I wonder just how much evidence some scholars need. What reasoning is required to decide that these two men (Imhotep and Joseph) were not one and the same? What are the odds that any two of the facts are about these two would be identical? What about three, four or five? Well there are even more. If you can "reason" your way around all those facts you are working too hard. Here are some of the similar facts about Joseph and Imhotep:
Both were 110 years of age at death
Both involved in seven years of famine and saved the land
Both instituted 20% tax
Both were foreigners
Both had twelve brothers
Both second only to Pharaoh
There is more to the case than this.
I am no scholar but have seen none of these points addressed by anyone. The standard response seems to be that it is too far outside accepted Egyptian chronology and dismiss it. Here is a page with the information.
In as much as you seem to be a scholar perhaps you can set me straight on how much is accurate.
First of all, I do not claim to be a scholar, particularly of Egyptology! I spent a good deal of time at the web site you suggest (www.s8int.com/joseph.html. I am afraid that this writer is extremely untrustworthy. He is committing several classic logic errors and is doing research by scenario rather than good scholarly research. What I mean by this is that he is guilty of creating/finding a particular scenario and then searching out all possible evidence, not to question the scenario, but in order to find possible reasons to support his already-assumed conclusion. A good principle in looking at such claims is to always spin alternative explanations of the data. In this case, I believe there is a far more likely explanation of the supposed parallels between Joseph and Imhotep. Let me give you several reasons I say this.
Several of the supposed parallels between Joseph and Imhotep are not valid. Joseph did not build pyramids. As far as we know, Joseph was not a great architect and builder. There is no biblical evidence for this. There is no record that he married into the priesthood of On. As far as I know, he is not mentioned by the Bible as having any extraordinary knowledge of astrology. Nor was he a doctor or the head of doctors. [note: all these are included in the claims at the above web site as things which are the same when one compares Imhotep and Joseph] I did not do a careful search of the inscription which is supposedly about Imhotep, but I would be really surprised if all the supposed parallels on Imhotep’s side hold up. In the end, we are left with perhaps four or five actual parallels between the two (but do not take that number to be exact… it is a guess).
The only inscription which supports this contention is one from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. Never mind that your author wrongly puts Antiochus in the first century BC (he was from the second century BC, dying about 163 BC.). No historian would take an inscription from more than one thousand years after the event as a reliable historical record. In this case, the inscription is from over two thousand years after the events of Djoser and Imhotep’s life. If this is the main support for the Joseph/Imhotep theory, then this is such a thin support that no serious scholar could possibly use it. This is completely unacceptable.
The way I see it, it is just as likely that there is a Jewish influence behind the inscription. In other words, it is possible that the biblical story of Joseph has influenced this inscription about Imhotep, given that Imhotep lived about one thousand years before Joseph. By the second century BC, well over two thousand years after Djoser, clearly this early Egyptian Pharaoh had become largely mythical. There was a large Jewish population living in Egypt at the time of the late Ptolemaic dynasty, in the second century BC.
This author borrows from Immanuel Velikovsky. This is very unfortunate. I have read a lot of Velikovsky’s work. He is not a good scholar. His work has been repudiated almost complelely, and for good reason. Velikovsky was a publicity hound who was willing to stretch and abuse the data to create ridiculous scenarios. He said that Venus had at least two near collisions with the earth, that Mars also had a near collision with the earth. I could go on… Anyone using Velikovsky as their model for Egyptian chronology is not someone you should listen to. Do not trust my word on this. Read Velikovsky’s "Worlds in Collision" for yourself.
The chronology your author is using is completely unacceptable. I will concede that there is some significant doubt in accepted Egyptian chronology. However, this author is trying to place Djoser, Joseph and Imhotep at around 1100-1000 BC. Your author’s use of a single source, saying there were 25 generations between a particular Persian person and Djoser is extremely unfortunate, as this is very weak evidence indeed. No matter what the problems with Egyptian chronology are, this date of 1100 BC for Djoser is completely unacceptable. The exodus from Egypt was at least two hundred years after Joseph, and more likely four hundred years after Joseph. It is quite literally impossible to put the exodus as late as 900 BC. Where do the Judges and David fit in here? We know that David was a real person (the tel Dan inscription, for example) who lived over 1000 years BC. Your author has the exodus happening after the time David died!!! There are about 20 dynasties between Djoser and the time of the Persians. "Traditional" archaeology can be off, but certainly not this far off.
Bottom line, whatever is the cause of the inscription from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, one thing you can rule out without a shadow of a doubt. Imhotep, the vizier of Djoser, if he is a historical figure, did not live around 1100 BC and he was not the Joseph of the Old Testament. It is possible that this fictionalized inscription confuses the two men. This is a far more likely explanation of the "coincidence" of the similarity of the two stories than any theory which has Joseph being Imhotep.
John Oakes, PhD