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  • Writer's pictureEve Was Right

10. Was Joseph a Witch?

Updated: Jan 18

What happens when we try to fit in.


Parshah Mikeitz

TL;DR of the Text


Major Themes

  • We sacrifice authenticity to try to fit in


*Important attribution note: All quotes listed in this article are credited to the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash. Here is an Extremely Clear Citation so I don’t get in trouble: Nosson Scherman, Hersh Goldwurm, Avie Gold, & Meir Zlotowitz. (2015). The Chumash : the Torah, Haftaros and Five Megillos. Mesorah Publications, Ltd.


Much of this section recounts Joseph’s rise to prominence during Egypt’s famine. Most of it is uncontroversial, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it. 


Let’s focus on one section where Joseph tested his brothers’ loyalty by falsely accusing Benjamin of stealing a goblet. 


Genesis 44:4-5*

“Joseph said to the one in charge of his house, ‘Get up, chase after the men; when you overtake them, you are to say to them, “Why do you repay evil for good? Is this not the one from which my master drinks, and with which he regularly divines?”...

“Joseph said to [his brothers], ‘What is this deed that you have done? Do you not realize that a man like me practices divination!’”

The goblet is important both because Jacob drank from it and used it in divination. The Torah prohibits divination, which begs the question, why was this mentioned? 


A woman looking into a crystal ball and shrieking in fear when she sees herself in it

Either Joseph actually practiced divination, which would have been a pretty big sin, or he acted as though he practiced divination in front of his brothers to play the part of an Egyptian royal. Either way, both counted as sins. Later, we’ll learn that Israelite dietary practices disgusted the Egyptians, who worshiped animals. If Joseph risked the wrath of the Egyptians to eat meat, he could surely risk avoiding divination. 


At times, Joseph must have pretended to agree with Egyptian religious practices to stay safe while in Egypt, but this was not one of those times. His brothers were already terrified of being accused of stealing Joseph’s drinking goblet! There was no need to include the additional detail of divination.


We’ve all done things we aren’t proud of in the name of fitting in. But were those things actually necessary, or were we taking the path of least resistance? People are more accepting of differences than we assume.


People are more accepting of differences than we assume.

*Again with the Extremely Clear Citation so I don’t get in trouble: Nosson Scherman, Hersh Goldwurm, Avie Gold, & Meir Zlotowitz. (2015). The Chumash : the Torah, Haftaros and Five Megillos. Mesorah Publications, Ltd.

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