Genesis ot esources collection compiled and prepared by Dr. Ted Hildebrandt Gordon College, 255 Grapevine Rd. Wenham, ma 01984 faculty gordon edu—Biblical Studies Dept. For my students and students of the Bible

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compiled and prepared by

Dr. Ted Hildebrandt

Gordon College, 255 Grapevine Rd.

Wenham, MA 01984—Biblical Studies Dept.

For my students and students of the Bible


Table of Contents for

Genesis Articles at Gordon

available online in *.doc, *.pdf, *.html, and audio *.mp3
Compiled and prepared by Ted Hildebrandt

Gordon College, 255 Grapevine Rd. Wenham, MA 01984

freely available at: – Biblical Studies Dept.

also available is W. H. Green’s, Unity of Genesis (600 pp).

any errors or suggestions write to:

Ailing, Charles. "Joseph in Egypt: First of Six Parts" Bible and

15.1 (2002) 21-23. p. 7

________. "Joseph in Egypt: Second of Six Parts" Bible and Spade

15.2 (2002) 35-38. p. 13

________. "Joseph in Egypt: Third of Six Parts" Bible and

15.4 (2002) 99-101. p. 19

________. "Joseph in Egypt: Fourth of Six Parts" Bible and

16.1 (2003) 10-13. p. 23

________. "Joseph in Egypt: Fifth of Six Parts" Bible and

Spade 15.1 (2002) 21-23. p. 29

________. "Joseph in Egypt: Sixth of Six Parts" Bible and

16.3 (2003) 89-91. p. 36

Andreasen, N. E. “Adam and Adapa: Two Anthropological Characters,”

Andrews University Seminary Studies 19 (1981) 179-94. p. 40

Armerding, Carl E. "Biblical Perspectives on the Ecology Crisis,"

Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 25.1 (March,

1973) 4-9. p. 56

Battenfield, James R. "Atra-Hasis: A Survey" Grace Theological

12.2 (Spring, 1971) 3-22. (Adv.) p. 74

Bergen, Robert D. “The Role of Genesis 22:1-19 in the Abraham Cycle:

A Computer-Assisted Textual Interpretation,” Criswell

Theological Review 4.2 (1990) 313-26. p. 94

Bullmore, Michael A. "The Four Most Important Biblical Passages

for a Christian Environmentalism" Trinity Journal 19NS

(1998) 139-162. p. 108

Busenitz, Irvin A. “Woman’s Desire for Man: Genesis 3:16

Reconsidered,” Grace Theological Journal 7.2 (1986) 203-12. p. 132

Buswell, James O. “Is there an Alternative to Organic Evolution?”

Gordon Review (1959) 2-13. p. 143

Cole, Timothy J. "Enoch, a Man Who Walked with God "

Bibliotheca Sacra 148 (July-Sept. 1991) 288-97. p. 155

(10 pages, Beg)

Collins, Jack. “Discourse Analysis and the Interpretation of Gen. 2:4-7,”

Westminster Theological Journal 61 (1999) 149-79. p. 165

Craig, William L. "Philosophical and Scientific Pointers to Creatio ex

Nihilo," Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 32.1

(March, 1980) 5-13. (31 pages, Adv) p. 174

Curtis, Edward M. “Genesis 38: Its Context(s) and Function,” Criswell

Theological Review 5.2 (1991) 247-57. p. 205

Dana, James D. “Creation, or Biblical Cosmogony in the Light of

Modern Science,” Bibliotheca Sacra 42 (1885) 201-24. p. 217

Davidson, Richard M. “The Theology of Sexuality in the Beginning:

Genesis 1-2,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 26.1 (1988)

5-24. p. 239

________. “The Theology of Sexuality in the Beginning:

Genesis 1-2,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 26.1 (1988)

5-24. p. 259

Dilling, David R. "The Atonement and Human Sacrifice." Grace

Theological Journal 5 (1964) 24-41. (18 pages, Inter) p. 270

Estes, Daniel J. “Looking for Abraham’s City,” Bibliotheca Sacra 147

(1990) 399-413. p. 288

Foh, Susan T. "What Is the Woman's Desire?" Westminster

Theological Journal 37 (1974/75) 376-83. p. 304

Futato, Mark D. “Because It Had Not Rained: A Study of Gen. 2:5-7 with

Implications for Gen. 2:4-25 and Gen 1:1-2:3,” Westminster

Theological Journal 60.1 (1998) 1-21. p. 312

Green, William. "Primeval Chronology" Bibliotheca Sacra 47 (1890)

285-303. p. 333

Grounds, Vernon C. "God's Perspective on Man," Journal of the

American Scientific Affiliation 28.4 (Dec. 1976) 145-51. p. 352

Hasel, G. F. “The Genealogies of Gen 5 and 11 and Their Alleged

Babylonian Background,” Andrews University Seminary Studies

16 (1978) 361-74. p. 376

________. “The Significance of the Cosmology in Gen 1 in Relation

to Ancient near Eastern Parallels,” Andrews University Seminary

Studies 10 (1972) 1-20. p. 396

Hummel, Charles E. “Interpreting Genesis One,” Journal of the

American Scientific Affiliation 38.3 (1986) 175-85. p. 410

Hyers, M. Conrad. “The Narrative Form of Genesis 1: Cosmongonic

Yes: Scientific No,” Journal of the American Scientific

Affiliation 36.4 (1984) 208-15. p. 440

Kaiser, W. C. “The Promised Land: A Biblical-Historical View,”

Bibliotheca Sacra 138 (1981) 302-12. p. 461

Kline, Meredith G. “Because It Had not Rained,” Westminster

Theological Journal 20 (1958) 146-57. p. 473

_________. “The Ha-Bi-Ru—Kin or Foe of Israel?” Westminster

Theological Journal 10 (1957) 46-70. p. 485

Lawlor, John I. "The Test Of Abraham Genesis 22:1-19," Grace

Theological Journal 1.1 (1980) 19-35. p. 510

Marrs, Rick R. “Sacrificing our Future (Genesis 22),” Restoration

Quaterly 27.3 (1984) 129-42. p. 527

Mathewson, S. D. “An Exegetical Study of Gen. 38,” Bibliotheca

Sacra 146 (1989) 373-92. p. 532

McKenzie, J. L. “Jacob’s Blessing on Pharaoh: An Interpretation

of Genesis 46:31-47:26,” Westminster Theological Journal

45 (1983) 386-99. p. 552

McKenzie, S. “’You Have Prevailed’: The Function of Jacob’s

Encounter at Peniel in the Jacob Cycle,” Restoration Quarterly

23 (1980) 225-31. p. 566

Merrill, Eugene H. “Covenant and the Kingdom: Genesis 1-3 as

Foundation for Biblical Theology,” Criswell Theological Review

1.2 (1987) 295-308. p. 573

Newman, Robert C. "The Ancient Exegesis Of Genesis 6:2, 4."

Grace Theological Journal 5,1 (1984) 13-36. p. 587

Ouro, Roberto. “The Earth of Genesis 1:2: Abiotic or Chaotic: Part 1,”

Andrews University Seminary Studies 36 (1998) 259-76. p. 611

________. “The Earth of Genesis 1:2: Abiotic or Chaotic: Part II,”

Andrews University Seminary Studies 37 (1999) 39-54. p. 629

________. “The Earth of Genesis 1:2: Abiotic or Chaotic: Part III,”

Andrews University Seminary Studies 38 (2000) 59-67. p. 644

Phillips, Perry G. "Are the Days of Genesis Longer than 24 Hours?

The Bible Says, 'Yes!'" IBRI Research Report #40 (1991). p. 653

Ronning, John. "The Naming Of Isaac: The Role Of The Wife/Sister

Episodes in the Redaction of Genesis." Westminster

Theological Journal 53 (1991) 1-27. p. 660

Rooker, Mark F. “Genesis 1:1-3: Creation or Re-creation,” Part 1,”

Bibliotheca Sacra 149 (1992) 316-23. p. 687

Rooker, Mark F. “Genesis 1:1-3: Creation or Re-creation,” Part II,”

Bibliotheca Sacra 149 (1992) 411-27. p. 696

Ross, Allen P. “Studies in the Book of Genesis. Part I: The Curse of

Canaan,” Bibliotheca Sacra 137 (1980) 223-40. p. 714

________. “Jacob’s Vision: The Founding of Bethel,” Bibliotheca

Sacra 142 (1985) 224-37. p. 732

________. “Jacob at the Jabook, Israel at Peniel,” Bibliotheca Sacra

142 (1985) 338-54. p. 749

________. “The Dispersion of the Nations in Gen 11:1-9” Bibliotheca

Sacra 138 (1981) 119-38. p. 763

________. “The Table of Nations in Genesis 10—Its Content: Part 3

Studies in the Book of Genesis,” Bibliotheca Sacra 138 (1980)

22-34. p. 784

Rotenberry, Paul. “Blessing in the Old Testament, a Study of Gen. 12:3,”

Restoration Quarterly 2.1 (1958) 32-36. p. 797

Sailhamer, John. “Exegetical Notes: Genesis 1:1-2:4a,” Trinity

Journal 5.1 (1984) 73-82. p. 802

Seely, Paul H. “The Date of the Tower of Babel and Some Theological

Implications,” Westminster Theological Journal 63.1 p. 812

(2001) 15-38.

_________. “The Geographical Meaning of ‘Earth’ and ‘Seas’ in

Genesis 1:10,” Westminster Theological Journal 59 (1997) p. 837


__________. "The Firmament and the Water Above." Westminster

Theological Journal 53 (1991) 227-40. p. 862

Snoeberger, Mark. “The Pre-Mosaic Tithe,” Detroit Baptist

Seminary Journal 5 (Fall, 2000) 71-95. p. 876

Stefanovic, Zdravko. “The Great Reversal: Thematic Links between

Genesis 2 and 3,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 32.1-2

(1994) 47-56. p. 901

Stitzinger, Michael F. "Genesis 1-3 and the Male/Female Role

Relationship." Grace Theological Journal 2.1 (1981) 23-44. p. 911

Townsend, P. Wayne. “Eve’s Answer to the Serpent: An Alternative

Paradigm for Sin and Some Implications for Theology,” Calvin

Theological Journal 33 (1998) 399-420. p. 933

Waltke, Bruce K. "The Creation Account in Genesis 1.1-3: Part I:

Introduction to Biblical Cosmogony" Bibliotheca Sacra 132 (Jan.-
Mar. 1975) 25-36. p. 955

_______. “The Creation Account in Genesis 1.1-3: Part IV:

The Theology of Genesis One,” Bibliotheca Sacra 132

(Jan.-Mar. 1975) 327-42. p. 968

________. “The Creation Account in Gen 1:1-3. Part V: The

Theology of Genesis 1,” Bibliotheca Sacra 133 (1976)

28-41. p. 984

________. “Cain and His Offering,” Westminster Theological

Journal 48 (1986) 363-72. p. 998

Warning, Wilfried. “Terminological Patterns and Genesis 38,”

Andrews University Seminary Studies 38 (2000) 293-305. p. 1008

Watson, P. “The Tree of Life,” Restoration Quarterly 23 (1980)

232-38. p. 1021

Wessner, Mark D. “Toward a Literary Understanding of ‘Face to Face’

in Genesis 32:23-32,” Restoration Quarterly 42.3 (2000) 169-77.

p. 1028

Wilcox, David L. "A Taxonomy of Creation," Journal of the

American Scientific Affiliation 38.4 (Dec. 1986) 244-50. p. 1037

Wiseman, Donald J. "Abraham in History and Tradition: Part I"

Bibliotheca Sacra 134 (April-June 1977) 123-30. p. 1057

________. "Abraham in History and Tradition: Part II"

Bibliotheca Sacra 135 (July-Sept. 1977) 228-37. p. 1065

Woudstra, M. H. “The Toledoth of the Book of Genesis and Their

Redemptive-Historical Significance,” Calvin Theological

Journal 5 (1970) 184-89. p. 1076

Woudstra, M. H. “Recent Translations of Genesis 3:15,” Calvin

Theological Journal 6 (1971) 194-203. p. 1086

Yamauchi, Edwin M. "Ancient Ecologies and the Biblical

Perspective," Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 32.4

(Dec. 1980) 193-203. (39 pages, Adv) p. 1092

Young, David A. “Scripture in the Hands of Geologists,” Westminster

Theological Journal 49.2 (1987) 257-304. p. 1131

Young, E. J. “The Days of Genesis,” Westminster Theological

Journal 25 (1962-63) 1-34. p. 1179

________. “The Days of Genesis Pt. 2,” Westminster Theological

Journal 25 (1962-63) 143-71. p. 1213

Zimmerman, Charles L. “The Chronology and Birth of Jacob’s Children

by Lean and her Handmaid,” Grace Journal 13.1 (Winter 1972)

3-12. p. 1242

Bible and Spade 15.1 (2002) 21-23 [text only]

Copyright © 2002 by Bible and Spade. Cited with permission.

Joseph in Egypt

First of Six Parts
by Charles Aling
No portion of the Old Testament has a richer Egyptian

coloring than the story of Joseph. Egyptian names, titles,

places, and customs all appear in Genesis 37-50. In the

last one hundred years or so, historical and archaeological

research has made the study of the Egyptian elements in

the Joseph story more fruitful than ever before. In order to

examine the Egyptological information, it is necessary to

establish the period in Egyptian history when Joseph was

in Egypt.

Mainline contemporary scholarship and the Bible's own

chronology are in accord in dating Joseph sometime

between 2000 and 1600 BC. This time frame includes two

important periods of Egypt's history, the Middle Kingdom

(2000-1786 B.C.) and the Second Intermediate Period

(1786-1570 B.C.). However, before narrowing down our

dates for Joseph any more, let us first survey these two


The Middle Kingdom was one of Egypt's three greatest

ages (Hayes, 1964) (Aling, 1981). The country was unified

and prosperous, and was in the process of conquering

Nubia, located in what is today the Sudan. In the Bible,

this area is called Ethiopia.

The eight Pharaohs of this period comprise Egypt's 12th

Dynasty: The founder was the great Amenemhat I (1991-

1962 BC). He died by assassination, but not before he had

associated his son Sesostris I with him on the throne as co-

regent. Sesostris in his long reign (1971-1928 BC)

campaigned with success in northern Nubia and built at

no less than 35 sites in Egypt.

Under his immediate successors, fighting in Nubia

subsided and trade received the main royal attentions.

Since Babylon had not yet emerged as a great power under

page 21

Hammurabi, Egypt stood alone as the world's greatest


The most important king of the 12th Dynasty was

Sesostris III (1878-1843 BC). He renewed the efforts to

conquer Nubia, and was successful. All of Nubia as far

south as Semnah was taken. Sesostris III also instituted

great administrative reforms. He broke the power of the

local nobility. These officials had been a thorn in the side

of the Pharaohs all through the 12th Dynasty. We know

little in detail of what Sesostris III did, but he did end the

semi-independence of the so-called Nomarchs (provincial

governors). We will have occasion to return to this point


Under Amenemhat III (1842-1797 B.C.) the Middle

Kingdom reached its highest level of material prosperity.

Egypt was very successful in foreign trade. The

exploitation of mines and quarries was greater than ever

before, and a project to reclaim land in the Faiyum region

to the west of the Nile valley was completed.

The final rulers of the Twelfth Dynasty (including one

female king) were weak. As central authority broke down,

so did control of Egypt's borders with Syria-Palestine. This

enabled an ever-expanding infiltration of Asiatics to enter

Egypt's delta region. Eventually these Asiatics were able

to seize control of northern Egypt, thus ending the Middle

Kingdom period of Egyptian history.

The Second Intermediate Period, or as it is

sometimes called, "the Hyksos Period," was not a

time of greatness for Egypt. The north was

controlled by Asiatics, a group called the Hyksos

by the Egyptians. The south was ruled by local

Egyptian dynasts of no great power or importance,

at least in their early years. [The best study of the

Hyksos is John Van Seters, The Hyksos (New Haven:

Yale University Press, 1966).]

A few comments on the Hyksos are necessary

here. There are several wrong views concerning

them which have become popularly held. The first

is that they entered Egypt by means of a massive

military invasion led by chariots. While the Hyksos

page 22a

probably did introduce the war chariot to Egypt,

they most certainly did not enter the country and

conquer it in a military campaign. They entered

the Nile delta gradually and, finding themselves

there in sufficient numbers to do so, simply

established one of their leaders as an Egyptian-style

Pharaoh. They resided in a capital city called

Avaris; later in Egyptian history this city would be

re-named "Ramses" after the great king Ramses II

(1290-1223 BC).

Another misconception about the Hyksos

concerns their name. Josephus, a Jewish historian

writing in the first century AD during the days of

he great Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire

and Rome's armies led by Vespasian, said that the

term "Hyksos" meant "Shepherd Kings." This is of course

quite wrong. The name Hyksos comes from two Egyptian

words meaning "Rulers of Foreign Lands," and has

nothing at all to do with shepherds.

The final incorrect idea regarding the Hyksos is that

they ruled all of Egypt. They did not. They only controlled

the delta region, at least for any length of time.

page 22b

During which of these two periods of time did Joseph

come to Egypt as a slave? It has become fashionable

among scholars to date him to the Hyksos period, since it

is generally assumed that the Israelites were fellow Asiatics

related to the Hyksos. It is also assumed that, since Joseph

eventually rose to a high position in the Egyptian court,

the king must have been a fellow countryman of Joseph's.

If we allow for a sojourn of some 400 years in Egypt by

the Israelites, and if we accept the so-called Late Date of

the Exodus (in the middle 1200's BC), a date for Joseph

around 1650 BC would be perfect.

The Bible, on the other hand, provides us with some

very specific chronological data regarding these events. I

Kings 6:1, a pivotal reference for all Old Testament

chronology, dates the Exodus 480 years before the fourth

year of Solomon, accepted by virtually all scholars as 966

BC. This places the Exodus in ca. 1446 BC; a date which

agrees with the so-called Early Date for the Exodus.

Next, Exodus 12:40 states that Jacob came to dwell in

Egypt 430 years before the Exodus. Thus he came to Egypt

in ca. 1876 BC. These Biblical references clearly show

that Joseph ought to be dated in the Middle Kingdom rather

than in the Hyksos Period.

Several specific points in the Joseph story confirm a

Middle Kingdom rather than a Hyksos date for Joseph. In

Genesis 41:14 Joseph is called out of prison to meet with

the king. Before going to meet the king, Joseph puts on

new (clean) clothing and shaves himself. This becomes

understandable when we realize that the Egyptians were a

clean people and were particularly offended by facial hair.

This verse points to the Pharaoh being a native Egyptian,

and not Hyksos. The latter, being Asiatics, were not

bothered by facial hair and a general lack of cleanliness.

When Joseph is rewarded and promoted by the Pharaoh

for interpreting the king's dream, he is named to be ruler

over all the land of Egypt (see Genesis 41). The Hyksos

never ruled all the land of Egypt, but the native Egyptian

Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom did.

Also, when Joseph is given a wife by the king as a reward

for his interpretation of the dream, the woman is said to

page 23a

be the daughter of Potiphera, Priest of On. On was the

center of solar worship in ancient Egypt. The chief god

worshiped there was Re or Ra, the northern manifestation

of Amon-Re, the supreme deity of both the Middle

Kingdom and New Kingdom periods of Egyptian history.

The Hyksos, while they did not persecute the worshipers

of Re, did not give that deity the number one position.

Their favorite deity was Set, a delta god sometimes

regarded by the Egyptians as nearly a devil-like figure.

The Hyksos identified Set with the Palestinian god Baal,

a god from their Canaanite homeland who was very

familiar to them.

Now if Joseph was being rewarded by a Hyksos king, it

stands to reason that his new wife would not have been

the daughter of a priest of Re, but rather the daughter of a

priest of Set. Once again, the Middle Kingdom seems a

better choice for dating Joseph than the Second

Intermediate Period. Thus, relying on the Biblical

chronology and the historical material, we will place

Joseph in the Middle Kingdom Period, under two great

rulers, Sesostris II (1897-1878 BC)and Sesostris III

(1878-1843 BC).

Joseph entered Egypt as a slave. It is interesting to

note that slavery was not a very old concept in Egypt. It

had not existed earlier in the Old Kingdom, the period

when the great pyramids were being built. Those

structures were not, as is sometimes stated, built by slave

labor. They were constructed by drafted peasant labor.

The Middle Kingdom is the first major period in

Egyptian history where slavery was well known. In the

1950s AD, the American Egyptologist William C. Hayes

published a famous papyrus document from the Middle

Kingdom which had a list of slaves on one side and a

discussion of Egyptian prisons on the other (Hayes 1972).

In the next issue of Bible and Spade, we will examine the

information this valuable papyrus provides for us

regarding the story of Joseph.

page 23b


Aling, C. F.

1981 Egypt and Bible History. Grand Rapids: Baker.

Hayes, W. C.

1964 The Middle Kingdom of Egypt. New York:

Cambridge University. 34ff.

Hayes, W. C., ed.

1972 A papyrus of the Late Middle Kingdom in

the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn: Brooklyn

Museum Reprint.

page 23c

Associates for Biblical Research

P.O. Box 144
Akron PA 17501

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at:

Bible and Spade 15.2 (2002) 35-38 [text only]

Copyright © 2002 by Bible and Spade. Cited with permission.
Joseph in Egypt

Second of Six Parts

By Charles Aling

Joseph began life in Egypt as a slave (Gn 39:1). As we

saw in Part I of this study, these events in the life of Joseph

should be dated to the great Middle Kingdom period of

Egyptian history (2000-1782 BC).

It is important to note that during the Middle Kingdom,

slavery as an institution of society flourished in Egypt.

Evidence from Egyptian texts, indicates that at this time

in Egypt's history, the number of Syro-Palestinian slaves

in bondage in the Nile Valley was growing constantly

(Aling 1981: 30, note 14). While some of these Asiatic

slaves must have been prisoners of war captured by the

Egyptian army in raids to the north, the majority certainly

were not obtained by violence (Aling: 30). Most of the

slaves were female; prisoners of war would have been

predominantly male. Also, there are no Egyptian records

of any major wars being fought by Egypt in Syria-Palestine

in the Middle Kingdom. It is best to conclude that most of

the Asiatic slaves entered Egypt just as Joseph did, through

the slave trade. This, however, brings up an interesting

question: why is there no written evidence at all of a slave

trade between Syria-Palestine and Egypt?

First, let it be said that dismissing something on the basis

of a lack of evidence is a dangerous business. Today, we have

very few of the written documents composed in the Ancient

Near East. What we have reflects accidental preservation. And,

when we realize that the slave trade would have centered in

the Nile Delta (northern Egypt), accidental preservation

becomes even less likely due to the high water table there.

Very few papyrus documents have been recovered from that

region, especially from the earlier periods of Egyptian

history. Also, the slave trade would have been in all probability

in private hands rather than under government control. This

page 35a

would have made preservation of documentary evidence even

more remote. Lastly, it is very possible that the slave trade

would have been in the hands of foreigners rather than

Egyptians, as the Bible implies in the case of Joseph.

Records in so far as they were kept at all, would thus not be

kept by Egyptians but by the

page 35b

Asiatics who were selling other Asiatic men and women to the


We are fortunate to have a papyrus from the Middle

Kingdom that deals with slaves. This papyrus was studied

and published some years ago by the American

Egyptologist William C. Hayes (Hayes 1972). We will

have occasion to refer to this remarkable document in the

next issue of Bible and Spade, since the reverse side of

this same papyrus contains a discussion of Egyptian

prisons, another topic of vital importance for the Joseph

story. But this papyrus' main significance lies in its list

of Middle Kingdom slaves with names, nationality and

titles or jobs held by these slaves. The list contains 95

entries. Of the 95 slaves listed, about 30 can be identified

as non-Egyptian, either by their non-Egyptian names or

by the designation "name", meaning an Asiatic (Hayes:


Two things of great interest emerge from a study of the

Asiatic slaves on this list. First, the names are very

significant to the student of the Bible. Several of them

are either identical to or very similar to some names

familiar to us from the Old Testament itself. A female

version of the Hebrew name Menahem is present; Sk-ra-

tw, also the name of a woman, is paralleled by the Hebrew

name Issachar; Ashra is most certainly the feminine version

of Asher; and Shepra is known to us in the Old

Testament as Shiphrah, the Hebrew midwife in the Book

of Exodus (Hayes: 95-96). Secondly, the duties assigned

to the Asiatic slaves in our list provide some important

correlations to Joseph's career. The kinds of jobs

performed by the Asiatic slaves are generally less onerous

than those assigned to native Egyptian slaves, and are in

fact classifiable as skilled labor (Hayes: 93). Let us

examine some of the titles held by the Asiatic slaves.

One of the most common titles held by male Asiatic

slaves was that of "Household Servant" (Hayes: 103 ff).

This is not only a confirmation of the accuracy of Scripture,

which assigns this title to Joseph, but also helps us to get

page 36

a better idea of what kinds of work Joseph would have

been involved in while a slave of Potiphar. When we

examine Egyptian monuments that picture or discuss

household servants, we find that such slaves performed

the normal kinds of tasks we would expect. For example,

they are often shown in tomb paintings bringing food and

drink to their masters (Hayes: 104). An Asiatic slave could

also be a cook, a teacher, or a brewer (Aling: 35).

A final fact to note from Hayes' papyrus is that slaves in

the Middle Kingdom were commonly owned by private

individuals. It has always been known that the

governments of the Near East were owners of large

numbers of slaves, many of whom would have been used

in the vast construction projects of the state such as temple

building, palace repair, and the construction of

fortifications. It may be assumed that slaves would also

have been employed as laborers on both the large

agricultural estates of the king and of the temples. But

here, in the papyrus published by Hayes, we have evidence

(p. 134) that officials of wealth and standing also could

own slaves. The Potiphar of Genesis must have been such

a man.

Joseph's entire life and career were indeed remarkable.

As the Bible repeats again and again, the Lord was with

Joseph and blessed what he did. God's blessing was, in

fact, so obvious that Joseph's Egyptian masters were able

to recognize it! (Gn 39:3) We find in Genesis 39:4 that

Potiphar, Joseph's first Egyptian master, promoted Joseph

from being merely a household servant to become his

steward, the one over his household. What did this entail?

From the far better documented New Kingdom period

of Egyptian history (1570-1085 BC), we have information

on the duties of the steward (Aling: 35-36). Under Mery,

the High Priest of the god Amon for King Amenhotep II,

a man named Djehuty served as steward. Two of his

subsidiary titles were "Scribe of Offerings" and "Chief of

Agricultural slaves." The first proves that he was literate,

page 37

and the second shows us his primary duty, the supervision

of his master's agricultural estates. Several other stewards

known from New Kingdom times had the same titles. This

indicates two things about Joseph. First, he was literate.

He would have to be to hold a stewardship. How and

when he learned to read and write the complex Egyptian

language is not known. Perhaps it was when he was a

household servant of Potiphar. In any case, we may assume

that Joseph was a quick and diligent student. Secondly,

as a steward, Joseph would have been in charge of the

agricultural holdings of his master, Potiphar. We should

remember that ancient Egypt did not have a money

economy as we know it today, and officials such as Potiphar

would have been paid for their work by being allowed the

use or ownership of farmlands. Potiphar would not have

the time or perhaps even the skills to supervise the land

and its cultivation himself; hence the necessity for a

steward. We remember too that Joseph came from an

agricultural family, and presumably already had extensive

knowledge of farming techniques and farm animals.

From a practical point of view, there are two reasons

why it is important for the modern student of the Bible

to realize all this about Joseph. First, through a knowledge

of what an Egyptian steward did, we can see the accuracy

of the book of Genesis, even in minute details. Note for

example Genesis 39:5. At the end of this verse, we are

told that Potiphar's holdings were blessed for Joseph's

sake, both in the house and in the field. When we

understand that Joseph was a steward, and when we learn

what kinds of things a steward did in both the house and

the field, we have a far clearer appreciation of this verse

and what it is telling us. Second, when we see that Joseph

was an Egyptian steward, we see him getting the kind of

on-the-job training he would need for the ultimate task

God had for him, the task of preserving the people of Israel

during the coming time of great famine. As we will see

in a later article, Joseph will eventually become the head

of agriculture for the entire land of Egypt. Under Potiphar,

he received vital experience on a smaller scale for the far

page 38a

greater responsibility he will have later. He was faithful
over a small job; God would therefore give him a more

important one (Lk 16:10).

In our next article, we will find Joseph in prison. This

same papyrus published by Hayes will give us much

information on this aspect of the life of Joseph.

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