Study the Torah with Academic Scholarship

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Dreams

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams — An Israelite Type-922 Folktale

The story of Joseph in Pharaoh’s court (Genesis 41), like the story of Daniel in Nebuchadnezzar’s court (Daniel 2), is a Thompson Type 922 folktale in which an underdog gains his fortune by answering hard questions that elude his superiors. Paradoxically, viewing the story of Joseph through the lens of folklore studies allows us to appreciate the uniqueness of Israelite cultural religious orientation.

Prof.

Susan Niditch

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Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream: The Revision of Daniel’s Role During Antiochus’ Persecution

The first section of Daniel (chs. 2-6) is a collection of quasi-independent court tales. Once they were combined into the book of Daniel in its current form, the story of Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which parallels Pharaoh’s dream in the Joseph story, was revised. It was further supplemented with Daniel’s prayer which creates a contrast between the power of God and that of Antiochus IV.

Dr.

Michael Segal

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The Joseph Story: Ancient Literary Art at Its Best

The Joseph story invites the reader to be transported to Egypt itself through the inclusion of Egyptian words, proper names, and customs; to analyze the unsurpassed use of repetition with variation; and to enter the mind of the character (in this case, especially Pharaoh) through the use of interior monologue.

Prof.

Gary Rendsburg

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Joseph: The Making of a Prophet

The Torah is silent about the nature of Joseph’s dreams: What do they mean?  Do they come from God? This ambiguity is part of the literary artistry of the story, which relates Joseph’s “coming of age” as a prophet.

Jason Tron

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Did Jacob Meet Yhwh by the Stairway to Heaven in Beth-El?

On his way to Haran, Jacob stops at a place, later named Beth-El, and sees in a dream angels going up and down a staircase to the gateway of heaven. In the story, Jacob also notices Yhwh standing beside him and and Yhwh speaks to him. Examined closely, this short story is beset with literary difficulties that suggest it is composed of two independent narratives.

Prof.

Baruch J. Schwartz

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Joseph and the Dreams of Many Colors

Understanding the practice of dream interpretation in the Joseph story by using the ANE interpretive traditions as background.

Professor

Jack M. Sasson

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Daniel’s Vision of the Four Beasts: The Prehistory of Chanukah

The four beasts of Daniel 7 represent four kingdoms. The terrifying fourth beast with ten horns and iron teeth is the Greek kingdom of Syria. This beast grows a talking horn, which represents Antiochus IV, whose persecutions (167–164 B.C.E.), the biblical author believes, can only be stopped by divine intercession.

Dr.

Michael Segal

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