Researchers in Egypt have discovered a cache of coins “bearing the name and image of the biblical Joseph,” the Jerusalem Post reports. The news was originally reported by Egyptian paper Al-Ahram and translated by MEMRI.
The leader of the team, Sa‘id Muhammad Thabet, found the coins in various vaults while doing research on Joseph.
The coins—five hundred in all—were among a group of “small archeological artifacts” at the Museum of Egypt and were originally mistaken for charms or ornaments. The leader of the team, Sa‘id Muhammad Thabet, found the coins in various vaults while doing research on Joseph.
If true, the discovery overturns the previous contention that ancient Egyptians were unfamiliar with coins and used a barter system exclusively. Thabet originally questioned that idea when reading a letter by an ancient Egyptian who served as royal inspector of the Nile bridges. Named Thot-Nehet, he wrote of leasing lands in exchange for coins and agricultural goods.
As for the coins themselves, Thabet noticed that what had been classified as charms were actually round (or nearly round) and bore an inscription on one side and an engraved image on the other—just like coins throughout the centuries, including today. The inscribed side of the objects bore the name of Egypt, a date, and a value, while the engraved face of most bore the name and image of an Egyptian pharaoh or deity. The objects also came in various sizes and were made of precious materials. Also, similar objects have been found at various archaeological sites, adding to Thabet’s suspicion that the objects were coins rather than charms.
The coins are dated to many periods of Egyptian history, including as far back as Joseph’s time. Most interestingly, the report matches up with Genesis 41 in describing “one coin that had an inscription on it, and an 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.”
Furthermore, the researchers were able to decipher the writing on the coin (which matched the earliest known hieroglyphic texts) and make out multiple versions of Joseph’s name as well as what is purported to be an image of him.
If Thabet’s research is correct, then we have another fascinating confirmation of the reality of Genesis history. But as the research has not yet been presented for review or otherwise published (as far as we are aware), the accuracy of the research remains in question. Baptist Press, in an article titled “Evangelicals Skeptical about ‘Joseph Coins’,” quotes evangelical scholars who are skeptical of Thabet’s claims. “My initial response is one of skepticism in that the ‘interpretation’ of the coins is quite subjective,” explained ancient Egypt expert Robert Griffin of the University of Memphis.
Archaeologist Steven Ortiz of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary concurred, noting that Thabet’s team was seeking to validate specific verses of the Koran with their discovery. Of course, the motivation of Thabet’s research doesn’t necessarily mean the findings are flawed; nonetheless, we’ll reserve judgment until the exact findings are published in a peer-reviewed journal. Besides, our trust in Genesis (and the rest of God’s Word) doesn’t ebb and flow with each new archaeological discovery!
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