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.

Judah and Tamar & The Tribal Allotments of Israel

Since you have a covenant with Jacob I don’t understand why you let Joseph’s brothers sell him?  Yet, I have heard that you will make all bad to good.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

“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 50:20). 

Is this true?  Are You going to fix this somehow?  Are You going to do something to his brothers?

 Judah, who came up with the idea to sell Joseph went to his friend Hirah’s house in Adullam, southwest of Jerusalem.  He met a Canaanite woman, Shuah, and had three sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah.


When Er and Onan  grew up 1 Judah chose that Er marry Tamar, but Er was wicked in the eyes of God so He killed him.  Judah then told Onan to marry Tamar and raise a family. 

Onan slept with her, but since Tamar was first Er’s wife he felt that if he got her pregnant then he’d be giving life to his dead brother and instead of impregnating her he spilled his seed on the ground.  This angered God and He killed him too.

Judah then told Tamar to stay a widow and wait until his youngest son, Shelah to grow up, and she did.  Then Judah and Hirah went to Timnath to shear his sheep and someone told Tamar. 

She was angry because Shelah was not given to her to marry as Judah had promised, so she chose to make him pay for it (Gen 38:1-13).

“And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife. 

When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot; because she had covered her face. 

And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.)  And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me? 

And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock.  And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it? 

And he said, What pledge shall I give thee?  And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand.  And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him” (Gen 38: 14-18).

Judah and Tamar – 1644
Ferdinand Bol (Dutch, 1616–1680)
Like his teacher Rembrandt, Bol often painted Biblical subjects with strong human drama. In this Old Testament scene, Bol relates the moment of amorous deception when Judah gives the pledge of a ring, staff, and bracelets to a veiled harlot, who is actually his daughter-in-law, Tamar.

Tamar, the widow of Judah’s first two sons, disguised herself as a prostitute to deceive Judah because he had not redeemed his promise to marry her to his third son. The heightened psychological state of the figures is conveyed by contrasting the anxious lust of Judah with the cool determination of Tamar.

“And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman’s hand: but he found her not. 

Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, that was openly by the way side?  And they said, There was no harlot in this place. 

And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot in this place. 

And Judah said, Let her take it to her, lest we be shamed: behold, I sent this kid, and thou hast not found her. 

And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom.  And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.

When she was brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff. 

And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son.  And he knew her again no more.

And it came to pass in the time of her travail, t”e scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah” (Gen 38:20-30).

1 Jesus’ bloodline begins with Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Judas then to Phares and Zara, whose parents were Judas and Tamar.

2 A signet was a seal, it was like a signature that guaranteed that whatever was sealed by it pertained to that person.


The Tribal Allotments of Israel
The Tribes of Galilee:
Asher, Issachar, Naphtali, and Zebulun

Asher (Josh 19:24-31)

Mount Carmel (the Plain of Acco)

Asher received the coastal plain north of Mount Carmel (the Plain of Acco) and the western hills of Galilee.  The  land was fertile, suitable olive  orchards and other agricultural products (Gen 49:20).

A brief reference in Judges 5:17 associates Asher with seafaring, but the Asherites had difficulty controlling the Acco Plain.  Judges 1:31 indicates that at least seven cities remained in the Canaanites’ hands and the Asherites “dwelt among the Canaanites.” 

During David’s reign, Israel controlled the plain briefly, but Solomon ceded 20 cities of the plain to Hiram, king of Tyre, as payment for Tyrian craftsmen and materials used to build the temple (1 Kg 9:10-14).

Issachar (Josh 19:17-23)

Jezreel Valley

Issachar received as an allotment the rugged basaltic slopes of eastern Lower Galilee and a segment of the eastern Jezreel  Valley.  The southern   border likely touched  the Gilboan mountains, while the western border extended to the Kishon River.  

Canaanite enclaves like Beth-shan undoubtedly were barriers to Issachar’s control of the valley.  The difficult terrain and lack of water sources characteristic of the high hills descending plateaus of eastern Lower Galilee stymied settlement.  This is revealed in the lack of archaeological remains in this area dating from the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages.

Issachar did contribute to Israel one judge, Tola, and two kings, Baasha and Elah (1 Kg 15:27; 16:8).

Naphtali (Josh 19:32-39)

Sea of Chinnereth/Galilee

Naphtali settled most of the mountainous, forested terrain of Galilee adjourning Asher on the west with Zebulun and Issachar to the south.  Naphtali reached Mount Tabor on the edge of the Jezreel Valley.  The Sea of Chinnereth and the Jordan River marked Naphtali’s eastern border, but the northern boundary is not given.  Perhaps the Litani River marked Naphtali’s settlement northward.

The relatively unsettled uplands of Galilee and the rugged area of the Meron Mountains must have invited early Israelite settlement, although a few Canaanite cities (Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath) successfully resisted Israel’s incursions in the region (Jud 1:31).

Zebulun (Josh 19:10-16; Jud 1:30; Deut 33:18-19)

Mount Tabor

Zebulun received a small allotment located in the southwest hills of Lower Galilee that extended into the western Jezreel Valley.  This land was diverse, ranging from the poorer      southern flanks of the Galilean hills to the fertile expanses of the Jezreel.  Most of the cities of Zebulun were located in the hills rather than the valley.  

Zebulun was unable to drive out the Canaanites, especially in the valley, choosing to dwell among the indigenous population and serve them (Jud 1:30).  The men of Zebulun fought valiantly alongside Issachar and Naphtali the day Deborah and Barak won a great victory at the Kishon River against the Canaanites (Jud 4:6, 10; 5:15-18).

Mount Tabor stood at the juncture of Zebulun, Issachar, and Naphtali; the three tribes probably shared a common worship place on the mountain (Deut 33:18-19).  Zebulun may have been involved in intermittent maritime trade based on the close proximity of the Plain of Acco (Gen 49:13).

The Transjordan Tribes:

Israel won victories in the Transjordan over Sihon of Heshbon and Og of Bashan before crossing the Jordan River.  Observing that these lands were well suited for grazing, representatives from the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and a part of Manasseh asked Moses to apportion among them the newly conquered land.

Moses complied with their request, but only after receiving a promise that men from the three tribes would assist in the conquest of the lands west of the Jordan (Num 32).  Joshua 13:8-13 and Numbers 32:33-42 give brief descriptions of allotments to the Transjordan tribes.  The Geshurites and Maacathites, two Aramean groups living east-northeast of the Sea of Chinnereth, were not dislodged by the tribes.

Reuben (Num 32:27-38; Josh 13:24-28)

Arnon Valley

Reuben took the “tableland” (Heb. mishor) that stretched northward from the Arnon Gorge to the vicinity of Heshbon.  The land was more fertile and less rugged than the territory south of the Arnon. The Moabites, who lived south of the Arnon, coveted the mishor and often clashed with Israel over territorial rights in the region.

The fertile tableland was suitable to sheep grazing and wheat and barley crops. Heshbon, Dibon, and Medeba were the chief cities of this region.  According to lists in Numbers and Joshua, the Gadites built (and presumably lived in) several cities in the allotment of Reuben (Num 32:34-35).


Gad (Num 32:34-36; Josh 13:24-28)

The Arnon. The water from the Transjordan tableland flows east from an elevation of more than 5000 feet to the Dead Sea (nearly 1300 feet below sea level). This picture shows the Arnon a few yards before it reaches the Dead Sea. During the rainy season there is much more water.

The tribe of Gad occupied choice pastoral lands in Gilead east of the Jordan (cf. Deut. 33:20-21). Gad’s borders are difficult to define precisely; the majority of her territory extended from near Heshbon northward to the Jabbok River.  

The Ammonite kingdom adjoined Gad on the east.  The boundary descriptions indicate Gad controlled a narrow corridor of land extending northward from the Jabbok to the Sea of Chinnereth.  The rugged western slopes of the Transjordan Plateau were densely forested, especially north of the Jabbok.

Gad was subject to frequent raids from the Ammorites, Moabites, and several desert tribes, a fact echoed in “The Blessing of Jacob” (Gen 49:19).

Mahanaim, located on the northern bank of the Jabbok, was a key Gadite city on the border with East Manasseh (Josh 13:26; 21:38).  Along with the other Transjordan tribes, the Gadites were not warriors (Deut 33:20; 1 Chr 5:18; 12:8).







East Manasseh (Num 32:27-38; Josh 13:15-23)

Gilead Mountains

The half-tribe of Manasseh settled the Gilead mountains north of the Jabbok River.  Machir, eldest son of Manasseh, described as the “father Of Gilead” (Num 26:29), dispersed the Amorites living in the region (Num 32:39).  

East Manasseh included parts of the Bashan north of the Yarmuk and east of the he Sea of Chinnereth, but the precise limits of the northern and eastern boundaries of the tribe’s holdings are not known.  East Manasseh was exposed to intense Aramean pressure, especially from Damascus.




The Joseph Tribes:

Ephraim and West Manasseh

Four Sacred Mountains

The blessings of Jacob and Moses indicate the privileged positions and strength of the two most important northern tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen 49::22-26; Deut 33:13-17).  Descended from the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh settled the central mountains south of the Jezreel Valley to the “Saddle of Benjamin,” a region sparsely populated in the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 B.C.).

This territory was heavily forested when the tribes entered the land (Josh 17:14-18).  The allotments included sections of the coastal plain south of Mount Carmel, but neither Ephraim nor Manasseh successfully controlled the coastal regions for lengthy periods.


Ephraim (Josh 16:5-10)


Jacob favored the younger Ephraim over the elder Manasseh, foreshadowing the eventual prominence of the tribe of Ephraim (Gen 48:8-20).  Joshua allotted Ephraim the isolated, higher mountain plateau south of Shechem reaching to Bethel.  Unlike Judah, Ephraim has no clear watershed; the land broadens in a rugged mountainous plateau not easily accessible from either east or west.

However, Ephraim was an agriculturally fertile region known for its vineyards and orchards (Deut 33:13-17; Gen 49:22-26).  Bethel and Shiloh were two of the significant towns of Ephraim.





West Manasseh (Josh 17:1-13)

Kingdom of Israel

The half-tribe of Manasseh settled the densely forested land north of Ephraim up to the Jezreel Valley.  Initially, Manasseh could not dislodge the Canaanites from the valley and the coasts, leaving such key cities as Beth-shan, Taanach, Dor, and Megiddo in Canaanite hands until the time of David (Jud 1:27-28).

The core of Manasseh was in the hills of the highlands south of the Jezreel Valley.  Important wadis (e.g., Wadi Farah) from the west to east made access easy into Manasseh’s heartland, which included such cities as Shechem, Dothan, and Bezek. 

The capital cities of the Northern Kingdom Israel (Shechem, Tirzah, and Samaria) all were located in Manasseh.  The International Coastal Highway passed along Manasseh’s  western edge.  Like Ephraim, this region was fertile, blessed with agricultural abundance.



The Southern Tribes: Benjamin, Judah, and Simeon Benjamin

Benjamin (Josh 18:11-28 [Cf Josh 15:5-11; 16:1-3, 5])

The Tribe of Manasseh

Benjamin received a small, but strategic, allotment located between two powerful neighboring tribes, Ephraim and Judah. Benjamin’s territory centered on a depression or “saddle” that begins south of Bethel and continues to Jerusalem.  The land is fertile and reasonably well watered except along the eastern edge.

Benjamin controlled important routes.  The main north-south route of the Western Highlands – the “Ridge Road” that ran along the crest of the mountains – ran through Benjamin.  A major east-west route connecting the coastal plain with the Transjordan crossed Benjamite territory. Gibeon, Bethel, Mizpah, and Jericho were Benjamite towns.  Jerusalem is included in the city list of Benjamin, although later the city became the capital of Judah.  

The Benjamites were renown warriors, noted for their abilities with a sling (Jud 20:15-17; Gen 49:27).  Benjamin’s tribal sympathies lay with her northern neighbors, Ephraim and Manasseh.  

Saul, the first king, came from Benjamin, and Benjamin followed the leadership of Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth (Esh-Baal rather than David, the southerner from Judah (2 Sam 2:8-10).


Judah (Josh 15:1-63: Jud 1:8-18)

Joshua 15 gives an extensive list of Judah’s allotment, perhaps hinting at the author’s interest in this important tribe that formed the nucleus of the southern kingdom and produced the Davidic dynasty.  

Judah occupied the southern part of the western highlands.  Protected on all sides except the north by major geographical obstacles, Judah was isolated from international connections.  To the west, the Shephelah guarded the main approaches to Judah’s key cities.  Judah at times controlled the Shephelah, but seldom held sway over the coastal plains.  Wilderness regions gave Judah protection from the east and south.

The numerous cities listed for Judah are divided into four groups: the Negeb, the Shephelah, the central ridge, and the eastern desert.  These divisions and other subdivisions in the list may reflect administrative alignments from later periods.  Lachish, Hebron, Bethlehem, and En-gedi are among the towns and villages of Judah that play key historical roles.

“The Blessing of Jacob” foreshadows the Davidic kings that would come from Judah.  The blessing also emphasizes the importance of herds and vineyards in this rugged region (Gen 49:10-12).

Judges 1:3-18 narrates the struggles of Judah and Simeon to take this territory, including an abortive attempt to gain control of Jerusalem. Several portions of southern Judah were assigned to various clans including the Kenites (the area around Arad), Calebites (the region of Hebron), and Kenazzites (the area around Debir).

Simeon (Josh 19:1-9)


Simeon and Levi are paired in “The Blessings of Jacob” where they are condemned for their violent ways (Gen 49:5-7), including a probable allusion to an attack on Shechem avenging the rape of Dinah (Gen 34).

A list of seventeen cities, mostly clustering in the western Negeb, defines Simeon’s allotment within the territory of Judah

Many scholars suggest that the tribe of Simeon lost its identity, perhaps because of violent tendencies, and was absorbed by Judah. Simeon is not mentioned in other important blessings or lists, including “The Blessings of Moses” in Deuteronomy 33.

The Migrant Tribe

Dan (Josh 19:40-48; Jud 17-18)

Kanah River (Yarkon River)

Dan’s original allotment touched the western slopes of the central mountains down through the Shephelah along the Sorek Valley and turned northward to the Kanah River (Yarkon River) alongthe coast.  An enigmatic reference to Dan in the Song of Deborah may recall an earlier period when the tribe of Dan occupied at least some of their allotted territory along the coast (Jud 5:17).

Other villages and towns of this original allotment include Zorah, Timnah, and Ekron – all towns mentioned in the Samson stories.

However, Amorite and Philistine pressure eventually forced the Danites to seek new territory.  Judges 17-18 narrates the migration of Dan northward where a small contingent of men captured Laish (Leshem), an ancient Canaanite city on the northern edge of the Huleh Basin.

Renaming the city in honor of their eponymous ancestor, the Danites established a place of worship supervised by a Levitical priesthood at Dan.

“The Blessings of Moses” recognized the military abilities of Dan (Deut 33:22), a characteristic perhaps reflected in “The Blessings of Jacob,” as well as (Gen 49:16-17).  But the latter text hints at treachery on the part of Dan:

Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that his rider falls backward (Gen. 49:17).

Later, Dan became the center of pagan worship when Jeroboam II erected a golden bull in his new national shrine.

Moving Again & The City of Bethel

I think it is only right that Shechem be executed, if he wasn’t then others would think it is okay to rape.  But I don’t know why they killed everyone.

“And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Beth-el, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. 

Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

And let us arise, and go up to Beth-el; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. 

And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods, which were in their hand, and all their earrings, which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak, which was by Shechem. 

And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob (Gen 35:1-5).

The Church of the Nativity is on the site in Bethlehem where Jesus Christ is thought to have been born.
Bethlehem has been the subject of countless carols and Nativity plays, but the real story of the little town is far more complex. Bethlehem had a long history even before it became known as the site of Jesus Christ’s birth. Now it sits at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

They arrived in Luz, still a part of Canaan, and they buried Rebekah’s nurse.  And God appeared to Jacob and reminded him, Thy name shall not be called anymore Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name. 

He also told him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins.  And the land I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land [Gen 35:11″] (Gen 35:10-12).

“After God left Jacob and his group headed for Ephrath, but Rachel was pregnant and went into labor pains.  Rachael died but the baby lived.  She had named him Ben-Oni, but Jacob changed his name to Benjamin, and she was buried in Bethleham” (Gen 35:18-19). 

The 12 sons of Jacob, as I mentioned before, were: Reuben (his first), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, and Benjamin (his last).  These are the 12 tribes of the Israelites.

They then went past the tower of Edar and dwelt there awhile.  At this time, Rueben went and slept with Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine, and Jacob found out about it. 

Isaac, at the age of 180 years died and was buried by Esau and Jacob.

Remember that God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, but I will continue to call him Jacob so you will not forget how he became Israel and also so you, or I, do not confuse Israel with Isaac.

1 Its not known whether God was there in physical form or not, this had happened with Abraham too (Gen 17:22), but God later tells Moses that you can’t see His face and live (Ex 33:20-23). 

I’ve never seen God, but I know when He’s standing right there in front of me, there is no doubt.  It’s nothing like feeling someone’s presence in the room. 

When God is with you there is no mistaken that He’s there, you can see Him without seeing Him.

The City of Bethel

The name Bethel comes from the Hebrew beth, meaning house, and el, meaning God. Bethel means House of God. Numerous events of Bible History occurred there, including God’s appearance to Abraham and Jacob, and for some time it was the place where the Ark of The Covenant, containing The Ten Commandments, was housed.

The holy site of Bethel played an important role in the lives of Abraham and Jacob/Israel, as well as in later Israelite history.

Abraham built an altar between Bethel and Ai, and Jacob, en route to Haran while fleeing from Esau, experienced a vivid dream at Bethel.

Before moving on, he set up a commemorative stone at the spot. In addition to serving as places of remembrance, such stones occasionally marked burial sites.

Biblical scholars have long debated’s Bethel’s precise location. Most have placed it at modern Tell Beitin, 8 miles (13 km) north of Jerusalem, but el Bireh, a few miles farther south, has also been suggested.

Clearly Bethel was located within the area north of Jerusalem now referred to as the West Bank.

Tell Beitin, which shows signs of occupation beginning with the Chalcolithic period was continuously occupied during the Middle Bronze Ages I and II, until the city was destroyed around 1550 B.C.

A Late Bronze Age city located on the same site, dating from the 14th century B.C., boasted high-quality houses, streets with flagstone pavements, and sewers.

There is evidence of its destruction at the end of the Bronze Age, and a later, Iron Age I settlement the location reflects an impoverished community.

The Ancient Hebrew walled city of Beit El (Bethel) The ancient city of Beit El (Bethel) has a history closer to the biblical forefathers of the Jewish and Lost Israelites than any other city in the Land of Israel.

This city continued to exist through the Iron Age, but no remains of Jeroboam’s temple – which the Babylonian army destroyed in 586 B.C. – have been found here.

According to the Onomasticon, written by Eusebius (269—339 A.D.) and revised by Jerome (345-419 A.D.), Bethel was located at the twelfth Roman milestone on the east­ern side of the road leading north to Neapolis (called Shechem in the Ofrf Testament; modern Nablus).

In this ancient manuscript Tell Beitin is described as being located at the fourteenth milestone, indicating that, if Eusebius’s information was correct, it could not have been Bethel.

Bethel may, then, have been situated a little to the south, at mod­ern el Bireh, near the city of Ramallah. No excavation has been done at el Bireh, a town currently occupied by Palestinians.

During the period of Israel’s monarchy, Bethel (“house of God”) came to be em­broiled in a controversy.

Associations with its sacred history and monuments led the people to transform into a center of idol­atrous worship.

Bethel is located about 10 miles north of Jerusalem. Archaeologists agree that there was a continuous occupation of the area from before 2,000 BC. Today, Bethel is known as Beitin. It is first mentioned in Genesis 12 where Abraham built an altar. Jacob had his dream of a ladder connecting heaven and earth in Bethel. The Ark of the Covenant resided in Bethel for a period of time in the Judges and it was a city on the priestly circuit of Samuel. When Israel divided into two kingdoms, Bethel became one of the worship centers for the Northern 10 Tribes. Jeroboam set up a golden calf in Dan and another in Bethel in an attempt prevent Temple worship in Jerusalem. Bethel was defeated by the Assyrians, along with the rest of the Northern Kingdom, in 721 BC

Jeroboam I, for example, took advantage of the holy traditions associated with Bethel and, against God’s will, set up a shrine there to serve as an alternative worship site to Solomon’s temple.

As a re­sult the prophets severely censured worship at Bethel. Hosea went so far as to refer to Bethel as Beth Avert, a dis­paraging pun meaning “house of wicked­ness.”

Such texts indicate that there was a debate during ancient times over wheth­er Bethel was a sacred site or a center of’ apostasy. 

The name Bethel was at the center of debate in another context. Bethel appears as a god’s name in a 7th century B.C. Assyrian treaty and in some texts from Ele­phantine, located in southern Egypt.

Based upon these discoveries, some scholars have argued that the word Bethel is used in the Old Testament as a divine name rather than as a place-name.

Most interpreters remain unconvinced of the validity of this theory, since it appears quite evident that the Bibli­cal Bethel was a specific place.

In fact certain Biblical texts seem to attest that Bethel in its early days was a city formerly known as Luz, but renamed by Jacob.

Rape & The Hurrians

This is something else, Jacob’s done nothing for You accept he’s true to You so You changed Esau’s heart. 

No one else could have done that but You, not even the devil has power to do that, and even if he did he wouldn’t.

“And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 

And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. 

And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. 

And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife. 

And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come” (Gen 34:1-5).

“When Dinah’s brothers came home from the field Jacob told them what Shechem had done to their sister and their blood boiled. 

Dinah’s brothers slay Shechem

Hamor had apologized for his son and was willing to pay a large dowry for Shechem’s actions if they would let the two marry. 

Jacob’s sons said they couldn’t do that because they were circumcised and Hamor and his people weren’t (these people were Canaanites and Perizzites and not with God). 

Hamor then asked if everyone in the village was circumcised would they allow it, and they did agree on that.  Jacob wasn’t happy about this, but he wanted to keep the peace. 

His sons were infuriated and they weren’t looking for peace, but justice” (34:6-23). 

“And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every 1male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city. 

And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. 

And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.

The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister. 

They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field. 

And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house (Gen 34:23-29).

Jacob was now worried because he thought other Canaanites and Perizzites would come and kill all of them, but Dinah’s brothers didn’t care, they were not going to let anyone get away with raping their sister” (Gen 34:30-31).

The Perizzites occupied the southern area in the land of Canaan in the portion given to Judah, Simeon and the sons of Joseph.

Remember, God had told Abraham that he and all of his men, and any new born after eight days had to be circumcised or God would not accept them (Gen 17:10-14). 

The circumcision still stands today, but since Jesus came the circumcision no longer pertains to the body, but to the heart, i.e., faith in Jesus.

“For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.

Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day” (Acts 2:25-29).

“For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil 3:3).

“But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter” (Rom 7:6).

The Hurrians

The Hurrians (aka Hurri or Khurri) were a Bronze Age people who flourished across the Near East from the 4th millennium BCE to the 1st millennium BCE. Hurrian is also the name of the language these people spoke and, indeed, is the one constant and identifying feature of the culture over time and geography. Hurrians formed the principal cultural element of the Bronze Age Mitanni kingdom and blended with the culture of the neighbouring, and then conquering, Hittites. By the late Bronze Age, the Hurrians had been assimilated into surrounding cultures in the Near East but many of their gods and myths would live on in later cultures, notably the Urartu civilization, and even inspire elements of myth found in Archaic Greece.

The Hurrians entered north­ern Mesopotamia, apparently from the Caucasus region, during the 3rd millennium B.C. and scattered across the ancient Near East.

They were well established in the area by the 18th century B.C. and created the kingdom of Mitanni in the northern terri­tory between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers by the mid-6th century B.C.

This king­dom became a major international player during the mid-2nd millennium B.C., but its location between the areas inhabited by the Egyptians, Hittites and Assyrians rendered it vulnerable to attack. By about 1250 B.C. Mitanni had ceased to exist as a kingdom.

Little is known about the Hurrian lan­guage because most of the documents these people left behind are in Akkadian rather than in their own language. It is certain, how­ever, that the Hurrians were not Semitic.

Kubaba is the Hurrian Goddess of the city of Carchemish. She was usually depicted as a regal woman wearing a long robe, either standing or seated on a throne. She holds a mirror and a pomegranate, symbols of magic and fertility. She was adopted by the Hittites after the fall of the Hurrians, and eventually evolved into the Phrygian Goddess Cybebe, later known as Cybele to the Romans.

In Nuzi, a Hurrian city east of the Tigris River, archaeologists have discovered an archive of cuneiform texts that reveal much about ancient Mesopotamian culture.The Hurrians worshiped such deities as a storm god, a sun god and a moon god in a Meso­potamian temple/pantheon (temple dedi­cated to multiple gods).

Excelling in metal­lurgy and glass making, they also were known for an intricately decorated pottery now called “Nuzi ware.”

Some scholars have sug­gested that the Biblical Horites were Hurrians, but this is most like­ly incorrect.

The Horites were a late 3rd millennium tribal group indigenous to the region of Seir, south of the Dead Sea, whereas the Hurrians were a people who entered northern Mesopotamia from the north dur­ing the 2nd millennium.

Jacob Wrestles with an Angel & Anicent City of Mari

Jacob married a thief, but Rachel must also be an idolater, and both are against God, but He didn’t punish her.  It’s obvious that God is good to His word that He gave Jacob. 

They say what comes around, goes around, and that’s proven to be true here.  Jacob scammed Esau out of his birthright, deceived Isaac for Esau’s blessing, Laban ripped Jacob off, and in turn Jacob out maneuvered Laban. 

What’s going to happen next?

Jacob has not forgotten what Esau had said after he stole his blessing and he was still afraid “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob” (Gen 27:41). 

“And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel -Gustave Doré (1855)

And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim. 

And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 

And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now:

And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and women servants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.  

And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him” (Gen 32:1-6).

Due to Jacob’s fear he divided up his people, thinking that Esau would only be able to kill one of the groups because while he was killing them the others could run.

Jacob prayed to God, for Him to intervene, allowing him, his wives, and children to live.  He then sent three different drove of men to meet Esau, with gifts: 200 she goats, 20 he goats, 200

After parting with Esau, Jacob journeyed to Succoth, a name which he gave to the place from the “booths” which he erected to shelter his cattle (Genesis 33:17).

It was in the territory of Gad, and is mentioned with Beth-nimrah (Joshua 13:27).

In his pursuit of Zeba and Zalmunnah, Gideon seems to have retraced the path followed by Jacob, passing Succoth before Penuel (Judges 8:5).

Their churlishness on that occasion brought dire punishment upon the men of Succoth. Gideon on his return “taught them” with thorns and briers (Judges 8:16).

In the soil of the valley between Succoth and Zarethan, which was suitable for the purpose, the brass castings of the furniture for Solomon’s Temple were made (1 Kings 7:46 2 Chronicles 4:17).

Jerome (on Genesis 33:17) says that in his day it was a city beyond Jordan in the district of Scythopolis. From the above data it is clear that Succoth lay on the East of the Jordan and North of the Jabbok.

From Psalm 60:6; Psalm 108:7, we may infer that it was close to the Jordan valley, part of which was apparently known by its name. Neubauer (Geog. du Talmud, 248) gives the Talmudic name as Tar`ala. Merrill (East of the Jordan, 386) and others compare this with Tell Deir `Alla, the name of an artificial mound about a mile North of the Jabbok, on the edge of the valley, fully 4 miles East of the Jordan.

There is a place called Sakut West of the Jordan, about 10 miles South of Beisan. This has been proposed by some; but it is evident that Succoth lay East of the river. No trace of the name has been found here.

ewes, 20 rams, 30 milch camels with their colts, 40 kine, 10 bull, 20 she asses, and 10 foals. 

He then sent his wives, their women servants, and his 11 sons over the ford Jabbok, and he stayed alone.

“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 

And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. 

And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh.  And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 

And he said unto him, What is thy name?  And he said, Jacob. 

And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. 

And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name.  And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?  And he blessed him there. 

And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Gen 32:24-30).

Later that day Jacob saw Esau and his 400 men approaching so Jacob bowed himself to the ground seven times before they stood before each other.

And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept (Gen 33:4). 

God had also blessed Esau so he was not hurt financially so all was well.

When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him (Pro 16:7).

Esau went to Seir and Jacob went to Succoth and built him a house.  Jacob then went to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, and pitched his tent before the city. 

He then bought a field for 100 pieces of money and erected an alar to cod and called it El-elohe-Israel (The Mighty God, the God of Israel).

Ancient City of Mari

Mari, known to­day as Tell Hariri, is located on the Eu­phrates River just downstream from its confluence with the Habur River.

The ancient city of Mari in modern day Syria is one of the most endangered, and often overlooked sites of ancient civilization. Discovered in 1933 while digging in a mound looking for a gravestone, Mari has proved to be one of the most abundant sites for artifacts and information of the ancient world in existence.

Ideally situated at the convergence of several trade routes connecting Sumer to Assyria and Mesopotamia to Syria-Palestine, cosmo­politan Mari was an ideal spot for trade and communications between kingdoms.

The city served as a buffer zone between the Sumerian city-states to the southeast and the lands of the pastoral tribes, called Amorites, to the north.

These livestock- raising nomads seem to have been par­ticularly concentrated around the city of Haran (cf. Abram’s sojourn there mentioned in Gen 11:31—12:5). Swarming in from Mesopotamia, they settled down there between 2400 – 2200 B.C.

In fact, people from northwestern Syria ruled Mari after this period, so the city’s most famous kings were of Amorite descent.

Much of Mari’s early history is obscure. Founded around 2900-2700 B.C., the city acquired wealth and importance but peri­odically was controlled by such great 3rd millennium B.C. powers as Sargon of Akkad and the Third Dynasty of Ur.

In 1775 B.C., Zimri-Lim of Mari broke free of Assyrian domination, but Hammurabi of Babylon burned the city in 1761 B.C.

Hammurabi (standing), depicted as receiving his royal insignia from Shamash. Hammurabi holds his hands over his mouth as a sign of prayer. (Hammurabi’s code of laws).

Begun in 1933, excavations of Mari have uncovered a large palace and several tem­ples, including a ziggurat.

The excavations have also yielded tens of thousands of clay, cuneiform tablets that had become hard­ened from the heat of conflagrations inflicted by the Babylonians.

Well preserved, these tablets address a wide variety of issues, such as a palace administration, harems, expenses, gift registries, literary works, letters and treaties.

These Mari documents shed light upon Old Testament study in several ways:

* They describe the Amorites and their cul­ture, helping us to understand the broader cultural environment of the early Israelites.

The Mari Tablets belong to a large group of tablets that were discovered by French archaeologists in the 1930s. More than 25,000 tablets in Akkadian were found in the Mari archives, which give information about the kingdom of Mari, its customs, and the names of people who lived during that time. More than 8,000 are letters; the remainder includes administrative, economic, and judicial texts.

* They showcase similarities between many Amorite and Biblical names, although – there are few, if any, direct links to specific Biblical characters.

* They mention the towns of Laish, which the Oanites destroyed and rebuilt (Jdg 18), and Hazor, an important city even before the Israelites entered the promised land (Jos; 11:10).

* They refer to pagan prophets who func­tioned in some ways similarly to their Bibli­cal counterparts.



Jacob’s Departure & The Twelve Tribes of Israel

These were some cold hearted people.  If they treat their own family members that way, imagine how they would treat strangers?  And Jacob was smart and sneaky.  Were they all politicians? Democrats?

God is against liars and thieves, but He is forgiving to those who stop, but not necessarily against shrewdness.

He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness(Matt 19:18).

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty (Rev 1:8).

Abraham hadn’t lied to King Abimelech about Sarah being his sister, because she was, he just didn’t disclose that fact that she was also his wife. 

No man is smarter than God:

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor 1:25).

And if those that walk with God, such as Jacob did, are being treated unfairly God will step in.  God is the one that gave Jacob the knowledge on how to alter the livestock for his benefit (31:10-13). 

It didn’t matter what Jacob did, Laban didn’t want him to leave because whatever Jacob did he prospered because of God, so they snuck away. 

It must be noted that it was only Jacob, not Rachel and Leah, that has made a vow to God and therefore he is sanctified and protected. 

Yet, since Rachel and Leah are his wives, even if they didn’t believe – and Rachel isn’t much better than the Canaanite women, which you will see – they are sanctified through Jacob, at least as long as they are married to him.

“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace” (1 Cor 7:14-15)

Because if God didn’t see them as righteous then He would be doing Jacob a discourtesy and God, being who He is cannot do that.

“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do”
(Heb 4:13). 

Yet, still, if they choose to participate upon an evil act repercussion may follow, just not from God.

And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father’s.  And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled. 

And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled.  And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead. 

And God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.

“Then Laban overtook Jacob.  Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead. 

And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword?” (31:19-20 & 22-26).

Laban searched all the tents and everywhere, but couldn’t find the images.  Rachel was sitting on her camel and she apologized for not getting down; she said it was her time of the month. 

When the hunt was over Jacob was angered, but he didn’t know that Rachel had the images hidden in her camel bags.

Laban apologized and asked that they make a treaty or covenant, and Jacob agreed and then they all went their ways.

The Twelve Tribes of Israel

About 4000 years ago, a man named Jacob (whose name was changed to The Twelve Tribes of Israel “Israel”) had 12 sons who The Twelve Tribes of Israel later became the ancestors The Twelve Tribes of Israel of the Tribes of Israel.  At The Twelve Tribes of Israel different times, for various The Twelve Tribes of Israel reasons, the Bible will list The Twelve Tribes of Israel the 12 Tribes of Israel but will include two of Jacob’s sons and replace them with two sons of Joseph (who was one of Jacob’s sons).

Asher – the eighth son of Jacob, and the second of Jacob’s two sons by Zilpah, Leah’s maid. When Jacob blesses his 12 sons in Genesis chapter 49, he said that Asher would have a life blessed with an abundance of food and delicacies befitting a king (Genesis 49:20).  Asher made the journey with Jacob and the family from Padan Aram to Canaan, and then later to Egypt.  The Tribe of Asher increased in size from 41,500 to 53,400 adult males during the span of two censuses described in the Book of Numbers.


Benjamin – the twelfth and youngest son of Jacob. His mother was Rachel, Jacob’s wife. Benjamin was born during the journey that Jacob and his family took from Padan Aram to Canaan.  His mother Rachel named him “Ben-oni,” meaning “Son of my sorrow,” before she died during the childbirth, but Jacob called him Benjamin. 



Dan – the fifth son of Jacob, and the first of Bilhah, who was Jacob’s concubine and the maid of Rachel, who was Jacob’s wife (Genesis 30:1-6). Dan traveled with Jacob and the family from Padan Aram to Canaan, and then later to Egypt.  When Jacob blessed his sons in Genesis 49:16-18, it is stated that Dan would provide justice for his people.



Gad – There are at least two people in the Bible named Gad.  One was a prophet and the other was one of the 12 sons of Jacob.  Gad, the son of Jacob, was the seventh son of Jacob.  His mother was Zilpah, who was Leah’s maid.  He was the founder of the tribe of Gad.  He made the journey with Jacob and the family from Padan Aram to Canaan, and later, to Egypt.  In the census taken in the second year after the Exodus, the tribe of Gad numbered 46,650 (Numbers 2: 14-15).


Issachar – His mother was Leah, who also gave birth to Reuben, Judah, Simeon, Levi and Zebulun. Issachar is the ancestor of the Tribe of Issachar. When Jacob blessed his sons, in Genesis 49, Issachar was described as a beast of burden who would submit to forced labor (Genesis 49:14-15). Issachar’s name is often linked together with Zebulun, his brother.



Ephraim (son of Joseph) – Ephraim was the younger son of Joseph, son of Jacob, and Asenath, daughter of Potiphera (priest of the sun god Re of Heliopolis).  Ephraim is the ancestor of the Tribe of Ephraim.  Before his death, Jacob adopted his grandchildren Ephraim and Manasseh to be equal with his own sons (Genesis 48:5).



Manasseh (son of Joseph) – There are two prominent people named Manasseh in the Bible: Manasseh, son of Joseph and Manasseh, king of Judah.  Here we’re talking about Joseph’s son.  Manasseh was the older son of Joseph and Asenath, daughter of Potiphera (priest of the sun god Re of heliopolis).  Manasseh is the ancestor of the Tribe of Manasseh.  According to 1 Chronicles 7:14, Manasseh had an Aramean concubine who bore Machir, the father of Gilead.


Judah – There are two Judahs in the Bible.  One refers to a place and the other refers to a person: Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel and Judah, the southern part of the Jewish homeland.  His mother was Leah, who also gave birth to Reuben, Levi, Simeon, Issachar and Zebulun.  Judah was the founder of one of the 12 Tribes of Israel.  A region of Israel, which included the city of Jerusalem, was named after Judah.  In fact, Judah became the name of the southern kingdom when Israel divided into two kingdoms about 2900 years ago.


Naphtali – His mother was Bilhah, who was a servant to Rachel, who was Jacob’s wife. Bilhah also gave birth to Jacob’s son Dan. Naphtali was the founder of one of the 12 Tribes of Israel.  A region in northern Israel was given his name, near the Sea of Galilee.  When Jacob blesses his sons in Genesis 49, he describes Naphtali as a deer that has been set free (Genesis 49:21).



Reuben – Reuben was the first child of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the tribe of Reuben. When the Bible lists the names of Jacob’s 12 sons, Reuben’s is listed first. But Reuben lost the privileges that traditionally were given to first-born sons because he had an affair with Jacob’s concubine, Bilhah (Genesis 35:22).  Reuben, however, is noted for some good things.  He intervened with his brothers to spare Joseph’s life in Gen 37:21-30.


Simeon – Simeon is the second son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the tribe of Simeon. When ten of the sons of Jacob went to Egypt from Canaan to buy food during a famine, Simeon was imprisoned by Joseph as a guarantee that Benjamin, Joseph’s younger brother, would be brought to him (Genesis 42 and 43). Simeon and Levi killed the people of Shechem to avenge the rape of their sister Dinah.  Jacob rebuked them for the murders and sharply criticized them in his last words before his death (Genesis 49:5-6).


Zebulun – His mother was Leah, who also gave birth to Reuben, Judah, Simeon, Levi and Issachar. Zebulun is the ancestor of the Tribe of Zebulun.  The tribe played an important role in the victory against Sisera’s army at the brook of Kishon, and in Gideon’s victory against the Midianites.  One of the Judges of Israel, named Elon, and the prophet Jonah came from Zebulun. The tribe was renowned as seafarers.  In Revelation 7:1-8, Zebulun is among the tribes who are promised the Seal of God for 12,000 of their members.  The name Zebulun means “Gifts.”