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Jen Taylor Friedman
Something that occurred to me a while ago, in the Yosef story (that's… 
25th-Dec-2006 05:12 pm
shiny jen
Something that occurred to me a while ago, in the Yosef story (that's Joseph, for those reading in English). If you recall, Yosef is thrown into prison when he is inaccurately accused of sexual impropriety, and eventually Pharoah's baker and vintner are thrown in too. So the baker, the vintner, and Yosef go into a bar are all languishing in prison, and the baker and vintner have dreams, which Yosef interprets correctly. The baker gets the chop. The vintner gets reinstated, and Yosef says to him please put in a good word for me and get me the hell out of here! but the chapter concludes rather pathetically "Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him."*

So while I was writing the story, I had time to notice exactly what happens. Yosef takes the vintner and his dream first, and interprets it, and the dream means that the vintner is going to be removed from this horrible pit whither he was cast, and he's not going to die, and he's going to get his old job back (Genesis 40, verse 13). Then, barely pausing for breath, Yosef continues. First he asks for a favour (verse 14) and then he gives the vintner his life history (verse 15).

I think this was totally inappropriate, and I bet that's why the vintner forgot about Yosef as soon as he got out.

See, execution or staying there in the pit for years and years were quite likely outcomes too, so this was a pretty exciting interpretation. When the vintner heard it he must have felt absolutely dizzy with relief. You know? You've just heard that you're not going to die? Happy? So you might expect Yosef to let the vintner process that a bit - maybe even share in his happy feelings - at least to acknowledge them! But he's totally wrapped up in himself. The dream said the vintner wouldn't be let out until the day after the day after tomorrow, so Yosef had plenty of time to get his request in, but he doesn't even give the vintner time to say "yay!" No, instead he starts banging on about how it's not his fault he's in here and life is so unfair oh woe is me.** The same was true for the vintner! But Yosef doesn't empathise with the vintner. He doesn't treat the vintner as a fellow human being with feelings, only as a potential tool, so perhaps it's not surprising that once the vintner was out, he didn't feel sorry enough for Yosef to remember him.

* What? I like King James!
** Which was true, to be fair, but that really wasn't the moment.
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