Joseph / Imhotep

The stepped Djoser pyramid built, according to Egyptian records, by Imhotep, a high official under the Pharaoh Djoser.





 Gen 41:45


And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.





Saqqara of Sakkara is een necropolis uit het Oude Egypte. Het ligt ongeveer 30 kilometer ten zuiden van Caïro. Het gebied heeft een oppervlakte van ongeveer 7 km bij 1,5 km.

Saqqara was in de Egyptische oudheid een grafveld behorend bij de (hoofd)stad Memphis. De eerste piramide in de geschiedenis, de trappiramide van Djoser, werd gebouwd in de 3e dynastie. 16 andere koningen van Egypte bouwden ook een piramide in Saqqara. Gedurende de gehele faraonische periode werden er grafmonumenten aangelegd door hoge ambtenaren.

Ten noorden van het gebied dat met de naam Saqqara wordt aangeduid, ligt Aboesir; ten zuiden ligt Dahsjoer. Het hele gebied van Giza tot en met Dahsjoer was in verschillende perioden in gebruik als necropolis van Memphis, en is door UNESCO aangemerkt als werelderfgoed.


Genesis 50:
25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.


Exodus 13:
19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.


Joshua 24:
32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.


Hebrews 11:
22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.


Genesis 41:

45 And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.


The Famine Stela is a hieroglyph inscription found on Sehel Island in the Nile, which describes a seven-year period of drought and famine during the reign of Djoser.

In 1890 Charles Wilbour discovered this boulder  on the island of Sahal at the Nile, telling a story of Imhotep.



This is what an ancient Egyptian grain silo looked like: Found inside Djoser's stepped pyramid.



Genesis 41:

41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.

42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.

44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.



Inscription showing the name and titulary of Imhotep in the 3rd row to the left, and the Horus-name of Djoser.  This inscription was found on the base of a sculpture of Djoser, thus indicating Imhotep was a real man, as opposed to a god.

It was Imhotep who is credited with having designed the first pyramid (above) and began building with hewn stone instead of all mud brick. If we look at ancient Egyptian history, we can see evidence which shows that it was during the time of Djoser that Egypt became a truly great nation -- since it had gathered the wealth of all the surrounding nations by selling them grain during the famine.

And during the seven years of plenty, the people, under Joseph's wise guidance, began to organize a great administrative center which would handle the selling of the grain to all the surrounding nations.


The complex at Saqqara Egypt was built during the reign of the pharaoh Djoser.  Imhotep - Joseph built this complex.

A large complex was built which contained the future burial site of the pharaoh but also included a walled-in center which contained huge grain bins. There was only one entrance into this center and there was an outside entrance into the system of storage bins. The Step Pyramid complex at Sakkara is the complex which we will now discuss.

Grain Storage Bins

Surrounding the Step Pyramid, the first ever built, is a very beautiful and elaborate wall containing 13 false entrances and one real. At the main entrance on the east wall at the

Above:  Grand entrance into complex with pyramid to our right, out of photo

southern end, one enters a long hall of 40 columns -- 20 on each side. Each column is connected to the main wall by a perpendicular wall, forming small cubicles between.



The word pyramid conjures up thoughts of Egypt. So far there have been a few dozen
complete or incomplete pyramids found. The most famous one is definitely the biggest
one - the Great Pyramid of Cheops. It is 450 feet high and consists of about a
million stone blocks, each weighing a couple of tons.

The building of the pyramids began during pharaoh Djoser's reign, at a time when
Egypt had reached the apex of its power. The first pyramid built in Egypt was the
Step Pyramid at Sakkara (figure 3.1).

(Figure 3.1. The Step Pyramid in Sakkara.)

The beginning of pharaoh Djoser's reign wasn't marked by anything spectacular. It was not until a man named Imhotep arrived on the scene that the great ascent of this pharaoh began. Even though Imhotep wasn't a member of the royal family, he was appointed to a position of power answerable only to Pharaoh himself. Egyptian history refers to Imhotep in the following notes:

"During Pharaoh Djoser's reign lived Imhotep...Chancellor of the King of Lower Egypt, Chief under the King, Administrator of the Great Palace, Hereditary Lord, High Priest of Heliopolis, Imhotep the Builder, the Sculptor, the Maker of Stone Vases...who, because of his medical skill has the reputation of Asclepius (the Greek god of medicine) among the Egyptians..."(1)

Because of the scope of his abilities, many modern historians call Imhotep the
Leonardo da Vinci of ancient Egypt. It is important to note what else Egyptian
history says of him:

"Imhotep was the inventor of the art of building with hewn stone."(2)

Imhotep was the one who began the building of the pyramids, and the first
pyramid he built was the Step Pyramid in Sakkara.

This pyramid is very different from the other pyramids. There is a large wall surrounding it and there is only one narrow entrance into the complex of the pyramid (figure 3.2).

(Figure 3.2. The outline of the Step Pyramid, the entrance and the walls.)

One would have to question why such protection was necessary for pyramid. Could it
be that something very precious was being kept in there?

When scientists entered the pyramid, they discovered eleven huge grain shafts. The
findings of the remains of grain on the bottom of the shafts led to the supposition
that they were used for grain storage.

The shafts were capable of holding 52,000 cubic yards of grain, which was far more than the inhabitants who lived in the area would need. The shafts were interconnected at the bottom. People had to reach the bottom by way of a staircase, where they could get grain from special taps. (figure 3.3) (3)

(Figure 3.3. The storage shafts inside the Step Pyramid complex.)

Why did Imhotep build a pyramid with grain storage shafts? It seems odd, but Egyptian history reveals that everything began with a dream the pharaoh Djoser had.

The Pharaoh was very upset because the god of the Nile Khnum had appeared to him in a dream and promised that the Nile would give water, but that first there would be seven years of famine and then seven years of abundance. (4)

When he had this dream, Pharaoh Djoser asked Imhotep, “What is the birthplace of the Nile? Who is the god there? Who is God?”

Imhotep answered, “I need the guidance of Him who presides over the fowling net.”

Later Imhotep advised Pharaoh Djoser to promise the Nile god Khnum that the population, with the exception of the priests in the god’s house, would be taxed 10% on all that was harvested. (5)

The people did as they were told and paid their taxes in grain, which was stored in the shafts built within a great pyramid. An immense wall was then erected, which encircled the entire complex.

The history of Egypt reveals that Imhotep was the builder of this first pyramid, and the remains of grain found by archaeologists reveal that it had been used as a storage unit to hold grain in anticipation of the predicted famine.

Returning to the history written by Moses, we find an almost identical story. Moses, however, relates this to the story to Joseph.

Brought to Egypt as a slave, Joseph had the ability to interpret dreams. When asked to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream, he pointed to seven years of abundance and seven years of famine that were to come. Joseph advised the Pharaoh to collect grain from the people and to store it in preparation for the famine. His wisdom so impressed the Pharaoh that he was given a position of power next in importance to Pharaoh himself.

According to Egyptian history Imhotep was a priest in the town of Heliopolis and died, when he was 110 years old.(6) We find the same record about Joseph in Moses’ history.

Does that mean that Imhotep, one of the most famous personages in Egyptian history, was indeed Joseph of the Bible?

Scientists searched for the burial place of Imhotep. The first place that they searched was the Step Pyramid in Sakkara. On the walls they found carved drawings of people, who had suffered from a great famine (figure 3.4).

(Figure 3.4. The drawing of the people suffering hunger on the Step Pyramid wall.)

Although most of the pyramids in Egypt have been looted, because it had well- hidden underground rooms, this one had not been disturbed. In some of the rooms they found over a million stuffed ibises (figure 3.5). The ibis bird was considered to be a sacred bird in Egypt. Both Egyptian and Greek history mention that people came from near and far to seeking medical help from Imhotep and because of his great success in healing them, they gave him these stuffed birds.(7)

(Figure 3.5. The ibis birds from Egypt.)

When the scientists finally entered the room that held Imhotep’s coffin(8) they were surprised to find it placed so that it faced the north. As sun worshippers Egyptians were always buried facing the east. It is obviously Imhotep did not follow the religious practices of the Egyptians.

When they opened Imhotep’s coffin it was empty. The body was not there. Why was the body missing, when the tomb has not been looted?

Could the answer be found in the writings of Moses? He states that when the Israelites left Egypt, they took the bones of Joseph with them.

So we see that Moses’ historical account is once again proved as reliable. Imhotep, that famous person from the history of Egypt, was in fact Joseph – the notable person from Moses’ history (see Table 3.1 for comparison between Imhotep and Joseph).

It sounds a bit incredible, but scientific proofs point out that the building of the pyramids began so as to store wheat to save people from famine, and later they were built as tombs for the pharaohs who considered themselves gods. All this fits very nicely into what Moses wrote in his history.

Even though it is correct over many interesting issues, such as dinosaurs and pyramids, Moses’ historical account faces criticism by some scientists.

But before we analyze some of these objections, let us review one of the great geological discoveries of the 20th century.

Table 3.1. Comparison between Imhotep and Joseph (1-8)

- “While the king (Pharaoh Djoser) slept the Nile god, Khnum, appeared to him in a dream and promised that the Nile would give its water and that there would be famine for seven years followed by seven good years.”
- “Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. And there shall arise after them seven years of famine.” (Genesis 41:29,30)

- “I asked Him who was the Chamberlain, … Imhotep, the son of Ptah … What is
the birth place of the Nile? Who is the god there? Who is the God?”
- “And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.” (Genesis 41:15)

- “I need the guidance of Him who presides over the fowling net…” (Imphotep)
- “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” (Genesis 41:16)

- “…the population, with the exception of the priests in the god’s house, would be
taxed 10% on all that was harvested.” (Djoser)
“Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:34)

- “Imhotep was a priest in the town of Heliopolis.”
- “And Pharaoh gave him (Joseph) to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On (Heliopolis).” (Genesis 50:2)

- “Imhotep, because of his medical skill has the reputation of Asclepius (the Greek god of medicine) among the Egyptians."
- "And Joseph commanded his servats, the physicians, to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel." (Genesis 50:2)

- “I’m near death after a life of 110 years.”
- “And Joseph lived an hundredth and ten years.” (Genesis 50:22)

- “I received recognition from the King (Pharaoh) such as no-one prior to him had received.”
- “You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according your word, only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 41:39-41)

- Imhotep’s coffin was empty.
- “Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here… And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him.” (Exodus 50:26; 13:19)

- Imhotep’s coffin was directed towards the north, as opposed to Egyptian coffins, which were directed towards the east (they worshipped the sun).
- The God of Joseph brought the Israelites into the Promised Land of Israel, which is situated to the north of Egypt (the Book of Exodus).

- “Imhotep the builder, the sculptor, the maker of stone vases... and who was the inventor of the art of building with hewn stone.” (He built the grain storage shafts in the Step Pyramid at Sakkara).
- “And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.” (Genesis 41:49)


1. a) Hart G. 1991. Pharaohs and Pyramids, London: The Herbert Press. b) Nunn JF. 1996. Ancient Egyptian Medicine. London: British Museum Press. c) Estes JW. 1993. The Medical Skills of Ancient Egypt, Canton: Science History Publications.
2. a) Casson L. 1969. The Search for Imhotep, Horizon, vol. XI, No 3. b) Wallis EA, (1925) 1989. The Mummy. New York: (Cambridge University Press) Dover Publications, Mineola.
3. Moller L. 2002. The Exodus Case. Copenhagen: Scandinavia Publishing, p. 72-75.
4. The Ancient Near East, 1958, vol I., p. 24-, Editor J. B. Pritchard, Princeton University Press, Princeton, USA.
5. M. Lichtheim, 1980. Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol III, University of California Press, Berkeley, USA.
6. The Ancient Near East, 1958, vol I., p. 234-, Editor J. B. Pritchard, Princeton University Press, Princeton, USA.
7. Clayton PA, 1994. Chronicle of Pharaohs. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.
8. Mertz B. 1996. Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs. London: Michael O’Mara Books Ltd.




A statue of Imhotep, chancellor to the pharaoh, priest of Ra and architect. Bronze, Ptolemaic Egypt (332-30 BC). At the Louvre, Paris.




The Burning Bush

(Exodus 6:2—7:7; 11:1–4; 12:35, 36)

Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.


The Mission of Moses 

Exodus 3:

10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

14 And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.

15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:

17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.

18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.

19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.

20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.

21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.

22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.

Create Your Own Website With JouwWeb