By Andy Lund
A "This is Your Life" treatment of the life of Joseph.
Michael Aspirin (Show host)
Potiphar & wife
Joseph's wife, sons and brothers
Michael Aspirin: (Whispering) I'd like you to keep very quiet, if you would. In just a moment someone quite famous is going to come through those doors. He thinks he's coming to a regular service of Durrington Christian Fellowship, but in actual fact this morning is going to be yet another surprise for the man whose life has been full of surprises. Yes, this morning I shall be opening the famous big red book on the life of that most famous of men Joseph Jacobson- the hero of his country, the man who made good against all odds and......oh, shh...l can hear him coming now.
Joseph enters looking confused.
Ah...may I welcome you to Durrington Christian Fellowship. In fact I'm not usually on the door welcoming people because.... I am Michael Aspirin and THIS MORNING, Joseph Jacobson..THIS IS YOUR LIFE. (Music)
Joseph: Er ...what... oh no. You can't mean me. Oh no....
Michael Aspirin: Yes, today in front of this studio audience and millions of viewers at home we shall be reviewing your life from very humble beginnings to second in command to Pharoah in that great country of Egypt. Please sit down and get over your shock.
Tell, me, Joseph, do you remember this voice?
(Jacob off: What is this dream you've had, Joseph)
Michael Aspirin: Yes, that's right. Father of the nation of Israel. Husband to Rachel, son of Isaac, and your dad....Jacob!
Music (Jacob comes in and they embrace)
Michael Aspirin: Tell me about this dream.
Jacob: Well Joseph was always one for dreams, you know. But I had a lot of time for them. In fact I had a lot of time for Joseph. I have to admit he was my favourite son. You see he was born when I was getting on a bit. And you know how it is. Well you like to spoil them a bit don't you? In fact I made a really good robe for him Richly ornamented it was. Yes...quite something... it was (drifting off)
Joseph: Dad, tell them about the dream.
Jacob: (Snapping out of it) Oh yes. Well Joseph: had this particular dream about sheaves of corn in a field. I forget all the details. How did it go, Joseph:?
Michael Aspirin: Well perhaps the owner of this voice can help us.
(Reuben off: Throw him in the cistern but don't lay a hand on him.)
Joseph: Reuben. Little Reuben.
(Music. Reuben comes in and they embrace.)
Michael Aspirin: Yes it's your little brother Reuben. The one who was born when your mother died. Your special friend. Reuben can you tell us about the dream?
Reuben: Yes, I remember it so well. Joseph told me and the other 10 brothers that he dreamt we were binding sheaves of corn out in the field when suddenly his sheaf rose and stood upright while our sheaves gathered around his and bowed down to it.
Michael Aspirin: A bit puzzling.
Reuben: Oh that's not all. He also had a dream where the sun, moon and eleven stars were bowing down to him.
Michael Aspirin: What was it all supposed to mean?
Reuben: Well we took it to mean we were going to end up serving him and he would become more powerful than us.
Michael Aspirin: How did that go down with the rest of the family?
Reuben: Not at all well, I can tell you. We called him the dreamer and we didn't mean it in a nice way. In fact, I'm ashamed to say that we did far worse. We got so mad with him we even plotted to get rid of him altogether. I can't really believe it now, but we did.
Michael Aspirin: So what did you do?
Reuben: Well my brothers were all for killing him outright and throwing him down a deep hole - you know one of those ones they collect water in out in the desert there. But I couldn't bear the thought of that. I know he was a bit insensitive and big-headed and all that but he was my brother after all. So I suggested we just threw him down a pit. Actually I really wanted to rescue him later and take him back to dad.
Jacob: Yes you're good boys. You're both good boys.
Reuben: Well the boys threw him down the pit as planned - after they had taken that posh robe off him that dad gave him. But then some traders came past - you know those Ishmaelite ones. And Judah, one of my brothers, says "come on lads, let's sell Joseph". So we did.
Jacob: Yes and they convinced me that Joseph had been eaten by some ferocious wild animal. You see they dipped his robe in some goat's blood to make it look like he'd been attacked. I was devastated.
Reuben: Yes, well dad, that's all in the past now. Never mind.
Michael Aspirin: So Joseph, you were taken a long way away to the country of Egypt which we'll hear about after the break.
Michael Aspirin: So there you were, Joseph. Far from home in a foreign country. The land of Egypt. But you land on your feet. Do you remember this voice?
(Voice of Potiphar's wife off: Oh what big muscles you've got. Potiphar off: That's quite enough of that, dear. Wife: Sorry, Potiphar.)
Michael Aspirin: Yes - it's your one time employer and friend Potipahar.
Potiphar: Hello Joseph.
Joseph: Hello boss. (With caution, shaking hands at a distance) Mrs Potiphar.
Michael Aspirin: I understand, Potiphar, you bought Joseph from the Ishmaelite traders.
Potiphar: Yes that's right, Michael. As you may know I am one of Pharaoh's officials - his captain of the guard, as a matter of fact. I needed another servant in the house and Joseph was a big strong lad.
Wife: I'll say!
Potiphar: That's quite enough of that. I thought we agreed.
Potiphar: Well, I was pretty impressed. Joseph did everything well, so I gave him promotion more than once. In fact he ended up in charge of my whole household. I realise now that God's blessing was on everything he did.
Joseph: You were very generous to me, boss. I didn't go without.
Potiphar: Well I was very pleased with your work. In fact it was all perfect until....
Michael Aspirin: Yes?
Potiphar: Well I ended up putting Joseph in prison, I'm afraid.
Michael Aspirin: Oh what happened?
Potiphar: Well it was a very sad part of my life... of our lives. I don't really like to speak of it even now. You see my wife.. er..took rather a fancy to Joseph and tried to become friendly with him... if you know what I mean.
Mrs Potiphar: Well he wasn't having any of it, any way.
Potiphar: Yes..well..just as well. The whole thing didn't show you up in a very good light at all, my dear.
Mrs Potiphar: No, my dear.
Potiphar: Well, I'm afraid Michael that my wife told me a whole pack of lies about Joseph and convinced me that he has been making advances to her - if you know what I mean. None of it was true but I believed it at the time and I am afraid I had Joseph sent to jail. I mean, you're bound to believe your wife, aren't you. I know better now, don't I?
Potiphar's wife: Yes, my dear.
Michael Aspirin: But in fact, Joseph, it was in prison that you had some of your most interesting experiences, which we shall hear all about after the break.
(Interlude if required)
Michael Aspirin: So, there you are, Joseph. In prison. Apparently your whole world has gone wrong but it's here you make another friend. Do you remember this voice?
(Warder off: I reckon God is really with you, Joseph)
Michael Aspirin: Yes it's your old friend Rameses, the warder of the prison where you spent 2 whole years - Rameses come in!
Rameses the Warder: Hello again, Joseph. How good to see you. You're looking well.
Joseph: Rameses - great to see you.
Michael Aspirin: Please sit down. Now you were in charge of the prison where Joseph was sent?
Rameses the Warder: Yes, that's right, Michael. He was a great lad. I couldn't see that he could have caused the trouble that that Potiphar's wife said he had. He impressed me, I can tell you. In fact I was so impressed that I put him in charge of the prisoners.
Michael Aspirin: Well, that's a turn up for the books. Sent to prison and ending up in charge of the prisoners. And it's here Joseph that you also make two other friends, I believe?
Joseph: Oh yes...I remember...the cupbearer and the baker.
Rameses the Warder: Yes, Pharaoh was angry with two of his officials - his cupbearer and his baker - and he sent them to our prison. Well, they'd been with us some time and they both had dreams one night. In fact they were a bit down about it because they thought no-one could interpret them for them. But, of course, I introduced them to Joseph.
Joseph: Yes, I remember that the cupbearer had had a dream about a vine about grapes ripening and being squeezed into Pharaoh's cup. And the baker had dreamt about carrying bread in a basket on his head and the birds eating it.
Michael Aspirin: So you interpreted the dreams for them?
Joseph: Well, yes. I told them that interpretations belong to God.
Michael Aspirin: And were they pleased?
Joseph: The cupbearer was. I told him his dream meant that he would get his old Job back with Pharaoh.
Michael Aspirin: And the baker?
Joseph: Not so good, I'm afraid. I had to tell him that his dream meant that Pharaoh would hang him. And he did.
Michael Aspirin: And did you see the cupbearer again?
Joseph: Yes, but not for 2 years. After I gave him the interpretation of his dream I had hoped that he would put in a good word for me with Pharaoh when he got out. I told him that I had been forcibly taken away from my home and that I was in prison even though I was innocent. But when he got out he just forgot me.
Michael Aspirin: So you never saw him again?
Joseph: Yes, but much later.
Michael Aspirin: And we'll hear all about that after a short break.
Michael Aspirin: So, Joseph Jacobson, we left you there in that dreadful prison. How was it you came to get out?
Joseph: Well, my friend the cupbearer did remember me. It took a bit of time - 2 years - but an incident with Pharaoh jogged his memory.
Michael Aspirin: So do you remember this voice?
(Pharaoh off: I hear you can interpret a dream when you hear it, Joseph.)
Michael Aspirin: It's His highness, the mighty one, ruler of all Egypt, the Pharaoh.
(Music. Pharaoh enters and Joseph bows)
Pharaoh: No, Joseph. I need to bow to you, after all you've done for me.
Michael Aspirin: Welcome, Pharaoh, we are most honoured to have you on the programme.
Pharaoh: It's a pleasure to be here to honour my friend, Joseph.
Michael Aspirin: So you had heard about Joseph's ability to interpret dreams?
Pharaoh: Yes. Although he always said God interpreted and he just passed on the message, as it were.
Michael Aspirin: And you had had a particularly disturbing dream?
Pharaoh: Yes, I dreamt 2 dreams actually. I expect royalty always gets more. One was about 7 fat cows down by the river Nile who ate seven thin ones, and the other dream was about 7 scraggy ears of corn swallowing up 7 healthy ones. I thought I'd just eaten too much cheese for supper but my cupbearer said:' I know a man - a Hebrew - who can interpret dreams. In fact I was in prison with him.'
Michael Aspirin: So you sent for him?
Pharaoh: I'll say and pretty darn pronto, too. These dreams were beginning to trouble me.
Michael Aspirin: And what did he tell you? How did he react to coming before you, your majesty?
Pharaoh: That's the strange thing really. People tend to be just a teeny bit afraid of me generally. You know a bit of trembling, knee shaking, stuttering - that kind of thing. But Joseph was...well kind of quietly assured-confident.
Michael Aspirin: Self confident?
Pharaoh: Well more confident in his God, I'd say. You see what he had to tell me about the dreams was not exactly good news and people usually hesitate to tell rulers like me the whole truth in case we get a bit on the angry side. Can't understand it, really. Anyway he told me that my dreams meant we were in for a good time and then in for a bad time. 7 years of plenty of food followed by 7 years of famine. I wasn't too over the moon about that.
Michael Aspirin: Were you sure he'd got it right?
Pharaoh: He was. He said that was why I'd had 2 dreams because God had decided it and it would happen and soon.
Michael Aspirin: So what did you do?
Pharaoh: It was obvious really. I had to get cracking and get organised and start building up reserves of food for the first 7 years which would carry us over for the next 7.
Michael Aspirin: That must have taken some organising.
Pharaoh: I needed someone really special to do it. And I didn't take long deciding. There he was, Joseph. I reckoned there was no-one like him. I reckoned that the spirit of God was really in him. There was no contest. It had to be him.
Michael Aspirin: So there you were, Joseph, fresh out of prison and put in charge of Pharaoh's state of emergency plans. And it didn't stop there - you were put in charge of the palace, the whole land of Egypt, made second in command, given your own chariot, in fact no-one could move a foot without your say-so. Not bad for an ex-con. Well, Joseph, in just a moment we have one last surprise for you. Just after this break...
Michael Aspirin: To end, Joseph, let's bring on your whole family. First of all your lovely wife Asenath and your two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and of course your other brothers - come on in - Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. (Music and much embracing)
Joseph Jacobson-THIS IS YOUR LIFE (Hands over big red book)
© Andy Lund
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This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org