Famine, Part 2 of 2 – 1708 B.C. & Evidence: Famines & Diseases Abound.

Now I see what You did, I’m sure Joseph didn’t enjoy being a slave or in prison, but he wouldn’t be what he is now if had hadn’t gone through all that he went through. 

How does the famine end?

“And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence?  For the money faileth. 

And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.

And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses… bodies, and our lands…and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate. 

And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s” (Gen 47:15-20).

“And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh’s. 

And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly. 

And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years” (47:26-28).

The story told on the stela is set in the 18th year of the reign of Djoser. The text describes how the king is upset and worried as the land has been in the grip of a drought and famine for seven years, during which time the Nile has not flooded the farmlands.

The text also describes how the Egyptians are suffering as a result of the drought and that they are desperate and breaking the laws of the land. Djoser asks the priest staff under the supervision of high lector priest Imhotep for help. The king wants to know where the god of the Nile, Hapi, is born, and which god resides at this place.

Imhotep decides to investigate the archives of the temple ḥwt-Ibety (“House of the nets”), located at Hermopolis and dedicated to the god Thoth. He informs the king that the flooding of the Nile is controlled by the god Khnum at Elephantine from a sacred spring located on the island, where the god resides. Imhotep travels immediately to the location (Ancient Egyptian: jbw).

In the temple of Khnum, called “Joy of Life”, Imhotep purifies himself, prays to Khnum for help and offers “all good things” to him. Suddenly he falls asleep and in his dream Imhotep is greeted by the kindly looking Khnum.

The god introduces himself to Imhotep by describing who and what he is and then describes his own divine powers. At the end of the dream Khnum promises to make the Nile flow again. Imhotep wakes up and writes down everything that took place in his dream. He then returns to Djoser to tell the king what has happened.

The king is pleased with the news and issues a decree in which he orders priests, scribes and workers to restore Khnum´s temple and to once more make regular offerings to the god.

In addition, Djoser issues a decree in which he grants the temple of Khnum at Elephantine the region between Aswan and Tachompso (Koine Greek: Ταχομψώ) with all its wealth, as well as a share of all the imports from Nubia.

Goshen to this day is considered the richest province of Egypt and could easily support a million or more people than it has.

“Jacob was old and blind, and ready to die, so Joseph brought his sons, Manaseh and Ephraim, to be blessed.  Jacob put his hand on Ephraim, which was the younger one, and Joseph said wrong one, but Jacob disagreed.

And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations” (Gen 48:19).

Before Jacob died he wanted to tell all of his sons what was going to happen to them:

“Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power” (Gen 49:3).

“Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations” (Gen 49:5).

1 “Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee” (Gen 49:8).   

“Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for a haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon. 

Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens” (Gen 13-14). 

“Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel” (Gen 49:16).

“Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.

Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties. 

Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall” (Gen 49:19-22).

Benjamin shall raven as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. 

All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; everyone according to his blessing he blessed them (Gen 49:13-29)

Jacob didn’t want to be buried in Egypt so he was buried Machpelah, the burying place that Abraham bought.  All that are buried there are: Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob.

Joseph’s brothers were now worried, thinking that since Jacob was dead Joseph would have his revenge.

“And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive (Gen 50:19-20).

Joseph lived to be 110 and was buried in Egypt.  Therefore, the whole time which the Hebrews spent in Egypt was 250 years, starting from the time that Jacob and his sons went down into Egypt.

1 Jesus is born of the tribe of Judah, as was King David.

2 The Apostle Paul came from the tribe of Benjamin.

The following information was reported in the 1990s,
but Jesus foretold us this over 2,000 years ago.

Famines & Diseases Abound

Jesus predicted that prior to his return famines and disease would emerge to threaten our world.

“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt 24:3)

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diver’s places” (Matt 24:7).

A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including war, inflation, crop failure, population imbalance, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality.

Every inhabited continent in the world has experienced a period of famine throughout history. In the 19th and 20th century, it was generally Southeast and South Asia, as well as Eastern and Central Europe that suffered the most deaths from famine. The numbers dying from famine began to fall sharply from the 2000s.

Some countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, continue to have extreme cases of famine. Since 2010, Africa has been the most affected continent in the world. As of 2017, the United Nations has warned some 20 million are at risk in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.

Agricultural conditions have been fluctuating more and more due to variations in weather, and the distribution of food has been affected by conflict. Most programmes now direct their aid towards Africa.


Famine is not something we are accustomed to in America but it began to become a growing problem during the 20th century. 

The outlook for this century poses a grave outlook as population growth estimates show the world nearing 10 billion people with no increase to the worldwide food supply.

* Over 70 million died of starvation in the 20th century.

* Approximately 925 million people worldwide go hungry every day and 5 million children will die of hunger worldwide annually according to the World Food Program.

* Several regions in Africa have struggled with food shortages for years.

* North Korea has witnessed 1.5 million people starve to death under the reign of communist leaders. 

There are currently 6 million people threatened by famine with UN food aid as the only means avoiding a catastrophe.

The UN food price index shows sharp increases to the price of food.

Natural Disasters are also on the rise.  Recent large earthquakes & tsunamis have contributed to potential famines as the populaces struggle to obtain food. 

After the 2011 “Great Earthquake of Japan”, there are 20 million people in struggling to receive food aid due to the earthquake/tsunami.

Population projections estimate a total of 9.2 billion people worldwide by 2050 while the food supply and land to produce those resources are not increasing.

From 1950 to 2050, the worldwide population is projected to grow by over 6 billion people.

Most of the population growth is being realized in underdeveloped areas of the world more prone to famine.

The increased cost of food coupled with exponential population growth in undeveloped parts of the world poses an increasing famine crisis.

Jesus spoke about diseases breaking out near and far.

“And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven” (Lk 21:11).

In recent decades, several diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Avian flu, H1N1, Ebola, etc. have rapidly devastated and perplexed our society.

Over 5000 people worldwide die of AIDS every day.

Over 25 million people in Africa have AIDS.  The majority of African nations now see the AIDS problem as having reached an epidemic level.

Besides AIDS, several outbreaks of various diseases are taking place worldwide at an alarming rate.

A camp of displaced Yemenis in the Amran Province, Yemen. More than seven million people need urgent food aid in the country.CreditTyler Hicks/The New York Times

Since 1940, 335 new diseases have emerged.

  • Anthrax
  • Avian influenza
  • Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF)
  • Dengue/dengue haemorrhagic fever
  • Ebola haemorrhagic fever
  • Hendra Virus (HeV) Infection
  • Hepatitis
  • Influenza
  • Lassa fever
  • Marburg haemorrhagic fever
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Nipah Virus (NiV) Infection
  • Pandemic (H1N1) 2009
  • Plague
  • Rift Valley fever
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
  • Smallpox
  • TularaemiaS
  • Yellow fever

Even a flu shot provided in the fall of any given year may not protect against mutated strands the following Spring.

*   *   *

If you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior now is the time because believers will not go through the tribulation that Jesus spoke of.  To know more of what He said read Matthew 24.

Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior means to do it completely, you cannot accept Him and continue to willfully sin.

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Rev 22:12-15).

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev 22:18-19).

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev 20:10).

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15).”

Famine, Part 1 of 2 – 1708 B.C. & Famine in Ancient Egypt

I can’t understand why You create such great events to occur, but I ain’t nobody to question You, nobody is. 

So with this famine, is everyone going to die?

Remember that God had told Abraham that his people, God’s chosen, would suffer for 430 years (Gen 15:13). 

This involves the 12 tribes, Jacob’s 12 sonsAt this time it seems that God only looked out for His chosen people, such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  I don’t think it was that way because He doesn’t change (Mal 3:6) and He sees everyone equal (Col 3:10-11).  

Before Jesus, God’s chosen people were the Israelites, later recognized as Hebrews, and still later, the Jews. 

Today God’s chosen people are not specifically the Jews, but anyone that believes in and follows the ways of Jesus Christ.

“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21).

And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

The Famine Stela is an inscription written in hieroglyphs located on Sehel Island in the Nile near Aswan in Egypt, which speaks of a seven-year period of drought and famine during the reign of the 3rd dynasty king Djoser. It is thought that the stela was inscribed during the Ptolemaic dynasty, which ruled 332–31 BC.

The story told on the stela is set in the 18th year of the reign of king Djoser. The text describes how the king is upset and worried, as the land of Egypt has been in the grip of a drought and famine for seven years, during which time the Nile has not flooded the farm lands.

The text also describes how the Egyptian people are suffering as a result of the drought and that they are desperate and breaking the laws of the land. Djoser asks the priest staff under the supervision of high lector priest Imhotep for help. The king wants to know where Hapy (a river deity directly identified with the Nile) is born and which god resides at this place.

At the time of first translating the stela, it was thought that the story of a seven-year-famine was connected to the biblical story in Genesis 41, where also a famine of seven years occurs. But more recent investigations have showed that a seven-year famine was a myth common to nearly all cultures of the Near East.

A Mesopotamian legend also speaks of a seven-year-famine and in the well known Gilgamesh-Epos the god Anu gives a prophecy about a famine for seven years. A further Egyptian tale beside the Famine Stela about a long-lasting drought appears in the so-called “Book of the Temple”

And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;

And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:7-9).

“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference (Rom 3:22).

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him” (Rom 10:12).

God says that He doesn’t change, and He doesn’t (Mal 3:6).

“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good”? (Num 23:19).

You may think that He did when Jesus was born, but no He hasn’t, we change.

Some people question if there had been a famine since the Nile is ever flowing and at times even floods Egypt. 

Yet, there has been times when the Nile was low.  This famine happened, just like the ones in 2700 B.C., 1970 B.C., and 1500 B.C.

It has been 13 years since Joseph had been sold by his brothers. 

“Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? 

And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. 

And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. 

But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.

And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth. 

And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. 

And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him” (Gen 42:1-8).

“Joseph remembered the dreams he had told them when he was 17, that they would bow down to him, so he decided to play with them and accused them of being spies, to check out Egypt and see if they could steal their food.

They explained that they were all brothers, but their youngest, which is Benjamin, stayed at home.

Joseph then put them all in jail for three days and then let them out and continued to pretend they were spies.  They made Numerous trips back and forth and finally Joseph told them who he was and to bring Jacob and everyone up there and live in the land of Goshen.

Jacob, all of his brothers and their families added up to be 70 people” (Gen 42:9-46-2). 

Goshen was only about 900 square miles but he had them live there because of irrigation it is considered some of the best land of Egypt, excellent for grazing and for certain types of agriculture.

Jacob was leery of making the move, but God said to him…

“…I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will  there make of thee a great nation;

I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes” (Gen 46:3-4).  And that was all it took.

This move would be quite the culture shock because people that lived in Canaan were farmers and shepherds. 

The soil was watered by the heavy rain and dew, while Egypt was an advanced civilization that mainly depended on the Nile river. 

It rarely rained in Egypt; along the Mediterranean at Alexandria the rainfall was about 8 inches a year, in Cairo it was 1½ to 2 inches, and south of that it was less than an inch. 

The people used the Nile for the drinking and daily usage of water and for crops.

The Nile was also the main highway and on its banks they could get clay to make bricks to build houses or make pottery and dishes. 

Also along the banks grew papyrus reeds that they used for making writing paper, and there was flax for linen. 

Moving from the land of Canaan to Egypt would be like moving from the boon docks to New York City.

Famine in Ancient Egypt 
(and Nubia)

This article serves as a general background to the evidence for famine in various periods of ancient Egyptian history.

To many people, ancient Egypt is not a civilization linked to food shortages.

There are several accounts of famine throughout ancient Egypt.

One of the accounts from the Old Kingdom comes from the 5th Dynasty at the Pyramid of Unas, located at a place called Saqqara. Along its causeway (the long walled and covered walkway between the mortuary temple and the valley temple of the Unas Pyramid) was found a scene, which is carved on a stone block showing people who were starving.

In antiquity, Egypt was renowned for its agricultural success, so much so that, in later periods, the country was desired by the Romans as a provider of grain. 

Agricultural productivity  was linked to an effective inundation of the River Nile. 

Every year, the combined forces of the Blue Nile originating in East Africa and the White Nile flowing north from central Africa, flooded the river banks of Egypt depositing rich, black mud on the land; farmers encouraged the further spread of the waters by digging irrigation channels and this practice continues today.

Following the lowering of the flood  waters, seeds were planted and the ensuing crops eagerly awaited. 

However, on the occasions when the Nile flooded either too much or inadequately, crop failure would occur and it seems that there were periods of famine.

However, for a culture clearly so keen on recording daily life events, there are relatively few references to famine and starvation in terms of artwork and texts. 

Interestingly, examinations of ancient Egyptian and Nubian skeletons seems to suggest there could be biological evidence possibly demonstrating famine and starvation. 

Artistic and Textual Evidence

Recording information in ancient Egypt was really a way of expressing an ideal state and perpetuating desired order. 

By actually recording episodes of starvation and famine, the failure of the authorities to provide food for the people would have been demonstrated, and this surely would have been a foolish political admission by the ruling classes. 

This may account for why we have relatively few records, artistically and textually, of famine and starvation.

Probably the best known artistic representations of starvation from ancient Egypt are these shown on the causeway leading to the valley temple of King Unas (Wenis). 

Dating to about 2,500 B.C., the scenes show emaciated figures with protruding ribs and pained facial expressions.

It is now thought that these scenes do not depict Egyptians but perhaps people then living on the edges of Egyptian society – that they were Beja people has been suggested. 

Whatever their identification, it is clear that they are under stress and it is possible they may have come further into Egypt in order to obtain food and thence their suffering was recorded by Egyptian artists.

The Old Kingdom of Egypt ended at around 2200 B.C. – a period which experienced widespread drought in many parts of the Bronze Age world (See Syria Blog Entries).

There may have been other issues promoting instability at this time, but there is evidence people lost faith in the divine abilities of the Pharaoh.

The crown of Upper and Lower Egypt no longer represented a strong and unifying government and the country split into smaller satraps – this was the time of the First Intermediate Period.

A time of extinguished central government and uncertainty, both contemporary carvings of famine and Ptolomaic era carvings provide evidence of severe drought and famine in Old Kingdom Egypt well before the collapse of the last dynasty.

A text carved on a granite boulder on Sehel Island (near the first cataract)  has been termed The Famine Stele because it includes references to food shortages. 

The text, purporting to be a decree from the Third Dynasty king Djoser, records the king’s concerns that the Nile’s poor performance for seven years has caused widespread food shortages:

I was despondent upon my throne, and those in the palace were in grief.  My heart was extremely sad since the Inundation had not come on time for a period of seven years. Grain was scarce, the kernels dried out, everything edible was in short supply.

While it is possible that the decree is recording actual times of hardship, it is unclear as to when the events actually occurred for examination of the text’s language (grammar, vocabulary) indicates that it was, in fact, composed during the Ptolemaic period but set in the earlier Old Kingdom period.

Information from texts in the tomb of Ankhtifi at Moalla, however, offers information with a more secure date. 

The First Intermediate Period, at the end of the 3rd millennium B.C.), in Egypt seems to have been a time of political troubles.

The kings of Egypt of the time were based in Herakleopolis but evidence indicates that, due to a rising development whereby local officials became governors, or rulers, of their particular regions, the Herakleopolitan kings held only a loose power over much of the country.

We have tomb autobiographies of some of these local governors such as those of Ankhtifi at Moalla and Hetepi at Elkab; that of Ankhtifi is particularly useful in terms of examining evidence for famine.

Ankhtifi was the governor of the nome (or province) of Nekhen which he controlled from his home in the town of Moalla (ancient Hefat).  

Due to his political abilities he was able to expand his control over two other provinces – Edfu (ancient Khuu) and Elephantine (ancient Ta-Sety) and from this was able to challenge Theban authority over Upper Egypt.  

A funerary stela of a man named Ba (seated, sniffing a sacred lotus while receiving libations); Ba’s son Mes and wife Iny are also seated.

The identity of the libation bearer is unspecified.

The stela is dated to the Eighteenth dynasty of the New Kingdom period.

Accounts of Ankhtifi’s battles, his confederation of three provinces and the subsequent success of the Theban forces can be read in detail elsewhere, however, what is particularly useful to this discussion is the information Ankhtifi gives us about food deprivation.

A tremendous famine hits the whole region of southern Upper Egypt, affecting Akhtifi’s province and that of other local rulers – as evidenced by the funerary inscriptions of some of these governors.  

Upper Egypt was dying of hunger; every man was eating his children.

Ankhtifi’s immediate response is to release food from his stock-piled food supplies, firstly to aid his own area, in which he states, “Nobody died of hunger in this nome”’ and then more widely to other parts of Upper Egypt. 

There can be little doubt that Akhtifi was a savior to many Egyptians at this time!

Pharaoh’s Dreams – 1715 & Ancient Egypt & Freud

That was pretty rotten of the butler to forget all about Joseph. 

Did Joseph ever get out, or did the king kill him like he did the baker?

It appears that Joseph inherited some good qualities from his ancestors.  Abraham, he was strong, decided, and prudent;  Isaac was patient and gentle; Jacob was warm hearted and affectionate, and he didn’t have his brother’s hatred and anger. 

Jesus has all of the above, and more (Gal 5:22-23).

Dream Interpretation in Ancient Mesopotamia
The Mesopotamian civilization was the first to develop writing. There are detailed accounts of dreams particularly from royalty dating back to the third millennium BC. The earliest of which is called the dream of Dumuzi of Uruk. This is the earliest dream ever recorded in history and not only is the dream itself available but its interpretation as well.

Dumuzi dreams of his own death. He tells his sister Ngeshtin-ana who is a dream interpreter and she tells him that it is a sign that he is about to be overthrown in an uprising by evil and hungry men. Shortly after she interprets his dream a large army is seen on the horizon.

Dream interpretation in ancient Mesopotamia was based on the fact that every event was thought to have personal meaning to the observer. A strong emphasis was placed on detailed recounting of the dream itself. The idea that one thing may cause or lead to another was not as important as the concept that all of these events were seen as communication from the divine.

The Mesopotamians were specialists in the art of predicting the future from various rituals. They foretold events from the murmuring of springs to the shape of plants. They claim the trees spoke to them as well as animals. Serpents were considered to be the wisest of all animals. Atmospheric science, rain, clouds, wind and lightning were interpreted as forebodings. Even the creaking of furniture and wooden panels would be interpreted in terms of future events. Flies and other insects as well as dogs were all the carriers of the messages of the future.

Mesopotamia was noted throughout the ancient world for its magi who were men and women who saw a unity in nature and harmony in the universe which bound together all objects in all events. Nothing was accidental. During dreaming they considered that the soul or some part of it moved from the body of the sleeping person and actually visited place and persons the dreamer would see in his sleep. Sometimes even the God of dreams Marduk is said to have carried to the dreamer.

King Assurbanipal had a dream in which his army attempted to cross the river but became terrified of the rivers current and undertow. He consulted his dream interpreters who said that the goddess Ishtar would protect them. The King decided to continue with the treacherous crossing but his army survived.

Bad dreams dealing with sexual issues or taboo relationships were thought of as being caused by evil demons rising from the lore world to attack Mesopotamians.. Dream interpreters suggested that people having such dreams should tell them to a lump of clay and then dissolve it in water.

The Mesopotamians were the first record dream interpretations. They also place an emphasis on using the details of the dream in a personal context to discover its true meaning. This was the beginning of dream interpretation as we know it today.

“And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river…

And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favored kine and fat-fleshed; and they fed in a meadow.

And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill-favored and lean-fleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. 

And the ill-favored and lean-fleshed kine did eat up the seven well favored and fat kine.  So Pharaoh awoke.

And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. 

And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. 

And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears.  And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.

And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh” (Gen 41:1-8).

Then the butler remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about him, so Pharaoh sent for him.

“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. 

And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Gen 41:15-16).

Pharaoh told him his dream.

“And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do. 

The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. 

And the seven thin and ill-favored kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine” (Gen 41:25-27)

“Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:

And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;

And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.

And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. 

Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 

Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.  

And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. 

And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine” (Gen 41:29-36).

This pleased Pharaoh and he appointed Joseph over Egypt; making him vizier of Egypt. 

He also gave Joseph the ring off his finger, fine clothing, a gold chain, the second best chariot, and Asenath, the daughter of Poti-pherah, the priest of On. 

Joseph named his first born Manasseh because he felt that God made him forget all of his past problems.  He named his second Ephraim, because God allowed him to be fruitful.

The seven plenteous years came as Joseph predicted, and then the famine came.

“And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do. 

And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt(Gen 41:55-56).

And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.

1 Nothing happens anywhere unless God causes is or allows it.

2 The Bible doesn’t name Pharaoh, nor does it show that he died in Joseph’s time.  But going by historical documents it appears as though Seosotris II was Pharaoh that had the dreams, and his son, Sesotris III was Pharaoh during the great famine.

Herakleopolitan King Kheti, who wrote a book called “Teachings for Merikare” sometime between 2070 and 2100 BC, took another approach. In this book of lessons, or instructions, for his son Merikare, Kheti advises him that the true key to the interpretation of dreams lies in the fact that the dream means the exact opposite of its symbols. Therefore, according to Kheti, a joyous dream indicated upcoming adversity. Dreams could also serve as windows through which the living could see the activities of the deceased. However, since the dreamer had no control while dreaming, there was a pervading fear that he could be accessible to malicious spirits, opening a disturbing portal to unwanted beings in the afterlife.

3 Visier of Egypt was probably equivalent to a Prime Minister.  He served as chief justice of the Egyptian courts, controlled the reservoirs and food supply, supervised industries and conservation programs, maintained a census of cattle and herds, kept agricultural statistics, including tax records, storehouse receipts, and crop assessments, and conducted censuses of the population.

4 It isn’t known exactly how many people were on the earth at this time, but Egypt was the only food supplier in existence and it was only approximately 10,000 square miles, roughly the size of Maryland.

Ancient Egypt & Freud

Who was Thutmosis IV, and why would he come here, to the area of the Sphinx?

Thutmosis IV was the eighth king of the 18th dynasty, which is during Egypt’s New Kingdom, a period when Egypt was really at its height.

This area, at that time, was like a recreation area for the pharaohs. They would come here to hunt, ride their chariots, do target practice.

What is the story written on Thutmosis IV’s stela?

The Dream Stela describes a time when he was just newly king. (Scholars put his reign at 1401-1391 B.C.).

According to the stela, Thutmosis IV was strolling here one day, all alone. Around midday, he got very hot and decided to rest in the shadow of the Great Sphinx.

And at the moment when the sun hit the zenith – was at the top of the sky – the god Horem-Akhet-Khepri-Re-Atum came to him in a dream and basically told him that if he cleared away the sands that had been building up around (the Sphinx), the god would make sure that Thutmosis IV was the ruler of upper and lower Egypt, unified.

Who was the god with whom Thutmosis IV supposedly had this bargain.

The stela describes him as Horem-Akhet, which means Horus in the horizon – that is, the aspect of Horus as a sun god, i.e., the Evil Eye of Horus

He also describes him as Khepri-Re-Atum, which is all the aspects of the sun god rolled into one—the sun god in the morning, the sun god in the day, and the sun god at night.

The stela says that the god appeared to Thutmosis IV in the form of the Sphinx itself.

There is clearly significance to the time of day. The zenith, when the sun is right at the highest point, is a time when the sun seems to stand still.

For the Egyptians, of course, the sun god was of primary importance, and that’s when he was overhead.

In ancient Egypt, when pharaohs wanted to record something for eternity and have it be known not only to mortals, but more importantly, to the gods, they wrote in stone.

The hieroglyphs carved into the Dream Stela of Thutmosis IV, an enormous upright slab at the base of the Sphinx, tell a portentous story of a young king’s bargain with the sun god. In this interview, Egyptologist Kasia Szpakowska deciphers the stela for Gary Glassman, producer of NOVA’s “Riddles of the Sphinx.”

The Dream Stela describes a time when he was just newly king. [Scholars put his reign at 1401–1391 B.C.] According to the stela, Thutmosis IV was strolling here one day, all alone. Around midday, he got very hot and decided to rest in the shadow of the Great Sphinx.

And at the moment when the sun hit the zenith—was at the top of the sky—the god Horem-Akhet-Khepri-Re-Atum came to him in a dream and basically told him that if he cleared away the sands that had been building up around [the Sphinx], the god would make sure that Thutmosis IV was the ruler of upper and lower Egypt, unified.

In addition, a lot of magical texts mention noontime as a time when the barriers between this world and the divine world are lowered.

And in that way, the gods could more easily communicate with people like the king. It was a time when scary things could happen, but also wondrous things.

Was it unusual, in Egyptian lore, for a god to speak to a mortal?

It was very unusual for a god to speak to a mortal. The kings, however, throughout Egyptian history would be spoken to by gods.

They received communications from gods through revelations and oracles. But seeing a god in a dream was an extremely rare phenomenon.

So that’s also part of the reason that Thutmosis IV erected the stela – to emphasize that he was the person whom the god chose to speak to in this very, very intimate encounter during a dream.

What did the Egyptians think about dreams?

Dreams were considered an external phenomenon. A dream was something that was outside of you.

Egyptians never said, “I was dreaming,” or “I’m dreaming right now,” or “I’d love to be dreaming.”

You saw things in a dream, as if it were something external to you, over which you had no control.

And, in fact, most of the references we have to dreams in ancient Egypt treat them as things to be avoided and feared. So they had many spells to keep away bad dreams.

In part, it’s because dreams seem to be somewhere, again, between the land of the living and the land beyond.

The inhabitants of the beyond included not only the gods, not only the dead, but also the damned, those Egyptians who had not made it successfully to the afterlife or were thought of as enemies of the king or the gods.

And those beings, through a dream, could also access a vulnerable individual while he or she was asleep, as a nightmare.

In the late 19th century, psychotherapist Sigmund Freud developed a theory that the content of dreams is driven by unconscious wish fulfillment.

Freud called dreams the “royal road to the unconscious.”  He theorized that the content of dreams reflects the dreamer’s unconscious mind and specifically that dream content is shaped by unconscious wish fulfillment.

He argued that important unconscious desires often relate to early childhood memories and experiences.

Freud’s theory describes dreams as having both manifest and latent content.

Latent content relates to deep unconscious wishes or fantasies while manifest content is superficial and meaningless. Manifest content often masks or obscures latent content.

In his early work, Freud argued that the vast majority of latent dream content is sexual in nature, but he later moved away from this categorical position.

In Beyond the Pleasure Principle he considered how trauma or aggression could influence dream content. He also discussed supernatural origins in Dreams and Occultism, a lecture published in New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis.

Jungian and Other Views of Dreams

Carl Jung rejected many of Freud’s theories. Jung expanded on Freud’s idea that dream content relates to the dreamer’s unconscious desires.

He described dreams as messages to the dreamer and argued that dreamers should pay attention for their own good.

Sphinx, mythological creature with a lion’s body and a human head, an important image in Egyptian and Greek art and legend. The word sphinx was derived by Greek grammarians from the verb sphingein (“to bind” or “to squeeze”), but the etymology is not related to the legend and is dubious. Hesiod, the earliest Greek author to mention the creature, called it Phix. The winged sphinx of Boeotian Thebes, the most famous in legend, was said to have terrorized the people by demanding the answer to a riddle taught her by the Muses—What is it that has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?—and devouring a man each time the riddle was answered incorrectly. Eventually Oedipus gave the proper answer: man, who crawls on all fours in infancy, walks on two feet when grown, and leans on a staff in old age. The sphinx thereupon killed herself. From this tale apparently grew the legend that the sphinx was omniscient, and even today the wisdom of the sphinx is proverbial.

He came to believe that dreams present the dreamer with revelations that can uncover and help to resolve emotional or religious problems and fears.

Jung wrote that recurring dreams show up repeatedly to demand attention, suggesting that the dreamer is neglecting an issue related to the dream.

He believed that many of the symbols or images from these dreams return with each dream.

Jung believed that memories formed throughout the day also play a role in dreaming. These memories leave impressions for the unconscious to deal with when the ego is at rest.

The unconscious mind re-enacts these glimpses of the past in the form of a dream. Jung called this a day residue.

Jung also argued that dreaming is not a purely individual concern, that all dreams are part of “one great web of psychological factors.”

Fritz Perls presented his theory of dreams as part of the holistic nature of Gestalt therapy (The whole is greater than the parts)

Dreams are seen as projections of parts of the self that have been ignored, rejected, or suppressed.

Jung argued that one could consider every person in the dream to represent an aspect of the dreamer, which he called the subjective approach to dreams.

Perls expanded this point of view to say that even inanimate objects in the dream may represent aspects of the dreamer.

The dreamer may, therefore, be asked to imagine being an object in the dream and to describe it, in order to bring into awareness the characteristics of the object that correspond with the dreamer’s personality.

Joseph Interprets Dreams & Dreams in Ancient Times

  I can’t believe Potiphar would believe that Joseph would do that, but then again, You know how women are, You made them.

So you made it so the keeper of the prison liked Joseph, that’s good, but why did You let him go to prison?  Do You have a plan?

“And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. 

And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers. 

And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound” (Gen 40:1-3).

Ancient Egyptian laws were written by the Pharaoh and enforced by him (her) and the officials. Breaking these laws almost never ended well for the criminal, because of the harsh punishments. The decisions to administer these punishments were in the hands of a vizer or an oracle, but the most significant cases were referred to the Pharaoh. Below you can find a list of the most common fatal and non-fatal punishments of Ancient Egypt.
Fatal punishments
Fatal punishments were rare, but merciless. They were imposed for the worst crimes, such as treason and plotting against the Pharaoh. One of the most notable examples is Ramses III executing a team that plotted against him by impalement – very slow and painful death.

Tomb raiding was another crime for which capital punishment was administered. Usually it was decapitation or drowning. These two punishments were also executed in severe cases of corruption – the decision in these cases was Pharaohs.

Burning alive was another method used in Ancient Egypt and was administered in cases of vandalism of temples and other places of worship. It wasn’t carried out very frequently because the Egyptians believed that burning alive would rob the deceased of his body and prevent him from achieving eternal life.

Perhaps surprisingly, death sentences were rarely administered for murder and manslaughter (no distinction in Ancient Egypt) – well, rarer than in other ancient civilisations. However, there are quite a few known instances of forced suicide in Ancient Egypt, instead of administered death sentence. In those cases, the convicted criminals were also punished posthumously by not being given a proper burial.
Non-fatal punishments
There were much more common than death sentences and sometimes were even performed on members of the family of the convicted criminal. The most commonly executed ones were:
100 strokes of a cane, coupled with five bleeding cuts in more severe occasions, were administered for illegal trade and fencing of stolen goods, as well as tax evasion.

Sometimes, the cane was coupled with enslavement or exile to Nubia or the Western Oasis.
Disfigurement and mutilation
These punishments were mostly inflicted on thieves and often coupled with fines. However, the Egyptians also administered them in order to punish corrupt government officials.

Some of them had their noses and ears cut off and were either exiled or enslaved.

Torture wasn’t an unusual means of obtaining confessions and details and accomplices of the crime committed.

The most common method of torture involved beating a criminal’s foot with a stick (bastinato).

Egyptians prisons were deep pits and wells and weren’t used too often. The only known victims of imprisonment are Egyptian debtors and deserters and in those cases, imprisonment was more of a means of preventing escape and forcing them to pay up their debts than actual punishment.

Pharaoh Bocchoris has eventually banned punishment of debtors by imprisonment.

“The butler and the baker each had a dream one night but they didn’t understand them.  Joseph then told that only God can interpret dreams and asked them to tell him their dreams.

And the chief butler told him his dream: to Joseph, and said to him.  In my dream, behold, a vine was before me;

And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes. 

And Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand” (Gen 40:9-11).

Through God, Joseph interpreted the dream:

“…The three branches are three days:

Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. 

But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house” (Gen 40:12-14).

“The baker was happy with the outcome of the butler’s dream so he told his to Joseph:

…I had three white baskets on my head: 

And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bake meats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head” (Gen 40:16-17).

Joseph interpreted the dream:

“…The three baskets are three days:

Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee” (Gen 40:18-19).

Joseph’s interpretations came true, but the butler forgot all about Joseph.

1 Only God can interpret dreams accurately – Dan 2:22 & 28, 4:9.

Dreams in Ancient Times

The meaning of dreams has been one the most fascinating topics of discussion around the world.

The answer to the question “Where do dreams come from?” depends on who you ask.

Some people believe dreams are just a byproduct of brain wave activity, and that they don’t have any psychologically significant meaning at all.

Some argue that our dreams are a reflection of our deepest desires, others believe they are a connection to God.

People have been fascinated by dreams for thousands of years and cultures around the world have developed their own traditions for interpreting dreams.


Early information about the analysis of dreams comes from Mesopotamia (the land between the Tigris and Euphrates – part of what is now Iraq).

The civilization that existed there around 5,000 B.C. left behind what is believed to be the world’s first book of dreams — a compilation of dream symbols and their meanings.

Sumerians viewed their dreams as signs sent from gods. People had their dreams translated by “dream priests” who foretold the dreamer’s future.

It is speculated that the process of incubating dreams and summoning them by means of special rituals was invented during this period.

Ancient Egyptian Dream Interpretation
Many religions and beliefs are often formed and rely on hallucinogenic aids.

Many indigenous tribes take hallucinogenic aids to contact or have vision beyond the physical realm and many religious figures often describe prophecies originating from their dreams.

One of the first civilizations to have learned to record, ancient Egyptians wrote down and revered their dreams.

These practices then spread throughout the ancient world and survived in various forms until the twentieth century.

Some believe that the Mesopotamian model of dream interpretation had an impact on the cultural beliefs of the Egyptians and gave rise to the Hebrew, Arabic and Greek traditions of dream interpretation.

Ancient Egypt

The Egyptians took many ideas from the Sumerians; they also viewed dreams as messages from gods and created their own Dream Book (currently part of the archives at the British Museum in London).

In temples dedicated to Serapis (a Hellenistic-Egyptian god), where special dream interpreters lived, Egyptians celebrated rituals, gave sacrifices and recited prayers in hopes that their dreams would reveal fragments of the future.

The dreams of the Pharaohs attracted the most attention, because they were seen as gods themselves. (We’ll look more into this tomorrow).

Given their status, it seemed perfectly natural that the gods wanted to deliver important messages in the Pharaohs’ dreams.

Ancient Greece

The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to Athena, located on the Acropolis in Athens, is one of the most representative symbols of the culture and sophistication of the ancient Greeks.

Around 335 B.C. Greek philosopher Aristotle said that human beings are capable of achieving the pure form of wisdom only during sleep, when our minds are liberated.

At that time Greece was the most powerful civilization on earth. The source of the wisdom of Greeks was the oracle at Delphi, who had an impact on even the most important decisions in the country.

Not everyone realized that the oracle’s prophecies were created based on dreams. Dreams played a significant role in military decisions as well as family life and impacted the development of the ancient world.

The Greek system of dream interpretation wasn’t concerned only with predicting the future; it was also used to ensure prosperity in one’s life.

Hippocrates (regarded by many as the father of modern medicine) saw dreams as important indicators of physical and mental health.

Perhaps this was the first time a man came to realize that dreams do not have a divine source, and may come from human thoughts.

The ancient Greeks created one of the most significant books about dreams that have ever been written. Oneirocritica (Interpretation of Dreams), was written by Artemidorus in ancient Greece; today, this book is the basis for many contemporary books about dreams.

Ancient Rome

Beginning in the eighth century B.C., Ancient Rome grew from a small town on central Italy’s Tiber River into an empire that at its peak encompassed most of continental Europe, Britain, much of western Asia, northern Africa and the Mediterranean islands.

Among the many legacies of Roman dominance are the widespread use of the Romance languages (Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian) derived from Latin, the modern Western alphabet and calendar and the emergence of Christianity as a major world religion. After 450 years as a republic, Rome became an empire in the wake of Julius Caesar’s rise and fall in the first century B.C.

The long and triumphant reign of its first emperor, Augustus, began a golden age of peace and prosperity; by contrast, the empire’s decline and fall by the fifth century A.D. was one of the most dramatic implosions in the history of human civilization.

The Roman tradition of dream interpretation was largely drawn from the Greeks.

It has been said that Augustus, the successor of Julius Cesar, believed so strongly in the prophetic nature of dreams that he created a law requiring every citizen who had a dream about the empire, to talk about it on the market in their town.

Moreover, the existence of unfair or unpopular laws was justified by the fact that they were suggested in dreams.

In Rome, the importance of dreams was a topic widely discussed among scholars who openly proclaimed that dreams are inspired by our own passions, emotions and experiences of everyday life and do not come from gods.


For millennia, people have sought help with understanding and interpreting dreams; it is believed that by doing so we could gain wisdom and find solutions to our problems.

The cause of dreams is not known for certain, some may come from God, they could come from the devil, they could come from our own subconscious, who knows.

Only God can truly interpret dreams.

“And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you(Gen 40:8).

The Pharaoh’s had men that were supposed to be able to interpret their dreams, but they  couldn’t (Gen 41:8).

King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and he wanted his men to tell him what he had dreamed and interpret of they would be executed (Dan 2:5).

And of course, there are scammers today, such as psychics, that promise to interpret dreams for a small fee, such as the picture directly above.


Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife & The Two Brothers

These people are something else, they’ll do anything to get what they want. 

Joseph was sold so now what’s gonna happen to him?

“And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmaelite’s, which had brought him down thither. 

And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 

And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 

And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand” (Gen 39: 1-4).

That is quite the change, especially for a 17 year old.  Potiphar didn’t even know all that he owned, he trusted Joseph that much.  Joseph had one small problem, Potiphar’s wife liked what she saw.

Archaeological excavations that have been carried out in the northwestern province of Bursa have discovered 2,300-year-old dungeons used for execution and torturing during the Bithynia Kingdom era.

Archaeologists discovered that the dungeons, which contain a “bloody well,” “torture chamber” and “corridors connected to tower,” used horrific execution methods.

“And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 

But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;

There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen 39:7-9).

“And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 

And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,

That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in a Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice” (Gen 11-14).

Potiphar’s wife told him that Joseph tried to rape her and he was put in the dungeon. 

But even in prison, God was with him, like He was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He made it so the keeper of the prison liked Joseph so much that he let him be in charge of all the other prisoners.

The Two Brothers

An Egyptian text called Papyrus D’Orbiney, dating to approximately 1225 B.C., contains a story titled “The Two Brothers.”

The Tale of Two Brothers is an ancient Egyptian story that dates from the reign of Seti II, who ruled from 1200 to 1194 B.C. during the 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom.
The story is preserved on the Papyrus D’Orbiney, which is currently preserved in the British Museum.

Vividly illustrating the fantastic nature of ancient storytelling, this tale is a curious example of a non-biblical story hav­ing striking similarities to a Biblical text.

In this fictional account, 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.

Ancient Egyptian literature comprises a wide array of narrative and poetic forms including inscriptions on tombs, stele, obelisks, and temples; myths, stories, and legends; religious writings; philosophical works; autobiographies; biographies; histories; poetry; hymns; personal essays; letters and court records. Although many of these forms are not usually defined as “literature” they are given that designation in Egyptian studies because so many of them, especially from the Middle Kingdom (2040-1782 BCE), are of such high literary merit.

Outlandish as this tale may seem to us, many scholars have noted the amazing sim­ilarities between it and the Biblical account of Joseph.

Obvious parallels include a rival­ry between brothers, a false accusation of rape and an ascent to power in Egypt.

There is no reason, however, to surmise that the Biblical story may have been derived from this Egyptian tale.

The bizarre quality of the Egyptian story contrasts strongly with the factual tone of the historical, Biblical narrative. At the same time, parallels between the stories may not have been accidental.

If composed after the time of Joseph, the Egyptian tale may have been influenced by the Biblical reality.

If the Egyptian story existed prior to the time of Joseph (assuming that Papyrus D’Orbiney was not its earliest iteration), the obvious parallels included in the Joseph nar­rative may have been intended to signal the fact that the God of Israel could elevate a son of Israel to power, even in an Egyptian context.

The argument could be made that the Biblical account shows that Joseph fulfilled even the Egyptian ideal of a hero.

For another parallel to a Biblical story, see The Tale of Appu’s Two Sons.