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Jewry: Fake and truth in the Old Testament (OT) according to documents and excavations

New identity by new Jewish history by help of chronology and archaeological research

6. The legend of Jacob's son Joseph said having been sold to Egypt and having been minister for economic affairs in the government of the Pharaoh

Camel caravan in Sinai
Camel caravan in Sinai

by Michael Palomino (2006 / 2010)



from: Israel Finkelstein / Neil A. Silberman: The Bible unearthed. Archeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts; The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2001; German edition has got the title "No trombones before Jericho" (orig. German: "Keine Posaunen vor Jericho"): edition C.H.Beck oHG, Munich 2002;

Here in this analysis is used the German version "Keine Posaunen vor Jericho" of DTV, Munich 2004, second edition of 2005. All page indications refer to the German version. I hope the page numbers are not very different.

Son Joseph (one of the sons of Jacob) is said having been sold to Egypt because of a dream

OT claims:

-- the son Joseph (one of the sons of Jacob) is said having dreamt that he would rule over a family later, and he is said having told this dream to other brothers and having been hated for that, and by this the brothers are said having sold Joseph to a group of Ismaelite merchants to Egypt bringing Joseph with their camel caravan to Egypt, and there are said having been resin, balm and myrrh within the goods of the caravan (p.44)

-- the 11 other brothers are said having claimed to their father Jacob that a wild animal had eaten Joseph (p.44)

-- Joseph is said having followed a career and is said having been brilliant with prophecies for the Pharaoh and is said having been minister for economic affairs of the Pharaoh predicting 7 bad years (p.44).

-- when after a long dry period the other 11 sons of Jacob came to Egypt with hunger and wanted to purchase food, brother Joseph is said having presented to them as minister for economic affairs, and the Israelites are said having changed their domicile all to Gosen where patriarch Jacob is said having blessed all his sons and Joseph's sons, the grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim, and where son Judah is said having received the royal birthright (p.45)

-- and it is said that Jacob - after his death - was buried in the cave of Machpelah near Hebron by his sons, but the Israelites are said having stayed in Egypt (p.45).

The contradictions in the legend with Joseph who was sent to Egypt

Transportation of Joseph to Egypt: the criterion of the camels

The documents say: In Assyrian sources of 7th century B.C. are mentioned the first camel caravans (p.50)

Archeology says: Archeology proves clearly that camels were not domesticated before the end of second millennium B.C., and only much time after 1,000 B.C. they were used as pack animals. In the book of Genesis (1st book of Moses) camel caravans are repeatedly mentioned, and the text describing Joseph sold to Egypt also describes camels as pack animals (Gen. 37,25). But according to the documents and the archaeological findings this is not possible because the culture of camel caravans did not exist yet in times of Jacob and son Joseph (p.49).

The location of Tell Gemme for example is an important crossing for caravan trails (p.49-50) and indicates a massive growth of camel bones in the 7th century B.C. These are almost only bones of adult camels, so they probably are from caravans, and not from cultivating farms (p.50).

Transportation of Joseph to Egypt: commerce with "resin, balm, and myrrh" did not exist yet

The goods like "resin, balm, and myrrh" carried in the camel caravan of Joseph to Egypt are main products of Arab commerce under supervision of Assyrian Reich in 8th to 7th century B.C. So, the book of Genesis surely was not written before the 8th century B.C. (p.49).

Evidence that the whole legend is a fake: The family trees after Jacob are very different and do not conform (p.47).

Evidence that teh whole legend is a fake: The names of the persons in Egipt in the Joseph legend are the favorite names of 7th and 6th century B.C.

The namings in Egypt according to the legend are like this:

-- Joseph as grand vizier of the Pharaoh is named Zaphnat Paneah
-- the supreme of the royal life guards is named Potiphar
-- the priest is named Potiphera
-- and the daughter of Potipheras is named Asnath (p.80).

All these names are favorite names in Egypt during 7th and 6th century B.C., but during the times of Joseph legend these names are rare [and never would have been for state's representatives and never would have been used in a religious main book] (p.80-81).

All the cited facts and evidence are indications that the legend about a Joseph sold and brought to Egypt is an faked invention between 8th and 6th century B.C.].

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Photo sources

-- camel caravan in Sinai: http://elephoto.com/exotic.asp