Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Watch the boundaries!

[T]hese final words of Joseph do not seem to be adding a new reason for his self-control. Rather, they seem to be summing up what he has already said and what is in line with the characterization of the narrator in Gen 39:1–6—that is, Joseph’s success in Potiphar’s house is directly related to YHWH’s blessing. Joseph’s sin against God can be seen, then, as a move in the same direction as a betrayal of Potiphar: overstepping Potiphar’s instructions would transgress also God’s commands.

This insight is both in line with Joseph’s own deference to God as the sole source of dreams and their interpretation, and more embedded in the story as such—both of which might hint at something that Joseph’s attitude displays in these chapters about the topic of chosenness. They signify that an important part in the life of the chosen is to recognize that in order to rule, one needs to accept a certain level of subordination. Joseph is the second-in-command both in Potiphar’s house and in Pharaoh’s court, and in both cases a few things are excluded from his oversight. The power of the chosen is thus not limitless. It has certain boundaries, which should be respected.—The Unfavored, pages 35–36

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