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November 23, 2013 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Miketz

After the Egyptian king describes two dreams, one involving fat cows and lean cows, the other involving fat ears of corn and lean ears, Joseph says “Elohim has mercifully shown Pharoah what He is about to do.” (Gen. 41:28).  Scharfstein says that Joseph is showing his humility by crediting God “who had given him the wisdom to interpret the dream.”

It seems to me that there are some deeper issues here.  First, note that Joseph uses the term “Elohim”- a generic term for “God” or even “Gods”, as opposed to the special term for Israel’s god (Yud Hay Vav Hay).  Here we have yet another example of Joseph’s ability to speak to heathens in a way that they will understand, by using a term that pagans will not find odd.

Second, I think Joseph may be a little craftier than Scharfstein lets on.  Joseph’s repeated emphasis on “Elohim” implies that he has a kind of pipeline to God in a way that secular magicians do not. 

Why does the king like Joseph’s interpretation so much?  After all, news of upcoming famine is hardly good news.  Leon Kass (whose book The Beginning of Wisdom I am starting to read) notes that Joseph (a) has a solution to the problem and (b) has a solution that actually enhances the king’s power, since the king will be rationing grain (41:34-35).  Joseph is a pretty cunning guy!

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