How Colorful Was Joseph’s Coat?
Though many today assume the ketonet passim Jacob gave Joseph was “a coat of many colors,” a study of classical commentators and midrashic traditions reveals a wealth of alternative interpretations rooted in different possible meanings of the word pas. Analyzing these varying interpretations of what the ketonet passim offers deeper insight into why it upset Joseph’s brothers to such a degree that they would plot to kill him. Recently, in the pages of TRADITION, Sarah Rudolph explored this significant question in terms of broader approaches to the fallibility of biblical heroes. Midrashic interpretations of the word passim also serve as a useful model for understanding the relationship between peshat and derash, and can lead to a framework for learning from those midrashic interpretations which seem improbable within the narrative context.