BLASPHEMY-4/How Joseph Sanctify God’s Name in Pharaoh’s eyes


© 2017 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner

Class BLASPHEMY-4/How Joseph Sanctified God’s Name in Pharaoh’s Eyes

1: Sanctifying God’s name in the dungeon

Let’s remember that Sanctification and Blasphemy are always in other people’s eyes.
So far, we’ve seen how Joseph sanctified G-d Name in his master’s eyes, by:
• (1) Carrying YHVH Name on his lips. This is how his master could attribute Joseph success to YHVH.
• (2) His refusal to commit ADULTERY. He was ready to give up his position and his risked his life, thereby sanctifying YHVH name.

No wonder that YHVH Name appears 8 times in the story of Joseph and his master wife.
This is in contrast to the entire section of the Book of Genesis, where only ELK appears in the text. (Judah too sanctified G-d Name with Tamar, and YHVH Name appears 3 times in his section.)

Joseph continued to sanctify YHVH Name, even in the dungeon.
Her name appears herewith him 3 times (out of the total 8.)
He walked around with YHVH Name on his lips.
This is how he remained successful and his new master appointed him over the other prisoners. He also excelled in solving dreams. His words always turn true.

Rabbinic teaching here says that Joseph did not foresee the future, but dictated it. The Heavenly Court listened to what he told people and fulfilled them. “The tzadik, the righteous man decrees and G-d obeys.”

This is pertinent to the topic of G-d’s Kingship that underlies our section.

He should have trusted the KING
You know the story. Joseph solved the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s servants who had been deposed and jailed. To the former baker, he predicted a bad outcome whereas to the former butler he predicted a good outcome. He then asked the butler TWICE to remind him to Pharaoh.

The rabbis said that it was a mistake. He should not have trusted a man. When is predictions came true and Pharaoh restored the butler, the man FORGOT Joseph,
But the KING Who Moves History did not, as it is said:


2: It was Rosh Hashanah

“At the end of two years to the day,
And it happened that Pharaoh was dreaming
and behold he stood above the Nile…”

Why “to the day?” Because G-d was counting the days. Joseph was punished MEASURE FOR MEASURE: He had asked the butler twice to remember him, to the KING ABOVE ‘forgot’ Joseph exactly two years. Then the KING REMEMBERED Joseph, and started the process of taking him out: Pharaoh had a weird dream.

“To the day”: what day was it? Tradition says: it was Rosh Hashanah (RH.
Indeed, as our prayer books say, on RH ELKM ascends on His Throne of JUDGMENT, REMEBERS and JUDGES all creatures.

Our prayer for RH counts those who ELKM remembered on RH:
(1) Joseph in the dungeon
(2) the barren Sarah who longed for a son
(3) The Children of Israel in Egypt who sighted under oppression
(4) Hannah who prayed silently for a son-the prophet Samuel
(5) The prophet Jonah’s prayer inside the whale.
(6) Noah’s prayer in the Ark at the Flood
(7) Daniel’s prayer in the dungeon
On Rosh Hashanah, rabbi Joshua said, ELKM will remember the world and send the Messiah.

Rosh Hashanah is the annual anniversary of Adam creation.
On that day, Heavens recalls the events surrounding Adam’s birth. Like parents recalling the events surrounding the birth of their only child. Thus

  • ELKM ascends again as a CREATOR as it says “in the Beginning ELKM created the Heavens and the earth”
  • And He sits again on the throne of a Supreme JUDGE, as He did at CREATION. After all, ELKM in Hebrew means the JUDGE. And like in CREATION, when He judged Day by Day
  • On Rosh Hashanah He judges the entire World, as it says, at the end of the sixth Day: “And He examined everything that He had done.”
  • And all creatures pass before His Throne, and He REMEMBERS each one and JUDGES each one and determines their fate for the New Year
  • ·And He determine the fate of each person, whether to live or perish, excel or impoverish, be born or die by the sword,, water, fire or by disease …Examining Adam, ELKM asks: Has my child become Very Good? Has he become the Image and Form that I have had on him when I made him?
    If yes, then Khalah! Adam would enter the Sabbath, my Bride…
    Ii not, then khlah! Adam would be terminated to nothingness!

    Where “Very Good” means:
    Having united ELKM with YHVH.
    Having incorporated YHVH to dwell in our heart, where She would unite with Her Groom ELKM
    Unite JUSTICE with MERCY.

    Thus, On Rosh Hashanah ELKM recalls the events surrounding Adam creation:
    He starts the day by ascending on the Throne of Absolute Justice and ruling the Universe “awesomely alone”

    Then He descends from His High Pedestal as a Supreme Judge
    to consult the Attribute of MERCY, YHVH, saying Let Us Make an Adam…

    And together the Attribute ask: Has our child Adam become Very Good? Has He united us to ONE in his heart and mind?

    And since in Hebrew, “to consult”, nimlach, is the same as “be enthroned,” we say that on Rosh Hashanah YHVH ELKM is ENTHRONED
    That RH is the CORONATION DAY
    Which simply means that to create Adam, ELKM stepped down from acting like a tyrant and began acting like a KING Who Consult.

    So if we merit it, He would remain our KING
    If we have messed up, He would ascend back on His high pedestal, YHVH would fly away and the world would withstand a harsh judgment WITHOUT MERY to defend us.

    Thus no wonder that it was Rosh Hashanah when ELKM remembered Joseph in the dungeon, started the process by which he would be released, made Pharaoh to have a weird dream, by which He told Pharaoh the fate of his country for the next 14 years!
    On RH, the KING took actions!
    And Jacob would find himself in Egypt, one way or another!



3: He taught them: ELKM is the Wise CREATOR
Pharaoh had a dream and behold, he stood on the Nile
And behold, seven handsome, healthy looking cows emerged from the Nile ” (42: 1)
Pharaoh stood over the Nile: “Idol worshippers stand on their idols, while righteous people let G-d stand on them…” (Midrash)
Here is a point for RH: idol worshipers adore their idols if and only if they feel that the idol has helped them. Righteous people in contrast believe in G-d regardless whether they have had good fortune or not.
Joseph in the dungeon gave a good example. He walked around with YHVH Name on his lips even when he was at the lowest point of his success.

You know the dream.
In short: Pharaoh saw seven good looking cows coming out of the Nile, followed by seven bad-looking ones. Then the bad looking cows swallowed the good ones as if they had never existed.

Pharaoh then had a second dream where he saw seven good looking ears of grain arising, followed by seven bad ones. Then the bad ones swallowed the first, god ones as if they had never existed.

The perplexed Pharaoh woke up and called his wise men, but no one could offer a solution TO HIM, to his heart. Was it a miracle by itself? Was it the hand of the KING of kings?

Only then the butler recalled Joseph and recommended him to Pharaoh. So they took Joseph out of the dungeon, washed and dressed him and brought him before Pharaoh.

Let’s pay attention to their dialogue:

Pharaoh said: “I have heard that you can hear a dream and solve it…” (Genesis 41:15)
Joseph answered: “Without me! ELKM will answer Pharaoh’s peace!”

Here Joseph proclaimed the existence of a CREATOR whose Name is ELKM,
And that this ELKM is WISE, the master of dreams.

By this he referred to Genesis 1:1 where it is said:

“At the Beginning, (literally: at the Head of events)
ELKM created the Heavens and the Earth…”

On which the rabbis said: “At the Head of the events, Be-reishit, He consulted His Head, or His Wisdom and created the World accordingly,” (RaMBaN)


4: He taught them Genesis

By this Joseph made another step on the ladder of Sanctification of G-d Name.
He has mentioned YHVH wherever he went, in a high place and in the dungeon
He surrendered his life and position rather than committing ADULTERY
He taught Pharaoh the Name of ELKM, the JUDGE, the Wise, the Master of Dreams

Pharaoh then repeats the dream to Joseph. Let’s follow Joseph’s answer to him:

“Pharaoh’s dream is one
ELKM has TOLD Pharaoh what He is about to do”

“The seven good cows are seven years
and the seven good ears are seven good years…
This is what I have said to Pharaoh
That what ELKM is about to do, He has SHOWN to Pharaoh

“Here come seven years, a great surplus in all the land of Egypt
And after them there will be seven years of famine….
Since it is assured that ELKM has set up to do
And ELKM is rushing TO DO” (Genesis 41: 25-32)

Three levels of prophecy: Joseph mentions three key verbs:
ELKM has told Pharaoh
ELKM has shown to Pharaoh
What to do

Here Joseph refers to the classical three levels of prophecy:
Hearing words of ELKM and speaking them out. The Hebrew word for a prophet, Navi, comes from niv, lips.
Seeing pictures shown by ELKM. It is a higher level of prophecy, since a picture speaks more than a thousand words. The Hebrew word for such a prophet is Hoseh, a Seer

A message to do : a practical prophecy that tells people what to do next.

Here Joseph attributes all these levels of prophecy to Pharaoh. Implying that Pharaoh is indeed a great person.
No wonder that Pharaoh responded by saying to his wise men:

“Can there be another person who has ELKM spirit in him as this man?”

Moreover, Pharaoh responds by mentioning ELKM’s Name.
Joseph therefore climbed here on another step of sanctification.


5: He taught them about the Heavenly Court of YHVH ELKM

Over all, the name ELKM appears with Joseph 8 times, since he refusal to commit ADULTERY with his master’s wife, till the birth of his first son, while he set on Pharaoh’s throne.
Thus, we have a symmetric Heavenly Court Wings:
8 Times the name YHVH
8 times the name ELKM
Here is the diagram:

1. YHVH…………………………………………………………………….. ELKM
2…… YHVH ……………………………………………………………… ELKM
3……… YHVH……………………………………………………… ELKM
4…………. YHVH………………………………………………ELKM
5………………. YHVH…………………………………… ELKM
6…………………… YHVH……………………………ELKM
7………………………… YHVH…………………. ELKM
8……………………………… YHVH………. ELKM

As you see, the Heavenly Court was with Joseph, as it was with Noah and Abraham.

He was rewarded measure by measure
Pharaoh responded by appointing Joseph all over Egypt. The rabbis read here the clear hands of ELKM rewarding Joseph measure for measure: thus
His lips that did not commit adultery were rewarded when Pharaoh said: “by your mouth’s kiss, shall all my people abide.”

His neck that did not tough her neck was rewarded by Pharaoh’s golden neckless

His fingers that did not touch hers were rewarded by Pharaoh’s golden ring

Joseph’s initial wards “Without me!’ were rewarded when Pharaoh said: “Without you, no one shall lift up his hand.”
After all, the day was ruled by ELKM like on RH, when He pays people measure for measure.

6: He taught then Genesis, including the Sabbath
Moreover, as rab Bahye noted, Joseph begins his presentation by the name of the Wise ELKM, then finishing it by the words “TO DO” which are the last words in the story of Genesis. Hence Joseph taught Pharaoh the entire story of CREATION, including the idea of the Sabbath.

7: He taught them the Seven Commandments plus circumcision

Joseph continued to climb up on sanctification. When the hunger struck Egypt and there was no more food in the markets, the people came to Pharaoh demanding bread. Pharaoh then tells them:

“Go to Joseph, whatever he tells you to do, you should do.” (41:55

On which says Rashi “Even if he tells you to circumcise, do it!”
Hence Joseph taught the Egyptians the Seven Commandments plus Circumcision.
By this he climbed even higher on Sanctification.
By this he attempted to eliminate IDOLATRY from the world,
Which is another theme of Rosh Hashanah

8: The themes of RH
Joseph taught the Egyptians:
1. the story of Genesis
2. the name of the CREATOR
3. that ELKM is Wise
4. ELKM decides the fate of countries on RH
5. The name of YHVH on his lips
6. the seven commandments of Noah
7. the eighth Commandment of Abraham: CIRCUMCISION!

Indeed, the Talmud says that initially, after Abraham, all Children of Noah were ‘potentially’ obligated in keeping Circumcision. Later Moses limited it to Israel only.

Joseph sanctified G-d Name

1. By carrying YHVH Name on his lips, even in the dungeon
2. By his readiness to sacrifice his life rather than committing ADULTERY
3. By teaching the Egyptians the Torah he knew, including circumcision
4. By opening his siloes to feed the world, as YHVH would like him to do

We see here all the themes of Rosh Hashanah:
1 ELKM rules awesomely alone in the open
2. ELKM pays measure by measure
3. ELKM remembers Joseph in the dungeon
4. ELKM is the KING who executes His will to bring Jacob to Egypt
5. ELKM decides on RH the fate of individuals as well as countries for the next year
6. RH is the end of IDOLATRY
7. RH the day when YHVH knowledge would spread all over the world like water covers the sea
Thus, the Book of Genesis begins with the story of Adam creation,
And ends up with the anniversary of Adam creation: The Rosh Hashanah holiday.
There is one more element of RH to be seen here: Repentance. On thaht we’ll learn next class.