Prophet Joseph — episodes twenty-seven and twenty-eight

Prophet Joseph — episodes twenty-seven and twenty-eight July 30, 2016


Synopsis. Amenhotep holds a public ceremony to promote Joseph to one of the highest positions in the land, and Joseph tells the people his plans for getting through the upcoming seven years of famine. The priests of Amon try to sow seeds of doubt in the crowd, but every time they raise a question about Joseph’s plans, Joseph happens to say something that answers their question. Later, Joseph organizes a team of assistants that includes his former prisonmates, his fellow ex-slave Nemisabu, and Malek, the Ishmaelite who sold him to Potiphar nearly twenty years earlier. Potiphar’s health is failing, and the priests convince the queen mother Tiye to tell her son that an officer named Horenhob should get Potiphar’s job if and when he passes away.

As the 28th episode begins, Joseph tells Amenhotep they need to conduct a census so that they know what sort of resources they will have. He also addresses the people and proposes various ways of paying for the grain that they will have to store. Potiphar passes away, and within hours Amenhotep makes Joseph the “Lord of Egypt” in Potiphar’s place — but he also makes Horenhob commander of the army. Inarus and Nemisabu spy on some priests who are planning to hoard wheat in their silos. Joseph says not to worry: only he knows how to store wheat for seven years, so the priests’ wheat will go bad after two years, and the famine will undermine the priests’ power over Egypt. A servant overhears this and reports back to the priests, who tell him to alert the assassin Ninifer Keptah the next time Joseph leaves the palace.

Differences from Genesis. In these episodes, it is stated that all of the land in Egypt currently belongs to the Pharaoh, and Joseph proposes to give some of that land to the farmers in exchange for the grain that they give to the Pharaoh’s storehouses; Joseph also explicitly states that the famine will play a role in undermining the power of Egypt’s priests. But the book of Genesis describes a very different scenario: there, Joseph uses the famine to enslave the Egyptians, who give up their freedom and their property in exchange for food, and Joseph lets the priests keep their land while the Pharaoh gives the priests a regular allotment of food (Genesis 47:13-26).

Pious Joseph. Joseph is somewhat self-effacing throughout these episodes, telling the Egyptians he is their servant and not their master, and telling Malek that he hopes God will forgive him for being the reason that Malek has been homeless in Egypt for the past two decades. Joseph assures Malek that he had to be a slave so that he could one day rise to his current position in Egypt — he accepts his fate — and he tells both Malek and Inarus not to bow to him or kiss his hand (which results in some humorous moments as Inarus keeps bowing out of habit and then apologizes for doing so).

The supernatural. There is nothing overtly supernatural in these episodes, but it is a little… uncanny… how Joseph, speaking to the crowd, happens to address every concern raised by the priests mere moments after the priests raise them.

God versus the gods. Joseph tells his former prisonmates to spread the news that his God defeated the priests of Amon when it came to interpreting Pharaoh’s dream. Joseph also tells Amenhotep the famine will eventually allow them to take possession of the temples of Amon. However, when Joseph addresses the people, he tells them that he is speaking in the name of both the Egyptian gods and his own God.

Amenhotep’s mother, Tiye, tells him to oust Joseph because, she says, an unbeliever shouldn’t seize power in the city of Amon. She also eventually declares that everyone in the royal court is a heretic, because they are standing up for Joseph.

Just before he dies, Potiphar says he wishes he and Zuleikha had worshiped Joseph’s God instead of Amon. Joseph, who apparently hasn’t seen Potiphar for a long time, returns the sentiment when he watches Potiphar’s funeral and says he wishes he could have introduced Potiphar to the religion of his great-grandfather Abraham.

Egypt. Potiphar is placed in a sarcophagus only two hours after his death, and he doesn’t appear to have been mummified at all. (He’s certainly not wrapped in cloths of any kind.) Is the mummification supposed to take place on the other side of the Nile, where the dead bodies are sent, or was the process skipped in his case? If so, why?

Amenhotep’s wife Nefertiti is very involved in the discussions that take place in the royal court, advocating for Joseph (and his fellow ex-prisoners!) and commenting on whether Horenhob would be able to handle any non-military responsibilities.

Themes. Social class and a concern for the poor continue to be major themes in these episodes. Joseph welcomes all of the ex-prisoners into the palace, telling them their looks don’t matter (they are all still wearing the clothes they had in prison at that point). A woman in the crowd says she wishes the Pharaoh would be fair to poor and rich equally. And Joseph nixes raising taxes and duties (to fund his preparations for the seven years of famine) because the poor wouldn’t be able to pay them.

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 runs from about 1:36:17 to 3:11:58 in this video:

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

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