COMMENT: This long chapter tells the familiar story of Joseph and his brothers, and begins the eventful story of Joseph’s life that brings the Book of Genesis—and the history of the patriarchs—to a conclusion. The important metaphysical question (as always) is what the story can tell us about our own spiritual journey and its challenges.
Joseph is clearly aware from an early age of his true spiritual nature, in a way that his brothers are not. He is not only beloved by his earthly father, Jacob/Israel, but is able to express his deep connection to the divine, as symbolized by the prophetic power of his dreams. But Joseph also teaches us that our innate spiritual gifts must be used and expressed in love, and with a sense of responsibility. They are not to be claimed by the ego as proof of human superiority over other, equally spiritual (if unaware) beings. He alienates his brothers by rashly sharing and interpreting his own dreams in a way that suggests he is divinely intended to rule over them. The resentful brothers react by overpowering him and selling him into slavery. The result is a long life of challenge—all of which Joseph experiences with grace and good humor. He has learned his lesson, and when another opportunity arises to interpret dreams—this time the dreams of the Pharaoh—his approach is quite different. There is no ego involved; he makes it clear from the outset that his is not a human skill but an expression of divine wisdom. And this time his interpretations earn him, not enmity, but riches and authority.
When we first begin to realize and experience our Oneness with the divine, the temptation is strong to allow our mortal mind to use it for personal gain. Like Joseph—and like Jesus in his wilderness temptations—we must be willing to commit our spiritual gifts to their proper purpose, to heal and empower others so that together we can transform the world.