warfare slowly drained Egypt’s treasury and contributed to the gradual decline of the Egyptian Empire in Asia. The severity of the difficulties is indicated by the fact that the first known labor strike in recorded history occurred during the 29th year of Ramesses III’s reign, when the food rations for Egypt’s favored and elite royal tomb-builders and artisans in the village of Deir el Medina could not be provisioned. Something in the air prevented much sunlight from reaching the ground and also arrested global tree growth. (Great Volcano eruption?) This was king’s dream came to reality which Joseph accurately interpreted.

    In the period of 26 dynasty reign, also known as the Saite Period, lasted from 672 BC to 525 BC, many Jews came to Egypt, fleeing the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians (586 BCE). Jeremiah and other Jewish refugees arrived in Lower Egypt, notably in Migdol, Tahpanhes and Memphis. Some refugees also settled at Elephantine and other settlements in Upper Egypt.

    “A new king arose joseph knew not” is the start of persian reign iver egypt (artaxerxes III, so forth)

    • Vineo, the new king who knew not Joseph (Exodus 1) is c. 1,000 years prior to Artaxerxes, the Persian king who ruled in the 5th or 6th century B.C. Your correlation between Egyptian and Persian chronology is confused.

  13. Interesting fact that might enrich a new understanding about what it was said as “Something in the air prevented much sunlight from reaching the ground and also arrested global tree growth” at time Rameses III reign, is perhaps a gs cloud named G2 which approached a supermassive blackhole named Sagittarius A. The accretion of gasr reduced the sunlight and arrested global tree growth and caused global famine.

    This will re-occur in 7 years tribulation in the last days, but shortened to 3.5 years and 3.5 years. Not 7 and 7. The latest astronomy finding has it that the same gas cloud will approach milky way in the next few months. Pls read

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2539164/A-cosmic-feast-Milky-Ways-mysterious-black-hole-set-gobble-giant-gas-cloud.html

    This cloud gas will cause famine all over the world.

    • You make a great leap from the information in the article about a gas cloud approaching a black hole in deep space and a famine on earth. Nothing in the article suggested anything of the sort.

  14. Sankhenre Sewadjtu 3 years and 2–4 months, 1675–1672 BC
    Mersekhemre Ined /Neferhotep II 3 years, 1672–1669 BC (cupbearer)
    Sewadjkare Hori (dreamed) 5 years
    Merkawre Sobekhotep VII 2 years and 6 months, 1664–1663 BC
    Seven kings unknown (Hyksos at Avaris) follow~

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