Was the Joseph Story Written per Egypt During the Persian Period?

Egyptologists have long searched the details of the Joseph story for clues to when the story was written. Does the Jewish experience as a esodo community con Egypt hold the clue esatto the story’s origin?


Egyptology and Bible Studies

From its very beginning, the field of Egyptology was interested, if not obsessed, with Egypt’s role per the Hebrew Bible. The wealth of Egyptian records vis a vis the dearth of contemporary Israelite or Canaanite superiore-biblical records, encouraged Egyptologists onesto provide the historical sostrato for the holy scriptures.

Exemplifying this obsession is the New York Public Library bibliography, listing an astounding 182 works on Egypt and the Bible by the year 1924. Another 97 works were listed by 1941. Among these are the works of notable Egyptologists such as,

  • Emmanuel de Rouge (1811-1872, France),
  • Francois Chabas (1817-1882, France),
  • Wilhelm Spiegelberg (1826-1890, Germany),
  • (Henri) Edouard Naville (1844-1926, Switzerland),
  • Gaston Maspero (1846-1916, France),
  • Wilhelm Max Muller (1862-1919, Germany),
  • Sir Alan Gardiner (1879-1963, England).

The main objective of these studies was preciso verify the biblical accounts. This was neither masked nor veiled but explicitly proclaimed per such titles as Abraham Yahuda’s: The Accuracy of the Bible. The Stories of Joseph, the Exodus and Genesis Confirmed and Illustrated by Egyptian Monuments and Language.

Joseph in (which) Egypt?

Considering its Egyptian settings and the many Egyptian elements mediante the narrative, the story of Josephs’ descent onesto Egypt and his subsequent ascent esatto Egyptian governance has been one of the major focal points of inter-disciplinary studies of the Hebrew Bible. Many studies have highlighted the genuine ancient Egyptian aspects in it and provided parallels to the names, titles, customs and motifs – all taken from the vast records of ancient Egypt.

However, the exact historical setting of the composition of the Joseph story continues puro elude scholars as they debate its connection preciso Egypt of the imperial era per the second millennium BCE or puro the much later, Saite and Ptolemaic periods durante the late first millennium BCE. Two important studies exemplify the range of approaches.

New Kingdom Egypt (1550-1070) – Jozef Vergote

Mediante his 1959 study, the Flemish Egyptologist, Jozef Vergote (1910-1992), summarized and confirmed the broad consensus that the Joseph story reflected an intimate knowledge of Egypt during its imperial period, known as the New Kingdom. During this period, Egypt controlled considerable regions con the Levant, and saw the integration of several Semitic-named individuals into Egyptian administrative offices. Identifying a proto-type for Joe was therefore a plausible preoccupazione.

Saite Egypt (664-525) – Donald Redford

Two decades later, a study by the Canadian Egyptologist and archaeologist, Donald Redford (b. 1934), revolutionized our view of Joseph’s Egypt through a critical and comprehensive study of the Egyptian “coloring” in the Joseph’s story. Redford made use of all Ancient Egyptian sources, without confining his research preciso New Kingdom Egypt or earlier periods. Mediante doing so, Redford noted that some Egyptian elements durante the Joseph story appeared quite late in the Egyptian primato, and although they could have represented earlier times as well, the critical mass of his comparanda pointed puro verso date mediante the first millennium.

This was in nessun caso doubt also the result of Redford’s colloque with contemporary views on biblical redaction and compilation as they were perceived con Europe, rather than in the US.

Customs from a Saite Egyptian Context

Redford’s study libretto that many of the so called Egyptian practices sopra the Joseph story were not exclusive sicuro Egypt and could also be found in other Ancient Near Eastern civilizations. Such were the trade caravans, the presence of Asiatic slaves, traditions and titles associated with the royal trapu, etc. Nevertheless, Redford focuses attention on some elements per the Joseph story that are purely Egyptian: