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Netjerikhet - Zoser - Djeser - Djoser

Pharaoh Djoser - Saqqara
The Step Pyramid at Saqqara.

Netjerikhet was a third dynasty pharaoh who commissioned the building of the first pyramid in Egypt (The Step Pyramid at Saqqara). The Step Pyramid is part of a walled off complex containing buildings, underground passages leading to burial chamber, grain silos and, of course, the Step Pyramid. It was designed by his vizier Imhotep who became famous in his own right. Like a mastaba, the pyramid covered the burial chambers of the pharaoh but it is unclear whether the burial chambers were added before or after the pyramid was built. The Step Pyramid may have been made by converting a single layered mastaba into a 6 layered pyramid. Pyramids subsequently became the standard way for Pharaohs to be buried with all their treasures. The shape of the pyramid had particular significance to the Egyptian worship of the Sun God 'Ra".

According to Manetho, Netjerikhet (Djoser) ruled Egypt for twenty-nine years. The Turin King List, however, records that it was only nineteen years.

See Evidence for the Israelites (JEWS) in Ancient Egypt

The name 'Djoser' was not used until well after the Third Dynasty perhaps not until the 18th dynasty! [1,2]

Main article: Pharaoh Djoser (Netjerikhet) was the Pharaoh of Joseph

The Famine Stele ("Hungry Rock") is an inscription located on Sehel Island in Egypt, which speaks of a seven year period of drought and famine.

The pharaohs used their Horus names (Netjerikhet) while they were alive. Netjerikhet is the name inscribed on all his monuments, including the inscriptions at the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. New Kingdom (18th dynasty) graffiti at the Step Pyramid complex at Saqqara indicates that Netjerikhet was also known as Djoser. The first definite proof that Netjerikhet was Djoser comes from the Famine stele found on the Island of Sehel. It mentions both names of the pharaoh (Djoser and Netjerikhet) as well as Imhotep and a seven year famine. The inscription was written in the Ptolemaic dynasties and appears to be cut by priests of the god ‘Khnum’ of Elephantine and lays claim to some land south of Aswan known as ‘Dodekaschoinoi’ and claims that it had been granted to them by Djoser. Another group of priests of the goddess Isis on the Isle of Philae also believed that Djoser had given the land to them. Both groups believed that Djoser’s promise had some lasting validity. [1]

Imhotep was Djoser’s vizier and the Famine Stele records that Djoser asks Imhotep to help save Egypt from a coming seven year famine.

The priests of Isis and Khnum recognise Djoser as having the right to grant land. [1]

Land rights date back to Djoser because Djoser’s vizier Imhotep acquired all the land of Egypt for Djoser. Djoser gave the priests an allowance of grain and so they did not have to sell their land to him.

During the seven year famine, people came to Djoser from all over Egypt and even surrounding countries to buy grain. If they had no money, they would have to sell their land. Djoser made the priests exempt by giving them a grain allowance and so he enabled them to keep their land.

Djoser, therefore, with the help of his vizier Imhotep (thought to be Joseph of the Bible) saved all of Egypt from starvation during the seven year famine and became quite wealthy as a result. Djoser gained favour with the priests of the Egyptian Gods by allowing them to keep their land and supplying them grain. The priests would have been grateful and loyal to the Pharaoh as a result.

The common people could only have sold their land to the pharaoh once. [3]

According to the Bible, when Joseph was the vizier, he helped to save Egypt from a seven year famine. [5,6] Joseph was able to buy up all the land of Egypt (except that of the Priests). [7] Joseph, like Imhotep, was responsible for making the Pharaoh rich. This explains how the Pharaohs acquired the wealth and resources to build the Pyramids.

Joseph married the daughter of the High Priest of On (capital of Heliopolos). [4] He lived till the age of 110 years and would have served several Pharaohs. He was embalmed when he died.

Because of the similarities between Joseph and Imhotep, it is likely that they were the same person.

Netjerikhet would have been the Pharaoh of Joseph and, more than likely, he became known as 'the Pharaoh of Joseph’ by subsequent pharaohs (of the 18th dynasty).

It is likely that the Name ‘Djoser’ means ‘the Pharaoh of Joseph’ as it was not ‘coined’ until well after Netjerikhet died and Joseph / Imhotep became quite a notable figure in his own right.

Imhotep / Joseph was probably responsible for designing more than one pyramid, developing embalming techniques, building with columns, using the papyrus to write many literary works. He even performed many operations. Little wonder that the Greeks and the Egyptians subsequently tried to deify him.

Netjerikhet became known as 'the Pharaoh of Joseph’ and this was abreviated as ‘Djoser’.

In contrast, Moses, who lived in the 12th dynasty, also had a lasting influence on Egypt and several pharaohs of the 18th dynasty were named after Moses (eg Ahmose I and Thutmoses III) even though they had nothing to do with Moses.

The name Zoser is Greek for Djoser.


1 Chronicle of the Pharaohs The Reign by reign record of the rulers and dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Peter A Clayton. Thames and Hudson 2006 ISBN 978-0-500-28628-9

2 Unwrapping the Pharaohs How Egyptian Archaeology confirms the Biblical Timeline. John Ashton & David Down. Master Books 2006. ISBN 978-0-89051-468-9 ISBN 0-89051-468-2

3 [Could Joseph and Imhotep have been the same person?]

4 [H. Bible—”Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of all Egypt,” Genesis chapter 41:41-46]

5 [H. Bible—”Joseph stores up huge quantities of grain in Egyptian cities,” Genesis 41:47-49]

6 [H. Bible—”Joseph saves Egypt by selling grain,” Genesis 47:13-17]

7 [H. Bible—”Joseph buys up all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh,” Genesis 47:18-22]