Boreal

Shared Prophets

Joseph, Son of Jacob

Jacob and the Breaking of Blood Ties

Jacob’s last request in the Bible is that he be entombed in the cave of Machpelah in Canaan. Jacob’s first words in the Koran are also the ones he spoke on his death bed, but have nothing to do with his final resting place.

2:133 Or were you present when Jacob was in the throes of death and said to his sons: “What will you worship when I am gone?” They replied: “We will worship your God and the God of your forefathers, Abraham, Isma‘il and Isaac – the One God; and to Him we submit.”

2:134 That was a nation which passed away. Hers is what she has earned and yours is what you have earned. And you shall not be questioned about what they did.

According to Abul A’la Moududi, with revelation 2:134 Allah breaks the blood relationship between Jews and Arabs.

What is being said here is that even though they (Arabs) might be their offspring in terms of blood - relationship they had, in fact, no true relationship with them (the Jews). What right did they have to pretend to belong to them when they had departed far from their way?

The remaining few lines that Jacob has in the Koran are part of Joseph’s story.

The Vision

Joseph, the eleventh of Jacob's twelve sons and first son of Rachel not only gets an entire surah named after him, but the surah is also almost exclusively about him. Allah, in the Koran, unlike his earlier appearance in the Bible, can’t be bothered with the names of the supporting cast, and nowhere is this more evident than in the story of Joseph where his brothers are just “the brothers”, or “the brother”; no Benjamin, no Simeon, no Judah, no Reuben …

Joseph’s surah begins with Allah praising the easy to understand Arabic version of the Koran.

THE PROPHET JOSEPH

12 Yûsuf

In the Name of Allah,

the Compassionate, the Merciful

12:1 Alif – Lam – Ra.

These are the verses of the clear Book.

12:2 We have revealed it as an Arabic Qur’an, that perchance you may understand.

12:3 We narrate to you (Muhammad) the fairest narratives in revealing to you this Qur’an, although you were, prior to it, one of the headless.

With those formalities out of the way, Joseph makes his entrance.

12:4 When Joseph said to his father: “O my father, I saw [in my dream] eleven planets and the sun and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves before me.”

He fathers warns him not to tell his brothers about his dream, that he will be one of God’s chosen.

12:5 He said: “My son, do not relate your dream to your brothers, lest they plot evil against you. Surely, the Devil is the sworn enemy of man.”

12:6 And thus your Lord will chose you and teach you the interpretation of dreams and will perfect His Grace upon you and upon the family of Jacob, as He has perfected it formerly upon your two fathers*, Abraham and Isaac. Surely your Lord is All-Knowing, Wise.

12:7 There are indeed in Joseph and his brothers signs for the inquiring.


* In three of seven translations consulted, “two fathers” becomes “forefathers”.

Sold Into Slavery

As in the Bible, it is the affection that their father bestows on Joseph and Joseph’s dreams which causes his brothers to plot against him. In the next verse, Allah mentions another brother, possibly Benjamin the youngest of the brothers.

12:8 When they said: “Joseph and his brother are dearer to our father than the rest of us, although we are a large group. Our father is truly in manifest error.”

What to do?

12:9 “Kill Joseph or cast him away in some land that your father’s love may be wholly yours, and you may become after him a righteous people.”

12:10 One of them said: “Do not kill Joseph, but rather throw him in the bottom of the pit, so that some traveller may pick him up, if you must do anything.”

But first they have to convince their father to let Joseph come out and play.

12:11 They said: “Our father, why do you not trust us with Joseph? We certainly wish him well.

12:12 “Send him forth with us tomorrow that he may frolic and play, and we will surely take care of him.”

Jacob is worried that if he lets Joseph out of his sight he will be eaten by wolves.

12:13 He said: “It grieves me to let you take him away; and I fear that the wolf may devour him while you are not watching him.”

12:14 They said: “If the wolf should devour him while we are a large group, we should then be the real losers.”

It’s in the pit with Joseph! While the brothers were plotting, Allah was keeping Joseph appraised of what they intended to do.

12:15 But when they took him away and decided to cast him in the bottom of the pit, We revealed to him: “You should tell them about their intention while they are unaware.”

12:16 And they came to their father in the evening weeping.

In the Bible Joseph is 17 years old when the brothers decide to get rid of him which means that his ten half-brothers (he and his younger brother Benjamin were the only sons of Rachel, Jacob’s second wife, the first being Leah) were older, some had to be much older, but in the Koran they all behave like children and their explanation for Joseph’s disappearance is a child’s explanation.

12:17 They said: “Our father, we went away racing and left Joseph by our baggage; and so the wolf devoured him. You will not believe us even if we truthful.”

12:18 And they stained his shirt with false blood. He said: “Rather, your souls tempted you to do something. So come gentle patience! To Allah I turn for help against what you say.”

In the Bible, Midianite traders find Joseph in the pit and sell him to Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt. In the Koran, it is unidentified travelers who send down buckets to get water from the “pit”, which appears to have been a functioning well, and discover Joseph, whom they sell to an Egyptian.

12:19 And some travellers came, and they sent their water-drawer, who let down his bucket. He said: “Good news! Here is a boy.” And they hid him as merchandise, Allah being fully aware of what they were doing.

12:20 And they sold him for a cheap price, a number of dirhams, since they were not interested in him.

The Governor's Wife

Joseph in Jail

In the Bible, Joseph is thrown in jail because Potiphar believed his wife’s lies about Joseph coming on to her; in the Koran, as can be expected, Joseph is not thrown in jail because of a woman’s accusation that he tried to have sex with her against her will; that would be unthinkable. It is Joseph who insists that Allah make it so, to get away from the governor's wife and her friends who may, by his expression “their guile” also have wanted a piece of him; a prospect that he is finding more and more difficult to resist.

12:33 He said: “My Lord, prison is dearer to me than that which they call me to. If you do not rid me of their guile, I will be inclined towards them and will be one of the ignorant.”

Allah grants Joseph his wish, with a little help from the governor, and his entourage.

12:34 Thereupon his Lord answered his prayer and so rid him of their guile. He is indeed the Hearer, the Knower.

12:35 Then it occurred to them after they had seen the signs (of Joseph’s innocence) to imprison him for some time.

In the Bible, Joseph meets the King’s cupbearer and baker after he has been in jail for a time. In the Koran, he is incarcerated at the same time as two young men (the assumed cupbearer and baker of the Bible) who get right to the point seeing that Joseph just oozes righteousness.

12:36 And there entered the prison with him two youths. One of them said: “I saw in my dream that I am pressing grapes.” And the other said: “I saw in my dream that I am carrying on my head bread from which the birds were eating. Tell us their interpretation; we see that you are one of the righteous.”

Like most of the well-known and respected characters of the Bible who are welcomed in the Koran, Joseph will first offer copious praise to Allah and make a pitch for the perfect religion before getting down to business.

12:37 He said: “No food with which you are provided will be given to you but I will tell you its interpretation before it arrives. This is part of what my Lord has taught me. I have forsaken the religion of a people who do not believe in Allah, and disbelieve in the Hereafter.

12:38 “And I have followed the religion of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was not for us to associate anything with Allah. That is part of Allah’s Favour upon us and upon mankind; but most men do not give thanks.

12:39 “O my two fellow-prisoners, are diverse lords better, or the One, the Omnipotent?

12:40 “You do not worship, besides Him, except names you have named, you and your fathers, for which Allah has not sent down any authority. Judgement belongs only to Allah; He has commanded that you worship none but Him. That is the right religion, but most men do not know.

Finally, Joseph gets around to answering the questions that were asked, and he does so in a brisk, matter-of-fact fashion, for that is not what is important.

Joseph, in the Bible, said the baker would be beheaded and his body hung for the birds to peck at. In the Koran, Joseph predicts the baker will be crucified. Again, no surprise there! From the many verses about crucifying the disbelievers, it is reasonable to conclude that it is Allah’s favourite form of execution. The degrading lingering death of the crucified, for a vengeful god, does have its appeal.

12:41 “O my two fellow-prisoners, one of you shall give his Lord wine to drink; whereas the other will be crucified, then the birds shall eat from his head. Thus the matter you are enquiring about is settled.”

Do I detect a note of uncertainty in the next verse?

12:42 And he said to the one of the two whom he thought would be saved: “Mention me to your Lord.” However, the Devil caused him to forget to mention him to his Lord and so he (Joseph) remained in prison a number of years.

The King's Dream

Warning: Abbot and Costello’s “Who's on First?” type of weirdness ahead, and more women’s guile!

First the verses about the cows and the corn (in the Bible it’s about cows and wheat):

12:43 And the King (of Egypt) said: “I saw in my dream seven fat cows devoured by seven lean cows, and seven green ears of corn together with seven other withered ones. O my dignitaries, explain to me my dream, if you are able to interpret dreams.”

12:44 They said: “Confused dreams, and we know nothing about the interpretation of dreams.

In the Bible, the cupbearer remembers Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams and informs the King, who then sends for Joseph. In the Koran, it would appear that the cupbearer goes to see Joseph, gets the interpretation and returns to tell the King, or maybe not. See what you think.

12:45 And one of the two who had been released remembered after a while and said: “I will tell you its interpretation, so let me go.”

12:46 “Joseph, O truthful one, enlighten us concerning seven fat cows devoured by seven lean ones, and concerning seven green ears of corn and seven withered ones, so that I might go back to the people, that perchance they might learn.”

12:47 He said: “You shall sow for seven consecutive years, but what you harvest, you should leave in its ears except for the little whereof you need to eat.

12:48 “Then, afterwards seven hard years will consume what you have laid up for them, except for a little of what you have stored.

This story has to be related by the cupbearer, if not, why would Allah announce the end of the famine by making a reference to being “able to press grapes” in the year it will end?

12:49 “Then there will come after that a year in which the people will receive help and will be able to press grapes in it.”

In the next verse we have the King again sending his messenger to see Joseph (or not), this time to get an answer to a question that has most, if not all of us, wondering: “What was that all about?” Wait for it!

12:50 The King said: “Bring him (Joseph) to me.” Then when the messenger came to him, he said: “Go back to your lord and ask him about the women who cut their own hands. My Lord knows well their guile.”

Admit it; you also wanted to know why the women cut their hands. If Joseph did provide an answer, Allah kept it to Himself. But He did take the opportunity to again remind the believers to be wary of women and their guile i.e. deviousness.

12:51 He (the King) said: “What was the matter with you, women, when you sought to seduce Joseph?” They said: “Allah forbid! We learnt nothing evil about him.” The governor’s wife then said: “Now the truth has come out, I was the one who sought to seduce him, and he is indeed one of the truthful."

Guile as a noun???

12:52 [Joseph said]: “That was said so that [my Lord] may know that I did not betray Him in secret, and that Allah will not guide the guile of the treacherous.

More praise for Allah.

12:53 “I do not exonerate myself from sin. Surely the [human] soul commands evil, except for those on whom my Lord has mercy. My Lord is truly All-Forgiving, Merciful.

Appointed Treasurer

The King again asks that Joseph be brought before him, to inform him that he has made arrangement so that he will no longer be exposed to a woman’s guile, that he will protect him from the women.

12:54 The King said: “Bring him to me; I will attach him to my person alone.” And when he spoke to him, he said: “Today you are firmly established and secure with us.”

Yes, but…

12:55 He (Joseph) said: “Put me in charge of the treasures of the land; I am a keeper who knows.”

And so it came to pass…

12:56 And thus We established Joseph firmly in the land, dwelling wherever he wished. We bestow Our Mercy on whom We will, and We do not waste the rewards of the righteous.

One more pitch for the Hereafter. Yeah!

12:57 And the reward of the Hereafter is surely better for those who believe and fear Allah.

It is at this point that Joseph's brothers show up in Egypt looking for "supplies", and this is where we pick up Allah's account of how Joseph got them to convince their father Jacob to let a brother, Benjamin it is believed, come to Egypt. Benjamin is, of course, never mentioned by name, he is simply the "brother".

A Camel’s Load

In the Bible, Joseph makes Simeon a hostage to get his father to let Benjamin come to Egypt. In the Koran, he will increase the family’s share of “merchandise”, an extra “camel’s load”. This is enough to convince Jacob to let Benjamin make the trip.

12:58 Then Joseph's brothers came and went in to him. He recognized them while they did not know him.

12:59 When he provided them with their supplies, he said: “Bring me a brother of yours from your father. Do you not see that I fill up the measure and am the best of hosts?

12:60 “But, if you do not bring him to me, you shall have no measure from me and you will not come near me.”

12:61 They said: “We will solicit him from his father. Surely we shall do that.”

12:62 He said to his servants: “Put their merchandise in their saddlebags, that perchance they may recognize it when they return to their people, and perchance they will come back.”

12:63 When they returned to their father, they said: “Our father, we have been denied the full measure; so sent forth our brother with us that we may receive the measure; we will surely guard him.”

12:64 He said: “Can I entrust him to you except as I had entrusted his brother to you before? Allah is the best guardian, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.”

12:65 And when they opened their bags, they found their merchandise was returned to them. They said: “Father, what more do we desire? This is our merchandise; it has been returned to us. We shall get food for our family, guard our brother and receive an added camel’s load. That is an easy measure.”

The extra camel’s load (in the Bible the brothers’ beast-of-burden is the donkey) convinces Jacob to entrust them with his youngest son; but first, they must swear by Allah that they will bring him back, unless they can’t.

12:66 He said: “I will not send him with you until you swear in Allah’s Name that you will bring him back to me, unless you are constrained.” So when they brought him their pledge he said: “Allah is Witness of what we say.”

Some last minute fatherly advice.

12:67 And he said: “My sons, do not enter by one door, but enter by separate doors. I cannot avail you anything against Allah; the Judgement is truly Allah’s; in Him I put my trust, and in Him let all who trust put their trust.”

The King's Drinking Cup

Allah often reminds me of the child who wants to always be the center of attention. The child who will interrupt adults in conversation by jumping up and down, shouting: “Look at me, look at me, see how great I am”.

In the Biblical account of the contrived theft of a drinking cup (in the Koran it’s the King’s cup) God is barely mentioned. In Allah's account, He is the center of attention as He is everywhere in His Koran, giving new meaning to the term omnipresence.

As instructed by their father, the brothers enter Joseph’s house by separate doors. It must have been a really big house, if all of eleven (if you include Simeon) of Joseph’s brother’s entered the house of the second most powerful man in Egypt by a different entrance.

12:68 And when they entered wherefrom their father commanded them, nothing could avail them against Allah. It was only a desire in Jacob’s breast which he satisfied. He was indeed in possession of knowledge, because We taught him. But most people do not know.

What Benjamin may have been grieving about in the following revelation is the presume death of Joseph, twenty years earlier in the Bible, which he now knows to have been exaggerated.

12:69 And when they came into Joseph’s presence, he took his brother into his arms saying: “I am your own brother; so do not grieve at what they were doing.”

The cup is placed in the unnamed brother’s bag, and before they can say, “thank you, farewell and God bless”, someone, from some distance away, promptly accuses them of being thieves.

12:70 Then, when he provided them with their supplies, he put the drinking-vessel in his brother’s bag. Then a crier shouted: “O men of the caravan, you are thieves.”

12:71 They said, as they approached them: “What is it that you miss?”

12:72 They said: “We miss the King’s drinking cup; and to him who brings it a camel’s load will be given, and I am the guarantor thereof.”

12:73 They said: “By Allah, you know well that we have not come to spread corruption in the land, and we are no thieves.”

12:74 They said: “What is the penalty thereof, if you are liars?”

The penalty for whomever is found to have stolen the cup is, surprisingly, not having one or both hands amputated (revelation 5:38).

12:75 They said: “The penalty thereof is that whoever it is found in his bag shall himself be the penalty (that is, he shall be enslaved). This is how we punish the wrongdoers.”

In the Bible, Joseph’s steward searches the bags; in the Koran it is Joseph himself. In the following revelation, I take “For he could not take his brother” to mean that a brother could not make a brother his slave without Allah’s explicit approval.

12:76 And so he (Joseph) began with their bags before the bag of his brother. Then he took it out from his brother’s bag. This is how We contrived for Joseph's sake; for he could not take his brother in accordance with the King’s law, except if Allah pleased. We raise by degrees whom We will, and above every man of learning, there is one more learned.

12:77 They said: “If he has stolen, a brother of his has stolen before.” Joseph kept that to himself and did not reveal it to them.” He said: “You are in a worse position, and Allah knows best [the truth of] of what you say.”

The unnamed person making the plea for Benjamin, in the next revelation, is his brother Judah in the Bible:

12:78 They said: “O mighty one, he has a very old father; so take one of us in his place. We see that you are one of those who are beneficent."

At this stage in the Bible, Joseph is touched by Judah’s plea and he reveals himself and embraces and forgives his brothers and sends them back to Canaan to get their father.

The whole point of placing the cup in Benjamin's bags was because Joseph wanted an excuse to keep him with him while the others went to get Jacob. That would explain Joseph's insistence that it is whomever that is found with the cup that must become his slave.

12:79 He said: “Allah forbid that we take anyone other than the one with whom we found our property. For then we will be wrongdoers.”

The brothers have a conference. The “eldest brother” in the following revelation has to be Reuben:

12:80 Then when they despaired of him, they conferred privately. Their eldest said: “Did you not know that your father took a solemn pledge in the name of Allah from you, and before that you failed to perform your duty in the case of Joseph. I will not leave this land until my father permits me or Allah decides for me; for He is the Best of Judges."

The need to insert Allah in the narrative may have caused the narrative to change.

According to some scholars, Joseph lies about Benjamin stealing the cup so that Allah can make a point “regarding a matter that can be seen, like murder, stealing, or fornication, [that] only eye-witness accounts are acceptable as testimony.” You can read a lot into the Koran and a lot of people do.

12:81 “Go back to your father and say: ‘Our father, your son has stolen. We bear witness only to what we know, and we could not keep watch over the Unseen.’

In the next revelation Joseph seems to give credence to the Biblical account that he was sold to traders in a passing caravan by his brothers, not thrown into a pit and found by happenstance.

12:82 “‘Ask the town where we were and the caravan which we came along with. Surely we are truthful.’”

Before you can say “there is no place like home”, the brothers are back in Canaan with Jacob still pining for Joseph and an unnamed brother, probably Benjamin, or perhaps Simeon.

12:83 He (Jacob) said: “Rather, your souls made some matter look fair to you. Come gentle patience! Maybe Allah will bring them all back to me. He is indeed the All-Knowing, the Wise.”

12:84 And he turned away from them and said: “Alas for Joseph!” and his eyes turned white, because of the grief which he repressed.

It gets even weirder. Jacobs sends the boys back to Egypt, to enquire about two lost sons, Joseph and that other brother.

The perceived strangeness may be due to the widespread use of the literary device of inserting Allah, big-time, whenever a story, or a story within a story comes to end, as is the case with the two revelations which conclude this story within a story of the contrived theft.

12:85 They said: “By Allah, you shall continue to remember Joseph until you are about to perish or even when you do perish.”

12:86 He said: "I only complain of my sorrow and grief to Allah and I know, from Allah, what you know not.

The Other Brother

In revelation 12:87 Jacob asks his remaining sons to return to Egypt to enquire about Joseph and another brother.

12:87 “O my sons, go forth and enquire about Joseph and his brother and do not despair of Allah’s Mercy. Surely no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the unbelieving people."

The other brother has to be Benjamin as all other brothers of Joseph were half-brothers.

Reuben, Simeon, Judah and Levi were of Leah, Jacob’s first wife; Dan, Naphtali were of Bilhah, the slave of Jacob’s second wife Rachel, whom she gave to her husband when she thought she would never give birth; Gad and Asher were of Leah’s slave Zilpah, whom she gave to Jacob when she thought she would never give birth to another child, but she was wrong and gave birth to Issachar and Zebulun (and a daughter she named Dinah); finally God took pity on the barren Rachel, and she gave birth to two sons, Joseph and Benjamin for a total of twelve sons whose progeny would give rise to the twelve tribes of Israel.

If this is the case, then Jacob was not showing signs of senility when he asked his remaining sons to return to Egypt to enquire about Joseph and his brother.

The Bible is not categorical about Benjamin returning to Canaan with his half-brothers, after the contrived theft, to tell Jacob that Joseph is not only still alive but Pharaoh’s right-hand man and to convince him to come to Egypt. Therefore, Benjamin could have stayed in Egypt while his half-brothers returned to Canaan. Of course, if Benjamin is in Egypt and the brothers are in Canaan to convince Jacob to go to Egypt, what is there to enquire of?

And what to make of the very next revelation which, unless I am mistaken, is about the first meeting?

12:88 When they went to him, they said: “O mighty one, we and our people have been visited by affliction and we have brought scant merchandise. So fill up the measure for us and be charitable to us; Allah will surely reward the charitable.”

And what to make of the next revelation where Joseph, who still has not revealed his true identify, asks his half-brothers what they have done “with Joseph and his brother.”

Unless he was referring to his half-brother Simeon, who Joseph kept as surety the first time they met to make sure his “brothers” returned with Benjamin, it can only be Benjamin; but in both cases the brothers knew very well what they did with Simeon (or perhaps Benjamin) – they left him with the man in front of them asking the question.

12:89 He said: “Do you know what you did with Joseph and his brother, in your dire ignorance?”

Next, Joseph reveals himself and introduces his brother.

12:90 They said: “Are you truly Joseph?” He said: “Yes, I am Joseph and this is my brother. Allah has been gracious to us. Surely, whoever fears God and forbears will find that Allah will never deprive those who do the good of their reward.”

What is going on here?

As I mentioned earlier, the story of Joseph is a long tale with many twists and turns. Even the best memorizers would have had difficulty accurately remembering everything the Prophet said, and in the right order.

Another reason for the apparent confusion may be due to how the recollections of the people who heard the Prophet transmit Allah’s revelations were transcribed and collated. Mistakes could have been made.

The recollection of the witnesses of what the Prophet said occurred next is undoubtedly accurate, as it is the typical reaction of people in the Koran whom Allah has shown, usually in spectacular fashion, how misguided they were.

12:91 They said: “By Allah, Allah has exalted you above us, and we have only been sinful.”

Do not worry. Allah is a merciful god, the Most Merciful of all gods.

12:92 He said: “Let there be no reproach against you today. Allah will forgive you and He is the Most Merciful of those who have mercy.

All's Well That Ends Well

Joseph was not only good at interpreting dreams, he performed what most would consider a miracle.

12:93 “Take this shirt of mine and lay it on my father’s face, and he will regain his sight; then come to me with all your family.”

I have to assume here, that it is when the caravan arrived in Canaan that Jacob picked up Joseph’s scent, not when it left; if not, then nothing makes sense.

12:94 And when the caravan set out, their father said: “I find Joseph’s scent, thought you may deny it.”

And his sons do "deny it", but this may be because they don’t have the shirt. Someone else has it.

12:95 They said: “By Allah, you persist in your old error.”

The bearer of good news, in the next revelation, can only be a Messenger (perhaps Joseph himself, Moududi is non-committal) or a Prophet or both.

12:96 Then when the bearer of good news came, he placed it (the shirt) on his face and so he regained his sight. He said: “Did I not tell you that I know from Allah what you know not?”

Again, confronted with the evidence, the brothers again admit to having sinned and ask Jacob to ask Allah to forgive them.

12:97 They said: “Father, ask forgiveness for our sins; we have indeed been sinful.”

Jacob is happy to oblige.

12:98 He said: “I shall ask my Lord to forgive you. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, the Merciful.”

Rachel, Joseph’s mother, died giving birth to Benjamin. At least that is what the Bible tells us. Maybe Joseph’s shirt brought her back to life.

12:99 Then, when they went in to Joseph, he lodged his parents with him and said; “Enter Egypt, Allah willing, in security.”

In the Bible, it is his half-brothers who bow before Joseph during their first encounter, and thereby fulfill the vision. In the Koran, it is Joseph’s parents who fulfill the vision by bowing down before their son.

12:100 And he raised both his parents to the high seat, and they fell prostrate before him. He said: "Father, this is the interpretation of my old dream; my Lord has made it come true. He was kind to me when he brought me out prison and brought you out of the desert, after the Devil has sown mischief between me and my brothers. My Lord is truly subtle in bringing about what He wills. He is indeed the All-Knowing, the Wise.

12:101 “Lord, you have given me power and taught me the interpretation of dreams. O Creator of the heavens and the earth; you are my protector in this world and in the Hereafter; receive my soul as a submissive one, and let me join the ranks of the righteous."

The fulfillment of the vision ends the story of Joseph, with him giving credit where credit is due, as is expected, but it is not the end of his surah. The last word is Allah’s, and He ends the surah by reassuring His audience that what he reveals to them about His Prophets e.g. Jacob and Joseph, are not invented tales (verse 12:111), but not before straying into familiar,  often obtuse territory where the only certainty is the punishment.

Epilogue - Why the News from the Unseen

A short one-sided conversation between Allah and His Messenger will bring us to the end of the surah Yusuf.

12:102 That is part of the news of the Unseen [which] We reveal to you (O Muhammad); for you were not with them when they concurred in their affair, while they plotted.

12:103 And even if you desire it, most people are not believers.

12:104 And you do not ask them for a reward for it (the Qur'an); it is nothing but a reminder for all mankind.

12:105 How many a sign in the heavens and on earth by which they pass while they turn their faces away from it!

12:106 And most of them do not believe in Allah, unless they continue to associate others [with Him].

12:107 Do they guard against a crushing strike of Allah's Punishment or the sudden coming of the Hour while they are unaware?

12:108 Say: "This is my way; I call to Allah with knowledge, I and those who follow me. Glory be to Allah; and I am not one of the polytheist."

12:109 We did not send forth [as Messengers] before you except men from the people of the cities who received Our Revelations. Have they (the Meccans) not travelled in the land and seen what was the of those who came before them? The abode of the Hereafter is surely better for those who fear God. Do you not understand?

12:110 And when the Messengers despaired and thought they would  be regarded as liars, Our Help came to them and We delivered whom We pleased. The sinners could not escape Our punishment.

12:111 In these narratives about them, there is a lesson for people of understanding. It is not an invented tale, but a confirmation of what came before it, and a clear exposition of all things, and a guidance and mercy for people who believe.

A clear exposition! You be the judge.