Joseph gave his brothers cause for hatred toward him, but their action in selling him to the Ishmaelites was by no means justifiable. Nevertheless it brought to Joseph the experiences and opportunities absolutely essential to the attainment of his ultimate success. Often what seem man’s greatest misfortunes are in reality the door that opens to the new and larger opportunities. In what two ways may a man meet misfortune?
THE CALL OF A GREAT OPPORTUNITY.
Egypt, with its marvelous natural resources, its peculiar climate, its irrigation, which usually guarantees good crops, and its versatile people, has always been pre-eminently the land of opportunity. Especially was this true during the reigns of the powerful despots of the eighteenth dynasty, when the relations between Egypt and Palestine were exceedingly close. Thus, for example, according to contemporary records, during the reign of the great reformer king, Amenhotep IV, several Semites rose to positions of great authority. A certain Dudu (David) was one of the most trusted officials of this king. He is addressed by one of the Egyptian governors as “My lord, my father.” Another Semite named Yanhamu not only had control of the storehouses of grain in the eastern part of the Nile Delta, but also directed the Egyptian rule of Palestine. The local governors of Palestine refer to him in terms which suggest that his authority was almost equal to that of Pharaoh himself. This was perhaps the Joseph of the Biblical account.
Is there any evidence that Joseph complained because of the injustice of his brothers? By loyal attention to his duties he made himself indispensable to his Egyptian master. A great temptation came to him in the new home. What influences led him to resist this temptation? Analyze his probable motives in detail.
The great injustice which he suffered and the seeming misfortune proved in turn a new door of opportunity, but this would not have been the case had not Joseph forgotten his own personal wrongs and given himself to the service of his fellow-prisoners. Was the prosperity which generally attended Joseph a miraculous gift or the natural consequences of his courageous, helpful spirit and his skill in making the best of every situation?
In modern life as in the ancient story, the place usually seeks the man who is fitted to fill it. The ever recurring complaint of employers is the scarcity of good men, especially of men able to exercise discretion in positions of responsibility. Was it Joseph’s skill in interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, or his wise counsel in suggesting methods of providing for the people during famine that gave him his position of high trust and authority? Was the policy which made Pharaoh practical owner of all the land first instituted by Joseph, or was it already in force in Egypt? (Hist. Bible, I, 133.) In the thought of the prophetic narrative, was Joseph’s fiscal system regarded as evidence of his loyalty to his master rather than of disloyalty to the interests of the people? Was the system suited to that stage and kind of civilization? Can this be cited by Socialists to-day as a valid argument in favor of public ownership of all land? If not, why not?