Critical Essay on the Biblical Story of Joseph

The Bible is considered to be one of the major literary works of ancient epoch. The book comprised philosophical and religious views, historical facts and literary works promoted by the followers of Christian religion. It should be said that the diversity of works comprising  the Bible makes this fundamental work stylistically rich and thematically diverse. In this respect, it should be said that one of the most popular and well known stories depicted in the Bible is the story of Joseph whose fate became a symbol of sufferings and conviction in the righteousness of his faith, which was accomplished with lucky assistance of divine powers that saved the main character of the story and proved that his way was right.

In fact, many critics (Rohl, 126) argue that the Biblical story of Joseph should be viewed as purely religious story, where the belief of the main character in the almighty power of God dominates over the entire work, over his feelings, emotions, and even common sense of the main character, but eventually makes him prosperous, wealthy, and happy. It should be said that the entire life of Joseph since its beginning till the end is guided by the God (Rohl, 154). His birth and early tragedy when he was sold to slave traders seem to be quite strong personal drama of Joseph that could have destroyed all his faith in the mankind and the God, but, instead, he does not give up and continues his life believing in the divine assistance.  As a result, with the help of God he reveals the talent of foreseeing the future and interpretation of dreams and, eventually he becomes a respectable person recognized by Pharaoh. It is important to underline that throughout his life he always believes in the God and that what makes him wealthy, spiritually rich, and happy.

At the same time, it is possible to view the story of Joseph as the story of the personal courage and spiritual strength of the main character (Kitchen, 211). It should be said that this view is similar to the previously discussed one but the difference is that the emphasis is made on the personal qualities and characteristics of Joseph. To put it more precisely, his story is viewed from the point of view of a individual for whom his faith is just a source of inspiration but still it is his own actions and resistance to the tragic events, which could break his life and undermine his psychological state, that eventually led him to the kind of a happy end and his position is rather a divine reward for his personal qualities than just for his devotedness to the God and his faith.

However, such a view on the story of Joseph is rather exceptional than common. As a rule, the dominance of religious motives and attempt to emphasize the significance of faith prevails in the story. In this respect, it is possible to estimate that the story of Joseph is the didactic story that teaches people to believe in the God, in spite of the problems they may face. In fact, Joseph is one of those people who can hear the voice of the God and this is the greatest gift he has and it is basically due to this communication with the God he manages to overcome all his problems (Osman, 159). On the other hand, he remains a kind of representative of the God and his life and actions prove the righteousness of the God and, therefore, this story may be viewed as an evident attempt to enhance religious feelings of the audience and its belief in the almighty power of the God, which though is accessible only to those whose faith is strong (Osman, 182).

Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to view the story of Joseph as a purely religious work. In fact, this story raises a number of problems, among which specialists single out the problems within Joseph’s family (Wilkinson, 135). To put it more precisely, the story reveals the extent to which brothers of Joseph were treacherous and egoistic. They sold him as a slave without any regrets and it is shocking not only to the modern audience but for people living in ancient epoch as well. At the same time, in terms of Christian doctrine, Joseph manages to reconcile with his brothers, he simply forgives them even though he suffered a lot because of their actions.

At the same time, such a complexity of his relationships with his brothers also reveals social issues raised by the story. In fact, on analyzing the motives of actions of his brothers, it seems to be evident that they are motivated by the attempt to get richer in order to be respected in society. On the other hand, the challenges Joseph copes with, such as his imprisonment, perfectly illustrates that social hierarchy at the epoch was very strict and, as a prisoner, he was practically righteousness, while his material wealth and social position define the public respect he eventually got (Kitchen, 317).

Thus, it is possible to conclude that the story of Joseph is a very interesting Biblical story that reveals a variety of issues varying from issues of faith, personal qualities of an individual to family problems and social inequality.

Leave a Reply