Sunday, September 18, 2011

Joseph in Egypt

For the past several months my daughter has worked on the tech crew for a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. For some reason, the church-goers whom she works with are rather unfamiliar with the story of Joseph ben Israel. They regularly expressed surprise when she would tell them "more of the story". One co-worker, a student of history and member of the church my daughter attends, stated that there is no record of Israel in Egypt and that the Bible is myth, or words to that effect.

At about the time that the production was beginning, I happened to have been re-reading books to tie up genealogical threads, and two of them happened to discuss the same things: the Israel Stella and Joseph in Egypt. I let my daughter know of the things that my extra-biblical studies had uncovered. She asked that I send her a summary of my findings. I finally responded on September 7th. I include my response here for review:

The Merneptah Stele was discovered in 1896 by Flinders Petrie in Thebes. It includes the earliest known reference to Israel as a people (ca. 1210 BC) and the only reference to Israel in Egyptian collections. As such it is highly controversial and usually dismissed by revisionists. The wikipedia article presents a fairly balanced look at the Stela. It is also known as the Israel Stela and is located in the Cairo Museum.

Where I first learned about the Stela was in a 1996 book by Dr. Lyman Platt, The World Book of Generations (attachment WBG1.jpg). It is also discussed in Laurence Gardner (1943-2010), in his 1999 publication, Genesis of the Grail Kings (attachment GGK.jpg). Laurence Gardner has generally been dismissed as a conspiracy theorist and proponent of pseudo history.

Both of these books reference the works of Ahmed Osman (1934-):
  • Stranger in the Valley of the Kings, 1987
  • Moses - Pharaoh of Egypt, 1990
  • The House of the Messiah, 1992
The World Book of Generations quotes Osman extensively in its discussion of Joseph and Moses. Osman has a Master's degree in Egyptology and follows the thesis presented by Sigmund Freud in Moses and Monotheism, that Moses was also know as Pharaoh Akhenaten. Genesis of the Grail Kings also devotes two chapters to the discussion of Joseph and Moses, relying on Osman's works for their outline.

It is proposed in the above listed works that Joseph, son of Jacob (Israel) was known in Egypt as Yuya, Vizier of Egypt under two pharaohs (Tutmosis IV and Amenhotep III), father-in-law of Amenhotep III, grandfather of Akhenaten, father of Pharoah Aye, great-grandfather of Tutankhamun.

Because you are currently involved in the production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, I include the following excerpt from Stranger in the Valley of the Kings:
Although the tomb of Yuya and Tuya [Yuya's wife] was the most complete one to be found before that of Tutankhamun, nobody thought that Yuya personally was of any great importance. Davis wrote his account of the discovery, with an introduction by Maspero, in 1907: Naville published his study of Yuya's Book of the Dead a year later. Nothing much has been done since, other than some studies of different pieces of the funerary furniture and its texts. Yet in the case of Yuya there are enough curious facets to make it surprising that his origins were not the subject of more detailed investigation, either at the time or in the intervening eighty years.

... he is the only person we know from the time of the Hyksos kings onward to bear the title it ntr n nb tawi - the holy father of the Lord of the Two Lands (Pharaoh), the same title claimed by Joseph - and, although not apparently of Royal blood, he was buried in the Valley of the Kings rather than in the Valley of the Nobles, close to the village of Sheikh Abdel Korna. Furthermore, unlike the tombs of other nobles, Yuya's was neither decorated nor inscribed; his name, found on his sarcophagus, the three coffins and other pieces of funerary furniture, is not Egyptian and had not been discovered in Egypt before that time; unlike the ears of most Royal mummies of the New Kingdom, Yuya's were not pierced, and the position of his hands, the palms facing his neck under the chin, is different from the usual Osiris form in which the dead man's hands are crossed over his chest. Yuya, as far as is known, is the only Egyptian mummy to have been found with his hands in this position.

Yuya bore an impressive list of titles in addition to 'the holy father of the Lord of the Two Lands':

Father of the God, or Holy Father (This was a common priestly title which might be said to correspond to the 'Father' of the Roman Catholic Church and the High Church of England or the 'Padre' of the armed forces),
Master of the Horse,
Deputy of His Majesty in the Chariotry,
Bearer of the ring of the King of Lower Egypt,
Seal-bearer of the King of Lower Egypt,
Hereditary Noble and Count,
Overseer of the Cattle of Min, Lord of Akhmin,
Overseer of the Cattle of Amun,
Favourite of the Good God (Pharaoh),
Confidant of the King,
Confidant of the Good God,
Mouth of the King of Upper Egypt,
Ears of the King of Lower Egypt,
Prophet of the God Min,
Sole Friend (Unique Friend),
First of the Friends,
Great Prince,
Great of Love,
Plentiful of Favours in the House of the King,
Plentiful of Favours under his Lord,
Enduring of Love under his Lord,
Beloved of the King of Upper Egypt,
Beloved of the Lord of the Two Lands,
Beloved of God,
Possessor of Favour under the Lord of the Two Lands,
Praised of the Good God,
Praised of his God,
Praised of his Lord,
Praised of his Lord Amun,
Praised of the King,
Praised of the Lord of the Two Lands,
Praised One who came forth from the Body Praised,
One made rich by the King of Lower Egypt,
One made great by the King of Lower Egypt,
One made great by the Lord who does things,
First among the King's Companions,
The Wise One,
He whom the King made Great and Wise, whom the King has made his Double.

Unlike his wife, Tuya, who had conventional Egyptian looks, Yuya was remarkably foreign in appearance, as Arthur Wigall recorded in his book The Life and Times of Akhenanten, published in 1910: 'He was a person of commanding presence, whose powerful character showed itself in his face. One must picture him now as a tall man, with a fine shock of white hair; a great hooked nose like that of a Syrian; full, strong lips; and a prominent, determined jaw.'
There follows a wonderful discussion of the name Yuya and its relationship to the name Joseph. I won't take the time to copy that now. I find the whole intriguing. If Yuya wasn't Joseph, Yuya did "become a star" as the cast at Hale Centre so ably sings every night.

If you need anything more, holler!



The day after I sent that message to my daughter, I took the day off to attend the funeral of a good friend. After the funeral and a wonderful lunch with my wife and another good friend, my wife spotted a new location of a used book store. We stopped in to see if there was anything of interest.

To my surprise, I found a work by John Romer, Valley of the Kings, which is a history of the archaeological findings in said valley. I flipped the pages to the table of contents and saw there was a chapter describing the discovery of the tomb of Yuya and Tuya. When I turned to that section, I was astounded to find the following pictures on page 201:

Here, to my delight, are pictures of my 3,000 year-old ancestors! The fact that Yuya looks like a New England farmer is only icing on the cake.

For years I have wondered about these two. Their love story has intrigued me. How did a prophet of the Lord find a woman willing to join him and forsake the teachings of her fathers? The spirit whispers that Joseph and Asenath really are my ancestors.

My database is just about to the point where I can link directly to them. I imagine that they'll be roughly 120 generations from me. I've recently brought my studies to the point that I am adding genealogical data from the biblical source. It is my opinion that a very large majority of people alive today share the blood of these two people, part of the blessing of the their ancestor, Abraham.

This episode humbles me. The synchronicity thrills me.

The work, wading through disinformation, separating the wheat from the chaff, is paying off. Still, questions remain. When any genealogical question is answered, at least three more are raised, so questions are okay. They point the way to further study.

1 comment:

Shi said...