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Gen. 46

7/29/10 In response to Joseph’s invitation the house of Jacob packed up to head for Egypt. They soon arrived in Beersheba, where Abraham and Abimilech had once made a covenant, and from which Jacob had fled from Esau. In this place so filled with history and memory already Jacob offered sacrifices to God and God spoke to Jacob in vision.

It must have been with some fear that Jacob was going to Egypt, so God comforted him that this was a part of his plans for him and his descendants. This is the place where his people would grow into a great nation. And God promised that Joseph would be there at his death.

The account lists the sons and grandsons of Jacob and that his household numbered 70 when they came to Egypt. As they arrived Jacob sent Judah to Joseph for directions to Goshen and Joseph met them there. Quite a reunion for them.

Joseph’s instructions to his family was that when Pharaoh asked their occupation they were to emphasize the fact that they were shepherds. Since shepherds were a low class of Egyptian society Pharaoh would see to it that they had plenty of room so that the Egyptians wouldn’t have to mingle with them. This likely was Joseph’s thinking to keep them from intermarriage.

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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 45

7/28/10 At the point that Joseph was convinced about the changed characters of his brothers his emotions overcame him. He could finally reveal himself to them. He ordered everyone of this attendants out of the room, but it didn’t really help, because he wept so loudly they heard him and word of it got to Pharaoh himself.

Joseph blurted out, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But the brothers were too stunned to answer, though Joseph knew already because he had heard them discussing it before. Then with himself under a little better control Joseph called his brothers closer and explained that it really was him and not to be concerned or even angry at themselves for what they had done to him, for God’s hand had been in it all along. This had all been part of a plan to save his family from starvation.

Of course, God wouldn’t have needed such an elaborate and painful plan to save them from famine. Much more was really going on. He also saved them spiritually speaking, for the trauma of all that happened worked much change in their lives. Also God would use this whole narrative to much good throughout the coming ages. And, finally, Joseph hinted at another big reason it had worked this way. God wanted Jacob’s family to be settled and established in Egypt because he had a grand plan for their future.

In v.7, Joseph says that God sent him there to preserve a remnant and to keep them alive by a great deliverance, which is literally translated as “an escaped company.” Joseph had a glimpse of the exodus that would happen 400 years later. At the end of his life he even asked that his bones be taken with them when they would go.

Joseph then invited them all to move to Egypt. Finally, the reality and joy of the situation sank in for the brothers and they had a grand reunion. Pharaoh found out what was going on and also extended his invitation. He was so pleased with Joseph that he was generous in his invitation, sending wagons and donkey and even telling them not to be concerned with moving their possessions because Egypt would provide its best for them.

When the brothers told their father, he was understandably stunned and didn’t believe them. However, it didn’t take a lot of convincing for him to believe them. The story doesn’t say whether they told him then or another time the truth of how Joseph got to Egypt.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 44

7/27/13 It was the final test. Joseph would give the brothers every easy excuse to treat Benjamin as they had treated him, and in addition they would be guiltless in the matter. Jacob treated Benjamin as he had treated Joseph, so the brothers could have easily been resentful of him as they had been with Joseph. And Joseph was determined to find out if this was so. One wonders how he would have dealt with them if they had been unchanged, but thankfully, they were changed.

Joseph ordered their money be returned and his special cup put into the sack of grain going on Benjamin’s donkey. About the time the brothers would have been feeling truly euphoric that they were out of the city and free, Joseph’s steward caught up with them and demanded to know why they would steal after all the kindness shown to them. The brothers protested their innocence and pronounced their own sentence if the cup was found with them.

The steward, in searching their sacks, would have found their money, but evidently didn’t mention it. It was only the silver cup he was interested in. When it was found in Benjamin’s sack they knew they had been set up. Dismayed, they returned together. They could have just sent Benjamin back but did not. They told Joseph that all of them would be his slaves, which he refused. This was a positive sign, but Joseph pushed the issue concerning Benjamin. Finally, Judah made a personal, heart-felt plea that for the sake of their aging father that he be allowed to substitute himself for Benjamin. At this point Joseph knew positively that his brothers were changed men.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 43

7/26/10 Jacob procrastinated as long as he could, refusing to let Benjamin go to Egypt. He hoped the famine would end or another source of food would be found. He hoped for anything, but God had designed that all of this happen. So  eventually Jacob’s family needed food or everyone, including Benjamin, would starve.

When Jacob tried to get them to at least try to go and get food, Judah reminded his father that they could not return to Egypt without Benjamin because Joseph had told them that they would not even see him if Benjamin didn’t come. All of this time Joseph was formulating a true test of his brother’s hearts.

In the end, Judah took personal responsibility for Benjamin–a relationship that extended  until long after the two had died, in the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

Jacob ordered them to take a special present for Joseph and to double their money to repay what had been returned to them. Then they rode back to Egypt. Joseph’s heart must have been racing with anticipation. By now he understood that God’s hand had been in all of this from the beginning. He recognized the dreams he had had and that God had planned it all. When the brothers returned he was ready.

Joseph brought them to his house, which at first terrified the brothers. They preempted what they thought woud concern the money in their sacks by telling the steward what had happened. But the steward assured them that he had received their money and credited their God with a miracle. Then they learned that they were to eat with Joseph.

When Joseph saw Benjamin he was overcome with emotion and had to flee to recompose himself. Then he ordered the meal served, which he ate separately, because it was detestable for Egyptians to eat with Hebrews–ironically. The Hebrews, thus far anyway, seemed to be free of such prejudices, though it would come in time.

Joseph began to lavish Benjamin with good things to observe the brother’s reaction. Would they be jealous? The brothers were treated well. He returned Simeon to them, washed their feet, and refreshed them from their trip. But Benjamin was obviously treated with the greatest honor.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 42

7/25/10 It appears that the famine in Egypt had become so severe that the sons of Jacob could think of nothing to do. They sat and stared at each other. So Jacob sent them to Egypt because the story had arrived in Canaan that food could be purchased there.

Joseph recognized his brothers but they didn’t recognize him, and Joseph made the most of it. It’s not clear how emotionally Joseph met this first encounter. That something was welling up from deep within is apparent. His instant reaction was to deal with them harshly. Perhaps at least at first this wasn’t the calculated plan that it turn into.

Joseph demanded that all the brothers but one remain in prison, while one went home and brought back Benjamin. But during the three days that followed his plan evolved into a true test of their characters. If he had not already forgiven his brothers, he seems to have done so during those three days. Or at least he completed the part of forgiveness that required being reunited with them.

Joseph finally decided to release all but one of his brothers so that they could carry enough grain back to their people. so that they would not suffer for what the brothers alone should suffer for. The brothers discussed all of this in front of Joseph, thinking that he couldn’t understand them. They connected all of this with their treatment of Joseph. And Reuben points out that he had defended Joseph.

The emotional strain was so great upon Joseph that he left and wept. Likely his desire to reveal himself immediately was great, but Joseph was a disciplined man and held his ground.

He sent back with the brothers their grain and their money, which, when they discovered it, they were shaken, imagining that they would be accused of stealing on top of spying.

They told Jacob the truth about what had happened. One wonders what happened in the lives of the brothers during that 20 years to change them so. Was it simply the guilt of what they had done to Joseph that had done this work in them? Jacob refused to send Benjamin for fear of his safety.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 41

7/24/10 This story is a dress rehearsal for the plan of salvation. The tentacles in the Bible narrative run all over the place. The one whom God has chosen to bring the good news of the salvation of the world (the Jewish nation and then the Christian church) grows up, is slightly arrogant (Rev 3:17), is betrayed and goes into a time of bitter trials (Rev 12:6), resists being defiled by women (Rev 14:4), emerges triumphant and in power (Rev 15:2), prepares the world for spiritual famine (Rev 6:8), when famine comes the whole world comes for food, forgiveness, reconciliation (Rev 18:4), and God’s people become rulers (Rev 5:10). So much is going on in this story that it’s difficult to see what it all means.

Two years after the cup bearer was restored to Pharaoh’s service, Pharaoh had his troubling dreams. When no one could interpret them the cup bearer remembered Joseph. Pharaoh summoned Joseph and he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. Then he proceeded to advise Pharaoh on what to do about the situation. Pharaoh conferred with his advisors and they all agreed that Joseph was the man for the job. Potiphar was likely there to vouch for Joseph’s wisdom and faithfulness.

Joseph’s integrity in small things had qualified him for great things. Pharaoh bestowed on Joseph unprecedented power, which Joseph wielded well. He stored up food and the famine came upon the known world. Soon the word was out that there was food in Egypt, and the whole world flocked to Joseph to buy food.

When God’s people are faithful and serve in obscurity with integrity, the day will eventually come when the church is catapulted to prominence because there is real spiritual food there. The church will not have “defiled itself with women” (spiritually speaking) and the spiritual famine when a “quart of wheat goes for a dinarius and three quarts of barley goes for a denarius” (Rev 6:6), falls upon the whole earth. At that time the atheistic Pharaoh will tell the earth to go to Joseph for food. And God’s people who are filled with the word of God will distribute that spiritual food.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 40

7/23/10 A couple of Pharaoh’s servants displeased him somehow, so he sent them to prison. But not just any prison, the special prison at Potiphar’s house for the king’s prisoners. Potiphar, who was the captain of the guard, put Joseph in charge of them. So Potiphar still looked with favor on Joseph.

One morning Joseph came to Pharaoh’s servants and found them looking dejected and asked what was the matter. They had had dreams, they told him, but couldn’t have them interpreted. Right away Joseph answered that to God belonged interpretations. Tell him the dreams. One wonders if Joseph had previous experiences not recorded or if he acted on impulse of the Holy Spirit. It was bold of him, and God honored him for it.

Joseph interpreted the dreams informing the cup bearer that he would be restored to Pharaoh, but the baker would be executed. Joseph asked the cup bearer to present his case to Pharaoh, since he was an innocent kidnapping victim and even an innocent prisoner.

But when the prophecies were fulfilled, the cup bearer forgot about Joseph. It seems odd that he forgot, or maybe he didn’t forget right away but didn’t immediately have an opportunity to broach the subject with Pharaoh and then later forgot. Still, this even was a divine appointment until the time was ripe to bring Joseph out to deal with a coming crisis. In the mean time the chief jailer trusted Joseph implicitly, not even checking on his work.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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