27 December 2014

Possibly Gay Bible Stories: There's something about Joseph

(From Chapter 4 of Strange Flesh: The Bible and Homosexuality by Steve Wells)
Joseph was Jacob’s favorite child whom he loved more than all his other children, and he made no attempt to hide it from his other sons. He even made a special “coat of many colors” just for his favorite son. Because of this special treatment, Joseph was hated by his brothers.
Now Israel [AKA Jacob] loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. Genesis 37:3-4

Joseph’s coat of many colors

Jacob famously gave Joseph a “coat of many colors,” which, according to the argument that I will be calling Gay Joseph Theory (GJT),1 was actually a dress or robe with long sleeves, like that of David’s daughter, Tamar -- a dress that kings made for their virgin daughters.
And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled ... And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours. 2 Samuel 13:18-19
According to the GJT, Jacob, dressed his favorite son in fancy girls’ clothes,2 in opposition to the law in Deuteronomy 22:5, which says: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” If so, Joseph was a transvestite and an abomination to God.

Joseph’s Dreams

Be that as it may, one thing was certain: Joseph was annoying. He kept telling his brothers about his dreams where they all worshipped him.

And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. Genesis 37:5-9

The plot against Joseph

So Joseph’s older brothers decided to get rid of him.

They got their chance one day when Joseph came to meet them while they were taking care of the flocks.3

Joseph went after his brethren.... And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. Genesis 37:17-20
But before they killed him, one of the brothers, Reuben, talked the others out of it. He suggested that they just throw Joseph in a pit and leave him there. (Reuben planned on coming back and rescuing him later. See the NIV translation)
Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again. 37:22

“Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. 37:22 (NIV)

So the brothers stripped Joseph of his girlish robe and threw his highness into a pit.
When Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit. 37:23-24
A little later, while they were eating lunch, a caravan of Ishmaelites passed by on their way to Egypt.
And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. 37:25
Judah suggested that they sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites, and his brothers said, “OK.”
And Judah said unto his brethren ... let us sell him to the Ishmeelites.... And his brethren were content. 37:26-27
Then the story gets confusing. Some Midianites pass by and remove Joseph from the pit and sell him to the Ishmaelites.
Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt. 37:28

Reuben went to the pit and saw that Joseph was gone, so “he rent his clothes.” (Tore his clothes.)

And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. 37:29
The other brothers weren’t upset, though. They just took Joseph's coat, killed a goat, dipped the coat in the blood, brought the bloody coat back to Jacob, and said, “Hey, look what we found. It looks like Joseph’s gay coat, doesn’t it?”
His brethren … took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no. 37:30-32
Jacob recognized the coat and assumed that an animal ate Joseph. So he rent his clothes and put sackcloth on his loins. (This is the first stage of biblical grief. The next is putting ashes on your head and falling on your face.)
And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins. 37:33-34
Then the Midianites sold Joseph to the captain of Pharaoh’s guard, Potiphar.
The Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard. 37:36
(I know, the Midianites sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites in 37:28, but I guess the Ishmaelites sold him back again to the Midianites who then sold him to Potiphar.)

But then, just when you thought you had the whole Midianite/Ishmaelite thing straightened out, there’s this verse to confuse you again.

And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. 39:1
So I guess the Midianites sold Joseph one more time to the Ishmaelites.

(The GJT says that one of the main reasons that Joseph was hated by his brothers was that he was gay.4 The Midianites/Ishmaelites took a liking to Joseph because they too were gay, and were, therefore, attracted to Joseph.5)

Joseph in Egypt

Be that as it may, Potiphar found Joseph attractive too.

Joseph found grace in his [Potiphar’s] sight … He left all that he had in Joseph's hand ... And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. 39:4-6
There was more to it than that, though, according to the Gay Joseph Theory:
[W]e are returned to Joseph’s initial career as one who ‘found favor’ in the eyes of Potiphar (39:1-6). … While we may suppose that finding favor in the sight of someone is but a metaphor, it also … is suggestive of erotic attraction.6
Potiphar’s wife also thought Joseph was quite attractive.
His master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. Genesis 39:7
But Joseph didn’t like sex with women7 (or he didn’t find Potiphar’s wife attractive, or he didn’t want to commit adultery, or....), so he ran away from her.
And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled. Genesis 39:12

Girolamo Forabosco (1605-1679) Story of Joseph & Potiphar's Wife

Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of trying to rape her, so he was thrown into prison. But the jailer took a liking to him. (GJT: He was gay, too.)8

But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Genesis 39:21
Later, when Joseph was called to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, he shaved and dressed up a bit. (Which according to the GJT is something only gay men like to do.)9
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh. Genesis 41:14
And Joseph became Pharaoh’s favorite guy.
Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck. Genesis 41:42

Abraham Bloemaert, Joseph and his brothers in Egypt, ca. 1600

Pharaoh gave Joseph a wife who gave him two sons. According to Jennings, he did this to hide his continuing homosexual affair with Joseph.

The attempted reheterosexualization of Joseph occurs again in relation to Pharaoh, who gives Joseph a wife.10
But later, Joseph’s father (Jacob/Israel) took his children from him, as though he was their father, not Joseph. This made Joseph (according to the GJT) the surrogate mother and wife to his own father.
Now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. Genesis 48:5
Here’s a Jennings quote to clarify that for you:
Jacob functions as the father in the place of Joseph. Quite dramatically, the sons born to Joseph become instead sons born to Jacob. Insofar as Joseph has any role here it is that of ‘wife’ of Jacob and ‘mother’ of the two sons.11

  1. For details on the Gay Joseph Theory (GJT) see Theodore W.Jennings, Jr., Jacob's Wound, pp. 177-196.

  2. “We seem to be left with the rather astonishing bit of news that Joseph is wearing (‘classy’) girls’ clothes.” Ibid., p. 181.

  3. Jacob sent Joseph to check up on his brothers who were tending flocks in Shechem, which was about fifty miles north of Hebron. When Joseph arrived in Shechem, he found out that his brothers weren't there, but were another thirteen miles away in Dothan. The entire trip must have taken poor Joseph a week or so.

  4. “Jacob/Israel has produced the queer Joseph, transvested him…. And the progeny of Israel have engaged in the first instance of queer bashing.” Ibid., p. 182.

  5. “But what is remarkable about Joseph’s subsequent career is that he survives by being taken under the wing of a succession of more powerful males. … Thus it seems that at every phase of his career, Joseph is carried upon a wave of masculine desire.” Ibid., pp. 183-4.

  6. Ibid., 183.

  7. “Joseph has no apparent desire for the woman [Potiphar’s wife] who throws herself at him.” Ibid., p. 188.

  8. “[H]e seems to do well on account of his benefactor, the chief jailer. In this, Joseph’s experience seems not too unlike that of men in prison even today; survival depends upon a powerful male benefactor, who may exchange protection for sexual favors.” Ibid., p. 184.

  9. “When Pharaoh summons Joseph to himself to undertake the interpretation of a dream, he takes the precaution of presenting his notorious beauty to best advantage: ‘When he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh.’ (41:14). … Joseph’s being made once again the favorite of a more powerful male.” Ibid., p. 184.

  10. Ibid., p. 189.

  11. Ibid., p. 189.


Ray said...

From what you have written, the author of the book appears to be massively reaching to fill a page count. As you showed, each bit of their "evidence" of homosexuality has an easily innocent reason - the whole shaving and dressing up bit is likely to be a mark of respect; in the same way that I would have a shower and shave and dress up in a nice suit to meet the Queen. Unless that's evidence that I like a more mature woman of course.

Philip Wells said...

The idea of the book is to look at all of the arguments that people use, and all of the bits of the Bible that they use to prop up their argument.

Joseph almost certainly wasn't gay, but since people claim it, the claim has to be looked at. And you are right, there isn't much to it. But we still had to include all this stuff in the book, because it's part of the discussion.