|Corn, it’s What’s for Dinner
Genesis 39:20 to 48:1
39:20 Although Joseph was a mere Canaanite slave, he rejected his Egyptian master’s wife’s romantic advances on moral principles. The scorned woman screamed rape and what with having Joe’s shredded shirt in her possession and all, the master believed her story. He threw poor Joe into prison. Life in the big house can be rather rough for a pretty boy like Joe but right away he became head prisoner-trustee thanks to Yahveh’s constant political manipulations and interventions.
One day the Pharaoh, acting in a fit of anger, had his personal butler and baker checked into the old greybar hotel. This was not an unusual thing for him to do but while the two men were cooling their heels in the slammer they both had dreams. When they woke up they were sad because they couldn't figure out what the dreams meant. Their ever helpful cell mate Joe said "God interprets dreams. He and I are on good speaking terms so tell me about the dreams and I’ll ask him to explain." The butler said "I dreamed I saw three bunches of grapes and I made Pharaoh some grape juice." Joe, shifting into high psychic gear without hesitation said "This is easy. You'll be out of here in three days. Have fun and don't forget to put in a good word for me to Pharaoh." Next the baker told his dream. "I dreamed I was taking Pharaoh some bread and a bunch of birds swooped down and ate it before I got there." Joe immediately responded "This one is too obvious. In just three days from now they will cut off your head and hang you from a tree and the birds will eat your dead flesh. Good luck with that." Well it so happened that in three days it was Pharaoh's big birthday bash and in celebration he did exactly what Joe had predicted. The butler was free to return to work and the baker was bird food. The butler however failed on his promise to mention Joe to Pharaoh.
41:1 A couple of years later, with Joe still in the pokey, Pharaoh dreamed of 7 skinny cows eating 7 fat cows and some skinny corn eating some fat corn. The word “corn” in this case is a broad term for grain crops in general. The corn-cow riddle may seem reasonably decipherable to some experts but it totally baffled even Egypt's most brilliant professors. The palace butler finally mentioned Joe’s psychic abilities to Pharaoh so the guards were told to go clean him up and bring him out of the dungeons. When Joe was brought before Pharaoh he said "I’ll tell you what it is. God is telling you what to do but you idiots don't understand God as easily as someone as tuned in and brilliant as I am. There are going to be 7 years of economic prosperity followed by 7 years of economic depression. I suggest you hire a competent accountant, preferably one named Joe. I’ll have to check my schedule."
Pharaoh was impressed. He said "Seeing as how God is not so mysterious to Joe as he is to everyone else on the planet, I'll make him my number one bean counter." He gave Joe a special ring and the hot new latest model chariot, and lots of lesser accountant types to boss around. The region enjoyed a period of strong growth and stockpiled lots of goods like corn and beef jerky in the warehouses. It was during this time period that Joe had two half breed sons by some unimportant forgettable Egyptian woman.
42:1 During the ensuing years of famine Egypt was so well off that they actually exported grain. Israel sent his boys on a journey to Egypt to buy groceries, except for Ben who was his new favorite since losing Joe apparently to a hungry bear or something. When they got to Egypt the irony meter pegged somewhere around a ten as they had to first grovel before their brother Joe in order to purchase food. They didn't recognize him and he made the most of enjoying their subservience. First, he accused them of being spies, a capital offense. That made them pretty uncomfortable. Then he demanded they go get Ben and leave him in Egypt as a slave before they could buy any food.
Brother Reuban spoke to the rest of the boys. "We just can't do it. We already sold one brother, dumping on another would be too much for dad to take." Joe overheard Reuban saying this and he started crying. But the situation still just wasn't twisted enough for Joe so here is what he did. He took his brother Simeon away from the others and tied him up in the back room. Then he sold them corn, but he secretly hid the money they paid in the sack with the corn that he sold them.
When the boys returned to Canaan they told their dad that for some strange reason in order to get Simeon back they had to take Ben to Egypt as proof that they weren't spies. Israel said "First Joe gets eaten by a bear, then Simeon is kidnapped by an accountant, and now you want to take Ben away? NOT." To make matters weirder, they found the money in the corn and figured it must be one of Yahveh's dirty tricks, because you know how he is. Reuban said "Look dad, let me take Ben, if I don't bring him back you have my permission to kill my two sons, your grandchildren." Dad refused the strange and rather confusing offer so they all just sat around eating corn until it was all gone.
Israel asked the boys to go back to Egypt and get some more corn. Judah said "Come on dad, send Ben with me and I swear I’ll take full responsibility." Israel finally gave in saying "Ok but you had better take lots of presents and cash to this accountant guy down there. He’s a mean one." When they arrived in Egypt and went to see Joe he said "Oh good, you’re back. Let's have lunch." The boys were nervous about the suddenly overly friendly accountant guy. They thought for sure he would enslave them. They told him about the gold in the corn and he said "Oh don't worry about that. I’m sure God put it there. He’s always pulling hilarious jokes like that. What a card." Joe released Simeon so he could join them for snacks.
While they were eating Joe noticed Ben was with them. Joe got all choked up and suddenly ran away crying. The Egyptians always eat separately from the Hebrews because, well, they hate them, so Joe running out of the room was probably more or less not too suspicious. On the other hand Ben was curiously served a lunch five times the size as the others.
Joe sold his brothers some more corn and again he hid the gold they paid in the sacks with the merchandise. This time he also hid his favorite cup in Ben's sack of corn, a special one Pharaoh had given him that probably said something on it like “World’s Greatest Accountant.” As they left he had them arrested for stealing the stupid mug. They tore their clothes in despair as they were brought back in to grovel pathetically before Joe and beg for mercy. He said "You guys can't fool me, around here I’m known as the psychic guy who talks to God and stuff." Judah said "You've got us now, we're your slaves. It sucks to be us." Joe said "No, I’m not going to be keeping all of you as slaves, just Ben. After all, he’s the one who stole my precious one of a kind novelty keepsake."
Brother Judah stood up and gave a long and touchingly emotional speech about their poor old dad Israel. Dad had already lost his poor little Joe, and losing Ben would be too much for his heart. Judah offered to stay behind and be a slave instead of Ben. Suddenly Joe couldn't help bursting into tears. He started bawling louder than a new born baby calf. At last he finally revealed his true identity and said "Don't feel too bad about selling me into slavery guys. God wanted it that way. It was all a beautiful plan (sniff)." They all started hugging and kissing each other and hugging each other again, and Joe started handing out expensive presents to everyone. They went home and brought back dad and Joe gave them all a nice big spread of prime real estate with a view of northern Egypt. Israel could hardly believe it all was happening. Even the Pharaoh himself got in on the act and allowed them to raise sheep even though officially the Egyptians really hate sheep people.
The Egyptian economy eventually got worse and worse and worse even still. The whole money system totally failed and pretty much everyone was bankrupt. One by one Pharaoh bought everyone out and soon owned all the land in the country. Joe arranged and coordinated all the financing for the Pharaoh. To help raise funds for all the land purchasing by the government, Joe set up a heavy tax on everyone but the church. The people were starving and they were only too glad to become slaves in order to save their lives. They were begging to be government slaves. Joe arranged everything.
48:1 Joe was keeping pretty busy with all of the land buying and signing up citizens to be slaves but one day he heard that his father was sick. Joe went to see his dying father and took along his two half breed Egyptian sons. Israel sat up in bed and said "God appeared to me and promised me lots of offspring and all of Canaan. I'm officially adopting these two half-breeds so when we get around to conquering and dividing up the Canaanite's land Joe will get a bigger share of the prize." He then proceeded to bless Joe's sons but he got his boys mixed up and put his left hand on the right boy and his right hand on the wrong boy and Joe tried to help him but he insisted on doing it wrong even though that is how wars are started. Then he gave Joe some other properties that he had acquired earlier by killing the Amorites."
Israel called in the rest of his boys. "Reuban," he began, "you were my firstborn, my pride and joy, but you're washed up, you’re a has-been. Besides, I remember catching you being naughty with Bilah the maid. You probably thought I forgot about that. Well I didn’t.
Simeon and Levi, I hate your guts. You sons o' bitches! You really screwed things up with all that violent revenge killing over your sister Dinah getting raped. No land for you, I'm completely disbanding your tribes. You’re ancient history.
Judah, you’re ok. You have spunk. I actually like spunk. You tend to grab your enemies by the throat like a lion. You're a lot like a lion. You will always be the king. You should come up with some sort of symbol to represent how lion-like you are, some kind of animal or something. You'll wash your clothes in wine; your eyes will be all red from drinking laundry drippings and your teeth will be white with milk. Ok that’s kind of weird but you get my drift.
Zebulon, you’ll form a sea port up north near Phoenicia, which will be quite handy. Good for you. Thanks for that.
Issachar gets a bit of land and so does that slippery little snake, Dan. Gad is going to get beat up by other tribes but he’ll be ok. Asher will be getting quite fat. Naphtalis is going to be ok too I guess, maybe.
Joseph is grrrrrreat great great great. God has given him lots of muscle and he is hated by everyone. How cool is that? Jo-seph Jo-seph Jo-seph, come on, everybody say it with me, Jo-seph Jo-seph. Bless bless bless bless bless bless bless.
Ben, he is going to kill and plunder, which is nice, no doubt about it."
Thus we have an accounting of all twelve tribes. Israel said "Bless bless bless" a few more times and gave up the ghost. Joe commanded some Egyptians to embalm his father and they buried him in the old Hittite cave with Abraham and Sarah.
With daddy gone the boys were afraid of Joe. They sent him a letter claiming that dad had said explicitly Joe should not ever be too mean to them. Joe cried again and said "Oh don't worry, when you sold me into slavery you were being kind of evil but hey, it worked out great. So don’t sweat it, I won't starve you to death."
Joe swore to his children that someday Yahveh would come visit them. Joe died at 110 years old. They embalmed his body and put it in a very nice coffin, a very nice coffin indeed.
Next: I Yam What I Yam
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