An image from the Middle East Media Research Institute revealing Egyptian coins tracked to the time of Joseph
Egyptian coins carrying the name of Joseph, the biblical patriarch whose arrival in Egypt as a slave eventually provided salvation for his family during decades of drought across the Middle East, have been discovered in a cache of antique items shelved in boxes in a museum, according to a new report.
The report from the Middle East Media Research Institute said the coins with Joseph’s name and image were found in a pile of unsorted artifacts that had been stored at the Museum of Egypt.
MEMRI, which monitors and translates reports from Middle East publications and broadcasters, said the original report was in Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper in Cairo.
The newspaper said the discovery countered claims by some historians that coins were not used for trade in Egypt at the time the Bible records Joseph and the Israelites migrated there.
Those historians have argued that trade was done by barter.
But researchers told the newspaper the minting dates of the coins in the cache have been matched to the period in which Joseph was recorded to be in Egypt.
“A thorough examination revealed that the coins bore the year in which they were minted and their value, or effigies of the pharaohs [who ruled] at the time of their minting. Some of the coins are from the time when Joseph lived in Egypt, and bear his name and portrait,” said the newspaper report.
The report carried an explanation of the discovery by a team involving researcher Sa’id Muhammad Thabet:
“Studies by Dr. Thabet’s team have revealed that what most archaeologists took for a kind of charm, and others took for an ornament or adornment, is actually a coin. Several [facts led them to this conclusion]: first, [the fact that] many such coins have been found at various [archaeological sites], and also [the fact that] they are round or oval in shape, and have two faces: one with an inscription, called the inscribed face, and one with an image, called the engraved face – just like the coins we use today,” said the report.
The newspaper called the find “unprecedented” and said, “The researchers discovered the coins when they sifted through thousands of small archaeological artifacts stored in [the vaults of] the Museum of Egypt.”
The Egyptian newspaper noted that the Quran indicates clearly “that coins were used in Egypt in the time of Joseph.”
The report continued, “Research team head Dr. Sa’id Muhammad Thabet said that during his archaeological research on the Prophet Joseph, he had discovered in the vaults of the [Egyptian] Antiquities Authority and of the National Museum many charms from various eras before and after the period of Joseph, including one that bore his effigy as the minister of the treasury in the Egyptian pharaoh’s court.”
The report continued, “According to Dr. Thabet, his studies are based on publications about the Third Dynasty, one of which states that the Egyptian coin of the time was called a deben and was worth one-fourth of a gram of gold. This coin is mentioned in a letter by a man named Thot-Nehet, a royal inspector of the Nile bridges. In letters to his son, he mentioned leasing lands in return for deben-coins and agricultural produce.”
The report explained that other texts from the Third, Sixth and Twelfth Dynasties also talk about coins.
“The archaeological finding is also based on the fact that the inscribed face bore the name of Egypt, a date, and a value, while the engraved face bore the name and image of one of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs or gods, or else a symbol connected with these. Another telling fact is that the coins come in different sizes and are made of different materials, including ivory, precious stones, copper, silver, gold, etc.” the newspaper reported.
The museum research uncovered 500 of the coins “carelessly” stored in boxes.
One even had the image of a cow “symbolizing Pharaoh’s dream about the seven fat cows and seven lean cows, and the seven green stalks of grain and seven dry stalks of grain,” the report said.
“Joseph’s name appears twice on this coin, written in hieroglyphs: once the original name, Joseph, and once his Egyptian name, Saba Sabani, which was given to him by Pharaoh when he became treasurer. There is also an image of Joseph, who was part of the Egyptian administration at the time,” the report said.