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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Theology / A Daily Genesis Welcome Guest
    A Daily Genesis
          A systematic commentary on the whole book of Genesis

    Thu, Dec 31st - 11:54AM



    Genesis 42:25-29a

     

    †. Gen 42:25-26 . . Joseph then ordered his servants to fill the men's sacks with grain, but he also gave secret instructions to return each brother's payment at the top of his sack. He also gave them provisions for their journey. So they loaded up their donkeys with the grain and started for home.

    Returning his family's money was something that Joseph did for himself. How could he possibly make his own desperate kin pay for food under his control? He couldn't. In his position, Joseph could easily provide for all of them at no cost to themselves whatsoever.

    "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (1Tim 5:8)

    Joseph was a man of honor. No doubt he made up for their payment out of his own pocket so that no one could accuse him of abusing his privileges and giving Pharaoh's grain away for nothing to people who had demonstrated that they had the wherewithal to pay for it. A man's reputation, after all, is his singular most valuable asset.

    "Choose a good reputation over great riches; for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold." (Prov 22:1)

    Giving them free provisions for the trip would have included food and water not only for themselves, but also their beasts. That was a diplomatic gesture, and would go a long ways towards making the family feel welcome down in Egypt, and encourage them to return since they had certainly been given a degree of fair treatment way beyond what they had any right to expect from a foreign dignitary.

    †. Gen 42:27-28 . . As one of them was opening his sack to give feed to his burro at the night encampment, he saw his money right there at the mouth of his bag. And he said to his brothers: My money has been returned! It is here in my bag! Their hearts sank; and, trembling, they turned to one another, saying: What is this that God has done to us?

    Why is it people always tend to blame God for their misfortunes? But in this case, their perceived misfortune is not that at all. If only they hadn't been so infected with guilt they would have easily seen that the Egyptian big shot was demonstrating that he meant only the best by them. But no; instead, they go off the deep end and interpret their host's graciousness as an ill omen rather than a token of good will. Some people are so suspicious of anything nice that people do for them-- always looking for an ulterior motive and/or a hidden agenda.

    †. Gen 42:29a . .When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan

    If Jacob was still living in Hebron, the distance the men traveled to get back home was roughly 250 miles if Joseph's headquarters was possibly either in, or near to, the city of Memphis, which is about ten miles south of today's Cairo.

    NOTE: In the millennia prior to mechanized conveyances, the greatest obstacle to travel was distance. Today the average American zips around in a vehicle that can easily travel 55 miles in just one hour. That same distance would take eleven hours at a burro's pace. In other words; in the time it takes a burro to walk 55 miles, an automobile at 55 miles an hour can travel 605.

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    Wed, Dec 30th - 8:21AM



    Genesis 42:15-24

     

    †. Gen 42:15-17 . . By this you shall be put to the test: unless your youngest brother comes here, by Pharaoh, you shall not depart from this place! Let one of you go and bring your brother, while the rest of you remain confined, that your words may be put to the test whether there is truth in you. Else, by Pharaoh, you are nothing but spies! And he confined them in the guardhouse for three days.

    During those three days the brothers must have felt like they were in a purgatory as they endured unbearable anxiety while conferring amongst themselves about their current state of affairs. They were no doubt positive that Jacob would never allow his favorite little boy to be taken down to Egypt where this obtuse Egyptian big shot just might lock him up with the others so that in the end, all surviving eleven of Jacob's sons would never be seen again.

    †. Gen 42:18-20a . . On the third day Joseph said to them: Do this and you shall live, for I am a God-fearing man. If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be held in your place of detention, while the rest of you go and take home rations for your starving households; but you must bring me your youngest brother, that your words may be verified and that you may not die.

    This reversal of terms couldn't have done anything other than to reinforce the brothers' fears that not only was this Egyptian big shot obtuse, but also unpredictable.

    Turning loose nine of the ten men would be dumb because, militarily, sacrificing one to save nine is an acceptable loss. Joseph's excuse for this obvious military blunder is that he's a "God-fearing" man; viz: just in case their story is true, he didn't want to be responsible for the starvation of innocent families.

    Joseph had the advantage of knowing far more about their family than they dreamed. As it turned out, Jacob would have gladly sacrificed the brother who will be chosen to remain behind in order to protect Benjamin, except that to not return, meant certain starvation; and no doubt Joseph easily foresaw Jacob's dilemma in that matter. He really had them in a catch-22.

    †. Gen 42:20b . . And they did accordingly.

    The men agreed to Joseph's terms, but not without going around the room about it first. These guys are dumber than a stack of bricks. They discussed their current predicament, and their consciences, all within Joseph's hearing. (Never assume foreigners don't know your language just because they aren't speaking it.)

    †. Gen 42:21-23 . .They said to one another: Alas, we are being punished on account of our brother, because we looked on at his anguish, yet paid no heed as he pleaded with us. That is why this distress has come upon us. Then Reuben spoke up and said to them: Did I not tell you, do no wrong to the boy? But you paid no heed. Now comes the reckoning for his blood. They did not know that Joseph understood, for there was an interpreter between him and them.

    Apparently the interpreter had been either dismissed and/or sent on an errand and left Joseph guarding the men by himself while they deliberated amongst themselves.

    Isn't it interesting that those men carried the guilt of their treatment of Joseph all those 21 years that he was away from home? This probably wasn't the first time they blamed their bad luck on Joseph. Probably every time one of them hit his thumb with a hammer, or bumped his head on a shelf, he thought of Joseph.

    Those men's minds hadn't enjoyed a moments peace since the day the slave traders carted their kid brother off to the big unknown in Egypt. At night, when the demons come, their minds would once and again, for the Nth time, rehearse his awful wailing and begging down in that hole, and see the pain on his face, a pain that was burned into their memories like a rancher's cattle brand. No doubt those poor guys all suffered from recurring nightmares about the incident too.

    All those 21 years, Jacob hadn't stopped grieving for Joseph; so that every morning, those guys were treated to the sight of their father all blue and depressed at the loss of his favorite boy. Those poor guys. It was impossible to forget Joseph with their dad moping around all the time in a sorrowful state to remind them.

    †. Gen 42:24a . . He turned away from them and wept.

    Genesis offers no explanation whatsoever for Joseph's weeping; and I half suspect it's because unless somebody has actually themselves lived through an experience similar to his, then there is just no way even the brightest of Bible students can fully relate to what Joseph was feeling at that moment no matter how skillfully the best writers on earth tried to explain it. His weeping wasn't a matter of the mind; no, it was a matter of the heart; and oftentimes those kinds of matters can't be put into words by the very people themselves who are awash with those kinds of emotions.

    Joseph certainly had no good reason to feel any particular bonding with his brothers. If anything, he should be feeling totally disconnected from them. They were never his friends, and not once did anything good by him; the rather, he was disowned in his own home by the very people who by all rights should have loved and supported him the most.

    Although Joseph grew up with big brothers, he didn't, if you know what I mean. His only trusty companions at home were his dad Jacob, and his kid brother Benjamin; and it seems clear to me that it's for their sakes alone that he's tolerating these ten felons for even another minute. It must have taken a Herculean effort on Joseph's part to restrain his natural impulses to order their bodies immediately gibbeted and set out for the vultures.

    †. Gen 42:24b . . Returning, he talked some more with them. He then chose Simeon from among them and had him shackled in their sight.

    Rueben had shown some good colors back at the pit in chapter 37, so the lot fell to Simeon seeing as how he was next in the line of seniority of the ten brothers (Gen 29:31-33). Simeon was a good choice since he and his brother Levi had so far shown themselves to be the cruelest among the brothers in the matter of Dinah back in chapter 34. Let's just give Simeon a taste of mortal fear for a change and see how he likes it.

    Later, at home, neither Jacob nor the others will seem overly concerned that Simeon was selected to be detained, and the total focus will be upon Benjamin's safety rather than upon Simeon's rescue; in fact, Jacob will write him off as dead.

    Apparently, Simeon wasn't all that appreciated by his own family: and no wonder with that savage nature of his. They were probably all, including Jacob, relieved to be rid of his company. Joseph's own lack of popularity among his elder brothers was a natural friction stemming from old fashioned sibling rivalry. But Simeon was just plain mean; while Joseph was likely a pleasant sort of guy and easy to get along with. Difficult people shouldn't be surprised when others around them spit on their graves.

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    Tue, Dec 29th - 11:12AM



    Genesis 42:9-14

     

    †. Gen 42:9a . .Then he remembered his dreams about them

    When Joseph had those dreams back in chapter 37, he probably had no clue as to how they would be fulfilled. He was only aware, from his father Jacob's interpretations, that he would one day be lord over his whole family, including his parents. Now it's becoming clear to him just exactly how those dreams were to play out in real life.

    †. Gen 42:9b . . and said to them: You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.

    That was a reasonable suspicion. Incursions into Egypt by Asians coming via the Way of Horus-- a military highway from Canaan that led through Gaza to El-'Arish --were a recurrent problem. So it would be only natural to assume that if Egypt was raided from the northeast during normal years, it could be expected to be raided even more often, and with greater boldness, during a food-related crisis that was effecting a huge part of the world of that day.

    Foreign invaders would of course be encouraged to think that maybe the Egyptians were so distracted by just trying to survive that they'd let their guard down and have no heart for fighting. A nation in crises is a plausible target of opportunity for any ambitious conqueror. It of course fell to Joseph's responsibility to carefully screen foreigners to be certain of their true purposes for entering Egypt. Were they looking for food; or were they looking for weak points in Egypt's defenses?

    Joseph really had no good reason at all to trust his own brothers. Not only had they been so callous as to plot their own kid brother's murder, and sell him to slave traders, but he no doubt remembered how two of them viciously hacked to death the entire number of men in the town of Shechem back in chapter 34. So far as he was concerned, they were capable of anything, even of pillaging a vulnerable Egypt under the guise of ordinary people just looking for something to eat like everybody else.

    †. Gen 42:10-11 . . But they said to him: No, my lord! Truly, your servants have come to procure food. We are all of us sons of the same man; we are honest men; your servants have never been spies!

    Ten men all together is too obvious. I think that professional spies would split up and not travel together nor even enter Egypt on the very same day. Perhaps they hoped that by divulging details about their family, it would help convince their inquisitor that they weren't entering Egypt for military purposes. But even that story could be perceived as a cover to an official in Joseph's position.

    †. Gen 42:12 . . And he said to them: No, you have come to see the land in its nakedness!

    A word like "nakedness" can imply any number of things but in this application it probably refers to destitution; which would mean that Egypt's ability to wage war was very limited and thus vulnerable to invasion, pillage, and conquest.

    †. Gen 42:13 . . But they replied: Your servants were 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.

    For the second time they volunteer personal information about themselves; and probably for the same reason as the first. However, it was music to Joseph's ears because no doubt when he didn't see his kid brother Benjamin traveling with his eldest brothers, he began to be concerned that they had done to him what they had previously wrought upon himself. Although they lied about the "one" who is no more (lying about Joseph was by now probably a reflexive habit) they certainly weren't lying about the youngest because there was no reason to. If Benjamin were dead, then they simply would have said "two" are no more.

    †. Gen 42:14 . . Joseph said to them: It is just as I told you: You are spies!

    With Joseph's intelligence, and from his day after day experience with an endless stream of truly desperate people, he would have known by now (especially with that incredible intuition of his) that the ten weak-knees guys standing before him certainly weren't professional soldiers. He's being deliberately obtuse, and it's becoming obvious now (at least to us Bible students who know Joseph's true identity) that he's feeling his brothers out to ascertain whether or not they're the very same unrepentant, unremorseful, cold-blooded, steely-eyed, dirty rotten scoundrels they were in the past. Until he's certain they can be trusted, Joseph isn't going to afford them the even tiniest hint of who he really is.

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    Mon, Dec 28th - 7:57AM



    Genesis 42:1-8

     

    †. Gen 42:1 . .When Jacob learned that there were rations of grain in Egypt, he said to his sons; Why do you just keep looking at each other?

    You can just picture what was going on. One brother would turn to another and ask; What are we going to do for food? And the other would just shrug and raise his eyebrows. They must have been doing that a lot lately because apparently it was beginning to grate on their dad.

    †. Gen 42:2-4 . . He continued: I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die. Then ten of Joseph's brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph's brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him.

    To Jacob's knowledge, Joseph was dead. His mother was certainly dead, having died giving birth to Benjamin back in chapter 35. So, to Jacob's mind, all that's left of the love in his life is Benjamin. So that if something were to happen to him, he would have nothing left to remind him of Rachel, and that whole side of the family would be gone.

    Benjamin, at this time, wasn't a little kid. He was born when the family moved south from Bethel to Hebron back in chapter 35. And as Joseph was now about 38, and sold into slavery at 17 while Jacob was at Hebron, then Benjamin is, at the bare minimum, at least 21.

    †. Gen 42:5 . . So Israel's sons were among those who went to buy grain, for the famine was in the land of Canaan also.

    That must have been an interesting sight. The brothers mingled in with caravans traveling to (and from) Egypt, and there must have been a lot of them because the drought had effected the whole land of Palestine, possibly even clear up into Syria and Lebanon. Traveling in a caravan had its benefits. With food so scarce, grain would be more valuable than money, and lone travelers would be easy targets for desperate clans; and brigands too.

    †. Gen 42:6a . . Now Joseph was powerful in the land; the one who sold grain to all its people.

    Apparently, before anybody could obtain grain, they had to first go by the Minister Of Agriculture's office and purchase a permit in the form of an official receipt, which was then taken to a designated silo and redeemed for grain. Apparently, collecting the money, and issuing permits, was a task that Joseph personally supervised himself rather than delegate to subordinates: which tells me that Joseph trusted no one. And no surprise.

    Those permits were a golden opportunity for graft and/or embezzling. A dishonest clerk could smuggle some of those permits out of the office and distribute them to friends and relatives and/or peddle them on the black market because they were just as valuable as Cap & Trade emission permits and food stamps. You could probably scalp those grain coupons for at least double the original price.

    †. Gen 42:6b-8 . . So when Joseph's brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. Where do you come from? he asked. From the land of Canaan, they replied, to buy food. Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.

    One can hardly blame Joseph for acting like a stranger. For all he knew, his brothers were still toxic; and might be inclined to find new ways to mess up his life yet once more like they did when he lived at home. When people have been burned by someone they trust; that trust is not easily regained; nor does it deserve to be. Those men tried to murder Joseph-- his own flesh and blood kin tried. That's something that's neither easily forgotten, nor easily forgiven; and shouldn't be. Joseph's reluctance to befriend his brothers at this point is fully justified. Only a fool would try to kiss a rattlesnake twice after the first time one bites him on the nose.

    But at the same time, this presents a dilemma for Joseph. No doubt he's anxious for an update of his father Jacob's health and welfare, and also of his one full brother Benjamin; against whom Joseph harbored no bad feelings whatsoever. I sincerely believe that if it wasn't for Joseph's concern for his father and kid brother back home, that he never, ever would have told his brothers anything about himself. They would have come and gone with no consciousness at all that they'd ever passed his way.

    It's not surprising that Joseph's older brothers didn't recognize him. He was just a shiny-faced, 17 year-old teen-ager the last they saw him. They haven't seen their kid brother for the past 21 years. In that time his face and his voice had aged to that of a matured 38 year-old man. Plus he's cultured far different than any of Palestine's sheep herders. He has an Egyptian hair cut, an Egyptian beard, speaks the Egyptian language, wears the expensive clothing of Egyptian aristocrats; and he's a top-of-the-heap Egyptian government official; a position in which they would never in a million years expect to find their sheep-herding kid brother.

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    Sun, Dec 27th - 9:35AM



    Genesis 41:53-57

     

    †. Gen 41:53-54 . . At last the seven years of plenty came to an end. Then the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had predicted. There were crop failures in all the surrounding countries, too, but in Egypt there was plenty of grain in the storehouses.

    Joseph had made no mention of the misfortunes of Egypt's neighbors to Pharaoh. But now comes out the reason for Egypt's incredible over-abundance during the good years. It wasn't meant just to sustain their own selves that God had so blessed the Egyptians, no, all around them countries were effected, became desperate, and forced to look outside themselves for relief. 

    In order for the countries all around Egypt to experience the famine, it would mean that they too were experiencing severe reductions in annual rainfall. Though northern Egypt, around the Nile delta, normally receives very little rain to begin with, it's agriculture prospers because of heavy rainfalls way down in Africa that feed tributaries flowing into the Nile; e.g. the Blue Nile. We're talking about a massive watershed encompassing several thousands of square miles of Africa's countryside. And that, added to the surrounding countries, really adds up to an incredibly large geographic area effected by an unbelievable large-scale drought.

    †. Gen 41:53-56 . .Throughout the land of Egypt the people began to starve. They pleaded with Pharaoh for food, and he told them; Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you. So with severe famine everywhere in the land, Joseph opened up the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians.

    Advocates of a welfare state might question Joseph's ethical integrity and want to know why he "sold" grain to his fellow citizens instead of just doling it out in soup lines. Well, for one thing, quite a few of the Egyptians had good incomes (Ex 3:20-22, Ex 11:2). They were quite prosperous and could easily afford to pay-- at least at first. Secondly, Joseph answered to a higher power than himself. It was his duty to look out for Pharaoh's best interests, and make sure his boss received adequate taxes even during lean years (cf. Matt 25:14-30, 1Cor 4:1-2, 1Pet 4:10).

    †. Gen 41:57 . . And people from surrounding lands also came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe throughout the world.

    The "world" likely refers to a political region rather than geographical. In other words; the world in Gen 41:57 was their world rather than the whole planet. Compare that to the world of Jesus' day.

    "Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!" (John 12:18-19).

    Wherever the famine was, it was severe; as opposed to severe in some places while tolerable in others; viz: nobody had it good. Wherever that famine went, if it went there at all, then it was all bad rather than some bad and some not so bad.

    At this point, Joseph had been away from home for twenty years (cf. Gen 37:2, Gen 41:46, Gen 41:53) and had seen neither his dad nor his brothers even once in all that time. When he was sold into slavery, Joseph was just a young teen-ager; now he's in his late thirties. He was just a boy then; now he's a man.

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    Sat, Dec 26th - 8:29AM



    Genesis 41:47-52

     

    †. Gen 41:47-49 . . During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

    When there's small amounts to work with, it's easy to use small containers to tally it. But Egypt's abundance was so great that it was impractical to tally the grain with standard containers. Instead, I would think Joseph did it simply by building his silos to a standard size and dimension. So, instead of tallying "bushels" of grain, Joseph simplified the process by tallying silos.

    Although storing the grain near the communities where it was grown was a practical consideration for later distribution, it was also a wise diplomatic move. When people see their hard-earned things carted off to the unknown, it makes them nervous about getting their stuff back. Putting his granaries nearby, reassured local growers and consumers that Joseph meant well by them and wasn't just taxing their produce for personal profit.

    I would like to think that Joseph employed local labor for the construction of his granaries rather than contracting it out to a global construction company that polished the apple with him via his father-in-law's contacts; thus once again showing good faith by injecting wages into local economies. Little by little, Joseph was gaining the Egyptians' trust, which must have no doubt pleased Pharaoh well and made him feel pretty good about his choice of man for the job.

    Meanwhile, back on the home front, Joseph's marriage was holding up okay and he became the father of two boys.

    †. Gen 41:50 . . Before the years of famine came, Joseph became the father of two sons, whom Asenath daughter of Poti-phera, priest of On, bore to him.

    In the Bible, it's the fathers who determine tribal ancestry; so the two boys were Hebrews by birth rather than Egyptians. I don't know how Mr. Poti-phera felt about that, but what was he to do? One of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, monarchs on earth had arranged his daughter's marriage to Joseph so there really wasn't much he could say about it.

    †. Gen 41:51 . . Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said; God has made me forget all my troubles and the family of my father.

    The meaning of Manessah's name in Hebrew is self explanatory. However, there is just no way that Joseph forgot all about his family. That verse has to be interpreted according to the progress of the narrative.

    I seriously doubt that God deleted Joseph's memory; but rather, helped him to get over doting about his misfortunes. Doting can lead to serious psychological damage, dark thoughts, and long term depression, and/or in the case of anger, it can lead to malice and sleepless nights plotting revenge, or rehearsing retorts over and over again to counter something someone said that you didn't like.

    Though they weren't ideal, Joseph was at peace with his current circumstances. Exactly how God brought him to that point isn't stated. But in chapters ahead, Joseph will inform his brothers that his misfortunes actually benefited everyone so that Joseph became a savior; not only to Egypt, but to his own family as well (Gen 45:4-11, Gen 50:20).

    So then, in the end, Joseph accepted his plight graciously and held no hard feelings towards anyone in particular, nor was he blue and sad about being away from home all those years because he was fully aware it all worked toward a greater good.

    Since Joseph couldn't leave Egypt himself to go home and visit his family, then one has to wonder why he didn't dispatch a messenger to let his dad know he was okay. Well; for one thing, to do so would have exposed his brothers' murderous scheme, and who knows what kind of disharmony that would have created in Jacob's home. This was one of those cases where it's better to follow the advice of some Beatles' lyrics; "Words of wisdom: let it be."

    But seriously, I doubt Jacob would have believed it was actually his very own Joseph in Pharaoh's court but would have automatically assumed it was a cruel hoax. Later, Joseph is going to be sure that his brothers understand that they weren't being told second-hand about his prosperity, nor being fed a rumor; but were hearing about it from their long-lost brother's very own lips. (Gen 45:12-13)

    †. Gen 41:52 . . Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said; God has made me fruitful in this land of my suffering.

    Ephraim's name actually means "doubly fruitful" viz: bumper-crop fruitful; which is obviously in recognition of God's providence in a place where a man of God would certainly least expect to find it.

    I still think that Joseph had given up all hope of having a normal life and a family of his own; but as it turns out, he got both anyway in spite of his unfortunate circumstances. Maybe he'd rather have married a girl back home, but you know what they say: Beggars can't be choosers. At least Joseph was no longer a jailed slave locked up as an accused rapist with no future at all. Asenath and Poti-phera may not have been Joseph's ideal in-laws, but things could have turned out a lot worse.

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    Fri, Dec 25th - 11:02AM



    Genesis 41:46b

     

    †. Gen 41:46b . . Leaving Pharaoh's presence, Joseph traveled through all the land of Egypt.

    That reminds me of how U.S. Presidents fly over disaster areas in a helicopter to "assess" the situation. Well Joseph didn't have a whirlybird at his disposal. If he was going to assess Egypt's agricultural assets first hand, and decide where to strategically locate his granaries, then he would have to do it in that spiffy government-provided conveyance that came with his job.

    Joseph would actually get himself dirty down on the ground on Egypt's highways, byways, townships, and farmlands, rather than cruising aloft in the luxury and comfort of an Air Force One and delegating all the leg work to a corps of go-fers and fact-finders.

    Joseph hasn't seen his dad for 13 years now, and if there ever was a golden opportunity for him to escape and get back to Canaan, this was it. But he couldn't. Joseph was in a catch-22. If he went back home at this point, the coming famine might destroy his own family. He had to stay and make sure Egypt became the world's bread basket so his kin would have somewhere to go and get food when those seven years of desperate want finally came along.

    True, Pharaoh could just appoint someone else to the task if Joseph deserted his post, but Joseph couldn't take the chance his replacement wouldn't be a devil instead of a savior. Sometimes, when you want the job done right, you just have to do it yourself.

    Then too, taking off now might cause Pharaoh to lose confidence in Joseph's predictions. He might suspect, and who wouldn't, that Joseph made it all up just so's he could get out of jail. Then Pharaoh would probably cancel any and all preparations for the years ahead; with tragic consequences. No, Joseph was stuck.

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    Thu, Dec 24th - 9:10AM



    Genesis 41:37-46a

     

    †. Gen 41:37-38 . . Joseph's suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his advisers. And Pharaoh said to his courtiers: Could we find another like him, a man in whom is the spirit of the gods?

    If there was one thing those old-time pagans valued, it was a connection to the spirit world, and they sensed that Joseph had it. I think they were not only in awe of him, but maybe even just a bit afraid of him too.

    The Hebrew word for "gods" is 'elohiym (el-o-heem') which is both plural and ambiguous, so you could just as easily translate it gods as God; but in the Egypt of that day and age, "gods" makes more sense.

    Joseph is going to become very popular with Pharaoh, and it's all to the one true god's credit.

    "God was with him . . . and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt." (Acts 7:9-10)

    The Greek word for "favor" in that verse is charis (khar'-ece) which is the very word translated "grace" in English versions of the New Testament. So then, you could say that Joseph found grace in the eyes of Pharaoh just like Noah found grace in the eyes of God back in Gen 6:8.

    Putting it all together, it says that Pharaoh was inclined to bless Joseph just like God was inclined to bless Noah; viz: to do good for him; provide for him, and protect him from harm. God trusted Noah, and assigned him the Herculean task of building the ark. Pharaoh trusted Joseph, and assigned him the Herculean task of implementing a plan to save his country from certain ruin. Noah's ark kept the human race alive. Joseph's plan kept the Egyptians alive (and his family too). Quite a few parallels in Noah and Joseph.

    But in order for Joseph's plan to work, he had to have absolute power in the country of Egypt. Everybody had to fear him so they'd be sure to cooperate.

    †. Gen 41:39-43 . .Then Pharaoh said to Joseph; Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you. So Pharaoh said to Joseph; I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.

    . . .Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, "Make way!" Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.

    Pharaoh's signet ring was for signing documents and authorizing whatever purchases and requisitions Joseph might need to fulfill his duties; and for mustering and/or conscripting the necessary manpower to get it all done. That signet ring was terrifying. With it, Joseph could actually order people gibbeted if he wanted and nobody would question it. (Hag 2:20-23)

    †. Gen 41:44 . . Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph; Though I am Pharaoh, yet without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

    Although Joseph was directly responsible to Pharaoh and to no one else, his powers were limited. He couldn't wage war or set foreign policy. He had no say in the balance of trade, or the colonization of foreign lands. There were other people taking care of those operations. Joseph's jurisdiction for the moment was related to the task he was assigned, sort of like the head of homeland security, a drug czar, or a FEMA commander. Joseph's position was in supreme oversight of Egypt's domestic product.

    †. Gen 41:45a . . Pharaoh then gave Joseph the name Tsophnath Pa'neach, and he gave him for a wife Asenath daughter of Poti-phera, priest of On.

    Tsophnath Pa'neach was an Egyptian name, same as Moses is an Egyptian name; which reflected Joseph's transition from Palestinian goat-herder to a naturalized Egyptian citizen; which of course had the effect of emancipating him from slavery.

    Poti-phera is essentially the same name as Joseph's original master: Potiphar.

    The city of On was possibly Heliopolis, a city dedicated to the worship of the Sun god.

    Priests were a highly respected caste in Egypt. Having a father-in-law in the priesthood secured Joseph a privileged social status appropriate for a man in his position, and no doubt landed some good connections right in his lap. There's no record that Joseph protested the marriage, but likely saw it as an advantage he could exploit.

    Joseph's fortunes bring to mind the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. For years The Terminator was just a big clunky muscleman; an ex body builder from Thal bei Graz Austria who made it good in Hollywood, and then one day found himself Governor of Cah-lee-forn-yah. Mr. Schwarzenegger though, in contrast to Joseph, is ambitious and worked hard for his success; it wasn't handed to him on a silver platter like Joseph's, but you kind of get the idea.

    Mr. Schwarzenegger, like Joseph, married well too: a Kennedy girl no less. His marriage to Maria Shriver gave him an in with the Kennedy clan and access to the speaking and writing skills of an intelligent, widely respected, female journalist. A few political pundits are pretty sure that Maria's "Women Joining Arnold" website was responsible for gaining her husband a large block of female voters in the aftermath of his "groping" accusation. Good connections are always an asset in the political world.

    Everything Pharaoh did for Joseph worked in his favor towards giving him a highly visible public profile.

    †. Gen 41:45b-46a . .Thus Joseph emerged in charge of the land of Egypt. Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

    Joseph went from slave to aristocrat practically overnight; and with neither political, nor business experience on his résumé whatsoever.

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    Comment (0)

    Wed, Dec 23rd - 1:23PM



    Genesis 41:33-36

     

    †. Gen 41:33-36 . . Now therefore I suggest Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.

    . . . And have them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up grain under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.

    A grain czar "wise and discreet" was necessary so that the man appointed wouldn't be tempted to profit from his own country's misfortune like so many of Wall Street's psychopathic barracudas are wont to do. Thank God Pharaoh had the cool to realize that what his country faced was not just long lines at the gas pumps, but nothing less than a full blown national emergency.

    On the other hand, a central bureaucracy could easily lead to despotism, red tape, favoritism, cronyism, nepotism, corruption, payoffs, bribes, artificial shortages, black marketing, and political manipulation; especially if all the available food supplies were in the hands of self-serving corporations like ENRON, Monsanto, Bechtel, and Nestlé.

    The success of Joseph's plan relied heavily upon the integrity of its administrator. The right man would be a savior; the wrong man could become a tyrant; and if the top man was a crook, everybody under him could be expected to be crooked too, and instead of a program intended to help the poor, it would only serve as a golden opportunity to line the pockets of officials like Indian Agents of the old west who embezzled Native Americans out of thousands of dollars worth of food, tools, livestock, implements, shelter, and clothing.

    It's been shown by historians that tithing was practiced in ancient Egypt and other nations, as a form of taxes or tribute to the king; but a 20 percent levy would be very unusual, and might well be resisted, especially if enacted by an unpopular sovereign. Thus, the chief administrator of Joseph's plan would have to be skilled in diplomacy and persuasion: a veritable expert on how to win friends and influence people.

    Actually, the 20 percent wasn't a hardship. Egypt's agricultural production was so good that no doubt at least 20 percent went to waste anyway even after all the people were satisfied and Egypt's export commitments were fulfilled. (Here in the USA, we waste upwards of 40% of our annual purchases of food)

    Some citizens might gripe at first, but it's hard to feel deprived when things are going good. The seven years of plenty would be a time of bumper crops and overabundance; and heck, you could give the children's food to the dogs and not hurt them. The only real malcontents in Egypt would be people who are never happy about anything anyway.

    Americans themselves have so much left over that there's enough perfectly good food thrown out in the dumpsters behind super markets and fast food chains like Wendy's, Carl's Jr, Subway, McDonalds. Arby's, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Burger King to easily feed every homeless person in the USA three meals a day. And that's not even counting all the other restaurants and food courts that are tossing out literally tons of edible garbage every hour of the business day.

    Although someone might get the wrong impression, there was really no indication in Joseph's presentation that he was throwing his hat in the ring. Such a thought could hardly have crossed his sheep-herder's mind. The last thing Joseph wanted was a long-term commitment to Federal employment in a foreign country when the only thing on his mind was getting back home to his dad in Hebron.

    Joseph was not only an alien, but a slave; and a jailbird accused of rape. He had never held a political office of any kind whatsoever. His only experience in business management was the oversight of Potiphar's household affairs; nor had he any experience in either running or participating in a bureaucracy of the magnitude of which he spoke.

    But there are people like Joseph who have a God-given natural aptitude in certain areas. They don't need training and they don't need experience. They're like some combat platoon sergeants who, when you throw them into the mouths of canons, don't panic and don't get flustered. They perform like they've been doing that sort of thing all their lives.

    Joseph probably wasn't aware that he had a God-given knack for running a big show like a national food bank. But God was, and that's exactly why He's going to persuade the top brass to put His own man in charge because the very survival of the people of Israel heavily depends upon an effective contingency to meet those inevitable seven years of famine; and even after the famine ended, there would still yet be a time of recovery before Egypt got back up to speed.

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    Comment (0)

    Tue, Dec 22nd - 9:38AM



    Genesis 41:25-32

     

    †. Gen 41:25a . .Then Joseph said to Pharaoh:

    Note Joseph's quick response time. He didn't even go off and pray about it and wait for an answer from God-- no; he hopped right to it. Seeing as how Genesis doesn't say that God whispered inside Joseph's head, or spoke to him by an audible dictation that only Joseph's own ears could hear; then I think it safe to assume that God gave Joseph the interpretation of those dreams by means of his own intuition so that Joseph knew what they meant without even having to think about it.

    Divine inspiration is very subtle at times and pretty amazing too. Back in the early days of Christianity, certain individuals were supernaturally enabled with a variety of useful skills and abilities; e.g. Rom 12:5-8 and 1Cor 12:1-11. Compare those passages with Exodus 31:1-6.

    †. Gen 41:25b-32 . . Both dreams mean the same thing. God was telling you what he is about to do. The seven fat cows and the seven plump heads of grain both represent seven years of prosperity. The seven thin, ugly cows and the seven withered heads of grain represent seven years of famine. This will happen just as I have described it, for God has shown you what he is about to do.

    . . .The next seven years will be a period of great prosperity throughout the land of Egypt. But afterward there will be seven years of famine so great that all the prosperity will be forgotten and wiped out. Famine will destroy the land. This famine will be so terrible that even the memory of the good years will be erased. As for having the dream twice, it means that the matter has been decreed by God and that he will make these events happen soon.

    The "twice" method was first seen in Gen 37:5-11. Peter's vision (Acts 10:9-17) was the same one three times over, while Joseph's and Pharaoh's two dreams apiece were redundant, indicating that God meant business and wasn't going to change His mind regarding this matter. You know though, with some people, no matter how many times, or in how many ways, you try to tell them something, they refuse to listen; like when a girl keeps saying NO to a boy's advances and he just keeps coming on anyway because for some strange reason the boy thinks she doesn't mean it; and he's somehow convinced that her protests aren't serious.

    Everybody accepted Joseph's interpretation without question-- Pharaoh and all the magicians and wise men (Gen 41:37) --and that is pretty amazing in itself.

    Suppose you were US President Trump in San Diego for a one-night campaign fund raiser and a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the President said he heard that the Border Patrol had an illegal immigrant from Sinaloa in custody for rape down in San Ysidro who says he knows exactly how to balance the Federal budget, stop processed food from poisoning Americans, eradicate genetically engineered crops, solve all your problems with Iran and North Korea, and get America out of Afghanistan. Would you be interested? I don't think so; you'd have to be pretty desperate.

    I believe that while Pharaoh and his corps of geniuses were listening to Joseph's interpretation, God was doing a number on their minds so that they would accept what Joseph was telling them; and by the time he finished, they were amazed that they hadn't thought of the interpretation themselves because it seemed not only quite simple, and obviously true; but also the only possible explanation.

    God wasn't bringing all these things to pass for the purpose of embarrassing or of dethroning the king of Egypt (not this one anyway). As a matter of fact, Pharaoh's control over the country would be strengthened by these events. The underlying purpose of it all had to do rather with God's plans and purposes for the people of Israel. Therefore, not only did God give Pharaoh the dreams, and give Joseph the true interpretation of the dreams, but also provided an effective action plan for Egypt's survival.

    People often complain that they can't respect a hell-fire God because He only uses the threat of eternal suffering as coercion to get people in line. But the Bible's talk of hell and eternal suffering isn't meant to intimidate people. No, it's just like Pharaoh's dreams: talk of hell and eternal suffering is meant as an early warning of things to come-- inevitable things.

    A Danger Foreseen;
    Is Half-Avoided.
    (Cheyenne Proverb)

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    Mon, Dec 21st - 9:16AM



    Genesis 41:9-14

     

    †. Gen 41:15 . . I had a dream last night; Pharaoh told him; and none of these men can tell me what it means. But I have heard that you can interpret dreams, and that is why I have summoned you.

    Potiphar of course would have been responsible for delivering Joseph, and probably informed him of the purpose. But just to set his mind at ease, I'm assuming Pharaoh himself personally informs Joseph of the reason why he's there because when prisoners like Joseph were summoned to a Pharaoh, it was more than likely for trial.

    †. Gen 41:16 . . It is beyond my power to do this; Joseph replied. But God will tell you what it means and will set you at ease.

    A verse like that is ambiguous since the Hebrew word translated "God" in that verse is plural so that verse could just as accurately be read: "But the gods will tell you what it means . . ." However, Pharaoh would have no problem with the god being Yhvh because his land was literally infested with gods and were a common part of everyday Egyptian life.

    Although Mr. Pharaoh is probably not going to like what he hears, at least he'll have the peace of mind of knowing what to expect. How many of us really want our doctors to lie to us? No, we want the truth; even if it's terminal cancer.

    †. Gen 41:17a . . So Pharaoh told him the dream.

    Pharaoh is really grasping at straws here since Joseph had no credentials nor could produce any references aside from the cup-bearer's to recommend him and vouch for his skills; and he had only one successful interpretation to his credit thus far; so you can see just how desperate Pharaoh really is.

    †. Gen 41:17b . . I was standing on the bank of the Nile River; he said.

    The Nile River's role in the dream is highly significant since it was a major factor in Egypt's economy; especially its agriculture. Every year the Nile overflowed it banks; leaving behind a deposit of silt; which kept the land's flood plain replenished with a nice new layer of fresh topsoil. Take away the Nile's flooding, and eventually the soils would become depleted in an era when hardly anybody knew anything about crop rotation.

    Not only that, but winds coming in from the eastern deserts would not only dry the soils out and blow them away, but in the process leave behind sands that would eventually render the land unproductive like during America's depression era when its croplands turned into dust bowls.

    Lower the Nile's water level significantly, and it would make irrigation very difficult in a time without pumps powered by internal combustion engines or electric motors.

    Joseph is going to predict a famine; and in those days, as even now, famines were caused by insufficient rainfall. Reduced rainfall results in less natural irrigation and less runoff, so that Egypt's worst fears will be realized: crops will dry up, the Nile won't overflow its banks, and its levels will shrink.

    Back in chapter 2, Genesis says that a flow welled up from the ground to water the whole surface of the earth, and a river watered the garden of Eden. River systems irrigate the subsoil and replenish aquifers. Lower a river system too much, and see what happens.

    I can recall an instance, I think it was somewhere in Australia, where the natural aquifer below a farmer's land went down because a marsh nearby was drained for commercial purposes. The aquifer was like a dam. When it went down, salt water moved in to take its place and the stuff percolated up and flooded the man's property. All his trees died and the land became good for nothing. Tamper with nature too much; and nature will tamper with you.

    †. Gen 41:18a . . when out of the river

    That is so perfect because the Nile was Egypt's source of life; so that whatever happened to the Nile, or whatever the Nile produced, effected Egyptian life in a big way.

    During Moses' confrontation with Pharaoh in the book of Exodus, the Nile was turned into blood (Ex 7:17-25), and subsequently Egypt's streams, rivers, ponds, and their pools. Next, God made the Nile produce myriads of frogs (Ex 8:1-6), so that the frogs were so thick, they became a serious infestation. So then, the Nile, which ordinarily was a blessing, became a superfund site.

    †. Gen 41:18b-24a . . there came up seven heifers, sleek and fat; and they grazed in the marsh grass. After them, seven other heifers came up-- ragged and bony, I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. The hideous heifers ate up the seven fat heifers that came up first. But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as hideous as before. Then I woke up.

    . . . In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads sprouted-- withered and thin and dehydrated by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads.

    This second dream sounds like a redux of The Little Shop Of Horrors.

    †. Gen 41:24b . . I told this to the magicians, but none could explain it to me.

    Since Pharaoh's brain trust couldn't figure out the dreams, then they certainly wouldn't be able to devise effective contingency plans to deal with their meanings. It's always nice to know the future so you can get ready for it; and certainly nobody likes to be kept in the dark.

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    Sun, Dec 20th - 12:17PM



    Genesis 41:9-14

     

    †. Gen 41:9-13 . .Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh: Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

    . . . Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged.

    Why wait till now to talk about Josephs' abilities? Well . . first off, God more than likely put a mental block in the cupbearers head to forget all about Joseph; and that mental block could have been something as simple as a very reasonable decision on the cupbearer's part. Pharaoh already had a corps of magicians and wise men who were actually very proficient at their jobs. What need was there to suggest taking on another one; and a Hebrew slave at that?

    No doubt during the performance of his duties over time, the cupbearer had seen lots of dreams correctly interpreted, so Joseph's dog and pony show was nothing new to him. The kind of mental block where people talk themselves out of something, is quite normal and very common. But now, circumstances are going to twinge the cupbearer's conscience, not just about Josephs' ability, but the fact that Joseph had practically begged the man to talk to Pharaoh and get him released as a return for the favor.

    †. Gen 41:14a . . So Pharaoh sent for Joseph,

    Normally, Egyptians didn't associate with Hebrews (cf. Gen 43:32) and that cultural barrier no doubt factored in to the cupbearer's mental block. But Pharaoh was at his wit's end, and was favorably disposed to swallow his pride for a matter that, to him, seemed of the utmost importance to not only himself, but also to the welfare of his whole country.

    †. Gen 41:14b . . and he was quickly brought from the dungeon.

    All this was done so that Joseph could appear in court that very day, not some other time. Pharaoh was anxious.

    †. Gen 41:14c . .When he had shaved and changed his clothes,

    Shaving for an Egyptian meant not only trimming and sculpting their beards (by now, Joseph must have looked like Rumpelstiltskin) but also cutting their hair; actually shaving their scalps bald like Vin Diesel. According to Herodotus, the Egyptians had extreme care for cleanliness and would let their hair and beards grow out only during periods of mourning.

    †. Gen 41:14d . . he came before Pharaoh.

    Jiminy! Here's this no-account sheep rancher from the outback getting the full-on attention of one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, monarchs in the world of that day!

    You know, there comes a day-- and that day may never come for some people --when you get that big break. It's at that moment when you better have your ducks in a row and your peas in their pods because opportunity knocks only for those who are prepared for it. For all others, it's bye-bye; and don't call us; we'll call you-- or worse. If Joseph blows his big moment, he could very well end up not just sent back to prison for life; but gibbeted just like the baker. This is a tense moment, and somebody's life is about to change.

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    Fri, Dec 18th - 9:37AM



    Genesis 41:1-8

     

    †. Gen 41:1a . .Two years later

    Poor Joseph. He's now at the very threshold of his fourth decade of life and still hasn't slept with a girl, nor does he even really have a life of his own. He was under his dad's thumb for seventeen years as a kid, a slave in a foreign country for thirteen; and thus far nothing to show for it.

    †. Gen 41:1b-7a . . Pharaoh had a dream, and behold, he was standing by the Nile. And lo, from the Nile there came up seven heifers, sleek and fat; and they grazed in the marsh grass. Then behold, seven other heifers came up after them from the Nile, ragged and bony, and they stood by the other heifers on the bank of the Nile. And the ragged and bony heifers ate the seven sleek and fat ones. Then Pharaoh awoke.

    . . . And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; and behold, seven ears of grain came up on a single stalk, plump and good. Then behold, seven ears, shriveled and dehydrated by the east wind, sprouted up after them. And the shriveled ears devoured the seven plump and full ears.

    Pharaoh's dreams are all the more disturbing because they contain incidents that are contrary to nature. Cows, as a rule, aren't carnivorous; and ears of grain derive their nourishment from the stems of their own parent plant, not dining upon each other.

    The scenes in both dreams are extremely violent with the cows and the ears not just sitting down to dinner, but literally attacking their neighbors with desperate savagery, like ravenous caribes: eating everything-- flesh, hide, hooves, bones, grains, chaff, and all --raw and uncooked.

    †. Gen 41:7b . .Then Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream.

    The first dream was disturbing enough to wake Pharaoh from his sleep. But the second was so vivid and so real that when he awoke, he was actually surprised it was just a dream. And with that last dream, I'd not be surprised he was very relieved to discover it wasn't a reality.

    †. Gen 41:8a . .The next morning, as he thought about it, Pharaoh became agitated as to what the dreams might mean. So he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt and told them about his dreams,

    Magicians in those days were not the same as the sleight-of-hand entertainers of our own day. Those occultists were scary; they used dark arts that actually worked, and they were really and truly in touch with paranormal powers. The magicians who opposed Moses (Ex 7:11) were able to duplicate several of God's miracles; so ancient magicians were legitimately powerful sorcerers and to be seriously reckoned with.

    I think it was mentioned previously that "wise men" were highly educated men of extraordinary intelligence; sort of like ancient college professors and wiz kids. Although Moses himself isn't stated to have been a wise man; he is stated to have been educated in all that Egypt had to offer. (Acts 7:22)

    Incidentally, although Genesis never mentions God directly in Joseph's life, Stephen confirms that it was God's providence that made the young man so successful, and protected him from mortal harm. (Acts 7:9-10)

    †. Gen 41:8b . . but not one of them could suggest what they meant.

    No doubt the magicians and wise men would normally have guessed the meaning of Pharaoh's dreams in an instant via their connections with the dark world. But this time the dark world wasn't responsible for those two dreams.

    That had to be a very tense moment for the think tank. Potentates have been known to execute brain trusts for failure to produce. (Dan 2:1-12)

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    Comment (0)

    Thu, Dec 17th - 9:06AM



    Genesis 40:20-23

     

    †. Gen 40:20a . . Pharaoh's birthday came three days later, and he gave a banquet for all his officials and household staff.

    What really is the purpose of a birthday party anyway if not to celebrate the continuance of your own existence?

    For guys in Pharaoh's position (e.g. Kim Jong Un of N. Korea, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Thein Sein of Myanmar) life is good: better than what you could ever hope to ask for; and of course that's cause for celebration. But for the majority of their subjects, life wasn't all that good, and nothing to celebrate. No doubt relatively few Egyptians in that day derived a significant amount of pleasure from their own existence.

    People normally count Job as one of the most righteous men who ever lived, yet when he lost his health and wealth, Job cursed the day of his birth and wished he was never born. (Job 3:1-26)

    †. Gen 40:20b-23 . . He sent for his chief cup-bearer and chief baker, and they were brought to him from the prison. He then restored the chief cup-bearer to his former position, but he sentenced the chief baker to be impaled on a pole, just as Joseph had predicted. Pharaoh's cup-bearer, however, promptly forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.

    One might wonder how it was possible for the cup-bearer to not be thoroughly amazed enough at the fulfillment of Joseph's predictions to begin exclaiming his prison experience with such enthusiasm as to totally rivet the attention of every single one of Pharaoh's courtiers and instantly secure Joseph's freedom.

    But if we take into account the hand of God in the glove of His people's history, then it seems reasonable to conclude that God didn't want Joseph in the limelight just yet; so he put a mental block in the cup man's head to silence him for the time being.

    No doubt when Joseph was apprised of recent developments by his friend Potiphar, he was deeply disappointed, and probably a bit consternated too. Joseph probably assumed-- and with good reason --that those successful predictions were his ticket to freedom at last.

    But even if Pharaoh had taken note of Joseph at this particular point in the narrative, he was still Potiphar's property, and would have to remain in custody because of his "affair" with Potiphar's wife. Dreams or no dreams, does anyone seriously believe that Pharaoh would have taken the word of a slave over one of his own trusted courtiers?

    So even had the cup-bearer brought Joseph's ability to Pharaoh's attention, it probably wouldn't have succeeded in gaining him the degree of freedom he really wanted. In point of fact, it may have even resulted in his death because Pharaoh would certainly want to know why Joseph hadn't been summarily executed on the spot for rape. No; bringing Joseph to Pharaoh's attention at this point would have caused problems for both the slave and his master.

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    Wed, Dec 16th - 9:29AM



    Genesis 40:18-19

     

    †. Gen 40:18-19 . . Joseph answered: This is its interpretation: The three baskets are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and gibbet you upon a pole; and the birds will pick off your flesh.

    It's lucky for the baker that he would be already dead before the gibbeting because a common method of gibbeting in those days was impaling; which was a grizzly spectacle. Wooden poles, about three to four inches in diameter were sharpened to a pencil point and forcibly inserted into the abdomen, up into the rib cage to catch on the spine in back of the throat; and the pole was then set upright to suspend the victim above the ground like human shish kabob.

    I'm looking here at an impaling on an Assyrian stone relief-- in the July/August 2006 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review --commissioned by Sennacherib for his palace at Ninevah to celebrate the capture of Lachish. The victims are three Israelites who still have their heads; strongly suggesting that they were alive when the poles were run into their bellies and up into their upper torsos.

    Nobody could possibly survive an injury like that for more than a few seconds. The pole would not only penetrate the stomach, but also the liver, diaphragm, lungs, some large blood vessels, and the bronchial tubes; resulting in almost instant death-- quite excruciating, and very bloody.

    Public impaling was no doubt a very effective deterrent to insurrection; and nobody in those days seemed overly concerned about executing criminals in a "humane" manner. Cruel and unusual punishments were the norm; and nobody dared stage an "Occupy Wall Street" protest about them lest their days end in like fashion.

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    Mon, Dec 14th - 2:54PM



    Genesis 40:4b-17

     

    †. Gen 40:4b-8a . . After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men-- the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison --had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

    . . .When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh's officials who were in custody with him in his master's house: Why are your faces so sad today? We both had dreams; they answered, but there is no one to interpret them. Then Joseph said to them: Do not interpretations belong to God?

    Actually, in the literal, Joseph said: Aren't interpretations with the gods? Because the word for "God" isn't Yhvh, rather, it's 'elohiym (el-o-heem') which isn't one of the creator's proper names, but a generic plural noun for all gods, both the true and the false, i.e. the real and the imagined.

    †. Gen 40:8b . . Please tell me.

    There's no record up to this point of Joseph ever interpreting a dream, not even his own. He dreamed in the past (e.g. Gen 37:5-7, Gen 37:9) but at the time he didn't know what his dreams meant; and in this particular instance, I seriously doubt he believed himself able to interpret a one. I think he was just curious. Jail is boring; what else was there to talk about? So what's going to happen next was probably just as big a surprise to him as it was to them.

    Incidentally, there's no record of God ever speaking one-on-one with Joseph. He believed God was providentially active in his life, but was given no apparitions of any kind whatsoever to corroborate his confidence other than the fulfillment of his interpretations of people's dreams; which aren't eo ipso evidence of God at work. (e.g. Acts 16:16)

    People's dreams normally don't stick in their memories for very long; but these two men's dreams seemed (to them anyway) to be of a mysteriously symbolic significance, and so disturbing that they can't get the details out of their minds.

    In psychoanalysis, dreams are of interest because they're often expressions of subconscious anxieties and inner conflicts rather than portents and/or omens.

    Dreams are both common and normal, and surely no one should try to derive a message from God out of them. But these men's dreams defied psychoanalysis because they were so weird and unnatural.

    Had they been at liberty, they no doubt would have contacted one of Pharaoh's astrologers, or an occultist or a diviner, or a highly intuitive wiz kid to tell them the meanings. But for now they're stuck with Joseph-- a nice enough young fellow; but a total unknown in their world regarding matters of paranormal precognition.

    †. Gen 40:9-13 . .Then the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph. He said to him: In my dream, there was a vine in front of me. On the vine were three branches. It had barely budded, when out came its blossoms and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand.

    . . . Joseph said to him: This is its interpretation: The three branches are three days. In three days Pharaoh will pardon you and restore you to your post; you will place Pharaoh's cup in his hand, as was your custom formerly when you were his cupbearer.

    From whence Joseph got his interpretation isn't stated. Genesis doesn't say he heard a voice, nor does it clearly say that God gave Joseph the interpretation. For all Joseph knew, (and them too) he was just taking a wild guess. It probably came right out of his head sort of like intuition or an imaginative locution.

    †. Gen 40:14 . . But remember me when all is well with you again, and do me the kindness of mentioning me to Pharaoh, so as to free me from this place.

    Don't worry, he won't; nor did he promise to.

    †. Gen 40:15 . . For in truth, I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews; nor have I done anything here that they should have put me in the dungeon.

    Joseph was telling the truth, but not the whole truth. He was in prison for the crime of rape. Whether he actually did it or not is immaterial. And he wasn't realistic: Joseph couldn't reasonably expect a courtier to take the word of a criminal; and a slave at that.

    †. Gen 40:16a . .When the chief baker saw how favorably he had interpreted,

    Apparently, for reasons unstated, the baker was somewhat reluctant to share his dream with Joseph at first, but relented when the first dream had a happy ending.

    †. Gen 40:16b-17 . . he said to Joseph: In my dream, similarly, there were three openwork baskets on my head. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of food for Pharaoh that a baker prepares; and the birds were eating it out of the basket above my head.

    Birds are usually an ill omen in Scripture; sort of like the connotation borne by serpents. So, now it comes out why the baker was reluctant to tell his dream. If Pharaoh ever suspected that his food was being picked over by birds, he would be very disappointed in the quality of the care that a potentate had a right to expect from his own personal team of cooks. Food left uncovered, exposed and out in the open, is certainly not food fit for a king.

    The baker's dream may have been his subconscious at work reminiscing the error of his ways. Up till now, the baker had no doubt insisted upon his innocence; which was nothing less than feigned since he knew very well with whom the real fault lay between himself and the cupbearer.

    Apparently Pharaoh had actually gotten some sort of food poisoning, and the investigation underway by Potiphar sought to find the source; and likely to determine if it was in any way evidence of a conspiracy to assassinate Pharaoh.

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    Comment (0)

    Sun, Dec 13th - 10:48AM



    Genesis 40:1-4a

     

    Joseph was 17 when he arrived in Egypt, and 30 when he became prime minister. So 13 years of his young adulthood were wasted in servitude and prison; and all that time without even so much as a date or a girlfriend. More than a full decade of the best years of his life went by with no female companionship whatsoever.

    A man's libido peaks in the years between 18 and 24, then begins tapering off as he gradually gets older. Since there is no record of Joseph's association with a special girl back home in Palestine, I think it's safe to conclude that he had never cuddled with a girl in his entire life till he got married sometime in his thirties. So you can see that Joseph was not only robbed of the best years of his life, but totally missed out on something that's very important to the psychological well being of the average red-blooded guy.

    As Joseph got older, and began to realize that life was passing him by, and that his youth was ebbing away, he no doubt began to wonder if maybe his current situation wasn't permanent; and as the days and years continued to go by one after another, he must have become frightened, depressed, and desperate as he saw no plausible way to remedy his predicament and get his life back.

    We used to joke among ourselves as professional welders that adverse conditions in the workplace build character. (chuckle) Like as if any blue collar skull needs "character" for anything. However, people destined for greatness can benefit immensely from character-building experiences that serve to temper their success; for example Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was immensely privileged and harbored a horrid superiority complex. Polio really humbled him, and in time, Roosevelt's handicap made him a much better man and a much better leader.

    I've seen people's leadership and responsibility handed to them on the silver platter of privilege; resulting in their treating lower ranking employees with thoughtless contempt. If those managers had only started out laboring in construction, selling luggage, shackled in slavery, or convicted of crimes they didn't commit; then maybe they would have developed a sensitivity that would have made them, not just managers, but great managers.

    Under normal circumstances, Joseph's alleged crime was punishable by death. So then, since he wasn't executed, but instead put in a prison normally reserved for political prisoners, his circumstances tend to support the opinion that Potiphar didn't believe his wife's story at all.

    †. Gen 40:1a . . Some time later,

    Exactly how long Joseph had been in prison prior to this next section is uncertain. However, his age would have been near 28 since it will be just two years afterwards that he's released (Gen 41:1).

    †. Gen 40:1b-4a . . the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt gave offense to their lord the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two courtiers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody, in the house of the chief steward, in the same prison house where Joseph was confined. The chief steward assigned Joseph to them, and he attended them.

    The "chief steward" was Mr. Potiphar. (Gen 39:1)

    Exactly what these two muckity-mucks did to warrant being placed under arrest isn't said, but since both men's functions were directly related to Pharaoh's nourishment; it's reasonable to assume their offenses most likely had something to do with the King's table. Perhaps the beverages, as well as the food, just happened to be tainted both at the same time, thus suggesting a conspiracy to poison their master. Since they weren't summarily executed, it's apparent that they're just suspects at this point, and being held without bail until Potiphar's secret service completed an investigation into the matter. It's entirely possible that some of the lower ranking members of the kitchen staff are being held too, though not in the same place.

    Cupbearers weren't just flunky taste testers, but were savvy advisors: thus, in a position of great influence. They were also saddled with the responsibility of supervising the King's vineyards in order to ensure their potentate received only the very best beverages deserving of the rank. So cupbearers were very competent men who knew a thing or two about not only diplomacy, but also the wine business. Egyptian documents testify to their wealth and power (cf. Neh 2:1).

    Although the baker wasn't up as high as a cupbearer, his duties were still critical. He didn't just make cookies and coffee cake, and/or supervise the kitchen staff, but did the shopping too. He sniffed all the meats, fowls, and fishes, and nibbled all the vegetables before they were ever brought inside the castle. Without the benefit of refrigeration, his responsibility was very great since his master could easily become gravely ill, and quite possibly die, from eating spoiled foods.

    To be placed at the service of these two high ranking courtiers was really an honor, even though they were just as much locked up as Joseph. However, he was a slave and they were courtiers; so there was a big difference in rank even behind bars. But the two men had it pretty cushy. They weren't treated like common convicts; no, they each had a very competent, fully experienced butler with impeccable references at their service-- Mr. Joseph ben Jacob.

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    Sat, Dec 12th - 9:04AM



    Genesis 39:8-23

     

    †. Gen 39:8-18 . . But Joseph refused. Look; he told her; my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do! He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I ever do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.

    . . . She kept putting pressure on him day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he avoided her as much as possible. One day, however, no one else was around when he was doing his work inside the house. She came and grabbed him by his shirt, demanding: Sleep with me! Joseph tore himself away, but as he did, his shirt came off. She was left holding it as he ran from the house.

    . . .When she saw that she had his shirt and that he had fled, she began screaming. Soon all the men around the place came running. My husband has brought this Hebrew slave here to humiliate us; she sobbed. He tried to rape me, but I screamed. When he heard my loud cries, he ran and left his shirt behind with me.

    . . . She kept the shirt with her, and when her husband came home that night, she told him her story. That Hebrew slave you've had around here tried to humiliate me; she said. I was saved only by my screams. He ran out, leaving his shirt behind!

    Joseph's situation parallels a case in Harper Lee's book To Kill A Mockingbird wherein a promiscuous woman accuses an innocent man of rape in order to cover up her own indiscretions.

    Scorned women can be very cruel. When I was a youthful, good-looking guy, the wife (whom I was careful to avoid) of a good friend accused me to her husband of going off on her with abusive language in a tirade.

    To defend myself and expose his wife for the liar that she was, would have meant causing my friend deep humiliation; so I elected to keep silent and take the pain. Our friendship was of course ruined, and we parted. A few months later, I was told they divorced. Like that was any big surprise.

    †. Gen 39:19-20a . .When his master heard the story that his wife told him, namely; "Thus and so your slave did to me" he was furious. So Joseph’s master had him put in prison, where the king’s prisoners were confined.

    I've no doubt Potiphar didn't believe a word of his wife's story or otherwise he would have put Joseph to death rather than in a cushy jail where political prisoners were kept, but what was he to do? Stick up for a slave over his wife? Not happening. So Joseph was sacrificed to keep peace in the home.

    †. Gen 39:20-23 . . But while Joseph was there in the prison, Yhvh was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because Yhvh was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

    A trustee's lot in prison is much more agreeable than regular inmates. Joseph was very fortunate to have the Lord in his corner otherwise he might have been neglected; but as a trustee, he could roam about the cell block like as if he were one of the guards.

    Joseph had quite an advantage. His management skills weren't due to a natural aptitude, rather, they were due to providence; just as his grandpa Abraham's wealth and success were due to providence.

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    Comment (0)

    Fri, Dec 11th - 7:55PM



    Genesis 39:1-7

     

    †. Gen 39:1-3 . . Now when Joseph arrived in Egypt with the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, a member of the personal staff of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Potiphar was the captain of the palace guard. The Lord was with Joseph and blessed him greatly as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that The Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.

    The identity of the Pharaoh during this moment in history is a total mystery, and even that fact is a mystery in itself because Egypt was normally quite meticulous in recording its accomplishments, and the names of Egypt's dynastic successions are recorded practically without a break thru the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms, clear on back to 3,000 BC. But for some reason, so far unexplained, a blank occurs in its history between 1730 to 1580 BC.

    This absence of information puzzles Egyptologists; and thus far has only been satisfactorily explained by the conquering-- and subsequent dominance --of Egypt by an ancient people called the Hyksos; who were Semitic tribes from Syria and Canaan. The Hyksos were of a different mentality than the Egyptians and apparently weren't inclined to keep a meticulous record of their own accomplishments as had their vanquished predecessors before them.

    Not only is there a dearth of documents from that period, but there aren't even any monuments to testify of it. If perchance Joseph was in Egypt during the Hyksos, that might explain why there exists not one shred of archaeological evidence to corroborate the Bible in regards to its story of Joseph in Egypt.

    Joseph's success was, of course, in regards to his proficiency, and in no way says anything about his personal prosperity because as a slave, he had no income, owned no property, controlled no business ventures, nor maintained some sort of investment portfolio.

    How Potiphar found out that Yhvh was Joseph's god isn't said. But in knowing, he quite naturally credited Yhvh with Joseph's proficiency because people in those days were very superstitious. Even Potiphar's own name, which in Egyptian is Pa-di-pa-ra, means "the gift of the god Ra".

    †. Gen 39:3-6a . .So Joseph naturally became quite a favorite with him. Potiphar soon put Joseph in charge of his entire household and entrusted him with all his business. From the day Joseph was put in charge, Yhvh began to bless Potiphar for Joseph's sake.

    . . . All his household affairs began to run smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished. So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn't have a worry in the world, except to decide what he wanted to eat!

    This was all idyllic for Mr. Aristocrat; but unfortunately, there was a fly poised to plop itself into the ointment.

    †. Gen 39:6b-7 . . Now Joseph was young, well built, and handsome. After a while, his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph and said; Sleep with me.

    The apparent overture wasn't a request. Since Joseph was a slave, it wasn't necessary for Potiphar's wife to seduce him. She only had to give him an order, and he was expected to obey it.

    It's not uncommon to find women who feel trapped in an unfulfilling marriages. Henry David Thoreau once wrote that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Well; some of that "mass of men" includes women.

    Potiphar's wife (call her Anna for convenience) was an amorously active woman married to the wrong man. No children are listed for her husband so it's very possible Potiphar was a eunuch; a distinct possibility in ancient palaces. He might have been an older man too, maybe a bit too old.

    Anna probably didn't marry for love; but for security. That's understandable since women of that day didn't have a lot of career options, nor a minority status, nor retirement benefits, nor entitlements like Medicare and Social Security. For women in Anna's day, marriage was often a matter of survival rather than a matter of the heart.

    She was obviously still lively and maybe would have enjoyed dinner out and salsa dancing once or twice a week; while Potipher probably barely had enough energy left to plop down and fall asleep in his La-Z-Boy recliner after working 12-14 hours a day in the palace and just wanted to be left alone in his man cave with a can of beer and CNN.

    There are women who prefer older men; sometimes much older. But there are other women, like Anna, who prefer the young ones; however, sometimes life just doesn't give them any options.

    So then, what's a desperate housewife to do when her husband is old and boring, and here's this strapping, virile young slave guy around the house with you all day long? Well . .you're either going to drink a lot, get witchy, take pills, or make a move and see what happens. Unfortunately, Anna isn't going to be a very good sport about it.

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    Thu, Dec 10th - 12:59PM



    Genesis 38:18-30

     

    †. Gen 38:18a . . He said: What pledge should I give you? Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand; she answered.

    The items that Tamar required for a pledge were akin to a photo ID or a thumb print in those days. Judah's staff wasn't just a kendo stick or a walking cane or a shepherd's crook. It was more like a king's scepter, specially made just for him, and served the express purpose of identifying him as the head of his tribe. Staffs were made of either wood or metal, and usually capped with a masthead. The quality of the staff would of course depend upon the material wherewithal of the person ordering it.

    Judah's seal could have been a small, uniquely engraved cylinder, or possibly a ring (e.g. Jer 22:24) but wasn't always worn on a finger. Way back in Judah's day, seals were sometimes worn around the neck with a necklace; or attached to personal walking sticks and/or staffs with a lanyard, and forced into wax or soft clay to leave an impressed "signature". The whole shebang-- seal, cord, and staff --was often a unit; and there were no two alike.

    The staff, with its cord and seal, was, of course, quite worthless for a shrine prostitute's purposes. In dollar value, it was nothing, as it couldn't be sold or traded. However, its value to Judah was why it was a good pledge item. He would certainly want it back.

    †. Gen 38:18b-23 . . So he gave them to her and mated with her, and she conceived by him. After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow's clothes again.

    . . . Meanwhile, Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. He asked the men who lived there: Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim? There hasn't been any shrine prostitute here; they said.

    . . . So he went back to Judah and said: I didn't find her. Besides, the men who lived there said there hasn't been any shrine prostitute here. Then Judah said: Let her keep what she has or we will become a disgrace. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn't find her.

    It might seem silly that Judah was concerned for his tribe's honor in this matter, but in those days, cult prostitutes did have a measure of respect in their community, and it wasn't unusual for every woman in the community to be expected to take a turn at supporting their "church" in that manner; so cult prostitution wasn't really looked upon as a vice but rather as a sacred obligation.

    Judah's failure to pay up could be construed by locals as mockery of their religion's way of doing business, thus insulting those who believed and practiced it; so he emphasized his effort to find the woman and make good on his I.O.U.

    This appears to me the first instance of religious tolerance in the Bible; and the circumstances are intriguing: to say the least.

    †. Gen 38:24 . . And it came to pass, about three months after, that Judah was told, saying: Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; furthermore she is with child by harlotry.

    At this time, Tamar was living with her dad; so Judah wouldn't have known she was expecting unless a rumor mill brought the news around.

    The word for "harlot" in Gen 38:24 is zanah (zaw-naw'), and the word for "harlotry" is zanuwn (zaw-noon') and both mean adultery. Tamar is accused of adultery because at this point, she's assumed betrothed (though not yet married) to Shelah. (cf. Matt 1:18-19)

    †. Gen 38:24 . . So Judah said: Bring her out and let her be burned!

    Since there were no Federal, nor any State, nor any Municipal laws in existence in primitive Palestine, local sheiks like Judah were the Supreme Court of their own tribes. Though Tamar was living back at home with her dad, she remained under Judah's jurisdiction because of her past marriages to two of Judah's sons.

    NOTE: I suspect Judah saw this turn of events as a golden opportunity to save his last surviving son from marrying Ms. Black Widow.

    †. Gen 38:25a . .When she was brought out,

    It's odd to me that Judah didn't attend Tamar's execution: possibly because he couldn't look her in the eye for reneging on his promise to give her Shelah. However; Judah was in for a very big jolt to his nervous system because Tamar produced a surprise witness.

    †. Gen 38:26 . . she sent to her father-in-law, saying: By the man to whom these belong, I am with child. And she said: Please determine whose these are-- the signet and cord, and staff. So Judah acknowledged them and said: She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son. And he never saw her again.

    Actually, neither Judah nor Tamar were "righteous" in this matter. His comment was relative. Though both had behaved rather badly; Tamar held the high moral ground. It's like movies today. The good guys and the bad guys are no longer distinctly moral and immoral and/or scrupulous and unscrupulous. Often both sides of the equation are immoral and unscrupulous; with the "good" guys just being more likable.

    †. Gen 38:27-28 . . And it came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb. Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying: This one came out first.

    According to modern medicine, a baby isn't really born until it's head is outside the womb; so that it's legal (in some states) to kill babies with a so called "dilation and extraction" abortion; which is a term coined by Ohio abortionist Dr. Martin Haskell for an abortion method in which he removes a baby's brain while it's head is still partially within the womb, and then completes the delivery by extracting the corpse. But in Tamar's day, even the exit of so much as a hand was counted birth: thus baby Zerah became Tamar's legal firstborn son.

    †. Gen 38:29 . . But it came about as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out. Then she said: What a breach you have made for yourself! So he was named Perez.

    Perez's name indicates that he forced his way to the front of the line.

    †. Gen 38:30 . . And afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah.

    Zerah's name sort of refers to dawn or morning twilight, viz: like when the sun is coming up; i.e. a new day, or something like that.

    Well . . regardless of Zerah's primo-genitive prerogatives, God bypassed him in Judah's line to Messiah; which, by Divine appointment went to Perez, the second-born. (Matt 1:1-3)

    NOTE: You'd think holy propriety would demand that the sacred line to Messiah be pure. I mean, after all, a child of adultery and incest hardly seems like a proper ancestor for the King of Kings. But no, an ancestry of adultery and/or incest makes no difference to Christ.

    In point of fact, in time a famous harlot from Jericho named Rahab produced yet another male in the line to the lamb of God (Matt 1:5). And let's not forget Ruth who descended from Lot sleeping with one of his own daughters in a cave. (cf. Gen 19:36-37, Ruth 4:10, and Matt 1:5)

    According to Rom 8:3 Christ didn't come in the likeness of innocent flesh; no, he came in the likeness of sinful flesh, and his ancestry certainly proves it.

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    Wed, Dec 9th - 11:37AM



    Genesis 38:12-17

     

    †. Gen 38:12a . . As time went by, Judah's wife Bath-shua died.

    This event left Judah single, and eligible to remarry; so that Tamar and Judah are now both single adults; however, Tamar is betrothed, and that makes things a little complicated.

    †. Gen 38:12b . . After he got over her passing, Judah went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, together with his friend Hirah the Adullamite.

    Timnah-- a.k.a. Tibneh: a deserted site southwest of Zorah, and two miles west of Ain Shems --was roughly 11 miles northwest from ancient Adullum towards Bethlehem.

    †. Gen 38:13-14a . . And it was told Tamar, saying: Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep. So she took off her widow's garments, covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah;

    The Hebrew words for "open place" are weird. They mean "an open eye". One of those words-- the one for "eye" --can also mean a spring or an artesian well (e.g. Gen 16:7). A wayside rest, like as can be usually found on many modern Federal highways, would probably qualify as an example of the "open place" to which Gen 38:14 refers.

    Tamar's rest stop likely included a source of water, not for cars, but for the animals that men either herded, rode upon, or used for pack animals when they traveled up and down the primitive trails and roads of ancient Palestine.

    Sheep-shearing occurs sometime in the spring, so the weather in Palestine at that season was sunny and warm.

    Veils weren't an eo ipso indication that a woman was loose, since Rebecca had worn one upon meeting her spouse-to-be Isaac (Gen 24:65). Although the text says that Tamar's veil covered her face (vs. 15), it likely not only covered her face, but her whole body, because veils were more like a burqa than the little mask-like nets that women sometimes wear to funerals; except that burqa's are cumbersome and ugly, whereas Tamar's veil was a lightweight wrap, and likely quite colorful and eye-catching; and conveyed an altogether different message than a woman in mourning.

    †. Gen 38:14b . . for she saw that Shelah was grown up, yet she had not been given to him as wife.

    Actually, Shelah wasn't the one who owed Tamar an Israeli baby; it was Judah, the head of the clan, and that's why he's the one she's coming after rather than Judah's son. Tamar is a scary girl; and one you wouldn't want to trifle with. Not many women would have had the chutzpah to do what she did. To begin with, for a lone woman to sit out along a remote road, unescorted, like she did, was inherently dangerous, and could have led to all sorts of mischief.

    †. Gen 38:15a . .When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute,

    The particular kind of prostitute in this episode is from the Hebrew word qedeshah (ked-ay-shaw') which isn't your typical working girl, but rather a devotee raising money for an established religion (Gen 38:21) typically a pagan kind of religion centered upon the worship of a goddess like Ashtoreth (a.k.a. Astarte). So one might say that a qedeshah's services were for a worthy cause.

    †. Gen 38:15b . . for she had covered her face.

    It's just amazing how difficult it is sometimes to recognize familiar people when they turn up in places we least expect them. Take Jesus for example. When he revived after his ordeal on the cross, people didn't know him right off: close friends like Mary Magdalena didn't recognize him at first even at close proximity (John 20:13-16). Another example is when Jesus came out to his followers' boat during a storm on open water. At first they thought he was a ghost, and Peter wouldn't believe it was Jesus until he gave him the power to walk on water himself (Matt 14:25-29).

    †. Gen 38:16-17 . . Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said: Come now, let me sleep with you. And what will you give me to sleep with you? she asked. I'll send you a young goat from my flock; he said. Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it? she asked.

    The Hebrew word for "pledge" in that passage is 'arabown (ar-aw-bone') which means property given as security-- viz: collateral --as in a pawn shop or a bank loan. This is the very first place in the Bible where that word is used. In the usury business, an 'arabown is forfeited if the borrower fails to repay his loan; i.e. make good on his promise. This is a very important principle in the divine plan.

    "In him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." (Eph 1:13-14)

    The Greek word for "pledge" in that passage is arrhabon (ar-hrab-ohn') which means essentially the same as the Hebrew word 'arabown except that the Greek word indicates a little something extra.

    Real estate transactions usually involve a sum called the earnest money. Although it may be applied towards the purchase price of property, earnest money itself serves a specific purpose of its own in the real estate business. In some quarters; this is also called good-faith money.

    When the contract, and all the other necessary documents are submitted to Escrow, the buyer is required to also submit a token amount of the purchase price. It's usually a relatively small number of dollars compared to the full price of the property. I think ours was just $1,000 back in 1988 on a $74,000 home. When the buyer follows through on their intent to purchase the property, the good-faith money (minus some Escrow fees of course) goes towards the purchase.

    However, if the buyer decides to renege, then they forfeit the good faith money. No doubt that's done to discourage vacillating buyers from fiddling around with other people's time and money.

    So then, since God's Spirit is the earnest depicted in Eph 1:13-14; then, according to the principles underlying the arrhabon, should God betray a believer's trust by reneging on His promise to spare people who hear and believe the gospel, then He forfeits; and the believer gets to keep the Spirit regardless of their afterlife destiny.

    But of course God won't renege because doing so would not only embarrass Himself, but embarrass His son too as Jesus has given his word that believers have nothing to fear.

    "I assure you, those who heed my message, and believe in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life." (John 5:24)

    There are people who actually believe the Bible's God can get away with reneging on His promises. A belief of that nature of course eo ipso insinuates that He lacks integrity, i.e. the Bible's God is capable of dishonesty and can't be trusted to make good on anything He says.

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    Mon, Dec 7th - 11:15AM



    Genesis 38:6-11

     

    †. Gen 38:6 . . Judah got a wife for Er his first-born; her name was Tamar.

    Ms. Tamar is a total mystery. Neither her family, her ethnic identity, her age, her looks, her education, her material worth, nor anything else is known about her. But she's the one through whom God will bring Messiah into the world; so I think it's safe to say she was probably a much better woman than Bath-shua.

    †. Gen 38:7 . . But Er, Judah's first-born, was displeasing to The Lord, and The Lord took his life.

    Er has the distinction of being the very first member of the people of Israel-- the chosen people --whom God personally clipped Himself. Er was only the beginning because God's chosen people weren't chosen to be His pampered pets; no, they were selected to be the number-one caretakers, and propagators, of the knowledge of God. So then, of all the people in the world, Jews have the least excuse for failure to comply with God's wishes because they have always had that information at their fingertips while a very large portion of the rest of the world; for many, many centuries, didn't. Therefore, the status of God's chosen people isn't something to be proud of; no, it's something to be afraid of.

    "Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O children of Israel-- against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt --saying: You only have I known of all the families of the earth: that's why I will punish you for all your iniquities." (Amos 3:1-2)

    †. Gen 38:8 . .Then Judah said to Onan: Join with your brother's wife and do your duty by her as a brother-in-law, and provide offspring for your brother.

    NOTE: This is the first mention of adoption in the Bible. Others are Moses' adoption by an Egyptian princess, Manasseh's and Ephraim's adoption by Jacob, and Jesus' adoption by Joseph.

    According to Deut 5:2-4, the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy isn't retroactive. So then Judah's directive wasn't a strict by-the-book legal requirement as-stipulated by Deut 25:5-6; but was nevertheless something that God approved without it being a covenanted requirement.

    The "duty" to which Judah referred was apparently a widely accepted custom; not only in his own day, but in days preceding him. Some feel that the custom had its origin in the early-day practice of purchasing a wife rather than courting; so that she became a portion of the dead man's estate.

    As such, she remained the "property" (and the responsibility) of the clan; thus assuring widows of a livelihood, and of protection and security after their husband's death. In that respect, being a "mail order" bride had its advantages in an era when very few women had careers of their own outside the home or were entitled to assistance programs.

    †. Gen 38:9 . . But Onan, knowing that the seed would not count as his, spilled it on the ground whenever he joined with his brother's wife, so as not to provide offspring for his brother.

    It's been suggested that Onan's motivation for leaving his new wife childless was to make sure Er didn't posthumously cause his own inheritance to be reduced. As the firstborn, Er came in for a larger portion of Judah's estate than Onan. But with Er dead and out of the way, Onan became the firstborn by natural succession.

    Actually, Onan didn't have to marry Tamar; but if and when he did, it was an implied consent to try his best to engender a boy so the dead man would have someone to carry on his name. But Onan chose instead to take advantage of his brother's widow and use her like a harlot; and that was not only a cruel thing to do, but a fatal error too.

    †. Gen 38:10 . .What he did was displeasing to The Lord, and He took his life also.

    Some have attempted to use this passage as a proof text that it's a sin to practice contraception. But any honest examination of the facts testifies otherwise. Onan evaded his obligation, and married his brother's widow under false pretenses; apparently with the full intention of protecting his own inheritance rather than that of his dead brother.

    That was unforgivable because it's all the same as fraud and breech of contract; not to mention deplorably uncaring about a widow's predicament (cf. Luke 7:11-15). Tamar had a legitimate right to a baby fathered by Judah's clan, and it was their moral, if not sacred, duty to make an honest attempt to provide her with not only a baby, but also a man by her side to take care of her too.

    †. Gen 38:11a . .Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar: Stay as a widow in your father's house until my son Shelah grows up

    At this point, Judah did the unthinkable: he disowned his daughter-in-law. That just wasn't done. When a girl married into a clan; she became one with that clan. I can scarce believe Judah sent Tamar back to her father; and I'm honestly surprised Tamar's dad didn't march her right back to Judah's front door and get in his face about it and demand he fulfill his obligations to one of Israel's own widows.

    †. Gen 38:11b . . for he thought: He too might die like his brothers.

    No doubt Shelah's mom Bath-shua was by this time up in arms and protesting vehemently against any more marriages of her own sons to this "toxic" female.

    I've a pretty good notion of what Judah had in mind. He had no intention of letting Tamar anywhere near his one and only surviving male heir. As far as he was concerned, Tamar was nothing less than a Black Widow-- one of the those venomous spiders in the American southwest that eats her mate for dinner after the poor hormone-driven slob fulfills his one and only purpose in life.

    †. Gen 38:11c . . So Tamar went to live in her father's house.

    Sending Tamar back home, as an unattached girl, Judah no doubt sincerely hoped she would meet somebody in her own neighborhood; maybe an old boyfriend or two, and remarry before Shelah got old enough; thus, his last son would be safe from Ms. Black Widow. But as it turned out, Tamar had more grit than Mattie Ross of Darnel County. Judah's clan owed her dead husband a baby boy, and that was that.

    You can hardly blame her. Jacob's clan was very wealthy, so that any children Tamar should produce by them, would have all the best that life had to offer in early-day Palestine; plus her grandchildren would be well taken care of too. Since nothing is said of her origin, Tamar may not have been a blue-blooded girl like her mother-in-law, but could have easily come from a low income community on the wrong side of the tracks. What would you do in the best interests of your children in that situation?

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    Comment (0)

    Sun, Dec 6th - 9:50AM



    Genesis 38:1-5

     

    †. Gen 38:1a . . About that time

    Joseph was 17 when he arrived in Egypt (Gen 37:2) and 30 when he became prime minister (Gen 41:46). When he went to work for Pharaoh; a 14-year period began, consisting of two divisions-- seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine. After 9 of the 14 years had passed-- the 7 years of plenty, and 2 of the years of famine --Joseph summoned his dad to Egypt (Gen 45:6-9) which would add up to a period of only about 22 years or so.

    Some commentators feel that chapter 38 is out of place chronologically; that it really should have followed chapter 33 because there just isn't enough time lapsed-- from Joseph's arrival in Egypt and Jacob's subsequent arrival --for all the births; and all the growing-up time needed for the particulars in chapter 38 to reach an age mature enough to sleep with a woman and father a child (see Adam Clarke's Commentary for an analysis of the circumstances).

    "about that time" is so ambiguous, and so unspecific, and the above mentioned time elements so narrow; that the phrase could simply indicate that the events of chapter 38 happened not right after Joseph went to Egypt, but most likely any time during the whole time Jacob was resident in Canaan; in other words: any time between chapter 33 and chapter 47. Joseph was 7 years old when Jacob returned to Canaan, and 17 when carted off to Egypt. So, adding 10 to the 22, would make the period of "about that time" equal to about 32 years total.

    †. Gen 38:1b . . Judah

    Judah's saga is pretty interesting because it concerns the Israeli tribal head chosen to perpetuate the Jewish line to Messiah (Gen 49:8-12, Heb 7:14).

    Some people call this section in Genesis sordid; but I think it's actually kind of humorous because a very resourceful Gentile girl is going to really get one over on the "chosen people".

    †. Gen 38:1c . . left his brothers

    One can hardly blame Judah for wanting to put some distance between himself and the others once in a while. They were so cruel, so selfish, and so thoughtless. People of cruelty generally make bad company what with all their complaining, their sniping, their carping criticism, their tempers, and their propensity to harm people. If those boys were hard hearted against their own kid brother, just think how cruel they must have been with animals.

    Judah was no prize himself, that's true, but at least he wasn't a cold blooded murderer at heart. I have no doubt he felt very bad at Josephs' sobbing and begging for his life down in that pit. But I thoroughly suspect he felt that selling his kid brother into slavery was the only way he could possibly save the boy's life. Even if Joseph had escaped his brothers that day, they would always be looking for another opportunity to finish the job.

    †. Gen 38:1d . . and camped near a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah.

    The community of Adullum was roughly 12 miles northwest of Hebron, and later apportioned to the tribe of Judah during Joshua's campaign. (Josh 15:35)

    Some translations say that Judah "turned in" to Hirah; implying he lodged in Hirah's home rather than set up his own pavilion. The Hebrew word is natah (naw-taw') which simply means to stretch or spread out; which may indicate that Judah was into a little independent ranching on his own in the area; implying that Judah's spread neighbored Hirah's range land.

    Natah is one of those ambiguous words with more than one meaning; which only serves to accent a frustrating fact of life in the world of Bible scholarship that it's pretty near impossible to translate ancient Hebrew texts verbatim into the English language without making an inadvertent error here and there.

    †. Gen 38:2 . .There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shua, and he married her and cohabited with her.

    From the spiritual aspect; Jacob's family was practically on an island in the midst of a sea infested with caribes. The only viable option for spouses in that predicament was either for a prospective Canaanite to be a God-fearing person, e.g. Melchizedek (Gen 14:18) or sincerely convert to Jacob's religion like Ruth did. (Ru 1:16, Ru 2:11-12) 

    Whether the daughter converted isn't said. And since there existed no Divine prohibitions against intermarriage with Canaanites at this time-- Israel's covenanted law doesn't have ex post facto jurisdiction (Gal 3:17) --then surely no one could possibly accuse Judah of a sin for marrying outside either his religion or his ethnic identity. However, since two of Shua's boys were incorrigible and ended up dead, slain by God, and none of her three male children by Judah were selected to forward Abraham's line to Messiah; Judah's choice doesn't look good.

    Gen 38:2 is tricky because at first glance it looks like the girl might be the daughter of a man named Shua. But in verse 12, the daughter's moniker in Hebrew is Bath-Shuwa' (see also 1Chrn 3:5) which is the very same moniker as Bathsheba's. (1Chrn 3:5)

    NOTE: In Hebrew, a daughter is a bath; and a son is a ben (e.g. Uri ben Hur, Ex 31:2).

    Bath-Shuwa' (or: Bath-Shua) just simply means a daughter of wealth; which isn't really a name at all, but a status. Exactly what the status of a "daughter of wealth" is supposed to convey about a girl is hard to tell. Perhaps it just means she's an eligible consideration for marriage-- like a girl who comes of a good family; but that doesn't necessarily mean that a blue-blooded girl is the best choice. Things like education, breeding, and wealth are no guarantee that maybe a girl from across the tracks wouldn't make a much better wife and mother. (she'd certainly tend to be more frugal)

    †. Gen 38:3-5 . . She conceived and bore a son, and he named him Er. She conceived again and bore a son, and named him Onan. Once again she bore a son, and named him Shelah; he was at Chezib when she bore him.

    The community of Chezib (a.k.a. Achzib and Chozeba) has been identified with Khirbet Kueizibah by somebody named Conder (Palestine Exploration, Jan. 1875). The Talmud mentions that a plain is in front of Chozeba; so Kueizibah has before it the valley of Berachoth (wady Arrub); which is a bit southwest of Adullum. So although Judah moved away from Bath-shua's parents, it wasn't far away.

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    Sat, Dec 5th - 11:26AM



    Genesis 37:29-36

     

    †. Gen 37:29-30 . .When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he rent his clothes. Returning to his brothers, he said: The boy is gone! Now, what am I to do?

    Precisely where, and why, Reuben wasn't present when his brothers sold Joseph isn't stated.

    Reuben wasn't privy to his brothers' scheme to sell Joseph so he innocently "informs" them of their kid brother's disappearance. Imagine his dismay to discover that they, of all people, sold their own blood kin into slavery! How in blazes is he supposed to explain that to his dad!?!

    Reuben is so disturbed that he can't think straight; so his brothers, in their characteristic cold, calculating way, devise yet another nefarious scheme. They will stain Joseph's ornamental garment with blood and let their dad draw his own conclusions about it.

    †. Gen 37:31-32 . .Then they took Joseph's tunic, slaughtered a kid, and dipped the tunic in the blood. They had the ornamented tunic taken to their father, and they said: We found this. Please examine it; is it your son's tunic or not?

    So without any explanation, nor details of the circumstances leading up to Joseph's disappearance, they let Jacob jump to his own conclusion. That is a very, very common, and very, very human way of perpetrating a lie.

    †. Gen 37:33-34 . . He recognized it, and said: My son's tunic! A savage beast devoured him! Joseph was torn by a beast! Jacob rent his clothes, put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days.

    This is the very first mention of sackcloth in the Bible. It's a rough, coarse material like burlap commonly used for packaging grain in bags. Though an inexpensive fabric, it's prickly and chafes the skin so it's not really suitable for undergarments. Exactly where Jacob got the idea to abuse himself like that is unknown; but it's common in the Old Testament: mostly donned as an outer garment rather than under.

    If Joseph was "torn" then why was his tunic still in one piece? It's not uncommon for carnivorous beasts like grizzly bears to devour a portion of people's clothing right along with their flesh.

    Well . . poor Jacob is so overcome with grief over the loss of his favorite son that his logic chip just simply overheated and crashed. People who are gravely upset sometimes have trouble finding their car keys even if they're right inside their own pants pocket.

    †. Gen 37:35a . . All his sons and daughters sought to comfort him

    "sons and daughters" is somewhat ambiguous and can indicate not just Jacob's progeny, but every man, woman, and child in the whole family regardless of age with himself the paterfamilias of the whole bunch.

    †. Gen 37:35b . . but he refused to be comforted, saying: No, I will go down to the grave mourning for my son.

    The Hebrew word translated "grave" is sheol (sheh-ole') and this is its first appearance in the Bible.

    Sheol is sometimes translated grave, sometimes Hell, sometimes netherworld (a.k.a. the world of the dead; viz: the afterlife) and sometimes not translated at all but left as-is in Hebrew; presumably to avoid controversy.

    The New Testament equivalent of sheol is haides (hah'-dace) which is an afterlife place where all the dead go, both the good dead and the bad dead, and the young and the old regardless of age, race, religion, and/or gender.

    The prophet Jonah went to sheol at some time during his nautical adventure (Jonah 2:2) a place that he described as the roots of the mountains (Jonah 2:6a). Well; the mountains aren't rooted in the tummies of fish; they're rooted down deep in the earth (Jonah 2:6b).

    According to Ps 16:8-10 and Acts 2:22-31, Christ spent some time in sheol/haides while waiting for his body to be restored to life.

    According to Matt 12:40, sheol/haides is in the heart of the earth. Well; Christ wasn't buried in the heart of the earth; he was buried on the surface in a rock-hewn tomb. So in order for Christ to be on the surface of the earth and simultaneously in the heart of the earth, he and his body had to part company, i.e. as Jonah, so the Son of Man.

    †. Gen 37:35c . .Thus his father bewailed him.

    Sometimes it's really best to leave people alone and let them grieve through their loss. Many a well-meaning "comforter" has only succeeded in making matters worse by attempting to talk friends out of their grief with good-intentioned, but nevertheless; tiresome philosophical platitudes.

    And people who stifle their grief are only forestalling the inevitable. One day, possibly when they least expect it, and quite possibly inconveniently, it will catch up to them.

    †. Gen 37:36 . .The Midianites, meanwhile, sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, a courtier of Pharaoh, and his chief steward.

    Although slavery normally isn't regarded a blessing, in this case Joseph couldn't have been sold into a better situation. Potiphar was well-connected instead of just another plantation owner who would work Joseph to the bone; undernourished, inadequately housed, and poorly clothed.

    Courtiers were typically royalty's personal assistants and performed a variety of duties. Potiphar was "chief steward". The Hebrew words means boss of the butchers; an ambiguous term which implies not just slaughtering and/or cooking animals for food, but also supervising capital punishments, and/or supervising Pharaoh's personal bodyguards along with the oversight of his own private jails; especially jails for political prisoners.

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    Fri, Dec 4th - 8:48AM



    Genesis 37:25b-28

     

    †. Gen 37:25b . . Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels bearing gum, balm, and ladanum to be taken to Egypt.

    In our day, the Ishmaelites would be driving diesel trucks loaded with flat screen TVs, 501 Levi jeans, Nike sports apparel, Apple iPhones, and Doritos.

    The gum may have been tragacanth, or goats-thorn gum, because it was supposed to be obtained from that plant.

    The balm (or balsam) is an aromatic substance obtained from a plant of the genus Amyris, which is a native of Gilead. In point of biblical fact, Gilead was famous for its balm (Jer 8:22, Jer 46:11). Balms were of medical value in those days.

    The ladanum was probably labdanum, (possibly myrrh), a yellowish brown to reddish brown aromatic gum resin with a bitter, slightly pungent taste obtained from a tree (esp. Commiphora abyssinica of the family Burseraceae) of eastern Africa and Arabia.

    Gilead was located in the modern-day country of Jordan-- a mountainous region on the east side of the Jordan River extending from the Sea of Galilee down to the north end of the Dead Sea. It's about sixty miles long and twenty miles wide. Its scenery is beautiful; the hills are fertile and crowned with forests. It was on Gilead's western boundary that Jacob confronted Laban in chapter 31, and also on Gilead's western boundary where Jacob grappled with the angel in chapter 32.

    The land of Gilead connected to a major trade route (spice road) from Turkey and Mesopotamia to Egypt; and all points in between. Quite possibly the Ishmaelites were following a track that would eventually take them right down the very road that Hagar had taken towards Shur on her flight from Sarah back in chapter 16.

    The Ishmaelites were a blended people consisting of the families of Ishmael and Midian, who were Abraham's progeny (Gen 16:15, Gen 25:2). The two ethnic designations-- Midianites and Ishmaelites --are interchangeable (e.g. Gen 37:28, Jdgs 8:24, Jdgs 8:26). Since the Ishmaelites were Abraham's progeny, then they were blood kin to Jacob's clan; ergo: blood kin not only to Joseph, but also to all the rest of the people of Israel.

    †. Gen 37:26-27 . .Then Judah said to his brothers: What do we gain by killing our brother and covering up his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let us not do away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh. His brothers agreed.

    Judah's alternative made good sea sense. There was always the risk that somebody might rescue Joseph out of that tank and he would then high-tail it for home and tattle on his brothers for what they did to him. With him an anonymous slave, miles and miles away in Egypt, everything would work out just the way most of them wanted, and the brothers would get a little something in return for Joseph's hide.

    †. Gen 37:28 . .When Midianite traders passed by, they pulled Joseph up out of the pit. They sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who brought Joseph to Egypt.

    The money in this instance isn't by weight as it had been in the purchase of Sarah's cemetery back in chapter 23. This money is by the piece; of which the precise nomenclature and value are currently unknown. They could have been any size and worth; depending upon international merchant agreements in those days. Joseph was sold at a price that Moses' Law later fixed for juveniles. (Lev 27:5)

    Incidentally, Christ was sold out for thirty pieces of silver (Matt 26:15) about which the Bible says was a "lordly" price. (Zech 11:12-13)

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    Thu, Dec 3rd - 9:58AM



    Genesis 37:21-25a

     

    †. Gen 37:21-22 . . But when Reuben heard it, he tried to save him from them. He said: Let us not take his life. And Reuben went on: Shed no blood! Cast him into that pit out in the wilderness, but do not touch him yourselves-- intending to save him from them and restore him to his father.

    The suggestion to murder Joseph was apparently discussed in private among only some of the brothers at first. When they attempted to bring Reuben in on it, he balked. Reuben, the eldest son, seems to be the one dissenting opinion in Joseph's case-- so far. Exactly why, is not stated; but even though he messed up by sleeping with his father's concubine; that doesn't mean he's okay with murdering his own kid brother.

    No doubt Simeon and Levi had no reservations about ending Joseph's life on the spot; having already displayed malicious tempers and made their bones while handling their sister's scandal back in chapter 34. Reuben's balk seems honestly motivated by a sincere concern for his dad's paternal feelings. Reuben already hurt Jacob's feelings once before by sleeping with his concubine. I don't think he wanted to do that again.

    †. Gen 37:23-24 . .When Joseph came up to his brothers, they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the ornamented tunic that he was wearing, and took him and cast him into the pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

    Some of the brothers would have sorely loved to burn that "despicable" coat to ashes since it fully represented their kid brother's lording it over them.

    The Hebrew word for "pit" is bowr (bore); and means a hole (especially one used as a cistern or a prison). Bowr is variously translated cistern, well, prison, dungeon, and sometimes a pit as bottomless; viz: an abyss.

    The "pit" may have been one of two widely-known natural water tanks in that area. Some commentators believe the word "Dothan" means two wells, or two natural tanks; like the Terrapin Tanks in the 1948 western movie The 3 Godfathers with John Wayne and Ward Bond. I seriously doubt that experienced drovers like Jacob's sons would have dropped Joseph in a tank with water because if he were to die in there; his putrefying body would have contaminated it; thus rendering the precious resource unfit for drovers and their herds. Natural water sources were essential to the safety of both man and beast in those days.

    Ancient Jewish commentators made the tank home to some lethal critters.

    T. And when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his garment, the figured garment that was on him, and took and threw him into the pit; but the pit was empty, no water was therein, but serpents and scorpions were in it. (Targum Jonathan)

    †. Gen 37:25a . .Then they sat down to a meal.

    Would you be comfortable sitting down to a meal while listening to somebody weeping and sobbing in the background? According to Gen 42:21 that's what Joseph's brothers did. He spent some of his time down in that tank begging for his life; and they just kept right on dining like he wasn't even there.

    I read a story of the torture and mistreatment of captives in Sadaam Hussein's pre-invasion jails. This one poor Iraqi man was forced sit down upon the jagged neck of a broken glass pop bottle; and while the bottle filled with blood from his torn bowel, Iraqi police played a game of cards.

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    Wed, Dec 2nd - 9:17AM



    Genesis 37:18-20

     

    †. Gen 37:18a . .They saw him from afar,

    It's unlikely they would recognize Joseph's face from a distance but that coat of his probably stood out like a semaphore flag 

    †. Gen 37:18b-20 . . and before he came close to them they conspired to kill him. They said to one another: Here comes that dreamer! Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we can say a savage beast devoured him. We shall see what comes of his dreams!

    The brothers' display of intended cruelty to their own kid brother Joseph is shocking coming from the sacred patriarchs of the people of Israel.

    I seriously doubt the brothers were intent upon ending Joseph's life only so his dreams wouldn't come true. That was just bombastic rhetoric. Truth is: they just hated him; simple as that.

    Isn't it odd that when people hate someone they want them dead? How about maybe a beating instead? Why not throw hot coffee or scalding water in their face, or maybe singe their back with a hot steam iron while they're sleeping? Why death? Because death is all that will truly satisfy the human heart's hatred. Maybe nobody reading this will ever actually murder anybody; but that doesn't mean you aren't a murder. Wishing somebody would die, is the wish of a murderer's heart; and that's the plain truth of it.

    "Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer" (1John 3:15)

    The koiné Greek word for "brother" in that passage is adelphos (ad-el-fos') which refers to one's kin rather than to one's neighbor.

    Hatred for one's kin doesn't make the hater guilty of murder; it's only saying that someone harboring hatred for their kin has the nature of a murderer. For example: if a lion never ate meat even once in its life, it would still be a carnivore because lions have the nature of a carnivore. In like manner, if kin-haters never get around to killing the objects of their hate; they would still be murderers because they have the nature of a murderer.

    "Out of the heart come murders" (Matt 15:19)

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