Joseph, but Not the Christmas Joseph

(This post is part of an ongoing series on my making the Old Testament into Magic: the Gathering cards.  Best to start at the beginning, which is the Word…press link here.)

So you’ll remember Jacob just patched things up with his brother.  And he’s got that whole God-promise to fulfill of making Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars, which is either a lot of pressure or means God will take care of things.  This may happen, as he has a dozen kids by one mom… and one by his favorite wife Rachel.  That miracle-kid at the end there was Joseph.

These are already themes at this point – the favorite-wife drama, the favorite-kid drama, the backstabbing-brother drama, the divine-surprise-pregnancy (way before Mary only these kids had regular fathers)…

…and they’re about to give Judas the sell-out-everyone’s-favorite-for-money idea.

Joseph’s gift is prophesy via dream.  His dream, someone else’s dream – usually he can piece together that it means something, and that something comes true.  (Freud would’ve killed for that ability.)  Of course being the naive little golden-child snowflake, he doesn’t see the problem with telling his siblings the dream where they and the fields and the stars literally bow down to him.

Joseph, Dream Cipher

Joseph, Dream Cipher (2)(blue) 1/3: Human Mystic.  When Joseph enters play, he gains Pure (this creature’s Power & Toughness cannot be lowered. Pure removes Sin). While Pure, whenever an opponent views the top cards of their library, they must show all other players.
{t}: Target player looks at the top 7 cards of their library, and puts them back in that order.
“And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”” Genesis 41:15

So one day a brother talks the others into tossing him in a well to die.  Wait, that’s not what I said was gonna happen.  That’s because one of the other brothers with, you know, a conscience, sees some passing slave dealers and talks the brothers into selling Joseph away instead.  Phew!  Life saver.  So they tell their father that Joseph was eaten by wolves, his parents have a breakdown, and no one speaks of it again.

Traitor's Price

Traitor’s Price (s): (Instant) Target player with two or more creatures sacrifices one of its creatures, or Enslaves it to an opponent’s creature (your choice).  (Treat the abilities of an Enslaved creature as if it were controlled by the player whose creature it is enslaved to; it untaps on that player’s untap step.)   That player gains mana equal to the lost creature’s mana cost until the end of their next turn.  Another of the player’s creatures gains Sin.

Now here’s where Joseph’s story can get pretty Magic-heavy.  The cards, not the supernatural.

Welcome to the Business

Welcome to the Business {black} (Enchantment – Aura): Target sentient creature gains Slavemaster (when this creature would destroy a card, you may give it Enslaved instead and assign it to this creature. It remains your opponent’s, but treat its abilities as if it were yours; it untaps on your untap step). This creature’s Enslaved creatures gain “{t}: creature’s Slavemaster gains +1/+1 until its player’s next turn.”
“And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all kinds of work in the field, all their work which they made them do was with harshness.” Exodus 2:14

This is the first of many cards with this theme.  Most will be creatures with Slavemaster. Each card they enslave gains an ability that makes them benefit you or the Slavemaster, like “Add 1 to your mana pool,” or “Gain 1 life.”  In all cases they come with the sadistic theme that the more you subdue your enemies, the more powerful you become.  It can be more satisfying than destroying them.  (Note that you don’t control the enslaved creature during combat, but you do gain control of its abilities.  That means both its “static” ongoing abilities, and anything you can spend mana or tap to activate.)

So why not just write “gain control of that creature”?  Because the Egyptians didn’t brainwash the Hebrews.  They didn’t convince them to turn on each other.  They just told them to work.  It isn’t written how common slave uprisings were, but it’s doubtless that, like in all empires, the consequences for trying were dire.  Later on you’ll see what happens when Moses asks Pharaoh to give his people the weekend off; Pharaoh doubles their workload, and then they complain to Moses for bringing that on them.  But that’s centuries from now; right now, Joseph is implied to be the first Hebrew slave in Egypt.

Joseph gets sold to a man named Potiphar, the captain of the guard.  And since God is shaping Joseph’s life, Joseph schmoozes with Potiphar (yes that is how you spell it), and gets promoted until he’s second-in-command in his household.

Potiphar, Captain of the Guard

Potiphar, Captain of the Guard {3}{white}{black} 3/4: Human Soldier.  Slavemaster (when one of your creatures would destroy a sentient creature, you may give it Enslaved instead and assign it to Potiphar.  It remains your opponent’s, but treat its abilities as if it were yours; it untaps on your untap step.)  Each slave gains “{1}: this creature can block for their Slavemaster’s player until their next turn.”
“The Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.” Genesis 37:36

But that’s when you may want a trigger warning.  Potiphar’s wife wants to sleep with Joseph.  Now, we don’t know where this was between sexual harassment and attempted rape, only that she grabbed his coat and he ran off and left it.  Then she screams, saying he attacked her – don’t worry I’m definitely not gonna try to work this into a card – and Potiphar feels betrayed and throws Joseph in jail.  He may have been a second-in-command to a man who works for the Pharaoh, but legally, he has no more rights than any slave.  Actually, hold that thought – it says when he gets to prison, the guards like him so much they put him in charge of the other prisoners.  But he is still a slave who’s in jail, so, it’s still no dream job.

Joseph’s life has been a roller coaster so far.  Can’t things just go… realistically average for him?  Nope.  He finds himself imprisoned with two cellmates who keep having these dreams.  Up to this point, we’ve only seen Joseph interpret his own dreams; it turns out he’s been waiting to go all Freudian on somebody.  So he tells one the dream means he’ll be pardoned and will work for Pharaoh, and the other he tells will be executed.  And that’s what happens.

Some time later, the ex-con working for the Pharaoh (the one who was not executed?  Take a guess.) hears that the Pharaoh is having weird dreams himself.  Time and time again, he sees the same vivid, monstrous vision.  Seven beautiful, majestic stalks of wheat grow up – and seven foul, gaunt strains of wheat writhe up and devour them.  It’s a dream, and a metaphor, but too awesome to pass up a card….

[20 minutes later]
Can’t find any good enough pictures for this… I was really hoping the Joseph, King of Dreams monster-crops would be online somewhere.  All right; here’s the text I’ll use when I find it:

Gaunt Grains: Land: Gaunt Grains enters play tapped. {t}: add {p} to your mana pool.  {t}: tap {1} of your opponent’s mana.  “Then seven other heads of grain sprouted, thin and scorched by the desert wind…” Genesis 41:6-7

That’s when Joseph’s old cellmate, who works for the Pharaoh now, remembers Joseph.  So he tells the Pharaoh and the Pharaoh sends for Joseph.  He has the grain dream, and he has the same kind of dream but with 7 heavy metal cows eating 7 kid-friendly plush cows.  Nobody in the whole kingdom had been able to figure out that bad crops eating good crops… was a metaphor for bad crops and good crops!  7 years of plenty, followed by 7 years of famine.  Amateurs.

But AGAIN, Joseph gets promoted for it!  I swear, this kid becomes everyone’s favorite or makes people want to kill him.  There is no middle group.  So now he’s Vice Pharaoh of Egypt (don’t look that up I made it up).  He starts calling for grain to be put away in mills in the 7 good years to save up for the bad.  He starts calling for cows to be put away in – wait that’s not how cows work.  Grain it is.  If you had Celiac disease, you were out of luck.

And now we come full circle: when the famine hits, Joseph’s brothers come begging to Egypt.  He recognizes them, but they don’t recognize him – which makes you wonder what the Vice Pharaoh was doing watching every person in line at the food court to see when the showed up.  So he throws them a banquet, frames them with robbery, watches them grovel, and gets a smug moment where they’re at his knees, just like in the first dream he had.  Then he takes off his Clark Kent glasses and tells them it’s him.

And that’s every underdog’s fantasy, ladies and gents.  You are special and too good to work, people hate you just because they’re jealous, but that’s okay because the rest of your life people will just give you things.  Then you can bully your bullies right back and they’ll be sorry and love you like they should’ve.


Coat of Colors

*Coat of Colors: Equip (w)(u)(g): When equipped creature would be destroyed, Enslave it to an opponent’s creature instead (Coat of Colors’ creature remains yours, but your opponent treats this creature’s abilities as theirs. It untaps on their untap step).
Put a counter on Coat of Colors on each of your opponent’s turns, to a maximum of 7. Discard all counters: opponent gives control of X land to Coat of Colors’ player as long as Coat of Colors is in play.
“…and he made him a coat of many colors.”
Genesis 37:3


One comment

  1. Wow, this is elaborate… I don’t know the original game, so don’t know how much it has been altered, but your take on the Bible stories is very interesting!

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