This series of blogs followed Genesis and the Gospel of Mark in tandem until the Gospel was finished; it will continue with Genesis alone until it is finished. The whole series started on 01/01/2015 and can be found in my archive.
FEMEN PROTEST AGAINST FRENCH NATIONAL FRONT
Genesis 41 Darby Translation (DARBY)
41 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed, and behold, he stood by the river.
2 And behold, there came up out of the river seven cattle, fine-looking and fat-fleshed, and they fed in the reed-grass.
3 And behold, seven other cattle came up after them out of the river, bad-looking and lean-fleshed, and stood by the cattle on the bank of the river.
4 And the cattle that were bad-looking and lean-fleshed ate up the seven that were fine-looking and fat. And Pharaoh awoke.
5 And he slept and dreamed the second time; and behold, seven ears of corn grew up on one stalk, fat and good.
6 And behold, seven ears, thin and parched with the east wind, sprung up after them.
7 And the thin ears devoured the seven fat and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke; and behold, it was a dream.
8 And it came to pass in the morning, that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the scribes of Egypt, and all the sages who were therein, and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was no-one to interpret them to Pharaoh.
9 Then spoke the chief of the cup-bearers to Pharaoh, saying, I remember my offences this day.
10 Pharaoh was angry with his slaves, and put me in custody into the captain of the life-guard’s house, me and the chief of the bakers.
11 And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each according to the interpretation of his dream.
12 And there was there with us a Hebrew youth, a slave of the captain of the life-guard, to whom we told them, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each he interpreted according to his dream.
13 And it came to pass, just as he interpreted to us, so it came about: me has he restored to my office, and him he hanged.
14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Yosef; and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon. And he shaved himself, and changed his clothes, and came in to Pharaoh.
15 And Pharaoh said to Yosef, I have dreamt a dream, and there is none to interpret it. And I have heard say of you, you understand a dream to interpret it.
16 And Yosef answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.
Pharaoh’s famous dreams require an interpreter and the cupbearer gives a generous answer which admits his negligence towards Yosef showing that albeit belatedly he has learned from God’s interpretation of his dream. This gives the audience hope that Yosef also will have learned from the delayed outcome to his dreams. Ad indeed it seems to be the case, because he doesn’t just rely on his famous charm, but shaves and changes his clothes, out of respect. Faced with the most powerful man in the world, he dares to contradict him and bears witness to his God. He Yosef is not the interpreter but God who speaks through him.
He says that God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace, that is, of shalom, a Hebrew word which means not only peace, but welfare and fruitfulness.God’s interpretation of human dreams use the material to bring blessing. That is always God’s purpose. The dream may spring from hope or fear, but God’s interpretation will find the truth that can bring goodness into the world.
Yosef is a certain kind of prophet: he does not denounce or demand; but rather tries to bind the ruler’s dream to God’s goodness and justice, engaging the power of the dream for God’s purpose which is the welfare of Pharoah’s people as well as his chosen family.
I have been reading some comments on the book of Genesis by Rabbi Nahum of Chernobyl, an 18th century hasid, who taught that the task of the tzaddik, the good man, was to help people bind the power of the evil urge in them, to God. Evil is no to be destroyed but to be re-united with God, the creator. I find this a challenging insight for both theology and ethics.