12: Joseph (Part I — The boys who cried wolf.)
godsend god·send (gäd′send′) n. Something wanted or needed that comes or happens unexpectedly.
God’s got nothing to do with it. I would say it’s a Googlesend, but that lame joke was from a few posts back and I didn’t think anyone would remember it. Godsend will have to do.
This chapter is just what I’ve been hoping for after several sad weeks of incredibly ho-hum subject matter. For starters, the entire thing is a story. And not some half-assed story about 7 guys with identical lives, plus a magic camel and a couple of natural disasters tossed in for fun. This is actually a continuous narrative about one guy. And it’s a story I’ve never even heard of before. Hot damn, what more could a bored girl ask for? It’s got action, it’s got drama, it’s got sex! OK, fine, there’s no sex, but action and drama are pretty neat, too.
The chapter starts out with some mystical letters (woo woo!) and a reference to the book that didn’t really exist as a book till later:
(1) ALIF LAM RA. These are the verses of the immaculate Book.
Pretty standard stuff. Nothing we’ve never seen before.
(2) We have sent it down as a clear discourse that you may understand.
Clear discourse, my ass. Again, nothing new here. God says that the message in his Quran is “clear,” but so far, the only thing it’s been clear about is what an asshole God is.
(3) Through the revelation of this Qur’an We narrate the best of histories of which you were unaware before.
Right. Basically Mohammed just takes a story from the Bible and makes up some new details to give it his own flair. And obviously nobody knows these new details since, um, Mohammed just made ‘em up. Ta da! Best of histories of which you were unaware before! Nice how that works out, right?
And with that, we jump right in to the Joseph story:
(4) When Joseph told his father: “O my father, I saw eleven stars and the sun and the moon bowing before me in homage,”
Many egotistical pricks think the sun revolves around them — this guy thinks it actually bows down to him. How does that work, exactly? Does it dip? Roll forward? Do little cartoon hands and legs come out of the sides and pull up the sun’s fire-skirt for a good old-fashioned curtsy? What the fuck?
I checked out some other translations to make sure Ahmed Ali wasn’t toning down the crazy like he’s done before:
A. J. Arberry:
(4) When Joseph said to his father, ‘Father, I saw eleven stars, and the sun and the moon; I saw them bowing down before me.’
Yusuf Ali: Pickthall:
(4) When Joseph said unto his father: O my father! Lo! I saw in a dream eleven planets and the sun and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves unto me.
Pickthall: Yusuf Ali: (Thanks for the correction, d1g1t!)
(4) Behold! Joseph said to his father: “O my father! I did see eleven stars and the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrate themselves to me!”
Wow. Pickthall actually says 11 planets. Boy, I bet the Muslim scientists just had a field day with that one. With the 8 planets and 3 dwarf planets, it looks like God actually got one right! In one out of four English translations of the book, anyway. But even then, not really. What are we up to — 13 planets, at last count? So the “science” of the Quran worked for a hot minute and then actual science trumped it. Again.
(I’d like to take this opportunity to tell Pluto that dwarf or not, you’ll always be a planet in my heart. My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas. Without Pluto, it would be “Just Served us Nine.” I always thought 9 pizzas was an alarming amount of food for the average family, but it wouldn’t be the same without.)
(5) He said: “O son, do not narrate your dream to your brothers, or they will plot against you. Surely Satan is man’s acknowledged foe.
My family is kind of nutty. They actually believe their dreams are omens, and I still get the occasional panicked call from my mother saying something like, “Don’t fly today!” (Well, shit, I’d better go take my wings off.) My favorite one ever was, “Don’t cross over a bridge today!” while I was stuck in traffic on a bridge. She might have called that one right, actually. It took me a fucking hour to get home!
And, I know I’m going to catch a lot of slack for this, but why did Joseph’s father raise such jerks? Maybe I’m just bitter about my morning commute via public transportation when a little girl stood up on the seat and screamed at the top of her lungs for a solid 20 minutes, while her mother ignored her. Did I mention I had noise canceling headphones on and I could still hear the little asshole? But seriously, Joseph’s father goes on to shift the blame onto Satan. As if Satan was the reason his kids turned out to be such conniving little fuckers.
(6) Your Lord will choose you and teach you to interpret events, and confer His favours on you and the house of Jacob, as He had done in the case of two ancestors of yours, Abraham and Isaac, before you. Indeed your Lord is all-knowing and all-wise.”
OK, so God will teach Joseph to be the Sylvia Browne of his day. And he’s related to Abraham and Isaac. I guess there’s some sort of prophethood gene involved or something — not that the Quran mentions anything about genetics. No, that would be too science-y, and not nearly vague enough to fit whatever modern science you want to “prove” exists in the Quran.
(7) In the story of Joseph and his brothers are lessons for those who inquire.
(8) “Surely Joseph and his brother are dearer to our father than we,” (said his half brothers) “even though we are a well-knit band. Our father is surely in the wrong.
I love how Joseph’s brother and half-brothers don’t even have names. It doesn’t even mention how many half-brothers there are — details, schmetails. The half-brothers are pissed off because they think thier father favors their half-brothers over them. Which may well have been the case. I mean, the kids don’t even fucking have names. That’s just sad.
Also, can someone please explain to me why Ahmed Ali went with the supremely dorky phrase well-knit band? I mean, who talks like that? These guys are badasses, and badasses definitely don’t say well-knit band. I think of them more as a gang. A possee. A motley crew, even. Just sayin’.
(9) Let us kill Joseph or cast him in some distant land so that we may get our father’s exclusive affection; then play innocent.”
Woah woah woah wooooooah. The fuck? What happened to talking things out? Sharing feelings and being honest with one another? Family therapy? They skip all of that and go straight to killing Joseph? And, just out of curiosity, why only Joseph? I thought he had a brother who was also dearer to daddy. Why not kill them both? They didn’t really think this one out too much. And I’m not the only one who thinks so:
(10) One of them said: “If you must do so, then do not kill Joseph, but throw him into an unused well. Some passing caravan may rescue him.”
Nice job coming up with Plan B, buddy. But, seriously, it’s probably still easier to just talk it out. The old guy probably has no idea he’s being a douchetard, plus it would save you the trouble of finding an unused well along a trade route. Just my 2 cents.
Either way, the well idea isn’t all that much nicer than killing Joseph. Pushing him in an unused well full of water so he can drown — that’s nicer than, I dunno, chopping his head off or something? And if the well has no water in it, he’s even more screwed. It’s the fucking desert. He’d die of thirst. Again, a little one-on-one could probably solve the whole problem, but apparently everyone was a fucking idiot back in the day.
(11) (Then going to their father) they said: “O father, why don’t you trust us with Joseph? We are in fact his well-wishers.
(12) Let him go out with us tomorrow that he may enjoy and play. We shall take care of him.”
Up until that point in the story, I didn’t realize just how young Joseph and his brothers were. I was imagining them as 18+ but “Can Joey come out and play?” They’re kids! Kids plotting to kill their brother! That’s some fucked up shit right there. I would say, “Only in the Quran,” but I hear this stuff’s all over the Bible.
(13) He said: “I am afraid of sending him with you lest a wolf should devour him when you are unmindful.”
And that’s exactly what happened. A wolf swallows Joseph whole. And then he lives in the wolf’s stomach for 3 whole days until he’s spit out on an island. …OK not really. I was just checking to make sure you’re paying attention.
Double you. Tee. Eff. A wolf should devour him when you are being unmindful? Did this happen often in Joseph’s neighborhood? Where do they live — Wasilla, Alaska? (Oh, snap!) And I thought my parents were overly protective. Joseph’s father, by the way, is a total asshole. He’s worried that a wolf might eat poor old Joseph, but he doesn’t seem to give a shit that any of his other (nameless) kids might meet the same fate. I realize all parents play favorites to a certain degree, but this is a little outta control.
(14) They replied: “If a wolf should devour him when we are there, a well-knit band, we shall certainly be treacherous.”
They got the treacherous part right.
(15) So, when they took him out they planned to throw him into an unused well. We revealed to Joseph: “You will tell them (one day) of this deed when they will not apprehend it.”
This instant message from God is Joseph’s second encounter with God (the first was the outer space dream sequence). This time, God basically tells him something bad is about to go down. If I were Joseph, I would have hightailed my prophetic ass out of there. Fuck this martyr shit — sayonara, assholes! I would at least have put up a fight. Something. Anything. But no. Joseph just goes along with it.
(16) At nightfall they came to their father weeping,
(17) And said: “We went racing with one another and left Joseph to guard our things when a wolf devoured him. But you will not believe us even though we tell the truth.”
Seriously? Seriously?? They just took his idea verbatim and used that as their big lie? The fuck? Why didn’t they change something? At least come up with a different animal or something? I mean, what are the fucking odds? How much more suspicious can you get?
(18) They showed him the shirt with false blood on it.
It’s like an episode of Three’s Company. Only with fake fratricide. But wait, there’s more:
(Their father) said: “It is not so; you have made up the story. Yet endurance is best. I seek the help of God alone for what you impute.”
Joseph’s dad doesn’t believe the boys. He thinks they’ve done something bad to poor, shirtless Joseph. So he does what any reasonable person would do. He goes to the police station and tells ‘em everything. Oh. Wait. My mistake. Joseph’s dad does not go to the authorities. He decided to just pray about it. In other words, he does absolutely fucking nothing. Father of the year, ladies and gentlemen. Man of God.
Maybe, just maybe, if he didn’t play favorites with Joseph, spread the attention around a little, his “other” kids wouldn’t feel the need to off their brother just to get a little quality time with dad. I’m just sayin’.
Meanwhile, in an unused well…
(19) A caravan happened to pass, and sent the water-carrier to bring water from the well. He let down his bucket (and pulled Joseph up with it). “What luck,” said the man; “here is a boy;” and they hid him as an item of merchandise; but what they did was known to God.
Pulling a bucket of water out of a well and finding a shirtless boy in it? What luck, indeed! No joke — I laughed so hard at that guy’s reaction that I damn near popped a blood vessel. You’d think he’d be like, “What the fuck? There’s a kid in my bucket!” Or at least a, “What were you doing down there?” But no. It’s all casual like, “Oh, sweet, I found a dollar!” “Check it out, fellas, I found a child in my bucket.”
“What luck! Here is a boy!”
I died. I absolutely died. And then they sold the boy into slavery:
(20) And they sold him as worthless for a few paltry dirham.
Not so funny anymore, is it, asshole? Bet you feel pretty bad about that one. …meh. I didn’t either. That’s the beauty of fiction!
That’s all I have for now. Coming up next: more on Joseph. The story gets better and better. Stay tuned, babies!