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Gen. 50

8/3/10 Joseph had his father embalmed after the manner of the Egyptians, a procedure that took 40 days. By now the famine was long over but Pharaoh continued to employ Joseph in apparently an important position in Egypt. Since Joseph was so prominent all Egypt observed 70 days of mourning for his father.

At that point Joseph asked Pharaoh’s permission to take some time off and bury his father in Machpelah, which not only did Pharaoh allow but he sent a sizable delegation along with Joseph including the elders of his own household and of all Egypt and the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father. It was a large contingency that made its way back to Canaan. After crossing the Jordan the group observed seven days of mourning, which was noted by the Canaanites as something amazing and unique.

Joseph returned to Egypt. He was still a young man at this point, around 40 years old probably. His brothers feared that maybe Joseph held a grudge against them but was waiting for the passing of Jacob to act. So they brought him a planned message asking for his mercy. Joseph, though, had been genuine in his forgiveness. He wept over the fact that they mistrusted him so. “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” he told them. Joseph refused to judge his brothers over what had happened. And not only did he refuse to judge, he promised to care for them for the rest of their lives.

Joseph lived for another 70 years in Egypt presumably in Pharaoh’s service. When he died at 110 he asked his brothers who at least some of them were still living to take his bones from there when Israel left. This, of course, his brothers would not do in person, but they passed the message down faithfully from generation to generation to the time of the exodus. Then indeed they took Joseph’s bones with them.

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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 47

7/30/10 When Jacob’s household arrived in Goshen Joseph took five of his brothers. Which ones and why isn’t told, but he presents them to Pharaoh and when Pharaoh asks their occupation they tell him they are shepherds. Pharaoh then officially gives them permission to settle in the best land and tells Joseph to choose any good men from Jacob’s house to shepherd his livestock.

Then Joseph brought in his father to meet Pharaoh. Pharaoh asks his age, which he states as 130 few and unpleasant years. I had never thought about how unpleasant life was for Jacob: his parent’s relationship, his brothers’ and his relationship, stealing, fleeing, being cheated, lying, his wives, his son’s actions, losing Rachel, losing Joseph, it just never ended for Jacob. The last 17 years in Egypt, I suppose, were the best of his life with his sons reborn and Joseph restored.

Joseph managed the whole of Egypt by access to food. He acquired all the money in Egypt for Pharaoh, then all of the animals, then all of the land, and finally the people themselves as slaves. Not forced labor slaves apparently, but enough so that they could be freely taxed a fifth of their yearly harvest. Everyone from then on worked on Pharaoh’s lands instead of their own.

When the time came for Jacob to die he called Joseph to him and asked to be buried with Abraham and Isaac in Canaan. Joseph promised to make this happen. And Israel grew to many people.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 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. 35

7/17/10 Upon his return to Canaan Jacob first went to Succoth and built a house, so he must have stayed a while. Then he moved to Shechem and bought land and pitched tents there. So he must have stayed a while there as well. Then God told him to move to Bethel, which he did, though it doesn’t appear he stayed for long. Then he moved to Bethlehem and stayed there for a while. Finally, he came to his father in Hebron, just before Isaac died. It seems odd that Jacob took so long to see his father after his return to the land. Perhaps he did go to see him but it just isn’t told in the story.

When God told Jacob to move to Bethel, which means house of God, Jacob gave instructions for everyone in his company to put away any idols. They also removed their earrings and gave them to Jacob, who hid them in the ground. He commanded them to prepare to meet with God, to purify themselves and change their clothes. Meeting with God is to be done carefully and with thought. Jacob’s clan was already starting to sound like the children of Israel.

As they journeyed, the cities around them were in terror of them and did not pursue them, just like we read later in Ex 15 and 23. When Jacob came to the place God had revealed himself to him and had promised to make a great nation from him, Jacob built an altar to God there. There God appeared again to Jacob and repeated the covenant he had made with Abraham and Isaac. God also change Jacob’s name to Israel, more officially, I suppose, from the night at the Jabbock. When finished confirming the promise he went up from the place and Jacob marked it as a holy place.

Their business finished in Bethel, they journeyed on toward Bethlehem and on the way Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin.

In a one-sentence paragraph the account mentions that Ruben slept with Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine, but does not expand on it. Jacob knew of it, but it doesn’t say what he did about it.

Finally, Jacob came to his father in Hebron, where he died at 180 years old. The brothers, Jacob and Esau together, buried him.

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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 34

7/16/10 This chapter begins with the ominous phrase, “Dinah…went to visit the daughters of the land.” The intermingling of God’s people with the wicked never ends well for God’s people. Dinah was seen and raped by Shechem, son of the leader of the town, Hamor. The towns of Canaan were small towns with small numbers of people. The fact that two men end up killing them and that the Shechemites would be interested in having the wealth of Jacob enough to be circumcised to gain it indicates that they were few in number.

Shechem was deeply attracted to Dinah and wanted to marry her, so he came with his father to Jacob to make the request. Jacob waits for his sons to return and when they did they were very angry about what happened. However, they veiled it enough to come up with a scheme.

Jacob, presumably, was not in on their lie. For sure not the murder part, but the intermarriage part isn’t clear. Could he have agreed to intermarry with the people? It seems unlikely, but it also seems unlikely that he left his sons to make this decision alone, although it is possible.

So Shechem and his father go back to the town and convince the men to be circumcised so that they could become one with Israel. (This seems to be the first time the word is used to denote the area and people rather than just Jacob himself). Motivated by greed, the men were circumcised. Then Simeon and Levi fell upon them and killed all the men. Afterward, all of the sons, except Joseph and Benjamin, came and looted the town taking away the valuables and even the people.

Jacob understood the implications of what his sons had done and that they were no longer secure there. He also understood the moral problem (see Gen 49). But his sons argued that the wrong done to their sister had to be put right.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 31

7/13/13 Jacob sensed that something had changed. Laban was fed up with Jacob and the way God blessed him. Laban wanted to take advantage of Jacob but at every turn Jacob prospered at Laban’s expense. Jacob was learning lessons about treachery.

Finally, God spoke to Jacob and told him to return to his own land. Jacob called Leah and Rachel to him out in the fields where no one could hear their conversation. Apparently the two maids he had married had a different status than these two. Jacob told them what he had been thinking and what God had said to him and the sisters agreed that they should go. So while Laban was away shearing sheep Jacob packed up and left. This was no small undertaking since his house had grown large.

He fled quickly as he could across the Euphrates toward Canaan. Laban finally found out three days later and pursued Jacob with his men. Just before he caught up, though, God spoke to Laban as well, telling him to be careful with Jacob. Even though Laban probably wasn’t a devoted follower of God he apparently knew and respected Jacob’s God enough to pay attention.

So he scolded Jacob and demanded why he had stolen his gods, which Jacob didn’t know Rachel had taken. So he rashly promised that whoever had them would be killed. God intervened on that one and Laban didn’t find the idols.

When Laban found nothing Jacob read him the riot act about how he had treated him. Then Laban suggested a covenant between them. This would seem to be more of a self-preservation thing than a kindness thing. Laban could see that Jacob was well on his way to becoming a powerful man who could eventually avenge himself upon Laban. So the two men promised peace between them and drew a line there at Gilead that neither would cross that line to harm the other.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gen. 25

7/5/10 After Sarah died, Abraham remarried and had six more sons. But they were not the children of promise. Therefore, Abraham gave them gifts and sent them to live in the East. (Could there be any connection with the wisemen who came from the East at Jesus’ birth?) Abraham understood that God intended to give the land of Canaan to Isaac’s descendants, so he was being sure that there would not be blood competition in the family.

Presumably Abraham had prepared his sons for this from birth and he provided well for them, but nothing was to distract from the line of Isaac. Abraham finally died at 175 years old. Ishmael, who apparently was still in the area and had contact with his family joined Isaac in burying their father beside Isaac’s mother, Sarah.

As for Ishmael he went on to become the father of 12 sons as God had promised his mother, to make him a great nation. It’s interesting that God gave him exactly 12 sons just as Jacob would have, who would become the 12 tribes of Israel. One wonders if there is any significance to that.

God had said that Ishmael’s descendants would live in hostility toward the people around them and even among themselves, which continues to this day. Yet God promised to bless them through Ishmael. Since God doesn’t change that blessing must still be in effect.

Jacob and Esau were born to Rebekah when Isaac was 60 years old. That means they had no children for 20 years, which would have been a terrible time since children would have been expected right away. The account says simply that Isaac prayed for his wife, but presumably he didn’t pray only after 20 years of waiting. Most likely he prayed for 20 years.

Imagine their joy the day Rebekah became pregnant. And even though it was the first time being pregnant Rebekah knew that something was unusual. There was action in her womb. So she went to God to ask about the problem and he spoke to her telling her that they would have twins and also gave her a prophecy concerning future of her boys. It’s interesting how much God interacted with the women in the first parts of the Bible: Eve, Sarah, Hagar, and now Rebekah, all spoke directly with God.

God had separated out Isaac from Abraham’s other sons. Now he separated out Jacob from Isaac’s sons. There was to be one distinct line of his chosen people. God didn’t reject Esau or his descendants on a personal level, they just were not to be part of the line of Israel. Not that they could have understood this enough to have resented it, probably. Still, even though they were not being rejected by God as human beings, they did choose to reject him.

There was rivalry between the brothers from the beginning and Jacob was far from blameless, going to far as to manipulate his brother for the birthright. In spite of the prophecy, Esau was Isaac’s favored son, but Esau clearly held in contempt his birth position and responsibilities spiritually speaking.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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