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Egypt Under Joseph

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

His accomplishments as Co-Pharaoh

Knowing as we do that Joseph was not an original name (we don’t know what his original name was), exactly how did a man who was called Yuya in Egypt come to be called Joseph in the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), particularly that Joseph was not a Jewish name?  It appears that at least in this instance, the Genesis writers knew what they were talking about as they got the name dead right!

Both biblical and extra-biblical sources inform us that upon being made viceroy, Yuya was given a new, evocative name by the incumbent pharaoh. This was Zaphnath-Pa-Neah. It was a descriptive name meaning “Time of God, May He Live”.  Paraphrased, the message in the name was, “May God Shine in This Man’s Time”.  But it is the first syllable, Zaph, that is of particular interest. In the Egyptian spelling, this was “Seph” or “Sef”, meaning “time”.

So what did the Hebrews do? They combined “Yu”, the first syllable of the name Yuya, with “Seph” to form “Yu-Seph”,   or Joseph (pronounced “Yahewseph” in the Bible).  “Yu” was simply the shorter form of  “Yahweh”,  the generic name by which the Jews’ Enlilite gods  went. (Note that the Old Testament was written in the 6th century BC, by which time the Jews referred to their god as Yahweh.)  Thus the name Joseph as interpreted by the Jews meant “Yahweh’s Time”, which is basically the same as its rendering in Egyptian.

In another vein, the name Joseph also meant “Son of God”. One other meaning of the Egyptian term “sef” was “boy” or “son”. In this context though, Joseph was the son not of the Anunnaki god Yahweh but of  Egypt’s national god Marduk. This equated him to a pharaoh as all pharaohs were designated sons of the god Marduk, the reason why at least one of their throne names had to carry the name Ra, or Re, that being a component of Amen-Ra, the name by which Marduk was known  in Egypt. As we have already showcased, Joseph was for  all practical purposes a joint king with Pharaoh Thutmosis IV.  

The Egyptian writer Manetho confirms that the pharaoh Amenhotep III, Tuthmosis IV’s successor, did have a super minister called “Seph”.    And rummaging through ancient Egyptian historical archives, we find that the name Seph was actually a common one and was borne by both males and females.   

JOSEPH DWELT IN KING’S PALACE

The many titles the pharaoh conferred on Joseph included “Bearer of the Seal of the King of Lower (northern) Egypt;  "Bearer of the Ring of the King of Lower Egypt”; “Adjutant (Deputy) of His Majesty in the Chariotry”; “Him Whom the King has Made his Double”; “First Among the King’s Companions”; “Mouth of the King of Lower Egypt”; “Ears of the King of Lower Egypt”; “Mouth of the King of Upper (southern) Egypt”; “Master of the Horses”; “Royal Keeper of the Grain”; “Overseer of the Cattle of Min”; and “Lord of Ahkmin”.

As Master of the Horses and Adjutant of His Majesty in the Chariotry, Joseph commanded his own branch of the armed forces – the Chariotry, which waged horse-mounted  war. He was the first person in the history of Egypt to be entrusted such a responsibility. By dint of this same portfolio, he always rode in the second chariot after that of the pharaoh on ceremonial occasions. Perhaps to underscore that he once held this highly momentous position, Joseph was upon his death entombed with a miniature chariot.

At Joseph’s investiture ceremony, which was to all intents and purposes a coronation ceremony, the pharaoh presented him with three insignias of office. The first was a signet ring, which the pharaoh had all along won on his own finger. As such, the ring literally represented a transfer of power, suggesting a symbolic abdication on the part of the pharaoh in deference to Joseph.  The ring conformed to Joseph’s two titles of “Bearer of the Seal of the King of Lower Egypt” and "Bearer of the Ring of the King of Lower Egypt”. 

The second was a necklace of large beads of gold and Lapis Lazuli and the third was a set of royal robes of “fine linen”.   Whereas the gold necklace was found on his mummified body, the ring was not: apparently it had been stolen by grave robbers. Ecstatic at seeing him lap up all these trappings of power and glory, the priests of Heliopolis, Joseph’s most ardent champions, stopped just short of dancing a jig. They nicknamed him Sobekemsaf, which was a title of the pharaoh himself as if to say he was indeed “Him Who The King Made His Equal”.   

Now, since Joseph was practically a joint-Pharaoh, he was not allowed to live in his own posh residence:  being the King’s conscience, the two had to live cheek by jaw. Thus Joseph was accommodated in a section of the royal residence itself. His wife Tuya served the Queen as a butler, nanny, and lady-in-waiting, her official title being “The King’s Ornament”.   Tuya also served purely religious roles for the Anunnaki gods of Egypt. She was Singer of the Hathor (Ninmah, who though neither an Enkite nor  Enlilite was highly regarded by the Egyptians for her tenderness and her indefatigable efforts to reconcile the two clans); the Chief Entertainer (musically) of the gods Marduk and Horus; and Superintendant of the Harem (a bevy of mistresses) of Marduk in Thebes and Horus in Ahkmin.  

JOSEPH TOPS “THE FORBES RICH LIST”

In those days when people in power had carte blanche to enrich themselves from national coffers (not by theft but by official entitlement), Joseph became one of the wealthiest people on the globe, in keeping with  one of his titles which said “One Made Rich by the King of Lower Egypt”. He is said to have controlled over 20 percent of Egypt’s GNP. The portfolio that brought about these riches was that of Royal Keeper of the Grain Stores.

Since the great flood of Noah’s day, when north Africa began to turn into a desert, the river Nile has always been Egypt’s lifeline. Like most rivers, the Nile has its peaks and troughs: it swells with water during the rainy season (it originates in the more rain-abundant tropics, in Ethiopia and Sudan). But the Nile has had another age-old rainfall cycle that occurs in seven-year periods at its sources. In one such period, it experiences a heavy rainfall pattern and in the next seven-year period it is plagued by low rainfall, and so forth and so on. The grain harvest mirrored this climatic pattern:  seven years of abundance were always followed by seven “lean” years.

According to the Famine Stela, a hieroglyphical inscription into a natural granite cliff on Sehel Island in Egypt which tells of a seven-year period of drought and famine during the reign of Pharaoh Djoser of the Third Dynasty, people were in dire straits during this harsh cycle of the Nile. “Grain was scant, kernels were dried up. Scarce was every kind of food. Temples were shut, shrines covered in dust. Everyone was in distress.” Talking of a similar situation in the time of Joseph, the Bible says the famished populace would match on the palace to plead with their king to do something to get them out of their predicament. “And the dearth was in all lands … And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread.”

Joseph was tasked with balancing out the availability of grain in Egyptian silos. He was in one way  or the other expected to turn the lean years into abundant years too so that the nation was consistently catered for foodwise. Thus Joseph’s first seven years, which coincided with the abundant cycle, was dedicated to stockpiling. Joseph made maximum use of this situation to amass a fortune for himself. Exactly how?

Writes Ralph Ellis in his phenomenally insightful book Jesus, Last of the Pharaohs: “Joseph had been stockpiling grain for years (during the bountiful seven years). As the famine worsened (during the harsh seven years), he began to sell this grain back to the people for the profit of the pharaoh. After a while, people had no more money to buy grain, so they sold their sacred cattle that they would not eat. Joseph bought them all and fed his people well.

Next, the people of Egypt came to Joseph and sold their land to him to pay for grain until all the land of Egypt belonged to pharaoh and Joseph. When the floods at last returned to the land, Joseph said to the people: here is seed corn for you, and ye shall sow the land. But in return you shall give one fifth part unto pharaoh and keep four fifths for your family. And they said; thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in your sight, and we will be pharaoh’s servants.

And Joseph smiled, knowing that he was the saviour of all of Egypt and, in addition, he would receive a 20 per cent return on all his investments and become the richest man in the world.” If there was such a thing as the Forbes Rich List in Joseph’s day, he would have  shot right to the first slot just in his thirties!

JOSEPH’S STUNNING CIVIL ENGINEERING FEAT

In order to ensure that there was sufficient grain at all times in Egypt, Joseph came up with  a most ingenious idea. There was at a place 60 miles south of Memphis a natural depression which he intended to turn into a lake with full-capacity water all-year-round. This feature, which was practically in the middle of the desert, was known as Qarun. Joseph decided to construct an artificial waterway that would link Qarun to the Nile River over a distance of about 30 miles and which would facilitate year-long irrigation.

The pharaoh of course acceded to the idea coming from the genius that was his No.2, but when  Joseph’s two viziers were told of it,  they, in a bid to undermine him, got the pharaoh to prescribe a rather tight time scale for the project. He was to complete it within a thousand days, or roughly 33 months, a significant Masonic number.

If the green-eyed viziers thought he would fail and so lose a bit of face in the eyes of the pharaoh, they were totally mistaken. Joseph dug feeder canals and created the artificial lake in the stipulated time period with a week or so  to spare. It was such a stunning feat that the place where Qarun was located became known as Alf Yum (or Fayyum), meaning “The Place of the Thousand Days”. Alf Yum became the bread basket of the whole of Egypt, noted not only for grain production but also for fresh vegetables, fruit, and fish.

The Qarun depression was in fact two lakes in one – the smaller Lake Keroun and the larger Lake Moeris, named after the reigning pharaoh. Moeris is the Greek rendition of the name of an Egyptian pharaoh. The Greek historian-geographer Herodotus wrote of a huge lake that was formed artificially in the time of “Pharaoh Moeris”. The lake had a circumference of 400 miles, equivalent to the entire length of Egypt along the sea coast. It is not easy to assign the name Moeris to a particular pharaoh since pharaohs had several throne names but since Joseph thrived in the time of Thutmosis IV and Amenhotep III, Moeris may be one of these two. As for the waterway itself, even today it is known as Bahr Yousof in Arabic, meaning “The Waterway of Joseph”.

JOSEPH MILITARILY RESCUES A NATION IN DISTRESS

As head of the Chariotry, the horse-mounted branch of the Egyptian army, Joseph was a formidable general. We don’t know exactly how many campaigns Joseph took part in but these must have been very few in that Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV and his successor Amenhotep III were not particularly belligerent kings having entered into many peace accords with foreign nations. But at least one campaign headed by Joseph is documented in the apocryphal Book of Jasher.

     The war pitted Egyptians against the Tarshishites. The Tarshishites were from the state of Cilicia, in modern-day Turkey. For years, they had made the lives of the much smaller, populationwise,  and therefore weaker Ishmaelites a total misery. It was the latter who called upon the pharaoh to help get them out of their predicament. The Book of Jasher relates the story as follows:

“At that time the children of Tarshish came against the sons of Ishmael, and made war with them, and the children of Tarshish spoiled the Ishmaelites for a long time. And the children of Ishmael were small in number in those days, and they could not prevail over the children of Tarshish, and they were sorely oppressed. And the old men of the Ishmaelites sent a record to the king of Egypt, saying, send I pray thee unto thy servants officers and hosts to help us to fight against the children of Tarshish, for we have been consuming away for a long time.

And Pharaoh sent Joseph with the mighty men and host which were with him, and also his mighty men from the king's house. And they went to the land of Havilah to the children of Ishmael, to assist them against the children of Tarshish, and the children of Ishmael fought with the children of Tarshish, and Joseph smote the Tarshishites and he subdued all their land, and the children of Ishmael dwell therein unto this day.

And when the land of Tarshish was subdued, all the Tarshishites ran away, and came on the border of their brethren the children of Javan, and Joseph with all his mighty men and host returned to Egypt, not one man of them missing.” It is ironic that the Ishamaelites (Arabs) whose safety the pharaoh of a black nation safeguarded would eons later occupy Egypt and drive its entire black population out of the country. This Earth, My Brother …

WHICH  GOD DID JOSEPH WORSHIP?

Now that Joseph was an Egyptian, which god did he worship?  Did he continue venerating the gods he had worshipped in Canaan, the Enlilites, notably  Jehovah-Enlil, Nannar-Sin, and Ishkur-Adad, or embraced the major Enkite gods such as Enki (called Ptah in Egypt), Marduk, Osiris, and Horus?

That question is not easy to answer. That is because the god one worships publicly is not necessarily the god one worships at heart. We know, for instance, that the overwhelming majority of evangelical churches have today been infiltrated by Satanists, who in public worship Jesus when under cover of darkness they worship Reptilian gods who go under the generic term “Devil”. As for Catholicism, the less said the better: the Vatican and its Pontiff do not have an ounce of spirituality in them.  To cite just one example, every time there is a sting exposure of priests who have sexually abused little boys for ages, all the “Holy Father” says is,  “forgive them: they know not what they are doing”.  

With regard to Joseph, at least on the face of it, one would say he worshipped Enkite gods. At least four of his official titles exalted Enkite gods. They were “Overseer of the Cattle of Min” (Min was Horus primarily); “Prophet of the God Min”; “Overseer of the Cattle of Amun” (Amun, or Amen, was Marduk);  and “Praised of His Lord Amun”.  And as priest of the temple of Heliopolis, a position he later occupied, Joseph was known as Ptah-Seph, meaning “Son of Enki”.

However, the manner in which he was buried, likely according to his wishes, suggests he was in truth not Enkite-oriented. Typically, Egyptian nobles, including pharaohs, were buried with their hands crossed over their chests in homage to the god Osiris, who was said to be the god presiding over the passage of the dead on their way to higher realms of existence.  Joseph, on the other hand, had his palms facing his neck under the chin. His was the only Egyptian mummy to have been buried in that posture.      

Clearly, Joseph may have publicly venerated Enkite gods when deep down he was contemptuous of them. At the same time, if he worshipped Enlilite gods, he must have done so in utmost secrecy. Note that the Jewish population in Egypt did not also worship Enlilite gods. Having lived in Egypt for hundreds of years, most of them worshipped Marduk (who  in Egypt was known as the Apis Bull, meaning Taurean Bull) in the time of Joseph. This aspect was one of the reasons the Enlilites cleverly orchestrated their repatriation to Canaan during the time of Moses.

NEXT WEEK:   JOSEPH’S LEGENDARY GRANDSON IS BORN

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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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