According to the ancient historian, Mantheo, the fifteenth dynasty of Egypt were a people known as the Hyksos, literally the "rulers of foreign countries" or, as sometimes been translated "the Shepherd Kings."

These Hyksos were the rulers of Egypt roughly 1700 BC, were clearly not Egyptian, and centered in and around Goshen - all facts that line up with the time period and story of Joseph.

Still, scholars do not think this is archeological "proof" of Joseph. Why is this the case?

6 Answers 6


Boy is that wikipedia article riddle with citation needed around the part mentioning Joseph.

The thing that points to Joseph being of the Hyksos, looks to be what I thought was the best evidence against it. If you didn't think of this yourself, permit me to state the obvious, The evidence is in where the bones went. Joseph wanted his bones buried where they came from, so unless they, and everyone else, forgot where they came from, they buried him in the wrong place. But if they came from Canaan and went back to Canaan then that's rather appropriate.

However, and with the help of the only reference to Hyksos on Vatican.va translated into English, the key is in the revulsion that the Egyptians felt towards Joseph and his brothers.

Genesis 43:32 (DRA)
32 And when it was set on, for Joseph apart, and for his brethren apart, for the Egyptians also that ate with him, apart, (for it is unlawful for the Egyptians to eat with the Hebrews, and they think such a feast profane:)

If there is evidence of revulsion (or evidence of future subjugation) then yeah, that could be the historical Joseph story. But if there's no evidence for this, then they're separate folks.

Which may be the reason some are hesitant to jump on the Joseph as Hyskos bandwagon.

  • 1
    ...reason I totally am jumping on the "Joseph is Hyksos" bandwagon. [I thought I better finish your thought. ;-] Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 22:59
  • 1
    I should note, that I had no idea what a hyksos is before looking this up. I just figured I'd search vatican.va and see if the Pope said anything about the matter.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 17:09
  • Maybe I didn't get enough sleep last night, but I'm really having trouble understanding this answer. It seems very elliptical and I'm not filling in the blanks or seeing what the conclusions are, much less how to get to them. For instance, how is the whole Vatican bit any different from simply quoting that verse from any other translation? Commented May 28, 2021 at 15:31

As an archaeologist of Central Europe and adherent of processual paradigm, I'd argue that it's (almost) impossible to prove existence of a person archaeologically. But here we can join study of historical texts with archaeology and ignore the boundaries between these two disciplines. Archaeology itself without aid of written texts can say very little on ethnicity and even less about fates of exact individuals (unless we have the body; post-procesuallism tries to change it, but its approach is not very exact).

As the wikipedia article on Hyksos says, they probably came from Kanaan and are thought to be multiethnic (some of their names are not semitic, but seems to be indoeuropean - but indoeuropean Hittites lived in Canaan too, so it's no problem). This makes the theory of Hyksos as Joseph and his relatives (plus lots of other people not mentioned in Bible) quite plausible.

On the other hand, from "quite plausible" is a long way to "proved". "Joseph" is not mentioned in any Egyptian text we have. We don't know all the kings of 15th dynasty, so he could have been lost somewhere around Sakir-Har or Khyan. If we take into account the biblical legend of Joseph being almost as powerful than the pharaoh, he might have been the same person as Yaqub-Har. But all these are wild speculations, nothing worth solid scientific theory or even claim to prove anything.

  • Interesting answer. I had to take issue with this, though: "If we take into account the biblic legend of Joseph being more powerful than the pharaoh..." The Bible doesn't state anywhere that Joseph was more powerful than Pharaoh; it says precisely the reverse in a couple places in Gen 41, and his role as (mere) vizier is underlined through the rest of the narrative in Genesis. Commented May 4, 2022 at 15:32
  • @globewalldesk: I exaggerrated a little, corrected. He was "just a vizier", but his solution of a famine was so important, that he could have "overshadowed" the pharaoh in the oral tradition.
    – Pavel
    Commented May 18, 2022 at 13:22

Well, there are still no records of Joseph himself. From an objective perspective, these Hyksos could only be considered proof of the possibility of Joseph, not of Joseph himself. Yes, there is a record which says that it is quite possible that the stories of Genesis and Exodus represents some sort of mytho-symbolic truth, but that does not mean that the details of the stories are accurate by any means.

We have proof of George Washington, we do not have proof of the cherry tree. While it is possible that a cherry tree was chopped down by Washington, there is not definitive proof.

I use Washington here as a matter of illustration. I am not stating that Genesis and Exodus are wrong, merely that they do not hold up to what are now considered modern standards of evidence.


How we do we know that Joseph wasn't Hyksos?

The Hyksos were Semites from the Levant, probably from the northern Levant, ie Syria. The names of the Hyksos kings have no resemblance to the names of Israelites, except for one of their kings... "Jacob". Manetho the Egyptian historian of the first or second century BCE did not see them as Israelites. They worshipped other gods, and when someone died they quite often buried a horse alongside the body of the person. They were driven out of Egypt in about 1580 bc and Manetho says some of them went on to capture Jerusalem, so the Jebusites may have been Hyksos. It is sometimes supposed the Hyksos were Amorites.

Archaeological light on the life of Joseph

When Joseph left prison to appear before the pharaoh to give the interpretation of the pharaoh’s dream he first shaved himself lest he offend the pharaoh (Genesis 41:14). According to Eugene Merrill:

This is precisely what the Egyptian exile Sinuhe did when he returned to Egypt after living for years among the Semites of Syria. For Joseph to have shaved prior to appearing before a bearded Hyksos king would, of course, have been an insult rather than a concession. And when Joseph’s brothers came to him to request grain, not yet having learned their true identity, he set them apart at dinnertime because “Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews” (Gen 43:32). If Joseph had been representing himself as a Semitic official of a Hyksos king, it is strange that he would have segregated himself from fellow Semites. That he was acting in accordance with long-standing Egyptian tradition proves beyond question that the story has nothing to do with the Hyksos (“Kingdom of Priests”, (1987), page 52, 53).

When Joseph had interpreted the dream of the pharaoh he was given the name of “Zaphnath Paaneah” (41:45). If the king had been Hyksos there would have been no need to give Joseph an Egyptian name at all. According to Kenneth Kitchen the name he was given was very likely “Joseph who is called (I)pi-ankh”, with “zaphnath” meaning “who is called” and with the soft I being dropped and (I)pi-ankh meaning “giver of life”. (I)pi-ankh was not an uncommon name in the Middle Kingdom era if I understand Kitchen rightly. So his Egyptian name may have been "Joseph who is called Giver of Life". The name construct was common in Egypt’s Middle Kingdom era:

The Papyrus Brooklyn 35.1446 of circa 1730 bc has forty-eight “Asiatics” in its list of seventy-seven household servants, and twenty-eight of these show precisely the construction proposed here “X (Semitic name) who is called Y (Egyptian name).” One could hardly ask for a better pedigree than this. (“On the Reliability of the Old Testament” by Kenneth Kitchen, 2003, page 346).

Is there direct evidence for Joseph?

There is no direct evidence of the person Joseph in Egyptian history. But various events, names and titles of officials give strong evidence that the story of Joseph was written early by someone with a good knowledge of Egyptian society. Furthermore Hebrew words which are Egyptian loanwords are much more prevalent in the Pentateuch than in the rest of the Old Testament.

But… should we expect to find direct evidence of the Joseph himself? Many monuments, stele, statues, etc in ancient Egypt were paid for by the person themselves and were a consequence of the desire for self-aggrandizement of the person in question. Joseph was a godly, humble, believer in Yahweh, and would have eschewed such proud self-promotion. He chose not to have a permanent burial in Egypt, but chose rather that his bones should go back to the Promised Land when the Israelites left Egypt. He was an administrator, not the ruler, and probably would have thought it prudent not to promote himself and thus provoke the envy of those around him.

So now let's look at indirect evidence

The chronology for Egypt from the beginning of the Middle Kingdom to the start of the New Kingdom is taken from the "British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt" compiled by Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson (1st edition 1995) with dates reduced by 2 years for a more precise fit of astronomical data:

Middle Kingdom 2053-1650

11th DYNASTY 2053-1983

Mentuhotep II 2053-2002

Mentuhotep III 2002-1990

Mentuhotep IV 1990-1983


Amenemhat I 1983-1953

Senusret I 1963-1918

Amenemhat II 1920-1876

Senusret II 1878-1872

Senusret III 1872-1853

Amenemhat III 1853-1806

Amenemhat IV 1806-1797

Queen Sobekneferu 1797-1793

13th DYNASTY 1793- after 1650

Some 70 rulers, of which the five more frequently attested are:



Sobekhotep III

Neferhotep I

Sobekhotep IV c1725

14th DYNASTY 1750-1650

Minor rulers probably contemporary with the 13th dynasty.

Second Intermediate Period 1650-1575

(I have altered the dates from Shaw and Nicholson to the “High Chronology” for the start of the New Kingdom. Egyptologists are equally divided over which is correct, but the High Chronology fits the Scriptural chronology and the Low Chronology does not. For Egyptologists the Low and the High are equally possible.)

15th DYNASTY 1650-1575


Khyan c. 1585

Apepi c. 1580


16th DYNASTY 1650-1575

Minor Hyksos rulers contemporary with the 15th Dynasty

17th DYNASTY 1650-1575

Several rulers based in Thebes, of which the four most prominent examples are listed:


Taa I

Taa II c. 1585

Kamose 1580-1575

In the above list, there is by no means a consensus for either the reign lengths or dates of the 12th dynasty rulers: the dates are to be taken as approximate only. However, the radiocarbon and dendochronological dating of a funeral boat of Senusret III to 1887 bc (+ or – 11 years) gives some confidence the dates are in the right ball park.

When did Joseph rule? The Bible says that the Israelites were in Egypt for 430 years "to the very day" (Exodus 12:40, 41). This is usually taken to mean from the date that Jacob entered Egypt with all the family at the beginning of the third year of the famine.

There are two dates suggested for the Exodus, the late date of about 1250 bc and the early date of, say, 1446 bc. The 1250 date is arrived at by assuming that 1 Kings 6:1 is not to be understood literally, whereas for 1446 bc it is taken literally.

430 years back from 1250 is 1680 bc, which is just before the beginning of the Hyksos period; this was a period of relative weakness in Egypt's fortunes, when the land of Egypt probably split in two with the Hyksos ruling the north from Avaris and an Egyptian king ruling from Thebes in the south.

430 years before 1446 bc is 1876 bc which is right in the heart of the Egypt's glorious 12th Dynasty. This was a long time before the Hyksos era. It was an era when the pharaoh became very powerful.

During the years of plenty Joseph purchased the surplus grain on behalf of the pharaoh (at very low prices because no one else wanted it or had any where to store it). During the famine Joseph sold the grain that had been gathered up back to the Egyptians for money at a good profit (Genesis 47:13,14). When their money ran out Joseph bought all their livestock (47:16,17). When they had sold all their animals he bought all their land (47:20-23). In the process of buying all the land, the Egyptians now owned nothing, but were the servants of the Pharaoh. And so Joseph instituted an annual income tax upon the Egyptians of 20% (47:24-27). In this account obviously the Bible documents a huge centralizing of wealth and power away from the people and towards the Pharaoh.

Is there any evidence of this centralizing of power either in the 12th Dynasty or in the Second Intermediate Period? As said already, the Second Intermediate Period (about 1650 - 1575 BC) was a period of a lack of central authority and power in Egypt. However the Middle Kingdom is notable for the fact that at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom the power of the pharaoh was quite limited but by the end of the 12th Dynasty the pharaoh was supreme. This was because, at the beginning, a lot of power was held by the local “Nomarchs”. Ancient Egypt was divided into areas called Nomes (not to be confused with gnomes… they played no part in Egyptian history… (probably)). The Nomes were ruled by family dynasties and the ruler of the Nome was the Nomarch, leading to a political structure similar to feudal Europe with barons under a king. At the beginning of the Middle Kingdom the Nomarchs were very powerful. This power was much reduced during the reign of Senusret III in the 12th Dynasty. Quoting from “The British Museum Dictionary of Ancient Egypt” compiled by Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson (1995) on the entry for Senusret III:-

Since the Old Kingdom (2686-2181) the major threat to royal power had probably come from the nomarchs, the provincial governors; a shift in funerary patterns of the elite (a decline in provincial tombs) may indicate that Senusret III reduced their authority drastically by removing many of their established priveleges. The means by which this was achieved in unclear, but henceforth it was to be the King’s viziers who oversaw all branches of administration (page 259).

The evidence that the power of the nomarchs was drastically reduced is the dramatic reduction in the splendour of the provincial tombs of the nomarchs. Before Senusret III these tombs were very notable for their grandeur; grand tombs for the provincial nomarchs ceased during the reign of Senusret III. Though Egyptologists confess they do not know how Senusret III achieved this they are agreed there is no evidence it was achieved by any kind of civil war.

Another feature of his reign was a big increase in the bureaucracy of the pharaoh’s central administration, in the number and variety of official positions in the central royal administration (c.f. “Court Officials of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom” by Wolfram Grajetzki).

These changes in the political structure of the Middle Kingdom fit well with the Bible’s account of the famine and of the “purchase of Egypt” in exchange for grain by Joseph on behalf of the pharaoh.

During the years of plenty Joseph stored up the grain for the lean years. He would have needed new buildings for this storage. Also it is likely he would have tried to find ways to increase the quantity of land in Egypt under cultivation, or to store water during the good years to use it during the years of the low inundation of the Nile.

The Fayum

During the 12th dynasty the region of Egypt known as the Fayum (or Fayoum) began to be developed. Under the entry for Senusret II the British Museum Dictionary says:

He also inaugurated an ambitious irrigation system in the Fayum region, which enabled large areas of new agricultural land to be brought under cultivation.

Under Amenemhat III the same book says:

His reign evidently represented the most prosperous phase of the dynasty ... he is particularly associated with the economic and political rise of the Fayum region, where he completed a large-scale irrigation project inaugurated by his father [grandfather??] ....

Muslims living in the region of Fayum believe the canals, dams and the great lake were all built by Joseph. In ancient times the lake was truly huge, with the water level 85 meters higher than the level of today's lake, and thus covering a vast expanse of the fayum region.

The second mortuary complex of Amenemhat III, at Hawara on the borders of the Fayum region, includes the multi-roomed mortuary temple known to Classical authors as the "Labyrinth".

The Labyrinth, then, is also associated with Amenemhat III and consists of large rooms. The Labyrinth today is under the sand and only visible using modern sonar techniques. Running through a corner of the Labyrinth is a canal. What is striking is that some of the rooms of the Labyrinth run parallel to the canal; the canal is clearly part of the structure of the Labyrinth. This canal runs for a few hundred miles parallel to the Nile and then joins up the Nile to the lake in the Fayum region. In ancient times the Fayum region contained a huge lake called Lake Meoris. The canal that joins the Nile to the (current much smaller) lake in the Fayum region is called “Bahr Yussef” or the “Canal of Joseph” and the Egyptians say it was built by the Joseph of the Bible. (http://www.touregypt.net/fayoum.htm)

The Labyrinth had an "upstairs" and a "downstairs". In ancient times the Greek historian Herodotus was permitted a tour of the upstairs based on which he gives a description of its huge size. But Herodotus was not permitted to see the downstairs.

I have two thoughts on the possible purpose of the Labyrinth. Perhaps it was built by Joseph to store grain: this explains the large size of the rooms. The grain was brought to the "Labyrinth" by boat and taken away by boat.

However, it is clear that the "dowstairs" is and always was below the ground-water level. This means it would not be a good place to store grain... the grain would likely go mouldy. Another possibility is the lower levels were built as mausolium, a burial place for the administrators of the royal administration. It has already been noted that during the reign of Senusert III and into the reign of Amenemhat III the central administration greatly increased in size, recruiting staff from the regional nome administrations. Some of the new administrators were members of the nomarcial ruling families, which took their burials very seriously. It may be that the pharaoh had the lower Labyrinth built as a mausolium as a perk of the job and as a solution to one of the concerns of the nomarcial families upon joining the royal administration .... that they might not have a decent burial.

As has been said Jacob came to Egypt at the beginning of the third year of the famine in 1876 BC. Amenemhat II was the pharaoh who had the dreams and chose Joseph to rule Egypt, and who ruled during the years of plenty. Senusert II ruled during most of the years of famine. Senusert III began to reign in the final year of famine. The administrative changes and collapse of the power of the nomarchs is attributed to Senusert III possibly because some of the nomarchs had already prepared their mortuary splendour before the years of famine had kicked in: after all, Cheops took about 25 years to prepare his pyramid, the Egyptians took their dying and their fame arising from their burial remains very seriously!

A start date of 1872 for the reign of Senusert III fits all the astronomical data very well: for more on this see "Die chronologische Fixierung des agyptischen Mittleren Reiches nach dem Tempelarchiv von Illahun" by Ulrich Luft (1992); and "The astronomical evidence for dating the end of the Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt to the Early Second Millenium: a reassessment" by Lynn Rose (free online). Much thanks to Rita Gautschy for her astronomical data on the Heliacal Rising of Sothis/Sirius at http://www.gautschy.ch/~rita/archast/sirius/siriuseng.htm (Google search "Gautschy" and "Sirius")and her data on lunar observations at http://www.gautschy.ch/~rita/archast/mond/mondeng.html (google search "last and first sightings of the lunar crescent gautschy"). In short there are 40 lunar observations and one heliacal rising of Sothis in the 7th year of Senusert III which need to fit: from these a number of possible years for the year of the beginning of the reign of Senusert III can be arrived at: I have chosen the only option which supposes that the events in the life of Senusert II and Senusert III, with regard to the Fayum region and with regard to the decline of the power of the nomarchs, relate to the life of Joseph.

The year I have chosen for the start of Senusert III's reign is also the best fit in the sense that it assumes the heliacal rising of Sothis was observed from Memphis. Other options for the start of the reign of Senusert III assume that the heliacal rising in the 7th year of unnamed pharaoh on the Egyptian date IV Peret 16 was observed from a different location, which would have thus been in a different year. There is good evidence, however, that Memphis was always the town of observation of the heliacal rising of Sothis/Sirius. For instance, the heliacal rising of Sothis in the nineth year of the reign of Amenhotep I can only fit the biblical chronology if we assume the 18th dynasty's High Chronology which neccessitates an observation from Memphis.


So in the Twelfth Dynasty we have the collapse of the power of the nomarchs, and a great increase in the central administration of the royal court; we have the rise of the Fayum region both as a place to increase the amount of agricultural land and as a reservoir lake/sea to send back to the Nile for irrigating the fields in times of low innundation; we have the Bahr Yussef, the Canal of Joseph, which joined Lake Meoris in the Fayum region to the Nile, and which also passed through the Labyrinth with its large rooms for storage. The Twelfth Dynasty is by far the best period for seeing the handiwork of Joseph.

Joseph is often said to have been a "vizier"; for two reasons I think this is not the case: first, it comes as a surprise but we actually know the names of the viziers of the Twelfth Dynasty; and second, people wrongly equate vizier with a Prime Minister under a sovereign. In fact there were often two viziers in Egypt at the same time, and sometimes three. Each vizier administered a different region of Egypt. I think Joseph was above the viziers. Joseph had a unique position in Egyptian history, planning both the survival for the seven years of poor innundation/(poor rainfall in Ethiopia), and planning the long term administration of Egypt; viziers were going to be part of that long term administration.

How readers will view this information will really be decided by whether they want to have evidence for Joseph found by archaeologists or whether they do not. For me, the events of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt harmonize with the Biblical story of the rule of Joseph at this time. If so, what are the implications of this?

  1. This period was well before the period of the Hyksos, so there is no evidence that Joseph was Hyksos himself or that he administered during the Hyksos period. But when the Hyksos peoples and other Semites came into Egypt there may have been some intermarriage with the Israelites.

  2. If Joseph administered during the 12th Dynasty then this is yet further evidence supporting an Exodus around 1446 bc. For more on who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus see Who was Pharaoh when Moses lived in Egypt?


The only time Joseph is actually mentioned in an Egyptian text is the "Osarseph" report in the "Aegyptopaea", the Egyptian history of the Egyptian/Greek historian Manetho, thought to be written on the basis of Egyptian temple documents and by direction of king Ptolemy II of Egypt in Memphis around 300 B.C. In this report, Osarseph, a renegade priest of Heliopolis of Asian or Hyksos origin, instigated an uprising of Asian or Hyksos slaves, who were remnants of a once large Hyksos population driven out of Egypt centuries earlier (by the pharaoh Ahmose in 1521 B.C. as we know from his victory stela today), and who were considered "unclean" or "leprous" by the Egyptians, probably meaning that they were corrupted by an un-Egyptian faith, and therefore banned to work in the Egypt-wide stone quarries first, and then locked away in the town "Avaris", the former Hyksos capital in the north-eastern delta of the Nile.

In Avaris, Osarseph renamed himself as "Moses" (which basically means the one who came out of the water as a source of divine inspiration), gave the slaves laws completely contrary to the Egyptian laws (which basically means that he denounced that pharaoh is the supreme god on Earth and hence the supreme god is beyond this Earth and no image or human representative can be made of him), invited contingents of the formerly chased away Hyksos, who had settled down in and around Jerusalem in Palestine, back to Avaris to join the uprising, and launched a religious war on Egypt. In this war, which lasted thirteen years and penetrated Egypt up to Memphis in the south in Middle Egypt, the temples of Egypt were the major targets, and they were deprived of their idols and their sacred animals were being killed. The same war also brought plagues and famine over Egypt. In the end, the Egyptian pharaoh was able to counter the slave revolt with the help of Nubian reinforcements, and he drove the slaves with Hyksos origin out of Avaris and pursued them right into Syria in the north. These slaves found refuge in Jerusalem and the hill country surrounding this city, and Manetho adds that these slaves are considered as the ancestors of the Jews now.

Two versions of this Osarseph report have survived, both of which quoted in the work "Against Apion" by the first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who was an eye witness of the Jewish war that ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the second temple in 70 A.D., who became a protegee of the later Roman emperors Vespasian and Titus, who waged this Jewish war, and who wrote extensively about Jewish history in Rome up to his death around 100 A.D. The second version of this Osarseph report deviates from the other version in the detail that it says that Joseph and Osarseph were the leaders of the slave revolt.

And this is the point where the biblical Joseph is actually mentioned in the Egyptian writings. This makes perfect sense, because Joseph according to the Bible was the first of the tribunal faction of the Hyksos migration into Egypt that later became the Israelites to enter Egypt, and Osarseph alias Moses was the one who finally led these people out of Egypt. Also a linkage between Joseph and Osarseph becomes apparent, since Joseph according to the Bible married the daughter of the high priest of Heliopolis. It is therefore very plausible that some of Joseph's offspring remained in the priestly service at Heliopolis, and Osarseph was the last one in that line. One can further observe, since "Osarseph" is obviously a combination of "Osiris" and "Joseph", that there is a direct name relation between Moses and Joseph, and because Osiris is the supreme Egyptian god of creation and the one who presides over the afterlife, one can get a clue from where Moses draw his monotheistic convictions.

Manetho's Orsarseph report has caused much confusion among scholars, starting with Josephus, mainly because the pharaoh mentioned in that report is "Amenophis", a pharaoh Josephus cannot align with any pharaoh in the otherwise conclusive list of Egyptian kings in Manetho's history. Modern scholars mostly identify this pharaoh with Amenophis IV or pharaoh Akhenaten, the "heretical" king who introduced the cult of the single god of the life-giving Sun Aton and also fought a religious war about this issue during his whole reign between about the years 1353 - 1336 B.C. Yet this king makes no sense in a Hyksos setup, and so the scholars conclude that something is mixed up in Manetho's report, maybe based on vague folks traditions, thus leaving the report little credibility.

However, seven different copies of Manetho's kings list have survived, five of which state "Amenophis" for the pharaoh in question, and two state "Merenptah" instead, two pharaohs whose regnal Egyptian names only differ with a syllable. This makes it almost certain that the substitution of "Amenophis" in Josephus' copy is the consequence of an ancient transcription error. Further evidence for this follows from the fact that Manetho's Osarseph report tells us that the alleged pharaoh "Amenophis" named his son after his father "Rameses" and his grandfather "Sethos", but according to the correct and Egyptologically underpinned succession of the kings, it was pharaoh Merenptah who was the son of Rameses II and the grandson of Sethos I (^*). With pharaoh Merenptah instead of "Amenophis" there is no contradiction with the archaeological records. This means that pharaoh Merenptah was the pharaoh of the suppression (probably when he still ruled together with his father) and the exodus of the Israelites.

Pharaoh Merenptah reigned for seventeen years from 1213 B.C. onwards. From this pharaoh a victory stela is preserved, dated for the fifth year of his sole reign, which is the year 1208 B.C., on which he proudly pronounced that he has driven the enemies of Egypt out of the country, namely the Lybians back to Lybia in the north-west, and four other groups back to Syria in the north. One of the latter groups are the "beaten unsettled tribes of the Israelites, whose seeds are no more" (meaning that many of their young warriors have been killed). This Merenptah inscription corresponds to Manetho's report of the pursuit of the Hyksos decendant slaves into Syria or Palestine.

(^*) A reference for this important point is: R. Kittel, "A History of the Hebrews: In Two Volumes", page 260: ... But if it [Manetho's account] does [embody an independent Egyptian reminiscence of the Exodus], the question must then be asked as to what period of Egyptian history it is to be assigned. The names Rameses, Amenophis, Sethos-Rameses (^1) appear to correspond most nearly with those of the Kings Rameses II., Merenptah, and Seti II., who stood to each other in the relation of father, son, and grandson. Accordingly most moderns have agreed that Rameses II. was the Pharaoh of the Oppression [in his later time with Merenptah as a co-ruler] and Merenptah of the Exodus. And, as a matter of fact, it is impossible to deny that by the Amenophis of Josephus, Manetho cannot have meant any one but Merenptah (^2).

(^1) More precisely, in Josephus: Rhampses, Amenophis, Sethos-Rhamesses; in Julius Africanus and Syncellus [versions of Manetho's report]: Rhapeakes (Rhampses), Amenephibes (Merenpthah), Rhamesses. See Lepalus, K"onigsbuch Ant., p. 16f; Ebers, Gosen, p.536.

(^2) The proof is that Julius Africanus and Syncellus actually give [A)menephthes in place of Amenophis. Amenophis must therefore be due to a misunderstanding of the part of Josephus, or an ancient clerical error in his copy of Manetho.

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  • I'd like to see a source for this information. I've given a +1 in advance.
    – user3961
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 17:10
  • @fredsbend Thanks for the suggestion of improvement. I have added the most important reference that sets the chronology right. Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 2:16

Joseph would have been established in Egypt before the Hyksos arrived. I presume that they initially enslaved the Hebrews and created the harsh treatment of their people. Once the Egyptians drove out the Hyksos, and forgotten the blessings of Joseph, the Egyptians continued the Hebrew enslavement.

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