Theological Insights from a Modern Perspective

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Joseph and Pontiphar’s Wife

When last we left Joseph he had been sold, twice. Once to a caravan by his brothers, then then to Pot-i-phar, the captain of the Pharaoh’s guard. Joseph did well there, and in a short time he became head of Pot-i-phar’s household. The Lord loved Joseph and saw to it that he succeeded in all of his responsibilities, he ran things so well that Pot-i-phar did not have to oversee anything with regards to his household affairs. Perhaps Pot-i-phar should have paid just a little more attention to what was going on back home.

While Pot-i-phar was away his wife decided Joseph was better than nothing and started making passes at him. Joseph, loyal to his master, told her that this was not appropriate. After a couple attempts the wife became vexed and when Joseph left after the latest pass she grabbed onto his cloak and pulled it off of him. Joseph ran out of her bedroom and she called out to the servants. When they appeared she showed them Joseph’s cloak and told them that he had attempted to rape her. When Pot-i-phar returned she showed him the cloak and gave him the same story, which was backed up by the servants. Pot-i-phar had Joseph tossed into prison. Under Egyptian law Pot-i-phar could have had Joseph killed for this act; if I had to wager a guess, I’d bet this is not the first time this has happened, and Pot-i-phar felt sorry for Joseph, but still had to do something to keep his authority intact with the other servants.

Joseph endears himself to the keeper of the prison, and in no time at all he is put in charge of the prison population, where God has plans for him. At some point in time Pharaoh’s butler and baker offend Pharaoh, we are not told what they did, but considering the temperament of royalty, it doesn’t have to be much; Pharaoh has them tossed into prison, the same prison that Joseph is in, and this is where things get interesting, and the dreams begin.

One night both the butler and the baker have disturbing dreams, Joseph notices that they are upset and asks if he can help. The butler tells his dream first, he is standing before a vine with three branches that bud and product ripe grapes, he pressed the grapes into Pharaoh’s cup and hands the cup to Pharaoh. Joseph tells him that in three days he will be restored to his prior office, then begs the butler to remember him when he is again the butler.

The baker then tells Joseph his dream, he has three baskets of baked goods on his head that are destined for the Pharaoh, but the birds eat everything in the top basket. This time the reading is not so good, Joseph tells him that in three days the baker will hang and the birds will eat at his flesh.

Well, in three days both readings come to pass, but the butler forgets all about Joseph and his promise, after all, things are good, why worry about something that doesn’t matter all that much?

Two years later Pharaoh has a disturbing dream and none of the court magicians can interpret it. Now, a magician in ancient times wasn’t someone who made elephants or buildings disappear, they were more in the line of what we call psychics (without the 800 numbers). None of them are able to make anything out of the dream, and at this time the butler remembers Joseph and his remarkable abilities. He tells Pharaoh, and Joseph is brought forth to see if he knows what the dream means: Pharaoh is standing by the Nile and seven fated calf’s come out and feed on the grass; next seven emaciated calf’s come out of the Nile and eat the other seven. Frightened he wake up, calms down, then goes back to sleep and has a second dream: Seven plump ears of corn grow on a stalk, then seven more ears grown, but they are scrawny and devour the first ears. Joseph tells Pharaoh that the interpretation is not his but God’s, and that there will be seven plentiful years, but that following them will be seven years of famine; the reason for the two dreams is that God will start these fourteen years quickly. So, Pharaoh orders that 1/5th of everything harvested in the first seven years be saved for the next seven so that his people will be able to survive the famine.

Pharaoh is please with Joseph and puts him in charge of all of Egypt, only Pharaoh will be over him. There is no way to relay how great this is, we have nothing similar in today’s society, even America’s Vice President doesn’t have this kind of authority. Joseph’s word is law, unless Pharaoh overrides him. During the good years Joseph had two sons, Manas’seh and E’Phraim by the daughter Poti’phera (priest of the god On). Then the famine sets in and people demand something be done, this famine is so widespread that even the lands around Egypt are suffering, Pharaoh sends everyone to Joseph who orders the storehouses opened and the food sold to everyone Egyptian or not.

In time the famine hits Joseph’s family as well, and hearing that Egypt has plenty of grain in her stores Jacob sends his sons, less Benjamin (the youngest) to Egypt to ask for help. When they come before Joseph they do not recognize him, but he knows them and accuses them of being spies, coming to find Egypt’s weaknesses before an invasion. He is playing with them in an attempt to extract a little revenge for what they did to him. He agrees to provide them with the grain they request, but on condition…he wants Benjamin brought to him, to assure their compliance he keeps Simeon as hostage.

 

Next time – Reunion.

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Comments on: "Joseph the Dream Reader (Part 2) Egypt" (9)

  1. I really, really like these passages told like this in simple, plain, conversational English. Thanks for them!

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    • Thanks, I’m trying. Something new for me, after reading some feedback. It’s a different approach, especially in the writing part, taking a bit longer to do the posts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, that’s one way I study actually. I sort of act out Bible passages in my mind. I mean, these are real people and real events being described. Works good for kids and adults too!

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  2. Wonderful account of one of my favorite Old Testament characters! Great blog!

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    • Thank you.

      I find Jacob one of the more confusing characters (I know you’re speaking of Joseph). Throughout the narrative it goes back and forth between calling him Jacob or Israel. They never really settle on a name for him, with the others whose name changed (Abram/Abraham) once changed it remains forever the new name.

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      • Yes, Jacob, I believe refers to the ‘poor character’ – the deceiver etc. and Israel to the one ‘who struggled with God and lived’ the one who would not let go until God blessed him. Personally I think the name designation /definition adds to the narrative but leaves the clear understanding in general reading in somewhat of a dilemma. This is also the national struggle of Israel in scripture. Do you agree?

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      • Yes, I do agree. Keeping the meaning of the two names in mind while reading the passages shows what the author was going. Unfortunately, when doing a synopsis like this that is hard to bring across.

        “Jacob”, especially in the text after Joseph exits the family, shows a forlorn character. “Israel” is used when he is more upbeat and positive. Then they revert back to Jacob when the end of his life is near.

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      • Absolutely! The fact that Jacob was a twin complicates his character as well, I think we both agree understanding of Scripture and thoroughly exhausting a large important character like Jacob/Israel are two very different things!

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