Number 1.1       
October 2006      


The Story of Joseph: A Partial Paradigm of Conflict Resolution

by Dennis Beck-Berman


Throughout the book of Genesis we read of human conflict. Indeed, Genesis begins with several stories of fratricidal behavior: Cain kills Abel, Esau threatens Jacob, and Joseph is nearly killed by his brothers. Scripture seems to suggest that since we are all brothers, all murder is fratricide. But we also read tales of reconciliation. Genesis ends with Joseph's firstborn Manasseh evincing not the slightest jealousy toward his younger brother Ephraim, despite their grandfather's blatant favoritism.[1] The Joseph saga is a paradigmatic example. Scriptural Reasoning (SR) tries to read Scripture as a guide for right living. This essay will explore some lessons that the Joseph saga may teach us today about resolving conflict and living together in harmony.

Assuming that the Joseph saga (Gen. 37-50) is a polished, coherent narrative, we must reasonably interpret the tale so that all the details present in the story—as well as those inexplicably absent—merge into a meaningful tale. We should carefully analyze the plot (Why do certain things happen—or not happen—which are unexpected?) and the dialogue (Why do characters express themselves in certain ways?).

There are several questions that arise from the plot: (1) Why does he conceal his identity upon meeting his brothers? (2) Why does he accuse them of being spies? (3) Why doesn't Joseph contact his family after rising to prominence? (4) What are the dynamics of divine providence? (5) Why do the brothers never seek Joseph's forgiveness? (6) Why does Joseph never ask forgiveness from his brothers? There are lines of exegesis dealing with these questions, found in the traditional Jewish commentators[2] as the result of a close reading of the text, which reveal Scripture's internal logic in a way that makes sense of all the details in the story. After exploring these questions I will attempt to extrapolate a limited scriptural paradigm of conflict resolution.

Question 1: Why does Joseph conceal his identity upon meeting his brothers?

Many Jewish commentators use Maimonides's definition of true repentance as a hermeneutic to answer the first question.

What constitutes complete repentance? When one is confronted by the identical situation wherein he previously sinned, and it lies within his power to commit the sin again, yet he nevertheless does not succumb because he wishes to repent—not because he is too fearful or weak [to repeat the sin]. How so? If he had relations with a woman forbidden to him and he is subsequently alone with her, still in the throes of his passion for her, and his virility is unabated, and [they are] in the same place where they previously sinned; if he abstains and does not sin, this is a true penitent. (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance, 2:1)

It seems to me that this approach genuinely emerges from a close reading of the text.[3] Scripture implies that Joseph put his brothers to the test. He arranged to bring his younger brother into a similar situation. Benjamin was just like him, a son of Rachel, the youngest, and his father's favorite (Gen. 44:20). This time the brothers would be faced with a valid excuse to abandon their little stepbrother. They could not fight the entire Egyptian empire to save Benjamin from punishment for theft. But on this occasion their behavior demonstrated that the brothers were true penitents. Indeed, Judah, whose moral growth is highlighted in the embedded story of Tamar (Gen. 38:24-26), rejects Joseph's just offer to punish the guilty one and set the others free, and instead insists that he, the innocent one, remain as a slave, while Benjamin and the other brothers are set free, since he is responsible for Benjamin and fears that their beloved father might die from grief (Gen. 44:30-34). Joseph is simply overwhelmed (Gen. 45:1).

Question 2: Why does Joseph accuse them of being spies?

Jewish commentators address the second question by explaining that Joseph concealed his true identity and used various stratagems (accusing them of spying, secretly returning their money) to rouse them to remorse and to punish them "measure for measure," albeit only to a limited degree.[4] After being cast into the Egyptian prison, like Joseph, not knowing what would be their fate at the hands of strangers, the remorseful brothers remember their lack of compassion towards Joseph and realize that this unexpected turn of events is divine retribution.[5]

They said to one another, "Alas, we are being punished on account of our brother, because we looked on at his anguish, yet paid no heed as he pleaded with us. That is why this distress has come upon us." (Gen. 42:21)

The flashback in the narrative at this juncture represents the awakening of the brothers' conscience. Joseph's pleas well up not from the pit, but from the depths of their hearts. Its literary purpose is to reveal the feelings of remorse arising in the consciousness of the brothers. It occurs not in the prison, but afterwards, when they were faced once again with the prospect of returning home to their father with one brother missing.

Question 3: Why doesn't Joseph contact his family after rising to prominence?

Jewish commentators convincingly demonstrate that Joseph does not contact his family after liberation from slavery because he is paralyzed by the prospect of his brothers' shame.[6] Indeed, this adds another dimension to Joseph's reluctance to reveal himself to his brothers right away; the ensuing guilt and shame on his family would tear them apart.[7]   But once his brothers appear before him, Joseph engages in a therapeutic project designed to allow his family to endure his 'resurrection' without shame. Joseph wants to validate experimentally the truth of the brothers' words with proof. Benjamin is to provide physical evidence of their authenticity.[8]   Joseph hopes to provide himself, his brothers, and his father with empirical evidence that his brothers are truly changed men.

Much of his project succeeds, though it may have ended prematurely (see below). When Joseph showed blatant favoritism toward Benjamin at dinner, the brothers kept drinking merrily, without a hint of jealousy (Gen. 43:33 ff.).   Joseph's plan demonstrated that the brothers would not abandon Benjamin, even at the risk of their own imprisonment (Gen. 44:13-16). Moreover, the brothers had grown spiritually and recognized the workings of divine justice in their lives (Gen. 42:21, 28; 44:16).

By the time Joseph revealed himself, they had already come to realize that they were changed men who truly regretted their younger misdeeds. By articulating a transformed personal narrative of his own life based on Providence, Joseph hopes to provide his brothers with a transformed group narrative to tell their father and defuse the shame and "ground the electric furies of their own humiliation."[9]

Question 4: What are the dynamics of divine providence?

Scripture says little about the dynamics of divine providence in our story. Apparently, the author of the Joseph saga assumed that his ancient Israelite readers were quite familiar with such beliefs. The brothers allude to the workings of divine justice (see n. 5). Providence seems to be a spiritual law of nature, similar to karma, wherein good is rewarded and evil punished in a perfect system of divine justice.[10] Joseph insists that the lives of people and nations are under the control of a caring God.[11]  

Indeed, the theme of God's guiding hand underlies the entire story. When Joseph is lost he meets someone who knows exactly where his brothers are (Gen. 37:15). The trading caravans happen to be going down to Egypt (Gen. 37:25, 28). The Lord is with Joseph in Potiphar's house (Gen. 39:2) and in prison (Gen. 39:21 f.). God's name comes readily to Joseph's lips at critical moments: when he confronts Potiphar's wife (Gen. 39:9); when he interprets dreams (Gen. 40:8; 41:16 ff.); and when he tests his brothers (Gen. 42:18). Joseph gives the ultimate interpretation of events at the dramatic conclusion: "God has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival on earth, and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance. So, it was not you who sent me here, but God" (Gen. 45:7-8). [12]

When Joseph says, "although you intended me harm, God intended it for good" (Gen. 50:20), he is not simply arguing that God can transform wicked actions to bring about some gracious end. He is saying more than that. He is arguing that although you sold me, from the beginning it was really God who sent me here (Gen. 45:5, 8). The tension remains as to how the brothers' wickedness and God's intentions work together. Although harmonization of these ideas may be humanly impossible (see below), the divine intention is what should be the focus. Only that can enable reconciliation.

Behind this scriptural tension is a relational understanding of truth. Truth is not objective. Joseph is not denying the truth of his brothers' previous family narrative; they did indeed behave sinfully toward him and him toward them. But more than one truth is possible. He proposes to them an additional truth, one that he suggests is better suited at this time, under different circumstances, in light of the perspective of divine Providence—a truth with the transformative power to heal the past and change the future.

Joseph descends into Egypt as a powerless slave and eventually ascends to freedom and power. The Joseph saga starts a chain of events that leads to the Israelite captivity in Egypt and their eventual freedom and empowerment at Mount Sinai. This paradigm of oppression and redemption, which is the central motif of biblical theology, flows naturally from the Israelite idea of divine providence. It a karmic universal law of gravitational reversal: What goes down, must come up. Darkness will always give way to light. God will always redeem the oppressed.

Question 5: Why do the brothers never seek Joseph's forgiveness?

It is shocking that Scripture makes no mention of the brothers ever seeking Joseph's forgiveness. In fact, they maintained an unbroken silence.[13] Yet during the seventeen years that passed since the fateful day of reconciliation, the nagging voice of conscience was not quieted. When Jacob's death removed the commanding presence of the patriarch, family cohesion collapsed and the brothers feared Joseph's revenge for the terrible crime they committed against him.[14] Joseph was not entirely successful in achieving a genuine reconciliation with his brothers. It seems that he may have unintentionally ended his project prematurely, because "he could no longer control himself" (Gen. 45:1).

Scripture reports that when the brothers returned home to Jacob, "they recounted all that Joseph had said to them" (Gen. 45:27). Apparently they revealed to him all (or most) of the family's sordid secret. Jacob, who was suspicious all along (Gen. 42:4), would surely demand to know what happened. This is implicit from their action after Jacob's death:

So they sent this message to Joseph, "Before his death your father left this instruction: So shall you say to Joseph, 'Forgive, I urge you, the offense and guilt of your brothers who treated you so harshly.' Therefore, please forgive the offense of the servants of the God of your father." And Joseph was in tears as they spoke to him. (Gen. 50:16-17)

Even when they finally beg forgiveness from Joseph, they fear to do so directly; they put the request into the mouth of their deceased father. When they approached Joseph, they "flung themselves before him, and said, 'We are prepared to be your slaves'" (Gen. 42:4). They have never forgotten Joseph's portentous dreams, their hatred at the notion of Joseph ruling over them, and the terrible results (Gen. 37:5-11). They knew Joseph’s divinely inspired power to interpret dreams, and they also knew that resistance or flight would be futile.   While Scripture never explains their silence, it seems to imply that they feared approaching Joseph to beg forgiveness lest he insist on fulfilling his childhood dream and make them his slaves.

When Joseph first met his brothers, he concealed his identity and accused them of being spies. Scripture tells us that at that time "he recalled the dreams that he had dreamed about them" (Gen. 42:9). Note that he did not bring to mind all the years of suffering, privation, and loneliness. He recalled his dreams. As a child, Joseph was not an expert dream interpreter. He did not offer an interpretation then; his family proffered their interpretation. At that moment, Joseph suddenly realized the meaning of his childhood dreams. The sheaves in the field bowing down to him (Gen. 37:7 ff.), like the sheaves in Pharaoh's dream (Gen. 41:22 ff.), foretold how his family would depend upon Joseph to provide food for their survival. Indeed, this is what he tried to explain to them:

Now, do not be distressed or reproach yourselves because you sold me hither; it was to save life that God sent me ahead of you. It is now two years that there has been famine in the land, and there are still five years to come in which there shall be no yield from tilling. God has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival on earth, and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance. (Gen. 45:5-7)

But the brothers were in a state of shock (Gen. 45:3) and did not understand the full import of Joseph's words. Years later, they were still unable to absorb the idea that Joseph had no intention of making them his slaves. Unfortunately, Joseph's earlier stratagems of imprisoning them and threatening them with slavery had the effect of making them afraid and distrustful. When their fears rise again to the surface he reiterates his original point:

Besides, although you intended me harm, God intended it for good, so as to bring about the present result — the survival of many people. And so, fear not. I will sustain you and your children.” Thus he reassured them, speaking kindly to them. (Gen. 50:20-21)

Once again, Joseph stresses his concrete actions in sustaining them and their families. They may distrust his words, but by his actions he has demonstrated his true intentions.

Jacob, too, keeps silent throughout the story. After Jacob learned the truth from his sons, they all departed for Egypt. At Beer-sheba, "God called to Israel in a vision by night:... 'I am God, the God of your father. Fear not to go down to Egypt, for I will make you there into a great nation'" (Gen. 46:2-3). Surely Jacob's fear was the prophecy to Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved and oppressed in a foreign land (Gen. 15:13). Jacob realized that this journey was part of the divine plan, and that the future enslavement of his children was in some measure punishment for their treatment of Joseph. No wonder he bore this knowledge in silence.

Question 6: Why does Joseph never ask forgiveness from his brothers?

The Joseph saga, it seems, is full of unexpected silences. Scripture never explicitly describes Joseph asking forgiveness from his brothers for his own misbehavior.[15] But it may hint at this when it states: "So there was no one else about when Joseph made himself known to his brothers" (Gen. 45:1). The Hebrew hitvada', 'he made himself known,' is homonymous with hitvadah, 'he confessed (his sin).' Scripture stresses that this critical reunion occurs in privacy. It is understandable that confession and asking forgiveness are private matters, shared only between the aggrieved parties. Could this be the reason for Scripture's silence on these matters? Why is the reference veiled, then? Why not simply state that "Joseph confessed to his brothers" without revealing the dialogue? Scripture will not reveal her secret here.

It is possible that there is a hint of Joseph asking forgiveness when he reveals himself to his brothers. He is so overcome with emotion, at first all he can say is, "I am Joseph!" (Gen. 45:3). The reader is left to imagine the thoughts running through their minds at this moment: Our brother did not die, nor is he a slave; he is the viceroy of Egypt and we have bowed before him, just as Joseph predicted in his childhood dreams; his interrogation and accusations, the money mysteriously returned to our sacks, his demand for Benjamin—all these bizarre events have been part of a secret scheme; but why this scheming when he easily could have punished us; he seems flustered, but excited rather than angry; he has been testing us, and we have demonstrated that we are changed men; but what will we now say to our father?

I imagine a pause as the reality sinks in and the brothers realize: Joseph is still alive! Then Joseph continues, "My father is still alive!"[16] My father, who has mourned me all these years, is still alive! My scheme has succeeded. You can now face my father without shame and bring him the joyful news.[17] "His brothers could not respond to him because they were dumbfounded before him"(ibid.). It was all too overwhelming. Sensing their nervousness and confusion, he tried to reassure them that his goal is reconciliation, not revenge; he wants the family rupture healed, he yearns to be close to them. "Joseph said to his brothers, 'Come closer to me,' so they came near. Then he said, 'I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt'" (Gen. 45:4). I am still your brother; I still love you, even though you sold me into slavery. But then Joseph proceeds to argue that it was all God's doing, not theirs (Gen. 45:5, 8). Scripture seems to suggest that Joseph was telling his brothers, between the lines:   Just as I am still your brother, and have shown by my actions that I have forgiven you in my heart for selling me into Egyptian slavery, so you too, my brothers, should forgive me for the wrongs I did which provoked your misdeed.

A scriptural paradigm of conflict resolution

The title, "A Partial Paradigm of Conflict Resolution," reflects the structural limitations of the Joseph saga in addressing conflict resolution. In our story, the brothers do not actually murder Joseph. Since only a victim can grant forgiveness, we do not know what would/should have happened in such circumstances. What would/should have happened if the brothers had not changed? What if they still envied Benjamin? What if they abandoned him? What if, instead of dumbfounded silence, they greeted Joseph's self-revelation with rage and violence? Scripture is silent. Joseph's therapeutic program is unexpectedly aborted. What else would/should he have done to effect complete reconciliation? Again Scripture is silent. Hence, we can only extrapolate a partial paradigm.

There are several elements of conflict resolution that emerge from Scripture:[18] (1) recognition of one's wrong actions as sins as an act of intelligence and moral conscience (Gen. 41:21-22, 44:16); (2) remorse, feeling regret at failure to maintain one's moral standards (ibid.); and (3) desisting from sin, ceasing the patterns of sinful action to which one was addicted (Gen. 43:34 [jealousy], 44:13-16 [abandonment]). There is a hint that Joseph, too, fulfilled the first element, and he apparently fulfilled the other two elements of reconciliation toward his brothers.[19]

Certainly, in any conflict, both parties must admit wrong for their own misdeeds, and must struggle to feel remorse for the harm they caused, without rationalizations or justifications. Each party should empathize with the victimization of the other, a lesson Joseph taught his brothers in prison (Gen. 42:21). Yet each party should show compassion towards the other (ibid.), as they expect it for themselves. Acceptance of mutual responsibility does not, however, mean admission of equal guilt. Joseph's crimes were far less severe than those of his brothers.

Probably the most powerful element in conflict resolution, however, is the belief in divine providence, though this exists only in communities of faith which share this Scriptural tradition. The Joseph saga shows that it is possible to frame past evil within a paradigm of a divine plan. The belief in Providence allows Joseph and his family to transform the way in which they deal with suffering and those who caused it: "Besides, although you intended me harm, God intended it for good" (Gen. 50:20). Providence can provide suffering with cosmic meaning; it is part of a perfect divine plan for our lives. Despite their evil intentions, those who caused our suffering were agents of God's will. Providence not only has the power to provide inspiration and hope to those who suffer, it actually can redeem suffering.

Once Joseph realized the part his brothers played in God's plan, he forgave them. It is said that not to forgive imprisons one in the past and yields control to another, whereas forgiveness frees the forgiver and allows one to change the circumstances of one's life. This was certainly true for Joseph, who was not consumed by anger and desire for vengeance, unlike Edmund Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo. 'Forgive'—from Old English 'give up (anger)'—can mean: (1) to excuse someone for an offense; (2) to renounce anger or resentment against someone for an offense; (3) to absolve someone from punishment or penalty entailed by an offense. Joseph apparently forgave his brothers in all three senses.

From the viewpoint of divine providence, some (all?) of our mistakes are not simply crimes awaiting punishment. They are lessons to be learned. God prefers repentance and human moral and spiritual growth to punishment. If we change our selves, we can change our future and transform how we view the past. But are we then simply actors on a divine stage, unaware of the roles we are playing? This is an ancient paradox: "All is foreseen (by God), but freedom of choice is given."[20]


Clearly, there are limits to framing human events in a providential paradigm. Providence should only be invoked, as it is in the Joseph saga, by the victim, and only by one for whom it is spiritually meaningful. Scripture does not imply that a stranger can invoke Providence to explain the suffering of others by human evil or natural disaster, and Jews would not interpret the Holocaust as a refining suffering within a providential plan (though a few ultra-Orthodox thinkers have done so). Furthermore, Providence can only be invoked in the communities of faith that share this Scriptural tradition. Hence, it may be useful for Jews, Christians, and Muslims to move forward in dialogue and reconciliation.

Nearly all conflicts are ultimately rooted in perceptions of unjust wrongs and conflicting narratives. The conflict is maintained by transforming the perpetrator into an inhuman, evil other, then engaging in retributive actions—often deemed defensive—that lead to an unending cycle of violence. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a typical example.

The scriptural elements of conflict resolution can provide valuable and effective tools in addressing such conflicts. Both parties must acknowledge past wrongs and struggle to feel remorse for the suffering they caused, without any rationalizations or justifications. Acceptance of mutual responsibility does not, however, mean admission of equal guilt. Each party should empathize with the victimization of the other and show compassion towards the other, as they expect it for themselves. Both parties must demonstrate their sincerity and changed attitudes by concrete actions, including a cessation of violence and provocations.

But perhaps most importantly, both sides must struggle to articulate transformed national historical narratives that reframe their conflict.[21]   This would enable each side to appreciate the justice on the other's side, to see the humanity of the other, to respect the reasonable goals and deep desires of the other, and allow for the possibility of reconciliation and peace. Both sides must seek reconciliation as brothers, children of Adam and Abraham, rather than obsess over justice or vengeance for their perceived unjust suffering.

In the case of the Arab-Israeli conflict, both sides should consider the possibility that Scripture assigns the Land of Israel to both peoples. Conflicting scriptural promises may necessitate a creative compromise in understanding the divine plan that allows them to share the Promised Land. An example of this approach is Art Waskow's midrash in which the Messiah appears and declares that instead of destroying the Golden Dome Mosque to make way for the Third Jewish Temple, God wishes the mosque to become a shared Temple.[22]

Genesis begins with a story of fratricide and ends with a story of brotherly love and reconciliation. The Bible is an ongoing source of divine guidance for human life. I have tried to show in this paper how the Joseph saga provides Scriptural Reasoners with a partial yet valuable and effective paradigm for conflict resolution.


[1] JPS Hebrew-English TANAKH (Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication Society, 2003) Gen. 48:13-20. Subsequent biblical references are taken from this text, with some alterations in translation made by me.

[2]For traditional Jewish commentators, I rely primarily on Nehama Leibowitz, Studies in Genesis, transl. Aryeh Newman, 4th rev. ed. (Jerusalem, 1981) and Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, The Beginnings of Desire: Reflections on Genesis (New York, 1995); for early Jewish sources, on James L. Kugel, The Bible As It Was (Cambridge, 1997).

[3] See Leibowitz, Studies in Genesis, 457-461; Kugel, The Bible As It Was, 265-269.

[4] See Leibowitz, Studies in Genesis, 462-68; Kugel, ibid.

[5]Gen. 42:28, "And he said to his brothers, "My money has been returned! It is here in my bag!" Their hearts sank; and, trembling, they turned to one another, saying, "What is this? God has done (it) to us!" Gen. 44:16,Judah replied, "What can we say to my lord? How can we plead, how can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered the crime of your servants. Here we are, then, slaves of my lord, the rest of us as much as he in whose possession the goblet was found." Simon, seemingly a major instigator for what happened to Joseph, suffers for several months in prison (Gen. 42:24, 48:5, 49:5 ff.).

[6] Zornberg, The Beginnings of Desire, 333-337.

[7] Cf. Gen. 45:24, As he sent his brothers off on their way, he told them, "Do not be quarrelsome on the way."

[8]Gen. 42:15-16, By this you shall be put to the test... that your words may be put to the test whether there is truth in you..." Gen. 42:20, that your words may be verified and that you may not die.

[9] Zornberg, The Beginnings of Desire, 335.

[10] It is unclear whether the full measure of reward and punishment occurs in this life, an afterlife, subsequent reincarnations, or to one's descendents.

[11]Gen. 45:5, Now, do not be distressed or reproach yourselves because you sold me hither; it was to save life that God sent me ahead of you. Gen. 45:7-9, God has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival on earth, and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance. So, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household, and ruler over the whole land of Egypt. Now, hurry back to my father and say to him: Thus says your son Joseph, "God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me without delay." Gen. 50:19-20, But Joseph said to them, "Have no fear! Am I a substitute for God? Besides, although you intended me harm, God intended it for good, so as to bring about the present result—the survival of many people."

[12] Perhaps the Psalmist also understood the Joseph story in these terms. See Psalms 105:17-23: "He sent ahead of them a man, Joseph, sold into slavery. His feet were subjected to fetters; an iron collar was put on his neck. Until his prediction came true, the decree of the Lord purged him. The king sent to have him freed ... empowered him over all his possessions, to discipline his princes at will, to teach his elders wisdom." The cryptic expression, the decree of the Lord refined/purged him, seems to imply that Joseph accepted his imprisonment in Egypt as the will of God, rather than the result of the evil scheming of Potiphar's wife or the misdeeds of his brothers. The Psalmist also seems to allude to Joseph's therapeutic project: to discipline/imprison his [Joseph's] princes [brothers] at will, to teach his elders [older brothers] wisdom.

[13]See Gen. 45; aside from Gen. 45:15, He kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; only then were his brothers able to talk to him.

[14] Gen. 50:15. Cf. Gen. 27:41, Now Esau harbored a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing which his father had given him, and Esau said to himself, "Let but the mourning period of my father come, and I will kill my brother Jacob."

[15]See Gen. 37 on Joseph's bad reports about his brothers, arrogantly publicizing his dreams, flaunting his status as father's favorite.

[16] While usually translated, "Is my father still alive?", it appears here to be an emphatic declaration rather than a question. Joseph has already asked his brothers, "Is your father still alive?" (Gen. 43:7, 27) and Judah has just pleaded that unless Benjamin is released, their father would die (Gen. 44:36-44). What is the point of asking it again? For the rhetorical use of the interrogative to express the conviction that a statement is true, see Gesenius-Kautzsch-Cowley, ¶150 e; cf. Ruth 1:11; Deut. 11:30.

[17] Cf. Gen. 45:26, They told him, “Joseph is still alive and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned. Gen. 45:28, Then Israel said, "My son Joseph is still alive!"

[18]These are similar to the elements of repentance (teshuvah) —"return" to one's inner self—in the rabbinic tradition. See David R. Blumenthal, Repentance and Forgiveness, Crosscurrents (Spring, 1998) [].

[19] If we assume that behind his tears lay some remorse (Gen. 42:24, 43:30, 45:14-15). Once he reveals himself, he does not act arrogantly or insensitively toward his brothers as he did in his youth.

[20] Mishnah, Avot 3:16.

[21] Dr. Abdul Abad, a Palestinian spokesman for Islamic religious councils, articulated a first step toward such a reframing: "If we see the Holy Land as a wife, we will each say 'she is my wife', and we will continue to fight one another for the right to claim her. My friends, let us see the Holy Land not as a wife to claim, but as our mother—so that we may live in peace as brothers."

[22] Arthur Ocean Waskow and Phyllis Ocean Berman, When Messiah Builds a Temple, http://www.

© 2006, Society for Scriptural Reasoning

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