Egyptian Pyramids

There are 67 completed pyramids in Egypt and 25-26 incomplete pyramids. Ten pyramids are on the Giza plateau, including the two largest. The pyramid of Cheops is the largest pyramid in Egypt (see figure). Previously it was estimated that it consisted of 2.3 million limestone blocks, but a recent project estimates only one million stones were used. The majority of blocks weigh 2-5 tons; some weigh 15 tons. The granite blocks inside the burial chamber weigh 50 tons. The original height of the pyramid was 146 meters; today it is 137 meters high. The decrease in height is because the outer casing is missing.

The outer covering of this pyramid was originally very pure white limestone which would have shone like gold in the sun. It was robbed away for use in building the modern city of Cairo in the Middle Ages. The white limestone coating is preserved only on the top of Chefren´s (Kafre´s) pyramid (see figure).

If we look at Egyptian history, it can be seen that it was during the reign of Pharaoh Djoser of the 3rd dynasty (see figure), that Egypt became a great power. But, during the third dynasty a very special person called Imhotep appears in the history of Egypt (see figure). For many, there have been doubts as to whether Imhotep was an actual person since it was difficult to believe that one single person could possess so many qualities and talents. At times, Imhotep has been called the Leonardo da Vinci of Egypt. But Imhotep was more than this. Leonardo da Vinci was a genius in many areas, while Imhotep, in addition to being called a genius, was also regarded as a god.

The first pyramid to be built was the Step Pyramid. When excavations were carried out at the Step Pyramid in Sakkara, about 9 miles south of the great pyramids in Giza, remains of a statue with only the feet remaining were found. There, on the foundations was carved the name of Djoser and of: "... Imhotep, Chancelor of the King of Lower Egypt, Chief under the King, Administrator of the Great Palace, Hereditary Lord, High Priest of Heliopolis, Imhotep the Builder, the Sculptor, the Maker of Stone Vases."

The Egyptian priest Manetho wrote: "... during his (Pharaoh Djoser of the 3rd dynasty) reign lived Imouthes (Imhotep), who, because of his medical skill has the reputation of Asclepius (the Greek god of medicine) among the Egyptians..."

"... and who was the inventor of the art of building with hewn stone".

It is very interesting, that there is nothing written about Imhotep from the early part of Djoser´s time as Pharaoh. Nothing on monument or similar things. For example, Imhotep was not the architect of Djoser´s grave at Beit Khallaf, a building that was surely begun as soon as Djoser came to power. At this place there is a clay seal with Djoser´s name, his mother´s name and the name of a number of people who held office during his reign, but Imhotep is not mentioned.

This implies that Imhotep - that godlike counsellor - had not yet entered the picture. It was usual that the new Pharaoh appointed those in high offices, with his own family highest of all, immediately on coming to power. Imhotep have come to power some time after the reigning Pharaoh had begun his rule. It is also important to note that Imhotep was the first one to have such a position in the history of Egypt. Certain inscriptions point to another important fact: Imhotep´s title in certain inscriptions indicate that he was not a member of the royal family, but was someone who had attained his position on his own merits. This was unique because the one who usually had the role of Pharaoh´s foremost adviser and co-ruler, was Pharaoh´s son.

An inscription exists on the island of Sihiel, just below the first cataract of the Nile. This inscription claims that it is a copy of a document written by Pharaoh Djoser in the 18th year of his reign. The text of the inscription relates that "...while the king slept the Nile god, Khnum, appeared to him in a dream and promised that the Nile would give its water, and that there would be famine for seven years followed by seven good years." (The Ancient Near East (1958) vol 1., p 24-, Editor J. B. Pritchard, Princeton University Press)

This corresponds in detail to the dream that Joseph interpreted for Pharaoh except that the order is reversed. The Bible speaks of seven good years followed by seven years of famine (Gen. 41:25-32).

Let us compare certain parts of the inscription with some biblical texts.
Pharaoh Djoser says: "I was in distress on the Great Throne..."
The Bible says: "And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled..." (Gen. 41:8).
In the text of the inscription Pharaoh is worried about the coming famine, and asks Imhotep: Who the god of the Nile is, so that he can pray to this god.
Pharaoh Djoser says: "I asked Him who was the Chamberlain, ... Imhotep, the son of Ptah... What is the bitrhplace of the Nile? Who is the god there? Who is the God?"
Imhotep answers: "I need the guidance of Him who presides over the fowling net..."
According to the Bible, Joseph answers Pharaoh: "And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace." (Gen. 41:16)

In the Egyptian text Imhotep is called the son of Ptah, who was the Egyptian god known as the greatest god, creator of all, including other gods. Joseph professed faith in the one and only God, creator of all things. The inscription goes on to tell of Pharaoh Djoser´s promise to the Nile god, Khnum, that "... the population, with the exception of the priests in the god´s house, would be taxed 10% on all that was harvested." All these components are in the biblical account. During the seven good years Joseph imposes a 20% tax on the people, with the exeption of the priesthood, in order to cope with the crisis. The Bible says: "Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt." (Gen. 41:34) "Only the land of the priest bought he not." (Gen. 47:22)

The first pyramid to be built was the Step Pyramid in Sakara (see figure). Around this pyramid, and the parts pertaining to it, is a big wall (see figure). In comparison, the pyramids in Giza, including the mighty Cheops pyramid, are not surrounded by a wall. The Sakkara complex had only one entrance, which implies that there were reasons for security (see figure).

At the main entrance in the eastern wall one comes into a long hall with 40 columns, 20 on each side. When one has passed these columns, one comes to a number of very large shafts going deep down into the ground (see figure). The hypotesis of today claims that these shafts are burial chambers, but they are exceptionally large, far bigger than any other burial chamber, and diferent in shape and function. All these shafts are conected to each other by a central tunnel. The shafts reach up above the surface of the ground, and one shaft has a stairway that goes right down to the bottom (see figure). Remains of grain have been found at the bottom of these shafts. The Bible shows how Joseph acted and organized the grain storage throughout the country: "And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number." (Gen. 41:49)

The 11 shafts which are just inside the columns are extremely large, with a volume that meant they could hold about 40.000 cubic metres of grain altogether, corresponding to approximately 4.000 trucks each loaded with 10 cubic metres. In all probability, Pharaoh Djoser´s minister of state, Imhotep, had at least 11 huge shafts built in which to store grain, or silos as we call them today. This amount of grain was more than an individual town needed. Since there is a large area around the Step Pyramid which has not yet been excavated, one can speculate that there were even more silos in the area.

The Bible says: "And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands." (Gen. 41:57)
"And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharao´s house." (Gen. 47:14)
Since large quantities of goods and gold accumulated as payment for all the grain, this was another reason for having high walls as protection.

The Egypt inscription says: "Imhotep was a priest in the town of Heliopolis." Heliopolis is the biblical On, which lies on the outskirts of modern Cairo. The Bible says: "And Pharaoh gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On." (Gen. 41:45) It is not unlikely that Joseph became a priest in On after the death of his father in law. It is perhaps even probable since Joseph held the highest position in the country, and was considered by Pharaoh to be a man of god who had great wisdom.

Imhotep is the earliest doctor writen about in historical documents. Imhotep is on a par with the Greek god of medical skills, Asclepius. The biblical text has an interesting note: "And Joseph commanded his servats, the physicians, to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel." (Gen. 50:2). In other words, Joseph had two qualities which link him to the art of healing: firstly, that he had doctors in his service, and secondly, that through his dreams God could perform strange miracles and signs.

Imhotep is known as the one who had many words of wisdom. There are five known counsellors of Pharaoh with the title of Ptah-hotep. Papyrus scrolls have been discovered, which are copies of "Ptah-hotep´s instructions". At the end of the manuscript the author says that he is "... near death after a life of 110 years". (The Ancient Near East (1958) vol 1., p. 234- , Princeton University Press) The Bible also recounts that Joseph knew he was dying, and that he died at the age of 110: "And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you... and Joseph lived an hundreth and ten years." (Gen. 50:24,22)
The author of "Ptah-hotep´s instructions" says that he had "... received recognition from the king (Pharaoh) such as no-one prior to him had received". The Bible says: "Then Pharaoh said to Joseph: You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according your word, only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you." (Gen. 41:39-41)

A very special inscription was found in Sakkara showing a lot of starving people (see figure). This type of inscription is very rare, if any others exist at all. This carving also includes depictions of grain, sacks that are carried up steps and food distribution.

Imhotep was an extremely important person in ancient Egypt with great influence and very high position. Thus, according to tradition, his grave should have been impresive, and should have been found amongst the other graves that have been discovered. When Joseph died at the age of 110, he has embalmed and placed in a coffin and buried in Egypt: "So Joseph died, being one hundreth and ten years old, and they embalbed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." (Gen. 50:26) Where should he have been buried if not in Sakkara?

Earlier on, we took up the question of Imhotep as a great doctor. Ancient Greek texts describe a place to which pilgrimages were made not far from Memphis. Sakkara is situated near Memphis. When excavations were being carried out in Sakkara, just by the Step Pyramid, to find the grave of Imhotep, archaeologists had a suprise. An extensive labyrinth of underground tunnels was found full of mummified ibis birds. Up to a million ibis birds had been brought to Imhotep, to honour him (see figure). Inscriptions and coins found there show that people from different countries came there to be healed. After being put on a par with the Greek god of healing, Imhotep was given the title "highest ruler of Ibis". In other words, this was the place of Imhotep, where the Greeks, record people went on pilgrimage to be healed. An inscription of a Greek who came to this place tells how he was healed trough a dream.

Later it was discovered that these tunnels with ibis birds were linked to a shaft leading to a burial chamber. Close to this burial chamber there was another chamber full of broken earthenware pots. In this room there were pots bearing Pharaoh´s Djoser´s seal (see figure). This grave belonged to a very important person, who had seal of Pharaoh Djoser on his pots. Most probably this was Imhotep´s burial chamber.
This burial chamber had not been plundered, but contained an empty coffin. Why was Imhotep´s grave empty, but not plundered? We know that Joseph made the sons of Israel take an oath, that they would carry his bones with them, in the coming departure from Egypt.
"Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, ´God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here." (Gen. 50:25)
Later on, when Moses led Exodus, departure from Egypt, he kept the oath, and took Joseph´s bones with them: "And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him." (Exodus 13:19)

This burial chamber differs from the pharaohs´ burial chambers in another way. The pharaohs´ burial chambers always faced eastwards, towards the rising son, while this burial chamber faced northwards. This implies that the person buried in this place did not worship the gods of Egypt, which also indicates Joseph.

It is unlikely that there were two such individuals with so many qualities in common. Either Imhotep and Joseph are the same person, or the history of Egypt and biblical texts are a falsification.

For more informations see:
The Exodus Case by Lennart Muller


Home