The Joseph Narrative: Literary Analysis and the Role of God

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The Joseph Narrative: Literary Analysis and the Role of God The Joseph narrative can be found in the book of Genesis chapters 37-50. It is slightly interrupted “by the story of Judah and Tamar (Gen. 38) and by the so-called Blessing of Jacob (Gen. 49:1-28)” (Skinner, 438). The story of Joseph is seen as unique because it has different characteristics than its counterparts in Genesis. Other writings in Genesis seem to be short, brief incidents, about family and tribal affairs. The Joseph narrative, on the other hand, is lengthy in nature “comprising some 300 verses” (Barton & Muddiman, 60). In fact, Joseph is “second only to Moses in the attention given to him in the Torah” (Spring & Shapiro, 260). Some scholars consider the Joseph…show more content…
It is important to know that “In antiquity, dreams were thought to be signs from divine powers exposing their intent” (Plaut, 388). This view toward dreams makes Joseph’s gift very valuable. Throughout the writing we see that “Dreams play an important role and hint at unusual developments” within the story (Plaut, 360). The dreams come in three different episodes, each episode contains two dreams. This is one form of repetition that is used with regard to the dreams (cfr. Humphreys, 97). The first set of dreams occurs at the beginning of the narrative. Joseph has a dream and he goes to share it with his brothers: “There we were binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf stood up and remained upright; then your sheaves gathered around and bowed low to my sheaf” (Gen. 37:7). The brothers are extremely disgusted with Joseph and they see his dream as a purposeful attempt to mock them and show his power over them (cfr. Levenson, 75). They already do not like him because he is the favorite son, but they hate him even more after his dream. The second dream which occurs within this episode is similar to the first. This time Joseph describes the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing down to him. Joseph’s brothers and father take exception to his dream. From a foreshadowing perspective, the first set of dreams has striking similarities to what will happen later in the narrative. In the first dream, Joseph talks about harvesting grain and how the brother’s

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