[b-hebrew] SXT (gen 40) and L) YD( )TW (gen 43)
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Dec 10 09:40:55 EST 2012
The taboo against Egyptians breaking bread with foreigners (Genesis 43:
32), and the taboo against shepherds (Genesis 46: 34), were likely closely
related, and probably only applied during the 18th Dynasty. The 18th Dynasty
had finally managed to liberate Egypt from the Hyksos "Shepherd Kings"
who came from Canaan, so it's little surprise that for about 150 years or so
it would be taboo for Egyptians to consort with shepherds from Canaan.
On a more general level, we know from the Amarna Letters that having a
meal with foreigners meant that one was in alliance with those foreigners: “
Meals sealed alliances and were shared only by allies and friends.” Wm.
Moran at p. 250, note 6 to Amarna Letter EA 162. In that Amarna Letter,
Pharaoh Akhenaten reams out Aziru of Amurru for having a meal with Akhenaten’s
enemy, the Hurrian princeling of Qadesh on the Orontes: “You are at peace
with the ruler of Qid$a. The two of you take food and strong drink
together. And it is true. Why do you act so? Why are you at peace with a ruler
with whom the king is fighting?” Amarna Letter EA 162: 22-29. For a more
benign instance of this same general phenomenon that meals sealed
alliances, see Amarna Letter EA 161: 22. Thus it would be taboo for an Egyptian
to dine with foreigners unless Egypt was in formal alliance with those
On the other hand, by the time we get to the Amarna Age (near the end of
the 18th Dynasty), it was possible for a Semite from Canaan, Aper-el, to
become (like Joseph) a pharaoh's top vizier. This complex situation regarding
foreigners in Egypt during the Amarna Age is described by historian
Nicholas Reeves as follows:
"With the immense influx of slaves, merchants and foreigners of more
elevated status as the 18th Dynasty progressed, Egypt had become an
exceptionally cosmopolitan place; the innate suspicion of foreigners, heightened by
the Hyksos experience 150 years and more previously, was gradually beginning
to break down. In time, this influx of population intermarried with its
hosts, and they, and their offspring, began to scale the ladders of
integration and success -- so much so that one of their number, Aper-el, umder
Amenophis III/Amenophis IV-Akhenaten would rise to the dizzy and unprecedented
heights of northern vizier." Nicholas Reeves, “Akhenaten: Egypt's False
Prophet” (2001), p. 50.
To the best of my knowledge, the o-n-l-y time when both shepherds from
Canaan were taboo in Egypt, a-n-d a descendant of shepherds from Canaan
could nevertheless become Pharaoh's top vizier (such as Joseph Biblically and
Aper-el historically), was the Amarna Age.
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