Home » Columns » Joseph in Egypt

Joseph in Egypt

Publishing Date : 17 September, 2018

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER


“Hykso slave” eventually comes to rule country on behalf of King!  

The smokescreen gimmick the Enlilites came up with with a view to recapturing Egypt was to smuggle Joseph into that country under the cover story that he had been sold into slavery by  his jealous and loathing brothers. For such a stunt to succeed, it had to be demonstrable and therefore convincing. It also had to be well-coordinated just in case Joseph met with disaster at some stage during his peregrinations.

The starting point, however, was to cultivate friendly forces in Egypt who would at long last be the custodians of Joseph under the story line that he was their slave. In point of fact, the Enlilites had long laid the groundwork for a sympathetic reception of Joseph by the powers that be in Egypt.  For we now know that Amenhotep II, the 7th Pharaoh, had a curiously Hebrew predilection. One of his many pharaonic titles was “Hykso King of Heliopolis”, which may hint at a modicum of Jewish blood in him, likely from his mother’s side.

It is probable that Amenhotep’s mother was of Jewish stock, a cleverly contrived manoeuvre on the part of the Enlilites as a preliminary step to retake Egypt in the fullness of time. Thus if Amenhotep was kind of favourably disposed toward the Hebrews,  it follows that his successor, Thothmosis IV, was most likely of a similar frame of mind. That  could explain why Joseph, a full-blooded Hebrew,  ultimately took centre stage in the affairs of Egypt. But we’re getting ahead of our story.

Next, a network of  slave traders, all in on the ruse, had to be propositioned, syndicated, and well-orchestrated. Joseph had to be passed from one slave merchant to another and not be rushed so as allow time to ascertain whether Egyptian intelligence was sniffing around for his presence in the country. It was imperative that the  Enlilites not take chances as there was always the possibility that some turncoat  might spill the beans on the young man and in the event that he resultantly  landed in the wrong hands,  the whole plan would boomerang back horrendously. It was only when the Enlilites were satisfied  all the safeguards were in place that  they decided to launch Joseph into the fray.


JOSEPH OPERATIONALISED DURING RULE OF THUTMOSIS IV

Joseph was 17 years old when he set off on “Operation Retake Egypt”. Before he was taken away, his father presented him what the Bible wrongly describes as a “coat of many colours”. The Hebrew term translated “coat of many colours” is   Ketonet Passim. This simply meant an ornamented tunic. It was presented by a  king to his prince or princess. To the princess, it was indicative of virgin status,  whereas to a prince, like Joseph was, it denoted princely status. It was a coded message to Joseph’s future Egyptian guardians that he indeed was not an ordinary Hebrew but a dynastic heir.   

As per the pre-arranged setup, Joseph was sold five times for purposes of maximum precaution. His brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites. The Ishmaelites sold him to the Midianite traders. The Midianites sold him to the Medanites. It was  the  Medanites  who sold him to the Egyptians, at which point he crossed into Egyptian territory.  The Egyptians finally hawked  him to his intended custodian going by the name of Potiphar.

Who was Potiphar? Genesis describes him as a “captain of the guard”, meaning the  chief of the pharaoh’s security detail, something akin to Secret Service, a bureau responsible for the safety and security of the US president.   This man was very strategically placed as an Enlilite agent in the corridors of Egyptian power. First, his responsibilities entailed constant interaction with the pharaoh. Second, his very senior security portfolio meant he was trusted to the hilt, so that whatever information he passed to the pharaoh was received as gospel truth. He was thus just the right guy to endear young Joseph to the pharaoh.

The pharaoh of the day was Tuthmosis IV. Although his capital was Thebes in southern Egypt, he spent the bulk of his time at his residence in Memphis, northern Egypt, which was only a stone’s throw from Avaris, where the Hykso-Hebrew remnants who stayed behind after the First Exodus under Kamose abounded and slaved. Potiphar therefore must have been based in Memphis too.

Tuthmosis IV was the  8th pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, which  began with Kamose. To tell from the features of his mummy, he is the first pharaoh from southern Egypt to bear traces of mixed blood – straight hair, narrow nose, and thin lips, characteristics which were not quintessentially Bantu. The Egyptian annals say his mother, Tiaa, was of “unknown origin”. She may as well have been a Hykso-Hebrew and her identity was jealously guarded so as not to provoke public outrage. Indeed, in those days when there were no newspapers, TV, radio, social media, or cameras of any kind,  a secret could   be kept from the wider public forever.  

Intent at  blunting the menace that was the Hittite Empire, a formidable power in the ascendant, Tuthmosis IV struck an alliance  with the King of Mittani and took  Mutemwiya, the latter’s daughter, as his minor wife. It was to Mutemwiya  that Tuthmosis IV’s heir, Amenhotep III, was born.  The fact that Tuthmosis IV’s heir came from a foreign and secondary  wife and not from one of his two senior, indigenous  wives attests to his desire to forge an enduring detente  with the Hurrians (the people of Mittani).  

THE FRAME-UP THAT NEVER WAS

All went according to plan. When Joseph arrived in Egypt, he never did a moment of slave labour: that is a cock-and-bull story. Joseph was a long-term VIP guest of Potipher: he neither worked nor toiled under him. In fact, no sooner had Joseph arrived at the Potipher estate than he arranged for him to go to school in Heliopolis.

The historian Herodotus informs  us that Heliopolis was the oldest centre of learning in Egypt. It was the Oxford of the day.  The city teemed with religious and academic institutions. For Joseph to be seen in a positive light by the religious establishment, he had to be well-versed in knowledge pertaining to the national god Marduk. Needless to say, this specific theology was one of his majors. In the seminary training, Joseph was taught by the priests of Heliopolis.

Now,  in Egypt, Joseph was known by a different name, Yuya. We know this was an assumed name, if it can be called that in that it simply meant, “One Who Is the Son Of”. It was not an Egyptian name at all.   At school, Joseph was surpassingly brilliant and so was easily noticed by his professors. By the time he was graduating, his intellectual renown had spread as far as the pharaoh’s courts at Memphis. The professors must have wondered how such a gifted youngster should be a slave in the very home he dwelt when he should have been its resident celebrity. Of course the slave tag simply was a cover story: Potipher had to have a worthwhile explanation in case something went wrong. But contrary to the Genesis story, nothing went wrong at all.

Genesis relates that the dynamically good-looking Joseph was sexually propositioned by Potipher’s wife, who upon being spurned had him framed for an attempted act of adultery. This incident led to Joseph serving time in prison. Once again, that is a fictitious story, literally:  neither Joseph nor Potipher’s wife had anything to do with it. In fact, the story emerged 200 years after Joseph’s time.

Researchers have found that the Genesis writers plagiarised the substance of the story from a 12th century BC document known as The Orbiney Papyrus. The document which, dates from the reign of Pharaoh Seti II, who ruled from 1200 to 1194 BC, features a story  titled  The Two Brothers,  which very closely mirrors the jiggery-pokery of Potipher’s wife as per the Genesis account. Reduced to its basic essentials, the story goes like this:

“Bata lived with and faithfully served his older brother, Anubis. One day Anubis’s wife tried to seduce Bata, who rejected her advances. Furious, she accused him of attempted rape, and the enraged Anubis prepared to kill Bata. But Bata, forewarned by a cow, fled in the nick of time. A lake filled with crocodiles magically appeared between the brothers, cutting off Anubis’s pursuit. Anubis returned home and proceeded to kill his wife. Meanwhile, Bata cut out his own heart and placed it high in a pine tree, an act rendering him nearly immortal.

The gods fashioned a beautiful wife for Bata. An immoral woman, however, she entered Pharaoh’s harem and divulged to the Egyptians that Bata could be killed by cutting down the pine tree. They followed through, but Anubis, apparently prepared to reconcile with Bata, found his brother’s heart and restored him to life. Bata in turn transformed himself into a bull and carried Anubis to Pharaoh’s court, where Bata’s alarmed wife persuaded Pharaoh to sacrifice the bull.

Its blood caused two trees to sprout. Realizing that Bata still lived, his wife arranged to have the trees cut down, but a splinter flew into her mouth and she became pregnant. She bore a son, whom Pharaoh raised as his crown prince. The boy – Bata himself – in due course became the pharaoh and appointed Anubis to be his viceroy.”


The two stories are not exactly identical but people who plagiarise do not do so verbatim through and through: they build into the story  at least a modicum of either their own input or spin,  or yet another aspect lifted from some other source.   So long story short, Joseph was never the centre of a sexual scandal at any point in time whilst living in Potipher’s luxurious house. His conduct was consistently  above-board. Joseph never tasted prison at all: indeed, there is nothing in the Egyptian records that remotely intimates Yuya was ever imprisoned.

JOSEPH HITCHES ROYAL LASS

When Joseph graduated, everybody wanted a piece of him thanks to his diamond-edged brilliance, his film-star looks, and his natural charisma. Among those who set his eyes on him was the chief priest of the Heliopolis temple, who the Bible calls Potipheras (a different person from Potipher, the head of royal security). The chief priest soon was match-making her gorgeous daughter Tuya with Joseph and before long the two had tied the knot. Tuya’s other name was Asenath. In Egyptian spelling, this is Nes-Net. The name evoked Nut, who in Egypt was the Anunnaki god (or goddess as she was female) of the sky.

Tuya was not simply a scion of the Egyptian priesthood: she was royalty too. She is said to have been the granddaughter of Tuthmosis III, who according to those who have studied royal Egyptian  mummies, looked very much like her.  Her mother, Potipheras’ wife, therefore, was a daughter of Tuthmosis III (Tuthmosis III had at least 7 official wives, three of whom foreigners).

Since Joseph too was a descendant of the great Hykso pharaoh and patriarch Jacob, this was a union, to all intents and purposes, of two dynasties.  It was not a clincher yet on the part of the Enlilites but it was a significant step in that direction: their main target  was the pharaonic perch itself.

Although Joseph had spent much of his Egyptian time in Heliopolis, where he went to school, and Memphis, where his guardian Potipher resided, the city he chose to dwell in after his nuptials was Khent-Min (today’s Akhmin), then the  headquarters of the 9th province of southern Egypt, which was  located on the east bank of the Nile. Initially, Min was another name for Enki, the overall god of Africa. It would later come to incorporate Horus, a great-great grandson of Enki, who was one of the most popular of Egyptian gods. Joseph would in future be conferred the civic title of Lord of Khent-Min such was his attachment to the city.  

JOSEPH ENTERS SERVICE OF PHARAOH

Meanwhile, the chief priest of Heliopolis was determined that her daughter be ensconced near the very pinnacle of political power and in her husband Joseph, she had a wonder catalyst. Both Potipher and Potipheras were gushing in their recommendation of Joseph to the reigning Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV, projecting him as a great visionary who could help take Egypt places.

Although he was not an indigenous Egyptian, Joseph, the pharaoh was told, had come to Egypt as a slave, sold by his own dirt-poor family, and as such he was a de facto Egyptian and would never return to Canaan. “He has the mind of a prophet,” the king was told. “He can literally divine the future of Egypt. To him, interpreting a dream is child’s  play.”

At the time, the pharaoh was disillusioned with his coterie of advisors who kept falling short time and again, the reason  Joseph was pitched to him. Although even for the pharaoh it was love at first sight when  Joseph was brought before him, he first put him on probation just to gauge his potential objectively. He was impressed beyond measure: the young Hykso-Hebrew was a genius who knew practically everything. He seemed incapable of error or ill-judgement. Joseph was hired even before the probation  ran its course. He was about 30 years of age when he entered the King’s service.

Joseph’s position is said to be that of Vizier, a mistakenly assigned designation on the part of historians in our view. In today’s terms, we might call him “Prime Minister” (like Theresa May under Queen Elizabeth) or “Chancellor” (like Otto Von Bismarck under German King Kaiser Wilhem I). But as we shall see, he was more of a viceroy than prime minister or chancellor as he was an appointee and not an electee and was not subject to the King but ruled on behalf of the King.  

In commissioning Joseph into service, Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV said to him, “I have set thee over all the land of Egypt … Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled; only in the throne will I be greater than thou ...  I am pharaoh, and without thee no man shall lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” The pharaoh ordered every Egyptian to bow by the knee before Joseph, which made him a king in his own right.    Thus while this pharaoh reigned over Egypt, the country was governed or ruled by Joseph. He made all the decisions and simply briefed the king about what he had done.  

A SUPER-VIZIER

Typically, the duties of a vizier have been described as follows:

“The viziers were appointed by the pharaohs but often belonged to a pharaoh's family. The vizier's paramount duty was to supervise the running of the country, much like a prime minister. At times this even included small details such as sampling the city's water supply. All other lesser supervisors and officials, such as tax collectors and scribes, would report to the vizier. “The judiciary was part of the civil administration and the vizier also sat in the High Court. However, at any time, the pharaoh could exert his own control over any aspect of government, overriding the vizier's decisions.

“The vizier also supervised the security of the pharaoh and the palace by overseeing the comings and goings of palace visitors. “Viziers were the second in command, they oversaw the political administration and all official documents had to have his seal on them, managed the taxation system and monitored the supply of food, listened to problems between nobles and settled them, and ran the pharaoh’s household and ensured the royal family’s safety.

“From the Fifth Dynasty onwards viziers, whom by then were the highest civilian bureaucratic official, held supreme responsibility for the administration of the palace and government including jurisdiction, scribes, state archives, central granaries, treasury, storage of surplus products and their redistribution, and supervision of building projects such as the royal pyramid.

“It will be seen that the vizier is the grand steward of all Egypt, and that all the activities of the state are under his control. He has general oversight of the treasury and the chief treasurer reports to him; he is chief justice or head of the judiciary; he is chief of police, both for the residence city and kingdom; he is minister of war, both for army and navy; he is secretary of the interior and of agriculture, while all general executive functions of state, with many that may not be classified, are incumbent upon him. There is, indeed, no prime function of state that does not operate through his office.”

But Joseph was not simply a vizier: he was a super-vizier. We say this because he was practically the conscience of the pharaoh: whatever he pronounced had the force of a pharaonic fiat. Also, the name Yuya, as Joseph was known in Egypt, does not appear on the list of viziers of both Tuthmosis IV and his successor Amenhotep III, under whom Joseph consecutively served. At the time of the 18th Dynasty, there were two viziers at any one time, one for northern Egypt and another for southern Egypt.

During their collective  tenure, Tuthmosis IV and Amenhotep III had a total of 7 viziers, none of whom goes by the name Yuya. Clearly, Joseph was more than a vizier in that he had two viziers under him. His unique position was the first and last in the entire history of Egypt, which goes to show that he was a man of extraordinary ability and of extraordinary capacity.

NEXT WEEK:   THE FEATS OF JOSEPH

Cartoon

Polls

Do you think the courts will help put the UDC, BMD impasse within reasonable time ahead of the 2019 General Election?

banner_14.jpg
banner_12.jpg

POPULER BRANDS