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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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Gen. 49:19-33

8/2/10 Gad: In 1 Chr. 5 & 12 the Gadites were always brave to fight, a valiant tribe. The chronicles of Israel don’t tell about Gad being often attacked but they clearly were always ready to help protect from any attack upon Israel.

Asher: Asher was promised rich food and the tribe did receive the most fertile area around Carmel by the Mediterranean. Solomon supplied Hiram with olive oil from this region. This would have included Lebanon, still known as the breadbasket of the Middle East.

Naphtali: We don’t know much about what happened with this tribe. Perhaps the prophecy about a doe and beautiful words refers to a gentle people who wouldn’t have made the “news” of the OT as the more in-your-face tribes. Not that they never fought. In 1 Kg 5 they fought with Barak against King Jabin. These short prophecies were sons of his concubines.

Joseph: Jacob overflowed in his blessing on Joseph for a number of reasons. One was because of the suffering he had undergone by his brothers and in Egypt. Another was because of his virtue and faithfulness throughout. He is a type of the shepherd Jesus.

Benjamin: The tribe of Benjamin became a warlike tribe, excellent archers and slingers. They were often at the forefront of battle. Ehud and Saul were of this tribe.

The account goes on to say that Jacob blessed all of his sons with a blessing appropriate to him. Then he asked that he be buried in Machpelah with Abraham and Isaac, then he lay down and died.

 
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Gen. 48

7/31/10 Sometime later Joseph heard that Jacob was sick so he came to him with his two sons. We don’t know how old they were, but still young enough to sit on is knees (v. 12). These two sons of Joseph Jacob claimed as his own, installing them as part of the 12 tribes of Israel.

After bowing before his father Joseph brought the boys to him for his blessing. He brought Manasseh to his right hand and Ephraim to his left, but Jacob crossed his hands so that Ephraim received the right hand. Joseph was displeased by this and tried to switch his father’s hands since Manasseh was the firstborn, but Jacob knew what he was doing. He prophesied that the younger would be greater than the older in the future, which indeed came true later in Israel’s history.

Then Jacob gave Joseph an extra portion of the land he owned in Shechem, not that Joseph would ever see it. But he gave it to him and Joseph was buried there 400 years later.

Jacob also mentions taking the land from the Amorites. This is the only reference to this escapade. Some think this was a prophecy about Israel and the Amorites later, but it makes more sense that Jacob really did this. After he purchased the land he lived there until his sons massacred the Shechemites. Jacob then moved to avoid any repercussions. It seems that even though the Amorites were afraid to attack Jacob they still took his land when he left. When returned he had to take the land back by force.

 
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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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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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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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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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