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Prof Manfred Bietak has been digging at Tell el-Dab’a in Egypt for over 40 years. He has identified it as “Avaris”, the ancient Hyksos capital. Avaris is smack dab in the middle of the area the Bible calls “Goshen” i.e., the area that the Israelites lived in prior to the Exodus. The word “Avaris” means nothing in Egyptian. But, in the Torah, Joseph is repeatedly called a “Hebrew”; “Ivri” in the Hebrew language. He is also repeatedly and curiously called “Ha Ish”; “The Man”. In other words, the word “Avaris” may very well be related to Joseph, the “Ish Ivri”, or the “Hebrew Man” (Genesis 39:14). All this is lost in translation when Joseph is simply called a “Hebrew”. Put differently, the so-called Hyksos capital seems to be named after Joseph the “Ish Ivri” i.e., Avar-Ish.

Between 1986 and 1988, Prof. Bietak found the remains of a monumental statue that seems to have belonged to a non-Egyptian ruler of Avaris. Although only fragments remain, the archeologists estimate the original size of the seated figure to be 2 meters high and 1.5 meters in depth i.e., about one and a half times life size. Over the statue’s right shoulder you can still see his “throw stick” i.e., the symbol of his rule. On the back – remarkably, as with the Biblical Joseph – you can still see evidence that this ruler was wearing a striped garment, made up of at least three colors: black, red and white. He was found in a tomb. The tomb was empty. This may be as a result of looting, but one can’t help but recall that the Biblical narrative explicitly tells us that when the Israelites left on the Exodus, they took Joseph’s bones with them (Exodus 13:19). In other words, in order to fit with the Biblical narrative, any tomb of Joseph in Egypt would have to be empty.

They call the statue the “Asiatic” i.e., he is not Egyptian, rather he is a man who comes from the area of Canaan/Israel. They might as well call him the “Ish Ivri”. Not much is left of his face because after his rule, as with the Biblical Joseph, his people seem to have experienced a downfall. Put differently, someone in ancient times took a hammer to his face. But his hairdo is still intact. They call it a “mushroom” hairdo and it’s specifically related to non-Egyptians from the area of ancient Canaan/Israel. Interestingly, it’s quite the “do”, and the Talmud goes out of its way to tell us that Joseph was quite the fashionista (Genesis Rabbah, 87:3). In fact, the Rabbinic Midrash Tanhuma Vayyesheb 8 specifically talks about Joseph curling his hair.

The statue was found in a layer corresponding to the year c. 1,700 BCE. In other words, if we take 1,500 BCE as the date for the Exodus, and if the Israelite sojourn in Egypt was around 200 years, the statue of this ruler perfectly fits the story of the Biblical Joseph who ruled around 215 years prior to the Exodus.

Of course it’s conjecture but, based on the evidence, I think we can say that Joseph’s statue may very well have been found in Egypt. Why hasn’t anyone noticed? Because historians hide – consciously or unconsciously – Israelite/Jewish history behind terms like “Hyksos,” “Asiatics,” and “Amo”. Interestingly, the Egyptian authorities seem to believe that the statue is, indeed, related to the Hebrew Bible. Some years back, when I was in Egypt filming “The Exodus: Decoded”, I asked to film Prof. Bietak’s find. The Egyptian authorities don’t like archeology that confirms the Hebrew Bible, so they told me that the statue has been “misplaced”. Since the artifact weighs a whole lot, this is not something that you can easily “misplace”. It seems the Egyptians also believe that what they’re hiding in the bowels of the Cairo Museum is the only monument of Joseph ever found.