Phenomenon of Amazing Detail

Joseph as a faith hero in Hebrews 11

--- "By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones." -- Hebrews 11:22

The author of the Book of Hebrews, in his discourse on Faith in Chapter 11, included Joseph , son of Jacob among the many heroes that have professed impeccable faith in God (Hebrews 11:22).

The author of Hebrews connected the narratives in the Book of Genesis with the narrative in Exodus, the Second Book of the Pentateuch, to commend on Joseph’s remarkable unyielding faith.

Joseph, in the Book of Genesis, had demonstrated on many occasions his strong faith in God. He had resisted the lustful attempts of Potiphar’s wife. He remained true to God while being imprisoned unjustly. His faith had enabled him to interpret dreams on more than one occasion. He dealt in a godly manner with his brothers who was wrongful to him. He administered the food relief program fairly and wisely, without inequality and greed. But the author of Hebrews skipped all of these examples of faith and picked out only one, that of his trust in the Lord to bring his bones back, like those of his father Jacob, from Egypt back to the land of Canaan, his homeland which God had promised. This act of faith was recorded in the very last chapter of the Book of Genesis.

Joseph did not want a grand tomb in Egypt (which he expected would be granted to him), where future generations of Egyptians could pay homage to this man who had saved their country from the perils of a great famine, and had re-structured the society. Instead, he wanted his final resting place to be in the land of God’s promise. His burial instructions were a strong exhortation to his people not to be satisfied with the blessings of Egypt, which must not be thought of as a permanent abode. They should only be satisfied with what God has promised them that will take place in the future.

Yet Joseph, rather prophetically, made hidden mention of the Exodus, and ordered that they take his bones along when they leave Egypt (Genesis 50:24-25).

God’s promises may seem unlikely to be fulfilled. Circumstances appeared to contradict those promises. God had given the promises to Abraham more than 200 years before, but then people here were his descendants living in Egypt, no more in Canaan. They were doing quite well in Egypt at this point, thanks to Joseph.

Jacob and his family had settled at Goshen during the great famine. 400 years later this family of around 70 peoples became a nation of 2 and a half million. By then the Pharaohs did not know Joseph any more than a historic officer and felt that the Israelites had posted a threat to the Egyptians. The Israelites were unjustly enslaved, and many first-borns were thrown into the River Nile. Moses eventually delivered them, as narrated in the Exodus. One thing he did out of many was to bring Joseph’s bones with him! In Exodus 13:19 it was recounted that Moses took the bones of Joseph with him.

Joseph had before his death, made the Israelites swear an oath to do this.

“24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” (Genesis 50:24-25)

Isn’t it amazing that what was said a few hundred years before were hitherto prophetically fulfilled.

Did this actually happen? That is: Were the bones actually brought back to Canaan? Let us see.

If the bones had indeed been brought back from Egypt, there should not be any bones of Joseph left in Egypt anymore. Archaeologist looked carefully at this proposition.


In a number of Archaeological studies and projects, and in the book “Patterns of Evidence – Exodus” by Timothy Mahoney, we come to know that:

Joseph's Tomb has been a funerary monument located at the eastern entrance to the valley that separates Mounts Gerisim and Ebal, 300 metres northwest of Jacob’s Well, on the outskirts of the West Bank at the City of Nablus. It has been venerated throughout the ages by Samaritans for whom it is the second holiest site, by Jews, by Christians, and by Muslims, some of whom view it as the location of a local medieval sheik Yusef Al-Dwaik. Conflicting views exist as to whether or not Joseph’s bones were indeed buried there. Nonetheless, the tomb is recognized as an important Jewish shrine, albeit a small one. According to Jewish tradition, Joseph was buried in the biblical town of Shechem, which is near the present-day city of Nablus. (Some archeologists believe that the site is only a few centuries old and may have contained the remains of a Muslim sheikh named Yossef). It is currently not possible to open a tomb, deemed to be a "holy site" by various religious parties, and obtain the bones for analysis. Therefore, for the moment, there is not a final scientific answer.

For more detail information please visit: Joseph's Tomb at Wikipedia.

Let’s assume his bones were returned to Canaan (Israel/Palestine), then what about Joseph’s tomb in Egypt? Can his tomb be located anywhere and the narratives archeologically substantiated?

The city of Avaris was considered to be the city of Israelite slavery at the Nile Delta in 16th Century BC. It was considered as a city with an inhabitants of over 60,000 people, mainly Israelites. Archaeological discovery are on-going at the various sites. Pi-Ramesses, meaning "House of Ramesses" was the new capital built by the Nineteenth Dynasty Pharaoh Ramesses II (1279–1213 BC) at Qantir, next to the site of Avaris. The city had served as a summer palace for Seti I and may have been founded by Ramesses (c. 1292–1290 BC) while he served under Horemheb. Ramesses II was born and raised in the area, and family connections may have played an important part in his decision to move his capital further north other than geopolitical reasons.

For more information please see
Pi-Ramesses - Wikipedia and
Avaris - Wikipedia

A reconstructed view of the City of Avaris. Over 60,000 males were supposed to have dwelt in this area.

Archaeological digs are still on-going

Twelve graves and Chapels were discovered as a group in the city of Avaris

In the garden, behind the palace, archaeologists found 12 main graves, with memorial chapels on top of them. Bones were found at these tombs except for one tomb (number 1 in picture above) that was much more massive and with a pyramid structure, the type of houses is found in North Syria, the area where Abraham once stayed – and is the same style of house that Jacob would have build for himself in Egypt. A reconstruction of the contents of these tombs showed however that the occupants were not Egyptian. It had courtyards, colonnades, audience chambers, even a robing room, quite obviously belonging to some high official of state who was very important. This could have been dedicated to Joseph. Another Egyptologist added “When somebody gets a palace like this given to them, it means they are being honoured for what they have done for the state”.

Author of the book “Patterns of Evidence – Exodus”, Tim Mahoney, revealed further how an incredible statue was found on the grounds of the palace. He said: “One of these 12 graves was very special because it was a pyramid tomb, this in itself is extraordinary because only Pharaohs and Queens had pyramid tombs at this time. Yet the person buried in this tomb was not a King, but he was honoured with a King’s burial!”

“Inside the chapel of the tomb was remnants of a statue, what one can deduce that the man had red hair, had pale yellow skin, and had a throwing stick across his shoulder and on the back of his shoulder, we can see the faintest remains of paint – coloured stripes from a multicoloured coat.”

The re-enacted stature is about twice the height of a human person.

Remnants of paints of an alleged "multi-coloured coat".

All the evidence pointed to the story of Joseph. The multi-coloured coat was a gift which shows that he was the favourite of the Father” – wrote Mahoney.

Another commentator also reiterated “It would not be unusual for a tomb to have a statue, but it is unusual to have one this large, twice the size of a normal human being. This tells us that it was a very important person. This is not a pharaoh’s tomb or palace, but for the man who lived there, you can identify his nationality by looking at the fragments of the statue…” “Three things, the hairstyle he has, which we often call the mushroom hairstyle, the weapon he carries over his shoulder – a throwing stick – and the colouration of the skin, it’s yellow. All these things indicate that this would have been a Cyril Palestinian, either it is Joseph, or it’s somebody who has a career remarkably similar to him, it’s an incredible find.”

For more information, visit : Egypt: 'Matches the Bible' Multicoloured coat discovered in Egypt 'could be Joseph's' | World | News | How was the Joseph Statue reconstructed?


It is astounding to see the author of the Book of Hebrews summing up another 'feat of faith' in the Bible. God returned Joseph’s bones to his homeland, not merely as the fulfillment of a death-wish but rather through Joseph's unyielding faith, God made the prophetic announcement that He will return His chosen people to the Land of Canaan that was promised to them.

Joseph had this unwavering faith in God that He will keep His promise to bring him back, when things had all together looked unlikely at the time... And it was exactly this prophetic confidence, trust and hope that Joseph was commended,

Is it not that God’s ways are higher than our ways and His faithfulness will never fail when we trust in Him wholeheartedly? The example of Joseph’s faith is applicable today as for all times.

“Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. -- Hebrews 11:1