Gimme Abrek!: Miketz 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Have you ever felt out of place in a foreign country? Have you ever felt completely at home in a foreign country? In either case, how can you tell?

Having gained the favor of Pharaoh, Joseph gets a crash course in the life of Egyptian nobility, whether he’s ready for it or not:

The Pitch: “Removing his signet ring from his hand, Pharaoh put it on Joseph’s hand; and he had him dressed in robes of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck. He had him ride in the chariot of his second-in-command, and they cried before him, ‘Abrek!’ Thus he placed him over all the land of Egypt.” – Genesis 41:42-43

Swing #1: “The Egyptian background to this episode has been studied in detail … These scenes typically show the king sitting on a throne, often under a canopy, while the recipient stands before the monarch wearing a gold necklace and adorned in white linen.” – James K. Hoffmeier, Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition

Swing #2: “Joseph’s elevation to viceroy of Egypt was reproduced in the Bible exactly according to the protocol. … This is exactly how Egyptian artists depict this solemn ceremony on murals and reliefs.” – Werner Keller, The Bible as History: A Confirmation of the Book of Books

Swing #3: “Joseph was rewarded in kind for his behavior [with Potiphar’s wife]. … because he had not used his hand to fondle sinfully, Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and put it upon Joseph’s hand; because his body had not clung to another in sin, he arrayed Joseph in garments of fine linen; because his feet had not led him to her, he caused Joseph to ride in the second chariot.” – Tanhuma

Late-Inning Questions: The Torah text gives little indication of Joseph’s emotions at the moment he ascends near the top of the Egyptian throne. How do you think he feels? Is he bewildered? Comfortable? Confident? Scared? How do we best cope with being a stranger in a strange land?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: I encourage you to join me after lighting candles on the final two nights of Hanukkah, December 24th and 25th, to discuss how we understand the deeper implications of when Hanukkah and Christmas coincide. Register for “A Long December” here.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of trying to fit into a foreign culture, one of the best baseball books I’ve read is You Gotta Have Wa by Robert Whiting, an exploration of American players who struggle, but sometimes thrive, playing professionally in Japan.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukkah!