Prophet Joseph — episodes thirty-five and thirty-six

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Synopsis. The Egyptian army, led by Horemheb, returns home after years of fighting against the Amorites. The priests of Amon get into an argument with Joseph while lining up for grain and inadvertently reveal that the temple of Amon has less wealth than it used to. In Canaan, Jacob teaches his grandchildren about the prophets. Back in Egypt, Joseph says it is time to act against the priests and make monotheism the official religion of Egypt. Egyptians begin arguing in the street about Joseph’s reforms and a fight breaks out, resulting in the death of a monotheist. Joseph teaches an Egyptian crowd that they should worship a God who is superior to them, and he says gods made of stone and wood cannot be superior to humans. Padiamun, one of the priests, leads an attack against one of the granaries but it is thwarted by Joseph, who wounds Padiamun personally. The priests retreat to their temple in the city.

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Box office: Ben-Hur is one of the summer’s biggest flops

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Ben-Hur turned out to be an even bigger flop than many people expected this week.

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Review: Ben-Hur (dir. Timur Bekmambetov, 2016)

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In theory, there is no reason why anyone shouldn’t make a new version of Ben-Hur. Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel has been dramatized several times already, and the most famous film of them all — the 1959 adaptation with Charlton Heston — deviated from the book in ways that arguably made it a less-than-definitive adaptation of the source material. (Among other things, the Heston film is less overt about its Christianity than the silent 1925 version.) So I was prepared to give the new movie a chance.

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Prophet Joseph — episodes thirty-three and thirty-four

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Synopsis. The seven years of famine have begun. People across Egypt are wondering why they woke up hungry in the middle of the night, and why their plants have begun to wilt. Zuleikha, in addition to all her other recent losses, is beginning to go blind and finds it difficult to walk without falling. In Canaan, Jacob’s eyes have begun to dim, too, but he hears that the Egyptians are benefiting under a leader whose name sounds similar to Joseph. Back in Egypt, Zuleikha’s servants are unable to get grain for their mistress, because only the poor can get grain for free — so Zuleikha sets her servants free so that they will at least be able to get grain for themselves. Zuleikha, all alone in her palace, works through her tortured emotions in a long, long monologue.

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Prophet Joseph — episodes thirty-one and thirty-two

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Synopsis. Zuleikha has let go of all her guards and most of her servants, so some of the remaining ones begin to steal her jewelry and her dishes. Zuleikha decides that she can be as generous as Joseph, so she goes to the servants’ quarters and announces to the remaining staff that she will give them land and freedom. Meanwhile, the priests of Amon discover that their grain has gone bad and is riddled with pests. They try to dump the wheat in the river at night, when no one can see them, but they are spotted by the guards and exposed by the palace staff. The Pharaoh summons Joseph, who is currently overseeing grain silos in Memphis, back to Thebes. A crowd greets Joseph when he arrives, and Joseph doesn’t notice that Zuleikha herself is in the crowd.

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Prophet Joseph — episodes twenty-nine and thirty

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Synopsis. A servant overhears one of the priests of Amon discussing their plot to kill Joseph, and warns the Pharaoh. Joseph says he’s not worried, and says they need to focus on preparing for the famine — but he also asks Amenhotep which god he worships. Amenhotep says he worships the one true God and asks if he can call this God Aten; Joseph agrees. At a ceremony for Amon, Amenhotep reveals that he now worships Joseph’s God, and he tells the priests of Amon to carry their idol out of the palace; he also reveals that he has changed his name to Akhenaten. Joseph goes outside the palace in disguise, to visit the slums of the city; disturbed by what he sees there, he vows to erase the barriers between rich and poor. When Joseph returns to the palace, Ninifer Keptah tries to attack him, but Joseph is saved by Nemisabu and Malek, the latter of whom kills Ninifer Keptah at the end of a short swordfight.

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