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Joseph Climbs the Ladder

November 26, 2013

Just some notes about understanding what happened to Joseph.

1. Before meeting Pharaoh, Joseph personally served the chief slaughterer, the chief baker, and the chief wine-guy of Egypt. Thus, he had appropriate training regarding the national supply of bread, wine, and meat which would serve him well.

2. See the following passage:

37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants: ‘Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom the spirit of God is?’ 39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph: ‘Forasmuch as God hath shown thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou. 40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled; only in the throne will I be greater than thou.’ 41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph: ‘See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.’ 42 And Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck. 43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him: ‘Abrech’; and he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph: ‘I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt.’ 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Poti-phera priest of On. And Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.– 46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt.–And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. 

Most are of the grade-school understanding that immediately after Joseph interpreted Pharoah’s dreams, Pharaoh appointed Jospeh as viceroy. That is, Joseph went from prisoner to just under Pharaoh in one day.

Aside from  the fact that it seems strange for that to be so, it is actually contradicted by the above verses. In Biblical language, each of those “and Pharaoh said” lines serves as introduction to a new episode. There are many examples of this. Further, that would be similar to how Joseph climbed the ladder in both Potiphar’s house and in the prison.

Thus, what really happened was that (37) Pharaoh and his advisers heeded Joseph’s advice, and kept him around as what we would call an intern. Shortly thereafter, after noticing how Joseph was more than qualified for a higher position, (38) Pharaoh consulted with his advisers about promoting Joseph, which he then did. (39-40) Joseph’s was first promoted as head of Pharaoh’s household, to what we would call his PR man. (41-43) Later, after realizing that Joseph was still more qualified, Joseph was given another promotion. This time, he was to be Pharaoh’s personal assistant, and it included a new honorific title. Some time later, (44-46) Joseph achieved the highest position possible, becoming viceroy and receiving sweeping new powers, a new honorific, and a trophy wife.

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