The Man of Politics Can't Be Seduced: A Twice-Told Biblical Episode in Philo's On Joseph Reveals the Author's Political Theory
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In his political treatise On Joseph, the first-century C.E. Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria elaborates the biblical episode of the Egyptian woman's failed seduction of Joseph as told in Genesis 39. He uses the episode twice: first, to extol the resistance of a future vice-regent of Egypt to sexual seduction; and second, to portray the political leader of a democratic polis as a man of virtue and principles who cannot be bribed or corrupted. Ethical discourse, according to Philo, must be adapted to the specific institutional context to which it relates.