We are going to take a look into when and where Joseph was at this time. There is evidence of the presence of Joseph in Egypt, and his people, but people are making a big mistake when looking evidence. He was 17 when he was sold and 30 when he began to rule. There were seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. The brothers arrive at the end of the second year of the famine (Gen 45.11). Jacob is 130 when he arrives (Gen 47.9). There is a place called “El-Lisht” in the Faiyum in Middle Egypt and that is where Joseph was and where Pharaoh ruled. Egypt is called “Ramases” at this point (Gen 47.11) and Goshen (“Land of Lights”) is called Ramases by Josephus. There will be 210 years between the arrival of Jacob and the Exodus. This means that we can narrow down the Pharoah of the Exodus. Tradition says that Ramases was the Pharaoh 1200 B.C so Jacob came in 1410 B.C. However the land was already called Ramases. Exo 2.11 says that Israel built two cities, Pithom and Ramases.
Now, Ramases means “Ra delivers” and this name was used before the Pharaoh by that name ever came along. So, the Exodus did not have to occur in 1200 B.C. The Philistines, Edomites and Moabites were not established till 1200 B.C. There is a stela called the Stela of Meranaphtah and it says that he conquered Israel, and he may have been Ramases II by historians, so how could he be the Pharaoh of the Exodus. In Gen 46.11, we have Jacob, Levi, Kohath enter the land. Kohath has Amram and Amram has Moses. We believe the Exodus was in 1441 B.C. 1 Kings 6.1 says that they began to build the Temple 480 years after the Exodus. That was 961 B.C. and 961 plus 480 gives us 1441 B.C.
The scholars say that can’t be true because the Exodus occurred during the reign of Ramases because the Jews built a city called Ramases, but 210 years before this the whole land was called Ramases. So, lets look at the time line. Joseph is sold in 1673 and there will be 13 years till he is ruling in Egypt (1660 B.C.). We have seven years of plenty and 2 years into the famine the brothers arrive (9 years), followed by Jacob (1651 B.C.). Joseph is 39 years old. They spend 210 years in the land till the Exodus (1441 B.C.).
The scholars are looking in the wrong century and the wrong places for evidence of a Jewish presence. We need to be looking in Middle Egypt, not Lower Egypt, for Joseph and the Jewish people. That area in Middle Egypt is called the Faiyum. There is a man-made canal connecting the lake there with the Nile River and it is called the “Bahr Yosef” or the “River of Joseph.” You can go on the Internet and see pictures of this canal. El-Lisht was the capital and the area had water for planting because of the canal, which also had locks. There were two prongs to this canal and it was made during the seven years of plenty to enhance the land by Joseph. The lake there occupied one-fifth more area than it does now because it has shrunk. The lake could be drained and the soil was good for planting. Joseph reaps the harvest for seven years.
A huge warehouse and granary has been found at a city called Harawa on the River of Joseph, near the Nile River. This complex had over 3000 rooms in it and it has been called “The Maze.” It was built around 1760 B.C. This is clear evidence for the presence of Joseph in the Faiyum because the archaeologists have been looking in the wrong place and had the wrong dates. The River of Joseph had two prongs to it and the lake could be drained for planting in good soil. Then the locks could be opened again, allowing the lake to fill up again with water from the Nile. The lake was used for planting extra food for the seven years of planting, utilizing the locks to regulate the water levels.
Harawa is on the River of Joseph and the granary was located there. There were 3000 rooms as we have said, and the historian Herodotus wrote about it and said, “Its greatness surpasses even the temples.” In Greek, this area was called “Succos.” If you recall in the Exodus, they had to go to a place called Sukkot (Succos) to retrieve the remains of Joseph (Exo 13.19). The evidence seems to point to this area as where Joseph was and where Jacob came. We have the River of Joseph; the Faiyum also being called Succos (Sukkot); a lake that was used for planting extra grain; a huge granary found there where the grain was stored during the years of plenty. The people had to come to Joseph to buy food (Gen 42.6) so the granary was in Harawa, so that was where Joseph was.
In Gen 42.1-38 we learn that Jacob sees the caravans with grain from Egypt and the famine has affected Canaan, too. This alludes to the “time of Jacob’s trouble.” This was about two years into the famine (Gen 45.11) and this famine will be used by the Lord for the “tribes” to be reconciled to Joseph. The Birth-pains of the Messiah will be the process used by God to reconcile the tribes to Yeshua. Jacob sends ten of his sons (a number representing a congregation) to Egypt to buy grain. They came before Joseph in the Faiyum, at Harawa, and bowed down to him. This will fulfill part of his dream in Gen 37.6-9. Part of the dream had to do with sheaves of grain bowing down to him.
Joseph recognizes them, but they did not recognize him. He is 39 years old now and it has been 22 years. He was the last person they expected to see and he looked very different. They saw him as a Gentile ruler, just like people see Yeshua today. They do not see him as a Jewish rabbi with a beard and tzitzit. There is a story about a rabbi and a Christian minister and the Christian says, “What are you Jews going to do when Jesus returns and he is the Messiah?” The rabbi responded by saying, “What are you Christians going to do when the Messiah returns and he is a rabbi?” Joseph remembered his dreams and said, “You are spies!” They must have aroused some suspicion
or this would not have seemed plausible to those standing. They were the last people in the world he ever expected to see again and he was emotionally connected again to them and what he thought they did to him. He needs to test them.
The brothers denied the charge saying, “We are all sons of one man.” This alludes to what the people said to Yeshua in John 8.39-41 when they said, “We are sons of Abraham.” They said that they were honest men, just like the people said in Yeshua’s day, but they failed to confess their sin. Joseph accuses them again, and they answer by saying that there were twelve brothers in all, one is in Canaan and the other is no more. This alludes to the fact that Israel today is separated from “Joseph and Benjamin” who are types of the Messiah. It seems they still don’t know what really happened to Joseph. But we know he is alive. Israel thinks Yeshua is dead, but he isn’t.
Joseph tells them they are “spies.” Until Israel confesses, there can be no blessing. Joseph puts them in prison for three days. Israel has been “put in prison” in sense for two days, but in the third day they will be “released” (Hos 5.15 through 6.3). Joseph tells them that one brother will be left behind while the others go back to get the one other brother (Benjamin) in Canaan and brings him back. This will verify their story. So, Joseph and Benjamin (Messiah) must be together before Israel can be one.
They said to one another that “truly we are guilty” concerning Joseph because they saw the distress of Joseph’s soul when he pleaded with them, but they would not listen. So, they believe this distress has come upon them by the hand of God. The Birth-pains of the Messiah is also called the “time of Jacob’s trouble” or distress in Jer 30.4-7. These birth-pains that will afflict Israel will be linked to the treatment of their “younger brother” Yeshua.
Reuben says “I told you so” but Joseph could overhear what they were saying, and he turned away and wept. Remember, and we will deal with this in detail later, that the brothers don’t know what happened to Joseph, and Joseph didn’t know what happened to him either. He does know this. He told the family about his dreams, then his Dad sends him on a dangerous journey alone to check on the brothers and flocks. When he finds his brothers and arrives, they put him into a pit. He is taken out by the Midianites, and sold to Ishmaelites and taken to Egypt. As far as Joseph is concerned, he thought his father disowned him and sent him on a dangerous journey and he ends up being put into a pit and sold. He knows the family was mad at him about his dreams and possibly kicked out of the family. It is not like it hasn’t happened before. Ishmael was driven out by Abraham, Jacob was chosen over Esau and Esau driven out. He was chosen over Reuben. Joseph thinks his brothers sold him, and his father may have been behind it, and they never even said goodbye. But the truth is different than what Joseph thinks, and his brothers, and the truth will all come out later.
In Part 19, we will pick up here.