“Was Joseph a “court Jew” — a Jew rewarded with high office and special privileges in return for services rendered to the king? Several recent commentators have read his story in that light, and it’s easy to see why.
There are intriguing parallels between Joseph and Mordecai, the Bible’s “court Jew” par excellence. A few examples (for others, see Aaron Koller on Esther): both Joseph and Mordecai come to the king’s attention through recollections — one written, one oral — of episodes involving two disloyal court officials. Both are presented with rings and paraded through the streets as a sign of their high standing in court. Both wield their power as bureaucrats; Mordecai disseminates decrees and Joseph manages Egypt’s grain supply. Above all, both are outsiders who attain positions of influence from which they are able to help their own people.
Yet intriguing as these parallels are, they’re ultimately misleading. The differences between Joseph and Mordecai are far more significant than the similarities…”
Originally published in the Times of Israel. Republished with permission from the author.