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Joseph: a man of God or a man of faith?

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  1. God's chosen man in the Old Testament
  2. A servant of God in the Koran

When reading a story, the way we choose to interpret it has much to do with the author's tone as well as his intention. In other words, one story can send two radically different messages based on the way that it is written. If we analyze the story of Joseph in both the Old Testament and in the Koran, we get a sense of these distinctions. While both books praise the actions of Joseph and suggest that he was a loyal servant to God, the tone and message of each book suggests a radically different view of Joseph.

[...] It is suggested that even learned men who practice the ways of God cannot be on par with Joseph. When Joseph is asked, for example, to interpret the dreams of two men, he quickly states, not interpretations belong to (Genesis 69). Then, Joseph goes on to do his best in interpreting the dreams, hoping that he will capture the right meaning. The Old Testament suggests that Joseph was somewhat unified with God, and was able to interpret his will with accuracy. [...]

[...] Joseph even states that [God] alone is all- knowing and wise? (Koran 1451). The radically different interpretations of Joseph in the Old Testament and in the Koran tell us about much more than just the relationship between Joseph and God. The distinctions in tone with regard to this story hint at the essential differences between Judaism and Islam. Judaism is built on the belief that the Jews are God's chosen people, but God tends to not reveal himself directly and allows them to suffer in many situations. [...]

[...] Joseph and all those around him appreciate the power granted to him by God, and they appear to have no reason even to question it. When the ten brothers of Joseph try to understand Joseph's generosity (before they know he is their brother), they are simply shocked by his graciousness and his willingness to assist them with everything that they need. While Joseph recognizes his brothers and behaves generously towards them, we feel a great sense of anticipation and can't wait for the moment when Joseph will finally reveal himself as the 12th brother. [...]

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