Evidence of Joseph’s rule in Egypt

Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper has reported that archaeologists have discovered what they describe as  “ancient Egyptian coins” bearing the name and image  of Joseph in the collection of the Museum of Egypt  in Cairo (“Archeologists find ‘Joseph-era’ coins in  Egypt”, Jerusalem Post, 25 September 2009[1]).

Although the Al Ahram report states that: “A  thorough examination revealed that the coins bore  the year in which they were minted and their value,  or effigies of the pharaohs [who ruled] at the time  of their minting” and, “Some of the coins are from  the time when Joseph lived in Egypt, and bear his  name and portrait”, it seems unlikely that the objects  are coins in the sense of minted currency. Minted  coinage was unknown in the ancient world until at  least the seventh century BC, and what is described  as “money” in the early books of the Bible usually  refers to a standard weight of a precious metal such  as silver (The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, v. 2, p.  1019–1020).

It is probable that the artefacts are ornaments of  some kind, and if Joseph’s name appears on some of  these objects this is certainly a significant find that  verifies the biblical account. The story of Joseph  in Egypt is retold in the Koran (ch 12) with some  significant additions, omissions and deviations  from the biblical record, but as Moslems, Egyptian  archaeologists would seem to have little reason to  publicise evidence that confirms Jewish historical  links with the Middle East.

At time of writing, however, there has been no  acknowledgement or discussion of the report by the  reputable scholarly community.

Administrative centre from the period of King Hezekiah

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a  “luxurious” administrative centre from the period  of King Hezekiah at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, south  of Jerusalem (Hillel Fendel, “Remains from period  of King Hezekiah discovered”, Israelnationalnews.  com, 9 August 2009[2]). Among the findings unearthed  at the site are a large quantity of imprinted pitcher  handles, assumed to be from vessels used for oil and  wine. Researchers believe that agricultural produce  was stored at the administrative centre as taxes to  be given to foreign rulers.

It appears that the centre also included a  complex of palace buildings that was used from  the reign of King Manasseh until the exile and  then for at least another two hundred years after  the return to Zion and into the Hellenistic period.  During the Hasmonean period, however, the centre  was destroyed and replaced by a village that shows  evidence of ritual baths in private homes and other  features of contemporary Jewish life.

Fragments of a burial shroud from the time of Christ

Analysis of DNA taken from the remains of a man  discovered in a tomb near the Old City of Jerusalem  “shows him to be the first human proven to have  suffered from leprosy”, say researchers from the  Hebrew University and North American and British  institutions (Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, “Remains in  2,000-year-old tomb near Old City show first known  case of leprosy”, Jerusalem Post, 15 December  2009[3]). As the origins and development of leprosy  are largely obscure, the researchers believe that  these results fill a vital gap in our knowledge of  the disease.

According to The Jerusalem Post report, “The  burial cave, known as the Tomb of the Shroud, is  located in the lower Hinnom Valley near the Jaffa  Gate and part of a first century CE cemetery known  as Akeldama, or ‘Field of Blood’ (mentioned in  the Book of Matthew 27:3–8, and Acts 1:19 in the  Christian Bible). It is located adjacent to the spot where Judas is said to have committed suicide. The  tomb of the shrouded man is also located next to  the tomb of Annas, the high priest (6 CE to 15 CE),  who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high  priest who betrayed Jesus to the Romans. It is thus  believed that this shrouded man was either a priest  or a member of the aristocracy.”

What is also most interesting is that fragments  of the burial shroud were found with the remains of  this man. It appears that he did not receive a second  burial (probably because of his leprosy) as was  usual at that time, when the bones were removed  and placed in an ossuary, or stone box.

This burial shroud is also very different to the  Turin Shroud, which it is claimed was used to  wrap the body of Jesus after his crucifixion. The  Jerusalem Post reports that textile historian Dr Orit  Shamir has demonstrated that the leprous man’s  burial shroud is made up of a simple two-way  weave, quite unlike the complex weave of the Turin  Shroud. This has led the researchers to “conclude  that the Turin Shroud did not originate from Jesusera  Jerusalem”, says The Jerusalem Post.


[1] http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJ PArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1253820674074

[2] http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/132808

[3] http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1260894117527& pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull