In this week’s Parashah, we read of the seven years of plenty followed by the seven years of famine Yosef predicted in last week’s Parashah. Considering the records of important events ancient civilizations kept it is logical there would be some references to these years of famine and plenty. In fact, many Egyptian sites and records have been theorized to be tied to Yosef. A boulder discovered on the island of Sahal in the Nile by Charles Wilbour tells the story of a seven year famine and how Par’oh’s adviser helped save Egypt. Some have identified this adviser, Imhotep, as Yosef, based on a number of other parallels as well.
A more direct reference, however, appears on a stone tablet photographed by Francis Frith in 1857. The tablet bears an inscription about a wealthy woman. This woman sends her steward to someone named Joseph, and later repeatedly sends her handmaid with various valuables in an attempt to procure flour. This tablet provides strong evidence of an ostensibly powerful man named Joseph associated with trading flour for valuables, exactly as the Torah describes.