[bible evidence] bahr yusef

bahr yusef, joseph's canal

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

February 28, 2008

Recently while doing my devotions, I was reading through the record of Joseph and his time in Egypt. While reading this, I was wondering what other evidence there may be in history that may support some of this record. I’ve realized that history is typically written by the winners, and is written from a perspective that makes oneself look good. American History books, for example, are not written from a Confederate perspective. Imagine reading a history book about how the “evil north” destroyed a way of life, etc. That’s not the case. Rather they are written from the “winning” side’s perspective. (Note: I am not actually stating that the Confederates were right, just trying to provide a frame of reference.)

So, I was thinking that the Egyptian record of something like the Exodus is not something that’s probably a big highlight for them. Therefore, the record of it is probably very slim, if it exists at all. However, the record of Joseph is a little different. The parts specifically that I am referring to are recorded in Genesis 41:1-57 and Genesis 47:13-27.

As the record goes, there were seven years of plenty, during which Joseph was given the responsibility of storing up food in order to prepare for the seven years of famine that were to follow. During the time of famine, the Bible records that Joseph had sold so much that the people ran out of money. So he told people to bring in their livestock to trade for grain. Then when they ran out of livestock, they gave their land, and eventually were indentured servants themselves. It struck me that this was a very rich time for the pharaoh. Not only had he collected all of the money, but also all of the livestock and land as well. So, I knew that this had to be recorded somewhere in Egyptian history, because it would’ve been something that the “winners” were quite proud of.

After digging through a bunch of information, the best that I can piece this together is that after this time of famine, much of the Biblical record of Joseph’s life in Egypt ceases. However, there are some other sources that cite some possible happenings. We do know that Joseph lived to be over 100 years old. Some sources cite the possibility of the following story…

Some time after the famine, that pharaoh the Joseph served under had died. Then when the new pharaoh took over, and brought in new advisors (many of which may not have even been alive during the plenty/famine times), a jealousy arose amongst those advisors over Joseph because of the great things that he had done. So they urged pharaoh to challenge Joseph to do it again by turning a dry, barren area into a fertile land. So Joseph engineered a canal the fed off of the Nile and created a large lake region (Lake Moeris, in honor of the new pharaoh), which irrigated the large region into a very fertile land area. That canal is called the Bahr Yusef (or Canal of Joseph), and still stands today…

3500 years later!

Whether this exact story holds true or not, there’s some striking evidence that seems to support the Biblical record of Joseph being in Egypt. First of all, the canal named for him seems to confirm the idea that he, or someone with the same name (not likely since it’s not a common Egyptian name), was a wise and great influence at that time. And there are other findings that may indicate that Joseph’s tomb in Egypt may also have been found. It’s a tomb that would fit any Biblical description and account, and has other evidence that would indicate that it belongs to a foreigner of Egypt, regardless of it’s once place of prominence. You can check out David Rohl’s book about this topic for more information on the tomb.

I could get into the debate over whether history supports the Bible or not, and I do know that there are a lot of still unanswered questions. However, I do believe that the Bahr Yusef Canal is a lasting testament to the power of God working through a man in a foreign culture. I challenge you to research this stuff for yourself, and not just take my word for it. But it’s important that we all strive to learn all that we can about our history. I cannot tell you how much this extra study has made the record of Joseph come alive for me. Good studying and God bless!


Recommended Reading:

506281: Evidence for ChristianityEvidence for Christianity
By Josh McDowell

Scholarly, well-written, and exhaustively researched, Evidence for Christianity presents a powerful case for why Christianity is both true and real. Drawing upon rigorous scholarship of countless authorities and historical evidence, McDowell provides evidences beyond a reasonable doubt that Christ was exactly who he said he was, sent to do exactly what God his Father commissioned him to accomplish. You’ll find answers to questions such as:

  • How was Jesus Christ profoundly different from any other man who ever lived, and why?
  • Is Christianity based on a blind faith or a faith rooted in historical reality?
  • Is the Bible a reliable historical record of the events it describes?
  • Was the resurrection of Jesus a hoax or is there evidence that it was an actual historical event?
  • Were the major events of Jesus’s life and death accurately foretold centuries earlier?

Evidence for Christianity will provide you with greater confidence and a revitalized foundation in your Christian faith. It will also provide a reason to believe for anyone skeptical of the claims of Christianity.

NOTE: Evidence for Christianity contains the best of The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, condensed down to a less intimidating but still comprehensive coverage of all the best evidence for the reliability of the Christian faith. Philosophical reasons and responses to major non-Christian thought systems are not addressed; they can be found in The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict.


  1. Lance Gargus

    I learn something new all the time. Thanks for the insight.

  2. Carol

    Here is some more info on Joseph/Imhotep and pictures of the grain storage bins I’m sure you will find interesting.


  3. Jeremy Newton

    Another great resource for proof of Christianity is by Lee Strobel.

    I haven’t read his book yet. I want to pick it up but I have watched his dvd about his book.

    The book is called the case for Christ.

    Basically Lee was an atheist and his wife became a Christian. He became very angry about it but he saw his wife started to change and become a better person so he decided to look into Christianity and to try and prove it wrong and ended up finding all the historical reasons and stuff that it was real.

    It was really awesome to hear some of the stuff.

  4. Attilashrugs

    I too found my way to Bahr Youseff, the Canal of Joseph. Very interesting. I wonder if there is any Muslim tradition concerning Joseph ben Jacob?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

[bible evidence] bahr yusef

by Dan King time to read: 5 min