Friday, January 15, 2010


Genesis 43-46

Genesis 43 starts with the continuing famine in Canaan.  Jacob's sons, other than Simeon, have returned, but the food they brought back is running out and Jacob implores them to go back to Egypt and buy more.  His sons resist, protesting that the overseer told them they would not see him again if they did not bring back their youngest brother.  Judah tells Jacob that he will stand as guarantor for Benjamin's safe return, and that he is willing to lay down his life if Benjamin does not come back.  Jacob relents, and the 10 brothers take the silver that was returned to them on their last trip and enough for purchase of more grain, and head to Egypt.  When Joseph sees them, he instructs his steward to prepare a meal for them at his residence.  They gather at Joseph's house, where Simeon is brought out to them.  Joseph sees Benjamin and inquires after their father, then retires to his private quarters to weep.  Then he came out and feasted with them. 

The story continues in chapter 44 when, following their feast, he has the stewards fill his brothers bags with grain.  He also has their silver placed back in the bags, and one of his own silver cups into Benjamin's bag.  His brothers head back to Canaan, but Joseph sends a his steward after them, and when he overtakes them, accuses them of having stolen a silver cup.  They deny it, and agree that if any one is found to have taken it, that one will become a slave to Joseph.  They all drop their bags and the steward finds the cup in Benjamin's.  They all go back to Joseph's house, where his brothers fall down and bow before him, acknowledging themselves as his slaves.  He says that only the one found with the cup is his slave, the rest are free to go.  Judah pleads with Joseph to keep him instead, as Benjamin is the youngest, the only remaining son of the wife their father loved, and the loss of him would kill their father.

Finally, in chapter 45, Joseph acknowledges his identity to his brothers.  He sends everyone else from the room, and tells his brothers who he is.  They are frightened, but he tells them not to be frightened and not to be angry, that they hadn't sent him into slavery, but GOD had sent him ahead into Egypt to prepare for the time of famine.  And after they all threw their arms around one another and wept, he told them to go back to Canaan and get their father.  Pharoah gave Joseph and his family the land of Goshen, so they took carts and donkeys and returned to Canaan where they told Jacob that Joseph was still alive and the ruler of Egypt.

In Genesis 46, we get a genealogy of Israel as it entered in to the land of Goshen at the behest of Pharoah.  After packing up, they headed towards Egypt.  At Beersheba, they stopped and Israel prayed to the LORD, who told him that he would bring him back out of Egypt.  The list of direct descendants of Israel, not counting sons' wives, is said to be 66, and, with Joseph and the two sons born to him in Egypt, 70.  They settle in, and tell Pharoah that they are shephards.

    Thoughts, questions, issues
  • I'm hesitant to call Joseph a jerk, and certainly they warranted some punishment for having sold their brother into slavery, regardless of how well it turned out, but his treatment of his brothers was cruel.  Keeping Simeon and then framing Benjamin were frightening and unpleasant acts.
  • "Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.  He said to them, 'Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.'" (Gen 37:5-7)
    "Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him." (Gen 44:14)
  • When he finally acknowledges his identity, Joseph does demonstrate that he has handled his experience well.  Rather than recriminations, he expresses to them that GOD has sent him in to Egypt, that what has happened in his life has been done for GOD's purposes.
  • The entire story of Joseph's exile to Egypt, his reconciliation with his brothers, their return with Israel to him, is as easily understandable as anything in Genesis, and much more so than most of it.  Even the actions of his brothers, selling him, is understandable, albeit reprehensible.  This whole section (excluding the Judah/Tamar interlude) is straightforward history.
  • I count 71 male descendants, three of which (Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim) were already in Egypt and two of which (Er and Onan) were dead.  So that does make 66 that went down to Egypt.  And three makes 69, which is not exactly 70.

Proverbs 12:15-28

The last 14 verses in chapter 12 extol honesty, truthfulness and discretion, while condemning laziness, dishonesty and imprudence.  13 of the 14 are antithetical parallelisms.

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