The Story of Joseph in the Bible and the Koran

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Joseph: From the Hebrew Bible and the Koran
The Bible and the Koran are both glorious books of the world’s most flourishing religious cultures, Christianity and Islam respectively. At first glance, when you read the story of Joseph from the Hebrew bible and the Koran, they fundamentally seem to talk about similar ideals and storylines. They, however, have some deep seated differences, that may be a little philosophical in nature or might depend on the particular paragraph that we’re comparing. The story of Joseph in the Bible begins with explanations of Joseph’s youth and innocence and how his brothers were jealous of him because he was the “blessed son”. It involves a lot of specifics, like it mentions that Joseph was seventeen years old, he was a shepherd, and it involves paragraphs where we see him interacting with his brothers and letting them know about his gift of interpreting dreams. The Koran version of the story of Joseph on the other hand, begins somewhere in the middle, when Joseph is seen conversing with his father about the power of his interpretation of dreams. It does not mention any more details. Another contrast I noticed in both the texts is the way in which they’re written. The Hebrew bible seems more like a story, a narrative with a meaning at the end, or with little moral lessons on the way. The Koran focuses more on glorifying “God”. As we see at the beginning of the story of Joseph, it starts with the phrase, “in the name of god, the compassionate, and the merciful”. This emphasizes the fact that all beginnings must be made with the holy name of god in mind. And we see this throughout the text; the reference to god in the Koran is much more frequent, much more powerful and much more stressed on. We can see that clearly in the following lines, “better is the reward of the life to come for those who believe in God and keep from evil”, “But God is the best of guardians: and of all those that show mercy. He is the most merciful” (p1449), “In Him alone, let the faithful put their trust”, “Do not despair of God’s spirit; none but the unbelievers despair of God’s spirit.” It’s clear that, heavy stress is laid on the importance of god. Similar views are expressed in the Bible but much more subtly. Moving on to the part where Joseph is cast into the pit by his brothers, one major difference that I noticed is the mention of names in the bible, each instance and message has a name behind it, the mention of Reuben, Judah, Benjamin etc, this however is missing from the Koran where all the brothers are referred to as one conglomerate. The mention of the brothers separately is important in this context because clearly Reuben thought differently than the others and Judah was more like the leader so we can’t possibly refer to all of them as one. Further on, in the Hebrew bible, Joseph is sold off to the Ishmaelites, on the other hand , in the Koran he is “ discovered” by passing caravans. Comparisons can me made by accounting the part where Joseph’s master’s wife tries to seduce him too; in the Hebrew bible, Joseph is accused falsely and sent off to prison whereas in the Koran, the master acknowledges that his wife is the cunning one, “This is but one of your tricks. Your cunning is great indeed! Joseph, say no more about this. Woman, ask pardon for your sin. You have done wrong.” (p1448). The consequent imprisonment of Joseph is slightly different in both the stories too. While in prison, the interactions Joseph has with the prison mates are almost described in similar fashion except in the Koran, when Joseph talks to the prisoner who he knew would be freed , he says “ Remember me in the presence of the Lord” (p 1448), this is absent from the story of Joseph in the bible where he never says anything to the royal butler when he is released. The following part in the Hebrew bible where Joseph is given the charge of the land of Egypt by the...
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