Carson & the Pyramids

Joseph & the Drought

Much has been made of Ben Carson's expressed belief that the biblical character Joseph was responsible for building pyramids in Egypt in which to store grain. The main consensus of archeologists is that the pyramids in Egypt were built as tombs for the rulers and their queens, including their riches so they would be well-off when they were reincarnated.

Carson has been mercilessly shredded for this position. I watched a clip of MSNBC's “Morning Joe” show in which the treatment by host Joe Scarborough, his co-host and a panel of guests accorded Carson unmitigated ridicule and scorn. One of the guests never stopped laughing and she was joined by the others sporadically. Panelist Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post said he was “speechless,” as if he ever made sense speaking, in the first place.

Scarborough allowed that Carson's belief involved “really quirky stuff” and said he'd like to know how old Carson thinks the earth is, even though the subject was pyramids and had no bearing on the earth's age. It's possible (probable) that neither Scarborough nor his colleagues had any idea of who Joseph was and simply accepted as truth that the only use for a pyramid was as a tomb. Case closed.

I'm not a Carson supporter but believe he could have a point. It's probable that the folks on the show have never read the Bible and believe—if they believe anything about it—that it's a myth. If they claim to be devout or somehow religious they can just be considered ignorant of their faith if they don't know who Joseph was.

Joseph was a Jew born around 1915 B.C. and sold into Egyptian slavery by his ten jealous brothers, who felt that their father, Jacob, favored Joseph over them. This might have been true. He lived somewhere in Canaan (Lebanon-Israel-Palestine area today) and entered Egypt at about age 17. Because of what some people call ESP but what Joseph insisted was an act of God, he could interpret dreams. He was in prison because of false charges made against him when the Pharaoh (ruler) had two dreams none of his magicians could interpret.

One of Joseph's fellow prisoners, now serving the ruler, remembered that Joseph had interpreted dreams he and another prisoner had had and that the interpretations were precisely correct, with himself as one living evidence, while the other prisoner was hanged, as predicted by Joseph, who was summoned, cleaned up and appeared before Pharaoh. Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's two dreams as meaning that there would almost immediately begin seven years of bounteous harvests of grain followed by seven years of catastrophic drought throughout that part of the world.

It was necessary for grain to be stored in hermetically sealed spaces for obvious reasons such as weather, rot and rats. A barn wouldn't do, a pyramid would. Joseph, whom Pharaoh appointed as viceroy (second in command of the kingdom) and gave complete charge of the storage effort, had to solve a problem. The interiors of pyramids include corridors and large chambers, ideal for storage. Using the radio-carbon method, archeologists have concluded the age of the pyramids as roughly between 2575 and 1640 B.C.

It's conceivable that Joseph, besides building pyramids, could have co-opted those already in existence, not necessarily disinterring corpses but simply using the huge extra spaces. The pagan religions might have proscribed that, but starvation is a serious matter. When the rain stopped after seven years, Egypt had grain while adjacent areas were decimated. Joseph died around 1805 B.C. at age 110 during the age of the pyramids.

I don't claim to know if Carson is right or wrong; however, this happened some 4,000 years ago and nobody has much of a clue about that era, only what the archeologists surmise. There was little if any writing (at least that's survived), there was no TV with which to explore the pyramids for public viewing, and, of course, there are no eyewitness accounts. Obviously, Joseph, for purposes of food-protection, could have done what others had done for other reasons. The historical kings, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Cyrus, for instance, are prominent actors in the Old Testament, thus validating it historically.

The actual reason for slamming Carson is that he declares his Christian faith, making him roadkill for the liberal establishment. His detractors couldn't care less about the pyramids.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark