The Quran and Bible Account of Joseph
The story of Joseph is one of the most common tales in Islam and Christianity faiths. Although the theme is similar in these two religions, there are significant variances which this paper aims at identifying. Accordingly, an analysis of the accounts as narrated by these books can reveal any prejudices that may have led to the differences.
In the bible, the story is about a young man who was sold by his envious brothers to merchants who later traded him to a wealthy Egyptian governor (The Bible, Gen. 37:21). The Quran accounts are of a lad who was thrown by his jealous brothers into a pit (The Holy Quran, Quran 12: 7-10). Later on, a band of travelers, who were looking for water, found him and sold him to an Egyptian governor (Quran 12:1-21). In both the Quran’s and Bible’s accounts, the brothers lied to their father that Joseph had been eaten by a wolf (Quran 12: 16-18). Similarly, the two books say that the governor’s wife seduced him and when he refused to surrender to her demands, she lied that he had attempted to rape him (Quran 12:31; Gen. 39:20). As a result, he was sent to prison where his gift of interpreting dreams was established. This skill enabled him to become a governor when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, a position that he used to assist his family when there was famine in the region (Quran 12:54-88; Gen. 42:25-37). Overall, the two books’ accounts are similar.
The first contrast between the bible and Quran is of how Joseph ended up in Egypt. According to the Quran, his brothers threw him into a pit where he was found by a band of travelers who traded him to an Egyptian governor (Quran 12: 7-10). In the Bible, Joseph was sold by his brothers to merchants who were in traveling across the desert, who later sold him to the Egyptian governor (Gen. 37:21). The Bible fails to give an account of the witness who was present when the governor’s wife seduced Joseph. It also fails to give an account of the former’s confession of her actions before the king (Quran 12: 31, 51). Finally, the Quran says that Jacob had been blind after the departure of Joseph and that the latter’s cloak was able to restore his sight; however, this section is omitted in the Bible (Quran 12: 96; Genesis, 46:30). These contradictions show that it is likely that authors of these two scripts may have intentionally left some parts in their writings.
The omission of certain sections of Joseph’s story in the bible or their inclusion in the Quran indicates some bias among the authors. Given that these are religious accounts, it is difficult to ascertain the text with the correct information; however, they both have some prejudices that favor their congregations. Finally, an analysis of this story as presented by the two religions can enable individuals to understand the cultural and ideological beliefs of the two groups.
The Bible. King James Version, Barbour Publishing, 2016.
The Holy Quran. Translated by Allamah Nooruddin, Abdul M. Omar, and A.R. Omar, Noor Foundation International, Inc., 2013.