CSEC ON-LINE REFERENCE LIBRARY
Joseph, Businessman and Statesman
ERNEST C. MOSES
The story of Joseph is full of encouragement to all who are tempted to believe that their own individual surroundings are especially hard and unfavorable. At seventeen years of age he was the most beloved of the twelve sons of Jacob. As a mere youth he was often enabled through spiritual perception to foreshadow events and conditions which were obscure to the mental vision of his associates. He foresaw his own coming preeminence in the vision of the sheaves. After narrating this vision, and then another of like character, to his brethren, it caused them to hate and persecute him, so that they "could not speak peaceably unto him." In this respect Joseph shared the experiences which are common to all who have a message or mission of substantial good to impart to their fellow-beings. He was the beloved child of his father, and the favors bestowed upon him aroused his brothers' envy, that which was "a murderer from the beginning," and when the opportunity presented itself, they conspired to slay him. After sundry evil counselings Joseph was finally sold for a few pieces of silver as a merchandisable slave, to the merchants of a passing caravan, who took him into Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh's guard; but even as a slave, God was with Joseph, and he prospered. His master appointed him an overseer over all his house and the affairs of Potiphar were well ordered and profitable because of Joseph's administration.
In reviewing the progress of Joseph in his increasing apprehension of the truth, it appears that his advancement was slow. He stood alone in the deep shades of mysticism and ignorance, without a human teacher to guide him. His experience was not unlike the devious and halting ascent of many who are striving to work for human betterment in these latter days. Joseph's apprehension of the truth was accompanied by painful tests of faith, by continual conflicts with error, by seeming failure, humiliation, privation, and suffering. In the house of his master Joseph finally became the victim of false accusations involving his purity and integrity, instigated by the mercilessness of lustful passion, and although absolutely innocent of wrong doing, Joseph was cast into prison. As a prisoner he was impelled to strive for a clearer discernment of his unity with the divine Principle, the source of infinite justice. Here again his perception of intelligence was soon employed in supervising the business affairs of the prison, and they prospered. His envious brothers back in Dotham had called him "a dreamer," but wherever he was placed Joseph's head, heart, and hands were ready and willing to perform the practical work of the day. He did not spend his time speculating on what he would accomplish elsewhere if his liberty were restored. On the contrary, Joseph made the best of the disciplinary circumstances and exercised his mental powers in attending to the practical affairs of the prison. Like Paul, in the Roman garrison, he was a servant of Truth, and ever active about his Father's business.
Soon after Joseph's incarceration, the chief butler and chief baker of Pharaoh's household offended their lord and were cast into the prison, where they were under the care of Joseph. These men had dreams which were so ominous as to cause them serious alarm. They related their visions to Joseph, and he so correctly discerned the operation of mortal thought in their cases that within three days, even as he interpreted, the chief baker was hanged and the chief butler restored to the royal favor.
Two years afterward Pharaoh had two dreams which disturbed him greatly, and true to the ways of the world, he first appealed to the magicians and soothsayers for their interpretation, even as the worldly-wise of this day turn to everything else before turning to divine wisdom for the solution of their human problems. The necromancers could, however, give the king no light. Then the chief butler remembered Joseph, and related to the king his experience in the prison, which so impressed Pharaoh that he ordered Joseph to be brought before him. When Pharaoh inquired of Joseph concerning his ability to interpret dreams, Joseph replied, "It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace." His reply announced his entire reliance upon the divine Mind, the one Principle, and recalls Jesus' words, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do." In this narrative we are told again and again that God was with Joseph in all he did. Upon hearing the statement of the two visions Joseph immediately declared that they were one in import and he interpreted them, foretelling of seven years of great plenty throughout all Egypt, followed by seven years of famine.
So wise an interpretation made it natural for Pharaoh to turn to Joseph for advice, and Joseph responded by advising that one fifth part of certain products of the soil be set apart for the ensuing seven years. His estimate of mortal mind which had enabled him to interpret its dreams showed him that without restraint the Egyptians would waste the fifth part during the period of plenty. A lack of understanding is often expressed in improvidence in the affairs of individuals and nations. Famine and poverty are but the outward evidences of famished thought, ignorance of God and His Christ.
Recognizing the wisdom of Joseph's advice, Pharaoh very naturally selected him to execute the well-calculated plan of practical economics and statecraft outlined in his counsel. He said, "Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?" He perceived the source of this revelation and delegated the execution of this affair of such vital importance to a nation of several millions of people, to the one man who had been enabled to foresee both the trend of affairs and the means of their remedy. Thirteen years after his betrayal in Dotham Joseph became a ruler over Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. The erstwhile slave and prisoner of material sense became its master, and divine Mind was the liberator. In this triumph we find no trace of human will-power, but we note at every stage of Joseph's marvelous career the evidences of Emmanuel, "God with us," and this was why he prospered. It is also significant that Joseph waited and worked patiently until the trend of events under the supernal guidance brought him face to face with the larger work for which he had been prepared by each day's activity during his detention in the prison.
At thirty years of age Joseph was practically prime minister of Egypt! His genius for government enabled him to bring to a successful consummation his seven years' task. When the famine set in the needs of the people under him were all provided for, Joseph being the instrument for this manifestation of the Father's care and beneficence toward the children of men. It is scarcely possible to overestimate the magnitude of the task undertaken and executed by Joseph. Egypt at the time of Joseph probably contained from three to five millions of people. Think of the problems which Joseph had to master in gathering, transporting, and storing the grain; and after the seven years thus spent, came the second period of seven years, during which the work of preservation and distribution also demanded continued fidelity and well-organized effort. The distribution of compensation for the labor recorded on hundreds of pay or sustenance rolls at various points throughout a long stretch of country required a most systematic organization. The entire task extended over a period of about fourteen years, equal to nearly four of our presidential terms of office.
When we compare this demonstration with such a problem in current history, we cannot fail to perceive the far-reaching effect of one man's faithfulness upon the destiny of the millions whose well-being was dependent upon him. Joseph's life-work was a labor of love which brought into action the abilities of statesman, financier, a farseeing practical man of affairs, all being dependent upon the wisdom of the seer.
During the second period of Joseph's administration his brothers were sent to Egypt by Jacob, to buy food, and the vision of the sheaves was fulfilled in their obeisance before their unknown brother, whom they had once betrayed and sold for twenty pieces of silver. Joseph treated them with great consideration and loving kindness. When he finally revealed his identity, instead of taking advantage of the reversed circumstances as an occasion in which to vent self-justification, or to accentuate his own power and their dependence, he sought only to make the incident a means whereby to glorify the divine Mind, and to effect a loving reconciliation. Having this desire uppermost in thought, he showed them how the wrath of mankind was made to praise God; how the fatherhood of Love was reflected in his efforts for their well-being, even as it had been when they knew it not. Our Leader's definition of the Joseph thought throws a wonderful light on this whole story. ["JOSEPH. A corporeal mortal; a higher sense of Truth rebuking mortal belief, or error, and showing the immortality and supremacy of Truth; pure affection blessing its enemies." "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 589]
Pharaoh was well pleased at the family reunion, and gratefully honored his noble counselor by sending an invitation to all of Joseph's family to come and sojourn in Egypt until the famine should have passed. Pharaoh evidently assimilated much of the good which Joseph expressed, and thereby became conscious of the nearness of the kingdom of heaven, often manifesting its sweet amenities in gratitude, courtesy, and loving generosity.
Thus one man, alone in a strange country, a seeming victim of the rankest forms of envy, malice, and injustice, was enabled through his understanding of God and obedience to His law to provide not only for his own kindred but also for an alien race of several millions of people, the food supplies so necessary to human existence. It is surely probable that thousands were also touched by a higher sense of man's true being which was back of and above the outward manifestations that were brought into human view in Joseph's career. In all these incidents Joseph reflected, although in a lesser degree, the same Principle, Love, which animated Jesus of Nazareth. In the midst of discordant conditions the right thought was held by Joseph, the Christ-spirit manifested in every position in which he was placed, whether high or low. His career is ample proof of our Leader's statements concerning the continued reappearing of the spiritual idea through all the ages; and it confirms her view of the eternity of the Christ of God.
Are not those who work in the truth in these latter days enabled to interpret the dream of mortal mind, through the wonderful revelation given us in Science and Health, and are not many lives preserved thereby, and mankind blessed abundantly? Are we today improving our wonderful opportunities to know God and thus prove the supremacy of good under all circumstances? None need be hindered by circumscribed conditions, nor wait for imaginary opportunities to do "great things." Are any of us called to bear more today than Joseph bore for his brethren and humanity thirty-six centuries ago? and to us is given, in Christian Science, an understanding whereby we may know how every great moral and spiritual victory was gained in all ages.
"Joseph, Businessman and Statesman" by Ernest C. Moses
The Christian Science Journal, August, 1906
| Home | Library |
© 1996-2011 CSEC
Copyright © 1996-2011 CSEC