Tuesday, July 22, 2014

17. Genesis 42:1-47:26 (Joseph and his brothers)

I burned out on Genesis a couple months ago with only two posts left. No one seemed to be paying attention to the series anyway. But finish Genesis must I. Then I'll set this project aside till an angel appears and tells me to continue with Exodus.

So today is Genesis 42:1-47:26.
The First Trip to Egypt (Gen. 42)
  • Now the story reconnects. Joseph has been in Egypt for years. His father Jacob has thought him dead probably over a decade in the story. His brothers probably have more or less forgotten him. Now they are on a trajectory to meet him again.
  • Joseph recognizes them but they do not recognize him. All but Benjamin are with them. Joseph begins to toy with them. He accuses them of being spies.
  • Joseph makes them leave Simeon with him until they come back with Benjamin to prove that their story would pan out. Joseph cries for the first time, understanding in their language that Reuben is seeing this trouble as punishment (from God) for what they did to Joseph. Meanwhile, Joseph puts their silver back in their bags. 
  • Reuben, the firstborn, continues to have regrets as before.
The Second Trip to Egypt (Gen. 42)
  • Soon the food runs out again. They must go back to Egypt. They have to take Benjamin. Now Judah promises he will make sure Benjamin comes back. They take presents.
  • Jacob invokes El Shaddai in 43:14, and 43:23 references "your El and the El of your father."
  • They "bowed low to pay him honor" (NIV) in 43:28. Significant for understanding the word "worship" is the fact that the most common word for worship in the NT is used here in the Greek translation of this verse (proskyneo).
  • As they leave, Joseph once again plants his sliver cup in Benjamin's bag as a pretext to keep them from leaving. Joseph's ability to practice divination is mentioned in 44:15.
  • Joseph finally cannot contain himself. He breaks down weeping. He reveals himself to them.
  • God let them sell him into slavery to save lives (45:5). Good examples of salvation language in these verses (e.g., 45:7). Joseph wants the family to move to Goshen in Egypt.
Jacob's Trip to Egypt
  • Jacob offers sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. Elohim speaks to him and promises to bring his descendants back into the land of promise again. Sixty-six of Jacob's direct descendants go down to Egypt, and Genesis 46 gives the roll call. Jacob is finally reunited with Joseph.
  • Jacob's family have to live separate from the Egyptians because they detest shepherds. By contrast, pig herders were detestable to the Israelites. Herein is the real cultural to the prohibition on pork, not some supposed hygienic reason. The Egyptians apparently felt the same way about lamb.
  • Powerful words of Jacob in 47:9: "My years have been few and difficult." 
  • Joseph ends up acquiring the lands of all but the priests for Pharaoh.
Previous notes:
1. Genesis 1:1-2:3 (Creation)
2. Genesis 2:4-3:24 (The Fall)
3. Genesis 4-5 (Cain and Abel)
4. Genesis 6-9 (The Flood)
5. Genesis 10-11 (The Tower of Babel)
6. Genesis 12 (The Call of Abram)
7. Genesis 13-14 (Melchizedek)
8. Genesis 15-17 (Hagar and Ishmael)
9. Genesis 18-19 (Sodom and Gomorrah)
10. Genesis 20-22 (Abraham and Isaac)
11. Genesis 23-24 (Isaac and Rebekah)
12. Genesis 25-26 (Birth of Jacob and Esau)
13. Genesis 27:1-30:24 (Jacob's Trickery, Flight, and Children)
14. Genesis 30:25-36:43 (Jacob's Departure from Haran)
15. Genesis 37-38 (Sibling Issues: Joseph, Tamar)
16. Genesis 39-41 (Joseph - from slave to ruler)

Final post tomorrow, Genesis 47:27-50:26.

1 comment:

Brenda said...

It surprises me that you point out how Reuben emerges as the responsible one, but mention nothing about Judah. Judah, after all, is willing to sacrifice his life, something Reuben is not. Alter, in the The Art of Biblical Narrative, presents a rather convincing argument that the story is more about Judah and his transformation than anyone/anything else.