Joseph and Pharaoh
      There are only a few men in the Bible to whom God had given the gift of interpreting dreams. One of them was Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob.
      After being sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph was taken to Egypt where he eventually gets thrown into prison on account of a false accusation. But while in prison he interprets the dreams of two of pharaohs servants. God makes known to Joseph the interpretation of the dreams of both men, and they come to pass just as Joseph had spoken to them.
      Now it came to pass that Pharaoh himself had a dream that troubled him greatly, and he sought someone to be able to interpret his dream. But none was found among all the wise men of  Egypt.
      Now one of pharaohs servants to whom Joseph had interpreted his dream in prison, remembered his incident with Joseph and how Joseph correctly interpreted his dream. And he advised pharaoh to seek out Joseph to interpret his dream.
      While standing before pharaoh, Joseph, under God's guidance, makes an interpretation of Pharaoh's dream. He tells him that there would be seven years of plentiful harvests in Egypt followed by seven years of desolate famine throughout the land.
       Joseph is then given a position by Pharaoh to oversee all  the lands of Egypt.
      Pharaoh then gives Joseph the name Zaph'nath-Paaneah
      Now what is interesting about the name Zaph'nath-Paaneah, is that it means nothing in Hebrew. But in Egyptian it correlates exactly with the new position that Joseph was given by Pharaoh.  
      According to Genesis 41:33-36, after Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dream, Joseph gave this advise to Pharaoh:  
      “Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.”
      And since Pharaoh wisely perceived that the Spirit of God dwelt within Joseph, He gave him that position. And to that position, Joseph was given the title Zaphnath-Paaneah
Biblical Joseph distributing food during the seven year famine
      As we shall see, this was not a proper name at all, but a title.
      While researching ancient hieroglyphics and the likely Egyptian pronunciations of this name, I realized this title matches exactly the job description that Pharaoh had given Joseph as recorded in the Bible.
       Below are two English translations followed by the Egyptian phonetically equivalent words taken from the book: 'An Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary' by E.A. Wallis Budge published in 1920, along with page numbers of the hieroglyphic symbols that pertain to the words.
       Other less likely possibilities are given in the sources section at the end of this article.
       In Hebrew Zaphnath-Paaneah is pronounced (tsof-nath' pah-nay'-akk) and is derived from Tsophnath-Paneach (tsophnath-pa'-neach or  tsaphenath pa`aneach.)
      The two most likely ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic words and the translations of this title would include:
 
1) tes-ap-hen-ath-pa-netch = "Himself to count seed, to seize what is my crushed grain."
 
'tes' = himself, or to be seated pg.887,v2, 'ap or app' = to count, pg41, vol 1,  'hen' = seed, plant,, 'ath' = carry away , seize,  pg 100 V1 'pa'= what is mine. pg229 v1,   'netch' =  crushed grain, meal pg 411,v1
 
2) tes-ap-hen-ath-pa-anetch = "Himself to count seed, to seize what is mine, my advocate.
 
tes' = himself, or to be seated pg.887,v2, 'ap or app' = to count, pg41, vol 1,  'hen' = seed, plant,, 'ath' = carry away , seize,  pg 100 V1 'pa'= what is mine. pg229 v1, 'anetch' = protector, defender, advocate,  pg 64
      Even though Joseph (yo-sef) has not yet been positively identified in Egyptian records, if the circa 1486 B.C. date of the Exodus is correct as outlined in our previous articles on Moses (Chapter 15 of Vol.1 of our book 'Bible Believer's Archaeology."), the pharaoh who reigned at the time of Joseph's interpretation of the dream can be narrowed down to a few candidates. The Bible in Exodus 12:40 states that Israel was in Egypt for 430 years. So the calculation of when Jacob (Israel) first enters Egypt during the famine would be 1486 B.C.+ (430 years x 360 Biblical days/365 days) = circa 1910 B.C.  
      There would have been 7 years of plenty before Jacob enters Egypt during the famine, which would give you a date of around 1917 B.C. for when Joseph interpreted the dream and is installed to his position in Egypt.
       Depending on which Egyptian time-line is used, the following pharaohs would be candidates for the one who appointed Joseph.
 
       Amenemhat I, Senusret I, Amenemhat II or Senusret II
 
      Which one was it?
 
       Well, we do know one important fact that would point to this Pharaoh. There was a great famine in Egypt during his time that lasted for several years. And during the time of Senusret the first we have two records of severe famines that are believed to date to his reign.
      The first famine account attributed to Senusret's reign mentions the severity of this famine. This famine account was discovered at the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes and is a letter from a man named Hekanakhte writing to his mother Ipi, and to Hetepet, an unidentified female relative. The letters states the following:  
      "How are you two?" Are you alive, prosperous and healthy?  . . . Do not be anxious about me, for I am healthy and alive. Behold, you are like the one who eats his fill, having once been so hungry that his eyes sank in, although the entire land is dead from hunger. . .  So it may be said that to be held alive is better then death outright . . .  they have begun eating people here." (Met Museum of Art - Accession Number: 22.3.517 )
      As you can see, the famine was so severe in Egypt at this time that some people began to resort to cannibalism.
      A second record of the years of famine uncovered in Egypt mentions a man named Amenemhat, also known as Ameni, who was the "Overlord of the Oryx nome," one of the districts of ancient Egypt. He was also a chief priest during the reign of pharaoh Senusret I. His inscription reads:  
      "I was amiable, and greatly loved, a ruler beloved of his city. Now, I passed my years as ruler in the Oryx nome. All the imposts of the king's house passed through my hand. The gang-overseers of the crown possessions of the shepherds of the Oryx nome gave to me 3,000 bulls in their yokes.
       I was praised on account of it in the palace each year of the loan-herds. I carried all their dues to the king's house; there were no arrears against me in any office of his. The entire Oryx nome labored for me."
      "There was no citizen's daughter whom I misused, there was no widow whom I oppressed, there was no peasant whom I repulsed, there was no shepherd whom I repelled, there was no overseer of serf-laborers whose people I took for (unpaid) imposts, there was none wretched in my community, there was none hungry in my time. When years of famine came "I plowed all the fields of the Oryx nome, as far as its southern and northern boundary, which kept the people from starving."  (Inscription from Tomb of Ameni entry door at Beni Hasan.)
Ameni Inscription records the Bible famine of Joseph's day
      Another interesting fact about the above inscription mentions that the pharaoh had loaned him 3,000 bulls in their yokes in order to work the land.
      Remember that the people also traded their cattle as well as offering themselves as servants to pharaoh, in order that they would have food and not perish from the famine. Joseph purchased the land from the people in exchange for food. He then rented the land back to them, providing them with the seed and necessary work animals in order to work the land. They could keep four fifths of the crop they produced and one fifth was to be taxed or returned to pharaoh according to Genesis 47:23-26.
       The Ameni inscription mentions that all who were in his district labored for pharaoh under the supervision of Ameni, and that he carried the dues of the residents of his district to the pharaoh's house. In other words, the taxes on the harvest of those who worked the land.
      This rental of the land and pharaoh's collection of the taxes from the harvest is also mentioned by the Greek historian Herodotus. Most historians believe the Sesostris mentioned by Herodotus in the passage below was either pharaoh Senusret I, Senusret II or Senusret III.      
      "Then Sesostris, having returned to Egypt and having taken vengeance on his brother, employed the multitude which he had brought in of those whose lands he had subdued as follows: "These were they who drew the stones which in the reign of this king were brought to the temple of Hephaistos, being of very good size; and also these were compelled to dig all the channels which now are in Egypt . . . these channels, which are many and run in all directions."
      "But the reason why the king (Sesostris) cut up the land was this, namely because those of the Egyptians who had their cities not on the river but in the middle of the country, being in want of water when the river went down from them, found their drink brackish because they had it from wells. For this reason Egypt was cut up: and they said that this king distributed the land to all the Egyptians, giving an equal square portion to each man, and from this he made his revenue, having appointed them to pay a certain rent every year: and if the river should take away anything from any man's portion, he would come to the king and declare that which had happened, and the king used to send men to examine and to find out by measurement how much less the piece of land had become, in order that for the future the man might pay less, in proportion to the rent appointed." (Herodotus II, 2:107-109)
      According to Herodotus this pharaoh also began building the canals that ran throughout Egypt. The longest canal that was built in Egypt at this time was 9 miles long by 16 feet deep and ran parallel to the Nile river. It  was connected to the fertile Fayyum Oasis and Lake Moeris .
      This canal was known as Mer-Wer in ancient times meaning the great canal. But what is really interesting is that the present day Egyptians call this canal 'Bahr-Yussef' in Arabic, meaning the canal of Joseph.
       The work on the canal was undertaken during the reigns of multiple pharaohs. This is also interesting because according to Genesis 50:26 it states that Joseph died at the age of 110, which means he would have lived under the reigns of multiple pharaohs, probably including Senusret I, Amenemhat II, Senusret II, Senusret III and Amenemhat III.
       When finished, the canal helped turn the Fayyum oasis into the breadbasket for all of Egypt.
 
THE  GREATEST  ACT  OF  JOSEPH
 
      When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.”  So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.”’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
      Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”
      Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.  Genesis 50:15-26  
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Photo Links to Artifacts Mentioned in this Article
Heqanakht Letter
Ameni Famine
Ameni
Famine Account
Inscription at
Beni Hasan
Heqanakht Letter II
Famine Account
Accession Number: 22.3.517
Sources:
 
Artwork:  'Joseph governs in Egypt' from the book Adventures in Arabia. (1927)
Author: Seabrook, W. B., Publisher: Blue Ribbons Books.
 
'An Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary' by Sir E.A. Wallis Budge (Keeper of the Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities in the British Museum) published by John Murray, Albemarle Street, London. 1920
https://archive.org/details/egyptianhierogly01budguoft
https://archive.org/details/egyptianhierogly02budguoft
 
Ancient Records of Egypt- Historical Documents from the Earliest Times to the Persian Conquest.  (Volume 1 - The First to the Seventeenth Dynasties)
Collected, Edited and Translated with commentary by James Henry Breasted Ph.D,
The University of Chicago Press 1906
Pg. 252-253 Famine account of Ameni who ruled under Senusret I - Found at Beni Hasan - Entry Door Inscription
 
Egypt and the Ancient Near East  By Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.) pg26 Photograph and Translation - Farmers letter of Hekanakhte - Papyrus H  - Roger Fund & Edward S. Harkness Gift. 1922 (22.3.517)
 
Metmuseum.org website: Photograph of the Hekanakhte letter  - The Collection Online - Heqanakht Letter II - Date: ca. 1961–1917 B.C. - Medium: Papyrus, ink - Accession Number: 22.3.517  www.metmuseum.org
 
Histories of Herodotus - A history source of Persian Empire of Achaemenian era  - by Herodotus (c. 484 - 425 B.C.; Translated by: George Rawlinson - Book2
2:107-109 Account of Sesostris dividing the land and requiring tax payments, as well as beginning canal building projects.
 
Possible Hieroglyphic Names and meanings for Zaphnath-Paaneah derived from Tsophnath-Paneach (tsophnath-pa'-neach or  tsaphenath pa`aneach.)
 
1) tes-ap-hen-ath-pa-netch = "Himself to count seed, to seize what is my crushed grain."
 
'tes' = himself, or to be seated pg.887, v2, 'ap or app' = to count, pg.41, v1,  'hen' = seed, plant,, 'ath' = carry away , seize,  pg.100 v1 'pa'= what is mine. pg.229 v1,   'netch' = crushed grain, meal pg.411, v1
 
2) tes-ap-hen-ath-pa-anetch = "Himself to count seed, to seize what is mine, my advocate."
 
'tes' = himself, or to be seated pg.887, v2,   'ap or app' = to count, pg.41, vol 1,  'hen' = seed, plant,, 'ath' = carry away , seize,  pg.100 v1 'pa'= what is mine. pg.229 v1, 'anetch' = protector, defender, advocate,  pg.64
 
3) tes-ap-henta-ath-pa-anetch = "Himself to count grain seed, to seize what is mine, my advocate."  
 
'tes' = himself, or to be seated pg.887, v2, 'ap or app' = to count, pg.41, v1, 'hen-ta' = grain seed  pg.488 v1, 'ath' = carry away, seize,  pg.100 v1, 'pa'= what is mine. pg.229 v1, 'anetch' = protector, defender, advocate,  pg 64
 
4) tes-ap-henta-ath-paa-netch = "Himself to count grain seed, to seize my crushed grain."
 
'tes' = himself pg.887,v2,   'ap or app' = to count, pg.41, v1, 'hen-ta' = grain seed  pg.488 v1, 'ath' = carry away, seize, pg.100 v1, 'pa-a' =my pg.229,  'netch' = crushed grain, meal pg.411,v1
 
5) tesh-ap-henta-ath-pa-anetch = "Assigned to count grain seed, to seize what is mine, my advocate."  
 
‘tesh’ = to assign, give away pg.889, v2,  'ap or app' = to count, pg.41, v1, 'hen-ta' = grain seed  pg.488 v1, 'ath' = carry away , seize,  pg.100 v1, 'pa'= what is mine. pg.229 v1, 'anetch' = protector, defender, advocate,  pg.64
 
6) tesh-ap-henta-ath-pa-netch = "Assigned to count grain seed, to seize what is mine, the crushed grain"  
 
‘tesh’ = to assign, give away pg.889, v2,  'ap or app' = to count, pg.41, vol 1, 'hen-ta' = grain seed  pg.488 v1, 'ath' = carry away , seize,  pg.100 v1, 'pa'= what is mine. pg.229 v1, 'netch' = crushed grain, meal pg.411, v1
 
7) tesh-ap-henta-ath-paa-netch = "Assigned to count grain seed, to seize my crushed grain"                      
 
’tesh’ = to assign, give away pg.889, v2,  'ap or app' = to count, pg.41, v1, 'hen-ta' = grain seed  pg.488 v1, 'ath' = carry away , seize,  pg.100 v1,  'pa-a' =my pg.229,  'netch' = crushed grain, meal pg 411, v1
 
8) tesh-ap-hen-ath-pa-anetch ="Red grain counter given assent to seize what is mine, my advocate."  
 
‘tesh’ = red grain plants pg.889, v2 (Many wheat varieties are redish brown), 'ap or app' = to count, pg.41, vol 1, ‘hen’ = to lean heavily upon someone, to agree, to make, to bow, to assent  pg.448 v1, 'ath' = carry away, seize,  pg.100 v1, 'pa'= what is mine. pg.229 v1, 'anetch' = protector, defender, advocate,  pg.64
 
9)  tesh-ap-hen-ath-pa-anetch =   "To give away grain rations, given my assent to seize what is mine, the crushed grain."
 
‘tesh’ = to yield or give way  pg.889 v2, ‘ap-t’ = a measure of corn or ration  pg.41, v1, ‘hen’ = to lean heavily upon someone, to agree, to make, to bow, to assent  pg.448 v1,  'ath' = carry away , seize,  pg.100 v1,  'pa'= what is mine. pg.229 v1, 'netch' = crushed grain, meal pg.411, v1
 
10) tes-ap-hen-ath-pa-netch = "Himself made leader given assent to carry away what is mine, the crushed grain.
 
‘tes’ = himself pg.887,v2, ‘ap’ or ‘up’  up= leader, chief  pg.161, v1, ‘hen’ = to lean heavily upon someone, to agree, to make, to bow, to assent  pg.448 v1, ‘ath’ = carry away, seize,  pg.100 V1  'pa'= what is mine. pg.229 v1, 'netch' = crushed grain, meal pg.411, v1
 
11)  tes-ap-hen-ath-pa-anetch = "Himself made leader given assent to carry away what is mine, my advocate.”
 
‘tes’ = himself pg.887, v2, ‘ap’ or ‘up’  up= leader, chief  pg.161, v1, ‘hen’ = to lean heavily upon someone, to agree to make, to bow, to assent  pg.448 v1, ‘ath’ = carry away, seize, pg.100 v1 'pa'= what is mine. pg.229 v1, 'anetch' = protector, defender, advocate,  pg. 64
 
12) tesh-ap-hen-ath-paa-netch = “Assigned leader given authority to collect my crushed grain.”
 
‘tesh’ = to assign, give away pg.889, v2, ‘ap’ or ‘up’  up= leader, chief  pg .161, v1, 'hen’ = to lean heavily upon someone, to agree, to make, to bow, to assent  pg.448 v1, 'ath' = drag, haul, harness. pg.100 v1 , 'pa-a' =my pg.229,  'netch' = crushed grain, meal pg.411,v1
 
13) thes-ap-hen-ath-paa-netch = “Peasant leader bowed before to collect my crushed grain.
 
‘thes’ = peasant, pg.889, v2, ‘ap’ = ‘up’  up= leader, chief  pg .161, v1, 'hen’ = to lean heavily upon someone, to agree,to make, to bow, to assent  pg.448 v1, 'ath' = drag, haul, harness. pg .100 v1 , 'pa-a' =my pg.229,  'netch' = crushed grain, meal pg/ 411, v1
 
14) thes-ap-hen-ath-paa-netch = “Tied on garments, leader bowed before (given authority)  to collect my crushed grain.”
 
‘thes’  = tied on garments, pg.889, v2,  'ap=up'  up= leader, chief  pg .161, v1, 'hen’ = to lean heavily upon someone, to agree, to make, to bow, to assent  pg.448 v1, 'ath' = drag, haul, harness. pg.100 v1 , 'pa-a' =my pg. 229,  'netch' = crushed grain, meal pg. 411, v1
 
15) tes-ap-hen-ah-t-pa-anetch  = "Himself to count, given the title Priest of the Nome Prosopites, my advocate."
'tes' = himself, or to be seated pg.887, v2,  'ap or app' = to count, pg.41, vol 1, 'Hen-ah-t' =  title of the priest of the Nome Prosopites (Nome #4 of lower Egypt.) pg.489, v1, 'pa'= what is mine. pg.229 v1, 'anetch' = protector, defender, advocate,  pg.64
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