Prophet Joseph — episodes twenty-five and twenty-six

Prophet Joseph — episodes twenty-five and twenty-six July 23, 2016


Synopsis. Inarus goes to the prison to set Joseph free and take him back to Pharaoh, but Joseph refuses to leave until his name is cleared; he says he does not want to be “forgiven” for a crime he never committed, instead he wants it known that he never committed the crime in the first place. At Joseph’s suggestion, Amenhotep summons Zuleikha and the women who visited her palace and cut their hands when they saw Joseph several years ago. Zuleikha confesses that she has been in love with Joseph for years, and the women confess that they tempted Joseph but he would not give in to them. Amenhotep sends the women to prison and summons Joseph again, and this time Joseph comes to the palace. Malek sees Joseph from a distance and rejoices that he has finally found Joseph after looking for him for almost 20 years. Amenhotep summons the priests of Amon and says he wants them to “test” Joseph.

As the 26th episode begins, Amenhotep describes his dreams to the court once again, and the interpreters who work for the priests perform various magic chants before declaring that the dream cannot be interpreted. Joseph then offers his own take on the dreams, and the people of Pharaoh’s court say they are thankful for Joseph and his God. One of the interpreters also praises Joseph’s interpretation, and is chastised by the high priest once they are outside the palace. Amenhotep puts Joseph in charge of the treasury and of agriculture, and Joseph asks that Pharaoh set free not only the noblewomen but also the prisoners that Joseph had been living with for the past eight years. Zuleikha, taking her cue from Joseph’s graciousness, sets her own slave Nemisabu free to be with Joseph. Malek tells Inarus he wants to see Joseph, while the interpreter who praised Joseph is found dead in the Nile, killed by Ninifer Keptah, who has become an assassin for the priests of Amon since he left prison.

Differences from Genesis. The biblical Joseph went to Pharaoh’s palace “quickly” and shaved before speaking to the Pharaoh (Genesis 41:14), whereas the Joseph of this series insists on proving his innocence first and keeps his beard throughout.

Similarly, the biblical Pharaoh seems to have put Joseph in charge of all Egypt right away, whereas the Joseph of this series is promoted a little more gradually.

Muslim tradition. The Koran says Joseph refused to leave the prison until he had been exonerated (12.50-51), that Joseph said he was capable of sinning but he wanted to assure Potiphar he wasn’t a traitor (12.52-53), and that the Pharaoh elevated Joseph in accordance with God’s will, which is represented here by an angel’s voice that Joseph hears while the Pharaoh is considering his options (12.54-56).

Pious Joseph. Joseph does not seize freedom the moment it is offered to him, but insists instead on clearing his name. He says he does this not to trumpet his own virtue — after all, he could always fail to do good like any other man — but to assure the Pharaoh and others that he is not a traitor. He then has Zuleikha and the other noblewomen set free, despite the role they played in his imprisonment.

The point is made repeatedly that the people who live and work in the prison will miss Joseph. The warden says the prisoners and their guards have “tolerated” the prison because Joseph was there, and the prisoners say they have forgotten that they are cut off from their families because Joseph is with them. (Joseph replies that being separated from him will be easy if they have God.) When all the prisoners are set free, the warden says he wishes he could leave the prison, too, to be with Joseph.

The noblewomen tell the Pharaoh that Joseph is like a sacred statue or an angel.

The supernatural. Joseph interprets the Pharaoh’s dreams, and an angel speaks to Joseph (in voice-over; we do not see him) to prompt him to put his name forward as the one who can take charge of Egypt’s treasury and its agricultural affairs.

God versus the gods. Joseph is capable of interpreting the Pharaoh’s dreams while the priests of Amon are not, and many members of the court express gratitude for Joseph and his God. Amenhotep then lets the priests go free because, he says, the humiliation of being upstaged by Joseph is punishment enough for now.

Family dynamics. Potiphar summons Zuleikha because he needs to know the names of the noblewomen the Pharaoh wants to see. As he summons her, the servants remark that Potiphar and Zuleikha haven’t seen each other in years.

Other tribes. When Joseph predicts that there will be seven years of famine, the chief priest tries to dismiss the prophecy by saying that this interpretation is only valid for the south part of the Nile, where the black people live. Is the priest a racist?

Timeline issues. In a previous episode, an angel told Joseph he was going to be in prison for eight years altogether. But now, as Joseph is set free from prison, both Potiphar and Zuleikha say he was sent to prison more than ten years ago.

Malek, meanwhile, claims that he has been looking for Joseph for 20 years. Nineteen years would be more accurate — Malek sold Joseph to Potiphar when Joseph was 11, and Joseph should be about 30 now — but “20 years” works as a round figure.

Themes. Social class is a major theme in these episodes. The noblewomen who sexually harassed Joseph are made to walk behind Potiphar’s chariot to the Pharaoh’s palace (a “walk of shame”, perhaps?), and a servant who sees this remarks that it’s very strange to see noblewomen being arrested instead of the poor. When those same women are let out of prison, one of them scornfully tells Zuleikha to walk home instead of waiting for someone to take her there. Meanwhile, Joseph refuses to be carried in a litter because “anyone who mounts on the shoulders of others will ultimately fall down.” The chief priest of Amon doesn’t want his dream interpreters to be defeated by a young inexperienced shepherd/slave, and when Amenhotep elevates Joseph, some members of the court mutter that this will be bad for aristocrats.

Another major theme is freedom and imprisonment, spiritual and otherwise. The warden at Joseph’s prison says he is not “free” to leave the prison and be with Joseph the way the ex-prisoners are. And Zuleikha says she feels like she’s in a prison no matter where she goes, because Joseph is not with her — so when Pharaoh sends the women to prison, she accepts that she can now suffer the way Joseph did.

Episodes: 1-2 | 3-4 | 5-6 | 7-8 | 9-10 | 11-12 | 13-14 | 15-16 | 17-18 | 19-20 | 21-22 | 23-24 | 25-26 | 27-28 | 29-30 | 31-32 | 33-34 | 35-36 | 37-38 | 39-40 | 41-42 | 43-45

The subtitled version of these episodes takes up the first 96 minutes of this video:

And here are the English-dubbed versions of these episodes:

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