In this blog, I am reporting on some insights from The World of Joseph, my latest novel. Today’s insight takes a look at the different names of Joseph. Let’s begin:
Joseph is the name that is most commonly associated with this man. According to the Biblical account he was a young man who God chose to reveal two particular dreams. These two dreams indicated that Joseph’s brothers and parents would someday bow to him.
This became problematic and led to his being sold as a slave. He was first a slave to Potiphar, a captain of Pharaoh’s Royal Guard (which can be interpreted as General of Pharaoh’s Army). He was a slave for three years and followed that up by ten years in prison for a total of thirteen years. Then, at the age of 30, he became the Vizier of Egypt.
Zaphnaath-paaneah is the Egyptian name given by Pharaoh. It has various interpretations, such as life’, ‘Support of Life’, ‘the god speaks and he lives’, ‘god speaks’, ‘says the god’. The last phrase which says ‘the god speaks, he will live’ seems to capture Pharaoh’s acknowledgement that the wise Joseph had the “Spirit of God” within him (Genesis 41:38).
However, this name is used only once in Scripture.
Mentuhotep is the third name and you don’t find it in Scripture. However, it is found in Egyptian history. There were actually at least two Mentuhoteps and due to the confusion over pharaohs and their dynasties, our Mentuhotep has been referred to as Mentuhotep II. But researchers now know that the Mentuhotep of the 12th dynasty was never a pharaoh, but rather the Grand Vizier or Prime Minister of Egypt. He served under Pharaoh Sesostris I in the 12th dynasty.
More about this on the other side of this break.
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Now back to the article.
So, what can we learn from these names?
First of all, we learn what we already knew: the Bible is reliable. This has been proven over and over again. People point out supposed errors and eventually, sometimes after hundreds of years, the Bible is proven correct. But the Bible doesn’t need to be proved, it is the Word of God no matter what man says or thinks.
The name of Zaphnaath-paaneah gives insight into the mind of Pharaoh. He was deeply impressed by Joseph and believed that Jehovah God of the Jews spoke through him. That belief followed Pharaoh throughout his life. It helps us understand the true power Joseph had. He was not only second to Pharaoh in position, but in his power. Since Pharaoh acknowledged that God spoke through Joseph, he never according to the Bible, overruled Joseph’s decisions.
But it is the name of Mentuhotep that speaks the loudest in the sense that it provides insight into the Egyptian hearts of the people! The cover of my novel shows a headless statue of Mentuhotep. The loss of the head probably speaks of time, erosion, and maybe vandalism, but the statue itself reveals something altogether different.
First of all, it was unheard of to make a statue of anyone other than Pharaoh. The Pharaoh was considered divine. And yet here we have a statue of someone who obviously was not a pharaoh.
Why do I say obviously?
Because Mentuhotep is shown wearing the garb and cradling on his lap the tools of a trade. Not the tools of a government official, but of a scribe. This depiction tells us that Mentuhotep was a scribe, which fits in well with Joseph’s career as a slave where he ran Potiphar’s house, his career in prison where he ran the prison, and his career as Vizier where he ran the whole government’s effort to provide for the coming famine and to distribute food during the famine. This was a man who wielded great influence and power affecting Egypt and other nations, and he did so by using the tools of a scribe. In other words, pen and paper in modern times.
The Egyptian historical records also reveal insight from secular records that agree with Biblical records. Viewed from opposing perspectives, we see a commonality of facts. While the Bible does not need verification, it is nonetheless always a positive reinforcement. And it helps the unbelievers put their trust in the Bible.
I always emphasize research as a tool of an author. The above is just one of the reasons; it expands your knowledge! But another reason is that it expands the book itself. In my case, it provided the subtitle of my book, Mentuhotep Vizier of Egypt. But it also contributed to the story writing itself.
The World of Joseph: Mentuhotep Vizier of Egypt is available on Amazon.com and at T&R Independent Bookstore beginning August 12th. Pre-orders of the eBook will begin August 8th. You will find that this book comes in the following formats: paperback, hardcover, and eBooks. Paperback and hardcover are available at both Amazon and our bookstore, but the eBooks are only available at Amazon.com!
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