In Chapter “Joseph”, the ruler of Egypt is called “King” and not “Pharaoh”. Why?
The story of Joseph (Prophet Yusuf) does not only relate events and draw characters.
It goes beyond this to point out the period in history when these events took place and describes its general features.
Egypt was not ruled at the time by pharaohs of Egyptian descent. It was instead under the rule of a nomadic people who had learnt something about the divine faith from Prophets Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob who lived nearby.
We deduce this from the fact that the ruler of Egypt at the time is given in the Qur’an the title of King, while the ruler of Egypt in the story of Prophet Moses is given the well-known Egyptian title, Pharaoh.
This distinction determines the time when Yusuf was in Egypt, namely between the 13th and 17th dynasties, which belonged to the nomads whom the Egyptian people called the Hyksos. Their rule in Egypt lasted about 150 years.
The Pharaohs regained power
When the Pharaohs of Egypt regained power with the 18th dynasty, they began to suppress the monotheistic faith and its adherents, particularly the Children of Israel (i.e. Jacob’s descendants), in order to reinstate the idolatry that gave the Pharaohs their authority.
This explains a major cause behind the persecution of the Children of Israel. Israel’s, i.e. Jacob’s, sons settled in Egypt and ruled it during the Hyksos period. When the Egyptians expelled the Hyksos, they persecuted their allies, the Children of Israel.
However, the conflict between the two faiths is, in fact, the prime reason for such persecution, because the spread of the monotheistic faith destroys the very basis of Pharaohs’ rule since it stands firmly against all tyranny.
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Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation, Kulliyyah of Languages and Management (KLM), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was Assistant Professor and worked for a number of international universities in Malaysia and Egypt such as Al-Madinah International University, Shah Alam, Malaysia (Mediu) and Misr University for Science & Technology (MUST), Egypt; Former Editor-in-Chief of the Electronic Da`wah Committee (EDC), Kuwait; Former Deputy Chief Editor and Managing Editor of the Living Shari`ah Department, www.islamOnline.net; Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS); and member of the World Association of Arab Translators & Linguists (Wata). He is a published writer, translator and researcher. You can reach him at email@example.com.