Every time a story surfaces on the internet that is obviously (in my mind) bogus, I prefer to ignore it here. But after receiving several emails from sharp individuals, I think this one must be worthy of comment. Instead of just stating that the story about Egyptian coins from Joseph’s time should be ignored, I’ll suggest a few clues that should make you suspicious.
1) The report claims to prove the biblical account. I believe the Bible is an accurate historical account, but experience has taught me that most news reports claiming such are untrustworthy.
2) The discovery was reported by an Egyptian newspaper. This is not the place where credible scholars break stories.
3) Coins were not invented until approximately 600 BC. By anyone’s reckoning, Joseph lived or did not live many hundreds of years earlier.
4) A statement like this: “Some of the coins are from the time when Joseph lived in Egypt.” There is no time (singular) when scholars believed Joseph lived.
There are various theories about when he lived. No credible source would make this statement without a discussion of when the “coins” date to and how we now know when Joseph lived.
5) Statements from the Quran about Joseph were used by the archaeologist as credible historical testimony.
6) If it sounds too good to be true…: “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.” 7) Never in the report is a date or the name of a pharaoh given!
The story was re-reported as fact by the Jerusalem Post and Arutz-7 (shame on them; their editors must be off for the Yom Kippur weekend). The only one I’ve seen refuting this so far is Paleojudaica and Joe Lauer, who rightly questions whether this was released on the Egyptian version of April Fool’s Day.
UPDATE: Michael S. Heiser has several helpful comments on PaleoBabble. I don’t think I was aware of this blog before, but some readers here will certainly want to follow what is dubbed as “your antidote to cyber-twaddle and misguided research about the ancient world.”