Okay… NOW is the conclusion of Genesis!

Previously, I was examining the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis. Joseph’s brothers have sold him into slavery in Egypt. I wonder if it was worth it, or were they consumed by guilt? Anyway, the story, of course, continues.

(Can you imagine this being a soap opera? It has everything a good soap is made of—scandals, deceit, drama, tragedy…).

God was with Joseph, so as harsh as enslavement by the Egyptian Pharaoh could have been, it wasn’t. Joseph was favored among Pharaoh and given a place working in his house. Everything that Joseph did, God touched it and made it successful. The same can happen for us if we do things according to what God would have us do, and with the right attitude and heart. Joseph is put in charge of the entire household, and God blesses that household because of Joseph. (See what influence Godly people can have? Blessings can flow through us richly if we have the right spirit).

Joseph is a nice-looking young man, and Potiphar’s wife takes notice. She attempts to seduce Joseph, but he rebuffs her advances. (Notice “advance” is in its plural form, because she kept trying, day after day, and he kept saying no. Joseph knew sleeping with his master’s wife was not only evil against his master, but more importantly, a sin against God). When the wife gets fed up, she resorts to another method—deceit. When Joseph enters the house to tend to his duties, he finds that none of the other household servants are there. Potiphar’s wife again propositions Joseph and is again rejected. As Joseph runs out of the house, he leaves his cloak behind.

I am sure you can guess what comes next. The wife basically tells her household servants that Joseph violated her—that he came in to try to sleep with her, but she screamed and he ran away. She repeats the story to her husband as well, and of course he is angry. Joseph is thrown into prison, but God is still with him—he gains favor in the eyes of the prison warden. Joseph is put in charge of everyone else in the prison, and the warden is worry-free because he knows Joseph will take good care of everything for which he is responsible.

Can people say that about us? Do people have that kind of faith in us? When we make a promise or pledge to someone, do they second-guess us or take us at our word? Even in the worst and seemingly helpless of situations, Joseph is able to take the “lemons” he is given and make “lemonade”J. Imagine how dedicated and Godly in character Joseph had to be to win over the person who had enslaved him and then the warden of a prison. He had to be steady in all ways—even tempered, steady and disciplined with his work, and definitely a “people person”.

While Joseph is imprisoned, Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker offend him and are thrown into the prison (the cupbearer was a very important and high-ranking office at that time, and means exactly what it suggests—this person was in charge of keeping the drinks flowing). The cupbearer had to be someone who was highly trusted by the Pharaoh, as he was probably privy to what could be deemed confidential information, and kings at that time (and now too, I imagine) were always cognizant of potential plots to overthrow them, etc. The two men are assigned to Joseph.

Time passes, and the cupbearer and baker both have a dream on the same night that they do not understand. When Joseph asks them why they appear so sad, they explain that they have both had dreams, but have no one to interpret them. I like what Joseph says: “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Gen. 40:8). Joseph knows and respects that his ability to have and interpret dreams comes from God. It was silly of the men to suggest that there was no one to interpret the dreams when they could have just asked God for clarification.

The cupbearer is first to tell Joseph his dream (Gen. 40:9-11):

“So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”

Joseph interprets the dream. Briefly, it means that Pharaoh will restore the cupbearer to his original position in three days. Joseph adds, “When this happens do not forget about me. Show me kindness and mention me to Pharaoh so I can get out of here. I was forced to come here and have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon” (paraphrased, Gen. 40: 15).

The baker is impressed and reveals his dream next (Gen. 40: 16-17):

When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”

Joseph interprets the dream as well, but the ending to this baker’s plight will not be as rosy as the cupbearer’s. The three baskets represent three days. In three days, Pharaoh is going to impale the baker with a pole and allow the birds to pick at his flesh.

Sidebar: If I was the baker, I think I would have preferred not to know that. And I don’t know about you, but I have to wonder what the baker did to make Pharaoh that angry! Either way, I am sure the baker did not expect to hear that… he probably expected to hear a prediction similar to what the cupbearer had heard.

Pharaoh’s birthday is three days later. Everything happens just as Joseph said it would—the cupbearer is restored as Pharaoh enjoys a feast in celebration, and the baker is impaled. As to be expected, the cupbearer did not honor Joseph’s request to remember him. (How many “little people” have we forgotten about during our climb up the ranks at our jobs or within our churches?).

Two years pass, and Joseph is still imprisoned. Pharaoh begins having dreams (Gen. 41:1-8):

“When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.”

Pharaoh is understandably confused and distressed about these dreams. He sends for all the magicians and wise men in Egypt, but none of them are able to accurately interpret the dreams. Only now does the cupbearer remember Joseph (Gen. 41: 9): “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings…” He remembers that Joseph had correctly interpreted his dream and he had forgotten all about him once he had been restored to his super-important cushy job. Pharaoh sends for Joseph, who is cleaned up and presented to him in order that he may interpret the dream. Again, Joseph shows us how dynamite his character is, because even in the face of Pharaoh, he gives the credit for his ability to God: “I cannot do it [interpret your dream], but God will give the answer Pharaoh desires” (Gen. 41: 16).

God has given all of us abilities that he desires us to use to build his kingdom and give him glory. Whether or not we use them for that purpose is totally up to us. Joseph is a perfect example of how we should treat our talents—use them to glorify God, and thank God for them, and give God and God only the credit for them. Joseph was a very humble guy. No wonder people liked him.

Joseph interprets the two dreams, saying they have the same meaning. The dreams are predictions of an impending famine. There will be seven bountiful years followed by seven lean years. The famine will be severe.

Pharaoh wisely takes Joseph at his word and begins preparations for the famine. He appoints commissioners over the land and gives them a responsibility of collecting and storing a fifth of the land’s grain harvest during each of the seven years of abundance (seven again, did you notice?). The fifth was to be used as a reserve during the seven years of famine. Joseph is again given a position of authority. Pharaoh puts him in charge of his palace—all of Pharaoh’s other company is to submit to Joseph.

Pharaoh then puts Joseph in charge of all Egypt and gives him his signet (that fingerprint-type thing), fine linen robes, and a gold chain to wear around his neck. Pharaoh parades Joseph around Egypt in a chariot as his second-in-command, with people shouting “Make way!” as he rides through the streets. He gives Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah, an Egyptian name perhaps so that Joseph may fit in better with the Egyptian people (so perhaps I should check to see if there were other instances were Biblical figures were renamed by someone other than God, because I had forgotten about this instance—from the little bit of research I have done, it suggests that this name meant “revealer of dreams”, so it does make sense, although God did not rename people just so they would fit in with their community, he did it to establish a brand new identity for them).

Pharaoh also gives Joseph Asenath to be his wife. Joseph is now thirty years old.

The seven years of abundance begin. Joseph collects and stores the abundance as planned. He was able to store so much that he stopped keeping records because the overflow was beyond measure. Before the famine begins, his wife bears him two sons, Manasseh (“because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” Gen. 41: 51) and Ephraim (“God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Gen. 41: 52). The famine begins as predicted, and when it does, the people cry to Pharaoh. He, in turn, sends them to Joseph, who begins to ration out the surplus in storehouses. The famine is not just in Egypt—its affects are widespread, and people from all over start coming to Egypt for food.

Back in Canaan, Jacob learns that there is grain in Egypt and sends ten of his sons, except for the youngest, Benjamin, to buy some grain, as they are starving. The Bible says Jacob did not send Benjamin because he was afraid his brothers would harm him—makes me wonder what has been going on in that family the entire time Joseph has been enslaved. Had Jacob turned his affections to Benjamin? Was the same rivalry there that was now segregating Benjamin from his older brothers? Did Jacob have his suspicions about what had really happened to Joseph?

The ten sons go to Egypt, and without recognizing their own brother, who is now 38 years old and dressed in Egyptian garb, they bow down to Joseph (just like he said they would). Joseph knew who they were, but pretended not to, and spoke harshly to them, asking them where they had come from and why and accusing them of being spies. They respond “Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more” (Gen. 42: 13). Oh, the irony.

Joseph tells the brothers he will test them: They cannot leave until their brother Benjamin arrives. He puts his brothers in custody for three days so they can mull it over. On the third day, Joseph offers them a better deal: One of them must remain in the prison while the others take grain back to their starving father. When they return for the imprisoned brother, they must bring Benjamin with them. I am pretty sure Joseph wondered if his little brother was living under the same tension-filled conditions he had lived in. He was concerned about him, and did not trust his brothers right away. They have to be tested.

They do just that. At this point, the brothers feel they are being punished for how they have treated Joseph in the past—little do they know they are in for an undeserved treat. Reuben reminds them that he was against the plan from the start (technically there is no place for “I told you so” in most situations, but I think Reuben was justified here). Since Joseph understands what Reuben says (remember, the brothers still think Joseph is an Egyptian, and do not think he understands Hebrew) he knows that Reuben was not involved in the plan to get rid of him. Simeon is bound as his brothers watch. He is the brother who will be imprisoned.

As the brothers make their way back to Canaan, they stop to purchase feed for their donkeys, only to find the silver they had for the grain purchase is in their sack. So now it looks like they had stolen the grain! So now, if they return to Egypt for Simeon, they will be thought of as spies AND thieves.

When they get home, they explain to Jacob all that has happened. I can only imagine how many gray hairs Jacob had sprouted because of his boys. He holds them responsible for the loss of Simeon and Joseph as well. He does not want to have to entrust Benjamin to them. Reuben offers his own two sons if he does not hold to his word to bring Simeon and Benjamin back safely, but Jacob refuses.

It is almost comical that the brothers do not bother to return to Egypt right away. Instead, they wait until they have again run out of grain. Apparently, they aren’t too fond of Simeon. As far as they knew, Joseph could have killed him. However, Simeon is known for his cruelty, which explains a lot.

Jacob tells them to go to Egypt for more grain, and Judah reminds him of what Joseph told them to do upon their return—bring Benjamin. Jacob asks, “Why did you even tell the man you had another brother?” (Paraphrased, of course). The brothers tell Jacob that Joseph had questioned them about their family. (However, it appears in the previous chapter that the brothers had been the first to discuss their family: “Your servants are all brothers with the same father” (another paraphrase). Anyway, Jacob has to agree to Joseph’s conditions, and also sends along some gifts for the “man”, i.e., Joseph.

The brothers hurry to Egypt and present themselves to Joseph. Joseph prepares a meal from them when he sees Benjamin and is satisfied. The brothers are frightened as they are taken into Joseph’s house—they probably think they are doomed because of the silver they had “taken”. They confess that the silver was in their sacks, and Joseph tells them that he received their payment and that the silver in their sacks had come from God. Joseph returns Simeon to them, and a steward washes the men’s feet and tends to their donkeys. When Joseph comes back, they give him the gifts Jacob sent, bow down before him, and Joseph inquires about their father: “Is he well? How old is he?”

Joseph is moved by the sight of his younger brother and goes into another room to relieve himself of his emotion. When he returns, the food is served; however, there is a special order to this (Gen. 43: 32-33):

“They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment.”

Why were the brothers astonished? Because these boys had been pretty much born back to back and probably looked similar in age. How could Joseph know who was the oldest and who was the youngest?

Chapter 43 ends with Benjamin receiving five times as much food as the rest of his brothers.

After eating, the brothers purchase their grain, with Joseph instructing his stewards to fill their sacks with as much grain as they can hold. He tells the steward to return each man’s silver into their sack, and to place his cup in the mouth of Benjamin’s sack in addition to his silver. The steward did as told. Morning approaches, and the brothers begin their journey back to Canaan. They are not far away when Joseph sends the steward to chase after the brothers and accuse them of stealing the cup. The dutiful steward again does as he is told, and the brothers are indignant at the thought of them stealing from Joseph. They say, in so many words, that if one of them has the cup, he shall die and the other remaining brothers will become Joseph’s slaves.

Of course the cup is found in Benjamin’s sack (the steward did so much as to search the sacks from oldest brother to youngest, as though he did not already know where it was. I wonder if he knew why Joseph was doing this. I definitely would have been confused. This steward is very faithful).

The brothers tear their clothes, a sign of mourning and grief. They load their donkeys and return to the city. At Joseph’s house, they throw themselves on the ground before him, and Judah asks how they can prove their innocence. Joseph tells them that only the one who had the cup will be his slave, and the rest can go back to his father. Judah explains to Joseph that if they return to Canaan without Benjamin, who his father loves (it does appear that Jacob shows favoritism to Benjamin and that the brothers are aware of it. Perhaps they learned their lesson from their treatment of Joseph and found a better way to deal with it by now. Also, they are now grown men and should not be concerned with how Jacob treats Benjamin). Judah offers to stay in Benjamin’s place.

Joseph can no longer keep the charade up. He sends everyone out of the room and tells his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” (Gen. 45: 3). His brothers are too scared and probably shocked and confused to answer. Joseph instructs his brothers to come close, and when they do, he explains to them what happened to him after they sold him.

My favorite part of this passage of Scripture is that Joseph obviously understands why everything happened the way it did and has no hard feelings against his brothers, as it was God’s will for him to go to Egypt so as to save his family (Gen. 45: 5-8):

“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt”.

Joseph said nothing of his suffering, instead he chose to focus on the fact that God’s will had been accomplished and that everything had been under God’s control the entire time. I wish I had this guy’s resolve!

Joseph tells his brothers to come into the land where he is the ruler with their families and of course their father. The brothers have an emotional reunion and appear to be restored (Score another one for brothers!). The news reaches Pharaoh, and Pharaoh is pleased (that too shows how much Joseph had impressed Pharaoh, that Pharaoh also cared about matters concerning Joseph’s estranged family, and is willing to let them come into the area):

“Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’

You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’ ” (Gen. 45:17-20).

WOW! Remember that Joseph had come to Egypt as a slave. Hebrew slaves were considered to be lowly, not even good enough to eat alongside Egyptians, hence the separation at the dinner previously. Now look—because of Joseph, his brothers had the opportunity to partake in Egypt’s best!

Similar to our relationship with God. Through Jesus Christ, we have the opportunity to partake in the best that God has to offer! Joseph, in many ways, is a type of Christ.

Joseph gives each brother new clothing, but heaps extra upon Benjamin—money and five sets of clothes. He sends for his father. Can you imagine how Jacob felt when he received the news that Joseph was not only alive, but the ruler of Egypt?? I am sure it took some convincing. Jacob’s spirit is revived at the thought of seeing his beloved son before he dies. They begin their journey back to Egypt.

God appears to Jacob (he is often being referred to now as Israel, but I have not been writing that so as to avoid confusion (mainly my own, smile), after Jacob offers sacrifices. God tells Jacob not to be afraid to go into Egypt, because he will make him into a great nation there. God tells him “I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes” (Gen. 46: 4). Jacob and Co. continue on their journey. A brief census is given, and we are told that not counting his daughters-in-law, 66 direct descendants of Jacob are making the trip. The total number of Israelites, including Joseph and his family, are 70.

Joseph meets up with his father at Goshen. Can you imagine that reunion? I think most parents can remember a time when their child may have gotten out of their sight for even a split second, that momentary panic before you see them run out from behind the jungle gym or something. I cannot imagine what Jacob felt, nor do I want to!

Joseph instructs his brothers to tell Pharaoh they are shepherds by occupation. With that admission, they will be allowed to live in Goshen, because shepherding was too lowly an occupation to have presence among the Egyptians (classy). When Joseph presents five of his brothers to Pharaoh, they do as told. He then presents Jacob to Pharaoh. Pharaoh asks Jacob how old he is. Here we find that Jacob is 130 years old. The family settles in the best part of the land, the district of Ramses, as directed by Pharaoh.

The famine is still ongoing. People are running out of money to purchase grain, so Joseph agrees to accept their livestock as payment. When the livestock dwindles, he accepts land and their servitude as payment (Gen. 47:20-22):

“So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land”.

(I find it interesting that there were priests, and I wonder what kind?).

The people are given seed to plant and instructed to give a fifth of their harvest to Pharaoh. They can have the other four-fifths to feed their family. Despite their bondage, the people are grateful to Joseph for not letting them starve. The practice of giving a fifth of produce to Pharaoh becomes a law.

The Israelites have fully settled in Egypt in the land of Goshen. Seventeen years pass, and Jacob, now 147, senses that his time to die is near. He asks to be buried with his fathers. Joseph hears that his father is ill, and takes his sons Manasseh and Ephraim to see him. Once hearing that Joseph is there, Jacob summons up whatever strength he has left and reminds him of the promise God made to him: That his numbers will be increased. Jacob tells Joseph that Manasseh and Ephraim will be accepted as his own, but any children born to Joseph after those two will be his own.

I imagine this was a very tender scene… Jacob’s vision is failing, and he asks Joseph who his grandsons are. Once they have been identified, Jacob says, “I never thought I’d see your face again, and now look—here I am looking at your sons”. How powerful!

An interesting scene takes place. As Jacob prepares to bless the boys, he places his right hand on Ephraim’s head and his left on Manasseh’s. As Manasseh is the elder son, Jacob’s right hand is supposed to be on his head, symbolic of him receiving the blessings that are typically meant for the firstborn son. However, Jacob has been directed by God throughout this entire event—eventually Simeon and Levi will branch off, and be replaced by Manasseh and Ephraim—hence Jacob “adopting” them as his own (similar to how the failures of the Israelites enabled Gentiles to be adopted into God’s family, isn’t it?). Joseph, who put the boys in their proper place, with Manasseh on Jacob’s right and Ephraim on his left, is displeased when Jacob crosses his arms so as to put his right on Ephraim and left on Manasseh, but it is done as God would have it be done. This is another situation where the second son will be greater than the elder.

After Jacob blesses all three, he gives Joseph a ridge of land he took from the Amorites.

Jacob gathers all of his sons and delivers some final blessings. Although they are thought of and referred to as blessings, they are more like prophecies of things to come based on things that have happened in the past.

As he speaks to Reuben, Jacob seems to bring up the incident where Reuben slept with Bilhah his concubine (Gen. 49: 4):

“Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father’s bed, onto my couch and defiled it”.

Reuben was his father’s firstborn and had probably been a source of immense pride, but he had fallen short and was no longer privy to the rights and privileges of the firstborn son. It seems Judah was now chosen to be the leader, which may be why Jacob had sent him ahead when he was going to meet up with Esau earlier. What Jacob said came true—no one notable came from the tribe of Reuben, no kings, judges, etc.

Jacob lumps Simeon and Levi together, which makes sense considering their actions in Shechem. Jacob predicts their separation from the rest of Israel (Gen.49: 6-7):

“Let me not enter their council, let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger, and hamstrung oxen as they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel”.

Simeon’s tribe, once great in number, diminishes, while the tribe of Levi, after not taking part in the worship of the golden calf in the time of Moses, flourishes and becomes the priestly order.

Here is another example of how God uses flawed people to fulfill his purposes, and an even stronger testament of God’s grace. Part of Judah’s blessing follows (Gen. 49: 10):

“Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.”

 

Of course we know from reading of Judah’s past indiscretions that he was not a man of great character (remember Tamar?). Yet, Jesus will come from this line! Several phrases in the passage, bolded, show that Judah has taken over the firstborn’s privileges and will be established as a ruler.

 

For Zebulun, a tribe that settled in a location facing the Mediterranean Sea:

 

“Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon.”

 

Issachar, which was a large tribe:

 

“When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor.”

The tribe of Issachar does eventually end up becoming enslaved.

 

The tribe of Dan:

 

“Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward.”

 

Although Dan was responsible for some good judges along the way, including Samson, this tribe was also responsible for leading the way into idolatry.

 

Gad:

 

“A troop shall tramp upon him, but he shall triumph last”.

 

My research led me to the book of Jeremiah the weeping prophet, where it is illustrated that the tribe of Gad was oppressed by foreign enemies. But if God is for them, who can be against them? Gad will triumph.

 

As for Asher:

 

“Asher’s food will be rich, he will provide delicacies fit for a king.”

 

That one is kind of self-explanatory, a Biblical rarity J However, there may be more to that than I am currently unaware of.

 

Naphtali’s blessing follows:

 

“Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.”

 

This one appears to pale in comparison to the others. The blessing of Naphtali does have undertones that make this statement more than what it seems. According to my research (and I haven’t looked this up in some time and could use a refresher, so bear with me), the territory occupied by the tribe of Naphtali was apparently where Jesus did a great deal of his teaching.

 

Not surprisingly, Joseph’s blessing is the wordiest, with Benjamin’s following (Gen. 49:22-27):

 

Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady,his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.

 

Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the plunder.”

 

The tribe of Benjamin was responsible for some of Israel’s most reputable (not in a good way) judges, including Saul.

 

Before dying, Jacob asks to be buried in Canaan. He dies, and interestingly enough, when he is buried, he is buried next to Leah, not his beloved Rachel.

 

After Jacob dies, his sons mourn. The first discussed instance of embalming is recorded here—the embalmers took forty days to conclude the process (there is that forty again!). The total time the Egyptians spent mourning Jacob was seventy days. After burying their father in Canaan per his request, Joseph observed an additional seven days of mourning (seven=completion).

 

Joseph’s brothers are still afraid that he is holding a grudge, and understandably so. Think of how we are today—when we slight someone, we almost expect retribution, even if that person claims to be a Christian. However, God has proclaimed that vengeance belongs only to him, and Joseph was aware of this. Vengeance has no place in a Godly person.

 

Joseph reassures his brothers that there are no hard feelings, and reminds them that what happened to him was God’s intention. Joseph lived to be 110, but before he does, he tells his brothers that God will “come to their aid”. Joseph knew about the impending bondage of the Israelites. He makes them swear an oath: “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.” Then he breathes his last.

 

Congratulate yourself, you just made it through the entire book of Genesis! I am pleased myself. I do not know or understand it all just yet, nor do I ever expect to fully understand the complexities of God. But I am always excited to read God’s Word and find ways to apply it to my life. So should be the attitude of all Christians. We do not read the Bible to condemn others—we read it with the expectation of learning about ourselves within its pages. It is an exciting journey indeed, and nothing can be more worthwhile!

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