search

The Man Who Stayed True

It came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh was dreaming, and behold, he was standing by the Nile.

As Joseph languished in jail, Pharaoh had a dream, in fact two dreams. In the first, he is standing by the Nile River, the source of life in Egypt and his claim to deity. The emperor sees seven healthy and beautiful cows emerge from the water. Then, another seven cows come up on shore. These bovines are emaciated and ugly. The ugly ones come from behind and devour the hearty.

Pharaoh has another dream — just as disturbing. He sees ears of healthy and fat grain. Then a second set appears. They, however, are thin and beaten. Soon, the latter swallows up the former.

Pharaoh calls his advisers They are much greater than attorneys or MBAs. They are necromancers, able to bring the dead back to life They can tell the future. They are comfortable with this world as well as the netherworld.

Most of the advisers remained silent. Some offered some mealy-mouthed interpretation that concerned Pharaoh’s daughters. The emperor rejected them all.

As Joseph languished in jail, Pharaoh had a dream, in fact two dreams. In the first, he is standing by the Nile River, the source of life in Egypt and his claim to deity. At first, the emperor sees seven healthy and beautiful cows emerge from the water. Then, another seven cows come up on shore. These bovines are emaciated and ugly. The ugly ones come from behind and devour the hearty.

Pharaoh has another dream — just as disturbing. The same thing happens except the subject are ears of grain. The first ears of gain are healthy and fat. The second set of grain are thin and beaten. Soon, the hearty are gone.

Pharaoh calls his advisers They are much more than attorneys or MBAs. They are necromancers, able to bring the dead back to life They can tell the future. They are comfortable with this world as well as the netherworld.

Most of the advisers remained silent. Some offered some mealy-mouthed interpretation that concerned Pharaoh’s daughters. The emperor rejected them all.

Pharoah and his advisers knew that the dreams were about one thing — regime change. The fat cows marked his empire. The skinny cows were the masses, who would rise up and destroy the existing order. It was the kind of dream that Pharaoh’s successors would have — whether Hitler, Nicholas, Stalin, Louis VI, Saddam or Assad. As prime minister, Moshe Sharett reported a nightmare in which he and his wife were tried for treason and executed.

At the point when Pharaoh was about to kill everybody in the room, his chief cupbearer piped up. While in prison, the disgraced minister and his colleague also had dreams along the lines of Pharaoh. The minister recalled that a young, uncouth Hebrew, the slave of the chief executioner, interpreted our dreams. Joseph said I would be restored to the palace. My colleague was told he would hang. And that’s exactly what happened.

That was the type of person Pharaoh was looking for: a straight shooter who could tell a royal that he would be dead in three days.

The modest Joseph did not tell Pharaoh of an uprising. Instead, the 30-year-old son of Jacob prophesized a famine that would threaten the richest place on earth. Until now, people everywhere had come to Egypt for food and supplies. Soon, Egypt would share the same fate.
But Joseph didn’t stop there: He offered a solution in which the grain from the seven years of plenty would be stored to feed the people during the seven years of famine. Pharaoh immediately appointed Joseph as viceroy of Egypt responsible for carrying out his rescue plan.

The veterans around Pharaoh were stunned. They asked, “Are you going to make a former slave into the second most powerful man in Egypt? And what’s his advice anyway? If there is going to be a famine, of course we should build up our reserves?

But Pharaoh did not appoint Joseph on the basis of his interpretations: It was because Joseph attributed all his powers to G-d. In that case, G-d would listen to Joseph and ensure that his plan would succeed. The stored grain would not rot. Even the jealous advisers could see that.

So Pharaoh said to his servants, “Will we find [anyone] like this, a man in whom there is the spirit of G-d?”

Being second-in-command required changes in Joseph’s life. He became a member of the Egyptian elite, dressed in regal garments. His new name was Zaphenath Pa’neach. He was even urged to marry — an Egyptian, of course. Nobody must know that the man who ran Egypt was a foreigner, let alone a Hebrew.

And that is the way things still work. After World War II, thousands of Nazi fugitives fled to the Middle East. Those who had been members of the SS and Gestapo were given important positions in the militaries and security services in Egypt, Iraq and Syria. They had to convert to Islam and change their German names for Arab ones. They were given Arab women to wed.

In America, the process was similar. Jews changed their names, dropped their Judaism, divorced their Jewish wives and remarried gentiles. One example was Heinz Kissinger, the German refugee who changed his name to Henry, divorced his Jewish wife of 15 years as he became an adviser to America’s top politicians. He married Nancy Maginnes as he settled into his new job of secretary of state. Kissinger’s current successor Antony Blinken was born of Jewish parents in Yonkers, N.Y. His stepfather was a Holocaust survivor. After failing as a rock guitarist, Blinken went into government service. As he rose up the ladder, he did what was required, marrying a gentile in a church in Washington.

Joseph would not follow that route. He accepted his Egyptian name when working in the palace. Otherwise, he referred to himself with name given by his mother. He did not change or abandon his religion. He refused to countless Egyptian virgins and one day spotted a girl with a medallion. In the medallion was an amulet with the handwriting of Jacob. She was the daughter of Joseph’s half-sister Dinah, raped by a local chieftain who gave birth to this young woman. Joseph chose her.

And that is the story of Hanukkah. The Greeks did not want to destroy the Jews. What for? As Stalin said, “There’s nobody more productive than a scared Jew.” The Greeks wanted to destroy the Jewish faith and family. It wanted to replace love of G-d with idol worship. The Greeks didn’t even want to destroy the Temple, rather turn it into a stadium for the World Cup.

For many Jews, that was just fine. They shed their name, clothing, religion for the chance to live the Greek dream. The price of their success would be to destroy the faith and even lives of other Jews. Called Hellenists, their future would be Greece and not Israel.

The war by the Maccabees was mostly against the Hellenists, those who drafted and implemented the persecution of the Jews. It took 25 years but the Jews won. They drove the Seleucid Empire and Hellenists out of the land, restored the Temple to the house of G-d and tried again. It would not be easy because soon Rome would be knocking on the door.

In March 1972, Yitzhak Rabin met Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, head of the worldwide Chabad movement, in Brooklyn. Rabin, then Israel’s ambassador to Washington, expressed his uneasiness with being unable to meet the scores of colleagues from countries that refused to have diplomatic relations with Israel.

The Rebbe replied that this was Israel’s fate, “A nation that will live in isolation.” This has been the choice of the Jewish people that has kept them unique despite 2,000 years of Exile. It marks their identity and fate.

“But the first and foremost factor always was the Jewish faith,” the Rebbe said, “our adherence to our religion and our willingness to die, if necessary, for the sanctifying of G-ds name. Regardless of all the persecution, the Jewish people remain faithful to their religion and tradition and succeeded in surviving as no people anywhere in the world have proved successful in doing. They have never lost their beliefs, their hope to return to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.”

About the Author
Steve Rodan has been a journalist for some 40 years and worked for major media outlets in Israel, Europe and the United States. For 18 years, he directed Middle East Newsline, an online daily news service that focused on defense, security and energy. Along with Elly Sinclair, he has just released his first book: In Jewish Blood: The Zionist Alliance With Germany, 1933-1963 and available on Amazon.
Related Topics
Related Posts