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Joseph in Egypt

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

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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