Cultural Repertoire in Mikeitz

Cultural Repertoire

  • Direct Borrowing: "When Shakespeare sat down to write King Lear, he had before him Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kinds of Britain, Holinshed's Chronicles, Harrison's Historical Description of the Island of Britain, Higgins's Mirror for Magistrates, Spenser's Faerie Queene, Sidney's Arcadia, and the anonymous True Chronicle History of Kind Leir and His Three Daughters." (Goldblatt, p. 37)
  • Idioms: e.g. Kick the bucket or Greet the Sabbath Bride
  • Allusion: "Just another Watergate"
  • Style: Psalm 29 borrows from Uguritic Style and Form

Egyptian Words

(ב) וְהִנֵּ֣ה מִן־הַיְאֹ֗ר עֹלֹת֙ שֶׁ֣בַע פָּר֔וֹת יְפ֥וֹת מַרְאֶ֖ה וּבְרִיאֹ֣ת בָּשָׂ֑ר וַתִּרְעֶ֖ינָה בָּאָֽחוּ׃

(2) when out of the Nile there came up seven cows, handsome and sturdy, and they grazed in the reed grass.

(יח) וְהִנֵּ֣ה מִן־הַיְאֹ֗ר עֹלֹת֙ שֶׁ֣בַע פָּר֔וֹת בְּרִיא֥וֹת בָּשָׂ֖ר וִיפֹ֣ת תֹּ֑אַר וַתִּרְעֶ֖ינָה בָּאָֽחוּ׃

(18) when out of the Nile came up seven sturdy and well-formed cows and grazed in the reed grass.

(מג) וַיַּרְכֵּ֣ב אֹת֗וֹ בְּמִרְכֶּ֤בֶת הַמִּשְׁנֶה֙ אֲשֶׁר־ל֔וֹ וַיִּקְרְא֥וּ לְפָנָ֖יו אַבְרֵ֑ךְ וְנָת֣וֹן אֹת֔וֹ עַ֖ל כָּל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃

(43) He had him ride in the chariot of his second-in-command, and they cried before him, “Avrekh!” Thus he placed him over all the land of Egypt.

Egyptian Proper Names

(מה) וַיִּקְרָ֨א פַרְעֹ֣ה שֵׁם־יוֹסֵף֮ צָֽפְנַ֣ת פַּעְנֵחַ֒ וַיִּתֶּן־ל֣וֹ אֶת־אָֽסְנַ֗ת בַּת־פּ֥וֹטִי פֶ֛רַע כֹּהֵ֥ן אֹ֖ן לְאִשָּׁ֑ה וַיֵּצֵ֥א יוֹסֵ֖ף עַל־אֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃

(45) Pharaoh then gave Joseph the name Tzafenat-Pa'anech; and he gave him for a wife Asenath daughter of Poti-phera, priest of On. Thus Joseph emerged in charge of the land of Egypt.—

Egyptian Customs

(יד) וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח פַּרְעֹה֙ וַיִּקְרָ֣א אֶת־יוֹסֵ֔ף וַיְרִיצֻ֖הוּ מִן־הַבּ֑וֹר וַיְגַלַּח֙ וַיְחַלֵּ֣ף שִׂמְלֹתָ֔יו וַיָּבֹ֖א אֶל־פַּרְעֹֽה׃

(14) Thereupon Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was rushed from the dungeon. He had his hair cut and changed his clothes, and he appeared before Pharaoh.

(מב) וַיָּ֨סַר פַּרְעֹ֤ה אֶת־טַבַּעְתּוֹ֙ מֵעַ֣ל יָד֔וֹ וַיִּתֵּ֥ן אֹתָ֖הּ עַל־יַ֣ד יוֹסֵ֑ף וַיַּלְבֵּ֤שׁ אֹתוֹ֙ בִּגְדֵי־שֵׁ֔שׁ וַיָּ֛שֶׂם רְבִ֥ד הַזָּהָ֖ב עַל־צַוָּארֽוֹ׃
(42) And removing his signet ring from his hand, Pharaoh put it on Joseph’s hand; and he had him dressed in robes of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck.

Break up into chevruta (pairs of two). For every 2 chevruta groups, one study Genesis 41, and one study Dan 2. After 10 minutes, come together in groups to teach each other about what you just studied. As you read, remember these fundamental questions:

  1. Who writes the stories?
  2. Who benefits from the story?
  3. Who is missing from the story?

Also ask:

  1. What aspects of the story seem to come from external cultures?
  2. What differences do you find between Israelite culture and Egyptian/Babylonian culture?

Gen. 41:1 ¶ After two years’ time, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile,

Gen. 41:2 when out of the Nile there came up seven cows, handsome and sturdy, and they grazed in the reed grass.

Gen. 41:3 But presently, seven other cows came up from the Nile close behind them, ugly and gaunt, and stood beside the cows on the bank of the Nile;

Gen. 41:4 and the ugly gaunt cows ate up the seven handsome sturdy cows. And Pharaoh awoke.

Gen. 41:5 ¶ He fell asleep and dreamed a second time: Seven ears of grain, solid and healthy, grew on a single stalk.

Gen. 41:6 But close behind them sprouted seven ears, thin and scorched by the east wind.

Gen. 41:7 And the thin ears swallowed up the seven solid and full ears. Then Pharaoh awoke: it was a dream!

Gen. 41:8 ¶ Next morning, his spirit was agitated, and he sent for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men; and Pharaoh told them his dreams, but none could interpret them for Pharaoh.

Gen. 41:9 ¶ The chief cupbearer then spoke up and said to Pharaoh, “I must make mention today of my offenses.

Gen. 41:10 Once Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and placed me in custody in the house of the chief steward, together with the chief baker.

Gen. 41:11 We had dreams the same night, he and I, each of us a dream with a meaning of its own.

Gen. 41:12 A Hebrew youth was there with us, a servant of the chief steward; and when we told him our dreams, he interpreted them for us, telling each of the meaning of his dream.

Gen. 41:13 And as he interpreted for us, so it came to pass: I was restored to my post, and the other was impaled.”

Gen. 41:14 ¶ Thereupon Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was rushed from the dungeon. He had his hair cut and changed his clothes, and he appeared before Pharaoh.

Gen. 41:15 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it. Now I have heard it said of you that for you to hear a dream is to tell its meaning.”

Gen. 41:16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “Not I! God will see to Pharaoh’s welfare.”

Gen. 41:17 ¶ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream, I was standing on the bank of the Nile,

Gen. 41:18 when out of the Nile came up seven sturdy and well formed cows and grazed in the reed grass.

Gen. 41:19 Presently there followed them seven other cows, scrawny, ill formed, and emaciated—never had I seen their likes for ugliness in all the land of Egypt!

Gen. 41:20 And the seven lean and ugly cows ate up the first seven cows, the sturdy ones;

Gen. 41:21 but when they had consumed them, one could not tell that they had consumed them, for they looked just as bad as before. And I awoke.

Gen. 41:22 In my other dream, I saw seven ears of grain, full and healthy, growing on a single stalk;

Gen. 41:23 but right behind them sprouted seven ears, shriveled, thin, and scorched by the east wind.

Gen. 41:24 And the thin ears swallowed the seven healthy ears. I have told my magicians, but none has an explanation for me.”

Gen. 41:25 ¶ And Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same: God has told Pharaoh what He is about to do.

Gen. 41:26 The seven healthy cows are seven years, and the seven healthy ears are seven years; it is the same dream.

Gen. 41:27 The seven lean and ugly cows that followed are seven years, as are also the seven empty ears scorched by the east wind; they are seven years of famine.

Gen. 41:28 It is just as I have told Pharaoh: God has revealed to Pharaoh what He is about to do.

Gen. 41:29 Immediately ahead are seven years of great abundance in all the land of Egypt.

Gen. 41:30 After them will come seven years of famine, and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. As the land is ravaged by famine,

Gen. 41:31 no trace of the abundance will be left in the land because of the famine thereafter, for it will be very severe.

Gen. 41:32 As for Pharaoh having had the same dream twice, it means that the matter has been determined by God, and that God will soon carry it out.

Gen. 41:33 ¶ “Accordingly, let Pharaoh find a man of discernment and wisdom, and set him over the land of Egypt.

Gen. 41:34 And let Pharaoh take steps to appoint overseers over the land, and organize the land of Egypt in the seven years of plenty.

Gen. 41:35 Let all the food of these good years that are coming be gathered, and let the grain be collected under Pharaoh’s authority as food to be stored in the cities.

Gen. 41:36 Let that food be a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will come upon the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish in the famine.”

Dan. 2:1 ¶ In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream; his spirit was agitated, yet he was overcome by sleep.

Dan. 2:2 The king ordered the magicians, exorcists, sorcerers, and Chaldeans to be summoned in order to tell the king what he had dreamed. They came and stood before the king,

Dan. 2:3 and the king said to them, “I have had a dream and I am full of anxiety to know what I have dreamed.”

Dan. 2:4 The Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic, “O king, live forever! Relate the dream to your servants, and we will tell its meaning.”

Dan. 2:5 The king said in reply to the Chaldeans, “I hereby decree: If you will not make the dream and its meaning known to me, you shall be torn limb from limb and your houses confiscated.

Dan. 2:6 But if you tell the dream and its meaning, you shall receive from me gifts, presents, and great honor; therefore, tell me the dream and its meaning.”

Dan. 2:7 Once again they answered, “Let the king relate the dream to his servants, and we will tell its meaning.”

Dan. 2:8 The king said in reply, “It is clear to me that you are playing for time, since you see that I have decreed

Dan. 2:9 that if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one verdict for you. You have conspired to tell me something false and fraudulent until circumstances change; so relate the dream to me, and I will then know that you can tell its meaning.”

Dan. 2:10 The Chaldeans said in reply to the king, “There is no one on earth who can satisfy the king’s demand, for great king or ruler—none has ever asked such a thing of any magician, exorcist, or Chaldean.

Dan. 2:11 The thing asked by the king is difficult; there is no one who can tell it to the king except the gods whose abode is not among mortals.”d

Dan. 2:12 Whereupon the king flew into a violent rage, and gave an order to do away with all the wise men of Babylon.

Dan. 2:13 ¶ The decree condemning the wise men to death was issued. Daniel and his companions were about to be put to death

Dan. 2:14 when Daniel remonstrated with Arioch, the captain of the royal guard who had set out to put the wise men of Babylon to death.

Dan. 2:15 He spoke up and said to Arioch, the royal officer, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Thereupon Arioch informed Daniel of the matter.

Dan. 2:16 So Daniel went to ask the king for time, that he might tell the meaning to the king.

Dan. 2:17 Then Daniel went to his house and informed his companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, of the matter,

Dan. 2:18 that they might implore the God of Heaven for help regarding this mystery, so that Daniel and his colleagues would not be put to death together with the other wise men of Babylon.

Dan. 2:19 ¶ The mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision; then Daniel blessed the God of Heaven.

Dan. 2:20 Daniel spoke up and said:

¶ “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,

For wisdom and power are His.

Dan. 2:21 He changes times and seasons,

Removes kings and installs kings;

He gives the wise their wisdom

And knowledge to those who know.

Dan. 2:22 He reveals deep and hidden things,

Knows what is in the darkness,

And light dwells with Him.

Dan. 2:23 I acknowledge and praise You,

O God of my fathers,

You who have given me wisdom and power,

For now You have let me know what we asked of You;

You have let us know what concerns the king.”

Dan. 2:24 ¶ Thereupon Daniel went to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to do away with the wise men of Babylon; he came and said to him as follows, “Do not do away with the wise men of Babylon; bring me to the king and I will tell the king the meaning!”

Dan. 2:25 So Arioch rushed Daniel into the king’s presence and said to him, “I have found among the exiles of Judah a man who can make the meaning known to the king!”

Dan. 2:26 The king said in reply to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar), “Can you really make known to me the dream that I saw and its meaning?”

Dan. 2:27 Daniel answered the king and said, “The mystery about which the king has inquired—wise men, exorcists, magicians, and diviners cannot tell to the king.

Dan. 2:28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what is to be at the end of days. This is your dream and the vision that entered your mind in bed:

Dan. 2:29 O king, the thoughts that came to your mind in your bed are about future events; He who reveals mysteries has let you know what is to happen.

Dan. 2:30 Not because my wisdom is greater than that of other creatures has this mystery been revealed to me, but in order that the meaning should be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.

Dan. 2:31 ¶ “O king, as you looked on, there appeared a great statue. This statue, which was huge and its brightness surpassing, stood before you, and its appearance was awesome.

Dan. 2:32 The head of that statue was of fine gold; its breast and arms were of silver; its belly and thighs, of bronze;

Dan. 2:33 its legs were of iron, and its feet part iron and part clay.

Dan. 2:34 As you looked on, a stone was hewn out, not by hands, and struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them.

Dan. 2:35 All at once, the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold were crushed, and became like chaff of the threshing floors of summer; a wind carried them off until no trace of them was left. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Dan. 2:36 ¶ “Such was the dream, and we will now tell the king its meaning.

Dan. 2:37 You, O king—king of kings, to whom the God of Heaven has given kingdom, power, might, and glory;

Dan. 2:38 into whose hands He has given men, wild beasts, and the fowl of heaven, wherever they may dwell; and to whom He has given dominion over them all—you are the head of gold.

Dan. 2:39 But another kingdom will arise after you, inferior to yours; then yet a third kingdom, of bronze, which will rule over the whole earth.

Dan. 2:40 But the fourth kingdom will be as strong as iron; just as iron crushes and shatters everything—and like iron that smashes—so will it crush and smash all these.

Dan. 2:41 You saw the feet and the toes, part potter’s clay and part iron; that means it will be a divided kingdom; it will have only some of the stability of iron, inasmuch as you saw iron mixed with common clay.

Dan. 2:42 And the toes were part iron and part clay; that [means] the kingdom will be in part strong and in part brittle.

Dan. 2:43 You saw iron mixed with common clay; that means: they shall intermingle with the offspring of men, but shall not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay.

Dan. 2:44 And in the time of those kings, the God of Heaven will establish a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, a kingdom that shall not be transferred to another people. It will crush and wipe out all these kingdoms, but shall itself last forever—

Dan. 2:45 just as you saw how a stone was hewn from the mountain, not by hands, and crushed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God has made known to the king what will happen in the future. The dream is sure and its interpretation reliable.”

Dan. 2:46 ¶ Then King Nebuchadnezzar prostrated himself and paid homage to Daniel and ordered that a meal offering and pleasing offerings be made to him.

Dan. 2:47 The king said in reply to Daniel, “Truly your God must be the God of gods and Lord of kings and the revealer of mysteries to have enabled you to reveal this mystery.”

Dan. 2:48 The king then elevated Daniel and gave him very many gifts, and made him governor of the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect of all the wise men of Babylon.

Dan. 2:49 At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to administer the province of Babylon; while Daniel himself was at the king’s court.

Food for Thought

  • How does this study relate to Chanukah?
    • What is the parallel external power to the Egyptians and Babylonians in the Chanukah story?