What’s In A Name?

The Pharaoh, having accepted *Joseph’s plan* to get Egypt through the seven lean years that Joseph had predicted would follow seven plenteous years, wondered about who should administer the plan.

“Would you like the job?” the Pharaoh asked Joseph.

“Thank you for asking me, your Majesty, but I feel inadequate for so onerous a task. I’m sure there are lots of other men in Egypt who are more suitable.”

“Possibly. But no other men in Egypt are able to interpret dreams as accurately as you. In my papyrus this puts you head and shoulders above other men, except of course above me. You’ll be just fine for the job. So I’m now decreeing that you run Egypt for me over the next fourteen years.”

“I’ll do my best, your Majesty.”

“You’d better, else your head won’t long be attached to your neck.”

The Pharaoh took off his signet ring and put it on Joseph’s finger, and had him dressed on fine linen and hung a gold chain around his neck. Then the Pharaoh gave Joseph a viceroy’s chariot, by which he (Joseph) might travel around Egypt more quickly and comfortably than the normal Egyptian man-on-the-farm could.

The Pharaoh also gave Joseph a new name, “Zaphnath-paaneah”.

“Your Majesty, I do appreciate you giving me a new name”, said Joseph, “but won’t Zaphnath-paaneah be a bit of a mouthful. Couldn’t you give me a simpler name like……oh I don’t know…..Yeshua. How about Yeshua?”

“Yeshua sounds Hebrew to me,” said the Pharaoh. “However, as prime minister of Egypt, which is what you’ll be in fact, it’s essential that your name be Egyptian, and Zaphnath-paaneah is perfect. I do realise there are other Egyptian names I could give you, like Aapep, Amun, Horus, Ramses or Osiris. But Zaphnath-paaneah, being longer, sounds more authoritative.”

“Would it be alright, your Majesty, if my friends could still call me ‘Joseph’?”

“I would have no objection, as long as it’s in private,” said the Pharaoh.

Source: Genesis 41, 37 – 45

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2 Responses to What’s In A Name?

  1. Richard says:

    Joseph would do well on the chat show circuit.

    We have an insatiable appetite for the rags-to-riches myth. How we love to hear of early privation and struggle rewarded by a single lucky break leading to fame and fortune.

    Is there a tide in the affairs of men? Is there more than one tide? Is there a life-changing opportunity for everybody? What is the significance of Joseph’s reluctance? Is it the danger, as when the Speaker of the House of Commons resists taking the chair? If we omit to take the tide at the flood do we really remain in the shallows? Is it more desirable, or commendable, to remain in the shallows?

    These questions are more urgent with the passing of time, whether it began with Genesis or begins and ends with a Big Bang.

    Or perhaps Joseph was able to interpret the dream because he realised there is no such thing as time, as the duality of the title of your work subtly suggests – it has always been so since time began.

  2. Christopher says:

    “….Is there a life-changing opportunity for everybody?……”

    There probably is, but more often than not we don’t take it out of fear.

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