"Dirham" In The Time Of Joseph?

Introduction The "Islamic Awareness" team is faced with another anachronistic statement in the Qur'an. Surah 12:20 tells us: They sold him [Joseph] for a miserable price, for a few dirhams counted out [darahima ma‘dudatin]; in such low estimation did they hold him! The problem with this passage is the fact that dirhams did not exist during the time of Joseph. The "Islamic Awareness" team must find a way to put dirhams into the hands of people, long before these coins [or any coins] existed. As in other articles, the "Islamic Awareness" team will attempt to broaden the definition of "dirham" to such a degree that nearly any ancient coin, by implication, could be considered a "dirham". After failing to demonstrate the existence of coins, let alone a coin called a "dirham", near the time of Joseph, the "Islamic Awareness" team goes on the attack, claiming that the Bible makes a similar error. In this paper, we will respond totheir claims. Dirham: A Historical & Philological Investigation The "Islamic Awareness" team notes: The pre-Islamic romance poetry of ‘Antara mentions the word dirham. 'Antara Ibn Shaddad al-'Absi can be considered "pre-Islamic" - he wrote his poetry sometime around 580 A.D., during the early life of Muhammad. 'Antara's use of the term dirham shows that the coin was not invented by 'Umar, however it does not place these coins in the time of Joseph. A "coin" is a standard weight of some metal that is stamped with the design/mark of a governing authority who guarantees its acceptability as payment. There is some debate over which coin is the world's oldest. Some Indian scholars believe that the earliest Indian coins date from around 700 B.C., based on the dating of the geological strata in which the coins were found. Most scholars believe that coins were invented in Lydia - a kingdom on the fringe of Greece, located in modern Turkey. These coins were made of electrum [an alloy of silver and gold], and date from, approximately 600 B.C.


["The Origin of Electrum Coinage" by Robert W. Wallace, a professor at Northwestern University, in American Journal of Archaeology July 1987]. The Athenian leader Pericles [495-429 BC] minted coins for Athens. He used silver from nearby Laurium to mint the famous Athenian tetradrachms – the ancestor of modern coins. These Athenian coins became the international monetary standard, as the U.S. Dollar and Euro are today, and local imitations of these coins were made in Persia, Syria and Arabia. Before Muhammad became a self-styled "Prophet", he was a merchant in the caravan trade of his day. Muhammad traded with the Sassanians [Persians] – who were the major economy at that time. The Sassanians used silver drachms (dirhem coins, which were minted for the Sassanian kings). When the Muslim armies conquered the Sassanians in 642, Muhammad's successors adopted the Sassanian coinage, copying the drachms, but changed these coins by eliminating human images and adding Arabic inscriptions on the borders of the coins. The Sassanian drachm was the model for the Arabic dirham. There is scholarly consensus about the fact, and all of the sources quoted by the "Islamic Awareness" team agree with this, that the Arabic word dirham is ultimately derived from the Greek drachm, though probably through the Persian term drahm. It should be obvious that it is absurd to believe that dirhams existed [or worse, to search for dirhams] in a time long before the drachm, the ancestor of the dirham, was invented. Nevertheless, this is what the "Islamic Awareness" team will attempt to prove! Precious Metals As A Means Of Trade In Ancient Egypt The "Islamic Awareness" team has not only failed to demonstrate the existence of a coin called a "dirham" in the time of Joseph, they have also failed to show that any coin existed during this period of history! They must now broaden the definition of "coin" so that it could include any piece of metal. Metal ingots were used as a medium of exchange in the ancient world. In the case of Joseph, he was sold, according to Genesis 37:28, to the Midianite merchants for twenty shekels of silver. The "Islamic Awareness" notes that Qur'an stresses that the pieces of silver were "counted" and not "weighed". The act of counting ingots of silver is not sufficient to turn them into coins. In other words, the "Islamic Awareness" team cannot conclude that, since these pieces of metal were counted instead of weighed, the silver ingots must have been coins; and, if they were coins, they must have been dirhams!


The "Islamic Awareness" team goes into a long winded discussion about weights and measures being possible examples of "coins" in ancient Egypt. The Egyptian deben is put forth as a possible "coin" in ancient Egypt. However, deben, as well as kite and seniu, were not coins in any sense of the term. These were standard weights which were used to the state value of various items. These weights were produced in many different shapes. The original deben was a ring. Other deben were in the form of simple geometric shapes like conuses and spheroids. Some were even in the shape of cow statuettes. According to J. H. Breasted [Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Two, § 280]: "The balances, accurate and true, of Thoth, which the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, [Make]re (Hatshepsut), made for her father, Amun, lord of Thebes, in order to weigh the silver, gold, lapis lazuli, malachite and every splendid costly stone, for the sake of the life, property and health of her majesty." So, in spite of all of the sophistry, fact twisting and wishful thinking, these metal ingots were not coins, but standard weight measures of value. "Islamic Awareness" attempted, and failed, to broaden the definition of a "coin" so that any piece of metal could be considered a coin, and therefore, be a "dirham". The fact of the matter is that dirhams did not exist during the time of Joseph. In fact, no coins of any variety existed at that point in history. After failing to make the case that dirham coins could have existed during the time of Joseph, thus rescuing the Qur'an from a huge anachronism and historical error, the "Islamic Awareness" team goes on the attack, claiming that the Bible makes a similar error. "Daric" In The Time Of David? The "Islamic Awareness" team tells us: Another example is the mention of the name "Potiphar" in the time of Joseph. The earliest attestation of the name "Potiphar" in Egypt post-dates both Joseph and Moses and it comes from the 21st Dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1070 – 946 BCE) in ancient Egypt. Since we are dealing with coins, it is worthwhile saying something about the mention of "daric" in the time of David in 1 Chronicles 29:7. In 1 Chronicles 29, David was asking an assembly of people to donate for the construction of the Temple. The people gave generously "toward the work on the temple of God five thousand talents and


ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze and a hundred thousand talents of iron." .... In other words, the Persian gold coin daric appeared some 400 years after the reign of David. Hence the use of daric during the time of David is an anachronism. So, has the Bible made an error, similar to the anachronistic use of dirham in the Qur'an? After all, I Chronicles 29:7 clearly says that the Israelites gave 10,000 darics of gold to build the Temple - which was built sometime around 970 B.C., while the daric was not minted before 515 B.C. When the author of I Chronicles used the term daric to measure value, he was employing what is known as a "prolepsis". A prolepsis is a figure of speech that assigns an event or name to a time that precedes it. The author of I Chronicles did not believe, nor did he want his readers to believe, that darics existed during David's lifetime. He simply expressed, in language and terms that would be understandable to his readers, the amount of the gold donated by the Israelites to build the Temple. Some readers may be thinking: couldn't the same argument be used to extricate the Qur'an from its anachronistic and incorrect use of the term dirham, which did not exist at the time of Joseph? Well, the answer is no. We Christians believe that the Bible is the Word of God and was written by many human beings under the Divine inspiration of Almighty God. The Bible is the true Word of God, and it is also rooted in human experience and context of history. The Muslims do not share the same idea concerning the Qur'an. The Qur'an, in their view, is eternal, existing with God in Heaven at all times, and was essentially dictated, word for word, by the Angel Gabriel to Muhammad. If the Qur'an were, in fact, the Word of God, it would not contain such anachronistic errors such as dirhams in the time of Joseph or Samaritans in the time of Moses. The "Islamic Awareness" team does not make any attempt to explain the use of dirham in the Qur'an as a prolepsis, as Jews and Christians do for the use of the term daric in I Chronicles. Instead, they expend a great amount of time and effort to find dirhams in the time of Joseph. It appears that they consider such an explanation inappropriate for the Qur'an - and for a good reason. The use of the term dirham in the Quran shows that it cannot be a prolepsis. For example, the author of I Chronicles used numbers and units, known in his day, so that readers would understand clearly the value of the donated money.

Modern authors also use similar terms such as "a day's wages" or "one year's income" to communicate the value of money from place to place or from one historical period to another. The Qur'an does not give the value, even in the contemporary dirhams of Muhammad's day, of the price for which Joseph was sold. The only two pieces of information that the Qur'an provides is the statement that it was "a few dirhams counted" (which is not only unspecific but wrong) and that it was a "miserable price". Precisely how much was a "miserable price"? The author of I Chronicles uses the prolepsis to make the value of something CLEAR to its readers, whereas the Qur'an remains unspecific and does not make the value of the transaction clear to its readers. Also, had the Quran used deben or another genuine Egyptian term, it would have been far more impressive than the fact that it used nothing more than the currency common in the days in which it was written. If the Qur'an had said "for a miserable price, equivalent to a few dirhams today" or "for a miserable price, some pieces of silver worth a few dirhams today", it would have shown an awareness that such coins did not exist in Joseph's time. Such a simple insertion world not be difficult to make for an all-knowing God, i.e. for an author who was allegedly already around at the time of Joseph. But the author of the Quran seems to have been unaware of numismatic history. He apparently assumed that the currency used in his own time would also have been the means of payment used in the time of Joseph. Although the name Dirham was already in use before Islam, it was derived from Drahm, and simply could not have been used as currency before the Drachme was invented. In addition to the problem of the anachronistic use of Dirham, the Qur'an provides us with another example where it shows a pattern of being highly unspecific with the facts. Muhammad was not sure how much "a miserable price" really was. Various Muslim commentators have speculated that the "price" for which Joseph was sold was somehwere in the range of 20 to 40 Dirhams! The fact of the matter is that they simply do not know. Why would Muhammad talk specifically about Dirhams, but not give a specific amount? The problem of Muhammad's unspecific statements is found elsewhere in the Qur'an. For example, in Sura 18 [which describes the ordeal of the "Companions of the Cave"] Muhammad did not answer the question asked him concerning the number of the youths in the cave, nor does he tell the place where or the time when the event is said to have occurred. It is common for story tellers, even in modern-day South Asia and Africa, to modify the facts in their stories as they go from village to village. These stories are a form of entertainment, so few people are bothered by variations in the plot. In the case of Muhammad, he was attempting to pass his stories off as divine revelation;

and he was attempting to do this with an audience of Jews and Christians – many of whom knew the stories better than he knew them. Therefore, Muhammad was intentionally vague with the details. Conclusions The use of the word Dirham in the sale of Joseph as a slave is one of many anachronisms in the Qur'an. Dirhams, as well as all other coins, did not exist in the time of Joseph. Even if one accepts the dating of Joseph's life in Egypt that is favored by "Islamic Awareness", coins were still not invented until several centuries after his time. The deben or sh‘t of ancient Egypt were not coins, but were units of measure. Simply put, there was no "coinage" in ancient Egypt. The "Islamic Awareness" team makes their usual triumphant conclusion: In assessing the evidence of coinage in ancient Egypt, Cerný came to the conclusion that sh‘ty "was a flat, round piece of metal 1/12 deben, that is about 7.6 grams, in weight, possibly with an inscription to indicate this weight or the name of the issuing authority", adding "If so, the 'piece' was practically a coin."[103] Although Cerný's assessment was startling,[104] he was not too far off the mark. However, after spending an enormous amount of time and effort to convince us that Dirhams existed during the time of Joseph, the "Islamic Awareness" team makes an astonishing statement: In conclusion, the Qur'anic description of the transaction darahima ma‘dudatin (i.e., a few pieces of silver, countable) is accurate from the point of view of ancient Egypt. From where did the "Islamic Awareness" team get their translation "a few pieces of silver"? It appears that they are very uncomfortable with, and may not even believe, their own theory! This can be concluded from their translation of the crucial phrase in Surah 12:20: "darāhima ma‘dūdatin" (i.e., a few pieces of silver, countable)". The "Islamic Awareness" paraphrase deliberately avoids using the correct translation of the word which isDirhams! So, what was the point of the "Islamic Awareness" article in the first place? Wasn't the whole point of this discussion the claim that the Qur'an does not


use "pieces of silver" but "Dirhams"? If the Qur'an used the phrase"pieces of silver", nobody would ever have raised an objection in the first place! How does the "Islamic Awareness" team justify their translation of Surah 12:20 [darāhima ma‘dūdatin], replacing "Dirhams" [which is in the Qur'anic text] with "pieces of silver"? The Arabic word for "silver" is fidda, while darāhima unquestionably means Dirhams. This is nothing more than a manipulation of the facts – simply not correctly translating a very problematic term. Most translators of the Qur'an say Dirhams, though Shakir and Pickthall also render it "pieces of silver". Al-Hilali & Khan say Dirhams and adds "a few silver COINS" in parentheses. The majority of Qur'an translators do not think that Dirhams are merely pieces of silver, but the term indicates minted metal coins. Also, in order to be intellectually honest, the "Islamic Awareness" team must apply the same standards of evidence to their arguments, which they apply to others. For example, in the aforementioned text, the "Islamic Awareness" team said: Another example is the mention of the name "Potiphar" in the time of Joseph. The earliest attestation of the name "Potiphar" in Egypt post-dates both Joseph and Moses and it comes from the 21st Dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1070 – 946 BCE) in ancient Egypt. Therefore, they imply that no one could have possibly been named Potiphar prior to the date of this inscription. The same people, when attempting to support their claims conclude that "the 'piece' [of metal] was practically a coin." "Practically" is simply an unacceptable standard. We insist that the "Islamic Awareness" team be held to their own intellectual standards: produce an identifiable coin called a "Dirham" which dates from the time of Joseph. If the "Islamic Awareness" team cannot produce such evidence, then they are simply stuck in a circular argument – there were Dirhams in the time of Joseph because the Qur'an said that there were Dirhams in the time of Joseph, regardless of the facts. Paraphrasing this group's own words: it is evident that the intellectual framework, on which the "Islamic Awareness" team attempts to build its case, is preconceived by the "qur'anic account", and they simply attempt to force the "facts" into this framework. They should instead, build their intellectual framework out of the facts.


Glory Who did From the -- Sura 17:1

to take His Servant Sacred Mosque

for to

a the

(Allah) journey by night, Farthest Mosque.

Problem: The Farthest Mosque (Al-Masjid-ul-Aqs-a) was built many years after the death of Muhammad. It is utterly impossible that Muhammad visited it on his Night Journey. "When the Arabs conquered Jerusalem they found the Temple Mount abandoned and filled with refuse. ... `Umar ordered it cleaned and performed a prayer there. The sanctuary [the Dome of the Rock] ... was built by Caliph `Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan around 72/691."[1] The al-Aqsa mosque proper, also located on the Temple Mount was as well built at the end of the 7th Century.[2] The Temple of Solomon had been completely destroyed in 70 AD, i.e. 550 years before the alleged time of the Miraj in 622 AD, the twelfth year of Muhammad's mission. A Temple that didn't exist anymore does not provide any better solution to this problem than a Mosque which wasn't built yet. At the time this verse was revealed [about 622] Jerusalem was not in the hand of the Muslims but in Christian hand and there was no Mosque at all in this place (not even a church). The Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque (both on the site of Solomon's Temple which had been destroyed A.D. 70 by the Romans) were only began to be build 53 years after the death of Muhammad. Could it be that later history was "projected back" into the text of the Qur'an and is this one indication that the text of the Qur'an was changed (or even completely written only) long after Muhammad's time when these historical realities were not clear to the writer? For this reason some Muslims are quick to acknowledge that the "Farthest Mosque" has to refer to something else than what is known under this name today. In Yusuf Ali's commentary on this verse we read: "The Farthest Mosque must refer to the site of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem..." So, it is interpreted to be not the building itself, but only the site, the location where it had been. I might be wrong, but this seems to be contradicted by a hadith and Muhammad's understanding that Al-Masjid-ul-Aqs-a is something that is built, not just a location. Al-Masjid-ul-Haram after all was a building.


Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 636: Narrated Abu Dhaar: I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Which mosque was built first?" He replied, "Al-Masjid-ul-Haram." I asked, "Which (was built) next?" He replied, "Al-Masjid-ul-Aqs-a (i.e. Jerusalem)." I asked, "What was the period in between them?" He replied, "Forty (years)." He then added, "Wherever the time for the prayer comes upon you, perform the prayer, for all the earth is a place of worshipping for you." This hadith actually introduces yet another problem. Abraham supposedly (re)built the Kaaba, (and Abraham lived about 2000 BC) and the Temple was built by Solomon in about 958-951 BC, then Muhammad gave another historically false information based on a major confusion about the time when these people lived. Side remark: Farthest?
If it is not just a name, but actually supposed to describe a distance then from the perspective of Mekka or Medina, Mosques in Bagdad for example were sure farther away than Jerusalem and this is wrong too. No "mosque" and not "farthest". But should the Temple itself or Churches qualify to be called "mosques" then for sure, it was not the farthest. The Hagia Sophia, originally a church and also converted into a Mosque later is in Istanbul and much farther away. Also one might ask the question: If Islam supposedly was the original religion of mankind, why were there not many mosques all around and one so very near to Mekka has to be called "farthest"?





John: Hb: Johanan, Ar: Yahya (in the Quran), Yuhanna (in the Arabic Bible), Gk: Ioannes ( ) Zakariah.

John, son of Zechariah: Ar: Yahya ibn Mary, the mother of Jesus, and John's mother are relatives.

no one before him has the same name, Maryam 19.7. However, we read of a Johanan in 2 Kings 25:23, 1 Chronicles 3:15, 24, 6:9, 10, Ezra 8:12, etc. In fact, there are 27 instances of the name "Johanan" mentioned in the Old Testament. The Hasmonean Dynasty ruled Palestine in the century before John the Baptist appeared on the scene. Palestine at that time was very Hellenized and Greek became the main language. One of the priest-king of the Hasmonean Dynasty was John Hyrcanus, well attested to in many historical and classical sources. Josephus talks about a John the Essene who served as a general of the rebel force in Timna (Jewish War, 2.125). 1 Maccabees 2:1 tells us of "Mattathias son of John son of Simeon". Mattathias also has a son called John (1 Maccebees 2:2). John's brother, Judas, led the Jews in rebellion against Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Simon also has a son named John (1 Maccebees 16:19). All these Johns lived before John the Baptist. John was indeed a very common name. Various translations of this verse bear out clearly this meaning:


o o o

(It was said unto him): O Zachariah! Lo! We bring thee tidings of a son whose name is John; we have given the same name to none before (him). (Pickthall's translation) "We bring thee tidings of a son, whose name shall be John: we have not caused any to bear the same name before him" (George Sale's translation). "No namesake have We given him aforetime" (A.J. Arberry's translation). "that name we have given to none before him" (Palmer's and Rodwell's translation). Yusuf Ali, however, translates this verse as:


"on none by that name have We conferred distinction before." His explanation is that "... for we read of a Johanan ... in 2 Kings 25:23." In other words, Yusuf Ali knew that the verse is historically incorrect, and therefore changed the translation, or did he think that the Quran verse does not mean what it literally means? How can one take such liberty in translation? Doing so casts a great deal of doubt upon the accuracy of his translations and his intentions. Here is how the two Jalals explained this verse: 'O Zachariah! Indeed We give you good tidings of a boy, who will inherit in the way that you have requested - whose name is John. Never before have We made anyone his namesake', that is, [never has there been] anyone with the name 'John'. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; underline emphasis ours)

Âl 'Imran 3:38-40; al-An`am 6:85-86; Maryam 19:7-15; al-Anbiya' 21:90


How many gods did the Egyptians worship? The story of Moses’ confrontation with the Pharaoh of Egypt is a very prominent one in the Qur’an. It is told in nearly a dozen places, see this list. This story being retold so often, and its details being scattered in so many places, calls for comparing the different versions and discovering similarities and differences. When doing a careful comparison, many inconsistencies between the different versions come to light. In this short paper, we will look at one of these. After the showdown of Moses against the sorcerers of Egypt in which the miracles of Moses are so convincing that the sorcerers afterwards believe in the God of Moses, and Pharaoh therefore punishing them for their betrayal, we read that the chiefs of the Egyptians turn to Pharaoh with a concern: The chiefs of Fir'aun's (Pharaoh) people said: "Will you leave Musa (Moses) and his people to spread mischief in the land, and to abandon you and your gods?" He said: "We will kill their sons, and let live their women, and we have indeed irresistible power over them." S. 7:127 Al-Hilali & Khan A side remark: As is so often the case in false religions, when they are confronted by truth they feel threatened and resort to violence. The quranic Pharaoh supposedly intends to murder Moses (S. 40:26) and/or the sons of the Israelites (S. 7:127, 40:25), much like Muhammad who had many of those individuals murdered who challenged his religous authority (cf. Muhammad and his enemies) and even eliminated a whole Jewish clan, the Banu Qurayza. Pharaoh's command to slaughter the Israelite boys is discussed in detail in this article. The main point, however, is this: The chiefs of the Egyptians point out that this victory of Moses over the Egyptian magicians could result in an abandonment of the gods of Egypt in favor of the God of Moses. In particular, it testifies to the fact that the Egyptians were polytheists at the time, worshipping many gods. Moreover, the statement of the chiefs of the people distinguishes between Pharaoh and the gods when they caution that the people may "abandon you and your gods". Pharaoh is not identical with the gods, and the gods of Pharaoh are also the gods of the Egyptians since otherwise it would not make any sense to fear an abandoning of these gods if the Egyptians never worshipped them in the first place.


This passage therefore testifies to the fact that many gods were worshipped in Egypt at the time of Moses, and it presupposes that the gods of Pharaoh were also the gods of his people. Yet, in another version of the story the Quran claims that the Pharaoh responded to Moses’ message and miracles with these words: Fir'aun (Pharaoh) said: "O chiefs! I know not that you have an ilah (a god) other than me, so kindle for me (a fire), O Haman, to bake (bricks out of) clay, and set up for me a Sarhan (a lofty tower, or palace, etc.) in order that I may look at (or look for) the Ilah (God) of Musa (Moses); and verily, I think that he [Musa (Moses)] is one of the liars." S. 28:38 Al-Hilali & Khan And Pharaoh said, ‘Council, I know not that you have any god but me. Kindle me, Haman, a fire upon the clay, and make me a tower, that I may mount up to Moses' god; for I think that he is one of the liars.’ S. 28:38 Arberry In other words, the Pharaoh claims that he is the only god for his people, the Egyptians, in direct contradiction to 7:127 where the chiefs of his people express concern that Moses’ victory could lead to the downfall of their traditional Egyptian gods (in the plural). In summary, the Qur'an contains these contradictory statements about the religion of the Egyptians at the time of Moses:
 

According to Surah 7:127 the Egyptians worshipped many gods. According to Surah 28:38 Pharaoh was the only god of the Egyptians.

The next question to investigate would be this: What does history say about the religion of the ancient Egyptians. Did the Egyptians have many gods or only one god? Since this may not have been the same at all times, we would have to ask more specifically: What was the religion of the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus? Independent from the answer to this historical question, however, the tension and discrepancy in the Qur’an remains. The Qur’an speaks of the Egyptians as having many gods in S. 7:127 but in S. 28:38 it is stated that the Pharaoh was the only god of the Egyptians. These passages do not refer to different times in Egyptian history, but they explicitly speak of the very same Pharaoh directly after his confrontation with Moses.


In fact, history informs us that the Egyptians worshipped many gods (cf. *, *, *, *, *, *, *, *, *, *, *, *, *, *, etc.). Realizing this historical mistake in the formulation of the Qur’an, the late Muhammad Asad tries to practice some damage control and comments on S. 28:38: In view of the fact that the ancient Egyptians worshipped many gods, this observation IS NOT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY; but since each of the Pharaohs was regarded as an incarnation of the divine principle as such, he claimed – and received – his people’s adoration as their "Lord All-Highest" (cf. 79: 24), combining within himself, as it were, all the qualities attributable to gods. (Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur’an [Dar Al-Andaulus, Gibraltar, rpt. 1994], p. 595, fn. 36; online source; underline and capital emphasis ours) It is rather evident that Asad’s reply is ad hoc since there is nothing within the context itself to suggest that the verse shouldn’t be taken literally. Asad’s comments are based on his awareness that this claim about the Pharaoh is contradicted by the facts of history, and therefore had to find some answer to explain this error away. That the Pharaoh was allegedly "regarded as an incarnation of the divine principle as such ... combining within himself, as it were, all the qualities attributable to gods" is merely a claim for which Asad provides no evidence. History testifies that the Egyptians worshipped many gods, and they built plenty of temples dedicated to those individual gods. That there supposedly was a (comprehensive) "divine principle" that was incorporated in the Pharaoh seems to be an invention of Asad. Moreover, the text of the Qur'an itself contradicts Asad, when S. 7:127 makes the explicit distinction between the Pharaoh and the gods of Pharaoh, see above. [For the historical answer on the question in what sense the Pharaoh was divine, explore these pages (*, *, *, *, *).] The late Abdullah Yusuf Ali is much more honest and faithful to the Arabic text of the Qur’an when he explains Pharaoh’s claim in a footnote to S. 28:38: Pharaoh claimed himself, to be God, - not only one god among many, BUT THE ONLY god: "I am your Lord Most High": lxxix. 24. At any rate he did not see why his people should worship any one but him. (Yusuf Ali, fn. 3370; capital emphasis ours) In summary, there are two problems: First, the discrepancy whether the Egyptians at the time of Moses had many gods (7:127) or Pharaoh was their only god (28:38), and second, the historical error in the alleged claim of the Pharaoh to be the one and only God of the Egyptians.

This is at least the conclusion when taking these two passages at face value. Considering a possible objection Some may say that formally this is not a contradiction. It would only be a contradiction if the Qur'an had claimed that the same person at the same time had made both of these contradictory statements. As it stands, the first is a statement by the chiefs of Egypt, the second is made by Pharaoh. The Qur'an merely reports these statements — one or both of them possibly being wrong — but it does not directly make these claims. Therefore, one could reason, the Pharaoh may contradict the chiefs, but the Qur'an does not contradict itself. The possibility of this objection is the reason that I chose to call it a discrepancy in the title of this paper, instead of a contradiction. That does not mean, however, that it is not a problem. We have searched through many Muslim commentaries on the Qur'an, both classical and modern, and hardly anyone as much as mentions the existence of this discrepancy. Even Muhammad Asad who realizes the historical error in the footnote mentioned above does not comment on the tension between S. 28:38 and S. 7:127. The only attempt for a solution made by a few commentators consists of the claim that Pharaoh said what the Qur'an reports but he lied. Since history testifies that the Egyptians had many gods, i.e. the statement of the chiefs being in agreement with the historical facts in this regard, anyone trying to defend the Qur'an will have to question the veracity of Pharaoh's statements. Theoretically, a wrong statement could have been made intentionally (i.e. a deliberate lie) or unintentionally (i.e. an honest mistake due to ignorance). Since the predominant religion of a whole empire is not a peripheral issue to any government, the claim that Pharaoh was simply uninformed about this matter would be so silly that we will not waste time by discussing it here. What about the hypothesis of some commentators that the Pharaoh may have been lying? Is this a credible explanation? People lie because they expect to get some advantage out of it, compared to telling the truth. Lies only make sense when trying to mislead people who do not know the facts and are unlikely to discover the truth any time soon. Lying to people who already know the truth is silly and self-destructive. Who was present when Pharaoh made that alleged statement of S. 28:38? He addressed the chiefs of his people. They are explicitly mentioned. Perhaps

Moses and Aaron were still standing there as well. According to the Qur'an, this is Pharaoh's response to Moses' message and the signs which he showed in confirmation of his message. Why would the Pharaoh make himself look stupid before the chiefs of his people, his advisory committee so to speak? That they knew the truth about the religion of their people is not only common sense but even stated explicitly in S. 7:127. Nor is there any point in lying about this matter to Moses. Whether the idolatry of Pharaoh consisted of worshipping several false gods or claiming to know only one god, himself, he would still be disobedient to God's message to him. This lie would not gain him any advantage whatsoever. Moreover, Moses had grown up at the royal court. He had been raised by the family of the Pharaoh and had received a thorough Egyptian education. Moses knew the religion of the Egyptians very well. If Pharaoh had lied, then the chiefs knew it was a lie, Moses knew it was a lie, and even the common people would have known it was a lie. So, what would be the point? There is absolutely no benefit in doing so, only a loss of respect for him from all sides, damaging his authority even further. Thus, the hypothesis that Pharaoh's statement, "O chiefs! I know not that you have a god other than me", was a deliberate lie makes no sense at all. This alleged "resolution" of the tension between S. 7:127 and 28:38 carries a hefty price tag, since it renders the story completely incoherent. Besides these general reasons, an analysis of the structure of Pharaoh's argument will make it even less credible that it should have been a lie. Let's look at this verse again: Fir'aun (Pharaoh) said: "O chiefs! I know not that you have an ilah (a god) other than me, so kindle for me (a fire), O Haman, to bake (bricks out of) clay, and set up for me a Sarhan (a lofty tower, or palace, etc.) in order that I may look at (or look for) the Ilah (God) of Musa (Moses); and verily, I think that he [Musa (Moses)] is one of the liars." S. 28:38 Al-Hilali & Khan And Pharaoh said, ‘Council, I know not that you have any god but me. Kindle me, Haman, a fire upon the clay, and make me a tower, that I may mount up to Moses' god; for I think that he is one of the liars.’ S. 28:38 Arberry


The statement "I know not that you have a god other than me", is a report of information. Pharaoh states what he knows (or what he thinks he knows), and does so for a particular reason. He had been confronted with Moses' message. He does not want to obey. He tries to build a case why he should rather not obey Moses' message. The purpose of the argument is his conclusion, "I think that he is one of the liars.", implying that therefore he and his government should ignore Moses' message. He addresses the chiefs, i.e. the representatives of his vast empire, his council, and includes them in the deliberation of the case. The basis of his argument is that he knows of no god other than himself. (An unspoken assumption to this argument may be that Egypt is the major empire of the time, and most advanced in every aspect of science and knowledge. Something that they don't know about most likely does not exist.) Whatever his further assumptions, based on his ignorance of any other god, he concludes that Moses must be lying. Whether or not his argument is fully logical (it is not), the validity of his conclusion, i.e. the force of his whole argument, depends vitally on whether his audience considers the premise of his argument to be true. If everyone knows that Pharaoh is lying, then he doesn't have any leverage to call Moses a liar. He can only expect that his council and his people will accept his conclusion if they are in agreement with the premise. People not trained in philosophy may not always be able to detect more subtle mistakes in logical reasoning but even laymen know that one cannot use what is obviously and blatantly wrong as a premise to derive that somebody else is a liar. Pharaoh is trying to justify his rejection of Moses. However, to lie in this context and in this way is so utterly ridiculous, it would have been better to reject Moses without giving a reason, i.e. doing so simply on his own authority as the ruler of the land, than giving a reason which everyone knows to be wrong. By doing so, Pharaoh greatly damages his authority. It would not be a justification (strengthening) but a severe weakening of his decision in the eyes of everyone he wants to convince. If they know that Pharaoh is lying here, then he has no credibility in calling Moses a liar. One cannot denounce anyone as a liar based on an obviously false statement made by the accuser. That simply does not work. For that reason alone, the text only makes sense if Pharaoh subjectively spoke the truth in this statement.


Moreover, with his command to Haman to build a lofty tower, Pharaoh is about to spend a fortune on his proposed test to find out whether Moses' God is real. Such a tower would have to be higher than any other building in the empire to yield new insight. Even the Pharaoh is not going to waste the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars based on what he knows to be a lie. Some may say, this command was sarcastic, and not really supposed to be executed. After all, it would take years to complete, and nobody had that time. Nevertheless, even such sarcasm would only work if the premise is understood to be true. Finally, the Qur'an does not give any indication that Pharaoh was lying, neither by registering some kind of protest against his claim coming from the chiefs or anyone else, nor by commenting directly that this was a lie. The overall message of the Qur'an makes it clear that both statements, that of the chiefs and that of the Pharaoh are wrong theologically, i.e. they both reflect false religion since neither the many gods nor Pharaoh as only god are the one true God. But it nowhere indicates that one or the other party made an intentionally false statement about the actual religion of Egypt at the time. Proposing the "Pharaoh lied" hypothesis ‘saves’ the Quran from this one contradiction (out of hundreds), but makes the quranic version of the story incoherent, and being utterly incoherent is not really a lot more credible than being contradictory. Would an essay with this story line be able to get a passing grade in a high school literature class? In my opinion, it takes considerably more faith believing that the story really happened as it is reported in the Qur'an than believing that the author of the Qur'an messed up on this one, particularly since this story is messed up on so many other details as well (*, *, *, *, *, etc.). The "Pharaoh lied" hypothesis is a dead end, not a credible solution. Even Muhammad Asad who often cites minority opinions from classical Muslim commentators in his footnotes, and who was therefore most likely aware of the claim of some commentators that the Pharaoh lied in S. 28:38, does not offer that hypothesis as an option. Apparently, Asad did not consider this to be credible, and rather offered his other interpretation that was quoted above. Even when insisting to take the view that the Pharaoh was lying in S. 28:38 against all the reasons stated above, one needs to ask whether it makes sense to assume that both statements were actually made. In which order could they have been made without resulting in nonsense?


The chiefs of Fir'aun's (Pharaoh) people said: "Will you leave Musa (Moses) and his people to spread mischief in the land, and to abandon you and your gods?" ... S. 7:127 Fir'aun (Pharaoh) said: "O chiefs! I know not that you have a god other than me, ... S. 28:38 After the chiefs had just raised the concern that the gods of Pharaoh and Egypt are in danger of being abandoned by the people, would the Pharaoh then address these same chiefs and present an argument against Moses based on the premise that he does not know of any other god except himself? That would be a ridiculous situation. The Pharaoh would look utterly stupid. The other sequence does not make sense either. After the Pharaoh, the absolute ruler of Egypt, made an argument against Moses based on the premise that he does not know of any god besides himself, would anyone dare to contradict him and raise a concern about the worship of gods whose existence Pharaoh had just denied? The situation is impossible. Even assuming the highly unlikely case that one should understand that Pharaoh lied in S. 28:38, both stories talk about the same people, the Pharaoh and his chiefs, discussing what to do now after Moses had delivered his message and shown miracles. It is simply not credible that both conversations happened. In other words, at least one of the versions of the story is fictitious, unhistorical, made up. Adding S. 79:24 into the discussion In their footnotes on S. 28:38, Muhammad Asad and Abdullah Yusuf Ali both referred to S. 79:24 as if those two verses were obvious parallels. These passages are in agreement as far as both containing a claim in regard to Pharaoh being the only god of Egypt, and this claim being made in response to Moses’ message and miracles: Has the story of Moses reached thee? Behold, thy Lord did call to him in the sacred valley of Tuwa:- "Go thou to Pharaoh for he has indeed transgressed all bounds: And say to him, ‘Wouldst thou that thou shouldst be purified (from sin)? - And that I guide thee to thy Lord, so thou shouldst fear Him?’" Then did (Moses) show him the Great Sign. But (Pharaoh) rejected it and disobeyed (guidance); Further, he turned his back, striving hard (against God). Then he

collected (his men) and made a proclamation, Saying, "I am your Lord, Most High". 79:15-24 Y. Ali However, there is at least one considerable difference to S. 28:38 which may introduce further difficulties instead of helping to resolve the problem. Let's repeat S. 28:38 for direct comparison: Pharaoh said: "O Chiefs! no god do I know for you but myself: therefore, O Haman! light me a (kiln to bake bricks) out of clay, and build me a lofty palace, that I may mount up to the god of Moses: but as far as I am concerned, I think (Moses) is a liar!" S. 28:38 Y. Ali In S. 28:38 the statement, "no god do I know for you but myself", is formally a report of factual information. In principle, such a statement could be correct or incorrect. As we have seen above, it must be (subjectively) true since it is the basis of an argument, and the force of the argument depends on the audience being in agreement with the statement, i.e. the statement summarizes common knowledge in order to build on it. To assume that it was a deliberate and obvious lie would make the whole story incoherent. In S. 79:24, on the other hand, it appears that Pharaoh's proclamation is something new. It would seem strange to call together everyone to make a proclamation of something that is common knowledge. One could get the impression that because Moses called Pharaoh to belief in and obedience to the one and only true God, Pharaoh decides to put himself in that place and declare to the Egyptians that he alone is their Lord, Most High. In that case, it would not contradict the polytheistic faith of the Egyptians, since this proclamation is then a command that despite having many gods until now, in the future they will only take Pharaoh as their Lord. Such an interpretation would ease the tension between 79:24 and 7:127, but it would then stand in conflict with 28:38 instead of supporting and explaining it, as assumed by Asad and Ali. Moreover, it would be a really bad move on the part of the Pharaoh. Being confronted by Moses is a crisis. To obey him would mean many changes and difficulties. In a crisis situation, an outside threat, rulers usually appeal to their subjects on the basis of common values. It would make much more sense to rouse the people against Moses by depicting him as their enemy who attacks their deeply held religious beliefs. That Pharaoh tried to introduce a new religion in this situation, contradicting and confronting both Moses and his people, does not make sense. The story is again incoherent.

Or was that proclamation made to confirm what they always believed, i.e. to rally his people behind him when he was challenged by Moses? Possibly. Then this passage would complement S. 28:38, and simply extend the contradiction to S. 7:127 vs. 28:38 and 79:24. However, in that case, this passage is putting another nail into the coffin of the "Pharaoh lied" hypothesis. If 28:38 was a lie, then 79:24 cannot be seen as a confirmation of a reality that never existed. Thus we have come full circle. If it does not make sense to assume that Pharaoh lied in S. 28:38, then the discrepancy between S. 7:127 and 28:38 is indeed a serious problem. It seems to be difficult to have an interpretation of S. 7:127, 28:38 and 79:24 that resolves the contradictory aspects in a way that is both coherent and in agreement with the historical facts. These problems make it difficult to view the Qur'an as divine revelation. There are too many inconsistencies, statements contradicting each other as well as history, to be considered a credible account of Moses' encounter with Pharaoh. One reason that the author of the Qur'an did not recognize those contradictions may be the disorganized structure of this book, i.e. that details of this story are scattered in so many places, and parts of the story have been "revealed" at different times and circumstances of Muhammad's life, so that he did not realize that the later versions contradicted what he had said before, those earlier versions being located elsewhere in different parts of the Qur'an. A divine author would not have had a problem to keep all these details together in his mind, but the many logical and historical problems found in the Qur'an are evidence for a confused human author. For me, there is one more interesting question: What is the purpose of putting those statements (S. 28:38, 79:24) into the mouth of Pharaoh? What advantage would it be for Muhammad? (Was it simply a desire to make Pharaoh, i.e. the person opposing the messenger of God in this story, look even more evil? And by association, those who oppose Muhammad are in really bad company? If that is the reason it may also deliver an explanation for second slaying of sons in the Qur'an.) There are many stories in the Qur'an that have been manipulated and one can clearly see why many of the changes have been introduced. The reader should refer to the article, I am all the prophets, for a detailed discussion. Further research may be necessary to resolve this question.


Pharaoh, Haman, and the tower of Babel Pharaoh and Haman, and their hosts were sinners ... And Pharaoh said, "Council, I know not that you have any god but me. Kindle me, Haman, a fire upon the clay, and make me a tower, that I may mount up to Moses' god; for I think that he is one of the liars." [Sura 28:8,38] Pharaoh said, "Haman, build for me a tower, that haply so I may reach the cords, the cords of the heavens, and look upon Moses' God; for I think that he is a liar." [Sura 40:36-37] This is another possible example of two historical compressions in the same story and the same confusion in both texts that recount the event. At least in this case, the Qur'an is consistent within itself. According to Surah 28:35-42 and 40:36-37, Haman was a minister or official of the Pharaoh (king of Egypt) who lived in the same time as Moses. According to Jewish history Haman served as the minister of Ahasuerus (king of Persia, Xerxes I is his name in Greek). Apart from the error in location, this is placing Pharaoh (Moses) and Haman in the same story even though they lived 1,000 years apart. [See Esther 3:1.] Furthermore, in the Qur'an Haman is ordered by Pharaoh to build a tower reaching into heaven ("the Tower of Babel") which is a well known story of an event that took place long before Abraham, who lived at least 400 years before Moses. [See Genesis 11:1-9, especially the verses 3-4, "Let us build make bricks and bake them thoroughly. ... and build a ... tower that reaches to the heavens."]


A Pharaoh Who Forgot to Die in Time There are plenty of problems and contradictions associated with the various Pharaoh stories in the Qur'an (cf. [1] , [2], [3] , [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13]). In this article we want to discuss something that may not be so readily obvious when reading the Qur'an, but carefully comparing a number of passages will lead to the conclusion that according to the Qur'an the Pharaoh reigning at the birth of Moses is still in power at the time of the Exodus, when Moses is an old man. The Torah specifies this to be some eighty years later. The Torah also states explicitly that these are different Pharaohs. As such, the Qur'an is not only in clear contradiction to the Torah, but Muslims will have a hard time finding any Pharaoh who reigned for such a long time anywhere in Egyptian history, let alone in the period that could contain the Exodus. This seems to be one of many historical compressions found in the Qur'an. Before examining the Qur'an in detail, we will present the Biblical time frame. Chapter 1 of the book of Exodus reports the command of Pharaoh that every new-born male infant of the Israelites is to be killed. Exodus 2:1-10 then tells the story of the birth of Moses, how he was miraculously saved from death by being hidden in a basket, found and then raised at the Egyptian court by Pharaoh's daughter. The following scripture references will give an outline of the relevant events and the time spans involved.
Exodus 2:11-12 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. ... 2:15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, ... 2:23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. ... 4:19 Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead." 5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "This is what the LORD , the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, ...’"



Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

Stephen's testimony when he was questioned before the Sanhedrin, the High Council of the Jews, agrees with the data reported in Exodus and provides us with some more details:
Acts 7:23- When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow 24 Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. 7:29- When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons. After forty years had passed, an 30 angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai.

The Holy Scriptures state unanimously in both the Old Testament (the Jewish Scriptures) and the Christian New Testament that Moses was eighty years old when he appears before Pharaoh with the command of God that the Israelites may now leave Egypt. The Torah states clearly that the Pharaoh who reigned at the time when Moses had to flee to Midian had died before Moses was sent back to Egypt. The Torah not only speaks of the death of this one Pharaoh in the meantime but also says "all the men who wanted to kill you are dead" which seems to indicate an even longer time may have passed. These fourty years in exile may have been contemporary to successive reigns of several Pharaohs. Furthermore, in the story of the birth of Moses we find in Exodus 2:10 that Pharaoh's daughter adopted the baby Moses and raised him as her own son. This means the Pharaoh reigning at the time of Moses' birth already had an adult daughter. This implies that Pharaoh was most likely at least fourty years old. According to the Biblical data, there were at least two, more likely three different Pharaohs in Moses' life up to the Exodus. (1) The Pharoah of his childhood, (2) the Pharoah of the Oppression when he had to flee at the age of fourty, and (3) the Pharaoh of the Exodus, when Moses came to lead Israel out of Egypt at the age of eighty. We now turn to examine the Qur'anic data about the Pharaoh(s) during the life time of Moses. We read about the birth of Moses:


Truly Pharaoh elated himself in the land and broke up its people into sections, depressing a small group among them: their sons he slew, but he kept alive their females: for he was indeed a maker of mischief. And We wished to be Gracious to those who were being depressed in the land, to make them leaders (in Faith) and make them heirs, To establish a firm place for them in the land, and to show Pharaoh, Haman, and their hosts, at their hands, the very things against which they were taking precautions. So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses: "Suckle (thy child), but when thou hast fears about him, cast him into the river, but fear not nor grieve: for We shall restore him to thee, and We shall make him one of Our messengers." Then the people of Pharaoh picked him up (from the river): (It was intended) that Moses) should be to them an adversary and a cause of sorrow: for Pharaoh and Haman and (all) their hosts were men of sin. The wife of Pharaoh said: "(Here is) joy of the eye, for me and for thee: slay him not. It may be that he will be use to us, or we may adopt him as a son." And they perceived not (what they were doing)! But there came to be a void in the heart of the mother of Moses: She was going almost to disclose his (case), had We not strengthened her heart (with faith), so that she might remain a (firm) believer. S. 28:4-10 Apart from the error that the Qur'an replaced the daughter of Pharaoh by the wife of Pharaoh as being the person finding and saving Moses (disagreeing with the Torah instead of confirming it, cf. Who Adopted Moses?), and the translation of Haman from Persia into Egypt (see the articles The Haman Hoax, Pharaoh and Haman for details), we note for the purpose of our current discussion that Haman is already in a government position at the time of Moses' birth. The fact that Haman is named directly after Pharaoh in several places gives the strong impression that he is a top government official, probably even the second in command, the highest government official under Pharoah. What does that mean for his age? Even though there have been a number of Pharaohs who ascended to the throne at a very young age (teenagers or even children) because the position of the Pharaoh was hereditary, it is highly improbable that anyone would become a leading government official before the age of thirty, and that would be a very low minimum estimate indeed. Roughly parallel to Exodus 2:11-12, 15 (quoted above) are these verses from the Qur'an about Moses' murder of an Egyptian and his flight to Midian: When he reached full age, and was firmly established (in life), We bestowed on him wisdom and knowledge: for thus do We reward those who do good. And he entered the city at a time when its people were not watching: and he

found there two men fighting, - one of his own religion, and the other, of his foes. Now the man of his own religion appealed to him against his foe, and Moses struck him with his fist and made an end of him. ... S. 28:14-15 He therefore got away therefrom, looking about, in a state of fear. ... Then, when he turned his face towards (the land of) Madyan, ... And when he arrived at the watering (place) in Madyan, ... S. 28:21-23 Surah 28:23-29 then tells the story of Moses in Midian, getting married and raising a family. (Incidentally, the author of the Qur'an manages to introduce yet another error in this passage, cf. Moses or Jacob?) The verses following those we will quote again here since they report the calling of Moses and the appearance of Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh: Now when Moses had fulfilled the term, and was traveling with his family, he perceived a fire in the direction of Mount Tür. He said to his family: "Tarry ye; I perceive a fire; I hope to bring you from there some information, or a burning firebrand, that ye may warm yourselves." But when he came to the (fire), he was called from the right bank of the valley, from a tree in hallowed ground: "O Moses! Verily I am Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. ... Now do thou throw thy rod!" But when he saw it moving (of its own accord) as if it had been a snake, he turned back in retreat, and retraced not his steps: "O Moses!" (It was said), "Draw near, and fear not: for thou art of those who are secure. Thrust thy hand into thy bosom, and it will come forth white without stain (or harm), and draw thy hand close to thy side (to guard) against fear. Those are the two credentials from thy Lord to Pharaoh and his Chiefs: for truly they are a people rebellious and wicked." He said: "O my Lord! I have slain a man among them, and I fear lest they slay me. And my brother Aaron - He is more eloquent in speech than I: so send him with me as a helper, to confirm (and strengthen) me: for I fear that they may accuse me of falsehood." He said: "We will certainly strengthen thy arm through thy brother, and invest you both with authority, so they shall not be able to touch you: with Our Sign shall ye triumph,- you two as well as those who follow you." When Moses came to them with Our Clear Signs, they said: "This is nothing but sorcery faked up: never did we hear the like among our fathers of old!" Moses said: "My Lord knows best who it is that comes with guidance from Him and whose end will be best in the Hereafter: certain it is that the wrong-doers will not prosper." Pharaoh said: "O Chiefs! No god do I know for you but myself: therefore, O Haman! light me a (kiln to bake bricks) out of clay, and build me a lofty palace, that I may mount up to the god of Moses: but as far as I am concerned, I think (Moses) is a liar!" And he was arrogant and insolent in the land, beyond reason,- he and his hosts: they

thought that they would not have to return to Us! So We seized him and his hosts, and We flung them into the sea. Now behold what was the end of those who did wrong! S. 28:29-40 Two observations: First, Moses expresses the fear that Pharoah and his chiefs still remember him, and still want to kill him for his manslaughter of an Egyptian. Different from the Bible, God does not tell Moses that the Pharoah and the people who wanted to kill him are dead but instead promises that he will strengthen Moses and enable him to face his enemies. The passage assumes implicitly that this is the same Pharaoh and government from whom he had fled earlier. Second, this implicit assumption is confirmed by the fact that Haman is still one of Pharaoah's officials at the time Moses challenges Pharaoh. (How old would make this Haman, when we know that Moses is now eighty years old?) Further information about the understanding of the Qur'an regarding the relationship of Moses and Pharaoh is given in this passage: Behold, thy Lord called Moses: "Go to the people of iniquity,- The people of the Pharaoh: will they not fear Allah?" He said: "O my Lord! I do fear that they will charge me with falsehood: My breast will be straitened. And my tongue will not speak (plainly): so send unto Aaron. And (further), they have a charge of crime against me; and I fear they may slay me." Allah said: "By no means! Proceed then, both of you, with Our Signs; We are with you, and will listen (to your call). So go forth, both of you, to Pharaoh, and say: ‘We have been sent by the Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds; Send thou with us the Children of Israel.’" (Pharaoh) said: "DID WE NOT CHERISH THEE AS A CHILD AMONG US, and didst thou not stay in our midst many years of thy life? And thou didst a deed of thine which (thou knowest) thou didst, and thou art an ungrateful!" Moses said: "I did it then, when I was in error. SO I FLED FROM YOU WHEN I FEARED YOU; but my Lord has (since) invested me with judgment (and wisdom) and appointed me as one of the messengers. And this is the favor with which thou dost reproach me,- that thou hast enslaved the Children of Israel!" Pharaoh said: "And what is the ‘Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds’?" (Moses) said: "The Lord and Cherisher of the heavens and the earth, and all between,- if ye but sure belief." S. 26:10-24 The Pharoah addresses Moses as somebody who had lived with and been cared for in his childhood by him and his family. Moses in turn addresses Pharaoh, stating that he had fled fearing them, not some earlier Pharaoh and government. This is again reinforced by this passage:

Of old We sent Moses, with Our Signs and an authority manifest, to Pharaoh, Haman, and Qarun; but they called (him)" a sorcerer telling lies!" ... Now, when he came to them in Truth, from Us, they said, "Slay the sons of those who believe with him, and keep alive their females," but the plots of Unbelievers (end) in nothing but errors (and delusions)! ... Said Pharaoh: "Leave me to slay Moses; and let him call on his Lord! What I fear is lest he should change your religion, or lest he should cause mischief to appear in the land!" S. 40:23-26 Apart from the confirmation by yet another Surah that Haman is still present, we find here that the command for male infanticide by Pharoah — which was given around the time of Moses birth (Exodus 1:15-22, Sura 28:4) — is allegedly repeated when Moses comes to Pharaoh as the prophet of God. A couple of thoughts about this: It is true that people tend to repeat themselves, also in their evil actions. As such this is further circumstantial evidence supporting the quranic understanding that there was only one Pharaoh from the birth of Moses to the Exodus, acting consistently in his evil personality. However, even evil people have usually reasons for what they do. The "evil logic", the reason behind this command is given in Exodus 1. The Qur'an doesn't give a reason for this crime in either of the two passages quoted above (S. 24:4, 40:25, nor in S. 7:127, 141 where this is stated again). In this latter passage, S. 40:25, the Qur'an makes the command an arbitrary act of cruelty on the part of Pharaoh, and completely lacks any reason for this action. Finally, it contradicts the Bible. The command to kill the male infants, was only in force around the time of Moses' birth — which makes Moses' survival a miracle of God. Here the author of the Qur'an just got confused about the timing again, as in so many other stories and in regard to elements of this same story as we have already seen. (A more detailed discussion regarding the alleged repetition in the slaying of Israelits infants is provided in Was there a second period of slaying the sons of the Israelites?) Be that as it may, all these passages point to the conclusion that in the mind of the author of the Qur'an there was only one Pharoah. He already reigned at the birth of Moses and still reigned together with Haman as a top government official at the time when Moses came back to Egypt and challenged Pharaoh to let the Children of Israel go. This poses a double problem for the Muslims. This mistaken opinion of the author of the Qur'an blatantly contradicts the Torah, and it will be very difficult


for Muslims to find any Pharaoh in history whose life span and time of government is in harmony with the quranic understanding.


Moses or Jacob? The Qur'an tells the story or rather stories of Moses and Pharaoh in many places, and we have already discussed many errors and contradictions found in these passages (cf. the list of links here). This short article points out another detail on which the Qur'an contradicts the Bible, because the author of the Qur'an confused two stories of the Bible and imported details from one story into another. Both Moses and Jacob had to flee from their homes (Jacob because he tricked his brother Esau, and Moses because he had killed an Egyptian), and they found their wives in similar ways. While being abroad they met these young women as they were tending a flock of sheep and needed help to give them water from a well. These similarities certainly helped to confuse the two stories in the mind of the author of the Qur'an. The biblical story of Moses meeting his wife: When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father's flock. Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock. When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, "Why have you returned so early today?" They answered, "An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock." "And where is he?" he asked his daughters. "Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat." Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, "I have become an alien in a foreign land." Exodus 2:1522 The quranic version of Moses meeting his wife: And when he arrived at the watering (place) in Madyan, he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: "What is the matter with you?" They said: "We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take back (their flocks): And our father is a very old man." So he watered (their flocks) for them; then he turned back to the shade, and said: "O my Lord! truly am I in (desperate) need of any good that Thou dost send me!" Afterwards one of the (damsels) came (back) to him, walking bashfully. She said: "My father invites thee that he

may reward thee for having watered (our flocks) for us." So when he came to him and narrated the story, he said: "Fear thou not: (well) hast thou escaped from unjust people." Said one of the (damsels): "O my (dear) father! engage him on wages: truly the best of men for thee to employ is the (man) who is strong and trusty".... He said: "I intend to wed one of these my daughters to thee, on condition that thou serve me for eight years; but if thou complete ten years, it will be (grace) from thee. But I intend not to place thee under a difficulty: thou wilt find me, indeed, if Allah wills, one of the righteous." He said: "Be that (the agreement) between me and thee: whichever of the two terms I fulfil, let there be no ill-will to me. Be Allah a witness to what we say." Sura 28:23-28 The stories clearly refer to the same incident, but plenty of differences exist between them. Two aspects are particularly striking: In Exodus, Moses meets seven women at the well, all seven being daughters of one man. In the Qur'an it is said explicitly that they were two women, also daughters of the same man. In both cases, their father offers Moses one of the daughters for marriage. However, in the Qur'an, the father asks a payment for marrying his daughter. The condition is that Moses has to work for him for eight or ten years. Note that there are two terms of service mentioned, although they are alternative numbers. In the Qur'an we have two womenand two terms, contrary to the biblical account. Where are these particular details coming from? They are also found in the Bible, in the story of Jacob meeting and marrying his wives: Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. There he saw a well in the field, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well's mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well. Jacob asked the shepherds, "My brothers, where are you from?" "We're from Haran," they replied. He said to them, "Do you know Laban, Nahor's grandson?" "Yes, we know him," they answered. Then Jacob asked them, "Is he well?" "Yes, he is," they said, "and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep." "Look," he said, "the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture." "We can't," they replied, "until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep." While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess. When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, and Laban's sheep, he

went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle's sheep. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father. As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister's son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. Then Laban said to him, "You are my own flesh and blood." After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, Laban said to him, "Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be." Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, "I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel." Laban said, "It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me." So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her." So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant. When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?" Laban replied, "It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work." And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant. Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years. Genesis 29:1-30 This is the story of the two daughters, and of Jacob working two terms for the woman he loves. If this is not yet convincing enough to identify the source of these misplaced details in the story of Moses, look at the next verse in the Qur'an: Now when Moses had fulfilled the term, and was travelling with his family, he perceived a fire in the direction of Mount Tur. He said to his family: "Tarry ye; I perceive a fire; I hope to bring you from there some information, or a burning firebrand, that ye may warm yourselves." Sura 28:29; cf. 27:7


After Moses had served his term as payment for marrying his wife, he (leaves his father-in-law) and travels with his family. Why? Where is he going to? According to the Bible, Moses was not travelling with his family but was occupied by his daily work of tending the flocks when he encountered the burning bush: Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up." When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." Exodus 3:1-4 This particular element of the "travel with his family" (on which he encounters God) is the third detail that Muhammad took from the account of Jacob in the Bible and injected into the story of Moses. It is Jacob who takes his family and leaves Laban after he had finished his terms and actually even stayed some years longer (Genesis 30:25-31:55) – which may also be reflected in S. 28:27 by the strange condition of "eight years ... ten years". In any case, Jacob left Laban and travelled back to his home land for two clear reasons: (1) Laban had deceived him several times (Genesis 31:41) and (2) for the purpose of reconciling with his brother Esau (Genesis 32-33). On this journey, he encounters God (Genesis 32:22-30). All these details make it quite obvious that the author of the Qur'an confused the story of Jacob with the story of Moses. Taking several details from the story of Jacob, he mixed them into his own version of the story of Moses. It is rather hard to believe that this confusion was inspired by God. On the contrary, together with dozens and dozens of other errors, contradictions and confusions (*), it is evidence that the Qur'an was composed by an ignorant and fallible human author. Given the accounts of the Torah, it is easy to see how the version of the Qur'an is due to Muhammad's ignorance and confusion, since he was not able to examine the text of the Hebrew Scriptures himself, but had to construct his stories based on hearsay and his own faulty memory. This is an entirely coherent and natural explanation for anyone who does not make the divine origin of the Qur'an his first assumption. It is even more credible because this is not an isolated case. The Qur'an contains many stories which are a confused

mixture of elements taken from two or more stories in the Bible, see the links under the heading Historical Compressions. On the other hand, I see no way how Muslims could provide a convincing explanation how the version of the Torah developed if it really happened like it is written in the Qur'an. Simply claiming that "the Torah is corrupted" is too easy. Every crime, and also the crime of corrupting a holy text, needs to have a motive, a purpose. What reason could anyone have for changing "two women" to "seven women"? [Apart from the logistic impossibility of doing this in every copy of the Torah without anyone realizing this change.] This detail has no theological significance. It does not serve any special interest of the Jews or the Christians. Moreover, Muslims do not need to explain only this one difference between the Qur'an and the Bible, but need to provide a coherent and credible explanation that there are dozens of similar confusions and errors and changes in many stories that are found in both the Qur'an and the Bible. Many of those changes without any theological relevance, i.e. Jews would not have any benefit from those changes. The explanation that the confusion of the Qur'an is due to Muhammad's ignorance of the earlier scriptures is straight-forward, natural and credible. The Muslims have so far not provided a similarly natural and satisfactory explanation which could make the version of the Qur'an credible and rescue their belief in the divine origin of the Qur'an.


Did Joseph's parents go to Egypt? The Bible states clearly that Joseph's mother Rachel (Genesis 30:22-24) died at the birth of Joseph's younger brother, Benjamin: Then they [Jacob and his household] moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, "Don't be afraid, for you have another son." As she breathed her last— for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin. Genesis 35:16-18 The author of the Qur'an seems not to have been aware of this, when he ‘reveals’ about Jacob's family coming to Egypt: Then, when they entered unto Yusuf (Joseph), he betook his parents to himself and said: "Enter Egypt, if Allah wills, in security." And he raised his parents to the throne and they fell down before him prostrate. And he said: "O my father! This is the interpretation of my dream aforetime! My Lord has made it come true! He was indeed good to me, when He took me out of the prison, and brought you (all here) out of the bedouin-life, after Shaitan (Satan) had sown enmity between me and my brothers. Certainly, my Lord is the Most Courteous and Kind unto whom He will. Truly He! Only He is the All-Knowing, the AllWise. S. 12:99-100 Al-Hilali & Khan Two Muslim commentators acknowledge that this is a problem, and seek to do damage control in their footnotes: ... His mother Rachel had long been dead, but he had been brought up by his mother's sister Leah, whom his father had also married. Leah was now his mother. They were logded with Joseph himself. (Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, Saudi edition, fn. 1777) According to the Biblical account - not contradicted by the Qur'an - Joseph's mother Rachel had died while giving birth to Benjamin. We may, therefore, assume that the "mother" implied in the term "parents" was another of Jacob's wives, who had brought up Joseph and Benjamin; this would be in consonance with the ancient Arabian custom of applying the designation "mother" to a foster-mother. (Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur'an, p. 352, fn. 96; bold emphasis mine)


Although Arabian custom is irrelevant in this case, since Jacob was not an Arab, it is certainly possible, and even likely, that Leah acted as a mother to Joseph and Benjamin after the death of Rachel, and that Joseph called her mother. However, both Muslim commentators overlooked that this does not save the Qur'an. The Bible does not only report the death of Rachel, but also informs us that the death of Leah took place before Jacob and his household moved to Egypt. We read: Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel's sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. They also took with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan, and Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt. He took with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring. Genesis 46:5-7 Though not by name, the women are mentioned in summary form: The wives of Jacob's sons, and his daughters and grandaughters. No wife of Jacob is mentioned in the list of those who moved to Egypt. It would be an incredible insult if the sons of Jacob had "forgotten" to take their mother with them, and Jacob had "forgotten" to remind them. The statement "Israel's sons took their father Jacob ...." indicates that Jacob had become old and frail. According to Genesis 47:8-9, Jacob was 130 years old at that time. This also makes it highly unlikely that any of his wives would still be alive. Finally, feeling his death approach some time later (in Egypt), Jacob calls all his sons to himself: Then he gave them these instructions: "I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites." Genesis 49:29-32 This clearly states that Jacob buried Leah in Canaan. Given the frailty and age of Jacob at the time of his arrival in Egypt, he hardly went back to bury her there after they had immigrated to Egypt. No, this happened before they left Canaan. Leah was buried where she died, just as Rachel had been buried where she had died (Genesis 35:19-20).

Conclusion: Joseph's mother died long before Joseph himself came to Egypt. Leah also died before Jacob and his household moved to Egypt. There was no wife of Jacob that moved with him. The Biblical data are clear. When speaking about Joseph's parents coming to Egypt, the Qur'an commits a clear error.


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