Egyptian Titles In Genesis 39-50 -- By: William A. Ward

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 114:453 (Jan 1957)
Article: Egyptian Titles In Genesis 39-50
Author: William A. Ward

Egyptian Titles In Genesis 39-50

William A. Ward

[William A. Ward is a Graduate Fellow at Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, and Pastor of the First United Church, Swampscott, Massachusetts.]

The story of Joseph as told in the Book of Genesis, chapters 39 to 50, has long since been proven to be a historical narrative. In almost any textbook in the field of Biblical archeology there are whole sections dealing with the numerous facts taken from the archeological and literary remains of the ancient Near East which show the Joseph story to be authentic.

But the research and study must not stop at this point. It is of utmost importance to the interests of conservative Christianity to continue searching for any evidence which shows the Bible to be dependable. Once having shown that the Joseph story, for instance, is generally accurate, it is desirable to probe into every detail to continue unearthing even more proof that the story as recorded in Genesis can be successfully presented as a historical document even in the smallest details. The present article is written to fill a small but important gap in the general knowledge on this subject. Its twofold purpose is to discuss each Egyptian title appearing in this narrative and, in the course of such discussion, to show what Joseph’s position in the ancient scene must have been.

The ancient Egyptian government revelled in bureaucracy. Even the most elementary list of officials and their deputies runs into many hundreds. Almost every tomb stela records a multitude of government posts and religious offices held by its owner.-The tombs, coffins, statues, scarabs, and papyri of Egypt are filled with the names and titles of those who practiced these ancient professions. One reads of scores of types of scribes and countless “overseers.” We meet the priests and army officers, the fishermen, craftsmen and the local mayors and governors. In every walk of life, be it high priest or carpenter, they have all left their titles in grandiose tomb inscriptions or crude scratchings

on rocks for us of the present age to read.

It was inevitable that Joseph should come into close contact with officials of the Egyptian government and just as inevitable that the Old Testament should record a few of their titles as well as some of.those of Joseph himself. During the course of the Joseph narrative there are no less than fourteen titles indicated. Seven of these belong to Joseph; the other seven belong to various officials who are intimately concerned with the story. Let us examine each of these titles as they appear in t...

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