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HISTOBICAL AND MYTHICAL ELEMENTS IN THE 
STORY OP JOSEPH 

W. F. Albbight 
Johns Hopkins University 

So perfect a story as the Romance of Joseph, dating moreover 
from hoary antiquity, can, strictly speaking, be neither history 
nor fiction. Like most of the ever-enchanting tales of the past, it 
is likely to be the product of a long evolution. This may be said 
without eliminating the hand of dramatic genius, which makes 
itself felt in style and development. 

In this article I propose to take up anew the question of 
sources, from a rather eclectic viewpoint. It were presumptuous 
to claim originality ; one can only sift the evidence, relying on the 
suggestions of his predecessors, amplified by the comparison of 
data inaccessible to them. Furthermore, one must be catholic in 
the choice of methods. No one brush will suffice to reproduce the 
variegated coloring of Truth. 

A priori it is impossible to decide whether a given figure is of 
historical or mythical origin. A categorical generalization is as 
rash here as elsewhere in the domain of the humanistic sciences. 
Each figure must be studied by itself. If heroes are set down as 
historical we must look for mythical analogies from which they 
have procured their mythic trappings; if they are rated as 
humanized gods, a heroic model must be presupposed. Moreover, 
we must allow for the operation of an unlimited number of dis- 
guising modifications and accretions. A historical personage 
may thus be surrounded in time with a borrowed aureole, con- 
taining perhaps even rays characteristic of the most out-and-out 
gods. Heroes may take the place of deities, just as Hassan and 
Hussein have become the heirs of Tammuz in the Shiite East. 
We must not be misled, but must examine critically the precipi- 
tate left after all suspicious elements have been removed. The 
analysis must be in a measure quantitative, on the basis of 
motif -units, in harmony with Bloomfield's folkloristic methods. 
Almost the only Old Testament scholar who applies this prin- 
ciple seriously is Gressmann, but he is too dashing and tern- 



112 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

peramental to be a very safe guide, as his treatment of the 
Gilgamesh-epic rather drastically shows. The motif-principle 
employed by Winckler and Jeremias is too atomistic, as the many 
reductiones ad absurdum clearly illustrate. A system based on 
such materials ignores the existence of chance. The likelihood of 
fortuitous coincidences is much smaller when the unit is itself 
more complex. 

In the following pages we are concerned, as I hope to demon- 
strate, with a depotentized god, and the analysis must endeavor 
to identify the motives, shove aside the elements which appear to 
be secondary or of historical origin, and explain the nature of the 
god from his name and characteristics, and the cult-motives 
which may reasonably be detached from his legendary cycle. 

When the meaning and purpose of myths are to be considered, 
we must direct our course with great caution, avoiding the 
clutches of the philologico-psychological Scylla on the one hand, 
without falling into the sociologico-anthropological Charybdis on 
the other. The former has fallen into disrepute as the natural 
reaction from the over-confidence of the school of Kuhn and Max 
Miiller. The able work of Goldzieher's youth, Der Mythos lei 
den Hebr'dem, is, however, neglected by Biblical scholars to their 
loss, since it contains a mass of valuable information, and many 
happy suggestions, though most of the conclusions were, of 
course, erroneous. It is a pity that the accurate philology and 
balanced judgment of a Roscher or an Usener are not better rep- 
resented among students of the ancient Orient. 

The anthropological movement led by Lang and Frazer, which 
has happily turned the emphasis away from metaphors to the 
more concrete business of raising grain for bread, and children 
for the perpetuation of the race, from poetry and astronomy to 
economics and sociology, is now at high tide. "With a dash of 
archaeology added by the classicists, eniautos-daimons and bull- 
roarers, the sociological invasion is proceeding very successfully, 
and many hitherto unsolved problems are yielding to its 
onslaught. At the same time, the invaders are prone to over- 
look the fact that cult and mythology originate usually with 
priests and rhapsodists, and that the mysterious and fantastic 
often plays a stronger part in forming mental associations than 
the tangible and commonplace. Hence astronomical and zoologi- 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STORY OF JOSEPH 113 

cal phenomena exercise a powerful influence in forming myths. 
Here the work of men like Frobenius, whose anthropological 
studies have led him to the sun as the perennial fount of mythol- 
ogy (applied to Old Testament problems by Hans Schmidt, in his 
Jona) ; Siecke and Ehrenreich, lunar champions ; Winckler and 
Jeremias, consistent exponents of the role of calendaric and 
astrological motives in the formation of myths, comes in. 
Though we may be dazzled by the kaleidoscopic variety of views, 
there is no place for the swan-song of the pessimist which Frazer 
has prefixed to the third edition of his Adonis, Attis and Osiris. 
Where even so gifted and indefatigable a worker as Sir James 
may fail, ten thousand lesser divinities may succeed, by dint of 
combined efforts. 

The historico-critical methods I have employed in fixing the 
historical substratum of the patriarchal and heroic sagas of the 
Heptateuch are modeled mainly after Eduard Meyer, the unri- 
valed chief of the masters of ancient history. Beyond the most 
assured results of Old Testament science, I have not ventured to 
employ the difficult weapon of literary analysis. For the rest, 
we are left to make more or less probable combinations from the 
still slender stock of evidence, documentary, philological, and 
archaeological, at our command. The temptation to utilize an 
ingenious combination, or a pretty idea, without the most 
rigid criticism, in the well-known manner of Hommel, must ba 
resisted. Here the subjective element enters in ; I dare not hope 
that my combinations will all stand the test. I would not have 
our science taxed with the insouciance which springs from human 
frailty. With Athene as with Eros, Lucian 's epigram holds : 

il/v^ats av0pd>7r(av i<rff 6 Upoos Trpotjxuns. 

In dealing with the historical records of pre-Davidic Israel, we 
must always bear in mind that we do not have in them a history 
based on documentary sources. The theories advanced from 
time to time since the discovery of the Amarna tablets, that part, 
at least, of the oldest Hebrew literature is a translation from 
cuneiform, is preposterous to an Assyriologist, which the latest 
champion most decidedly is not. While there undoubtedly were 
archives and monuments extant in the ninth century b. c, from 



114 JOURNAL OP BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

which an archaeologist might have constructed a very fair his- 
tory, the scribes did not use them. They were not interested in 
the history of the land, but in the traditions of their own people, 
which they accepted as implicitly as the modern Soudanese 
believes his tribal legends. We cannot blame the Hebrew, when 
we recall the use made of their opportunities by such men as 
Manetho and Livy, and the ready faith given Soudanese tradi- 
tions by a man of Frazer's stamp. The long memory possessed 
by semi-civilized peoples for historical facts is a pious fiction of 
over-zealous apologists. The situation with regard to the Arabs 
and Germans is familiar. Where we have fixed poetic forms, 
isolated or distorted facts and names may be handed down for 
several centuries, but they are invariably superseded by a new 
wave of sagas, unless fixed in the cult, in which case they coalesce 
with the mythology, itself a very impermanent body. I am 
tempted to quote from an excellent article by the well-known 
anthropologist, Lowie, "Oral Tradition and History" (Journal 
of American Folk-lore, vol. 30, pp. 161 ff.). "There are few 
events that can be regarded as equalling in importance the intro- 
duction of the horse into America. . . . Nevertheless we 
find that the Nez Perce give a perfectly matter of fact but 
wholly erroneous account of the case, while the Assiniboine con- 
nect the creation of the horse with a cosmogonic hero-myth. 
Similarly the Assiniboine and Shoshones give mythical accounts 
of their first meeting with the whites a century ago" (p. 164; cf. 
also especially p. 167). 

Nor can rules be laid down for progressive reliability of docu- 
ments, since they are so diversified in origin and theme, and so 
subject to the shifting sands of human interest. Who would rate 
the Chanson de Roland higher as a historical source than the 
history of Gregory of Tours, or consider the legends of Samson 
more trustworthy than the pericope of Abimelech ? 

Having given the foregoing survey of my methodic ideals, I 
will state results in as concise a form as feasible. Too elaborate 
a discussion often only obfuscates the issue. The available data 
and the theories advanced hitherto are more or less familiar; 
I will, therefore, presuppose them, in general, thus saving time 
and space. 

Our Joseph-story is, I believe, the syncresis of two separate 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STOKY OP JOSEPH 115 

mythic cycles, one grouped around the sanctuary o£ the god of 
fertility, Joseph, at Shechem, the other borrowed from similar 
Egyptian sources, preserved to us only in the Osiris and Bitis 
myths. This fusion is no more remarkable than the syncresis 
of the Babylonian Tammuz-cult with the native Phoenician wor- 
ship of Adonis at Byblos, or the attraction of Phoenician and 
Syrian elements into the Egyptian myths of Osiris and Bitis. 
That Joseph is primarily a god of animal fecundity will become 
perfectly clear, I think. This kinship between Joseph and Tam- 
muz was first observed by the late Hugo Winckler, whose failure 
to see the full implications of the idea rests chiefly upon the then 
prevailing tendency of mythologists to reduce all myths to solar 
bases. "We of to-day, enlightened in this respect by the work of 
Prazer and Baudissin, have no excuse for blindness. Further- 
more the materials for the study of Oriental gods of fertility of 
the Tammuz type have greatly increased in recent years. From 
a comparison of the myths of such gods of fertility, both animal 
and vegetable (the precise line of demarcation can very seldom 
be drawn), as Tammuz, Gilgamesh, Gira (Sumukan, Sakan, or 
Engidu), Adonis, Attis, Sabazios, Kombabos, Osiris, and Bitis, 
we know what to expect. I shall frequently refer to a forth- 
coming paper in JAOS., "Mesopotaniian Genii of Fecundity," 
where much of the material will be critically considered. 

We will take up first the Palestinian elements in the cult and 
mythology of Joseph. That Joseph was worshiped at Shechem, 
first as a god of fertility, and later as the eponymous ancestor of 
the f|DV j*Y3, including the neighboring districts (later called 
"tribes") of Ephraim and Manasseh, is tolerably certain, as 
appears from the tradition that his betrayal and descent into 
the "pit" took place in the vicinity, and that he was buried 
there, in the tract purchased or conquered by Jacob from the 
Canaanites or Amorites. The presence of the t|DV JV1N at 
Shechem suggests that there was at one time an organized sanc- 
tuary and service of Joseph there. Arnold has pointed out 
recently (Ephod and Ark, p. 26 f.) that every organized sanc- 
tuary must have had its own special p~IK in the early days, 
where the HJOU' of the deity resided. The connection, if any, 
between the J")>"D by2 at Shechem and the i"D¥0 called 
(emended text of Gen. 33 :20) bXIW ♦ffw ^K 6t* is natu- 



116 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

rally substituted for 3pJ7* - flDV . or the like) , as well as their 
possible relation to flDV is an unsolved problem (cf. Die 
Israeliten u. ihre Nachbarstamme, 148, 542 ff.). 

Joseph is a shepherd, like Tammuz and Bitis (see below), as 
befits the god of a pastoral people. His name, a formation like 
2pW> niiT> ijijju, ^r*^' e * C- » means "He who causes to 
increase (flocks and herds)," a name like Sumukan, "giver of 
increase" (see my above-cited paper in JAOS.). For the mean- 
ing cf. Assyr. ruddu, "add"; Ar. .giX, "increase (of cattle)." 

Like Attis and Kombabos, presumably also Tammuz, Joseph 
wears a D'Dfi flJrO , a tunic reaching to the ankles and wrists 
(D'Dfl connected with KHD3 . Heb. DS> " palm, sole "), the reg- 
ular garb of the 0*iJHp attached originally to the cult of 
Joseph, and therefore ascribed to him, just as Istar is usually 
represented in the costume of her JIlEHp or hierodulae (kadisati, 
samhati, kizreti, harimeti). All the Asiatic gods of fertility 
seem to have had attached to their service a guild of eunuch- 
priests, the Galli of Asia Minor, the W'lbD of Palestine and 
Phoenicia (cinaedi), and the (sing.) kulu, kurgaru, or assinnu of 
Mesopotamia, all of whom wore female dress. The aetiological 
reason given for Joseph's coat is interesting. He receives it 
from his father as a mark of special favor, and also, evidently, 
to keep him at home, pursuing girlish occupations which would 
not take him from his father 's sight, just as Aphrodite attempts 
to keep her favorite, Adonis, at home, away from the dangers 
that beset an intrepid youth in more manly pursuits. In the 
Kombabos-legend, reported by Lucian {Dm Syria, 27), a charac- 
teristic reason is given for the female garb of the cinaedi. A 
woman fell in love with the hero, on account of his extraordinary 
beauty, and committed suicide after learning that he was a 
eunuch. In order to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies, 
Kombabos assumed female dress. The real reason is probably 
that the cinaedi dressed in female garb because they functioned as 
women. The sensuous analogy may have been assisted by magi- 
cal ideas with regard to the apotropaeic value of disguising sex, 
as Frazer thinks. 

The two Joseph tribes and their southern neighbors, the 

1 Cf . Eduard Meyer, D. Israeliten u. ihre Nachbarstamme, 249 ff . 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STOEY OP JOSEPH 117 

y yt2' > \D or "Yemenites," are said to have sprung from Jacob 
and the ewe Rahel. This genealogy belongs properly to Joseph 
himself, the son of a ewe. Several Asiatic gods or heroes of 
fecundity were born of animal mothers ; Gira-Sakan was the son 
of Samas and a gazelle (for proof of these statements see my 
article in JAOS.) ; Priapus (Lydian) was the offspring of 
Hermes and an ass, according to one story. Tammuz and his 
mother-sister-wife Gestinanna are symbolized by a young ram 
and a ewe. After the theory that the pastoral tribes of central 
Israel were sons of Rahel had established itself, it was only nat- 
ural to refer the cattle-raising tribes to the wild-cow Leah, the 
consort of the 3pJ^ T2N, the bull Jacob. 2 The genealogy of 
Rachel is thus more original than the somewhat haphazard 
division of the remaining nine tribes between Leah and the two 
concubines. 3 The tender-eyed Leah corresponds to fibm-ms irorvm, 
"Hptj. Joseph was also fancied to be a bull," as we learn from 
the "Blessing of Moses," Deut. 33:17; 

vjip dni 'rip Y?-Tf? to -n:n 

pKtrr] »pSN vnrr my D»oy arm 

The couplet is naturally much older than its present setting, 
with its reminiscence of the thunder-god as donor of fertility and 

2 For the connection of Leah and Rachel with the cattle, resp. sheep- 
raising industries, see Haupt, "Lea und Eahel," ZATW., 29, 281-286. 

8 Bilha and Zilpa do not seem to be eponymous figures, nor are they con- 
nected with any clear mythological stories. The incest of Reuben with 
Bilha may possibly belong to the class of fecundizing incests associated 
with Tammuz and Adonis. I would suggest that the two "concubines" 
were originally the two weapons of Jacob as the thunder-god (which he 
undoubtedly was) named nnH?, "terror," and nflJjSt, "fury," like the 
two personified weapons of Ninurta, later independent deities, Sarur, "the 
rushing weapon," and Sargaz, "the crushing weapon." Bilha then 
stands for *BalMt (see Brockelmann, Vergl. Gram. I, § 52, g, a p) , 
Ballah&t, and Zilpa for *Zalpat, Zal'apdt (cf. also Milka, Gen. 11: 29, for 
Mattcat) . 

1 We cannot take the comparisons and identifications with animals too 
seriously. Sumukan is variously a gazelle, a lion, a wild-goat, an ass, etc. 
A god could, of course, assume different forms at pleasure. Nor can we 
delimit functions of a god sharply; Jacob was a god of fertility as well as 
Joseph; we have an illustration of his fecundating activities in the 
scheme by which he outwitted Laban, primarily a fertility charm, as is 
shown by the use of green withes. The lV? r\12b hpO of Gen. 30:37 
reminds one of the ildalcTcu of Gilgamesh. 



118 JOURNAL OP BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

destroyer of the foes of his people, like the Assyrian Istar, the 
rimtu munakkipat za'ire, or Ramman the sur samai, as the 
thunder-god is called in an old Akkadian epic. The expression 
"Hl^ TlD2 makes a very archaic appearance, and obviously 
refers to a legend like that of Bitis, who becomes a bull and 
thereafter a Persea tree, one of whose splinters enters his for- 
mer consort's mouth, causing her to bear him in human form. 
"Firstborn of his bull" (bull born of himself) corresponds to 
Egyptian hi mwtf, "bull of his mother," which Sethe has 
identified with Kn?<£. 

Before considering the death of Joseph, we may dispose of his 
dreams. Now it is, of course, unscientific to try to make a myth- 
ical romance "walk on all fours" when we are ignorant of the 
relative age of its elements. It is, however, legitimate to take 
into account all possibilities and to inquire into the association of 
ideas between the topic of a myth and its details. Thus the 
dream of the sheaves reminds one of the grain-deity, while the 
astral dream may be explained as the exaltation of the star with 
which Joseph is associated. Hitherto the second dream has 
been variously interpreted. Winckler made Joseph here the 
sun, which is perhaps logically too objectionable even for the 
elastic feeling of myth -makers, as "Winckler 's opponents have 
gleefully reiterated. Jeremias avoids this snare by making 
Joseph the embodiment of the whole zodiac, a view which is 
intrinsically very improbable. While in the "Blessing of 
Jacob" a series of astrological allusions is unmistakable, as may 
be seen from the initial sequence Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Leo 
(probably so, against the world-age hypothesis; Joseph is 
Sagittarius), nothing of the kind is visible in the dream. The 
precise number of the stars is without bearing upon the myth. 
Since in the first dream the other sheaves bow down before 
Joseph's sheaf, it is only natural to suppose that here the sun, 
moon, and stars, do obeisance to Joseph's star, representing him 
as one of the sons. This star can only be the planet Jupiter, 
since Venus is nearly everywhere feminine. The dream is there- 
fore the reminiscence of an astral myth describing the exaltation 
of the celestial shepherd to the zenith. Jupiter is said to be so 
bright in Oriental skies that he often casts a visible shadow. In 
the creation-epic (King, Creation, p. 108, 11. 109 ff.) it is said of 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STORY OP JOSEPH 119 

the planet Nebiru (the name of Umun-pa-e, or Jupiter, at the 
zenith : Jensen, Kosmologie, p. 128 ; Kugler, Sternkunde, Vol. 1, 
p. 11, Erganzungen, 2, 199 f. — Nebiru, however, does not mean 
properly "Uberschreiter" but "crossing, zenith") : sumsu lu 
nebiru ahizu kirbisu; sa kakkabe samami alkdtsunu UMlu; 
Mma seni Urtd Hani gimrasun = "Let his name be Nebiru, occu- 
pying its midst ; let him fix (lit. hold) the paths of the stars of 
heaven ; like sheep may he pasture all the gods. ' ' In the third 
tablet of the Exaltation of Istar, a Sumerian epic entitled 
Ninmah usuni gira, we read that when the planet Venus rises to 
the zenith all the powers of Anu, her consort, and the oversight 
of the sun, moon, and stars are placed in her hands, while the 
gods all pay her homage precisely as in Joseph's dream. 5 

Being Adonis, Joseph had, of course, to die. 6 These gods of 
fertility are either killed by a boar (Tammuz, 7 Adonis, Attis), 
or are changed into an evergreen tree after emasculating them- 
selves (Bitis, Attis). Drowning also occurs (Tammuz, Osiris) 
in alluvial countries, as well as other deaths, less popular. We 
can hardly doubt that Joseph was originally supposed to have 

5 The exaltation of Esther as queen of Persia may go back to the exalta- 
tion of Istar, as Thureau-Dangin suggests (Bevue d'Assyriologie, 11, 
141, n. 1). 

" The death of an Adonis is always preceded by an amorous episode. 
The corresponding myth in our story may have been dethroned by the 
more gaudy arrival from Egypt. At all events, Jacob is now the one 
who loves and watches over Joseph, and weeps for his death. His 
appearance in the r61e of Istar is really no more surprising than Kore's 
masquerade as Tammuz. Even the most obviously masculine function is 
performed in Egypt by the cow of heaven, whose udders yield fertility, 
while the earth-deity is male, lying under Nut. This peculiar attitude has, 
of course, an anthropological basis; the Suahili in East Africa are said to 
practise the same custom. 

7 For Tammuz the principal evidence is astrological; CI., 33, 1 obv. 1, 
29 we find a star with the name kakkab SAH UDartmi, "the boar of 
Damn." Originally one can hardly doubt that the pig was sacred to the 
god of fecundity as the symbol of the prolific earth, wherefore pigs were 
sacrificed to Kore at the Thesmophoria. Later misunderstanding, assisted 
by a keen sense of the ravages wrought by wild-boars in the field and 
orchard, created the fable that the "corn "-god had been killed by a 
boar. Any American farmer in the corn-belt will sympathize with the 
votaries of Tammuz. 



120 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

been killed by a wild beast through the treachery of his brothers 
(or brother, as in the case of Bitis-Anubis and Osiris-Set), just 
as Ares plots to kill Adonis with the aid of a wild boar. Dying, 
he descended into the "pit" ("113 = t ?1i^£J') , whence he was 
imagined to rise triumphantly with the spring verdure. Jacob 's 
weeping for Joseph is the reflexion of the wailing of the devotees, 
like Istar's lament for Tammuz, or Demeter's mourning for Kore. 
At one time, no doubt, Ephraimite women wept for Joseph, just 
as later Israelites, deserting the God of Moses, wept for the 
young god Hadad-Rimmon at Megiddo and for Tammuz at Jeru- 
salem. Similarly, the Gileadite maidens used to mourn four 
days each year for the Hebrew Kore, Jephthah's daughter. It 
would be interesting to know the name of the goddess whom 
Jephthah's daughter replaced, just as the Syrian queen Stra- 
tonike replaced Atargatis in the cult-legend of Bambyke reported 
by Lucian. The lamentation was really, of course, for the winter 
virginity of the goddess of fertility, and was thus a ceremonial 
corresponding to the annual vrjareia in the Thesmophoria, com- 
memorating the rape of Persephone, goddess of the underworld 
and its productive functions, like the Sumerian Gestinanna. 

The original form of the story has been disturbed by the intro- 
duction of the Egyptian pericope, and the subsequent attempts 
to rationalize the mythical elements and to harmonize the con- 
tradictions naturally arising thereby. Before this process set in, 
Joseph may have died and gone to Egypt in a reincarnation, 
just as Bitis went to the Valley of Cedars 8 in Phoenicia. We 
have already called attention to the parallel effects of the syncre- 
tism. Later, when the mythological elements were suppressed 
or rationalized, the death was converted into a ruse, and the 
"pit" became a real cistern, into which the rabadan, or chief - 
herd, Reuben, put his brother for safe-keeping. 

The Egyptian pericope, to which we will now turn, is note- 
worthy for its archaeological accuracy, which makes it very 

s The word 's was formerly rendered "acacia," later "cedar." The 
more exact meaning is "juniper," as shown by Ducros (cf. Jour of Eg. 
Arch., vol. 3, p. 272). However, the Egyptians afterwards extended it to 
include the cedar, even the stately cedar of Lebanon, which towers above 
the juniper. In the United States, on the other hand, the juniper is pop- 
ularly confused with the cedar. Meissner is probably wrong in compar- 
ing the Assyrian usu (Assyriologische Studien, VI, p. 31). 



ALBRIGHT : ELEMENTS IN THE STOKY OP JOSEPH 121 

probable that the original myths have been later revised and cast 
in an Egyptian mould (see below) for political purposes. 
Enough, however, of the original setting is left to show the close 
relationship with the cycle of Bitis, preserved to us in the folk- 
loristic "Romance of the Two Brothers." The story has often 
been separated into two parts, a " Bauemgeschichte" and a 
fairy story. The two belong, however, together. Owing to a 
general haziness on this point, I may be pardoned for presenting 
here a resume of my studies on the subject. The name Bitis 
means properly "shepherd" (bt) ; the syllabic writing Bi-ti 
simply indicates that the etymology of this rather rustic deity's 
name had been forgotten, and that the name was therefore com- 
fortably assumed by the nineteenth dynasty scribes to be foreign, 
like Ba'al, 'Astart, Resep, 'Anat, etc. Griffith's idea (Petrie, 
Egyptian Tales, Second Series, 1 p. 73 ft.) that Bata is Attis (for 
/rarus) is quite impossible ; Attis stands for Atta, ' ' Father, ' ' 
the consort of Ma. Moreover, the similarity between Bitis and 
Attis is not more remarkable than his resemblance to Tammuz, 
while his relations with Osiris are in some respects still closer. 
Quite aside from these considerations, the Egyptian origin of 
Bitis appears from the fact that he was made the last king of the 
postdiluvian (sic) dynasty of the gods, beginning with Osiris and 
Horus, and lasting "usque ad Bidin" (Armenian Eusebius, ed. 
Petermann-Schone, Col. 135). We owe this suggestion, accepted 
by Sethe, to Lauth (Aeg. Chron., p. 30). Gardiner (PSBA., 27, 
185 f.) quotes an important hieratic ostracon containing a poem 
which enumerates the different parts of a chariot, playing upon 
each. The passage reads: Ir m bi-tW l n tilk m-in-ki-bw-ti 
Bi-ti nb Si-ki Iwf m mi-wd-wl n Bstt(?) [ ] hi 1, r hist nb 
= "The bt of thy chariot (the king's) are Bitis, lord of Sk 
[Kynopolis], when he was in the arms of Bast, being cast out 
into every land" (Gardiner). This rendering is not very con- 
vincing; Bitis corresponds to Osiris rather than to Horus, the 
bambino. While the hieratic is inaccessible to me, I am inclined 
to correct mi -iwd-wi into mi hd "oryx antelope" (the writing 
is almost identical). We may then render: "When he was an 
antelope (for construction cf. Erman, "Agypt. Gramm., s §445 f.) 
[ ], being driven out into every land." If the reading 
Bstt is correct, the expression "antelope of Bast" would be like 



122 JOURNAL OP BIBLICAL LITEEATUBE 

"gazelle of Isis," to whom the gazelle was sacred at Koptos, 
according to Aelian, or "cattle of Sakan" (bul il Sakan). Sakan 
or Sumukan is a gazelle or a wild-goat, like the Greek Pan and 
the Hebrew T^tJ' (see my article in JAOS.). It is interesting to 
find Bitis in the role of a wanderer, like Gilgamesh and Engidu, 
since this aspect of him does not appear in his romance so clearly. 
Concisely told, the Story of the Two Brothers is as follows: 
Bitis lived with Anubis, his older brother, acting as the latter 's 
herd and errand boy. Because of his strength and beauty, his 
brother's wife became passionately enamored of him, and made 
illicit proposals, which he indignantly rejected. After Bitis had 
returned to work, his sister-in-law besmeared herself with dirt 
and told her husband that his brother had assaulted her, which 
so enraged Anubis that he lay in wait for the latter behind the 
stable door. The cattle, however, warned Bitis, and he fled, 
pursued by his brother. Becoming faint, he implored the sun- 
god for assistance, whereupon a river appeared between the two. 
The next morning Bitis told his brother the true story, and emas 
culated himself to prove his innocence. Having informed 
Anubis about his further plans, he left him lamenting, and pro- 
ceeded on his way to the valley of junipers, where he built a 
house and placed his heart in the topmost blossom of a juniper. 
At the behest of the gods, Hnum moulded a beautiful wife for 
Bitis. One day the river secured possession of a lock of her 
hair and carried it to the washerwoman of the king of Egypt, 
who found that it exhaled a most fragrant odor. When this was 
reported to the king, he sent messengers to look for her and 
bring her to him. When the woman had come to Egypt, and 
had been made queen, she had men sent to cut down the juniper 
and thus kill her former husband, whose vengeance she feared. 
So it transpired, but Anubis was warned of his brother's death 
by the frothing of a jug of beer, and set out to find the juniper- 
berry in which was his brother's heart. After a long search 
he succeeded, and by throwing the heart into a jar of water, 
Bitis was resuscitated, and transformed into a bull, which 
Anubis, as previously instructed, presented to the king, receiv- 
ing a liberal reward. The queen, however, discovering the bull's 
identity, ordered it butchered. Two drops of its blood became 
two fine Persea trees, which the queen had cut down. A splinter 
entered her mouth, and fecundated her. The infant, of course, 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STORY OP JOSEPH 123 

was Bitis, who had his mother condemned as soon as he had 
mounted the throne. Bitis himself ruled thirty years, making 
his brother governor of the land. 

Both Bitis and Anubis have the determinatives for "god." 
Bitis, moreover, is addressed by the gods as kipsdt, "bull of 
the ennead." The origin of the hostility between Bitis and 
the jackal-god Anubis may possibly be traced to the hostility 
between the shepherd and the wolves and jackals which plunder 
the flocks. In the closely related Set-Osiris myth, however, 
there is no trace of such a motive, though the euhemeristic 
explanation proposed by Petrie can hardly have more than a very 
limited validity. A more probable motive is the antagonism 
between Anubis, the jackal-guardian of cemeteries, and hence the 
god of the underworld, especially in the earliest dynasties (cf. 
Petrie, Religion of Ancient Egypt, p. 37 f.), and Bitis, god of 
resurrection. Similar is the enmity between Nergal-Ares and 
Tammuz- Adonis. 

The origin of fertility was represented by a sexual union in 
which (typically) the god of fecundity was the male principle, 
the earth-goddess the female. The motivation, however, varied 
greatly. In the Langdon-epic, as Jastrow has pointed out, Bnki 
forces Nintud over her protest, it would seem. The rape-motive 
is especially common in Greek myths. In a general series of 
myths which probably, with Frazer, we may explain as reflecting 
the primitive stage of MutterrecM, accompanied more or less with 
polyandry, the mother seduces the father. When the sociological 
basis had been removed, however, these myths could hardly have 
maintained themselves but for their popularity as tales. The 
psychological reason for this popularity is evident — that the 
seduction-motive makes an excellent story, and appeals with 
special power to the imagination of the male sex, the myth- 
makers. To this category belong, for example, most of the 
Tammuz myths, those of Adonis, Attis, Bngidu and his Indian 
offshoot Rsyasrhga (for whom see my paper in JA08.). This 
motive has passed into the often closely related stories of the first 
parents, where Eve seduces Adam, Yami Tama, Masyoi Masya 
(Bundahisn, Ch. 15). With the development of the ascetic 
ideal as a reaction against the extravagances of sexual license to 
which these cults gave rise, and the growth in popularity of the 
eunuch-priest institution, which required suitable cult-legends to 



124 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

explain its origin and justify its existence, many of these stories 
assumed a different complexion. In India and Egypt ( ?) the 
ascetic ideal was the force behind the change. So, in the Rig- 
Veda, the close of the dramatic scene between Yama and WamI 
was omitted, leaving the hearer to infer that Yama resisted his 
sister's allurements successfully (see Schroder, Mysterium und 
Mirnus, pp. 275 if.). Originally, as Von Schroder has pointed 
out, the episode was a mimetic fertility-charm. Similarly 
Rsyasrnga, in the Buddhist Jatakas, falls through no fault of his 
own, being in a virginal state of ignorance. After learning his 
misdemeanor, he performs due penance and returns to monastic 
seclusion. In the older versions (cf. Schroder, op. cit., pp. 292- 
303), on the other hand, he is successfully decoyed from the 
hermitage. In the second tablet of the Gilgamesh-epic (recently 
published by Langdon), the hero is violently separated from his 
mistress Ishara by Engidu, who himself afterwards curses the 
fille de joie who seduced him and inveigled him into the sophisti- 
cation and disillusionment of civilized life. 9 Later Gilgamesh 
himself steadfastly repulses Istar's advances. The progress of 
sexual morality is also evidently the prime cause in the similar 
modification of the Syro-Anatolian myths of Attis, Kombabos, 
Esmun, etc. Whether, however, the castration of the heroes is 
based upon a fertility charm, as Frazer thinks, or has a social 
origin, as suggested above (in which case the custom was first 
suggested by the castration of animals for industrial purposes) , 
I cannot undertake to decide. The solution of such sociogenetic 
problems must be left to the future. 

For the sake of completeness I will refer to a third main type 
of explanations of the origin of fertility, the self-fecundation of 
males or hermaphrodites, like Agdistis and the Orphic Phanes. 
However, as these strange aberrations are happily unknown in 
the Bible, I will refer for a discussion of the onanistic theories to 
my paper in JAOS. The idea of self-fecundation came prima- 
rily through the observation of apparently unisexual vegetation, 
especially in lands where the culture of the date-palm called 
men's attention to this fact by contrast. 

8 The civilizing of Engidu forms a striking parallel to the Fall in 
Genesis, as was first pointed out by Jastrow (AJSL., 15, 193 ff.; see also 
Ungnad-Gressmann, Das Gilgamesoh-Epos, 98 ft). This episode cannot, 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STORY OP JOSEPH 125 

The adventures of Bitis and Joseph belong to the second type 
of myths above characterized. The emasculation, however, is 
solely motivated by the hero's desire to prove his innocence, 
much as in the legend of Kombabos, where it is also a precaution 
taken in advance (see below) . The emasculation of a god is not a 
permanent disability, so Bitis receives a wife, as perfect a crea- 
ture as the ram-god of Elephantine could fashion on his potter's 
wheel. Like Eve, she is created for the eternal reason {^ 
TO 1 ? D"1Nn nvn UltD . So, again, the Schopenhauerian com- 
poser of the Gilgamesh-epic has Aruru model Engidu from clay 
to serve as a helpmeet to Gilgamesh. 

The virtual transformation of Bitis into a juniper, now mod- 
ified by the well-known life-token motive, belongs primarily with 
the emasculation, as in the myth of Attis, where the hero is 
turned into a pine. The association between these gods and ever- 
green trees is characteristic; Adonis is born from a myrtle, 
Tammuz from a cedar. 10 Frazer's inability to find a satisfactory 
explanation (Adonis, Attis, Osiris' vol. 1, p. 277 f.) is straining 
at a gnat ; the evergreen tree was the symbol of unchanging ver- 
dure and eternal life. The individual choices are, except 
perhaps in the case of the myrtle, obviously based on the 
geographical distribution of the trees. 

Bitis is brought to life when his heart is put into the water, 
like the plants. Similarly Tammuz and Istar are annually 
revived by being sprinkled with the water of life (me oaldti) 
from the underworld. So also Osiris and Tammuz are cast into 
the river, to be drowned and resurrected with the subsidence of 
the inundation. Upon coming to life the god assumes the form 
of a bull, 11 like the Nile-bull Osiris- Apis, 12 representing the river 

however, be dignified with the title "prototype of the Fall." There is a 
much better parallel, which I hope to discuss soon in this journal. 

10 The clearest proof of this is found in CT., 15, 27, 1. 5, where the young 
god says (as I would render), "My pregnant mother (was) the holy 
cedar. ' ' The translation will be justified elsewhere. 

11 Cf. the god's title fe. . psdt, "bull of the ennead." While, strictly 
speaking, fe. . here means "hero/' like Sum. gud, the line between meta- 
phor and mythology is very hard to trace. 

12 Ea is also called the cm-gig abeu-ge, "black bull of the apsu." 
Lehmann-Haupt 's ingenious combination of Sarapis with §ar-apsi, a title 
of Ea, though supported by very learned arguments (ef. his article in 
Roscher), is certainly wrong, as Sethe has convincingly shown. 



126 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

at its inundation ; cf. the ram 3 gb-wr, "the great inundation." 
I expect to show elsewhere that the Euphrates and Tigris were 
also personified in the same way. A more intimate parallel, per- 
haps, is furnished by the bull Zeus-Sabazios in the Attis myth. 

From the bull's blood two Persea trees grow. The strange 
mutations of the story are due to the syncresis of different myths 
and a rather naive attempt to harmonize them and to adjust their 
most glaring inconcinnities to the Egyptian taste. How many 
of the motives are of Egyptian "origin" need not be asked in 
the present state of our knowledge. Assuming then the read- 
justing process, one is tempted to consider the two drops of 
blood a concession to delicacy, substituted for the bull 's testicles. 
From Agdistis' testicles an almond tree (or a pomegranate, 
according to a variant reported by Arnobius) grows, a tale paro- 
died by Lucian in his account of lunar marvels in the 'AXr/O^ 
laropia. 

Many of the motives which appear in the Story of the Two 
Brothers are folkloristic (marchenhaft) , rather than mythical. 
Since these motives are nearly all familiar, it is unnecessary to 
prolong the paper by discussing them. The motive of the 
scented hair, rather unusual, comes from the Osiris myth, as 
Sethe has pointed out. 

I may add that Bitis' consort, who three times contrives to 
destroy him, corresponds to Istar, who destroys her lovers (sixth 
tablet of the Gilgamesh-epic). This figure is in a sense perhaps 
the prototype of the "bride who destroys her husband," found 
in the Bible as Tamar and Sarah (in the Eomance of Tobit). 
Tamar may, indeed, be a depotentized goddess (the name is of 
no consequence) ; she seduces Judah, the eponymous ancestor of 
his tribe, as a ilWlp or hierodule. At all events we are dealing 
with a folk-tale which was introduced into the tribal history of 
Judah and given a genealogical import (cf. Die Israeliten u. ihre 
NacKbarstamme, 200 &.). The goddess lives forever, but the 
vegetation which she loves dies annually — a proof of her incon- 
stancy. 

Let us return to the story of Joseph. The episode of Joseph 
and Zuleika is so much like the legends of Bitis and Kombabos 
that its character is immediately clear. Were it not for the 
cumulative force of the evidence for Joseph's role as hero of 
fecundity, one might reasonably object to fastening a mytholog- 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STOET OP JOSEPH 127 

ical exegesis to so natural and human a story (cf. the examples 
cited by Lang, Myth, Ritual, and Religion, vol. 2, pp. 303 if.). 
In some respects the story of Kombabos (Lucian, Dea Syria, 
19-26) 13 is even closer to the Joseph-story than the Egyptian tale, 
which does not militate against an Egyptian origin, since there 
may have been many variants to the form found in the Story of 
the Two Brothers. Kombabos is appointed chamberlain of the 
king and guardian of the beautiful young queen, just as Joseph 
is his master's steward, and custodian of his house (and wife). 
Kombabos also goes to prison (and is later condemned to execu- 
tion), while Bitis flees, I am furthermore strongly inclined to 
think that Joseph, in the original story, prudently removed the 
spring of temptation beforehand, like Kombabos. Later Israel- 
ites, not being able to reconcile the idea with Joseph's patriarchal 
role, suppressed it. Taking into consideration the frequency 
with which motives are transferred (see below), 14 we may see a 
reflection of Joseph 's original state in the eunuch Potiphar. The 
figure of Potiphar is very secondary ; "Ifl'Dlfl is simply an adap- 
tation or corruption of JTlfl'tDlfl, name of the priest of Heliopo- 
lis. While a eunuch may have a whole harem, and is often 
blessed with his share of erotic proclivities (cf. Juvenal's sixth 
satire, and the Arabian Nights, passim), it is at least unusual to 
find a married DHD 16 . If the DHD was originally Joseph, 

13 Humbaba is probably the prototype of Kombabos. Hierapolis was at 
one time strongly under Babylonian influence, as appears from the stories 
of Sisythes (= Zisudu) and Semiramis told by Lucian. Kombabos is the 
guardian of Stratonike, and before that, we may suppose, of Semiramis 
(not, of course, Sammuramat ! ) ; Humbaba is the guardian of Irnini. 
Another indirect reflexion of Humbaba is Haman, who plots to gain pos- 
session of Esther's person. The resemblance between the three figures, 
however, does not go beyond name and attachment to the goddess or 
queen. Kombabos is a Syro- Anatolian adaptation of Humbaba (cf. 
Tarku < Tarjru, etc.) ; Haman is a corruption originating (as the 
weakening of the laryngal indicates) among the Aramaic-speaking popu- 
lation of Babylonia. 

11 Cf. the transference of the death by burning from gamas-sum-ukin to 
his brother Sardanapalus, noticed by Lehmann-Haupt. 

15 There is no evidence that D'lO ever meant "official," Jensen's 
derivation from Assyrian *sa-resi, which would exhibit a development like 
Syr. NJDTID, is to be given up in favor of Haupt's etymology from 
\j»jm>, whence also siresu, "beer/' which receives its name from the 
preparation of malt. Assyr. sutresu, "eunuch," is a formation like 



128 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITEBATUEE 

Zuleika is the pivot of the shift. We might fancy that in an 
older recension than ours the motive of Potiphar's impotence 
was employed to fire Zuleika (and excuse her?) and to place 
the resistance of a virile Joseph in as bright a light as possible, 
defending his chastity against almost irresistible passion. At 
this point, however, we lose bottom, and begin to flounder in 
perilous speculations. 

The transference of the motive of emasculation is common 
elsewhere. In the Sabazios myth (Roscher, vol. 4, 252 f. ; see also 
above), the god falls in love with his mother Demeter, and con- 
sorts with her in the form of a bull. In order to pacify the angry 
goddess when she learns the truth, he cuts off the testicles of 
a ram, and throws them at her, pretending that they are his own. 
Since Sabazios is also a ram-god (represented, in the Anatolian 
fashion, standing on a ram's head), it is clear that originally he 
emasculated himself, but afterwards, since this was repugnant 
to Phrygian ideas, Sabazios being a bearded god, the substitution 
was made. The same motive is modified still differently in the 
Gilgamesh-epic, where the two heroes slay the celestial bull 
(alu) sent against Gilgamesh by the injured goddess Istar, and 
Engidu hurls the imittu of the beast at her. Hommel 's view that 
imittu is "phallus" (properly "penis" from emedu, "to stand") 
must be rejected; Jensen and Holma (Korperteile, p. 131 f.) 
have proved that imittu means "right leg." However, imittu 
is surely a substitute for isku (or euphemism!) ; Gressmann 
(Ungnad-Gressmann, D. Gilgamesch-Epos, 133 f.) also suggests 
this idea, but handles it with unusual caution. In the underly- 
ing myth, we may suppose, Engidu was approached by the god- 
dess, but maintained his chastity, and (as usual) emasculated 
himself, throwing the trophy in her face. The fact that he was 
seduced in another story is no more objection than the liaison 
between Gilgamesh and Ishara is to that hero's triumph over 
Istar 's temptation. The names and myths of these heroes are 
not in the least crystallized. 

The views of Jeremias regarding the astral-mythological sig- 
nificance of the descent to Egypt, the imprisonment (the dun- 
geon, "113, which is rather inconsistent with the rest of the nar- 

sutmasu, Jputpalu, for *sutrasii, which corresponds to the Greek eXtfiopevos 
or reBXaanivos, and the Hebrew i"DT J?1X3 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STOEY OP JOSEPH 129 

rative, may belong in the category of mythical reminiscences), 
etc., seem to me quite unfounded. The journey to Egypt, as 
noted above, is a syncretistic joint, while the imprisonment is 
the natural consequence of Joseph's supposed crime, and is 
stressed for dramatic reasons. However, Joseph's rise from his 
subterranean residence to feed the land during seven years of 
famine is worthy of an Egyptian demigod. We have two illus- 
trations of the motive of the hero or sage who saves the land in 
connection with a seven years' famine. According to a story 
preserved in a Ptolemaic inscription (Sethe, Untersuchungen, 
vol. 2, p. 75 ff.), the land was afflicted by a seven years' famine 
during the reign of king Doser (head of the third dynasty, 
cir. 2900 b. a). At last the king directed himself to the half- 
fabulous sage Imhotep, afterwards deified, asking him for infor- 
mation about the source of the Nile and the reason that the river 
had so long failed to rise to its wonted level. The sage obtained 
the knowledge from the sacred books to which he had access, and 
told the king of the god Hnum, who controlled the flow of the 
river from his home in Elephantine. In response to the royal 
petition, Hnum appeared to the king in a dream and promised to 
send the Nile back to the thirsty land. The grateful king there- 
upon donated to the god a tract of land at the first cataract, into 
which the Nile was fancied to spring through two subterranean 
passages leading from the underworld. 

The other illustration comes from Babylonia. In the sixth 
tablet of the Gilgamesh-epic, as already mentioned, Istar goes 
to heaven after being rejected by the hero and entreats Anu to 
create a divine bull, a terrible, fire-breathing monster, to 
destroy the heartless wretch. While the following lines are 
somewhat broken, the following sketch of their contents, agree- 
ing rather with Jensen than Gressmann (Ungnad-Gressmann, 
op. cit., 131 f.), can hardly be far wrong. Anu warns her that 
her request brings with it seven years of "straw," evidently 
years in which the grain does not fill out ("runs to straw"), and 
asks her whether she has made provision for feeding men and 
cattle during the years of famine that would ensue. Having 
received an affirmative reply, the bull is duly created, and pro- 
ceeds on its destroying way, slaying two hundred men with one 
blast from its fiery nostrils. Jensen is probably right in seeing 



130 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

the cause of the famine in the ravages of the bull. I am tempted 
to regard the (red) bull as a personification of the reddish 
rust which attacks grain, often like an epidemic. As is known, 
the three hundred foxes turned loose in the grain by the solar 
hero Samson refer primarily to the spread of the rust, called in 
Italian volpe. ie This explanation does not exhaust the mythical 
connotations of the bull (cf. above) ; but the introduction of the 
taurine element brought with it, we may suppose, the famine. 
Istar's glib declaration that the necessary precautions against 
famine had been taken does not impress one as sincere, since it 
is so obviously made on the spur of the moment. Presumably she 
is represented as lying, in order to get her way. The motive of 
the divine lie is so common in antiquity that it need cause no 
surprise; cf. Ungnad-Gressmann, op. cit., 204, and Gunkel 
Genesis, 2 p. 170 (to which Gressmann refers). Most interest- 
ing to us, however, is the slaying of the bull by Gilgamesh (and 
Engidu), who thereby saves the land from famine. That Gil- 
gamesh is primarily a vegetation-deity is practically certain (see 
my article in JA08.) ; his emblem is the ildakku, or young 
sprout. "While Samson, the pestilential heat of the summer sun 
(like Beseph- Apollo), sends the rust into the nourishing grain- 
fields of the enemy, Gilgamesh, the savior of men, destroys the 
rust. 

Intrinsically, the Babylonian myth resembles the story of 
Joseph more closely ; in both the heroes forestall the threatened 
famine, while there is at least the suggestion of a proposal to 
store up grain in advance. Superficially, the Egyptian legend is 
nearer, because of its Egyptian coloring — the seven low Niles, the 
wise man (in the more highly cultured Egypt the sage takes the 
place of the warrior), 17 the dream. However, our story is just 
what we should expect a tribe of Hebrew shepherds to pick up 

"For a good discussion of Samson and the foxes see Stahn, Die 
Simsonsage (Diss., Gottingen, 1908), p. 41 f. In the Roman festival of 
the Cerealia foxes with torches attached to their tails were driven through 
the circus. As protector of the grain against rust the Ehodian Apollo 
received the appellative epvSifltos. There are a number of parallels. 

17 Joseph 's character as an Egyptian sage appears in the age to which he 
lived, which seems to have been the traditionally correct longevity for a 
scholar, as several are said to have lived 110 years, among them the 
famous Ptah-hotep. 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STORY OP JOSEPH 131 

from its associations with Egyptians of a similar class — snatches 
from the cycle of an Egyptian pastoral hero like Bitis, contain- 
ing elements from various sources adaptable to the story of a 
god of fertility. The Hebrews, their imagination stimulated by 
the example of chieftains who had risen to positions of promi- 
nence (for historical setting see below), 18 elevated their hero to 
the highest attainable post, and made him grand vizier to the 
Pharaoh. The Hebrews brought with them from Egypt, it 
would seem, the story of their hero-god Joseph, who was a slave 
in an Egyptian household, encountered and withstood tempta- 
tion, was thrown into jail, whence he emerged to save the land 
from a grave famine, and was made vizier of the land. Doubt- 
less there were many mythical additions which later disappeared ; 
en revanche the story when committed to writing was thoroughly 
revised with a view to archaeological accuracy. This revision 
may come from J's hand, but I prefer to regard it as a century 
earlier. During the Egyptophile reign of Solomon, which 
probably, moreover, held a place in Hebrew literature like that 
of the age of Hammurabi in Akkadian (Semitic Babylonian), 
the story of Joseph gave an unequaled opportunity to the patri- 
otic scribe. No doubt the government was on the alert for means 
of impressing its ally and setting forth Hebrew claims in as 
favorable a light as possible. 19 This explains the archaeological 
accuracy; the document was prepared for Egyptian consump- 
tion, like the composition of Artapanus eight centuries later. 

Steindorff's famous explanation of Joseph's Egyptian name, 
nj#2 Al£)¥< as D(d)--p : i-ntr-iwf-'nh, "God speaks and he 
lives," pronounced approximately Cepnutefanh, has been made 

18 The view of Marquart and Winekler that the historical prototype of 
Joseph is to be found in Yanhamu of Yarimuta must be rejected, as 
Poebel, Historical Texts, pp. 225 ff., has shown that Yarimuta was 
located in northern Syria, and perhaps is identical with the plain of 
Antioch. Following Krug's suggestion, most scholars had placed it in 
the Delta. Eerdmans' suggestion that Joseph represents the "Syrian 
Arisu" is also impossible (cf. BShl, Kanaanaer, p. 80 f.). 

19 Winekler, in his brochure Vorderasien im zweiten Jahrtausend 
(MVAG., 18, 4), pp. 16 ff., gives a good picture of ancient Oriental dip- 
lomatic methods and principles, in many respects strangely modern. 
Winekler also emphasizes the role played by the official historiographer in 
producing the necessary "documentary" evidence in support of a claim 
or propaganda. 



132 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

a basis for the dating of J in the ninth century, since this type 
of name was not in use before the 22nd dynasty (950-750). 
This view, at first sight plausible enough, demands so many 
improbable assumptions that it must be rejected. In the first 
place, it is very unlikely that the name in question ever existed, 
as the late Norse authority on Egyptian nomenclature, J. Lieb- 
lein, trenchantly observed (Becherches, 1, 151). "Who will sup- 
pose that a Hebrew scholar, acquainted with Egyptian, would 
search through name-lists until he found a type more or less 
applicable to Joseph, and then change it, to give the monothe- 
istic coloring requisite? As Lieblein remarks, "Est-ce la, de la 
science?" Lieblein 's own suggestion (p. 149 f.), Dfnti-pi-'nh 
(t'fnti-pcmkh) , "celui qui donne la nourriture pour (le main- 
tien) delavie," is grammatically anomalous ; Lieblein belonged 
to the pre-grammatical school of Egyptology. His explanation 
of T|"QK as iib-rk, "a gauche toi," seems to me, however, 
preferable to Spiegelberg's ib rk, " auf gepasst ! " in view of the 
modern simalek, quoted by him (p. 149) . I would propose a dif- 
ferent equivalent of Joseph 's surname, based on the LXX, which 
gives ^oj'Oo^avrjx. The superiority of the Septuagint in these 
details is also evident in Uere^pij for ^Hfl'plQ (Eg. pronuncia- 
tion approximately Ptevpre'). l7JJ?fi i"0£2f may be on a par 
with . JujCwiH for 'A\t£av8pos ; vocalic n, which became m before 

a labial, as in Coptic, is incompatible in Hebrew, so was 
omitted. We may then reconstruct the Egyptian original as 
Pi-snt-n-pi-'nh (pronounced Ps(o)ntmp'aneh; we do not know 
precisely how the participle was vocalized), "the sustainer (estab- 
lisher, creator; Coptic sont = 'create') of life," corresponding 
exactly to the Assyrian expression muMn balati (common in 
proper names, as appellative of deity). 20 I defy anyone to offer 
a suggestion more appropriate to the context. 

Prof. Haupt has happily suggested that Potiphera, priest of 
Heliopolis, and his daughter Asenath (DJDK) belong originally to 

the story of Moses (ZDMG., 63, 522). In the two centuries or 
more which intervened between the death of Moses and the acces- 
sion of Solomon, the Jews, who, as Prof. Haupt has repeatedly 

80 Etymologically snt and |13 are related, as I shall try to show in my 
paper on the relation between Egyptian and Semitic, now appearing in 
AJSL. 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STORY OP JOSEPH 133 

emphasized, were the real spiritual heirs of Moses (and through 
the Kenites closely related to him), can hardly have forgotten 
the basic facts of Moses' life. We may at least expect a more 
accurate knowledge than can be placed to the credit of the com- 
pilers of J and E, several generations later. However, there was 
ample time for a confusion to rise between the careers of Moses 
and Joseph, especially since originally each must have been asso- 
ciated with a separate Inodus and Exodus (see below) , later iden- 
tified and fused. The confusion is well illustrated by the later 
Egyptian story of Moses-Osarsiph ; Osarsiph is a curious attempt 
to reclaim the Hebrew Joseph, whose name was fancied to 
contain the shortened form of Yahweh (cf. Eliakim and Joiakim ; 
for the combining-form Osar- instead of Osir cf. Sarapis, and 
Sethe, Sarapis, p. 9-) . 

In the preceding discussion I have several times alluded to the 
historical movements which the Story of Joseph, in its present 
form, presupposes. I will therefore give a very brief sketch of 
the patriarchal and Mosaic history down through the Conquest ; 
a more extended treatment would prolong the paper unrea- 
sonably. 

While Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are evidently gods, the former 
by implication (for his name and character cf. Meyer, Geschichte 
des AMertums, 3 p. 401), Abram, however, pace Eduard Meyer, 
is surely not a god; since Ungnad's discovery of the proper 
name Abamram 21 in contracts from Dilbat, south of Babylon, 
belonging to the time of Ammisadfika (1978-1957), the older 
view has, very properly, returned to favor. Of course, Abam- 
ram is a West-Semitic name; the stem DV"1, "be high," does not 
exist in Babylonian. Abram is said to have come from "IIN 
D'ltJO, unquestionably to be identified with Ur in Lower 
Babylonia. One cannot, however, help cherishing grave doubts 
in regard to the antiquity of the tradition, since the Chaldaeans 
do not appear in Babylonia before the tenth or eleventh cen- 

21 See Beitriige eur Assyriologie, vol. 6, 5, p. 60. Ungnad's attempt to 
explain Abamram from the Babylonian, as "Er hat den Vater liebge- 
wonnen, " is impossible. The name seems to be a formation like 
Atramhasis, "the greatly wise," and means "Lofty in respect to 
father," i. e., "Of exalted lineage." Meyer very reasonably took excep- 
tion to a proper name meaning "The exalted father," and regarded 
Abram as an appellation of deity. This view is now gratuitous. 



134 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

tury at the earliest, and Ur did not fall into their hands till 
considerably later. Moreover Jos. 24 : 2 refers the ancestors of 
the Hebrews simply to "lJUPT *"D#, which, from the Palestinian 
standpoint, could hardly mean Chaldaea. The journey from Ur 
to Harran has given the impetus to ingenious speculations. 
Winckler thought that Abram was an adherent of the lunar cult, 
and hence moved to another center of moon-worship, Harran, to 
escape from the innovations and persecutions of the official Mar- 
duk religion established by Hammurabi, but his hypothesis is 
supported neither by direct Biblical evidence nor by illustrative 
material from the ancient Orient. The long journey up the val- 
ley is, besides, very suspicious, especially since the close associa- 
tion of Abraham with the Aramaeans of Syro-Mesopotamia does 
not take Ur into consideration at all. For light on the tradi- 
tional prehistory of the Hebrews we are therefor thrown back 
on the postdiluvian genealogy. 

DC (l),"UJOfl"1N (2), and*Q#(4) are evidently eponymous 
figures; J^fl (5) is the aetiological representative of the Disper- 
sion, which the Jewish scholars placed half-way between the 
Flood and Abraham. Vhti? (3) and 1JH (6) are apparently 
mythical heroes belonging to the same class as fl^CinO and the 
many shepherds of Babylonian mythical history, Daonos, Lugal- 
banda, Tammuz, etc. TT\V? (7) is the Aramaean town Sariigi 
(from the Aram, stem JHD) near Harran; its inclusion in our 
list makes one suspect that Aramaean traditions and records have 
had a marked influence in the shaping of the Jewish records. 
Damascus, for example, must have had a literature quite as rich 
as the Israelite, and many Aramaean scholars may have emi- 
grated to the south after the fall of Damascus in 733. Some 
Aramaean influence may have been exerted during the Exile, 
when the eastern Aramaeans had developed a literature 
(Romance of Ahikar, etc.). "1H7J may possibly be an old storm- 
god, from the stem "1173, "snort" ( ^ , "snore"), in which 

case we have a formation like pJH <Dagan < ^ s,£>; cf. also 

fib") from Ramman. Finally, PHD has plausibly been identi- 
fied by Jensen with the Hittite Tf>rhu. 

The intermediate link between Shem and Eber is Arphaxad, 
which may safely be identified, as is usually done, with 
'Appa7raxms, Assyrian Arrapha, the district about the Upper Zab 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STOET OP JOSEPH 135 

river, first mentioned c. 2100 (OLZ. 18, 170) . Arrapha may have 
been pronounced also Arrapka (for the k instead of h after a 
stop-sound cf. samkatu, "courtesan," for samitatu; the new 
text of the second tablet of the Gilgamesh-epic, published by 
Langdon, has samkatu throughout) ; "ItJOSIitf is evidently 
Arpak (the Hebrew- Aramaean pronunciation of Arrapka; 
hence Armenian Albak < Arbak) sade, "Arpak of the moun- 
tains (or hills) "; cf. Hana and Hanigalbat. "We can now per- 
haps explain the curious similarity between "ILJOfilN and TIN 
DHSJO which has fascinated and baffled so many investigators — > 
without resorting to Hommel's desperate expedient of consider- 
ing Q the Egyptian article. The most important city in or 
near Arrapha was Arbela, which existed, as Urbillu m , Urbel, 
Arbail(u), from the middle of the third millennium down to 
modern times, still surviving as Erbil, a town of some impor 
tance. So far as recorded continuous existence goes, Arbela may 
claim the title of being the oldest city in the world. I am 
inclined to' think that in the oldest tradition ^UTN (Urbel) 22 in 
TCOI3TN was the home of Abram, later corrupted (in the cur- 
sive script!) to TJTN, which the exilic scholars emended to 
0*1520 TIN, having in mind, of course, the Babylonian Ur sa 
mat Kaldi. That Jewish scholars were at that time not yet 
bound by exaggerated ideas of the sanctity of holy writ is well- 
known; a case of haggadic etymology is DiTDN. Even if 
incorrect, this explanation of Ur is better, I venture to say, than 
the combination with Urfa-Edessa, which goes back to OI*ua 
(=Arzaua, as Grimme has very felicitously pointed out, 
OLZ., 16, 155, n. 1), a city inhabited by a non-Semitic popula- 
tion, or Clay's identification with the ephemeral village of 
Amuru near Sippar (Amurru, pp. 167 ff.). 

Can we assume Hebrews in Arrapha during the early centuries 
of the second millennium? The answer must be affirmative. 
In Revue d'Assyr., 12 (1915), 114 f., Pere Scheil has published a 
contract from the reign of Blm-Sin of Larsa (2154-2093) which 
mentions the rede (officers) of the Habiru (gen. Habiri), obvi- 

22 While according to tradition Abram may have founded Hebron, I do 
not feel justified in comparing ymx mp with Arba-ilu (written IV -\- 
god), which may be a popular etymology of a very late date. Nor are we 
justified in seeing traces of moon-worship in JJ31K TV\T>. 



136 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

ously employed as mercenaries. As the late Joseph Halevy 
maintained, there is evidence that Kossean elements were found 
in the Habiru, in particular the proper name Harbi-sipak 
(habira'a) . The Habiru name Kudurra (Recueil de Travaux, 
vol. 16, p. 32) seems to be Elamite. However, the fact that Kos- 
seans are enrolled under the general head of Habiru proves no 
more than does the circumstance that men with German names 
are fighting under the French standard, or that tribes of Kur- 
dish origin in eastern Mesopotamia are considered Arab by the 
European traveler. As Prof. Haupt has repeatedly stated, the 
Hebrews were the precursors of the Arabs; 'br and 'rb are 
transposed doublets, both meaning "wanderer, nomad." In an 
article published recently in ZA., I have tried to show that the 
Sumerian ibira, "merchant," is a loan from Semitic *'abir, 
*ebir, while its synonym tibira stands for Ha'bar (like tamkar), 
*tebir. 2z It is safe to say that the Hebrews were as widely dis- 
tributed through the countries adjoining Arabia in the second 
millennium as were the Arabs during the centuries immediately 
preceding Islam. 

So far as I can see, the most trustworthy data in the saga of 
Abraham are (1) his westward journey from Arrapha to Har- 
ran; (2) his association with the Aramaeans (which may also be 
late; see above) ; (3) his connection with P2HX nHp=|TOt"T; 
(4) his association with Egypt. The fourteenth chapter must be 
regarded, with Asmussen (ZATW., 34, 36 ff.) and Haupt (OLZ., 
18, 70 ff.) as a political pamphlet, designed (so Haupt) to 
strengthen the hands of the patriotic Jews who were supporting 
the rebellion of Zerubbabel against the Persian monarch. As we 
now know that "Warad-Sin of Larsa, who, under the mask of 
Eriaku-Arioch, was long the comfort of the traditionalists, died 
about thirty years before Hammurabi- Amraphel acceded to the 
throne, the historical view has no foundation. "We must sup- 
pose that a Jewish scholar reckoned back on the basis of the 
Hebrew figures and "discovered" that Abram was a contempo- 
rary of Hammurabi. The Babylonian names came from a 
pseudo-historical composition like that discovered by Pinches; 
the Hebrew material was either borrowed from extant legends 
like the saga of the cities of the plain and the legend of Mel- 
chizedek, or invented by use of haggadic processes, such as the 

23 Of. "1T1D and Sj'l , the traveling peddler. 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STORY OF JOSEPH 137 

erudition of the 318 servants from the name of "Ify 1 ?^ , and the 
friends ^Z&X and NIOO from the *?2&tt ^CO and the 
JOOQ 'j?N. Even if fiction, it ought to have been true. Our 
modern scholars are often tempted to take the creations of their 
brains too seriously. 

The connection between the entrance of Abram into Egypt 
under pressure of famine and the Inodus of Jacob under similar 
circumstances is generally recognized ; the repetition of a motive 
is drastically illustrated by the threefold appearance of the 
sister-wife ruse in the stories of Abram and Isaac. We cannot 
doubt that there was an Inodus ; Abram was the chief of the 
tribe (or a chief), Jacob and Joseph tribal deities. The time of 
the entrance can be fixed with a close approach to precision. 
Hebron was built according to J, Num. 13 : 22 (by Abram, of 
course,- we need not investigate the validity of the tradition), 
seven years before Tanis, the Hyksos capital. Now, according to 
the era of Nubti (Meyer, Geschiohte des Aliertums, 3 316), Tanis 
was founded, or rather rebuilt by the Hyksos about 1680, so 
Hebron must have been "built" shortly before (the number 
"seven" belongs to the domain of saga). The presence of 
Hebrew and Mesopotamian elements in the mixed hordes which 
conquered Egypt under Anatolian leadership (Haian is a Hittite 
name), is attested by the names of the Hyksos dynasts la'kub- 
hr, 24 'Anat-hr, 25 Smkn. 26 The first name, which gave the Egyp- 
tians some trouble, proves conclusively the divine character of 
Jacob. 

I shall now offer a hypothetical reconstruction of the history of 

24 Also written Y'bTc-hr, Y'Tcp-hr. Miiller concludes (MFAG., 17 
[1912], 3, 47) that hr cannot be either b«, "God," or Eg. hri, "be 
contented." I would suggest that hr in these names is simply in, "moun- 
tain"; Ya'kub-har is a name like "NX'Sx (cf. Ht? Sx, Arm sadu, etc.). 

25 ' Anat may he derived from !"»#, the primary meaning of which is "to 
change" (Eg. 'ni, "turn"; Assyr. emu, "suppress"), so that 'Anat 

would be a deity of the same type as the Arabic ,,£.. e and J^_a_# 

(which also meant primarily "change"; cf. my article in ZA., " ahlu- 
aMlu"). The combinations of 'Anat with Antum, a mere theological 
abstraction, and the Persian Anahita (Anaitis) are most improbable. 

28 One is tempted to compare Smkn with the Sumero-Babylonian god of 
animal fecundity, Sumukan, but the resemblance is presumably fortuitous. 
The last syllable reminds one of the Gutean royal names Arlakan and 
Tirikan. 



138 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

Abraham (or his tribe). 27 The Kossean irruption which, 
impelled by Indo-European hordes behind, burst upon Mesopo- 
tamia in the first half of the eighteenth century, drove the 
Hebrew pastoral tribes before it into western Mesopotamia. 28 
Here a Hittite state had been set up by the Hittites who had 
conquered Babylonia a century and a half before, and in its army 
the Hebrews enlisted as mercenaries. We do not, of course, know 
the causes or character of the Hyksos invasion of Egypt. That 
the Hittite associations of Abram made a profound impression 
upon his followers is clear, above all, because of the fact that he 
was later regarded as the son of a Hittite god ! This is no more 
surprising than that Alexander was made the son of Zeus- 
Ammon. We may expect Abram to take a place in Hebrew saga 
somewhat parallel to that of Dietrich of Bern in Germanic. The 
Hebrew elements in the Hyksos army which invaded Egypt 
about 1690-1680 b. c. may even have been under Abram 's com- 
mand, which would account for the extraordinary respect in 
which later generations held him. The Hebrews, at all events, 
played such an important role that the Egyptians corrupted the 
imperial title, hk 5- hi swt, "ruler of foreign lands," into hki- 
Si sw, "ruler of the nomads, shepherd-king.'.' 

The circumstances and date of the first Exodus are obscure; 
I do not know of any passages in the Heptateuch which may 
have any bearing on the problem. Presumably with the decline of 
Hyksos power in Egypt the Hebrew tribes withdrew, settling in 
central Palestine among their kinsfolk. The usual idea now is 
that the Hebrews invaded Palestine and Syria as a horde, 
migrating from Arabia about 1500 B. c. This view, however, 
finds no support in the Amarna correspondence, aside, perhaps, 
from the letters of Abdi-Hepa of Jerusalem. The SA-GAZ, 29 
whose identity with the Habiru is now established beyond reason- 

27 The Hebrew itinerary Ur-Arphaxad, Harran, Damascus (Eli'ezer), 
Hebron, Tanis reminds one of the famous itinerary of the Aztec migra- 
tion, likewise preserved by tradition. 

28 To this period belongs the triumphal stele of an Assyrian king ruling 
somewhere in northern Mesopotamia, published by De Genouillac (Bevue 
d'Assyr., 7, 151-156), which celebrates a successful campaign against 
Arraphum and Urbel, in the course of which the king crosses the Upper 
Zab (Za'ibum). Evidently Arbela was an important place at this time, 
apparently the capital of an independent state. 

29 See especially Bohl, Kanaanaer, p. 89, n. 2. 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STORY OF JOSEPH 139 

able cavil, are found in intimate alliance with the Hittite and 
Mitannian princes of northern Syria (cf. above on Abraham and 
the Hittites) against Egypt. 30 They are, in fact, very much in 
the position of the Turkomans in Persia, a more or less permanent 
nomadic element in the population, allying itself usually with 
the ruling power, enlisting as mercenaries in its armies, etc. In 
this respect the patriarchal legends of Genesis have preserved a 
truer atmosphere than the reconstruction offered by the modern 
upholder of the "ethnological" theory of the Conquest. It is 
interesting to note that Winckler came around to this view of the 
situation as a result of his Boghaz-koi studies, where he met cases 
of fluid movement of population like that of Isiia. 31 Of course 
many Hebrew tribes in Arabia Petraea and the Syro-Mesopota- 
mian desert remained wholly nomadic long after their kinsmen 
had settled down. 

From the indications of the story of Joseph and the Amarna 
letters, 32 we may reasonably conclude that the Hebrews who 
returned from Egypt made Shechem their focus. These Hebrews 
can hardly, however, have played anything but an insignificant 
part in the whole confederation of tribes which later (before 
1225) assumed the name "Israel." To the history of this con- 
federation in pre-Josuanic days belong the sagas of the war 
between the Hebrew tribes, under the leadership of the town of 
Deborah, 33 and the Canaanite strongholds of "p37fi , 1130 , and 
perhaps "Y)¥n, as well as the war of Gideon against the Mid- 
ianites 34 and Amalekites, etc. 

More than three centuries after the first "Exodus" comes the 
Mosaic period. Instead of dealing with a god 35 we here find our- 

30 Ibid, p. 87 f . 

81 See "Winckler, Mitteil. der Deutschen Orient-Ges., vol. 35, p. 32 f. 

82 Cf. Bohl, op. tit., p. 93 f. 

38 See Haupt, ' ' Die Schlacht von Ta' anak ' ' in the Wellhausen Fest- 
schrift. 

S4 Midian is here a clear anachronism, like the Philistines in the time of 
Abram. 

8B V61ter's efforts to prove the original deity of Moses, in his brochures 
Aegypten und die Bibel (fourth edition, 1909) and Mose und die aegyp- 
tisohe Mythologie (1912), are complete failures. Volter's work is entirely 
destitute of scientific method, and the perusal of it fills one with much 
the same sensations produced by the curious book of Gemoll, Orundsteine 
sur Gesehielite Israels. The fact that both men are New Testament 
scholars may give rise to some unjust suspicion. 



140 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

selves in the presence of a great religious reformer, an enthusiast 
like Buddha, Zoroaster and Mohammed. 36 "Without, however, 
lingering on his fascinating career, about which so painfully little 
is really known, I will sketch its salient points rapidly, in keeping 
with my plan. The view presented is substantially that of Pro- 
fessor Haupt ; see ZDMO., 63, 506-530, and Proceedings of the 
American Philosophical Association, vol. 48, 354-369. 

Of fundamental importance is the connection of Moses with 
Heliopolis, which has been overgrown by the legendary account 
of his origin (following the well-known Sargon-Cyrus recipe), 
and finally displaced by religious prejudice (Haupt, op. cit., 
p. 522) . The confusion between the stories of Joseph and Moses 
was also an important factor in the process (see above) . Since 
Petepre' (JT13'£213) is priest of Heliopolis, we must, on our 
hypothesis, identify Jethro (WV), the JHO JHD, "Priester der 
Kultusgemeinde" (Haupt), with him. The supposed variant 
Hobab is an appellative meaning "father-in-law" (Haupt, 
OLZ., 12, 164). For Re'u'el (Raguel) see below. 

I am inclined to consider TUT as equivalent to a Heliopolitan 
priestly title *it-R' (like the priestly class it-ntr, "father of 
god"), pronounced approximately Iatre' (father = iat, later iot, 
Coptic picDT)- For the change of e to 6 cf. fiTlp for Sargen, 
and Haupt, op. cit., p. 522 f. Re'u'el I consider a name which 
Petepre' assumed after casting his lot with the Hebrews. ' ' Shep- 
herd of God" (the Greek y does not prove a c) is a monotheistic 
substitute for the incompatible "father of God," which to a 
Yahwist was as blasphemous as the titles "Mother" resp. 
' ' Grandmother of God, ' ' bestowed upon St. Mary and St. Anne, 
are to a Protestant. The name may also have been chosen with 
reference to the paronomasia (R', "sun-god," and ("TJH , "shep- 
herd" — which happen to be etymologically connected, as will be 
shown elsewhere) . 

Furthermore, Asenath (DJDN- Aer«w0) may possibly be the 
title of a priestess, like Assyrian marat Hi, standing for 
Si t-ntr (cf. Si t-niswt, "princess," lit. "daughter of the 

30 Cf . Bbhl, op. cit., pp. 96-108, and especially Gressmann, Mose und 
seine Zeit. Arnold's remarks (Sphod and Ark, p. 7) are not quite fair 
to Gressmann's fertility of thought and felicity of diction; cf. Smith, 
AJSL., 32, 90 if. 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STORY OP JOSEPH 141 

king"), pronounced Si'nate or Sa'nate, S'nate? 7 In case these 
combinations are correct, Petepre' will be the priest's original 
name, Jethro and Asnat will be sacerdotal titles, while Re'u'el 
and Sipporat 38 may be regarded as Hebrew names assumed after 
the Exodus. 

Through Heliopolis, as Haupt has pointed out, our path leads 
to the solar monotheism of Ihnaton's abortive reform, which took 
root in the philosophical monism developed in the City of the 
Sun (cf. Meyer, Geschichte d. Altertums 3 , § 272). Most signifi- 
cant is the fact that an uncle of the reformer was high-priest in 
Heliopolis (Borchardt, Ag. Zeit., vol. 44, p. 98). Perhaps he 
exerted an influence over the boy-king like that of Jehoiada over 
Joash. The movement could never have succeeded, however, had 
it not been for the cosmopolitan liberalism in science and culture 
which was characteristic of the fourteenth century. Even after 
the heresy had been suppressed (about 1350), monotheism may 
have maintained itself in secret among the priests of Heliopolis 
(Haupt, op. cit., p. 523) until the conversion of Moses, about 
1250, when it began a new career, destined to revolutionize the 
history of the world. The great contribution of the Hebrew 
thinker lay in freeing the conception from the trammels of heli- 
olatry. The ideas of Moses can hardly have fallen far short of 
those of Mohammed in purity of theology and universality of 
scope. A cosmopolite like Moses cannot have been a henotheist. 
In his eschatological doctrines he must have been much more 
idealistic than the Arab, a position to which reaction from the 
absurdities of the popular religion and acquaintance with the 
agnosticism of the intellectual must inevitably have led him. 

Moses' name may be a hypocoristicon (or a monotheistic alter- 
ation) of Re'-mose (a type of name then popular). 39 Since he 
was surely of Hebrew origin, we may regard him perhaps as a 
slave manumitted because of his unusual gifts. His master 

37 Ntr was pronounced note in the thirteenth century, as we know from 
the Babylonian transcription nata. 

,8 §ippora may be a romantic figure; ef. the transformation of Semira- 
mis and the empress Josephine into birds in popular tradition. Moses 
was once aided by ibises. 

39 The t£> in Mose is perhaps due to contamination with the name of 
Yehosua', who was as closely associated with him in tradition as Cain and 
Abel (Arab. Habil and Kabil). 



142 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

( ? cf. Potiphar above) not only adopted his teachings, like 
Abubekr, but also gave him his daughter, and finally accom- 
panied him in the Mosaic hegira. Moses found converts among 
his kinsmen in bondage, who had been imported into Egypt in 
large numbers, if we may judge from historical analogies; the 
king "who knew not Joseph" is a late fiction. Many converts 
came from slaves of all nationalities, with whom Egypt was then 
full (the "mixed multitude" of tradition), among them 
Nubians and negroes. In fact, Jethro may have been himself of 
Nubian stock, to judge from the gentilic Kusit applied to his 
daughter. As is well known, the name Phinehas (pi-nhsi, a 
common type of name among slaves) means "the negro." 40 

Once at Medina, the Yahwists gained adherents so successfully 
that they were enabled to form the religious confederation of 
Midian, which may be called, with Professor Haupt, the Sinaitic 
amphictyony. Their God, hitherto called El, after revealing his 
majesty in volcanic eruption received the name JTliT , ' ' He who 
causes to be" (the usual Hebrew formation for divine names; 
see above). Prof. Haupt has emended the cryptic "It^N iTilN 
fTHN (Ex. 3:14) to H.VT T#K nVW. "I cause to be that 
which comes into existence, ' ' a sentence which can be duplicated 
only in the sphere of Egyptian thought, where we have an exact 
parallel in the litanic formula shprf pw wnntifi, "he causes to 
be that which comes into existence." 41 Morphologically, the 
Tetragrammaton is Hebrew, semantically it is Egyptian; the 
numerous efforts to trace it to Babylonia are total failures, nor is 
there a single valid case of its occurrence in cuneiform inscrip- 
tions before the eighth century. 

After the death of Moses the Hebrews seem to have separated 
at Kadesh (circa 1200) into two bodies, one of which, under 
Caleb, attacked Palestine from the south; the other, led by 
Joshua, crossed the Jordan into central Palestine. Strictly 
speaking, the two invasions can hardly have been synchronous, 
as their character seems to have been quite different. The 
nucleus of the confederation went with Joshua, while the allied 
tribes of Kenite and Edomite stock followed Caleb. Presumably 

40 Other Egyptian names among the Aaronids are Hophni {~hfn, ' ' tad- 
pole") and perhaps Merari (mrrw, " beloved"). 

41 Cf ., e. g., Erman, Chrestomathie, p. 38, 1. 6. 



ALBRIGHT: ELEMENTS IN THE STORY OP JOSEPH 143 

the usual quarrel had occurred. The confederates gave them- 
selves the distinguishing name iTVliT' "the body of believers" 
(Haupt, ZDMG., 63, 513, n. 1). In spite of the fact that the 
sanctuary of Yahweh was in the North, at Shiloh, Judah pre- 
served its faith purer than Shiloh, just as the nomadic tribes of 
Arabia and not the theologians of Mekka supported Wahhabism. 
Fortunately, perhaps, for monotheism, Judah was effectually 
barred from organic union with the North by the chain of 
Canaanite fortresses extending across Palestine along the line of 
Jerusalem, Ajalon, and Gezer. 

When the romantic exaggerations of the bard, and the artificial 
constructions of the savant have been cleared away, Joshua's 
achievement becomes modest enough. After crossing the Jor- 
dan and capturing Jericho, 42 he may have attracted a sufficient 
number of native Hebrews living about Bethel and Shechem to 
enable him to defeat a Canaanite coalition at the battle of Beth- 
horon. 43 Beyond the line of Jerusalem to the south and the 
plain of Jezreel to the north he can hardly have ventured. Since 
the followers of Joshua had no tribal organizations, they were 
admitted into the already existing "tribal" divisions. The 
sanctuary of Yahweh was established at Shiloh, where it soon 
was endowed with the customary paraphernalia for ritualistic 
and divinatory purposes. In spite of all corruptions and com- 
promises, however, Yahwism persisted, gaining ground slowly 
until the reign of David, who may be styled the Yahwist Asoka. 
The "Aaronid" priesthood retained an Egyptian tinge, as may 
be seen from the names, down to the time of Samuel, about a cen- 
tury and a half after the conquest. 

42 For the historical basis of the saga of the fall of Jericho see Haupt, 
Wiener Zeitschrift, vol. 23, 355-365. The capture of Ai can hardly be 
considered historical; ef. Arnold, op. ait., p. 99. 

48 The present account of the battle of Beth-horon is based upon a 
poem like the Song of Deborah; cf. JAOS., 36, 230. 



10