Sunday, January 17, 2016

Heb-Sed Festival Clues in Genesis

The open southern court with the Heb-Sed court stretching out in the background


Damien F. Mackey

Genesis 32:4:

“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak”.

Wrestling with a young man was also a feature of the ancient Egyptian Heb-Sed festival, as is apparent from the case of pharaoh Zoser, builder of the Step Pyramid, which I have held to be a ‘material icon’ of Jacob’s dream of a Stairway to Heaven.

Celebrating the rejuvenation of the king's powers every 30 years, the heb-sed festival was a demonstration of a king's strength and prowess. During the festival the king ran around a heb-sed court performing feats of strength to demonstrate his ability to continue to rule Egypt. In doing so he experienced rebirth, maintaining his position as a god on Earth.

The heb-sed court of King Zoser at Saqqara is a long rectangular open court where the king performed the heb-sed ritual, part of which was to wrestle with a young man in order to prove he was strong enough to continue ruling Egypt. A limestone relief in a chamber under the Step Pyramid shows King Zoser during his heb-sed festival running between the markers representing Upper and Lower Egypt. On the east and west sides of the open courtyard are several symbolic chapels—the interiors were filled with rubble—and only the platforms in front of the chapel were used. Statues of the king and the gods were placed in niches along the wall, and the platforms may have been used for ceremonies during the festival. ….

[End of quote]

Zoser’s vizier, Imhotep, is thought by many to have been Jacob’s son, Joseph.

Part Two: Jacob and Joseph

  “Patterns of evidence” is presently being touted as a most useful methodology – and rightly so.
The era of the substantial Third Dynasty pharaoh, Zoser (c. 2670 BC, conventional dating) has been favoured by some revisionists - myself included - as being the most likely time for Jacob and Joseph in Egypt, with Zoser’s vizier, Imhotep, thereby accepted as Joseph.
That would necessitate a lowering of pharaoh Zoser on the time scale by about a millennium.
Among the “patterns of evidence” for this scenario are the highly important reference to a seven-year famine; the Step Pyramid, reminding one of Jacob’s dream of a Stairway to Heaven; and, as I noted recently in:  

with reference to Genesis 32:4, Jacob’s wrestling with the man (angel): “wrestling with a young man was also a feature of the ancient Egyptian Heb-Sed festival, as is apparent from the case of pharaoh Zoser”. of the more remarkable signs of the Heb Sed can be found at the Djoser (3rd Dynasty) Step Pyramid complex at Saqqara, where remnants of the Heb Sed court were found, as well as an inscription on a false doorway inside the pyramid”.
A further potential “pattern of evidence” is the testimony of the Papyrus Chester Beatty IV (British Museum ESA 10684) that Imhotep, among others, could tell the future with certainty (
Is there another like Imhotep?
Those who knew how to foretell the future,
What came from their mouths took place ….

Joseph, of course, knew the future and accurately interpreted the pharaoh’s dream (Genesis 41):
38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?”[c] 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command.[d] Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. 43 And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!”[e] Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.”
Included in Papyrus Chester Beatty IV is Ptahhotep, a legendary seer, who, like Joseph, lived to be 110 years old (Genesis 50:26): “So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt”.
Some of what follows has been suggested to me by John R. Salverda. See also his:

The Hebrew Origins of Argolian Mythology

Interestingly, the wise Imhotep was said to have the son of Ptah. The Greeks recognized the Egyptian god Ptah as their “Hephaestus,” who had a permanent limp as a result of contending with the chief god, Zeus (cf. Genesis 32:24-32).
The image of Ptah is a mummified man (Jacob was mummified. See Genesis 50:2), wearing what modern Egyptologists have called a ‘Punt’ beard (this term was developed for the beard because it resembles the style of beard that Puntites, whom the Egyptians regarded as their ancestors, also wore). In Dr. I. Velikovsky’s theory, Punt is identified as Palestine. (It may better relate to Phoenicia).
Ptah is the main god of the city of Memphis, where the “Theology of Memphis” shows a remarkable affinity to the theogony of Genesis.

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