Joseph the Dreamweaver
We continue the tale of Joseph, the charming and his sojourn in Egypt
Joseph is in jail for attempted rape, a crime he did not commit. But jail isn’t so bad because the jailor likes him. In jail, he rapidly rises to the top to be in charge of all the prisoners. With him are two ex-suck-ups from the Pharaoh’s Palace, the royal baker and the royal cupbearer. One day they both come to him looking depressed and when Joseph asks, they tell of the bad dreams they had and their own inability to interpret them. Wouldn’t you know it Joseph is an excellent dream reader. It’s all in the power of God , of course, but is there anything this boy can’t do? Here it is in original Freudian wrapping.
Then the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. “In my dream,” he said, “I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. It had barely budded when its blossoms came out, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; so I took the grapes, pressed them out into his cup, and put it in Pharaoh’s hand.” Joseph said to him: “This is what it means. The three branches are three days; within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your post. You will be handing Pharaoh his cup as you formerly used to do when you were his cupbearer.
Good news! You will be freed! There was much rejoicing. The cup bearer is ecstatic and the baker is heartened enough to ask Joseph to interpret his dream.
When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given this favorable interpretation, he said to him: “I too had a dream. In it I had three wicker baskets on my head; in the top one were all kinds of bakery products for Pharaoh, but the birds were pecking at them out of the basket on my head.” Joseph said to him in reply: “This is what it means. The three baskets are three days; within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and have you impaled on a stake, and the birds will be pecking the flesh from your body.”
Whoa! Damn! That’s some heavy news, man! You have to wonder what crime could a baker possibly have done to warrant death by impalement? Not enough sugar in the cookies? Did his cake fall? Was he caught pilfering flour? We could get started on this horrifying cruelty within the Bible except for two points here. First, these people didn’t worship Yahweh. Second, looking at the history of the human race shows us that sadism like this was more than common; it was ubiquitous. Why would God allow it? That’s one of the constant underlying themes of this study, one that no one has ever answered satisfactorily.
Sure enough, three days later, exactly as Joseph predicted the Pharaoh restored the cupbearer and impaled the baker. You see, it was his birthday, and he wanted some entertainment for his party. There’s nothing like a good impaling to get the ball rolling, you know. Joseph’s only request of the cupbearer was to remember to mention him to the Pharaoh. The cupbearer in his giddiness of being restored and not impaled forgot all about it. You’ll have that sometimes. Two years passed and Joseph remained imprisoned.
After these two years had gone by the Pharaoh, too, had disturbing dreams.
He saw himself standing by the Nile, when up out of the Nile came seven cows, handsome and fat; they grazed in the reed grass. Behind them seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile; and standing on the bank of the Nile beside the others, the ugly, gaunt cows ate up the seven handsome, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. He fell asleep again and had another dream. He saw seven ears of grain, fat and healthy, growing on a single stalk. Behind them sprouted seven ears of grain, thin and blasted by the east wind; and the seven thin ears swallowed up the seven fat, healthy ears.
These dreams disturbed him greatly and all the court soothsayers and magicians couldn’t tell him what they meant. Now, maybe it’s all hindsight, but the interpretation here doesn’t seem all that difficult. By Darwin, he had what was virtually the same dream twice. I’ll tell you that I’m as out of tune as possible to the meaning of dreams or astrology or any of that crap, but I could have certainly made up a plausible reading, so I have a hard time believing that no one would even venture a guess. But nobody tells the Pharaoh what they mean. Not a single sycophant! Bah! They’d be tripping over themselves to get in the Pharaoh’s good graces. At this point the cupbearer remembers Dreamweaver Joseph languishing in prison and tells the Pharaoh,and the Pharaoh summons him.
Pharaoh then said to him: “I had certain dreams that no one can interpret. But I hear it said of you that the moment you are told a dream you can interpret it.” “It is not I,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, ” but God who will give Pharaoh the right answer.”
Again credit always goes to God. Blah! Blah! Joseph listens to the Pharaohs dream and answers quickly with the following.
Joseph said to Pharaoh: “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams have the same meaning. God has thus foretold to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven healthy cows are seven years, and the seven healthy ears are seven years–the same in each dream. So also, the seven thin, ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven thin, wind-blasted ears; they are seven years of famine. It is just as I told Pharaoh: God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are now coming throughout the land of Egypt; but these will be followed by seven years of famine, when all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. When the famine has ravaged the land, no trace of the abundance will be found in the land because of the famine that follows it–so utterly severe will that famine be. That Pharaoh had the same dream twice means that the matter has been reaffirmed by God and that God will soon bring it about.
Now came a very shrewd speech on the young man’s part. Joseph told the Pharaoh that he needed to find a “Wise and discerning man” and put him in charge of marshaling the entire nation and to start saving massive stores of food in the coming good years to have enough for the bad years to follow. The Pharaoh is so impressed with Joseph’s divine wisdom he gives him the job. Look:
This advice pleased Pharaoh and all his officials. “Could we find another like him,” Pharaoh asked his officials, “a man so endowed with the spirit of God?” So Pharaoh said to Joseph: “Since God has made all this known to you, no one can be as wise and discerning as you are. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people shall dart at your command. Only in respect to the throne shall I outrank you. Herewith,” Pharaoh told Joseph, “I place you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” With that, Pharaoh took off his signet ring and put it on Joseph’s finger. He had him dressed in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. He then had him ride in the chariot of his vizier, and they shouted “Abrek!” before him. Thus was Joseph installed over the whole land of Egypt. “I, Pharaoh, proclaim,” he told Joseph, “that without your approval no one shall move hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.”
Joseph, having languished in both slavery and prison for 13 years, just hit the big time. The Pharaoh, having met Joseph only ten minutes before, immediately and without a single qualm hands over most of the keys to the kingdom. All this on the strength of a single dream reading. Really? Does this sound likely to you? Being stranded in a blizzard with a busload of Desperate Swedish bikini models sounds considerably more plausible.
Come on people! This is a fairy tale, a juvenile fantasy! Poor oppressed boy makes it big is the plot of many young man’s daydreams. This is Cinderella and The Brothers Grimm. All good fairy tales have similar warpings of probability. Which is precisely why we call them “Fairytales”. Like so much in religion, this is yet another example of people’s latent desire to come out on top of everyone else, especially when the odds are stacked against them.
This just wouldn’t have happened. Any pharaoh who handed over all power wasn’t going to be around long. Yet, this one gave everything to a man he’d just met. You may say he did it because he was weak, and you’d be right. But if this were the case, can you imagine what the reaction of the rest of the Pharaoh’s courtiers and lords would have done about this abdication of power to a foreign slave. They’d have risen up and taken the title for pharaoh for themselves. Civil war would have broken out. Just a quick look at Egyptian or any other history shows you this has happened hundreds of times. Back in the bad old days especially, anyone showing signs of weakness incited others to try for the throne. The strong struggled to the top. The weak were crushed. This is the nature of humanity. Then and now.
I have a very hard time believing that any pharaoh or king act is this manner. Ever. It’s doesn’t fit our nature and being that inept, the power would have been seized long before it could have been given.
On a similar note, the people Joseph meets, PotiPhar, the jailor, and the Pharaoh, all hand over all their responsibility to him and just go on with their lives? Were ancient Egyptians so lazy that they wandered the streets looking for anyone to give all their power to. I understand inept people exist here and there, but Joseph has long-term relationship with three of them. He walks into their life and they just hand over everything to him? Not bloody likely!
While I’m ranting, let’s stop a bit and gather in a few more absurdities these chapters reveal. Taken as literal truth, my biggest gripe in this and so many other mystical or religious tales is the importance of dreams or omens or signs. Now previous to this, God often just came down and told someone his plans. But here Yahweh is no longer visiting our world directly but sends out shadowy dreams telling people of his plans and desires. Why? Was he busy flooding another world or slaughtering millions of other people?
Also, why send dreams in an odd symbolic form when you could just send the real thing. If you want to tell the Egyptians about the raping you’re going to put them through, why project it in odd symbols. Skinny cows? Wind blown stalks of wheat? What? God should have been able to free up the bandwidth to send out highly accurate dreams in HD. Was it beyond him? He could have sent some 3D Visionorama broadcast of exactly what was to come. But no, he sends a few low-res Windows Media files with fat and thin cows and good and bad stalks of wheat. WTF?
In the realm of obscurity, the Lord of Genocide is far from the only offender. Just take the Delphic Oracle’s vague predictions. Or Sylvia Brown’s? If you make your predictions broad and hazy enough, some of them are bound to fall into place. Why do all gods send such nebulous signs and omens to guide their people? Why send dreams to a person so you then have to give someone else the power to interpret? This is extra for a more confusing message. Why can’t he be clearer? Is there such a security risk in heaven that God must send his file encrypted? Is Satan really a divine hacker trying to break into Yahweh’s files?
I don’t know about the rest of you but If I were a believer this would get annoying. For instance, last night I dreamed I was a trout walking through Walmart shopping for fish-sticks. What the hell could that mean? Is the river going to flood? Am I secretly a cannibal? For the love of God will some one please tell me? I’ve been a nervous wreck all morning.
Why not tell the people directly? Why not just say what you really mean? Why does the great and mighty Oz insist we understand his language? Can he not speak to us in ours? Does he send such vague and bizarre messages to confuse us? Look around at the world, it’s working. Does he want us to fail? This is the question that begs an answer.
By the end of this study, I hope to give you one. I’ll just tell you now, it doesn’t look good.