Alice C. Linsley
Joseph (Yosef), the favored son of Jacob, is an enigma. He was a high-born youth who was sold as a slave and served time in jail. He was familiar enough with the customs of Egyptian nobility to adapt to life in Potiphar's house, and he went from slave to influential ruler. To understand the enigma of Joseph we must consider the finer details of his story.
He was the son of a Horite ruler, Yacob
He was designated to rule, as evidenced by the Canaanite Y in his name.
He was already Egyptianized before going to Egypt
He married a priest's daughter, as did Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses
There is evidence that he had 2 wives, as did Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses
He is claimed as a prophet by Jews, Christians and Muslims
Joseph's saga serves as the transition from the patriarchal narratives to the Exodus. After his death, he was mummified as a high-ranking Egyptian and buried in Goshen, adjacent to Avaris. Avaris was founded by Amenemhet I, the first king of the 12th dynasty. Archaeological and anthropological evidence indicates that the settlers of Goshen were people from Canaan who shared many features of Egyptian culture. This would be expected if Abraham's people were Horites, an Egyptian priesthood devoted to Horus of the Two Crowns.
During the Second Intermediate Period, coinciding with the time of biblical Joseph, the Egyptians experienced an influx of Canaanites. These Semites had settlements in Tanis, Avaris and el-Yehudiya. The Egyptians called the chiefs of these settlements "Hyk Khase", the origin of the term Hyksos.
Horite ruler-priests were careful to marry chaste daughters of priests. It is not a coincidence then that Joseph married Asenath, daughter of the "priest of Oon" (Gen. 41:45), later called Heliopolis (city of the Sun). Asenath's father was a Horite priest and the Horite priestly lines intermarried. If the sons of Horite priests married the daughter of Horite priests, their sons were also in the caste of priest. It means we must take these words quite literally: "For me you shall be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation." (Ex. 19:6)
Asenath, Joseph's wife, was raised at Heliopolis on the Nile. She was probably Joseph's cousin. Her first born son likely belonged to the Heliopolis shrine, whereas Ephraim, Joseph's younger son belonged to the House of Jacob. This explains why Jacob gave him the blessing that pertained to the first-born (Gen. 48:14).
Moses' two older brothers - Aaron and Korah - would also have married the daughters of priests. Korah's descendents are praised in 1 Chronicles 26, where they are grouped with the gatekeepers of Obed-Edom. Obed-Edom is a connection to Ruth, who named her first-born son Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse, the father of David. This picks up the Messianic thread, pointing us back to the Horite expectation of the Son of God who was coming into the world.
Jospeh's Horite Ancestry
According to the Babylonian Talmud Abraham's mother was associated with the Nile shrine at Karnak. Horite rulers married the daughters of Horite priests. About 75% of the women named in the Old Testament are daughters of priests. This was the practice among the royal priestly lines of Abraham’s people. So by every indication, Joseph was as thoroughly immersed in Horite religious practice as was Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses.
The Horites were a caste of ruler-priests who were devotees of Horus, the son of the Creator, whose emblem was the sun. His queen mother was Hathor-Meri, the patronness of metal workers. Both Heliopolis (of the Ainu) and Karnack were Horite shrines. Heliopolis was one of the shrines dedicated to Ra-harakhty, which literally means Ra who is Horus of the Two Horizons (East and West).
Traditions Concerning Joseph's Burial
In Goshen/Avaris, Joseph had a large Egyptian-style palace built over Jacob's dwelling. The palace enclosure had a garden tomb, the largest sepulcher found in Goshen. Joseph's body would have been mummified and wrapped in cloth. He may have been buried according to the custom of his Nilo-Saharan ancestors, with the body on its left side, head to the south, facing west.
According to Scripture Joseph requested that his body be removed to Canaan. Most claim that his tomb is near Nablus in Palestinian territory, a site regarded as holy by Jews, Christians and Muslims. The Tomb is located at the eastern entrance to the valley that separates Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. It is about 750 feet north of Jacob's Well, on the outskirts of Nablus, near biblical Shechem.
There is another Islamic tradition that places Joseph’s tomb in Haram al-Khalil in Hebron, in the tomb of the Patriarchs. This is the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a heavy rectangular building that encloses the underground Cave of Machpelah which was explored in 1967. This is the land and cave in Mamre that Abraham purchased for the burial of Sarah.
Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, Joseph's Tomb at Nablus was to be accessible to Jews and Christians. However, following peace talks at Camp David in September 2000, Arafat initiated his intifada in the West Bank. In October 2000, Fatah gunmen attacked the tomb repeatedly, killing two and injuring dozens, prompting Israel to evacuate Judaism's third holiest site on October 6, 2000. The attackers burned Jewish prayer books and repainted the white dome roof Muslim Green, transforming Joseph's resting place into another Muslim holy site and anachronistically pronouncing Joseph a Muslim.
Joseph does not fit the customary picture of Israelite or Arab. He married a Horite priest's daughter named Asenath. Priest's daughters grew up around water shrines or river temples where their fathers served as priests. These were women of high rank but they did not live pampered lives. Zipporah was drawing water for livestock when she met Moses. Rebekah was likewise engaged when Abraham’s servant arrived to contract a marriage between her and Isaac. It is important to note that these priestly daughters had two sons:
Rachel – Joseph (oldest) and Benjamin (youngest)
Asenath – Manasseh (oldest) and Ephraim (youngest)
Tamar – Zerah (oldest) and Perez (youngest)
In each case, the younger son was tagged as an ancestor of the Messiah. However, this does not mean that the other son was not an ancestor of Messiah since the priestly lines intermarried. This elevation of the youngest son in the stories of Abraham, who was the youngest of Terah's three sons. It is also the pattern with David, the youngest of Jesse's sons.
Related reading: Ancient Canaanite Inscriptions; The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y; Moses' Horite Family; The Pattern of Two Wives