Joseph, Pretense or Perspective?

By William J Jackson, Coordinator Netiv NWA

Joseph was at the beginning of that fantasy moment almost every sibling wants, his brothers apologizing.  But this was no small “I’m sorry” this was the big one.  Here were the ten brothers who earlier betrayed him.  Now they were humbly assembled before Joseph who held the power of life and death over them. “But wait!” Joseph does something profound, he “flips the script”. For starters, he beat them to the punch by telling them not to stress about what they had done to him.  He then tells them it was G-d’s will and because of this challenge G-d allowed him  to do great things (Genesis 45:4-7).  Wow, amazing, no wonder Joseph was blessed.  Not only did he accept an apology in advance, he views those twelve horrific years (1) he lived as a slave and a prisoner as a blessing from G-d.

I can’t help but reflect on my own rough times and how I sometimes projected that I am “OK” when I am not.  These suppressed emotion usually surface.   But I think Joseph instead of doing the “fake it to you make it” saw the deeper meaning in things. It was not his self control but his perspective through his relationship in G-d that gave Joseph such a positive outlook.

A good example of this was the running dialog between Joseph and Pharaoh eleven years (1) earlier.  This is when Joseph interpreted Pharaohs dreams.  Joseph gives credit to G-d four times during this conversation (Gen 40:8, 41:25, 41:28, 41:32).  Bear in mind Pharaoh had 2000 + gods in his faith (2).  Yet Pharaoh, by conversation’s end, is acknowledging YHWH (Gen. 41:39).  I think Joseph was blessed because he always gave credit to G-d but I also think because of his perspective through G-d he didn’t internalize like most of us do.   

Only now, because of the lessons in Torah, do I look for the deeper meaning.  And if I cannot see the meaning, it’s probably MY lack of maturity in HaShem’s word. The best I can do sometimes is to pray for understanding and His will be done.  He never disappoints.   


(1) Bible Hub, Bible Time line,

(2) Ottar Vendel, The Spirits of Nature, Religion of the Egyptians,

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