Now, the enslavement of the entire Egyptian population seems like the kind of thing that would be mentioned by historians. And, indeed, my study bible claims that “Egyptian sources testify that such a feudalistic system was introduced between 1700-1500 B.C.” So I decided to have a look through my library and see if I could find any mention of this.
The first thing I found was that this period fell under Hyksos rule (Hyksos is a bastardized form of the Egyptian word: hekaw-khasut, which can be translated to mean “foreign kings”). It’s at least plausible that a major shift in rulers would coincide with a major shift in ruling system. But what I could find seems to suggest that this may not have been the case. Here’s what Nicolas Grimal has to say on page 186 of his A History of Ancient Egypt:
The Hyksos introduced a method of government which was to prove equally successful for all the later invaders who applied it to Egypt: instead of attempting to impose their own governmental structures on the country, they immersed themselves in the existing Egyptian political system.
That’s it. That’s all I could find.
Granted, of course, that my library is far from complete (and focuses far more on the mythology than on the history). If anyone has any better information, I’d be very happy to see it.
Next, I tried to find out if there was ever an extended famine during which Egypt came to the world’s rescue. I didn’t find anything for this time period, but I did find the following from page 268 of the same book:
Merneptah is even known to have supplied grain to the Hittites when they were stricken by a famine.
Merneptah ruled Egypt some three centuries later, but at least this indicates that Egyptian kings did, at times, supply grain to foreigners during hard times.
Again, I would like to do more to confirm or disprove the story of Joseph, so if anyone has any reading recommendations for me, that would be much appreciated.