Pharaoh’s Butler Resentful Of Upstart Hebrew Ex-Slave Dream Expert
Memphis, Egypt (AP) – Semillontep, the veteran butler of Pharaoh’s palace, nurses a grudge against viceroy Tzafenat Pa’aneakh, who, he claims, has failed to show sufficient appreciation for the butler’s efforts to free him from the royal prison.
When Pharaoh had a disturbing set of dreams, Semillontep recalled that two years earlier, a Hebrew slave was able to correctly interpret the mysterious dreams that the butler and chief baker had while they were in prison. He humbly suggested to the king that the Hebrew, known then as Joseph, might be able to perform a similar feat for His Highness where the court soothsayers had failed. Accordingly, Pharaoh summoned Joseph from jail, and indeed, the Hebrew gave a convincing, accurate explanation of the royal dreams, along with an astute set of administrative instructions to prepare for the epic events that the dreams portended. Semillontep anticipated a proper recognition for this act of generosity, which was not forthcoming.
As a result of his thankless efforts, says Semillontep, Pharaoh appointed the thirty-year-old Joseph as viceroy to administer the very system he had envisioned, and renamed him Tzafenat Pa’aneakh, “the decoder of the mysterious.” The butler understood that Pharaoh himself would not give more than a token expression of gratitude for his referral to Joseph, as he was obligated to serve his master loyally in any case. Moreover, Semillontep owed his own debt of gratitude to the king for the amnesty that spared him while his colleague the baker was executed – the very fate that Joseph had foretold in interpreting the pair’s dreams. But Semillontep still feels left behind in the face of the rapid advance of this lowly Hebrew nobody to whom everyone is suddenly genuflecting.
“I made him who he is,” hissed Semillontep to his wife, Sirrah. “And here I am, still stuck in a dead-end job with the threat of a death sentence hanging over me if I screw up one more time,” he lamented, recalling the episode that got him in trouble several years earlier, when Pharaoh found a fly in the royal wine goblet.
Tzafenat Pa’aneakh was unavailable for comment. His representative said the viceroy was busy traveling to all the major cities and towns of Egypt to oversee the grain-amassing project that he had proposed in order to prepare the land and region for an anticipated famine. Pa’aneakh’s spokesman claimed no knowledge of the butler’s contention, but he did note that Semillontep had for some reason forgotten about the languishing Hebrew in the prison for two years before mentioning anything to Pharaoh.
“One rather suspects motives other than the mere feeling of being slighted,” suggested the spokesman, noting that it was not unusual for native Egyptians to discriminate against people of other ethnicities, and to enslave them. “One has to wonder whether the same resentment would exist if His Excellency Tzafenat Pa’aneakh were born and raised in Egypt instead of Canaan.”