This weekend I watched Joseph: King of Dreams (Ben Affleck’s greatest role, aside from Gigli) with my girls, and we also happened to read the Joseph story in the Jesus Storybook Bible. In both of these interpretations of the Genesis 37-50 narrative, Joseph is portrayed in his youth as more than a bit prideful, even singing in the movie a song with the refrain “I am the miracle child!” When this passage is preached, taught, and commented upon, many times there is an implicit or explicit condemnation of Joseph’s arrogance, seemingly founded upon the statements in Genesis 37 that Jacob loved Joseph more than his brothers (Gen. 37:4 passim) and Joseph’s relaying of his dreams to his brothers.
It’s possible that this interpretation of Joseph’s actions in Genesis 37 is correct, but I wonder if we’re being fair to Joseph and to the author’s portrayal of him. Nowhere is Joseph portrayed as having pride in relation to his father’s love; the action is always on Jacob (“Jacob loved Joseph more”) and his brothers (“because Jacob loved Joseph more, they conspired to kill him”).
Additionally, it seems to me that having dreams and the ability to interpret them is a sign of wisdom and even authority in the Old Testament, and so I wonder if it’s fair to say Joseph is arrogant in relaying them to his brothers. The onus to seems me to be clearly on the brothers who, rather than acknowledging this wisdom and authority from God, reject it and conspire to kill their brother (now where have I heard that before…?). Of course no contemporary interpretation of this passage that I know of excuses the brothers’ actions, but they certainly are given a reason to hate Joseph based on the interpretive portrayal of him as prideful.
What do you think? Should we see Joseph as prideful in Genesis 37 or not?