The Birth of a Nation and the problem of religious violence


Just a few quick thoughts about the depiction of violence and religion in Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, which tells the story of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion in 1830s Virginia.

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Prophet Joseph — episodes forty-one and forty-two


Synopsis. Joseph and Asenath pay a visit to Zuleikha and find that she is still deep in prayer. Asenath says she isn’t jealous that Joseph will be getting a second wife soon, but she says she does covet Zuleikha’s spiritual growth. Meanwhile, Joseph’s brothers split up into groups of two or three and enter Thebes by different gates, to avoid being detected — but they are spotted anyway and taken back to the palace. Joseph reveals his identity to Benjamin but tells him to keep it a secret. Joseph tells Asenath he has to find a way to keep Benjamin in Egypt so that their father, Jacob, can give up his sons and get them back the same way Abraham almost sacrificed one of his sons, only to get him back. The brothers leave Thebes and begin to make their way back to Canaan, but Joseph’s soldiers ride out and accuse the brothers of stealing a golden chalice.

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Prophet Joseph — episodes thirty-nine and forty


Synopsis. The once-bald priests of Amon, now hairy and bearded after their stint in prison, are summoned to the court of Akhenaten. Joseph speaks to the Egyptians in the building that used to be Amon’s temple, and, seeing Rudamon in the crowd, tells the officer to stay by his side from here on. Joseph’s wife Asenath discovers who Zuleikha is and confronts Joseph with the fact that the woman who once owned him has become a beggar while he ignored her. An angel appears to Joseph and tells him he must marry Zuleikha. Zuleikha is brought before the court and, after Joseph prays to God, both Zuleikha’s sight and her youth are restored to her. The chief priest of Amon, who has experience tricking people into believing that gods have acted, refuses to believe that the miracle is genuine, but at least one priest does believe. Zuleikha goes to another room with the women, and tells them that — surprise! — she doesn’t want to see Joseph right now. Instead, she wants to be alone with God for now.

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Prophet Joseph — episodes twenty-one and twenty-two


Synopsis. Joseph continues to encourage his fellow inmates. One day, while they are all on a food break at the quarry, Joseph sees a Canaanite chasing a runaway camel, and Joseph, without revealing who he is, asks the man for news of his family and gives him a cryptic message to take back to Jacob. Apopis is woken by a bad dream and learns that Inarus, too, has had a dream. They ask Joseph to interpret the dreams, and Joseph, to prove his words are trustworthy, makes a prophecy that comes true within minutes, as a meal of luxurious food arrives unexpectedly from Zuleikha. Joseph tells the inmates he is a “messenger” from God, and he leads them all in a profession of faith. Then he interprets the dreams: in three days, Inarus will be free but Apopis will be dead. Joseph consoles Apopis and tells him he will find peace in heaven.

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Prophet Joseph — episodes fifteen and sixteen


Synopsis. Jacob is still mourning the loss of Joseph. Meanwhile, in Egypt, Zuleikha decides that, if Joseph can serve Potiphar as a “consultant”, then maybe she can “consult” with him too, nudge nudge wink wink. Joseph is standing in Honifer’s room and looking at his late mentor’s empty bed when Zuleikha’s servant summons him; en route to Zuleikha’s room, Joseph soothes a crying baby named Kisin, whose mother is one of Zuleikha’s kinswomen. Joseph resists Zuleikha’s attempts to woo him, and Zuleikha goes on a journey to the Nile along with her entourage, hoping that she can forget about Joseph. But the Nile holds no joy for her now, so she returns home.

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Prophet Joseph — episodes eleven and twelve


Synopsis. Honifer the chamberlain shows Joseph around the palace and introduces him to the servants who make papyrus, pottery, linen, food, and more. They come across two guards who have been arrested as suspects in the theft of some jewelry. Joseph tricks the guilty guard into confessing his crime, prompting some observers to marvel that Joseph is not only beautiful but smart, too. Meanwhile, Malek — who wants to rescue Joseph and send him back to Jacob — says goodbye to his caravan as it leaves Egypt for Babylon. In Canaan, Jacob and his five-year-old son Benjamin meet a wolf who informs them that Joseph was not killed by wolves, no matter what the other sons of Jacob say. Back in Egypt, Joseph offends the priests in Potiphar’s palace by saying that they should get no more food than the other palace residents do.

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