Urging Caution: A Brief Comment on the So-Called 'Joseph Coins'

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Excerpt The claims made by Dr. Sa'id Muhammed Thabet should be viewed with great skepticism. First, most archaeologists and historians of the ancient world believe that the oldest coins ever minted were those of the Lydians in west central Asia Minor dating to ca. 700 BC. Thabet's highly questionable theory would push the invention of coinage back by about a thousand years... Continue reading

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The claims made by Dr. Sa'id Muhammed Thabet should be viewed with great skepticism. First, most archaeologists and historians of the ancient world believe that the oldest coins ever minted were those of the Lydians in west central Asia Minor dating to ca. 700 BC. Thabet's highly questionable theory would push the invention of coinage back by about a thousand years.

Second, it is highly unlikely that Joseph's image would appear on coinage unless he was the pharaoh, and the Old Testament makes it very clear he was not a pharaoh.

Third, Egyptologists and Hebrew scholars are not certain of Joseph's exact Egyptian name in hieroglyphic symbols since it is given in a Hebrew version in the Old Testament. For an example of the problem, note that the name Ivan in Russian is the name John in English, and the name John from Koine Greek transliterates into English "Ioanneh." All of this to ask the question, how does Thabet know that the name on some of the "coins" is that of Joseph?

And fourth, Thabet claims to have discovered these "coins"--- almost certainly amulets or scarabs--- in the Museum of Egypt. These are all items that were discovered by many other, frequently very famous, archaeologists who Thabet argues missed the fact that they are actually coins. This is a highly unlikely assumption. Thabet's claims should not be given any credence.

Reproduced from Artifax, Fall 2009.

From October 26, 2009 by ABR:

There has been a recent report regarding the discovery of a cache of coins in Egypt. The news reports thus far are indicating that several coins were discovered.  The Middle East Media Research Institute claims the following:

"One Coin... [Had] an Image of a Cow Symbolizing Pharaoh's Dream about the Seven Fat Cows and Seven Lean Cows"

"The researcher identified coins from many different periods, including coins that bore special markings identifying them as being from the era of Joseph. Among these, there was one coin that had an inscription on it, and an image of a cow symbolizing Pharaoh's dream about the seven fat cows and seven lean cows, and the seven green stalks of grain and seven dry stalks of grain. It was found that the inscriptions of this early period were usually simple, since writing was still in its early stages, and consequently there was difficulty in deciphering the writing on these coins. But the research team [managed to] translate [the writing on the coin] by comparing it to the earliest known hieroglyphic texts…

"Joseph's name appears twice on this coin, written in hieroglyphs: once the original name, Joseph, and once his Egyptian name, Saba Sabani, which was given to him by Pharaoh when he became treasurer. There is also an image of Joseph, who was part of the Egyptian administration at the time.

The ministry of ABR urges GREAT CAUTION with respect to these claims. We are not claiming that this report is necessarily false. However, we believe that there must be more information forthcoming on this discovery before it can be touted as support for the Bible. ABR will continue to monitor the situation and post our commentary on the ABR website. In the meantime, we urge our brethren not to use this information as an apologetic until more information is available.

Sincerely--the ABR Staff

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11/22/2009 5:04 AM #

The so-called Joseph coins appear to be ancient deben weights, put in a balance scale to ascertain value.  Biblical shekels originally were weights, not coins; the word shekel comes from a root meaning "to weigh out."  After coinage developed (7th c. BC is still the earliest attested "coin", more like a slug) the name of the weight became the name of a coin.  I do not know of any deben coins, however. and where Saba Sabani comes from I don't know.  The one photo I saw was too fuzzy to make out anything.  This news item has phoney written all over it.  Note I believe there is a very ancient Egyptian story about years of plenty followed by years of famine, going back to the days of pre-pyramids 3rd Dynasty King Djoser.

Joyce - 11/22/2009 5:04:08 AM

1/1/2010 11:12 PM #

Please, ABR staff, do you have an update on this report?

Truthseeker - 1/1/2010 11:12:57 PM

8/2/2010 4:34 PM #

I wish you had pointed out that nobody has published clear pictures of both sides of the objects.  My suspicion is that the hieroglyphics might be one of the names of Merneptah.  Do you have any updates on this subject?

Pat - 8/2/2010 4:34:53 PM

3/15/2012 12:55 PM #

Since "the rest of the story" is of profound importance (Like the fake discovery of Noah's Ark) the silence is deafening!  Please provide details such as:  
1) Who possesses the artifacts?  
2) Is anyone doing further research?
3) What do they claim prevents updated publication of findings and photos?

Dan - 3/15/2012 12:55:53 PM

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