Dream Interpreters in Exile: Joseph, Daniel, and Sigmund (Solomon)


Ken Frieden, Syracuse University

Document Type





religion, Old Testament, Sigmund Freud




The biblical Joseph and Daniel have much in common with Sigmund
Freud, for all three experienced the powerlessness of exile
and later attained the power they lacked by interpreting dreams. Unable
to control historical destiny, exilic Jews have characteristically
reinterpreted events, texts, and dreams; the interpretive successes of
Joseph, Daniel, and Sigmund at once reflect and defy the Jewish condition.
Although Freud made every effort to distance himself from his
ancient forerunners, The Interpretation of Dreams indirectly responds to
While many adepts at dream interpretation appear in the Bible,
in the Talmud, in the Sifer Chassidim, and in other Judaic sources,
Joseph, Daniel, and Sigmund have special significance. Joseph is sold
into slavery by his jealous brothers, and yet saves them and theJewish
people after he gains authority in Egypt. In the Book of Daniel,
Nebuchadnf"zzar exiles the Jews to Babylonia, and yet Daniel
achieves such importance that he can influence both individual lives
and Israel's collective future. Finally Sigmund Freud , also known by
his Hebrew name Shlomo (or Solomon), emerges from obscurity to
create an international movement. Beneath the subtle manipulation
of signs and symbols, this triumvirate re veals an underlying relationship
between power and interpretation.

Additional Information

Article from Mapping of the Biblical Terrain: The Bible as Text edited by Vincent L. Tollers adn John Maier.


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