Recently, I was browsing the book of Jasher, looking through the story of Joseph. We all think of Joseph as a Christ-like figure and his rise from slave to prime minister in Egypt was astounding indeed. We also recognize that his life was programmed by God to accomplish His purposes and He provided Joseph with the tools for the job, especially the ability to interpret dreams.
Referenced twice in the Bible
I wish to remind my readers that the book of Jasher is referenced twice in the Bible, first in the book of Joshua and second in the book of 2nd Samuel. Joshua 10:13, in the middle of the story of Joshua’s long day questions, “Is this not written in the book of Jasher?” Similarly, 2nd Samuel 1: 18 is talking about the teaching of the use of the bow to the children of Judah when he interposes, “Behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.” They seem to be saying, I am not recording the details since it is already provided.
It is true that Jasher provides details that are not provided in the Scriptures. I think of the Bible as the abridged version of the story but still containing the essential elements. For example, Jasher records an interesting little element to show how the exquisitely handsome Joseph affected the women in his presence.
But the part of the story at the heart of this article follows Joseph’s interpretation of the dream, stressing it was one dream not two, but double witnessing for emphasis (and fulfilling the Lord’s law about two witnesses). Joseph also provided counsel on how the situation should be managed.
Now, at this point I must digress. In those days there were seventy steps leading to the throne of Pharaoh and only those speaking all seventy languages of the realm were allowed to ascend to Pharaoh. When Joseph was interpreting the dream, he stood on the third step and Pharaoh descended to the fourth step to hear him.
Pharaoh was impressed with Joseph and discussed it with his counselors, wanting to install Joseph in the leadership position that Joseph had described as necessary. The counselors tended to agree with Pharaoh but reminded him of a law that said only someone speaking all seventy languages of the realm could be appointed to a position of such power. They also pointed out that Joseph only spoke Hebrew.
First and foremost God is in control. When He sends His Word, His purposes will be done and His Word will not return to Him void.
(I question Jasher on this point since I am sure he would have picked up Potifar’s brand of Egyptian while working for him.) Nevertheless, he could only stand on the third step, which the commoners used.
Of course, Pharaoh wondered if Joseph’s interpretation was true and asked Joseph about the soundness of his interpretation. In response, Joseph told him that Pharaoh’s wife would deliver a baby boy that very day, but his son of two years would die. And so it happened. Pharaoh was convinced and had his discussion with his counselors who were anxious that Pharaoh make the ultimate decision. It was agreed that they would see on the morrow what would happen.
And now the miracle. Let me here quote Jasher. “And on that night, the Lord sent one of His ministering angels and he came unto the land of Egpyt and unto Joseph, and the angel of the Lord stood over Joseph, and behold Joseph was lying in the bed at night in his master’s house in the dungeon, for his master had put him back in the dungeon on account of his wife. And the angel roused him from his sleep and Joseph rose up and stood upon his legs, and behold the angel of the Lord was standing opposite to him; and the angel of the Lord spoke with Joseph, and he taught him all the languages of man in that night, and he called his name Johoseph. And the angel of the Lord went from him, and Joseph returned and lay upon his bed and Joseph was astonished at the vision which he saw.” So, the following day, Joseph spoke to Pharaoh in all seventy languages rising to the top step, thereby overcoming the law of the Egyptians, clearing the way to become prime minister.
What can we draw from this narrative? First and foremost God is in control. As He says in other places in Scripture, when He sends His Word, His purposes will be done and His Word will not return to Him void. Although there is no mention of prayer in this incident, God taking the initiative, it reminds us that prayers must be aligned with God’s will to be effective.
Joseph had four gifts of God; namely, the gift of dream interpretation, prophecy, as related in this narrative, wisdom, which God strengthened when he was appointed prime minister, and comeliness. Additionally, Joseph followed the law of the Lord, even though it resulted in the dungeon. So, he became God’s first instrument in saving His people, preceding Moses. His strength of character is that for which we all strive and it is based on following God’s law. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Can we do it?