Dr. Kim Riddlebarger recently posted a link to a story in The Jerusalem Post about a coin found in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo that bears the image and name of the Old Testament Joseph (Kim’s post). Such a find seems to sound like one of the more sensational on its face, but considering the fact that the claim comes from a Muslim archaeologist, reported in a Cairo newspaper, passed on by the Middle East Media Research Institute, carried by The Jerusalem Post lends at least an initial note of credibility. I’m sure lots of peer reviewing is afoot among Dr. Sa’id Muhammed Thabet’s colleagues, and who knows if any more will ever be heard about it, but, as Dr. Riddlebarger said, if it’s legitimate, it’s yet another piece of evidence that the Jews were where the Bible says they were when the Bible says they were. But you can also bet that if it is legitimate, you won’t be seeing any rush by the media to produce best-selling books and prime-time TV specials about it. For that reason, stay tuned to the Reformed blogosphere.
Be that as it may, I did a little more digging and found the MEMRI report that contains excerpts from the Cairo newspaper article about Dr. Thabet’s find. Thought a few of my readers would find this interesting reading. Here’s the link to the report entitled, “Leading Egyptian Daily ‘Al-Ahram’ Reports: Coins From Era of Biblical Joseph Found in Egypt.”
The report indicates that the coins turned up at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which is the primary resting place of so many of the most amazing arifacts of ancient Egypt, including those of King Tut. My wife and I visited this museum on our Holy Land Tour back in 2007 (see the category link in the sidebar for a few posts related to our trip, as well as some pictures on my Flikr page which is also linked to in the sidebar). One thing that struck us about the museum was that so many of the artifacts, especially statues and other large items were just out in the main thoroughfare where anyone and everyone could place their grimy hands all over them! I guess they figure if they’ve lasted this long, a few fingerprints aren’t going to hurt them the way they might harm other items from more recent times (they don’t make ancient artifacts like they used to). But the other thing that struck us about the museum was that there was so much stuff in the museum, we find it to be no surprise that something like this would turn up having been previously overlooked. But, boy, wouldn’t it be great if these coins not only proved that ancient Egyptians used money and didn’t only barter, which is the main significance the archaeological world seems to invest it with, but also was considered by scholars of Biblical archaeology to be tangible evidence of the existence of the biblical Joseph, truly lending further evidence to the historical reliability of the Bible.
I wonder how we could get greater confirmation of this.
Only time will tell, I’m sure…but a little more intense Googling couldn’t hurt.
As I said not an hour ago, a little more intense Googling, following blogposts of those better equipped to think more critically than I am on such issues, has already got me letting go of any hope that the claims reported in the MEMRI report are genuine. But it was fun while it lasted.
Excellent post JC.
PaleoBabble blogger, Mike Heiser, offers a splash of cool water in our faces. As exciting as the prospect is that someone found coins commemorating the biblical patriarch Joseph, there’s just gotta be more to the story. Heiser, who has an MA in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA and PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison finds reason to remain skeptical. While we wait for more info to trickle in from the Middle East, lets think together about what Heiser has to say and not allow ourselves to fall for an urban legend.
Here’s the PaleoBabble link: http://michaelsheiser.com/PaleoBabble/2009/09/evidence-for-the-biblical-joseph-discovered/#comments
A couple of commenters to the PaleoBabble post lead to other blogs thinking critcally about the “Joseph coins.” Don’t neglect to consider their claims, holding out for a favorable confirmation from the archaeological community later.
Is there a picture of the coin anywhere?
Apparently, the picture at the top of the MEMRI report is a picture of the items in question. That picture can be accessed from the link I provided in the post above. Daniel McClellan’s blog guides us in some critical thinking about the photo: http://danielomcclellan.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/joseph-era-egyptian-coins/