Thursday, March 10, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - Joseph (part 3)

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
The dream Joseph interpreted for Pharaoh told of a time of plenty that was to come followed by a seven year famine. In light of this warning, Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of storing grain for the coming famine and, when it did come, while the rest of the world languished, there was bread in Egypt. Joseph's brothers heard there was bread in Egypt and set off to buy grain for their families. His brothers came before Joseph to buy grain, though they recognized him not,
"And the brethren of Joseph came, and entered unto him, and he knew them, but they knew [recognized] him not. When he had equipped them with their equipment [provided them with their provisions] he said, 'Bring me a certain brother of yours from your father. Do you not see that I fill up the measure, and am the best of hosts?" (Koran 12:58-59)
However, in the Jewish story, Joseph was gruff with them and accused them of being spies. Before he would let them go he even threw them into jail for a while. He was not quite the "best of hosts!"
"'by this you will be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here! Send one of you that he may get your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. But if not, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies.' So he put them all together in prison for three days." (Genesis 42:15-17)
Finally,  Joseph released the brothers and sent them home, warning them that they were not to return unless they brought Benjamin with them. However, in the Koranic story, they return with no grain.
"So, when they had returned to their father, they said, 'Father, the measure [corn] was denied to [withheld from] us; so send with us our brother, that we may obtain the measure; surely we shall be watching over [take care of] him.'" (Koran 12:63)
In the Jewish story, Joseph filled their bags with grain, enough grain that the did not need to hurry back.
"Then Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain and to restore every man's money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. And thus it was done for them." (Genesis 42:25)
As time passed, they needed to return to Egypt to purchase more grain. However, they first had to convince their father to send Benjamin with them back to Egypt.
"He said, 'Never will I send him with you until you bring me a solemn pledge by God that you will surely bring him back to me unless it be that you are encompassed.' When they had brought him their solemn pledge he said, 'God shall be Guardian over [witness of] what we say.'" (Koran 12:66)
However, in the Jewish story it was the brothers who made promises to try and persuade their father.
"Judah said to his father Israel, 'Send the lad with me and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones. I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever. For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice.'" (Genesis 43:8-10)
The Koran adds an interesting side story where Jacob counsels the brothers how to enter before Joseph.
"He also said, 'O my sons, enter not by one door [gate]; enter by separate doors [gates]. Yet I cannot avail you anything against God; judgment belongs not to any but God. In Him I have put my trust; and in Him let all put their trust who put their trust.' And when they entered after the manner their father commanded them, it availed them nothing against God; but it was a need in Jacob's soul that he so satisfied. Verily he was possessed of a knowledge for that We had taught him; but most men know not." (Koran 12:67-68)
Apparently, this was to be some kind of sign to Joseph that God had previously spoken to him about. This story is completely wanting in the Jewish account. The brothers returned to Egypt and Joseph eventually reveals himself to them. He then sends them back to fetch their father and the rest of the family that they may live out their lives in Egypt, for several years remained of the famine.

Apparently, as recorded in the Koran, Jacob had grown blind. Joseph, apparently also a miracle worker, devised a healing.
"Go, take this shirt, and do you cast [throw] it on my father's face, and he shall recover his sight; then bring me your family all together.'" (Koran 12:93)
There is no record of this in the Jewish account. Jacob and the rest of the family went to Egypt. The Koran records that Joseph's father and mother were make heads of state in Egypt.
"And he lifted his father and mother upon the throne [seat of state]; and the others fell down prostrate [bowing] before him. 'See, father,' he said, 'this is the interpretation of my vision of long ago; my Lord has made it true." (Koran 12:101)
However, there is no record of this in the Jewish scriptures nor of Joseph making remarks to his father that his dream really did come true. All that is said is that they settled themselves in the Land of Goshen because sheep headers were an abomination in Egypt.
"'When Pharaoh calls you and says, "What is your occupation?" you shall say, 'Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers," that you may live in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians... Then Pharaoh said to his brothers, 'What is your occupation?' So they said to Pharaoh, 'Your servants are shepherds, both we and our fathers.'... Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know any capable men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock.'" (Genesis 46:33-34, 47:3, 5-6)
Joseph then returned to serve Pharaoh, while his family lived out the rest of their lives in ease in Goshen.

More to come...
David Robison

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