My brother-by-choice Reuven wrote a few notes about tomorrow’s Torah portion, Miketz, on the pain Joseph feels at being forced to hide himself and not disclose his true identity—a pain that many of us trans and queer people know all too well.
Making Yourself Strange And Making Yourself Know
Joseph has become the vizier of Egypt, commanding of one of the most powerful countries in the ancient world. As the vizier, Pharaoh has put him control of the grain supply during the famine he foretold. Joseph is at the height of his power and the safety of his privilege. … And then his brothers show up.
“And Joseph saw his brothers and he knew them, but he made himself strange to them….And Joseph knew his brothers, but they did not know him.” Genesis 42:7-8
… וַיַּרְא יוֹסֵף אֶת-אֶחָיו, וַיַּכִּרֵם; וַיִּתְנַכֵּר אֲלֵיהֶם
.וַיַּכֵּר יוֹסֵף, אֶת-אֶחָיו; וְהֵם לֹא הִכִּרֻהוּ
The verb נָכַר is used four times in these two verses (and behold, I have kindly highlighted them for you) and is usually translated as ‘know’ or ‘recognize.’ Three of those uses are in the imperfect hiphil. (Don’t worry, you have to know…
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