Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Joseph becomes second-in-command in Egypt

To continue with the long saga of Joseph's rise to fame...

Some years later, the Pharaoh has a dream about fat cows and lean cows, and fat corn and lean corn.

My initial reaction, on reading this, was that everybody dreams and some of us have some really horrific ones, but most of them are inexplicable. We also know, today, that dreams are nothing more than our brains processing whatever it is that's bothering us. However, we're not talking about modern people here, these are superstitious ancients who had to have gods to blame for their adversities, and to praise for what was just good luck.

The Pharaoh's butler remembers how Joseph interpreted his dream, so he tells the Pharaoh to call him to do his party trick at the palace. Joseph interprets the dream as a prophecy that Egypt will experience seven years of plenty and seven of famine. He advises saving food for the lean years, for which the Pharaoh rewards him with the position of overseer of the food supplies of all of Egypt, and the daughter of Potiphar as wife, with whom he has two sons, Mannaseh and Ephraim.

Anyone who has lived in lands where water is scarce, knows that there are years and years when rain doesn’t come, and years and years where there is an abundance of rain and food. It doesn’t take God’s wisdom to tell anyone this. People know to save for the day when you don’t have income, it’s all folklorish common sense for people who don’t know anything; a little bit of sage advice and making it come from God makes it valid.

Also I have a problem with the Pharaoh recognising that Joseph “dwells with God.” The Egyptians had at least a hundred gods, and the Pharaoh would never have given any recognition to the idea of a foreign god who was greater than Ra.

Politically, the Pharaoh was always supported by members of his own family and he would not have put a stranger, and a slave at that, in charge of the wealth of Egypt. That job was usually reserved for his eldest son, or if the son was too young, his next eldest brother. The Egyptians were used to years when the Nile didn’t come down, and they already knew to make provision for the times when there was no flooding. The country was the "bread basket" of the known world. This story does nothing more than confirm that it was written at another time when the writers understood exile, and the Egypt part of the story was fabricated to give it some antiquity.

The whole Joseph in Egypt thing is pure political nonsense. The Egyptians don't have records of Joseph, let alone such a huge event as fourteen years of a stranger being in charge of everything, unless he was one of the people they called “Hyksos” or the “Sea People” and then those people were in charge of everything, not second to the Pharaoh. This story shows real ignorance of Egyptian history and politics, and if one considers the accepted timeline of the power of the real kings of the tribes of Israel, it is set in the wrong period.

Finally, we get to the part where Joseph’s family arrive in Egypt to begin the legacy that will lead to Moses taking them home to Canaan, which I'll post later today.

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