How could we find hope for our tumultuous world today from a story with seven years of perhaps the worst famine in history? We can find hope from the story of Joseph, who rose from a slave to be the righteous and successful ruler of Egypt. Starting with comparisons made by modern prophets, plus similarities between the Jubilee calendar year cycle anciently and in our day, I believe that there is a good possibility that Joseph’s seven years of plenty and of scarcity may closely parallel our day. As optimistic encouragement to us today, Joseph’s history is one of great success in spite of the devastation of the “blasted years,” proceeding onward to more than sixty more years of his righteous rule in Egypt.1
Moses and Joseph – Two Patterns of Miracles
The story of the children of Israel in the wilderness under Moses from 1462 BC until 1422 BC is a story of “above and beyond” miracles. The large group of at least two million Israelites could not survive in the barren desert for more than a few days, much less for forty years. The Lord provided manna to eat, water for drink and sanitation and even miraculous cures to overcome the deadly bite of the “fiery flying serpent.”2
Over 300 years earlier, the story of Joseph in Egypt is also miraculous. But this miracle also depended on the careful application of principles of self-reliance, righteous leadership and Divine protection. Joseph’s faithfulness enabled him to prepare for the years of famine and prosper exceedingly, ending up with enough seed grain left over for planting crops as the famine came to an end. Joseph then continued to rule Egypt in righteousness under Pharaoh for sixty six additional years.3
Joseph in Egypt’s Story Emphasized by Modern Prophets
The reign and ministry of the patriarch Joseph has been held up by modern prophets as a light of example of the wisdom and preparation that we should practice in our own lives.
Joseph Smith talked about his illustrious ancestor Joseph, the son of Jacob, as he encouraged the Saints to be prepared during 1834 in the midst of their difficulties in the young and troubled state of Missouri.
Joseph Smith and other modern prophets reference Joseph’s history in Egypt as an example of self-reliance.4
“If the church with one united effort perform their duties; . like Joseph in Egypt, laying up in store against the time of famine, every man having his tent, his horses, his chariots, his armory, his cattle, his family, and his whole substance in readiness. Now, my beloved brethren, you will learn by this that we have a great work to do, and but little time to do it.”5
Brigham Young was imminently practical, exhorting the saints to prayer relying on the Lord coupled with their own diligent effort like Joseph’s seven years of saving of provisions.
“My faith does not lead me,” Brigham exhorted, “to think the Lord will provide us with roast pigs, bread already buttered, etc. He will give us the ability to raise the grain, . to save the wheat until we have one, two, five, or seven years’ provisions on hand, until there is enough of the staff of life saved by the people to bread themselves and those who will come here seeking for safety”6
President Spencer W. Kimball compared Joseph’s story to the preparations needed for a successful life.
In our times there is a need for reservoirs of many kinds-reservoirs to store water, some to store food, as we do in our family welfare program, some like the barns and bins set up by Joseph in the land of Egypt in which to store the seven years of plenty to carry them over the seven years of drought and famine. But there should also be reservoirs of knowledge to meet future needs; reservoirs of courage to overcome the floods of fear that put uncertainty in lives; storage of physical strength to help us meet the frequent contaminations and contagions; reservoirs of goodness; reservoirs of stamina; reservoirs of faith.7
President Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized the story of Joseph in Egypt in 1998, 2001 and 2005 as a motivation to “get our houses in order.”8
President Hinckley’s “Full Ears of Corn and the Blasted Ears”
In October Conference, 2005, President Gordon B. Hinckley once again referenced the story of Joseph in Egypt that he had emphasized four years previously in 2001 and seven years earlier in 1998. After a year (2004-2005) that had seen the most destructive tsunami in known history 9 and the United States’ most dangerous hurricane10, he said:
“The best storehouse is the family storeroom. . We can set aside some water, basic food, medicine, and clothing to keep us warm. We ought to have a little money laid aside in case of a rainy day. . I am saying nothing that has not been said for a very long time. Let us never lose sight of the dream of Pharaoh concerning the fat cattle and the lean, the full ears of corn, and the blasted ears; the meaning of which was interpreted by Joseph to indicate years of plenty and years of scarcity.”11
Earlier in 2001, shortly after the 9/11/2001 attacks, he said: “I cannot forget the great lesson of Pharaoh’s dream of the fat and lean kine and of the full and withered stalks of corn.”12
President Hinckley specifically said in 1998 that he was “not predicting years of famine in the future.” “But,” he continued, “I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order” and concluded: “I wish to say [this] with all the emphasis of which I am capable.” He stressed spiritual, temporal and financial preparedness in these three addresses.13
Seven Years of Scarcity in our Day?
Could it be that the financial collapse in the fall of 2008 was the beginning of seven years of hardship or scarcity after seven years of prosperity and plenty? What might we learn from Joseph’s history if we hypothetically considered the possibility of seven “blasted years” from 2008 to 2015? What if a careful study of Joseph’s history during the famine and after it could reveal parallel situations and principles of truth of great value to us in navigating successfully through our current turbulent period of history?
The probable beginning of a Jubilee year in the fall of 2008 and the timing of Joseph in Egypt’s seven years of scarcity anciently may provide additional incentive to consider this hypothetical possibility. 14
Years of Proclaiming Liberty throughout all the Land
In the book of Leviticus the Lord explained a Sabbath calendar cycle where not only was the seventh day a holy day unto the Lord, but also a holy seventh month, a holy seventh year and another cycle of seven times seven years, climaxed by the holy Jubilee year.
In Israel, modern Jews continue to practice some of the principles of the Sabbath years where “the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of rest unto the land, a Sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.” (Leviticus 25:4) Grocers who sell food grown during the Sabbath year on Jewish land can lose their kosher licenses which means that religious Jews will not buy from them. The last Sabbath year was celebrated from fall 2007 until fall 2008.15
Picture #4a: Liberty Bell and inscription
Caption: The Liberty Bell was ordered by the Colonial Legislature to commemorate the 50th anniversary in 1751 of the Charter of Privileges, Pennsylvania’s original Constitution.
After seven sets of Sabbath year cycles, the next year, a first year of the next seven year cycle, was designated the Jubilee year. The inscription on the Liberty Bell is a proclamation to go forth during this Jubilee year: “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10) 16
Jesus reading from the prophet Isaiah in the Synagogue at Nazareth by artist Greg Olson 17
Jesus announced that “[God] hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:17-19, see Isaiah 61:1-2) I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, who preached these doctrines of liberty and deliverance, was born in a Jubilee year, in a first year of the Sabbath cycle. If that is the case, then the only viable candidate date for His birth at Passover would be the evening before 6 April 1 BC, right in the middle of the Jewish year celebrated from September 2 BC to September 1 BC, a first year in the seven year cycle.
Ancient and Modern Jubilee Cycles
If the Savior was born in a Jubilee year, then fall 2008 would start the Jubilee celebration year and also begin another 49 year Jubilee cycle. If we believe that fall 2008 begins the years of scarcity, then the Jubilee year is the first year of the bad years.
Picture 4c: Angel Moroni for Rexburg Temple
Caption: The statue of Angel Moroni is being set atop Rexburg Idaho temple. He is sounding a trumpet, patterned after the ancient priests who announced holy days such as the annual Feast of Trumpets and the start of Sabbath and Jubilee years.18
John Pratt’s research places Joseph of Egypt’s birth day as Sun 6 Apr 1801 BC.19 He would have begun his rule over Egypt in his thirtieth year (29 years old) beginning in the spring of 1772 BC. 1772 BC to 1766 BC would be the years of plenty and 1765 to 1759 BC would be the years of famine. According to Pratt’s calculation of the entry into Canaan celebrating the Jubilee year in 1423 BC, 1766 BC would be another Jubilee year, the last year of plenty.20
Egyptian granaries depicted in wall painting in Thebes
Granary pits in the step pyramid complex built by Imhotep, who might have been Joseph.21
One of the parallels between Joseph’s day and ours could be this Jubilee year cycle. Anciently in Joseph’s day, the Jubilee year was the last year of plenty. In 2008-2009, the Jubilee year would be the first year of scarcity. First and last symbolism is common in the scriptures. Anciently the Sabbath day was the seventh day, the last day of the week. In our era after Christ’s resurrection, the Sabbath day is now celebrated on the first day of the week.
How did Joseph Manage through the Seven Years of Famine?
As I looked again at the seven year history of the famine during Joseph’s time, I was amazed at how Joseph was so successful. This came about in spite of the seven year famine which not only could have nearly ended human life in the known world, but would have also exterminated the house of the patriarch Israel whose family was to bless all the kindreds of the earth. (Acts 3:25)
The book of Jasher explains that the rest of the Egyptians were also diligently saving grain for the famine during the years of plenty. It was a state policy that Pharaoh’s dream had predicted this 14 year period of plenty and famine, and everyone was busy saving food. Joseph’s stockpiling of grain evidently included a special treatment of the grain against insect pests.22 When the first year of famine arrived, lo and behold, Joseph’s grain was good and the rest of the stored grain was infested with vermin and not fit to eat.
All the people appealed unto Pharaoh: “Give food unto thy servants, and wherefore shall we die through hunger before thy eyes, even we and our little ones?” (Jasher 50:21) At first Pharaoh was afraid and “much terrified,” but then he said “go unto Joseph, do whatever he shall say unto you, transgress not his commands,” (Jasher 50:25) and the people went to Joseph. At this point, did Joseph throw away the principles of free enterprise and markets? No, he sold the grain to the Egyptians. Was he merciful to those in need? Surely he was. Was he just and equitable as Pharaoh said he would be? Surely he was.
During the second year of famine, the drama of Joseph’s brothers’ arrival and bringing his father Jacob and his whole family into Egypt occurred. Joseph’s brothers and his father Jacob were superhero-like warriors according to the book of Jasher and Joseph might have needed their help to survive in Egypt during these turbulent years of crisis ruling over the superpower of that day. We know the intrigues that happened to Daniel as he was also the king’s prime minister in Babylon. Somehow, Joseph, second only to Pharaoh, avoided Daniel’s kind of trials in Egypt.23
At the end of the second year, and at the start of the third year of famine, the Bible makes an interesting point. During the first two years of the famine, the traditional money supply of that era was now mostly in the hands of Joseph and Pharaoh. The record says that “Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.” (Genesis 47:14) It then says that the money supply failed. Well, since Joseph and Pharaoh had most of the gold and silver and precious things, and because the famine continued to make food more valuable than anything else, it makes sense when the record states that the “money faileth.” (Genesis 47:15)
Once again, the people came to Joseph saying “Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth.” (Genesis 47:15) Joseph with his stores of grain had ultimate power. He could have taken over everything at this point with five more years of famine left to go. He could have been the ultimate tyrant, practicing unrighteous dominion. Instead, he instituted the “cattle and flocks for food program” which lasted that third year.
During the final four years of scarcity, the people’s lands and property were bartered to Joseph and even they themselves became the slaves of Pharaoh. In the end, Joseph gave the people seeds to plant at the end of the famine, and added a 20% tax (type of an income tax) to be paid to Pharaoh instead of slavery. Jasher chapter 55 describes in detail the extent of the wealth that Joseph accumulated for Pharaoh during the years of famine.
Recent gyrations in the stock market illustrate the need for heeding prophetic warnings about finances and debt.24
Are there parallels to our day of the effects of multiple year times of scarcity? Surely we would not be surprised if the world-wide financial upheavals that are happening in our day were to continue as long as from the Hebrew year 2008-2009 to 2015-2016, that is, assuming this interest-inducing hypothetical parallel to be possible. The Prophets and Apostles have long warned us precisely against the policies that have led to these upheavals.
Would we be surprised if the world monetary system, which currently is just numbers in computers without being backed by anything at all, were to collapse or fail altogether? No, we should not be surprised. Would we be surprised if our commerce was, of necessity, to use other mediums of exchange, such as food, gold and silver, strategic metals, oil, cattle, land, etc.? I for one would not be surprised.25
“Deseret Currency” from early pioneer days backed by “Livestock” 26
At one point, the saints under Brigham Young had depleted their gold and silver reserves buying wagons and supplies in St. Louis during the great LDS migration to the west. For a time, the pioneer currency in Utah was backed by cattle and other livestock, not gold.
This hypothetical parallel between Joseph’s day and ours certainly ought to motivate us to more carefully consider our obedience to principles of spiritual and temporal preparedness and our attitudes toward giving diligent heed to the words of the modern prophets.
The Prophets’ Advice
Traditional wisdom would have it that in a “spending without limits” economy that massive inflation will occur and having large debts would be a good thing. We might envision the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic in Germany after World War I, where debtors with wheelbarrows full of money chased their creditors to easily pay off all of their debts with the inflated currency.
What about the Prophets and their advice for us today? Do they encourage runaway debt, massive speculation and get rich schemes? No, they always emphasize industry and thrift, staying out of debt, and reference the Pioneers as well as the days of the 1930’s depression.
President Hinckley said: “I hope with all my heart that we shall never slip into a depression. I am a child of the Great Depression of the thirties. I finished the university in 1932, when unemployment in this area exceeded 33 percent. My father was then president of the largest stake in the Church in this valley. It was before our present welfare program was established. He walked the floor worrying about his people. . I repeat, I hope we will never again see such a depression. But I am troubled by the huge consumer installment debt which hangs over the people of the nation, including our own people.” 27
President Thomas S. Monson has quipped: “Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their . supply of food . and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year’s supply of debt and are food-free.” 28
At the very least, historical trends tell us that perhaps someday money could fail, and inflated currency will not be usable, or just declared worthless. We may have currencies again backed by actual things of value, or use other methods of barter. Maybe we will see in our day, days even like those of this Joseph who was sold as a slave into Egypt.
A Happy Ending
The history of Joseph in Egypt has a very happy ending. After saving his entire family from certain death during the famine, Joseph and his family are among the most prosperous in all Egypt. After the famine ends, Joseph rules for sixty six more years giving a total of eighty years in his reign. After Joseph’s death, eventually circumstances would change as the stage would be reset to the next great drama, with our next prophet-hero Moses in the wings. Joseph, the Israelites and the people of the region both survived and prospered, after one of the most devastating famines in world history. How will we do today in the equally dramatic great and wonderful days before the Second Coming of the Lord?
In our day, the Prophets and Apostles try diligently to point our minds to celestial levels, to prepare for the establishment of the modern Zion. What service did we do for someone today? 29 Are we getting out of debt? Are we trying to reduce those never ending wants that so often we consider to be essential needs? Are we helping each other to maintain individual dignity and self respect by seeking to provide honorable employment for others? What about seeking to be able to provide honorable employment right here in our own communities as the pioneer cooperatives sought to do? Have we participated in compassionate service, in humanitarian aid, in the perpetual education fund, in missionary support, and in the glorious work of redemption for the living and dead in the numerous temples that now dot the land? Do we seek the faith of Enoch and seek to do the works of Enoch?
There is surely a double underlined appointment note for a day at some time in the future on some Celestial calendar known to God, when Enoch and his city will come down out of heaven to join with the city of Zion. Do we strive diligently to prepare for that great day?
As the prophet Lehi explains, quoting this great patriarch Joseph:
Wherefore, Joseph truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel; not the Messiah, but a branch which was to be broken off, nevertheless, to be remembered in the covenants of the Lord that the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light-yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom. .
Yea, thus prophesied Joseph: I am sure of this thing, even as I am sure of the promise of Moses; for the Lord hath said unto me, I will preserve thy seed forever. (2 Nephi 2:5-6, 15-16)
1 Picture: “Joseph in Egypt” (1978) Starring: Victor Jory, Brad Crandall Director: James L. Conway. Republic Pictures. Available at amazon.com.
2 “And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. . And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.” (Exodus 16:31, 35) “Yea, and ye also know that Moses, by his word according to the power of God which was in him, smote the rock, and there came forth water, that the children of Israel might quench their thirst. .. He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.”(1 Ne. 17:29, 41)
For the possible identity of this fiery flying serpent see:
Ronald P. Millett, John P. Pratt and Randall Baker, “What Fiery Flying Serpent Symbolized Christ,” Meridian Magazine, 5 November 2008. https://ldsmag.com/sci_rel/081105snake.html.
“When Moses led the children of Israel into the rugged land of Edom after their journey through the desolate Sinai desert, they had an experience with deadly venomous snakes that has become one of the most powerful types and shadows of the mission of Jesus Christ. . But just what kind of serpent was it? The scriptures give several clues, which indicate that it most likely belonged to the deadly saw-scale viper family, considered by many scientists to be ‘the world’s most dangerous snake.'”
For a video clip on just how fast the strike of the saw-scaled viper, often called a carpet viper, is, see Youtube video: Steve Erwin, “Africa’s Deadliest Snakes, Part 2,” 1:32 (m:s) into video for the start of the segment. 4:00 into the segment, Steve begins to find the tiny yet deadly carpet viper at a village in Africa with very rocky terrain, similar to what is described in the scriptures for the fiery flying serpent incident in the rugged Arava Valley below the Dead Sea. Note the strikes of this jumping viper at 5:12 into video. Also note the long strike distance of these small snakes compared with their bodies at 9:00 into video which could make people underestimate their strike and get too close in their encounters with these dangerous snakes. shttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ds2iQFi8rNs&NR=1
3 “Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke. And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.7 And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears.” (Genesis 41:1-7)
“This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous. And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. . And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.”
(Genesis 41:28-33, 35-36)
“And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.”
“And all the souls that went forth from the loins of Jacob, were seventy souls; these are they who came with Jacob their father unto Egypt to dwell there: and Joseph and all his brethren dwelt securely in Egypt, and they ate of the best of Egypt all the days of the life of Joseph. And Joseph lived in the land of Egypt ninety-three years, and Joseph reigned over all Egypt eighty years.” (Jasher 59:19-20)
4 Wikipedia commons area: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Joseph_Smith,_Jr._portrait_owned_by_Joseph_Smith_III.jpg
5 Joseph Smith, History of the Church, V2 chapter 10 p 145, August 16, 1834.
6 Discourses of Brigham Young, selected by John A. Widtsoe , 291-92, May 15, 1865.
7 Spencer W. Kimball, “President Kimball Speaks Out on Planning Your Life,” New Era, Sep 1981, 47.
8 Wikipedia commons area: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:President_hinckley.jpg.
9 Liam Taylor, “Asia Remembers 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami: Millions Mourn in Remembrance of the Worst Tsunami in Human History,” Suite101.com, Dec 26, 2008.
“Today marks four years since the second worst earthquake ever measured sent walls of water crashing into South Asia and its surrounding regions. Perhaps the greatest human tragedy in living memory, and certainly the most destructive natural disaster in recent times, the boxing day tsunami of 2004 still lives large in the hearts and minds of people living in the affected areas. The waves, which are estimated to have released the power of 23,000 atom bombs like that which hit Hiroshima, killed approximately 220,000 people and affected 11 countries, reaching as far as the African coastline. Today was the 4th anniversary of this tragic event and many of the affected regions are still yet to see the stability these people had previously.”
10 “What was the worst hurricane in U.S. history?” answers.com, http://www.answers.com/topic/what-was-the-worst-hurricane-in-u-s-history.
“Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast in late August 2005, was not only the most disastrous hurricane in U.S. history, it was the nation’s worst single weather disaster. Though not the strongest possible hurricane when it made landfall (Katrina had weakened from a category 5 storm to a category 4 storm just before it struck the Gulf Coast), Katrina was a monster: The storm stretched about 200 miles in diameter, packed winds up to 145 miles per hour, produced torrential rain and huge waves, spawned twisters throughout the region, and pushed up a 28-foot storm surge-a surge usually found only in category 5 hurricanes.”
11 Gordon B. Hinckley , “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Ensign, Nov 2005, p. 60. Subtitle: “We can so live that we can call upon the Lord for His protection and guidance. . We cannot expect His help if we are unwilling to keep His commandments.”
“We have built grain storage and storehouses and stocked them with the necessities of life in the event of a disaster. But the best storehouse is the family storeroom. In words of revelation the Lord has said, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing” (D&C 109:8). Our people for three-quarters of a century have been counseled and encouraged to make such preparation as will assure survival should a calamity come. We can set aside some water, basic food, medicine, and clothing to keep us warm. We ought to have a little money laid aside in case of a rainy day. Now what I have said should not occasion a run on the grocery store or anything of that kind. I am saying nothing that has not been said for a very long time. Let us never lose sight of the dream of Pharaoh concerning the fat cattle and the lean, the full ears of corn, and the blasted ears; the meaning of which was interpreted by Joseph to indicate years of plenty and years of scarcity (see Gen. 41:1-36).”
12 Gordon B. Hinckley , “The Times in Which We Live,” Ensign, Nov 2001, p. 72. Subtitle: Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God. Note: 7 years ago, shortly after 9/11/2001 attacks.
“I do not know what the future holds. I do not wish to sound negative, but I wish to remind you of the warnings of scripture and the teachings of the prophets which we have had constantly before us. I cannot forget the great lesson of Pharaoh’s dream of the fat and lean kine and of the full and withered stalks of corn. . Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us.”
13 Gordon B. Hinckley , “To the Boys and to the Men,” Ensign, Nov 1998, p. 51. Subtitle: “I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order.”
“What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; And God will shortly bring it to pass” (Genesis 41:28-30, 32)
“Now, brethren, I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying, that I am not predicting years of famine in the future. But I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order. So many of our people are living on the very edge of their incomes. In fact, some are living on borrowings. We have witnessed in recent weeks wide and fearsome swings in the markets of the world. The economy is a fragile thing. A stumble in the economy in Jakarta or Moscow can immediately affect the entire world. It can eventually reach down to each of us as individuals. There is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed. I hope with all my heart that we shall never slip into a depression. I am a child of the Great Depression of the thirties. I finished the university in 1932, when unemployment in this area exceeded 33 percent.”
14 This article was motivated by the insights of a friend, also a writer from Cedar Hills, Utah, who documented close parallels between Joseph in Egypt and our current day. Some parallels I had also noted, but others, including several practical inspirational insights I had not. These insights emphasize the need to understand principles of spiritual and temporal preparedness, which include the year’s supply of food, some of which were discussed in the following article:
Ronald P. Millett, “This is a Significant Jubilee Year and a Time to be Prepared,” Meridian Magazine, March 3, 2009. https://ldsmag.com/sci_rel/090303supply.html
“The Lord revealed to Moses a plan that included storing food in preparation for Sabbath and Jubilee years. The storage of food for these sacred years of renewal and freedom also provided incidental protection from famines and other calamities.
In our day these same positive principles appear to be at the foundation of the modern Church home production and storage program that is receiving renewed emphasis.”
Footnote 5 of this Jubilee year article: “Author’s note[RPM]: An indicator of the magnitude of this debt problem is the stock market collapse and wild gyrations during the fall of 2008. John Pratt’s ancient calendars indicate that the Jubilee year would begin on Sunday, September 28, 2008 (“Joshua’s Seventieth Jubilee” article). Continuing the Hebrew day that began that evening, the US stock market registered a 777.68 point drop the following day, Monday, September 29, 2008 when the US House of Representatives rejected the initial version of the financial bailout plan. This drop was the largest single day negative change in the Dow Jones Industrial average in the history of the stock market. (source: Yahoo business excel spreadsheet downloaded data for DJI symbol from 1 Oct 1928 to 11 Jan 2009 . http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=^DJI ).”
15 Dina Kraft, “‘Shmita’ Battle Creates Showdown Between Zionists, Haredim,” Jewish Exponent, October 25, 2007, http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/14388.
“The more than century-old debate over how to abide — or, some might say, circumvent — the biblical injunction to let the land of Israel lie fallow every seven years has turned into a showdown this year between Israel’s devout Orthodox and the religious Zionist camp.”
See also: “‘Shmita’ Year Controversy in Israel,” National Public Radio (transcript), October 10, 2007, http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=15143103.
“Recently, Jews around the world celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year – L’Sanah Tovah to everybody – but it’s not just any New Year. This year is what’s known as a shmita, or sabbatical year, which occurs every seventh year. Now, the Torah states for this year, all Jewish-owned land in Israel is not to be worked, to be left fallow. Anything that grows there should be given away. Also, at the end of the year, the shmita, all debts are to be forgiven. Well, you could see why this might be a problem for some farmers and those who want to buy produce. Well, where there’s a problem, there’s often a solution even if it’s not one that makes everyone happy. And over the years, rabbis have found ways for Israeli Jews to technically observe the shmita, loopholes if you will. It wasn’t really a big deal until a new law by the chief rabbinate – it ruled on the shmita and it caused a splintering of opinion about how strictly to observe.”
16 “Liberty Bell,” USHistory.org, http://www.ushistory.org/tour/tour_bell.htm
“The Pennsylvania Assembly ordered the Bell in 1751 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges, Pennsylvania’s original Constitution. It speaks of the rights and freedoms valued by people the world over. Particularly forward thinking were Penn’s ideas on religious freedom, his liberal stance on Native American rights, and his inclusion of citizens in enacting laws.
17 Greg Olson, “Jesus in the Synagogue at Nazareth,” cover of Teaching, no Greater Call, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1999.
18 Wendy Kennedy, “Looking up to Moroni,” New Era, November, 2009, p. 28 picture.
“A crane prepares to place the Moroni figure atop the Rexburg Idaho Temple.”
See also: John P. Pratt, “Seven Trumpets,” Meridian Magazine, August 27, 2002, http://www.meridianmagazine.com/sci_rel/020827seven.html.
“Research indicates that this is the year for the millennial Feast of Trumpets on the Enoch Calendar. What is the significance of that feast, and who are the angels who sound the seven trumpets?”
“The Jewish tradition is that God judges everyone annually at the Feast of Trumpets. Each person then has ten days to repent of any wrongdoing, for the judgment won’t be sealed until the Day of Atonement on 10 Tishri. This is in keeping with the trump being both a warning sound, as well as heralding the Day of Judgment.”
RPM note: The wheel within wheel cycles of the Jewish calendar system also includes trumpeted beginning days on the Sabbath years, the Jubilee years and in this article, a case is made for a millennial Feast of Trumpets.
19 John P. Pratt, “Religious Chronology Summary,” updated 22 Jun 2006, http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/dates.html. The summary of John Pratt’s ground breaking work over more than 30 years of research. Having been eye witness to this work over fifteen years, I remain amazed at the possibility of narrowing this many historical dates to quarter day accuracy. In spite of the immense improbabilities of being able to have calendar alignments based on multiple planetary, solar and lunar orbital data with ancient and modern events, I believe that John Pratt has discovered principles of truth that are a powerful witness of the truth of the scriptural and latter-day historical accounts.
20 RPM Note: The years of plenty might have begun that year, 1772 BC, followed by the second through sixth years in 1771 BC, 1770 BC, 1769 BC, 1768 BC and 1767 BC. 1766 BC was a first year in the Sabbath cycle and exactly seven Jubilee year cycles (49 years each) before the entry into Canaan in the 1423 – 1422 BC secular year (1766 – 1423 = 343 = 7 * 49 years). 1766-1765 BC could have been the last year of plenty. The years of famine would then start in 1765 BC and continue through 1764, 1763, 1762, 1761, 1760 and 1759 BC. Jacob and his family arrived in Egypt in the ending of the second year of famine in 1764-1763 BC Hebrew year. Jacob lives in Egypt for 17 more years and dies on Mon 14 Apr 1745 BC, in the secular year from 1746-1745 BC (1763 – 1746 = 17 years).
The Historical Joseph
Caption: A statue of Imhotep, the Viceroy under Pharaoh Djoser of the third dynasty who lived 110 years and saved his people from a seven year famine.
Wikipedia commons area picture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Imhotep-Louvre.JPG. “Statuette of Imhotep, chancellor to the pharaoh, priest of Ra and architect. [Piece information:] Bronze, Ptolemaic Egypt (332-30 BC).”
RPM note: Scholars do not agree on which of the various ancient prime ministers, viziers or viceroys of Pharaoh might have been Joseph or the dates when he might have lived. One candidate is Imhotep who lived during the third dynasty. This prime minister of Pharaoh was considered the first engineer and physician known by name. Like Joseph, this official of Pharaoh’s court saved the people from seven years of famine and lived to be 110 years old.
Picture #F2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Saqqara_Pyramid_Djoser.jpg
Caption: The 200 foot high stepped pyramid of Djoser built by Imhotep.
Wikipedia commons area: author = buyoof, Wikipedia user, “This is a photo of the Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara,” August 27, 2008, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Saqqara_Pyramid_Djoser.jpg
David Roberts, National Geographic: Egypt’s Old Kingdom, Vol. 187, No.1, January 1995. “Perhaps most confident was Imhotep, the architect who probably conceived of building Djoser’s [pharaoh] tomb completely from stone. Known as a sculptor, a priest, and a healer, Imhotep is considered the preeminent genius of the Old Kingdom. He assembled one workforce to quarry limestone to ship the crude blocks by boat to Saqqara, and yet another to haul the stone to the site, where master carvers shaped each block and put it in place.
“On a granite boulder above the Nile’s First Cataract, the formidable rapids at Aswan, a sculptor who lived much later [thus the facts are not totally accurate] chiseled out in hieroglyphs the story of how Imhotep had even saved his country from famine.
“The annual Nile flood, which inundated surrounding fields every autumn before farmers sowed their seed, failed seven years in a row. Djoser asked Imhotep where the source of the river lay. The pharaoh intended to travel there to interrogate the river gods and beg them to show mercy on his people.
“But Imhotep replied that sacred [God] books had given him the answer…. The floods returned, and the famine was over….
“In about 1200 B.C., fully 1400 years after his death, Imhotep, the genius architect of Djoser’s reign, was deified by the Egyptians, who built cult temples to honor him.” [RPM Note: bracketed comments are from text]
See also: “History of Engineering,” What is Civil Engineering? http://whatiscivilengineering.csce.ca/history_engineering.htm, retrieved 01/31/10.
“Engineering is one of the oldest professions in the world. Around 2550 BC, Imhotep, the first documented engineer, built a famous stepped pyramid of King Zoser [Djoser] located at Saqqarah. With simple tools and mathematics he created a monument that stands to this day. His greatest contribution to engineering was his discovery of the art of building with shaped stones. Those who followed him carried engineering to remarkable heights using skill and imagination. Vitruvius’ De archiectura was published 1AD in Rome and survived to give us a look at engineering education in ancient times.”
RPM Note: The standard Egyptian chronology of serial dynasties dates the third dynasty Pharaoh Djoser and Imhotep at about 2,600 BC, 260 years before the 2,343 BC year of the Great Flood. This chronology ends up even disputing the existence of Solomon’s ancient kingdom where references are made to the Pharaoh of his time. If the chronology is adjusted to have parallel dynasties with post flood dates, as suggested by archaeologist David Down, Biblical history is then synchronized quite closely with Egyptian history.
Tas Walker, Steve Cardno and Jonathan Sarfati,”Timing is everything: A talk with field archaeologist David Down,” Creation, 27(3):30-35, June 2005, http://creation.com/timing-is-everything.
“The reason for shortening the Egyptian chronology’, David explained, ‘is overlapping dynasties.’ ‘No archaeologist will deny that some dynasties are contemporary. In fact, there’s one place in the Third Intermediate Period where even Kenneth Kitchen, the biggest authority on the period, recognizes that there were four dynasties ruling at the same time.
” ‘So it’s not a question of ‘Were any dynasties contemporary?’ The question is ‘How many and for how long?’ There were many more dynasties contemporary than previously recognized.’ David explained that the archaeology in Israel is related to Egypt, and has no chronology of its own. ‘So if you find a piece of pottery in Israel that has an inscription related to a pharaoh, then you give it the same date as the pharaoh. But if the date of the pharaoh is wrong, then the date of the pottery in Israel will be wrong, too. There’s the problem.’
“David found that once the chronology of Egypt was shortened, the evidence fitted beautifully. ‘The reason they find no evidence for Solomon is because they are looking in the Early Iron Age, which is the wrong place. But there is abundant evidence for Solomon’s splendour in the Middle Bronze period.’
“David expanded, ‘In that period you have beautiful pottery made on fast wheels. You have bronze instead of plain copper. There were so many innovations, so much prosperity, including beautiful, well-built cities. Any archaeology book will tell you that Middle Bronze II was the period of greatest affluence, the greatest power that’s ever been known in the Middle East. That is Solomon’s period by the revised chronology.’ “
Picture #F3: http://creation.com/images/creation_mag/vol27/down_chronology.jpg
Caption: Revised Egyptian chronology that synchronizes closely with Biblical dates whereas the traditional serial chronology does not.
See also: Mackey, D.F., “Fall of the Sothic Theory: Egyptian chronology revisited,” Journal of Creation 17(3):70-73, 2003. http://creation.com/fall-of-the-sothic-theory-egyptian-chronology-revisited.
Joseph under Amenemhat III?
RPM note: Another historical figure who saved his people from a famine was the Viceroy of Pharaoh Amenemhat III, traditionally dated as ruling from 1860 to 1814 BC. Research by David Rohl, a British Egyptologist, has proposed moving the coronation date estimate of Amenemhat III to 1678 BC, almost a 200 year difference. The records of the Nile river flood levels tied to that era seem to indicate that in this case, the Nile had four times the normal levels of water during those years, making it impossible to plant and harvest crops. A canal was dug that is called to this day “Bahr Yussef,” the “Waterway of Joseph.” The function of this canal may have been to channel the super high flood water away from the farmland.
Picture #F4: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Egypte_louvre_231_visage.jpg.
Caption: Joseph might have been the Viceroy of Pharaoh Amernamhat III.
Wikipedia commons area: Artifact of Pharaoh Amenemhat III in the Louvre museum, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Egypte_louvre_231_visage.jpg
David Rohl, “The New Chronology Pillars,” http://www.davidrohl.com/nc_pillars_35.html, part of David Rohl’s official web site with a great amount of material.
“1. The entry of the proto-Israelites into Egypt took place in the late 12th Dynasty.
“2. More specifically, Joseph was a vizier under the co-regent pharaohs Senuseret III and Amenemhat III.
“3. The absolute dates for these two kings are derived by chronological calculations based on the research of Dr David Lappin who has demonstrated that the most accurate date for Amenemhat III – based on the sequence of lunar month-lengths found in contracts of the period compared to lunar month durations calculated using astronomy computer programmes – is 1678-1634 BC. Likewise the dates for Senuseret III have been confirmed as 1698-1660 BC.”
Egypt.com history, “Middle Kingdom,” http://server.egypt.com/egypt/historyen/index.php/Egypt-History/Ancient-Egypt-Dynasties/Middle-Kingdom. Traditional dates for this Pharaoh.
“Amenemhat III, alt. Amenemhet III, (c. 1860 BC-1814 BC) was a pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from ca.1860 BC to ca.1814 BC, the latest known date being found in a papyrus dated to Regnal Year 46, I Akhet 22 of his rule. He is regarded as the greatest monarch of the Middle Kingdom. He may have had a long coregency (of 20 years) with his father, Sesostris III.”
“Egyptologist David Rohl, in his book “Pharaoh’s and Kings”, proposes an alternate chronology for the Old Testament which has found little acceptance among archaeologists. Dr. Rohl believes that Joseph, son of Jacob, was the vizier (Chief Adviser or Prime Minister) during the reign of Pharoah Amenemhat III.”
“Biblical Archeology,” review of “Pharaoh’s and Kings,” by David Rohl.
http://www.northforest.org/BiblicalArchaeology/index.html. Revised: Nov 10, 2000. Book at http://www.amazon.com/Pharaohs-Kings-David-Rohl/dp/0609801309. David Rohl, “Pharaoh’s and Kings,” June 24, 1997.
“What motivates him? He is interested in the search for historical truth – without the sustaining support of any particular religious belief. What triggered off his quest to find a more promising synthesis between archaeology and the historical kernel of the stories contained in the Bible? More than twenty years’ personal inquiry. (pg 8)
“When he looked at Kitchen’s assembled jigsaw in detail he began to find pieces which simply did not fit together (other researchers were coming to similar conclusions). He also discovered a number of fundamental assumptions about the structure of Professor Kenneth Kitchen’s “The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt” (TIP) which, in David’s view, were not based on sound historical methods. (pg 10)”
Peter Martin,”The Lost Testament,” Sunday Times Magazine Cover Story, http://www.davidrohl.com/lost_testament_12.html.
“Of all Old Testament characters, the best drawn is Abraham’s descendant Joseph – and Rohl presents fascinating evidence of his existence. . The urgent course was to reorganise the nation’s entire grain supply against the lean time to come. Joseph, the Hebrew foreigner, gets the job, and is appointed vizier of all Egypt.
“But did it happen and, if so, what caused the famine years? Back in 1844, a German Egyptologist discovered a series of flood records – water-heights chipped into cliff faces just south of the Nile’s Second Cataract. Dating from the late 12th Dynasty, when Rohl’s chronology places Joseph in Egypt, under Pharaoh Amenemhat III, the records show flood heights of nine metres above normal. Just recently, American hydrologist Barbara Bell has calculated that, on those reckonings, the Nile valley would have been inundated with four times the usual volume of water – making seed-sewing impossible for several years, and famine inevitable. “Which actually gives us a better interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream than the Old Testament does,” says Rohl. ‘The seven emaciated cattle rose up out of the Nile because the Nile itself caused the famine.’
“The OT also tells us that Joseph, as part of the grain strategy, forced Egypt’s landowners to sell their stocks to him: nationalisation and central control. Intriguingly, the 12th Dynasty archaeological record shows that tomb-building for regional chieftains suddenly ceased, as if they’d been dispossessed. Separately, contemporaneous Egyptian papyrus documents mention the setting up of an agricultural office called the ‘Department of the People’s Giving.’ Grain to be handed in for later redistribution in the famine years?
“Stronger evidence suggests that re-organizing Egypt’s grain supplies was by no means Joseph’s only great work. We know from Diodorus Siculus, writing in the first century BC, that a canal was dug to drain off the Nile’s destructive inundations. Today, in the Arabic, the canal is still known as Bahr Yussef, the Waterway of Joseph. At the time, Amenemhat III was so taken with the canal, he had his pyramid built overlooking it, plus two monumental statues of himself just where it flowed into Lake Moeris.”
More on the Need for Alternative Egyptian Chronology
David Rohl, “The Old Testament: Archaeological History or Just a Good Read?” http://www.davidrohl.com/nc_versus_oc_37.html
“For decades archaeologist have been questioning the historicity of the Old Testament narratives as archaeological discovery upon archaeological discovery lines up to contradict the events recorded in Genesis, Exodus, Samuel, and Kings and Chronicles. Today, few archaeologist (or historians for that matter) see evidence for a Sojourn of Western Asiatics (i.e. proto-Israelites) in Egypt during the New Kingdom; nor do they find a pattern of city destructions at the end of the Late Bronze Age which they can equate with an Israelite conquest of the Promised Land as described in the book of Joshua; and more recently, the position of Solomon, as a wealthy merchant prince has been seriously questioned following Professor Israel Finkelstein’s radical revision of Iron Age chronology.
“So, is the Bible simply a collection of fairy stories? Or is there a basic misunderstanding here?
“These are fascinating times. We are coming to a point when something has to give. Either the historical Bible needs to be assigned to the wastebasket of history or archaeologists need to rethink the relationship between their stratigraphy and biblical narrative history.”
See also: Rohl, David, “The Lost Testament: From Eden to Exile – The Five-Thousand-Year history of the People of the Bible,” London: Century. ISBN 0712669930, 2002.
Peter Martin, “How myth became history,”The Times Online, October 13, 2002, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/article1168986.ece?token=null&offset=0
“These rock carvings have thrown startling new light on ancient Egypt and the Bible story. Along with other new evidence amassed by the Egyptologist David Rohl, they show that the people and events recorded in the Old Testament were real.”
Another Seven Year Famine
RPM note: Another severe seven year famine in history also seems to have an alignment with the Jubilee year cycle. In 1315, at the end of the Medieval Warm Period, a seven year famine began the Little Ice Age that would last until the mid 1800s. The ending year of the famine, 1322, is a Jubilee year. 27 Jubilee cycles from the fall, 2 BC start of the Jubilee year at the birth of Christ. (2008 – 1322) / 49 = 14 cycles from our most recent Jubilee year in the fall of 2008.
“Famine in Europe,” New World Encyclopedia, http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Famine#Europe. Retrieved 01-31-10.
“The spring of 1315 saw the first stages of the Great Famine. Wet conditions made for massive crop failures and rotting much of the seed grains before they could even germinate. Although many families began to deplete their food reserves and resorted to finding edible substitutes from forests, such as nuts, plants, and bark, it has been reported that “relatively few” died in this initial year. The impact was more so of wide spread malnutrition.
“The following spring and summer of 1316 changed this outcome. Malnourished families grew weaker and were largely unable to till the lands to produce greater harvest. The cold and wet weather pattern continued and food reserves become virtually nonexistent. Death tolls were estimated to be so vast that all classes of society, from peasants to noblemen, were affected. No one was safe from the Great Famine. Draft animals which were used to till the lands were slaughtered and unspoiled seed grains where eaten. The elderly “volunteered” to starve themselves to death in order for any form of sustenance to go to the younger generations so that they might live to work the fields again. By the same token, infants and young children were abandoned. Although not confirmed, there were widespread rumors of cannibalism, and it has been suggested that Grimms’ fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel reflects the abandoning of children and cannibalism which took place during the Great Famine of 1315-1322.
“The famine continued for seven years until the summer of 1322, when the weather pattern returned to more favorable conditions. Recovery, however, was not immediate. There were problems with scarcity of seed grains and animals and people which survived to this point were too weak to work effectively. Although the official timeline for the Great Famine was from 1315 to 1322, the food supply only returned to its “normal” state in 1325 when the population in Western Europe began to increase again.”
21 “Ancient Egyptian Daily Life,” Bible History, Online, http://www.bible-history.com/sublinks.php?cat=17&subcatid=43&subcatname=Granaries. Retrieved 01/31/10.
“Egyptian granaries from a wall painting in a tomb at Thebes.”
“Joseph was Imhotep of Egypt,” http://www.arkdiscovery.com/joseph.htm, retrieved 01/31/10.
Granary pits: http://www.arkdiscovery.com/joseph-bin4.jpg.
“Above are some of the grain storage bins. These are extremely large in size — much larger than any burial chambers; they are all centrally accessible by a connecting tunnel, extend to well above ground level, and one has a staircase extending down to the bottom (see below). For this reason, we know that they were not built as tombs — if they were, they would have been constructed underground and they certainly would not have been so incredibly large.”
22 The Book of Jasher, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, “Faithfully translated (1840) from the original Hebrew into English,” Salt Lake City, 1887. Anonymous translator. http://www.ccel.org/a/anonymous/jasher/home.html.
John Pratt’s evaluation: John P. Pratt, “How did the Book of Jasher Know?,” Meridian Magazine, January 7, 2002.
“The Book of Jasher includes details about antediluvian patriarchs which are confirmed by modern revelation. The question arises of how the author of Jasher could have known specific facts from before the Great Flood, such as Cainan becoming very wise when he was forty years old. These correlations attest that it was composed from exceedingly ancient reliable sources.”
From the Book of Jasher:
“And at the revolution of the year, in the second year of Joseph’s reigning over Egypt, the Lord gave great plenty throughout the land for seven years as Joseph had spoken, for the Lord blessed all the produce of the earth in those days for seven years, and they ate and were greatly satisfied. And Joseph at that time had officers under him, and they collected all the food of the good years, and heaped corn year by year, and they placed it in the treasuries of Joseph. And at any time when they gathered the food Joseph commanded that they should bring the corn in the ears, and also bring with it some of the soil of the field, that it should not spoil. And Joseph did according to this year by year, and he heaped up corn like the sand of the sea for abundance, for his stores were immense and could not be numbered for abundance. And also all the inhabitants of Egypt gathered all sorts of food in their stores in great abundance during the seven good years, but they did not do unto it as Joseph did. And all the food which Joseph and the Egyptians had gathered during the seven years of plenty, was secured for the land in stores for the seven years of famine, for the support of the whole land.
“And all the people of Egypt saw that the famine had commenced in the