Several readers may have seen or heard about a recent report that coins from Joseph’s time have been found in Egypt. A couple of news agencies have picked it up. I’ve even seen individuals posting about it on Facebook.
There are some significant problems with this story, starting with the fact that coins were not invented until around the 6th or 7th century B.C. No one knows exactly when Joseph lived, but it would have been perhaps 1,000 years before the creation of coinage. That’s quite a gap. The Bible rightly mentions that the ancients frequently used a monetary system of weights for exchange (x “shekels” of silver or gold) – not coins etched with portraits and dates.
Another concern: this story was not released through the usual official archaeological channels. Something this big would likely be broadcast via press conference or scholarly journal by the archaeologist who made the discovery, or by Egypt’s head archaeologist Zahi Hawass. This ‘coin’ story came out in a newspaper written by a third party.
One possible motivation for this story: The article emphasizes that this discovery “proves” accounts in the Koran of coins being used in Egypt during Joseph’s time.
Todd Bolen has a good point-by-point analysis that questions the credibility of this “discovery”.
It is nice to read of the many genuine discoveries that affirm Bible accounts, but we must not automatically accept every story we hear, especially if it seems sensational. Big biblical claims easily garner attention and money. But sometimes the problem is simply a genuine person who makes an overeager and sloppy attempt to connect something with the Bible. The bigger the discovery seems, the healthier it is for us to question and investigate before accepting as truth. Occasional stories of this type turn out to be accurate. Frequently, these alleged discoveries do not hold up to reasonable analysis. Many, many people (should) have lost credibility by quickly and enthusiastically embracing something that turns out to be untrue.