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Exodus 1:8

Context

1:8 Then a new king, 1  who did not know about 2  Joseph, came to power 3  over Egypt.

1 sn It would be difficult to identify who this “new king” might be, since the chronology of ancient Israel and Egypt is continually debated. Scholars who take the numbers in the Bible more or less at face value would place the time of Jacob’s going down to Egypt in about 1876 b.c. This would put Joseph’s experience in the period prior to the Hyksos control of Egypt (1720-1570’s), and everything in the narrative about Joseph points to a native Egyptian setting and not a Hyksos one. Joseph’s death, then, would have been around 1806 b.c., just a few years prior to the end of the 12th Dynasty of Egypt. This marked the end of the mighty Middle Kingdom of Egypt. The relationship between the Hyksos (also Semites) and the Israelites may have been amicable, and the Hyksos then might very well be the enemies that the Egyptians feared in Exodus 1:10. It makes good sense to see the new king who did not know Joseph as either the founder (Amosis, 1570-1546) or an early king of the powerful 18th Dynasty (like Thutmose I). Egypt under this new leadership drove out the Hyksos and reestablished Egyptian sovereignty. The new rulers certainly would have been concerned about an increasing Semite population in their territory (see E. H. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, 49-55).

2 tn The relative clause comes last in the verse in Hebrew. It simply clarifies that the new king had no knowledge about Joseph. It also introduces a major theme in the early portion of Exodus, as a later Pharaoh will claim not to know who Yahweh is. The Lord, however, will work to make sure that Pharaoh and all Egypt will know that he is the true God.

3 tn Heb “arose.”



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