The Dream Reader Manasseh

18 Sep

“You are now prepared to begin dealing with those who come to our temple seeking the hidden meaning of what they experience in their visions while asleep,” said the high priest Potiphera to his grandson, Manasseh. “I have taught you the secret knowledge of the Left Eye of Divine Horus.”

“I hope that I prove adequate to such a heavy, difficult task, Grandfather,” the brown-haired, brown-eyed young man, half a Hebrew, told the father of his mother.

“Your father, Joseph, will not be back in Memphis for many months, but I shall send word of your progress to him. He will be busy all over Egypt carrying out the Pharaoh’s official business. But when he returns here to the capital, he will rejoice at your steps of successful entrance into the reading of hidden dreams that burden and plague those who come to the Temple of Re for relief. I spoke last night with your mother and she is delighted with the distance you have covered at your young age. Asenath is proud every day to have such an elder son as you.”

Manasseh groped for words to express his deep feelings. “I will try to do my best, using what I have learned from you and the other priests. My prayer is that Horus and the other gods grant me the ability to discover the visions that the dreamers cannot remember, but that torture their thought and emotions.”

“When you find what those buried memories contain, my dear grandson, then you will be able to interpret and explain their significance to the suffering one. That is what our ancestors have been doing in our holy temples for countless generations, under a multitude of Pharaohs.”

“My father succeeded in unlocking the secret prophecies in the visions that once came to our ruler,” said Manasseh. “He came to Egypt from the land of Canaan and is now the vizier in charge of the Pharaoh’s governing authority. He saved the people from the ravages of drought and plague through timely management and storage of our crops. So many owe their survival to Joseph the Hebrew, the son of Jacob.

“I have a proud inheritance that I hope to live up to, Grandfather.”

“I am confident that you will,” the old man told him.

Middle-aged Asenath maintained the beauty that had bewitched Joseph at the time that the Pharaoh and her father-in-law had arranged her match with the foreigner who read dreams and had rescued all of Egypt.

She now was gladdened by the news that her first son, Manasseh gave to her.

“I shall deal with a person suffering hidden, unrecognized dreams tomorrow, mother,” he said with joy as he entered her private quarters after leaving the Temple of Re. “It will be an enormous challenge, but I intend to put my all into uncovering what troubles this troubled soul.”

“I know that you will accomplish that goal, as your father years ago did the same for the Pharaoh. It is a gift bestowed on you by the mind of your father and the training provided at the temple by your grandfather.” She smiled with glowing confidence. “Your inheritance from both sides will guarantee the result.”

Manasseh changed the subject. “Are there any messages arrived from father or brother Ephraim?”

Asenath suddenly frowned. “Joseph is well, but your younger brother has come down with some sort of desert ailment that is not named or described. Ephraim will be returning to Memphis soon, because he needs rest and quiet in order to recuperate and recover his health.”

“We have not seen him for over a year,” frowned Manasseh. “Perhaps being home again can help my brother get well again.”

Ephraim, three years younger than his brother, was much taller and heavier then Manasseh. But his mind was somewhat slower and less agile, his father believed. Joseph had taken him along on his long tour of the provinces along the Nile, making him his personal assistant and hoping to train him into becoming an official of the Pharaoh.

But an unusual lethargy and inability to concentrate afflicted this son.

Joseph decided to send Ephraim back to Memphis for priestly treatment by his grandfather in the Temple of Re.

As soon as the ailing grandson arrived, Potiphera summoned Manasseh to confer with him about his brother’s illness.

“I have learned about your successful unearthing of secret, buried, and forgotten dreams that trouble and disturb the seekers who come to have their dreams untangled. You record of achievement with these people is one of spectacular enlightenment, my boy,” smiled Potiphera with unconcealed pride.

Manasseh appeared embarrassed by such praise from a close relative. “I am only fulfilling the instruction that I received from the priests of our temple, Grandfather,” he said in a subdued tone. “My debt to you and the others who read and recover dreams can never be repaid in full.”

The High Priest got down to cases. “I intend to assign persons with painful problems and burdensome thoughts to you. And since your brother, Ephraim will be returning to Memphis shortly, I wish to make you his personal dream reader. What can be closer than two brothers such as you and he? My hope is that the natural, inherited affinity of both if you will facilitate your exploration and revelation of the dreams hidden deep within his inner self.

“You shall have to delve into the very soul of your younger brother, Manasseh.”

The latter looked downward, avoiding the powerful, direct gaze of his grandfather. “I can only promise to do my best for Ephraim,” he said with modesty.

What will the repressed dreams of my younger brother reveal? worried Manasseh the rest of that day. He wracked his memory for events of their childhood together that might provide some hint of what he might find concealed in the depths of Ephraim. There was nothing specific that could throw light on his brother’s painful sickness.

Was our mother at times neglectful toward him? She was always busy with the running of the household of a busy official of the Pharaoh like our father, Joseph the dream reader. Did she spend more of her free time with me, and did Ephraim notice that? Did he feel that I received higher regard from her than he did? Were we unacknowledged competitors for love and attention from her?

Manasseh stayed late at the temple’s archive, until might fell, going through written lists of interpretive guidelines for priests and laymen like himself.

If one should dream of seeing himself dead, that would signify that he will live a very long life.

Those who dream of seeing their own face in a mirror must realize that the dead are demanding something important from them.

The person who dreams of being trapped in a deep well is in danger of going to prison for some crime.

A man who has a vision of himself drinking beer will suffer in the future.

Whoever dreams of falling off a wall will receive a favorable court verdict or a profitable official edict of some sort.

Manasseh continued reading these dream scrolls until he drowsed asleep.

Ephraim had to be transported to the Temple of Re on a covered litter, decided his mother and brother when they saw his weakened condition upon arrival at the residence given to Joseph and his family by the Pharaoh.

“How can he make it there on his own?” said Asenath with alarm in her voice and all over her face. “The servants must carry him there, that is the only way. Otherwise, he might fall and suffer major injury. That is the only way I will allow him to undergo dream reading, even though you will be the one who is going to perform it, Menasseh.”

“I completely agree, mother,” said the latter in an obedient tone. “He has to be inside the temple, on one of the dream beds, for the ceremony to work. The means by which he gets there is unimportant.”

“But it is to me,” all of a sudden interjected the one the two were talking about. “I want to make it on my own two feet,” said the weak voice of Ephraim. “I am not an invalid and am capable of walking the streets of Memphis.”

Asenath rushed to the side of the bed on which her younger son lay. She leaned downward as far as she could and kissed him on the brow, then straightened up again.

“I will have to allow you to choose your own way of making it to the temple,” she moaned. “It is vital that this be carried out as soon as possible, whatever the risks involved in getting you there.” She turned to her older son and spoke to him with parental authority. “You must walk close beside our brother and make sure that he arrives and then returns safely. Will you promise to watch out for every step that he takes?”

“Yes, I pledge myself to do that, mother,” said Manasseh. He turned to Ephraim. “Are you ready to start now?” he asked him.

Two brawny servants of Joseph’s household hauled the litter that carried the ailing Ephraim into the back recesses of the Temple of Re.

Manasseh ordered the pair to lift his brother and place him onto a low dream bed in the dark corner of the small chamber.

“Are you ready to begin, Ephraim?” asked the older brother in a soft voice.

“I am always ready for anything that holds a promise of helping me out of the sadness and pain that I suffer. It does not matter what means are used, I will try anything that has a chance of being beneficial. Can you restore me to the health that I once enjoyed, Manasseh? Is it some secret, hidden dream that is causing my wretched condition of despair?”

“There is nothing certain about what we dream readers can accomplish,” said the older brother, standing on the side of the dream bed. “I shall now begin to recite certain ancient formulas and arcane sentences that will place you into a state of confessing the dreams that have slipped out of your memory.”

Manasseh took a small scroll out of his robe pocket and began to read it aloud in a solemn, ritualistic manner. The words flowed from far down in his throat until the sound became an echo from earlier times when Egypt was new and young.

Ephraim fell into the depths of sleep and his unconscious memory came to life within his mind. Before long, his hidden dream presented itself not only within his own sleep, but also to the waking mind of the brother who stood beside the bed.

Manasseh, all of a sudden, stopped chanting. He set the ancient scroll onto the bottom of the bed upon which his sleeping brother lay.

His mind repeated over and over the vision he had received from the inner recesses of Ephraim.

The more he thought of all aspects of what had come to him, the greater his astonishment at what the meaning of the disturbing dream happened to be.

How was he going to relate the nature of what had just been communicated to him? Ephraim had to find out what the dream contained in order to escape its effect on his health and stamina.

Manasseh, though, now realized that this secret dream of his younger brother contained himself within its significance, and that its vision foretold the fate of both of them.

The hidden vision involved the future of their inheritance from Joseph and their ancestors. It unraveled what lay ahead for both Manasseh and Ephraim.

Joseph was to bring his father, Jacob, and all of his brothers into Egypt in order to protect and provide for them.

The old man was now weak and nearly blind. He was preparing for the end of his days and sensed a need to bless his two grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim.

Joseph is seen approaching him with his two sons, the older and the younger one. But Jacob does not turn to Manasseh and recognize his primacy in inheritance.

Their grandfather does not see Ephraim on his left and Manasseh on his right.

Jacob stretches out his right hand and places it on Ephraim’s head and then places his left hand upon the head of Manasseh, crossing his two hands.

Seeing this and alarmed by it, Joseph attempts to remove his father’s right hand from the head of Epraim and place it upon Manasseh.

“You are making an error, my father,” says Joseph. “It is Manasseh who is the older one who was first born and you must put your right hand on his head for recognition and blessing.”

The reply from Jacob is strong and clear. “I know it, my son, I know it. But Ephraim shall beget a people and he shall be great. The younger brother shall become greater than the other, his seed shall become a multitude of nations.”

Jacob sets Ephraim ahead of Manasseh though he blesses both of them.

“I will tell you the meaning of your hidden dream tomorrow evening, because I must organize all my thought about what I have found out,” the dream reader told his brother. “You and I will now return to the residence together and get ourselves some needed rest from what we have been engaged in.”

Slowly, the pair made their way back to the palace bestowed on Joseph by his protector, the Pharaoh.

Manasseh had no sleep that night, his mind consumed by the question of what he was going to reveal to his brother. Should he conceal what the vision prophesized about the inheritance from their father and grandfather? What, then, was left of the dream to reveal to his younger brother?

As morning dawned over Memphis, the sleepless dream reader decided to go to Ephraim, still uncertain what he was going to say about the content and significance of the strange, unforeseeable vision contained in the dream.

Should he tell him lies about the nature and meaning of what he had discovered?

Did it matter what he said to Ephraim this morning? His words would not have any effect on what was divinely ordained to happen in future days.

Only the truth was capable of saving his brother from the shadows into which this hidden dream had thrown him. There was non other way of lifting the burden of illness off of Ephraim.

Manasseh found his brother awake in his quarters and carried out what he decided was honorable and necessary.

“I want to tell you the great significance of your secret dream, Ephraim,” said the brother who realized he would one day lose his birthright to this person.

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