Joseph’s Resumé of Integrity

Genesis 41:10 “Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard.  11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.  12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream.  13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

A young Hebrew?  Not a fellow prisoner but a “servant of the captain of the guard”?  Other translations say a slave?  Belonging to the captain of the guard?  That’s the cupbearer’s recounting of Joseph’s profile.

Genesis 41:14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.  

Job interview time.  Joseph doesn’t show up looking like a hairy Hebrew who’s been jailed for two full years beyond the arrival of the double dreamers.  He is rescued out of jail and given new clothes to wear for the interview.  After all, the appointment was with Pharaoh.

Genesis 41:15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

A glowing recommendation!  All the stakes are high for unjustly imprisoned Joseph who desperately wants to be released from prison (and permanently).  He’s been waiting at least two years for this big break.  What would be wrong with a little fluffing one’s feathers in a job interview?  Too much for a man of Joseph’s character.

Genesis 41:16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

Think about it:

  • Integrity is painstakingly built layer by layer but it can be destroyed with a single act.  Why does it take so long to form integrity? 
  • What does integrity have in common with purity? Why does one act ruin it? 
  • What might have been problematic had the cupbearer described Joseph foremost as a prisoner? 
  • In Genesis 41:16 (“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires”), what does it mean that God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires?  Scholars discuss this greatly.  It doesn’t mean flattery and Joseph as a “yes-man” who tells the Pharaoh what he wants to hear.  It doesn’t mean that Joseph is making up something to get himself released from prison.  The phrase in the Hebrew is literally “Answer the peace of Pharaoh”, basically to put Pharaoh’s mind at ease by providing an answer to the unsettling dreams. 
  • When the stakes are high, why was it remarkable that Joseph said he couldn’t do it and instead credited “God”?
  • The word used in the Hebrew is not Yahweh (which would have identified God as the One worshipped by the Hebrews) but the more generic notation Elohim (which would leave Pharaoh to draw his own conclusions about which god or gods or God was providing the answer). How does this open Pharaoh to the coming interpretation without creating cultural or religious barriers to the plan of God?
  • In what way does even an answer that presents a problem still answer the peace of Pharaoh? 

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on July 11, 2019

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