>A group of Israeli scholars are reporting they have solved the biblical mystery of how Joseph preserved Egypt’s unsealed grain stores against invading pests during the seven year of famine and saved the Egyptian people from mass starvation. According to the news report,
The secret lies in the burnt corpse of a 3,500 year old beetle found in a grain of wheat claim researchers (Kislev, Simhoni and Melamed) from the laboratory for archaeological botany in the Life Sciences Department at Bar Ilan University, Haaretz reported on Monday.
The beetle belongs to the highly destructive Rhyzopetha dominica species, commonly known as the Lesser Grain Borer, which invades wheat and barley stored in silos after it has been harvested in the field.
Joseph knew of the Lesser Grain Borer and the beetle’s amazing reproductive ability, the team inferred from a biblical description in Genesis 41:48-49. To reduce its migration he isolated the grain harvested in each locality and prevented batches being transferred from one city and community to another.
Sand was also added to the stored grain as a simple method of pest control known and practiced in ancient Egypt, the researchers say.
Sand crystals absorb moisture in the granary and prevent the grain from rotting and decaying. But they scratch away at the beetle’s hard body shell causing it to dry up and die.
If this research is confirmed by other independent studies, it will help explaining some of Joseph’s work in saving the lives of the people of Egypt and the members of his family.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary