[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

Nir Cohen: 
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. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston,  Illinois
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