SEDER OLAM - Revisited

סדר עולם - חדש



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Index of names


Generations  1-14
(3760 - 2080 BCE)

Generations 15-21
(2080 - 1240 BCE)

Generations 22-28
(1240 - 400 BCE)

Generations 29-35
(400 BCE - 440 CE)

Generations 36-42
(440 - 1280 CE)

Generations 43-49
(1280 - 2120 CE)

Generation 50

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Joseph sold by his brothers
(2216 AM - 1544 BCE)

Death of Isaac
(2228 AM - 1532 BCE)

Descendance of Esau

Judah and Tamar

Joseph viceroy of Egypt
(2229 AM - 1531 BCE)

The famine
The Tempest Stele
(2236 AM - 1524 BCE)

Jacob in Egypt
(2218 AM - 1542 BCE)

The "70 souls"

The land of Goshen

The 18th Dynasty of Egypt

Joseph as Ineni

Death of Jacob
(2255AM - 1506 BCE)

Burial of Jacob
(2265AM - 1496 BCE)

 Previous <<   Generation 19   >> Next

Hebrew years 2160 to 2280 (1600-1480 BCE)
~~~ Part I ~~~ Part II

Year 2216 – 1544 BCE  – Joseph is sold by his brothers

At the age of 17 years old (Genesis 37:2), Joseph was having dreams that were understood as if he would rule over his brothers. They hated him for this, and planned to kill him. Reuben wanted to save him and convinced his angry brothers to keep him alive. So instead of killing him, they decided to sell him to an Ishmaelite caravan that was travelling to Egypt for commerce.  They sold him for 20 shekels of silver. Then they made their father Jacob believe that Joseph was killed by a wild beast.

Joseph sold by his brothers
Joseph sold by his brothers (Gustave Doré, 1866)

When he arrived in Egypt, Joseph was sold as a slave to Potiphar, a courtier to Pharaoh:

And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, the captain of the guard.
--- Genesis 37:36

The common translation of the Hebrew text is actually wrong. Potiphar is described in the Hebrew text as "eunuque" (סְרִיס), before being mentioned as an "officer" (שַׂר) of the guards. This gives a completely different view of what occurred:

And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's bought him, Rab said: He bought him for himself [because of Joseph's beauty]; but [Angel] Gabriel came and castrated him, and then Gabriel came and mutilated him [pera’], for originally his name is written Potiphar [(Genesis 37:36) but afterwards Poti-phera (Genesis 41:45).
--- Talmud Sotah 13b

This explains what happened to Joseph: first Potiphar (פוֹטִיפַר) chose him as a sex slave for himself, but then got mutilated by divine providence and he became nicknamed as Poti-Phera (פּוֹטִי פֶרַע) from the word Phera/Pera which means 'mutilated'. Later, as we shall see, the wife of Potiphar, surely feeling frustrated by heur husband's new physical condition, attempted to seduce Joseph for herself too.

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Year 2228 – 1532 BCE  – Death of Isaac

In year 2228, Isaac died in Kyryat-Arba at the age of 180 years old. He is the patriarch who would have lived the longest life. He had never left the land of Canaan and spent a life of study. He was buried by his two sons Esau and Jacob in the same cave that Abraham bought in that place. His wife Rebekah died before him and she was buried by her husband, as Abraham did for Sarah and as Jacob did for Leah. This is explained by Jacob himself on his deathbed:

There [in the Cave of Machpelah] they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.
--- Genesis 49:31

In fact, Leah died before Joseph was sold by his brothers because, when Jacob was made to believe by them that a beast had devoured his preferred son, the Biblical text mentions:

And Jacob rent his garments, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said: 'Nay, but I will go down to the grave to my son mourning.' And his father wept for him.
--- Genesis 37:34-35

The text mentions that
all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort 
Jacob but not his wives... The reason is that his wives (of course Rachel and now also Leah) had died when this event had taken place.

Rebekah probably died while Jacob had not rejoined his father yet, as, when he did, the Biblical text mentions that he joined his father (by consequence, not his mother although she had been of great importance in his young life). Some say that Rebekah died in the same year as Rachel (in year 2207). As she was born in the time of the Akedat Isaac, in year 2074, she would have died at the age of 133 years old.

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The descendance of Esau

The Biblical text gives an account of the descendants of Esau, from his three wives (Genesis 36:1-3). The name of these wives is however not in accordance with the previous account (Genesis 26:34). According to commentators, it proves that Esau’s household was composed of illegitimate unions and incests. The previous account of Genesis 26 mentions the wives as Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite, and then Mahalath daughter of Ishmael. But in the account given 10 chapters later in Genesis 36, the wives have become Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah daughter of Anah of Zibeon the Hivvite, meaning she was the child from an illegitimate union, and Basemath daughter of Ishmael, whereas Basemath was previously listed as daughter of Elon the Hittite.

The sons of Esau born in the land of Canaan were:

-          From Adah: Eliphaz
-          From Basemath: Reu’el
-          From Oholibamah: Jeush, Jalam, Korah
Then Esau moved his household to Seir, in order to avoid conflicts with Jacob. The grandsons of Esau who were born in Seir were:

-          From Eliphaz: Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, Kenaz
-         Eliphaz also had
Amalek from his daughter Timna who was the illegitimate child from his liaison with the wife of Seir the Horite (he dwelt in this region before the arrival of Esau -- Genesis 36:20)
-          From Reu’el: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, Mizzah

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Judah and Tamar

Judah separated from his brothers, out of guilt to what he had done to Joseph, and settled with the Adullamite people. There he married the daughter of a merchant called Shua. She gave him 3 sons: Er, Onan and Shelah. Judah chose a wife for Er, who was called Tamar. But Er was acting in evil ways and God caused him to die. Judah wanted his second son, Onan, to marry Tamar to provide a seed to his deceased brother. But Onan would not procreate and wasted semen, so God caused him to die too.[1] But then Judah would not give her his third son Shelah as he considered he was too young to marry. Both Er and Onan had married young and turned to sinful ways. So Tamar went back to her father’s house to wait for Shelah until he would reach maturity. But time passed. Later on, Tamar deceived Judah by making him believe she was a prostitute, while she covered her face. When she got pregnant from him, Judah acknowledged that he conceived with her, but will not intimate with her any more out of the deceipt she did. Tamar gave birth from Judah to twin brothers: Perez and Zerah. (Genesis 38).

Judah and Tamar
Judah and Tamar - by Horace Vernet, 1840 (Wallace Collection, London)

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Year 2229 – 1531 BCE  – Joseph becomes Viceroy of Egypt

When he arrived in Egypt, Joseph was sold as slave to Potiphar’s house but he quickly became an important member of the staff. Joseph was also very good-looking and his master’s wife asked him to sleep with her. He refused on several occasions when she tried again and again.

It was told of Joseph the virtuous that the wife of Potiphar every day endeavoured to entice him with words. The garments she put on for him in the morning, she did not wear in the evening, those she had put on in the evening, she did not wear in the morning. She said to him: Yield to me! He said: No. She said: I shall have you imprisoned. He said: The Lord releases the bound. [Psalms 146:7] She said: I shall bend your proud stature. He replied: The Lord raises those who are bowed down. [Psalms 146:8] She said: I shall blind your eyes. He replied: The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. [Psalms 146:8] She offered him a thousand talents of silver to make him yield to her, to lie with her, to be near her, [Genesis 39:10] but he would not listen to her; not to ‘lie with her’ in this world, not ‘to be with her’ in the world to come.
--- Talmud, Yoma, 35b

Out of revenge, she finally accused him of attempting to seduce her, and Potiphar had him thrown in Pharaoh’s jail after one year of service. He had been 10 years in jail when he came to meet two chamberlains of Pharaoh who were also put in custody at this time. As they each had a dream, he explained it to them, and the dreams were realised.
After two years from the dreams of the chamberlains, Pharaoh himself had a dream that none of his court could understand. He heard about Joseph from one of the chamberlains who had been restored to his function and had him brought out of jail, where Joseph had already spent 12 years. Joseph explained to Pharaoh that there will be 7 years of abundance followed by years of famine in the land of Egypt. Joseph told Pharaoh that he must prepare for this to happen:

Pharaoh said to his servants: "Could we find a man like this who has the spirit of God in him?"
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph: "After that God informed you about all this, there is no wiser and more intelligent man like you.
You will be responsible for my house, and by your command shall all my people be sustained; only the throne will be above you."
Pharaoh said to Joseph: "See, I have given you all the land of Egypt."
And Pharaoh removed a ring from his hand and gave it to the hand of Joseph, and he dressed him in fine clothes, and put a golden chain upon his neck.  
He had also him ride on his second chariot and they proclaimed him "Avrech" [the Blessed One], and he gave him all the land of Egypt.
--- Genesis 41:38-43

Pharaoh named Joseph Zafenath-Paneach and made him viceroy of Egypt. It was customary in Egypt for princes of the royal household to have an official name in addition to a private name.[2] The fact that Pharaoh gave such official name to Joseph meant that he embraced him as a prince of the royal household. In the British Museum is a statue of an official called Panehsy, from the 19th Dynasty: his role was the overseer of the treasury. The names Paneach and Panehsy are close enough to show that they related to role names.

Panehsy - 19th Dynasty
Panehsy - 19th Dynasty (British Museum)

It is also interesting to note the mention He had also him ride on his second chariot. Was this chariot worth a special mention in the Biblical text, after it follows other signs or proofs of royal honour? It surely was because chariots were a rarity at the time. It was the present Pharaoh who defeated the Hyksos invaders and had them thrown out of Egypt. It was the Hyksos who had brought the chariot warfare into Egypt and had this technological advantage during the years of their occupation. But after they left, their chariots were seized by the Egyptians, who later improved them and introduced them in their own army. But, at the time when Joseph sttof in front of Pharaoh, chariots were still a novelty and surely a sign of military power and power alone. Hence the worthy mention.

Joseph was 30 years old when he stood in front of Pharaoh (Genesis 41:46), so it
was Hebrew year 2229. Pharaoh then gave Asenath to Joseph as a wife. She was the daughter of Potiphar, the priest of On [Heliopolis]. She bore him two sons during the years of abundance, before the famine had started: Manasseh and Ephraim.

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Year 2236 – 1524 BCE  – The famine strikes

Then, after 7 years of abundance, famine struck all the lands, except Egypt thanks to the plan that Joseph had executed.

All the earth came to Egypt to count on Joseph because the famine had become severe in all the earth.
--- Genesis 41:57

There is archaeological evidence that massive grain silos that would have been able to feed a large number of Egyptian troops were built in Egypt during the reign of Ahmose I, thus adding confirmation to the Biblical narrative.[5]

In addition, a stele has been found in Karnak around 1950 that contains the tale of a meteorological disaster that fell upon Egypt during the reign of Ahmose I: it has been named the Tempest Stele of Ahmose. Some people speculated that the disaster was so unusual in nature that it must have been caused by a one-time event such as the eruption of the volcano in the Greek island of Santorini (although the date of this eruption, earleir than 1600 BCE, doesn't fit the current dating for the reign of Ahmose). Regardless of what caused the disaster, it is interesting to note some details of the text of the stele:[6]

- Ahmose is described as living forever; this may suggest that the Pharaoh had recently died at the time of the disaster; indeed, the famine stroke in Hebrew year 2236, corresponding to 1524 BCE, and Ahmose is assumed to have died within the previous year, in 1525 BCE; because his heir and son Amenhotep I was too young to reign, his wife Nefertari was the regent; this would explain why the stele mentions Ahmose (and not his son), and living forever (because he had recently died)

- it is mentioned that [Ahmose] His Majesty dwelt in the town of Sedjefatawy [in the district just to] the south [=upstream] of Dendera: this is a strange comment because Ahmose, when alive, dwelt in his new palace in Thebes, so why would the stele mention that he dwelt in a
town? As for the "south" of Dendera, the word south could actually mean downstream, so it is a location which is in the lower part of the Nile compared to the location of Dendera (like Lower Egypt is physically in the North); this location points to the the place of what is known as the Pyramid of Ahmose; it is a pyramid believed to be a cenotaph and not a tomb; but, the fact is that this pyramid is nearly entirely destroyed so its purpose is rather speculative; and why this Pharaoh would have a cenotaph? I prefer to think that this location was indeed where Ahmose was buried but, eventually, due to destruction in later times, his coffin was moved to another location as it had been done in other cases

- the text is more specific about the fact that Ahmose was dead: his body was installed in (lit. “united with”) this temple [the said pyramid?]
while his limbs were in joy  

- the text mentions that the disaster was caused by a storm that caused a flood; this is compatible with the descrption of the dream of Pharaoh, which took place in two occurrences, one with the cows that came up from the river and the other with the wind that blew the crops; water and wind are the two components of the disaster described in the Tempest Stele and in the Biblical text

There is little doubt that a disaster of such nature would have destroyed cattle and crops (as described in Pharaoh's dream), and cause the start of a great famine that would last longer than expected.

The Tempest Stele of Ahmose
The Tempest Stele of Ahmose
(Image credit: Malcolm H. Wiener and James P. Allen, 1998.)

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Year 2238 – 1522 BCE  – Jacob comes down to Egypt

After two years of famine, Jacob sent his 10 older sons (not Benjamin) to Egypt to buy provisions. At the time, Judah had already come back to his father’s land. They went down at the end of the second year of famine.

The news was heard in Pharaoh’s house saying that the brothers of Joseph had come. And this was pleasing in Pharaoh’s eyes and in his servants’ eyes.
And Pharaoh said to Joseph: "Say this to your brothers. ‘Do this, load up your animals and return to the land of Canaan.
Take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best from the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land.’
And you are commanded to say ‘Do this, take for you from the land of Egypt wagons for your small children and for your wives, transport your father and come.
And don’t let your eyes take pity of your belongings, because the best of all the land of Egypt is for you."
--- Genesis 45:16-20

Joseph and his brothers reunion
The reunion of Joseph and his brothers (Gustave Doré, 1866)

Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. Joseph was 39 years old, because the seven years of abundance and the two years of famine had passed from the time he stood in front of Pharaoh at the age of 30.

The Biblical text gives the count of the direct children and grandchildren of Jacob who settled down in Egypt as follows, and referred as the "70 souls". .

From Leah’s side, they were 33 people, according to the text, but the count only shows 32 people. Some commentators assumed that Jochebed was the 33rd person, as she did not leave Canaan, but entered Egypt as she was born to her father Levi during the journey from Canaan to Egypt:

-          Reuben and his sons Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, Carmi
-          Simeon and his sons: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, Shaul (son of a Canaanite woman)
-          Levi and sons Gershon, Kohath, Merari, and possibly the daughter Jochebed
-          Judah and sons (Er, Onan had died), Shelah, Perez (with two sons, Hezron, Hamul), Zerah
-          Issachar and sons Tola, Puvah, Iov, Shimron
-          Zebulun and sons Sered, Elon, Jahleel
-          Leah's daughter, Dinah

From Zilpah’s side, they were 16 people:

-          Gad and sons Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, Areli
-          Asher and sons Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah (with sons Heber, Malchiel), and daughter Serah
From Rachel’s side, they were 14 people:

-          Joseph and sons Manasseh, Ephraim, who were of course already in Egypt
-          Benjamin and sons Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, Ard

From Bilah’s side, they were 7 people:

-          Dan and his son Hushim
-          Naphtali and sons Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, Shillem

Among the wives of Jacob, only Leah was buried with the ancestors in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. Rachel had previously died giving birth to Benjamin and was buried in Beth-Lehem, on the road to Hebron.

Jacob met with his son Joseph after 22 years, from the time Joseph was sold by his brothers. Jacob knew a boy of 17 years of age and now met the second most powerful person of Egypt, being 39 years of age, with spouse and children.

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Joseph arranged that his family would settle in Goshen, in the Nile delta, a region called Raamses which was uninhabited by the Egyptians so that the Hebrews would not mix with them.[3]

And Joseph brought his father Jacob and he made him stand in front of Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
Pharaoh asked Jacob: "How many days of years of your life?"
Jacob said to Pharaoh: "The days of years of my sojourns have been a hundred and thirty years. Few and bad (מעט ורעים) have been the days of years of my life, and they have not achieved the days of years of life of my fathers, in the days of their sojourns."
And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and left Pharaoh’s presence.
Then Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a portion of the land of Egypt, in the best part of the land, in the land of Ra’mses (רעמסס), as Pharaoh had commanded.
--- Genesis 47:7-11

This passage is important for the chronology of the Bible. Jacob came down to Egypt in year 2238, as he stated to be 130 years old. Joseph was 30 years old when he became governor of Egypt, when the 7 years of abundance started. Then, he met his brothers and his father in the 2 years of famine, so he was then 39 years old. This is the same year when Jacob was presented to Pharaoh, so Joseph was born in year 2238-39= 2199. It is with this calculation that the years of all the other events of the chronology can be derived. So, when Joseph was sold to the Ishmaelites and arrived in Egypt, he was 17 years old (year 2216). When he became Governor of Egypt, he was 30 years old (year 2229). In the initial period of 13 years when he has been in Egypt, he was first at the service of Potiphar, then in jail. His encounter with Pharaoh occurred 2 years before his encounter in jail with the two chamberlains.

It is worth noting that Jacob did not bow to Pharaoh but Joseph made him stand in front of Pharaoh. The Egyptian dynasty of this time was the 18th Dynasty. It became the most successful and best known dynasty of Egypt, as it started the prosperous era of the New Kingdom after years of political instability due to the fact that Lower Egypt had been under the rule of foreign invaders called the Hyksos for about 300 years. This period of trouble in Egypt favoured the independence of the people of the land of Canaan, and the peace there in these times. When Egypt was weak, the land of Canaan was peaceful and this is why the patriarch Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not suffer much from wars and invasions that prevailed elsewhere.

This 18th Dynasty started in year 1550 BCE under Pharaoh Ahmose I. He was the Pharaoh who succeeded in expelling the Hyksos from the Nile Delta (in the 18-19th year of his reign, so it was about 1532-1531 BCE), a region which included the land of Goshen which would be given to the Hebrews some years later. From this 18th dynasty, and the event of the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt, is counted the end of the Middle Bronze Age and the start of the Late Bronze Age, in archaeology. It was an era of renewal and golden age for Egypt, and their progressive rule over Canaan against the Hittites following several campaigns in the 18th and 19th dynasties. .

Ahmose I was a Pharaoh who built many infrastructures across Egypt and who re-organised the country. He reigned for 25 years, from age 10 (year 1550 BCE) to age about 35 when he died (year 1525 BCE) just about the time when the years of abundance were coming to an end.
Ahmose I is the ruler who chose Joseph as viceroy. His meeting with Joseph was in year 1531 BCE, when Ahmose I had already been in power for 19 years and he was 29 years old at that time. Joseph was 30 years old, so they were in fact about the same age, if we allow some months up to one year discrepancy in the calculations. The relationship between Joseph and Ahmose I was great due to the close age between the two.

Pharaoh Ahmose I
Pharaoh Ahmose I (Musée du Louvre)

Ahmose’s wife was Nefertari, and she was also his sister or half-sister. She had given him an heir, Amenhotep I (also called Amenophis I), who succeeded his father and reigned over Egypt for about 21 years, from 1526 BCE to 1506 BCE. He was influenced by his mother who was regent when he reigned, and must have died at a rather young age, as all his representations show him as a young Pharaoh.

This context better explains the meeting between Jacob and Pharaoh. The latter was still a young boy, who had only been reigning for 3-4 years (Jacob came down to Egypt in the second year of the famine, in 1522 BCE), and his mother was the regent. Jacob behaved in front of this young Pharaoh as a 130 years old patriarch, and Jacob blessed him as a father (or grandfather) would have blessed a son. It is also remarkable that the text mentions twice 
Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

Nefertari and her son Amenhotep I
Nefertari and her son Amenhotep I

When the famine became very severe, the Egyptian people sold all their possessions in exchange of grain, and Joseph collected the money for Pharaoh. When their possessions were over, and as the famine continued, the people then sold their land and themselves, as serfs, to Pharaoh:

Thus Joseph acquired all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, because the Egyptians sold the man and his field, because the famine was hard on them. And the land became Pharaoh’s.
As for the people, he moved them between cities, from one end of Egypt to the other.
Only the land of the priest he did not buy, because of an income from Pharaoh to the priests, and they ate from their income that Pharaoh gave them and therefore they did not sell their land.
Joseph said to the people: "Look, I have acquired you this day and also your land for Pharaoh; here is a seed for you and sow them on the land;
and at the harvests, you will give one fifth to Pharaoh, and the four fifths will be yours, as seed for the soil and food for you and for those in your house and to feed your young ones."
And they said: "You saved our lives, may we find favour in your eyes, my lord, and we will be slaves for Pharaoh."
So Joseph made it a law until this day over the land of Egypt, for Pharaoh the fifth, only the soil of the priests alone was not for Pharaoh.
--- Genesis 47:20-26

This text suggests that the tax system in Ancient Egypt, calculated as a 20% percentage of the production of the land, was established by Joseph under the reign of Ahmose I. It would make sense, time-wise, because, before that period, the country was partially or totally under control of the Hyksos during the previous 300 years. Historians are recording the existence of tax systems from the 18th Dynasty, and not before, and this dynasty was founded by Ahmose I.

During this dynasty, the most important government official was someone called Ineni, which means Here I am in Hebrew, and has been used by Abraham as a response to God's call. This person served all Pharaohs until the reign of Thutmose III. This is a possible evidence to consider that this person had been Joseph himself because of the role described:

Hereditary prince, count, chief of all works in Karnak; the double silver-house was under his charge; the double gold-house was on his seal; sealer of all contracts in the House of Amon; Excellency, overseer of the doubler granary of Amon.
--- Boussac, Hypolite, Mission archéologique française au Caire, volume XVIII, 1895, cited in Breasted, James Henry, Ancient records of Egypt, Volume 2

This Ineni was in charge of the granary and also in charge of all the works in Karnak, a city near Luxor located far south in Egypt, where he would have needed to move working people from one end of Egypt to the other. Also he had lived long enough to serve under six Pharaohs (of the 18th Dynasty): Ahmose I, Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Hatshepsut (wife of the former), and Thutmose III.Who else but Joseph could have held such important role in Egypt and for so long?

First six Pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty
First six Pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty (source : Wikipedia)

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Year 2255 – 1506 BCE  – Death of Jacob in Egypt

After 17 years in Egypt, Jacob died in year 2255 at the age of 147 years old. Before he died, he gave his blessing to each of the children and grandchildren who will deserve to become one of the 12 tribes of Israel. The order was as follows:

-          Reuben: strength and vigour, water-like impetuosity; but he laid with one of Jacob’s concubines
-          Simeon and Levi: accomplices (they murdered the people of Sichem because of Dinah)
-          Judah: a lion, his brothers will prostate to him

"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh (שילה) will arrive and to whom will assemble the nations"
--- Genesis 49:10

The above is the first instance in the Biblical text about the arrival of Shiloh, the Messiah, who will gather the nations. It is considered as being the Torah's direct allusion to the Messiah. In addition the gemaria of the words יָבֹא שִׁילֹה ("Shiloh will arrive") has the value of 679, which is identical to the gematria of the word משיח ("Messiah"). So the phrase until Shiloh will arrive can also be read until Messiah.

-          Zebulon: on the seashores, until Sidon
-          Issachar: a “strong-boned donkey”, a hard worker
-          Dan: will revenge his people, unify the tribes of Israel (Dan is ancestor to Prophet Samson)
-          Gad: will recruit a regiment and will retreat
-          Asher: richness
-          Naphtali: “a hind let loose who delivers beautiful things”
-          Joseph: a “charming son”
-          Benjamin: a “predatory wolf”

Before his death, Jacob asked his sons to bury him in the Cave of Machpelah, near his wife Leah (Genesis 49:33).

Joseph arranged for the body to be embalmed, and then:

Joseph spoke to the house of Pharaoh, saying: "If, please, I found grace in your eyes, please speak to the ears of Pharaoh by saying."
--- Genesis 50:4

Some questions may be asked:

1- why did Joseph embalm Jacob?
2- why did Joseph not speak to Pharaoh directly?

When Jacob died, Pharaoh Amenhotep I who had been blessed by Jacob had recently died too.[4] If he had been alive at the time of Jacob's death, there is no doubt that Joseph would have addressed himself to him directly and that the burial in Canaan would have been granted.

The reign of
Amenhotep I had lasted for about 21 years, during which time he never campaigned against Canaan. His campaigns were limited to the south towards Nubia. His mummy was found and is now displayed at the Cairo museum. But it is the only royal mummy that has never been unwrapped, due to its very exquisite face mask. The blessing Jacob gave him may have followed him after-life !

The mummy of Amenhotep I
The mummy of Amenhotep I (Cairo Museum)
Jacob died during a period of change, and Joseph would have been uncertain about the dispositions of the new ruler. Joseph had his father embalmed in case delays would be caused until Jacob could be taken to Canaan for burial. And there was delay.

Nefertari survived her husband and her son as she died later in 1495 BCE, around the age of 70, during the reign of her grandson Thutmose I. She had known Joseph and, as the regent after Ahmose I, was surely present at the only meeting between her young son, Pharaoh Amenhotep I, and Jacob, when he had blessed him, twice. Maybe one of the two blessings was destined indirectly to his mother as she had been regent to Pharaoh at the time of this meeting with Jacob.
So, when Joseph asked the House of Pharaoh to grant him permission to go to Canaan to bury his father Jacob, he addressed himself to the ears of Pharaoh which was the queen mother, Nefertari, as only her could influence the new Pharaoh to grant permission.

The request to leave Egypt for Canaan was however not communicated or granted at the time. Maybe Nefertari was afraid of having Joseph leave Egypt and never return, causing bad omen on her country. Also Joseph had been in the affairs of Egypt for so many years that he would be needed next to the new Pharaoh for the time being, until he would be able to ascertain his power and direct his affairs. This possible delay was the reason why Joseph had ordered to embalm his father, sensing that he would not be allowed to leave Egypt.

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Year 2265 – 1495 BCE  – Burial of Jacob in Canaan

When Nefertari died in 1495 BCE, her grandson Thutmose I took command over Egypt. Joseph then finally received approbation, from Pharaoh himself, to go to Canaan to bury his father:

And Pharaoh said: "Go up, and bury your father, according as he made you swear." And Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, and all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father's house; only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company. And they came to the threshing-floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, and there they wailed with a very great and sore wailing; and he made mourning for his father seven days. And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said: "This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians." Wherefore the name of it was called Abel-Mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan. And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them. For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field, for a possession of a burying-place, of Ephron the Hittite, in front of Mamre.
--- Genesis 50:6-13

It is remarkable that the funeral procession to Canaan did not take a direct route, across the Negev desert, to directly take the route to Hebron, but passed instead to the other side of the Jordan River where they settled a large mourning camp before entering into the land of Canaan. There they encountered the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, who were living in that part of the region, called Seir or Edom.

In total, Jacob lived 147 years but was returned to Canaan on his 157th year. The number of years he (or his body) had been outside Canaan was the 20 years he 
had spent in Charan + the 17 years he lived in Egypt (he came down when he was 130 years old and died when he was 147 years old) + the last 10 years his body remained in Egypt until being returned to Canaan. And Jacob had lived 110 years in the land that God had promised to the patriarchs. In comparison Abraham lived 100 years in the promised land because he left Charan when he was 75 years old and lived for 175 years (he did spent some months in Egypt, but probably less than a completed year). As of Isaac, he was born and had always lived in the promised land, so God blessed him with a longer life of 180 years.

Thutmose I reigned for about 13 years until 1493 BCE. He had two children whom he married together: his heir Thutmose II and his sister, or half-sister, Hatshepsut. Thutmose II reigned for about 14 years but he had a disease towards the end of his reign, as testified by analysis made on his mummy.

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[1] His name gave root to the sin of onanism.

[2] As an example about the various titles of Pharaoh, see page on Wikipedia

[3] The Hyksos invaders had been living in this part of Egypt, until Ahmose I expelled them. So the region was just emptied when Jacob of his family arrived to Egypt.

[4] The year of his death is disputed: some chronology mentions 1503-4 BCE and others such as Manetho give 1506 BCE, which is the most commonly agreed date.

[5] Excavations on a site on the eastern part of the Nile delta has shown the presence of these "massive silos" which were dated from Ahmose's reign; for more information, read article in Bible History Daily
[6] To read online the text of the Tempest Stele of Ahmose, there is an article dated April 2014: click here

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