Our next key individual and series of events will be centered around Jacob. Jacob flees from Esau and goes to Paddan-Aram for 20 years. He has wives and children over the years, but he is losing favor with Laban and his sons in Gen 31.1. They accuse him of stealing all the wealth. Jacob will leave Laban with much wealth and this relates to the Covenant between the Halves and the promises there (Gen 15.14).
This also alludes to Israel coming out of Egypt in the First Redemption, and to the Jews fleeing Babylon (America) before the Birth-Pains. They will be going back to the land (Mic 4.9-10; Jer 51.6,45,50; Zech 2.6-7; Rev 18.4). Later, Joseph is sold into slavery. His brothers were going to do it but some Midianite traders got to the pit first and sold him to Ishmaelite traders, and they took him to Egypt. When the brothers got to the pit, they found that Joseph was gone and they did not know exactly what happened to him. Joseph thinks he has been sold and kicked out of the family, and that his father was involved, and they were the ones that sold him. We went over this in detail in the latter part of “Concepts in Genesis.”
Egypt has come out of the First Intermediate Period by this time, and they are now in what is called the Middle Kingdom. Amenemhat III is the Pharaoh of Joseph. He gained power over all of Egypt. A tributary of the Nile was dredged to a lake called Lake Moeris. A system of locks were made that could bring water in and out of the lake. This made it possible to always have water to grow produce in this area during a time of famine caused by drought or too much water. A huge granary was constructed at Harawa that was considered one of the wonders of the world. Grain could be stored there and then shipped up and down the Nile as needed.
This water system is known as the “Canals of Joseph.” This system, along with the huge granary was constructed during the reign of Amenemhat III. The most fertile region at this time was the Faiyum, it was not the Nile delta. This was where the children of Israel settled when they first came into the land. They will be in the land for a total of 210 years.
Joseph is 30 when he is made a ruler second only to Pharaoh. There were seven years of plenty, and two years into the seven years of famine his brothers show up to buy food. That makes Joseph 39 years old, and he will pass away at 110 years old. So, Joseph reigned for 80 years, deducting the seven years of famine, he reigned 73 years in Egypt and things were pretty good. It is not until after Joseph’s death that another dynasty comes along and everything changes. Israel has 139 years left in Egypt. When Moses was born they were already oppressed, and the Exodus will be another 80 years later, that brings our total to 59 years.
The Faiyum is where Jacob settled, where Amenemhat III reigned, along with Joseph. Herodotus wrote about this huge granary and called it the Labyrinth. It had 3000 rooms and 12 gates (Herodotus, History 2.148-149). The Greek historian Strabo also wrote about this Labyrinth in “Geography, 17.1.37-38). It was called one of the wonders of the ancient world (“7 Little Known Wonders of the Ancient World” by Evan Andrews). The Labyrinth was a mortuary Temple and a granary. It was also the tomb of a high Egyptian dignitary, but not the tomb of Amenemhat III. He had his own pyramid. Was this dignitary Joseph?
We are told that this labyrinth is at Harawa, which is also called “Succos” in Greek. We are told in the Scriptures that when Israel started out on their three day journey into the wilderness to worship the Lord, they set out from a place called “Sukkot” (Harawa, “Coming Out of Egypt” by K.C. Stricker, p. 121). It is possible that this is ancient Succos. This labyrinth complex was built in the 12th Dynasty, and Moses comes along in the 13th Dynasty.
We are still in the Middle Kingdom, but we have a dynastic change. We do not believe that the Pharaoh of the Exodus is Rameses II. That is what all the movies will tell you, and the Christian world. Why do they say that? Because Israel is building a city called Rameses in Exo 1.11. However, the name Rameses was a common name, Rameses II is from the 19th Dynasty. Following the 13th Dynasty, we enter into the Second Intermediate Period. It is possible that the Exodus, the plagues, the loss of slaves, the destruction of Egypt’s Pharaoh and chariots caused this intermediate period.
A Third Century BC Egyptian named Manetho described God (in the singular) striking the Egyptians in the reign of Pharaoh Tutimaos (Greek for Dudimoses) saying, “This left the Egyptians powerless so that foreigners could take over Egypt without bloodshed.” The only time this happened was with the Hyksos (meaning “foreign rulers” and could be the Amalekites) at the end of the Middle Kingdom and the beginning of the Second Intermediate Period (1649-1539 BC). This means Manetho believed that God sent the plagues and wiped out Pharaoh Dudimoses and his forces at the sea before the Hyksos took over Egypt. The reign of Dudimoses was from 1653 to 1649 BC (“Thrown into the Sea: Recovering the Exodus” by Loren Rosson).
Now, the 18th Dynasty came about by the overthrow of the Hyksos by Ahmoses I, the brother or son of Kamoses, the last ruler of Dynasty 17. Ahmoses I finished the campaign to expel the Hyksos rulers. This is seen as the send of the Second Intermediate Period (“Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt” by Cyrstalinks). We know Moses was a prince of Egypt for 40 years but he falls out of favor with the Pharaoh for killing a taskmaster. Who this taskmaster was, we don’t know. Normally a prince of Egypt could do almost anything he wanted, especially a prince who was a war hero like Moses. But this Pharaoh was not very happy with Moses when he heard about this. Moses realized he was in trouble, gave his position up, and ran for the border of Midian and far, far away from Egypt. Why would Pharaoh even care about a taskmaster anyway? Was he a relative?
So, Moses goes to the land of Midian for 40 years. He meets a priest of the Lord named Yitro (Jethro). He is not a Midianite and we are told that he is a Kenite (Judges 4.11, 4.16; 1 Chr 2.55). He was not a pagan Midianite priest. That is important because later we find out that the Midianites were very pagan (Num 22-25) and tried to curse Israel by enticing them to sin with religious prostitutes at the advice of Balaam. Yitro was not a Midianite, but a priest who lived there. Archeology has identified a city called “Al-Bad.” Mount Sinai is just 12 miles northeast of this city. We believe that Sinai is now called Jabal Al Lawz (“almond mountain”). We believe that the city Yitro lived in, based on the Tanak and the writings of Josephus, was Madian-Polis” or “city of Madian” within Midian. It is now called Al-Bad (Josephus, Antiquities, Book 2, Chapter 11; Exo 2.16).
So, Madian-Polis was west of Sinai. Exo 3.1 says that Moses led the flocks of Yitro to the “backside” (Hebrew “achar”) of the wilderness. This would be the east side of Sinai. Achar can mean “west” and this would be the western end of the desert, which ended right before Sinai. Mount Sinai must be in that vicinity (Al-Bad today) and this tells us a number of things. The traditional site of Mount Sinai in the Sinai Peninsula is not correct. That is according to Christian tradition. It also tells us they did not cross the Gulf of Aqaba.
We are not sure that Jabal Al Lawz is Mount Sinai, but Josephus said that Sinai was the highest mountain in the region and that is Jabal Al Lawz. Another reason to think this is the correct Mount Sinai is this mountain is called “Almond Mountain.” We know that Moses had a staff and Aaron had a staff, they were used to perform miracles. Num 17 speaks about the budding of Aaron’s staff (almonds) because there was a contention about the role of Aaron by Korah in Num 16, and this ended in disaster for Korah. Just to make sure that everyone understood that Aaron and his family were the ones for the priesthood, the Lord had a rod from each tribe placed before him in the Ohel Moed, and they were to write Aaron’s name on the rod from Levi. The rod of Aaron sprouted blossoms and bore ripe almonds. This rod was kept before the testimony as a sign (Heb 9.4; 1 Kings 8.9).
Moses may have gotten his staff on Mount Sinai. He had a staff at the burning bush and may have made it on his way up the mountain. Was it made from an almond branch from almond mountain? Was Aaron’s rod made from this mountain?
In Jer 1.11-12, Jeremiah sees a rod from an almond tree. The Lord says, “I am watching (hastening) over my word to perform it.” That means there will be no delay. In Hebrew, the for almond is “shaqed.” The word for hasten (watch) is “shaqad.” It has the same root and this is a play on words. The almond tree is called the “hastening tree” because it is the first tree to “awaken” (blossom) in the spring. It is also called the resurrection tree.
This is a picture of Yeshua. Aaron’s rod is a dead branch (Messiah died) and it came alive with almonds. We know that Yeshua was also a descendant of Levi through his mother, like Aaron. His cousin was Yochanon Ha Matvil, a priest. Yeshua was resurrected on the festival of Hag a Bikkurim (First Fruits).
So, Sinai is the highest mountain in the area and Jabal al Lawz is called “Almond Mountain.” In addition, we have the use of almonds in the rod of Aaron and with the almond tree that Jeremiah saw. Almonds are used as pictures of the Messiah. Cups shaped like almonds were used on the Menorah in Exo 25.31-34. However, we cannot “prove” that Jabal Al Lawz is Mount Sinai until real archaeological work is done there.
In Part 24 we will pick up here.