After all that has happened to him, Jacob expects the rest of his life to be smooth sailing, now that he and his family are settled in Canaan. His favorite son, Joseph, now 17, is very bright, handsome (probably looks like his mother Rachel), and clearly capable. Jacob, who does not feel any more constrained by birth order than his mother did, chooses Joseph, functionally his youngest son (Benjamin is only a child) as potential future head of the family and signals this by giving him a distinctive coat.
Joseph apparently has no idea how jealous his brothers are, nor how much they hate him. He is also clueless as to when to keep his mouth shut. When he dreams that his brothers’ sheaves bow down to his, he tells them. He also tells them and his father of a second dream in which the sun, moon, and stars bow down to him. It doesn’t take much skill to interpret those dreams, and his brothers’ rage reaches a boiling point. When he goes out to check on them and the flocks, they rip off his coat and initially plan to kill him but instead (after Reuben botches a rescue attempt) sell him to an Ishmaelite caravan. They dip the coat in the blood of a kid and bring it to Jacob, who recognizes it and is inconsolable.
We then pause for the story of Tamar, widow of Judah’s childless sons Er and Onan and putative fiancée of their brother Shelah. She dresses as a prostitute to seduce Judah so he will fulfill his levirate duty. She then has twins, Perez and Zarah, the former becoming the ancestor of King David.
Meanwhile, Joseph has been sold and re-sold until he is bought by Potiphar. He eventually becomes manager of the household. Potiphar’s wife continually propositions him, despite his declaration that he will not betray his master. Interestingly, some commentators think he actually consider accepting her offer. This is consistent with the use of a shalshelet cantillation mark, which indicates hesitation, on “and he refused.” This possibility was further examined by author Ruby Namdar in Joseph and His Master’s Wife: A Tale of Love, Obsession, Temptation and Piety, For example, he cites from the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sotah: “As it is written: ‘And it came to pass about this time, that he went into the house to do his work.’ R. Johanan said: ‘This teaches that both [Joseph and Potiphar’s wife] had the intention of acting immorally.’”
Anyhow, Potiphar’s wife is left, humiliated, holding his coat (coats keep getting Joseph into trouble). She cries rape and Joseph is sent to prison. Once more, Joseph’s ability is noticed and he is put in charge of the prisoners. He correctly interprets the dreams of two fellow prisoners, the chief wine steward and the chief baker. The baker is executed and the steward returns to Pharaoh’s service. Joseph tries to get the wine steward to bring his case to Pharaoh, but the steward conveniently forgets him. After all, how important can an imprisoned Hebrew slave be?
Chanukah starts on Sunday night, December 6, and I will include some appropriate comments and humor next week.
21 Things Every Youngest Child Will Understand (selected)
For everyone who always had to sit in the middle in the backseat. [IGP comments are in brackets. Full disclosure: I am the youngest of 4 children.]
1. Your parents often called you by the wrong name… [Actually, my mother often called all of us, including her husband, by the wrong name.]
3. You had no baby book or pictures of just you. [When I was about 7, I started filling in my largely blank baby book myself.]
9. You were always last to know any piece of family business. [THIS IS STILL TRUE!]
11. Your parents stopped paying someone to babysit you. [I don’t think my parents ever did.]
15. Your siblings insisted you were spoiled! [So did my mother.]
16. But you were the one wearing hand-me-downs. [Oh, yes. Mrs. Mullen made us matching holiday clothes, so it was probably 10 years before I finished growing out of all of them.]
19. Everyone treated you like a baby for a long time. [Still do!!]
20. You were always performing to earn your keep. [Yup.]
21. And you did! And you loved it! [Oh, yes!! Still do!]
Hey, What’s So Funny? 31 Dubious Astronomy Jokes (selections)
A Higgs boson goes into a church and the priest says, ‘We don’t allow Higgs bosons here.’ And the Higgs boson says, ‘But without me there is no mass.’
A photon walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender says, ‘Do you want a double?’ And the photon says, ‘No I’m traveling light.’
I was up all night wondering where the sun had gone … then it dawned on me.
Why does a moon rock taste better than an Earth rock?
It’s a little meteor
After his first meal on the moon, the 22nd century astronaut said the food was good but the place lacked atmosphere.
Why didn’t the Dog Star laugh at the joke?
It was too Sirius
What kind of songs do the planets like to sing?
Why couldn’t the astronaut book a room on the moon?
Because it was full
Astronomers say the universe is finite, which is a comforting thought for those people who can’t remember where they leave things.
Once, in my dorm room, I dreamed I was on a beach during a big storm, about to be inundated by a huge wave. I woke up and realized the roof was leaking. On me. IGP