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Pharaoh: The Course of Power: Pharaoh recalls events from his childhood, and considers the flow of power in the land.
Posted by Douglas, May 12, 2008. 2314 views. ID = 1286

Pharaoh: The Course of Power

Posted by Douglas, May 12, 2008. 2314 views. ID = 1286
This post was written in 47 minutes.
Sorry this installment took so long; it took me awhile to figure out how I wanted to start it out to introduce the main idea of the piece.

This is Pharaoh's second perspective on the life of Joseph.
This post has been awarded 20 stars by 5 readers.
This post is Part 10 of a writing series titled Joseph's Story.

My father told me that when I was just a little child, he took me up to the highest pinnacles of the royal palace, and set me upon the edge of the wall so I could see all the land of Egypt: the river like a winding sash of blue cloth laced with green shrubbery, the undulating, ever changing rise and fall of desert dunes, and the frantic scurrying of a million people who would one day be in my charge. As I sat there, peering unafraid over the sheer drop of the palace wall, Father said to me, "One day all this will be yours to command."

I only vaguely remember that day, and I don't remember at all what happened on the next day. The story told by those old enough to remember is that I was found down by the banks of the Nile, waving my hands in wide arcs, and shouting at the river, commanding it to turn in its natural course. The river, of course, ignored my instruction. All my father's advisors laughed - quietly, of course, and behind my back - at the little boy who thought he had the power to command the Nile. Father laughed as well, but loudly, and to my face.

I know now why they laughed. Even as king over all the land, my power to command extends only as far as the weakness of another. Thus, I can command the weak and vacillating wills of simple folk, but the stronger the people are, the weaker I am. The strength of the Nile is beyond my rule.

I cannot even command the inner workings of my own mind; I wake up in the night with absurd dreams of cattle feasting disgustingly on each other, or ears of corn that devour one another in a manner quite inappropriate for garden produce.

Nor can I command the magi, who refuse to give interpretation to my strange midnight encounters. The more I beg and plead for interpretation, and none comes to my aid, the weaker I become in the eyes of the people. I may need to kill these magi, just to strengthen my position.

Now, to make things worse, I am reduced to taking advice from a lowly servant, who tells me that all my woes can be resolved by a foreigner, a prisoner in one of my dungeons. Worst of all, as my cupbearer tells me about this barbarian magician, standing next to him in stony silence is my chief of security - the very man who put the Hebrew mystic in prison, and who would likely be content to put a sword through the man's heart before I even have a chance to ask him about my dreams.

Nevertheless, I must have interpretation, so I instruct my soldiers to bring this interpreter of dreams before me.

The man is surprisingly confident, for one who has spent much of his adult life either as a slave, or as a prisoner. Not arrogant, or proud, like a man who considers himself superior to all around him, but confident in a contented and peaceful way. I find it hard to explain what I see when I look at him. He is, I think, the sort of man for whom the Nile really would turn in its course, but not the sort of man who would make such a change just for show. He is a man of quiet dignity, a man whose spirit is at his own command, and thus he has a look of comfortable repose, even when he stands before me. He is utterly unafraid.

"Joseph," I begin, "I have had troubling dreams, and none of my magi" (I place a cynical emphasis on this word, thus to weaken the control of these useless old men) "can interpret it for me. It is said that you are a magician yourself."

The young man doesn't even hesitate before speaking. "I am no magician, my king, and I have no power in me to command the interpretation of dreams. Yet, the God of my fathers, the great God over all things, He knows your dream and its interpretation. So speak, and if God is pleased to do so, He shall make known the meaning."

So I tell this child of wilderness nomads my dreams, of the cattle, and then of the ears of corn that, like the cattle, devour one another. When I am done, there is only a brief moment of hushed silence in the chamber while everyone, from Potiphar to the magi to my servants and guards, waits for the young man to speak.

Joseph's words are calm and earnest, though everyone trembles to hear them. "Your dreams, my king, are the same dream. The seven cattle that are plump, are seven years of plenty; in these seven years the crops will grow bountifully, and there will be more than enough food to live comfortably. But following those seven years there shall be seven years of famine, which will come up and devour even the memory of bounty, and your people will starve in these seven years."

"And the dream about the corn?" I demand anxiously, "It means the same thing?"

"My king, God has given the dream twice so that you may know, the thing which will come to pass is set in stone, and cannot be changed."

There is a moan and sigh of fear that rises among all my advisors and servants, and I tremble to hear these words which every king fears: You have no power to command.

"What then can we do?" I ask.

"Appoint a wise man, and many overseers under him, to work throughout the entire kingdom for seven years, taking one fifth of all produce of the land and placing it in storehouses, where it may be kept to feed the people during the times of famine."

I look again at this slave boy with his peaceful expression and his confident posture and I think to myself: I shall take this weakest of all men and appoint him over all, for he has no desire for power, so his strength could never weaken me. If anyone can command the course of a famine, surely it is this mystic boy.

As I speak my decree aloud, I see Joseph's expression change at last, to a look of wonder and amazement. With a smile I think: At least I still have the power to surprise.

Copyright 2008 Douglas. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 20 stars by 5 readers.
This post is Part 10 of a writing series titled Joseph's Story. The next part of this series can be found here: Simeon: Meeting Zaphenath-paneah.
This is a revised version of a post. Click here to view the original version

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