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How did the Ishmaelite traders treat Joseph, were they cruel?


Genesis 39:1

ESV - 1 Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there.

Clarify Share Report Asked February 06 2024 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
Considered in contrast to the possibility of Joseph having been killed by his own jealous brothers, I would say that, even though the Ishmaelite traders trafficked in human beings, their treatment of Joseph was in accordance with their usual practices, and was actually used by God for Joseph's long-term benefit in removing him from the hostility in his own household (although he still underwent considerable hardship in Egypt before finally being saved by his God-given ability to interpret dreams).

February 07 2024 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Zachary Campbell
Unfortunately, the Bible provides limited details about the Ishmaelite traders' specific treatment of Joseph. We can glean some information, but ultimately, a definitive answer is impossible. Here's what we do know:

**Actions and Behavior:**

* **Purchase:** The Ishmaelites buy Joseph from his brothers for 20 pieces of silver (Genesis 37:28). This act itself is arguably cruel, as it condemns Joseph to slavery or servitude.
* **Transportation:** They transport Joseph to Egypt, seemingly without concern for his emotional or physical well-being. We have no information about their interactions during the journey.
* **Resale:** They sell Joseph to Potiphar, an Egyptian official (Genesis 39:1). Again, this action prioritizes profit over Joseph's fate.


* **Silence:** The text is silent on how they treated Joseph directly. Were they rough or gentle? Did they offer him food or water? We simply don't know.
* **Motivation:** Their main motivation appears to be economic gain, suggesting they might not have treated him with compassion. Yet, the absence of explicit cruelty doesn't necessarily imply kindness either.

**Possible Interpretations:**

* **Neutral Trade:** Some interpretations portray the Ishmaelites as neutral traders simply conducting business. They might not have actively mistreated Joseph, but their actions still contributed to his suffering.
* **Opportunistic Exploitation:** Others view them as opportunistic, taking advantage of a vulnerable situation without considering Joseph's well-being.

**Ultimately, the lack of detail allows for different interpretations. While the Ishmaelites didn't explicitly torture Joseph, their actions undeniably contributed to his hardship, leaving the precise nature of their treatment open to interpretation.**

**Additional Notes:**

* Some scholars suggest the Midianites and Ishmaelites are interchangeable terms in this context, further blurring the lines of responsibility.
* The narrative emphasizes Joseph's resilience and eventual triumph, overshadowing the details of his suffering.

I hope this information helps! Remember, due to the limitations of the text, a definitive answer is not possible.

February 10 2024 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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