The Jerusalem Post is reporting that archeologists have discovered Egyptian coins bearing Joseph’s image:
Archeologists have discovered ancient Egyptian coins bearing the name and image of the biblical Joseph, Cairo’s Al Ahram newspaper recently reported. Excerpts provided by MEMRI show that the coins were discovered among a multitude of unsorted artifacts stored at the Museum of Egypt.
According to the report, the significance of the find is that archeologists have found scientific evidence countering the claim held by some historians that coins were not used for trade in ancient Egypt, and that this was done through barter instead.
The period in which Joseph was regarded to have lived in Egypt matches the minting of the coins in the cache, researchers said.
“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 report.
The discovery of the cache prompted research team head Dr. Sa’id Muhammad Thabet to seek Koranic verses that speak of coins used in ancient Egypt.
“Studies by Dr. Thabet’s team have revealed that what most archeologists 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 [archeological 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,” the report added.
The same report is being released by the MEMRI, The Middle East Media Research Institute. The following is an excerpt from their news release:
“In an unprecedented find, a group of Egyptian researchers and archeologists has discovered a cache of coins from the time of the Pharaohs. Its importance lies in the fact that it provides decisive scientific evidence disproving the claim by some historians that the ancient Egyptians were unfamiliar with coins and conducted their trade through barter.
“The researchers discovered the coins when they sifted through thousands of small archeological artifacts stored in [the vaults of] the Museum of Egypt. [Initially] they took them for charms, but 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.
“There used to be a misconception that trade [in Ancient Egypt] was conducted through barter, and that Egyptian wheat, for example, was traded for other goods. But surprisingly, Koranic verses indicate clearly that coins were used in Egypt in the time of Joseph.
“Research team head Dr. Sa’id Muhammad Thabet said that during his archeological 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 news report uses both the words “charms” and “coins.” The reliability of the information in the report is problematic because it is doubtful that coins were used this early in the Ancient Near East.
Daniel McClellan has a post in which he says that the coins in the picture above are not coins but scarabs. Daniel wrote:
As an undergrad I worked for two years gathering images and doing charts and some illustrations for an illustrated introduction to the Old Testament, and I recognize a few of the scarabs in the photo on the left (yeah, they’re scarabs, not coins). I can’t find pictures of all of them, but I did find pictures of the two bigger ones on the bottom left and right
The article says the Qu’ran claims there were coins in Egypt during the time of Joseph, so the article seems to be apologetic aimed at substantiating that claim. If the photo is really of the claimed coinage, however, then it’s a hoax.
Visit Daniel’s blog a take a look at the pictures mentioned in this excerpt from his blog.
Although it would be nice to say that this finding is an evidence for the existence of the biblical Joseph, the evidence provided in this report, coming from a group trying to prove the reliability of the Qu’ran, is very weak and should be taken with a lot of skepticism.
What is needed now is for a group of independent archaeologists to do a scientific study of the findings and publish a report for the impartial evaluation of scholars and other specialists.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary