In Gen 46.11 we learn that Jacob had a son Named Levi, and he had three sons named Gershom, Kohath and Merari. Kohath would have a son named Amram, and Amram had two sons named Aaron and Moses. This will help us date the Exodus (Gen 15.12-16). We believe the Exodus occurred around 1441 B.C. In 1 Kings 6.1 it says that they began to build the Temple 480 years after the Exodus. We know this was 961 B.C. and the reign of Solomon. Add 480 to 961 and you have 1441 B.C. This is also supported by Judges 11.26.
But scholars say this can’t be true because the Exodus occurred during the reign of Rameses and the Israelites built the city of Rameses. However, we have seen that 210 years before this they called the whole land of Egypt Rameses.
So, the Exodus occurred in 1441 B.C. and Israel was in Egypt for 210 years, bringing us to 1651 B.C. when Jacob enters. Add 9 years (seven good years and 2 years into the famine) and you have 1660 B.C. when Joseph begins to reign. Add 13 years (Joseph was 17 when sold into Egypt and 30 when he began to reign) and you have 1673 B.C. when Joseph was sold.
Scholars have been looking in the wrong century and in the wrong place for a Jewish presence in Egypt. As a result, we need to be looking in Egypt around 1786 B.C. to 1552 B.C., in Middle Egypt, not Lower Egypt. We need to look at the Faiyum.
In the Faiyum there is a canal connecting a lake with the Nile River. This canal is man-made and nit is called the “Bahr Yusuf” or the “River of Joseph.” You can go to the internet and see pictures of this canal. There is a place called “El-lisht” and it was the capital of the Pharaoh at the time. The Faiyum had water for planting, helped by the canal, and it made the area very fertile. It had two prongs and it was made during the reign of a Pharaoh named Amenemhat III.
In the area of the Faiyum there is a lake that occupied one-fifth more area than it does now. It has “shrunk” since the lake was drained. As a result, it left behind “good soil.” Joseph reaps the harvest for seven years from this area and this shows the wisdom of God. The canal also had “locks” so water could be controlled going in and going out of the lake.
A huge warehouse system was also found. This “warehouse” had 3000 rooms in it and it was called “The Maze.” It was built around 1750 B.C. This is evidence of Joseph in the Faiyum because the archaeologists have been looking for evidence in the wrong places and at the wrong dates.
Now, the Bahr Yusuf, or the River of Joseph, had two prongs to it, as we have said. The lake could be drained, leaving behind good soil for planting, and this soil was used during the seven good years before the famine. The grain was floated down the canal to the granaries next to the Nile we have just discussed. A city called Harawa is located on the River of Joseph. It is here that this huge granary was located with the 3000 rooms. The historian Herodotus wrote about the granary and said, “its greatness surpasses even the temples.” Now, this area was called “Succos” in Greek, and if we recall at the time of the Exodus, they had to go to Sukkot (Succos) to retrieve the bones of Joseph (Exo 13.19-20).
This evidence seems to point to this area as the place where Joseph was, and where Jacob came when he came into the Egypt two years into the famine. We have the River of Joseph, the Faiyum called “Succos”, a lake that was used for planting extra crops and a huge granary found where grain was stored and could be sold during the famine. From this spot, the grain could be shipped up and down the Nile for distribution during the famine.
Egyptian history is divided into three parts. We have the Old Kingdom, famous for the pyramids used for burials. Then we have the Middle Kingdom when they didn’t build pyramids for burial, they built mortuary temples for that purpose. Then we have the New Kingdom when pyramids are again used in burials. During the Middle Kingdom, the sarcophagus was placed inside a temple for all to see. During the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom, how could you know if the sarcophagus was inside a pyramid because it was placed very deep inside? Joseph came into the land during the Middle Kingdom. Israel will leave Egypt and the New Kingdom began.
There was an ancient people called the Hyksos. They were a semitic people and the name means “foreign rulers.” They came into the land about the time of Joseph’s death and were expelled from Egypt about 1550 B.C. There are others who believe that the Hyksos were the Amalekites who invaded Egypt shortly after the Exodus, taking advantage of the massive chaos there. These invading Amalekites (Hyksos/foreign rulers) may have crossed paths with the departing Israelites after Israel camped at Rephidim (Exo 17). The city of Avaris was the Hyksos center. They have also found a place called “Tel Ha Yehudim” or the “Mound of the Jews” just north of the Faiyum. There was a camp located there that was rectangular (515 meters by 490 meters). It is not an Egyptian fort.
Let’s get back to the Exodus. We have seen that there is evidence of a Jewish presence in Egypt before the Exodus. They were asking Pharaoh to let them go into the wilderness for three days, not to be totally set free as you see in the movies. It was just for three days. That is what the Lord told Moses to say to Pharaoh, but Pharaoh refuses, which brings us up to the final plague, the killing of the first born.
Pharaoh killed God’s first born (Exo 4.12-13), now Egypt will lose theirs. The Passover is instituted and we all know what happened. Pharaoh relents, and Egypt is devastated. In Deut 16.1 it says they departed at night on the 15th of Nisan. They go to Succos (Sukkot) to retrieve the bones of Joseph and in Exo 13.17 it says that God did not lead them by the way of the Philistines. They left Goshen and Middle Egypt across east to the sea. Remember, Pharaoh is only letting them go for three days (we will get into that detail later).
The tomb of Joseph was in a mortuary temple which allowed people to see where his sarcophagus was and to take it. It was not buried deep within a pyramid. We know this because it was the Middle Kingdom and you knew that the sarcophagus was gone because it was in a mortuary temple. Joseph’s remains were placed in a stone “ark” (Gen 50.26). If you were going to “steal” something from the burial spot, you would not take the whole stone box. However, Moses did when they took the remains of Joseph, and that is why Pharaoh thought they were fleeing the land. Spiritually, how does the enemy know we are going to the “promised land?” ANother tomb of Joseph is empty. There is a midrash that said there was a sign in the tomb of Joseph that said, “When you see that this tomb is empty, then know we have gone to the promise land.” Yeshua left a sign, too. It was the “sign of Jonah.”
Let’s look at the location of Sukkot in Exo 13.20. We know that Goshen and Rameses are synonymous terms. There was a city in Goshen called Rameses. Amenemhat III was probably the Pharaoh of Joseph. The Faiyum was a fertile area called “Succos” in Greek and it had a lake that was used by Joseph during the seven good years to grow food. The River of Joseph is the name of the canal from the lake to the Nile River. This lake could be drained and used for planting. These canals could also be used for irrigation.
Joseph can float the grain down the canals to Harawa and the huge granaries there. The word “Harawa” means “fellowship” and it is similar to the Hebrew “Chavurah” which also means “fellowship.” We have said that the historian Herodotus (500 B.C.) said the granaries, also called the “Maze” and the “Labyrinth” surpassed the pyramids. It had 12 roofed courts and 3000 rooms, courts and columns. We believe that the Faiyum is “Succos” and “Sukkot.” Israel will journey from Sukkot and will camp at Etham (Exo 13.20).
In Part 70, we will pick up in Exo 13.19 with the phrase “and take care of you” and develop out the concept alluded to in that phrase and how it relates to the First (Egyptian) and Second (Messianic) Redemption. Then we will continue with the Exodus.