The Khu-Sebek inscription and the burial of Jacob (Genesis 50)

The Khu-Sebek inscription, discovered at Abydos in Egypt, dates to the reign of Senwosret III (mid- nineteenth century B.C.) during the Middle Kingdom period of Egyptian history. It contains a first-person account of the career of Khu-Sebek, who rose to power while in the pharaoh’s service (apparently as a member of his bodyguard). Khu-Sebek boasts of his zealous service to the pharaoh, particularly highlighting his heroic bravery during a campaign in Canaan against the city of Shechem.

The inscription justifies Khu-Sebek’s cenotaph (memorial monument) at the Osiris shrine in Abydos, while also shedding light on two aspects of the Biblical account of Joseph’s career. First, someone whose outstanding service caught the pharaoh’s eye could b elevated to a high rank within the Egyptian government or military. Second, the most conclusive verification that an individual had earned the pharaoh’s favour was a distinguished burial or a memorial erected in his honour. Fittingly, Genesis 50 describes the elaborate funeral of Joseph’s father, Jacob/Israel, and mentions the embalming of Joseph.

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