Genesis 50

GENESIS:  
“The Gospel According to Torah” 
Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com
Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com
Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  

Summer Reading 2018

THE END OF THE BEGINNING
Reading Week from July 29
Garret Talk Tues July 31
Genesis 49-50: Mon July 30 to Sat Aug 04 

 

Tuesday July 31: 

Genesis Chapter 50

One more reiteration of Yaakov’s death and burial, and one more account of Yosef’s response in and among and with the Egyptians, and one more attempt to reclaim a reconciliation among the brothers, or at least the submission of the 10 to Joseph, ties up the loose ends of Genesis.   

This operatic funeral matches the oratory of Yaakov’s deathbed blessings on his children.  Imagine the procession of all the leadership of Egypt and Israel, heading to Machpelah, and stopping at the threshing floor of Atad.  If you share my suspicious nature, you might see hints of an armed escort for the men of Israel, and the families held hostage in Goshen to prevent flight.  Compare earlier stories, and subsequent ones! 

Reconciliation among the brothers requires some recognition that Joseph has power and a legitimate grievance – somewhat as had Esav against Yaakov.  They confess, claiming Yaakov told them to do so and told Yosef to forgive – and Yosef restates the idea that their sin was necessary to this providential end.  Imagine how that might be heard in every generation from David to Hezekiah to Babylon to the Second Temple.  There’s always something to forgive, and fit into God’s wider providential frame. 

Finally, Yosef himself dies, seeing the future of Exodus, and charging his people to bring up his bones with them when they leave (less demanding than his fathers’ disposition!)  This is the hinge already taking us to the beginning of Exodus and beyond.  You’ve done it – read and heard the entirety of Genesis again, as if for the first time!  Tomorrow, I’ll refer you to places in this blog where we’ve read Exodus before – then Thursday, I may offer notes on Leviticus, and by rights, should conclude with Numbers and Deuteronomy. 

Next week – Romans: the gospel according to Paul…. 

Genesis Chapter 50

NRSV

Then Joseph threw himself on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him. 2Joseph commanded the physicians in his service to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel; 3they spent forty days in doing this, for that is the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him for seventy days. 

4 When the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph addressed the household of Pharaoh, ‘If now I have found favour with you, please speak to Pharaoh as follows: 5My father made me swear an oath; he said, “I am about to die. In the tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.” Now therefore let me go up, so that I may bury my father; then I will return.’ 6Pharaoh answered, ‘Go up, and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.’ 

7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen. 9Both chariots and charioteers went up with him. It was a very great company.  

10When they came to the threshing-floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they held there a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he observed a time of mourning for his father for seven days. 11When the Canaanite inhabitants of the land saw the mourning on the threshing-floor of Atad, they said, ‘This is a grievous mourning on the part of the Egyptians.’ Therefore the place was named Abel-mizraim; it is beyond the Jordan. 

 12Thus his sons did for him as he had instructed them. 13They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah, the field near Mamre, which Abraham bought as a burial site from Ephron the Hittite. 14After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father. 

15 Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, ‘What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?’ 16So they approached Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17“Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.” Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.’  

Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, ‘We are here as your slaves.’19But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.’ In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them. 

22 So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s household; and Joseph lived for one hundred and ten years. 23Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation; the children of Machir son of Manasseh were also born on Joseph’s knees. 

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die; but God will surely come to you, and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.’ 25So Joseph made the Israelites swear, saying, ‘When God comes to you, you shall carry up my bones from here.’ 

 26And Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. 

Genesis 49

GENESIS:  
“The Gospel According to Torah” 
Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com
Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com
Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  

Summer Reading 2018 

 

THE END OF THE BEGINNING 

Reading Week from July 29 

Garret Talk Tues July 31 

Genesis 49-50: Mon July 30 to Sat Aug 04 

 

Monday July 30: 

Genesis Chapter 49 

I wish I knew the tune to these songs.  Attributed to Yaakov on his deathbed, as if he was a seer of the future, these poetic summaries of the character and fate of each brother and their tribes is best read with a map in front of us, and with a fuller knowledge of the history that lies ahead for each region, through the historical narratives of our bible.   

It echoes the earlier chapters of Genesis, and anticipates the later writings of Joshua, Judges, Samuels, Kings, Chronicles, the latter prophets, the major and minor ones.    Once more, Yaakov’s burial in Abraham’s grave is asserted, the deep root of a land claim still contentious today. 

It is meant to be recited and heard by people who identify with the tribes for whom these 12 brothers are the legendary progenitors.  Have you ever tried to ‘live up to a name’ – a clan, an ethnic group?  We are a people among cousins and wider families, communities, ethnicities, nationalities, within a universal common humanity.  We are not a superior race, chosen to the exclusion or rejection by God of all others.  For what purpose are we ‘chosen’, except to bear witness, to re-present, these covenants with God? 

Genesis Chapter 49

NRSV

 

Then Jacob called his sons, and said:  

‘Gather around,  

that I may tell you 

what will happen to you 

in days to come.  

 
2 Assemble and hear,  

O sons of Jacob; 
   listen to Israel your father.  

 
3 ‘Reuben, you are my firstborn, 
   my might and the first fruits of my vigour, 
   excelling in rank and excelling in power.  
4 Unstable as water, you shall no longer excel
   because you went up on to your father’s bed; 
   then you defiled it—you went up on to my couch! 

 
5 ‘Simeon and Levi are brothers; 
   weapons of violence are their swords.  
6 May I never come into their council; 
   may I not be joined to their company— 
for in their anger they killed men, 
   and at their whim they hamstrung oxen.  
7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, 
   and their wrath, for it is cruel! 
I will divide them in Jacob, 
   and scatter them in Israel.  

 
8 ‘Judah, your brothers shall praise you; 
   your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; 
   your father’s sons shall bow down before you.  
9 Judah is a lion’s whelp; 
   from the prey, my son, you have gone up. 
He crouches down, he stretches out like a lion, 
   like a lioness—who dares rouse him up?  
10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, 
   nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, 
until tribute comes to him; 
   and the obedience of the peoples is his.  
11 Binding his foal to the vine
   and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, 
he washes his garments in wine
   and his robe in the blood of grapes;  
12 his eyes are darker than wine, 
   and his teeth whiter than milk.  

 
13 ‘Zebulun shall settle at the shore of the sea; 
   he shall be a haven for ships, 
   and his border shall be at Sidon.  

 
14 ‘Issachar is a strong donkey, 
   lying down between the sheepfolds;  
15 he saw that a resting-place was good, 
   and that the land was pleasant; 
so he bowed his shoulder to the burden, 
   and became a slave at forced labour.  

 
16 ‘Dan shall judge his people
   as one of the tribes of Israel.  
17 Dan shall be a snake by the roadside, 
   a viper along the path, 
that bites the horse’s heels
   so that its rider falls backwards.  

 
18 ‘I wait for your salvation, O Lord.  

 
19 ‘Gad shall be raided by raiders, 
   but he shall raid at their heels.  

 
20 ‘Asher’s food shall be rich, 
   and he shall provide royal delicacies.  

 
21 ‘Naphtali is a doe let loose
   that bears lovely fawns.  

 
22 ‘Joseph is a fruitful bough, 
   a fruitful bough by a spring; 
   his branches run over the wall.  
23 The archers fiercely attacked him; 
   they shot at him and pressed him hard.  
24 Yet his bow remained taut, 
   and his arms were made agile
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, 
   by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,  
25 by the God of your father, who will help you, 
   by the Almighty who will bless you
   with blessings of heaven above, 
blessings of the deep that lies beneath, 
   blessings of the breasts and of the womb.  
26 The blessings of your father
   are stronger than the blessings of the eternal mountains, 
   the bounties of the everlasting hills; 
may they be on the head of Joseph, 
   on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.  

 
27 ‘Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, 
   in the morning devouring the prey, 
   and at evening dividing the spoil.’  

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, blessing each one of them with a suitable blessing. 

29 Then he charged them, saying to them, ‘I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my ancestors—in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30in the cave in the field at Machpelah, near Mamre, in the land of Canaan, in the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a burial site. 31There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried; there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried; and there I buried Leah— 32the field and the cave that is in it were purchased from the Hittites.’ 

 33When Jacob ended his charge to his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people. 

 

THE END OF THE BEGINNING

GENESIS:  
“The Gospel According to Torah” 
Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com
Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com
Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  
Summer Reading 2018 

THE END OF THE BEGINNING
Reading Week from July 29
Garret Talk Tues July 31
Genesis 49-50: Mon July 30 to Sat Aug 04 

 

Sunday, July 29 

Sunday Summary 

Not coincidentally, my engagement with a more collective reading of Genesis, rather than with the literary devices of individuals’ stories, helped me imagine identifying with other Genesis perspectives than those of the patriarchs.  If we are children of Cain, or of Lamech, who are we? If we are descendants of Shem (Asia) or Ham (Africa), not just Japeth (Europe), how does the story change?  How do Arabs or Muslims self-identifying with Ishmael and Esau hear variations on the myths and sagas of Genesis, in Quran and tradition?  Can we be militant without being violent, defending our boundaries and identity without being oppressive or imperialist?  Is the covenant fundamentally genocidal toward ‘others’ from Aramean cousins to Hivite, Hittite, and Jebusite neighbours?  How long do we carry a grudge from ‘the old country’ of Mesopotamia or Egypt? 

For the remaining 2 days and 2 chapters of Genesis, we’ve got to bury the bones of Yaakov and Yosef, a nod to their legacies which we are invited to claim as our own.  We will carry these bones with us from Egypt into the Promised Land.  To forget them or abandon them seems ungrateful and imprudent.  What metaphorical or metonymic skeletons do we keep in our closets, to include in our baggage when we move on?  What do people typically do to construe our heritage, and construct our future? 

Monday July 30: 

Genesis Chapter 49

I wish I knew the tune to these songs.  Attributed to Yaakov on his deathbed, as if he was a seer of the future, these poetic summaries of the character and fate of each brother and their tribes is best read with a map in front of us, and with a fuller knowledge of the history that lies ahead for each region, through the historical narratives of our bible.  It echoes the earlier chapters of Genesis, and anticipates the later writings of Joshua, Judges, Samuels, Kings, Chronicles, the latter prophets, the major and minor ones.    Once more, Yaakov’s burial in Abraham’s grave is asserted, the deep root of a land claim still contentious today. 

Tuesday July 31: 

Genesis Chapter 50

One more reiteration of Yaakov’s death and burial, and one more account of Yosef’s response in and among and with the Egyptians, and one more attempt to reclaim a reconciliation among the brothers, or at least the submission of the 10 to Joseph, ties up the loose ends of Genesis.  Finally, Yosef himself dies, seeing the future of Exodus, and charging his people to bring up his bones with them when they leave (less demanding than his fathers’ disposition!)  This is the hinge already taking us to the beginning of Exodus and beyond.  You’ve done it – read and heard the entirety of Genesis again, as if for the first time! 

Genesis 48

GENESIS:  

“The Gospel According to Torah” 
Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com
Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com
Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  
Summer Reading 2018 

COMPLETING YOSEF’S CYCLE
Reading Week from July 22
Garret Talk Tues July 24
Genesis 43-48: Mon July 23 to Sat July 28 

Saturday July 28: 

Chapter 48

Yaakov’s deathbed according to this primarily Elohist tradition is a scene of deception echoing Yaakov’s earlier deception of his own father Isaac.  Joseph does not deceive his father the deceiver. 

The status of the central tribes of Manasseh (half-tribe on the West Bank, and half-tribe on the far bank of the Jordan) and Ephraim (hill country between Judea and Israel) are clarified by this story. In passing, the compromised claims of Reuben (far side of the Dead Sea, having slept with his father’s maid Bilhah, and equivocated about Joseph’s betrayal) and of Simeon (in the Negev, having presumed to avenge the rape of Tamar, but suffered as hostage in Egypt) are restated.    

Yaakov adopts Yosef’s two Egyptian sons as his own sons, not just his grandsons.  The younger son, Ephraim, gets the primogeniture blessing by Yaakov’s trick of crossing his hands.  Yosef may complain on behalf of his older son, but in the end gets a double portion of land claim in Judea, claimed from the Amorites, compared to the 11 brothers  (with the exception of Levi, whose tribe is to be priests).   

Yaakov in Egypt asks that his bones be buried in the promised land, and anticipates that his people will be there, even as they settle in the land of Goshen. 

Genesis Chapter 48 

NRSV 

After this Joseph was told, ‘Your father is ill.’ So he took with him his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim. 2When Jacob was told, ‘Your son Joseph has come to you’, he summoned his strength and sat up in bed. 

 3And Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and he blessed me, 4and said to me, “I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers; I will make of you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your offspring after you for a perpetual holding.” 

 5Therefore your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are now mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are.  

6As for the offspring born to you after them, they shall be yours. They shall be recorded under the names of their brothers with regard to their inheritance.  

7For when I came from Paddan, Rachel, alas, died in the land of Canaan on the way, while there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath’ (that is, Bethlehem). 

8 When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, ‘Who are these?’ 9Joseph said to his father, ‘They are my sons, whom God has given me here.’ And he said, ‘Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.’ 10Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, and he could not see well.  

So Joseph brought them near him; and he kissed them and embraced them. 11Israel said to Joseph, ‘I did not expect to see your face; and here God has let me see your children also.’ 12Then Joseph removed them from his father’s knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.  

13Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand towards Israel’s left, and Manasseh in his left hand towards Israel’s right, and brought them near him. 14But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands, for Manasseh was the firstborn. 

 15He blessed Joseph, and said, 
‘The God before whom my ancestors Abraham and Isaac walked, 
the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,  
16 the angel who has redeemed me from all harm, bless the boys; 
and in them let my name be perpetuated, and the name of my ancestors Abraham and Isaac; 
and let them grow into a multitude on the earth.’ 

17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18Joseph said to his father, ‘Not so, my father! Since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.’ 19But his father refused, and said, ‘I know, my son, I know; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.’ 

 20So he blessed them that day, saying, 
‘By you Israel will invoke blessings, saying, 
“God make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh.” ’ 

So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. 21Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your ancestors. 22I now give to you one portion more than to your brothers, the portion that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.’ 

Genesis 47

GENESIS:  
“The Gospel According to Torah” 
Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com
Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com
Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  
Summer Reading 2018 

COMPLETING YOSEF’S CYCLE 

Reading Week from July 22 

Garret Talk Tues July 24 

Genesis 43-48: Mon July 23 to Sat July 28 

 

Friday July 27: 

Chapter 47

The chapter begins with a mash-up of traditions about where ‘we’ settled in Egypt, and why.  Pharaoh interviews Yosef in one version, and Yaakov in another, to land in Goshen or Rameses.  Are we farmers or nomadic herders?  Our tribal traditions differ – but we do better off on the edge of Egypt, closer to the promised lands.  ‘Land o’ Goshen’ was adopted by many in North American settler culture to describe our homesteads. 

The next narrative is often overlooked, as Yosef as the chief civil servant uses the leverage of food stores to impoverish and enslave the Egyptians, demanding that they surrender their land titles after their cash, and become share-croppers in perpetuity.  There are echoes of Esav’s choice to surrender his birthright for a bowl of red stew.  How do we surrender agency, a step at a time, to tyranny? 

These nuggets of political wisdom are more interesting to me because Yosef is cast as the evil genius who imposed tyranny, at least in civil service of the tyrant, rather than as a messianic figure on the side of the starving farmers.  Certainly this is our moral place, among what Ron Sider called ‘Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger’.  More recent scholars call us ‘servants of empire’, inviting us to confession our complicity rather than victimhood. 

Genesis Chapter 47

NRSV

So Joseph went and told Pharaoh, ‘My father and my brothers, with their flocks and herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan; they are now in the land of Goshen.’ 

 2From among his brothers he took five men and presented them to Pharaoh. 3Pharaoh said to his brothers, ‘What is your occupation?’ And they said to Pharaoh, ‘Your servants are shepherds, as our ancestors were.’ 4They said to Pharaoh, ‘We have come to reside as aliens in the land; for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks because the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, we ask you, let your servants settle in the land of Goshen.’ 

 5Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6The land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land; let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know that there are capable men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.’ 

7 Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob, and presented him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8Pharaoh said to Jacob, ‘How many are the years of your life?’ 9Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The years of my earthly sojourn are one hundred and thirty; few and hard have been the years of my life. They do not compare with the years of the life of my ancestors during their long sojourn.’ 10Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from the presence of Pharaoh.  

11Joseph settled his father and his brothers, and granted them a holding in the land of Egypt, in the best part of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had instructed.12And Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their dependants. 

13 Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe. The land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. 

 14Joseph collected all the money to be found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. 

 15When the money from the land of Egypt and from the land of Canaan was spent, all the Egyptians came to Joseph, and said, ‘Give us food! Why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone.’ 16And Joseph answered, ‘Give me your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock, if your money is gone.’ 17So they brought their livestock to Joseph; and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys. That year he supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock. 

 18When that year was ended, they came to him the following year, and said to him, ‘We cannot hide from my lord that our money is all spent; and the herds of cattle are my lord’s. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. 19Shall we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land in exchange for food. We with our land will become slaves to Pharaoh; just give us seed, so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.’ 

20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. All the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe upon them; and the land became Pharaoh’s. 21As for the people, he made slaves of them from one end of Egypt to the other. 22Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had a fixed allowance from Pharaoh, and lived on the allowance that Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their land. 

23Then Joseph said to the people, ‘Now that I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh, here is seed for you; sow the land. 24And at the harvests you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh, and four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.’ 25They said, ‘You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be slaves to Pharaoh.’26So Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt, and it stands to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth. The land of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh’s. 

27 Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the region of Goshen; and they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied exceedingly. 28Jacob lived in the land of Egypt for seventeen years; so the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were one hundred and forty-seven years. 

29 When the time of Israel’s death drew near, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘If I have found favour with you, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal loyally and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt. 30When I lie down with my ancestors, carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.’ He answered, ‘I will do as you have said.’ 31And he said, ‘Swear to me’; and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself on the head of his bed. 

Genesis 46

GENESIS:  

“The Gospel According to Torah” 
Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com
Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com
Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  
Summer Reading 2018 

Reading Week from July 22 

Garret Talk Tues July 24 

Genesis 43-48: Mon July 23 to Sat July 28

Thursday July 26: 

Genesis Chapter 46

The dramatic climax past, we get to the denoument, opening with a summary mix from Jahwist and Elohist traditions, then a good long set of toledot, and finally a Jahwist tale of arrival in Egypt.   

The Priestly voice is unmistakable, enumerating 70 persons, a perfect number, of Yaakov’s hour entering Egypt – and fiddles a bit with earlier traditions to reach that desired tally.  This matters if you are reading as a person who claims your first person identity as a member of one of the tribes.  Which are you? 

By now, perhaps, you can recognize the 12 sons, grouped by their mothers, and their children in turn.  Notice in particular Joseph’s 2 sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, born in Egypt, each with a tribal patrimonial region in the centre of the promised land, rather than one area called ‘Joseph’ on your maps.   

Find Goshen on a map, too – and wonder why a story of deception was necessary to settle in the Delta with herd, rather than in the cities, as future slaves.  Both Jahwist agrarian and Elohist nomadic traditions represent legitimate heritage of the 12 tribes, who may in historical terms be a collection of peoples entering Palestine in varying groups.  There is in any event to distinguish ourselves from urbanized slaves of imperial powers, like Egyptians. 

Genesis Chapter 46 

NRSV 

 

When Israel set out on his journey with all that he had and came to Beer-sheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 

2God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob.’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 

 3Then he said, ‘I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. 4I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again; and Joseph’s own hand shall close your eyes.’ 

5 Then Jacob set out from Beer-sheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him. 6They also took their livestock and the goods that they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and they came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him, 7his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters; all his offspring he brought with him into Egypt. 

8 Now these are the names of the Israelites, Jacob and his offspring, who came to Egypt.  

Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, 9and the children of Reuben: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.  

10The children of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman. 

11The children of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 12The children of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan); and the children of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. 

 13The children of Issachar: Tola, Puvah, Jashub, and Shimron. 

 14The children of Zebulun: Sered, Elon, and Jahleel 15(these are the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, together with his daughter Dinah; in all his sons and his daughters numbered thirty-three). 

 16The children of Gad: Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli.  

17The children of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and their sister Serah. The children of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel 18(these are the children of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Leah; and these she bore to Jacob—sixteen persons).  

19The children of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 

20To Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him.  

21The children of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard 22(these are the children of Rachel, who were born to Jacob—fourteen persons in all). 

 23The children of Dan: Hashum. 

24The children of Naphtali: Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem 25(these are the children of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Rachel, and these she bore to Jacob—seven persons in all). 

 26All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his own offspring, not including the wives of his sons, were sixty-six persons in all. 

 27The children of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two; all the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy. 

28 Israel sent Judah ahead to Joseph to lead the way before him into Goshen. When they came to the land of Goshen, 29Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen. He presented himself to him, fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.30Israel said to Joseph, ‘I can die now, having seen for myself that you are still alive.’ 

 31Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, ‘I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and will say to him, “My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me.32The men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.” 

33When Pharaoh calls you, and says, “What is your occupation?” 34you shall say, “Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our ancestors”—in order that you may settle in the land of Goshen, because all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians.’ 

Genesis 45

GENESIS:  

“The Gospel According to Torah” 

Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com

Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com

Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  

Summer Reading 2018

Wednesday, July 25: 

Chapter 45

The dramatic revelation in the literary artistry gives us a fitting climax for this long novella of the Jahwist tradition.   

Yosef does not exact vengeance, but takes the high road of fraternal mercy, with much tearful reconciliation.  Theologically, he reframes his brothers’ earlier betrayal as part of a providential plan to prepare for future famine.  This line of reflection would easily survive the editorial hand of post-exilic traditions! 

Pharaoh invites the clans to immigrate to the best land in Egypt, to ‘live off the fat of the land’ (recall Steinback’s Mice & Men?)  and to send many gifts ahead for all the brothers, but most of all to Benjamin, and to Yaakov.  There are plenty of nuances for anybody who has received refuge or asylum, charity or relief, from official hosts – a very current issue this summer in Canada. 

Read it again for the hints of justification by itinerant resident aliens in any age, that ‘we’ were invited, ‘we’ were promised welcome, ‘we’ were given and did not steal what we end up enjoying.  Yaakov is revivified – and plans a reunion with Yosef before he dies.  Who are ‘we’ in this chapter of the story? 

Genesis Chapter 45

NRSV

Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, ‘Send everyone away from me.’ So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 

2And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. 

 3Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence. 

4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come closer to me.’ And they came closer. He said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.5And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 

 6For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvest. 7God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 

 9Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, “Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 10You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.” 

12And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. 13You must tell my father how greatly I am honoured in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.’ 

 14Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him. 

16 When the report was heard in Pharaoh’s house, ‘Joseph’s brothers have come’, Pharaoh and his servants were pleased. 17Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Say to your brothers, “Do this: load your animals and go back to the land of Canaan. 18Take your father and your households and come to me, so that I may give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you may enjoy the fat of the land.” 

 19You are further charged to say, “Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. 20Give no thought to your possessions, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.” ’ 

21 The sons of Israel did so. Joseph gave them wagons according to the instruction of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey. 22To each one of them he gave a set of garments; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five sets of garments. 23To his father he sent the following: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provision for his father on the journey. 

 24Then he sent his brothers on their way, and as they were leaving he said to them, ‘Do not quarrel along the way.’ 

25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26And they told him, ‘Joseph is still alive! He is even ruler over all the land of Egypt.’ He was stunned; he could not believe them.27But when they told him all the words of Joseph that he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28Israel said, ‘Enough! My son Joseph is still alive. I must go and see him before I die.’ 

 

Genesis 44

GENESIS:  

“The Gospel According to Torah” 

Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com 

Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com 

Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  

Summer Reading 2018 

COMPLETING YOSEF’S CYCLE 

Reading Week from July 22 

Garret Talk Tues July 24 

Genesis 43-48: Mon July 23 to Sat July 28 

 

Tuesday, July 24: 

Chapter 44

The Jahwist’s narrative continues its literary echo and amplification of earlier tales.  The face value of the story of entrapment, threats, and advocacy are powerful enough – what might they mean, if you try this vocative ‘we’ reading? 

The sacks are loaded with grain and with the money given to pay for it – and Benjamin has silver planted on him, reminder of Rachel’s thefts from Laban as Yaakov set out to re-emigrate from the north, and of the first round of relief food with the payment money hidden in the brothers’ sacks.  

The brothers are rehabilitated by their loyal refusal to abandon Benjamin as once they once sold out Yosef, submitting themselves to the youngest two brothers, sons of Rachel.  Judah is the eloquent advocate for them all.  We are, in fact, our brother’s keepers, and stand together or fall together. 

When ‘they’ are suspicious of ‘us’ and how ‘we’ have prospered from misfortune as alien immigrants to successful residents, ‘we’ tell stories like these to celebrate God’s abundance showered upon us, not by theft, or by our work alone, but in large part by grace and gift to the faithful.  

Genesis Chapter 44 

NRSV 

Then he commanded the steward of his house, ‘Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the top of his sack. 2Put my cup, the silver cup, in the top of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.’ And he did as Joseph told him. 

 3As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. 4When they had gone only a short distance from the city, Joseph said to his steward, ‘Go, follow after the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, “Why have you returned evil for good? Why have you stolen my silver cup?  5Is it not from this that my lord drinks? Does he not indeed use it for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.” ’ 

6 When he overtook them, he repeated these words to them. 7They said to him, ‘Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants that they should do such a thing! 8Look, the money that we found at the top of our sacks, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan; why then would we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? 9Should it be found with any one of your servants, let him die; moreover, the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.’  

10He said, ‘Even so; in accordance with your words, let it be: he with whom it is found shall become my slave, but the rest of you shall go free.’ 11Then each one quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack. 12He searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13At this they tore their clothes. Then each one loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city. 

14 Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house while he was still there; and they fell to the ground before him. 15Joseph said to them, ‘What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that one such as I can practise divination?’ 16And Judah said, ‘What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? How can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; here we are then, my lord’s slaves, both we and also the one in whose possession the cup has been found.’ 17But he said, ‘Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the one in whose possession the cup was found shall be my slave; but as for you, go up in peace to your father.’ 

18 Then Judah stepped up to him and said, ‘O my lord, let your servant please speak a word in my lord’s ears, and do not be angry with your servant; for you are like Pharaoh himself. 19My lord asked his servants, saying, “Have you a father or a brother?” 20And we said to my lord, “We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age. His brother is dead; he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.” 21Then you said to your servants, “Bring him down to me, so that I may set my eyes on him.” 22We said to my lord, “The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.” 

 23Then you said to your servants, “Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.” 24When we went back to your servant my father we told him the words of my lord. 25And when our father said, “Go again, buy us a little food”, 26we said, “We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother goes with us, will we go down; for we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.” 

 27Then your servant my father said to us, “You know that my wife bore me two sons; 28one left me, and I said, Surely he has been torn to pieces; and I have never seen him since. 29If you take this one also from me, and harm comes to him, you will bring down my grey hairs in sorrow to Sheol.” 30Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, 31when he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die; and your servants will bring down the grey hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol.  

32For your servant became surety for the boy to my father, saying, “If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame in the sight of my father all my life.” 33Now therefore, please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord in place of the boy; and let the boy go back with his brothers. 34For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the suffering that would come upon my father.’ 

 

Genesis 43

GENESIS:  

“The Gospel According to Torah” 

Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com 

Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com 

Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  

Summer Reading 2018 

 

COMPLETING YOSEF’S CYCLE 

Reading Week from July 22 

Garret Talk Tues July 24 

Genesis 43-48: Mon July 23 to Sat July 28 

 

Monday, July 23: 

Chapter 43

Judah looks better with this Jahwist’s version of the cycle of famine and appeal to the storehouses of Egypt.  Simeon is held hostage in Egypt pending the return, and Judah offers to stand surety for Benjamin’s safe return. 

This time the reunion is in Joseph’s house.   

The gifts the brothers bring echo what the Midianite caravan carried when Joseph was sold into Egypt – and the obeisance of brothers to Yosef echoes the dreams of bowing down.  The literary artistic hand is dominant here again.   

But imagine yourself as a hearer who identifies as an Israelite, a member of one of the twelve tribes – which tribe would you rather claim as your own?  What are the messages to us in the days of David’s kingdom, or in Judah after Israel had fallen to Assyria, or in Babylonian exile, or back in Jerusalem, building a Second Temple and editing our old story of identity? 

History is written by the victors, or at least the survivors – and the ten lost tribes have less voice than do Joseph and Benjamin, and those who claim their names (like some Celts claim the name of Bruce, heedless of genetic legitimacy).  The messages among the tribes in the middle ages of this tradition may not be the same as those to the remnant people late in the editing of Torah – and more than personal morality, but also empathy across political difference, a thing often missing in our generation. 

Genesis Chapter 43 

NRSV 

Now the famine was severe in the land. 2And when they had eaten up the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, ‘Go again, buy us a little more food.’ 

 3But Judah said to him, ‘The man solemnly warned us, saying, “You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.” 4If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food; 5but if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, “You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.” ’  

6Israel said, ‘Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?’ 7They replied, ‘The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, “Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?” What we told him was in answer to these questions. Could we in any way know that he would say, “Bring your brother down”?’ 

 8Then Judah said to his father Israel, ‘Send the boy with me, and let us be on our way, so that we may live and not die—you and we and also our little ones. 9I myself will be surety for him; you can hold me accountable for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame for ever. 10If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.’ 

11 Then their father Israel said to them, ‘If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry them down as a present to the man—a little balm and a little honey, gum, resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds. 12Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the top of your sacks; perhaps it was an oversight. 13Take your brother also, and be on your way again to the man; 14may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, so that he may send back your other brother and Benjamin. As for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.’  

15So the men took the present, and they took double the money with them, as well as Benjamin. Then they went on their way down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph. 

16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, ‘Bring the men into the house, and slaughter an animal and make ready, for the men are to dine with me at noon.’ 17The man did as Joseph said, and brought the men to Joseph’s house. 18Now the men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph’s house, and they said, ‘It is because of the money, replaced in our sacks the first time, that we have been brought in, so that he may have an opportunity to fall upon us, to make slaves of us and take our donkeys.’ 

 19So they went up to the steward of Joseph’s house and spoke with him at the entrance to the house. 20They said, ‘Oh, my lord, we came down the first time to buy food; 21and when we came to the lodging-place we opened our sacks, and there was each one’s money in the top of his sack, our money in full weight. So we have brought it back with us. 22Moreover, we have brought down with us additional money to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks.’  

23He replied, ‘Rest assured, do not be afraid; your God and the God of your father must have put treasure in your sacks for you; I received your money.’ Then he brought Simeon out to them. 24When the steward had brought the men into Joseph’s house, and given them water, and they had washed their feet, and when he had given their donkeys fodder, 25they made the present ready for Joseph’s coming at noon, for they had heard that they would dine there. 

26 When Joseph came home, they brought him the present that they had carried into the house, and bowed to the ground before him. 27He inquired about their welfare, and said, ‘Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?’ 28They said, ‘Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.’ And they bowed their heads and did obeisance.29Then he looked up and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, ‘Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!’  

30With that, Joseph hurried out, because he was overcome with affection for his brother, and he was about to weep. So he went into a private room and wept there. 31Then he washed his face and came out; and controlling himself he said, ‘Serve the meal.’32They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. 

33When they were seated before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth, the men looked at one another in amazement. 34Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they drank and were merry with him. 

 

Genesis 42

Saturday July 21:

Genesis Chapter 42

The drama unfolds now as Yaakov sends 10 sons to Egypt to supply their want.  Yaakov holds back his youngest beloved Benjamin, and we the readers know that Yosef is the boss in Egypt.  The literary art carries the story of the reunion - and Yosef’s deceptions offer a complex character study. However, try reading Simeon the hostage, and rehabilitating Reuben again, as the voice of moderation, in terms of their tribes’ locations on the dry south end of Judea and the east bank of the Jordan, and the repetitions and inconsistencies as evidence of the interweaving of Jahwist and Elohist traditions.  Had Yaakov lost heartland southern and eastern regions – or were they Israel’s hope (not reality) all along – and how might that give hope to later exiles?

Genesis Chapter 42

NRSV

When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, ‘Why do you keep looking at one another? 2I have heard’, he said, ‘that there is grain in Egypt; go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.’

  3So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he feared that harm might come to him.

  5Thus the sons of Israel were among the other people who came to buy grain, for the famine had reached the land of Canaan.

 6 Now Joseph was governor over the land; it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.

  7When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them. ‘Where do you come from?’ he said. They said, ‘From the land of Canaan, to buy food.’ 8Although Joseph had recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.  9Joseph also remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about them.

 He said to them, ‘You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land!’ 10They said to him, ‘No, my lord; your servants have come to buy food. 11We are all sons of one man; we are honest men; your servants have never been spies.’ 

 12But he said to them, ‘No, you have come to see the nakedness of the land!’ 13They said, ‘We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of a certain man in the land of Canaan; the youngest, however, is now with our father, and one is no more.’ 

 14But Joseph said to them, ‘It is just as I have said to you; you are spies! 15Here is how you shall be tested: as Pharaoh lives, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here! 

 16Let one of you go and bring your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison, in order that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you; or else, as Pharaoh lives, surely you are spies.’ 17And he put them all together in prison for three days.

 18 On the third day Joseph said to them, ‘Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19if you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here where you are imprisoned. The rest of you shall go and carry grain for the famine of your households, 20and bring your youngest brother to me. Thus your words will be verified, and you shall not die.’ And they agreed to do so. 

 21They said to one another, ‘Alas, we are paying the penalty for what we did to our brother; we saw his anguish when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen. That is why this anguish has come upon us.’

 22Then Reuben answered them, ‘Did I not tell you not to wrong the boy? But you would not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.’

 23They did not know that Joseph understood them, since he spoke with them through an interpreter. 24He turned away from them and wept; then he returned and spoke to them.

 And he picked out Simeon and had him bound before their eyes. 

 25Joseph then gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to return every man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. This was done for them.

 26 They loaded their donkeys with their grain, and departed.

  27When one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging-place, he saw his money at the top of the sack. 28He said to his brothers, ‘My money has been put back; here it is in my sack!’ At this they lost heart and turned trembling to one another, saying, ‘What is this that God has done to us?’

 29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30‘The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly to us, and charged us with spying on the land. 31But we said to him, “We are honest men, we are not spies. 32We are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in the land of Canaan.”

  33Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, “By this I shall know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, take grain for the famine of your households, and go your way. 34Bring your youngest brother to me, and I shall know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will release your brother to you, and you may trade in the land.” ’

 35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each one’s sack was his bag of money. When they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were dismayed. 

 36And their father Jacob said to them, ‘I am the one you have bereaved of children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has happened to me!’

 37Then Reuben said to his father, ‘You may kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.’ 

 38But he said, ‘My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should come to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to Sheol.’

Genesis 41

Friday July 20:

Genesis Chapter 41

Yosef the dream-seer finds vindication in this continuation of the Elohist’s version of the story of how the alien prisoner succeeded as a stranger in a strange land.  The narrative of seven fat years followed by seven lean years, and changing fortunes of the marginal and the powerful, echoes for millennia in exile and diaspora.  It’s also a sophisticated set of political perceptions of taxation and public commonwealth within a model of monarchy and empire, responding to the inevitable cycles of drought and famine.  We are not only the victims of natural and imperial oppressions and challenges, but can imagine civic service to heal and help, like Yosef.

Genesis Chapter 41

NRSV

After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2and there came up out of the Nile seven sleek and fat cows, and they grazed in the reed grass. 3Then seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4The ugly and thin cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. And Pharaoh awoke. 5Then he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6Then seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them. 7The thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Pharaoh awoke, and it was a dream. 

 8In the morning his spirit was troubled; so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh.

 9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, ‘I remember my faults today.10Once Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard. 11We dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own meaning.12A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each according to his dream. 13As he interpreted to us, so it turned out; I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.’

 14 Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was hurriedly brought out of the dungeon. When he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. 15And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.’ 16Joseph answered Pharaoh, ‘It is not I; God will give Pharaoh a favourable answer.’

  17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘In my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile;18and seven cows, fat and sleek, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass. 19Then seven other cows came up after them, poor, very ugly, and thin. Never had I seen such ugly ones in all the land of Egypt.20The thin and ugly cows ate up the first seven fat cows, 21but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had done so, for they were still as ugly as before. Then I awoke. 22I fell asleep a second time and I saw in my dream seven ears of grain, full and good, growing on one stalk, 23and seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouting after them; 24and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. But when I told it to the magicians, there was no one who could explain it to me.’

 25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, ‘Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. 27The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind. They are seven years of famine. 28It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. 30After them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; the famine will consume the land. 31The plenty will no longer be known in the land because of the famine that will follow, for it will be very grievous.

  32And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. 

 33Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. 35Let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.’

 37 The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find anyone else like this—one in whom is the spirit of God?’ 39So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has shown you all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you.’ 

 41And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’ 42Removing his signet ring from his hand, Pharaoh put it on Joseph’s hand; he arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain around his neck. 43He had him ride in the chariot of his second-in-command; and they cried out in front of him, ‘Bow the knee!’ Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt.

  44Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.’45Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, as his wife. Thus Joseph gained authority over the land of Egypt.

 46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt. 47During the seven plenteous years the earth produced abundantly. 48He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it. 49So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance—like the sand of the sea—that he stopped measuring it; it was beyond measure.

 50 Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons, whom Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him. 51Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, ‘For’, he said, ‘God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.’ 52The second he named Ephraim,‘For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.’

 53 The seven years of plenty that prevailed in the land of Egypt came to an end; 54and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every country, but throughout the land of Egypt there was bread. 55When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.’ 56And since the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57Moreover, all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine became severe throughout the world.

Genesis 40

Thursday, July 19:

Genesis Chapter 40

Here’s the Elohist’s version of the same tale.  It’s not just the naming of God as Elohim rather than Jahweh, but the use of dreams as intermediaries of divine presence and revelation, that signals the difference.  Here, Yosef is less of a success in Egypt or in prison – but a seer for fellow prisoners’ dreams, and a person at risk of the same arbitrary fates and tyrannies which befall the baker and cupbearer of the Pharaoh.  My people take care of their working class and civil service peers from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, and our friendships and loyalties serve us well, in narratives like the Elohist’s.  Do you ever interpret meaning and purpose to your colleagues in the world?

Genesis Chapter 40

NRSV

 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt. 2Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4The captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he waited on them; and they continued for some time in custody.

  5One night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own meaning. 6When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7So he asked Pharaoh’s officers, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, ‘Why are your faces downcast today?’ 8They said to him, ‘We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.’ And Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.’

 9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, ‘In my dream there was a vine before me, 10and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms came out and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.’ 

 12Then Joseph said to him, ‘This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days; 13within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.14But remember me when it is well with you; please do me the kindness to make mention of me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this place. 15For in fact I was stolen out of the land of the Hebrews; and here also I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.’

 16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favourable, he said to Joseph, ‘I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.’

 18And Joseph answered, ‘This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; 19within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a pole; and the birds will eat the flesh from you.’

 20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants, and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21He restored the chief cupbearer to his cupbearing, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand, 22but the chief baker he hanged, just as Joseph had interpreted to them.

23Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Genesis 39

Wednesday July 18:

Genesis Chapter 39

Now we are back to the main drama of Yosef, with the Jahwist’s narrative.  Here, Joseph is a boss in Egypt and a trusty of the Pharaoh.  Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce him and he refuses, in the continuing theme of the temptations of assimilation and success.  Yosef remains pure, and becomes the boss of the prison.  Who is your role model, and what did that hero do?  Most of us in the UCC are working class and civil service folks, the people who really make things work for those who appear to be the rich and powerful, but could not succeed without us.  We were warned not to be ‘tall poppies’, presuming to rise too far, or mix with our social betters – but we also knew the dignity of service, as distinguished from slavery.

Genesis Chapter 39

NRSV

 Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there.

  2The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man; he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hands. 4So Joseph found favour in his sight and attended him; he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. 6So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge; and, with him there, he had no concern for anything but the food that he ate.

 Now Joseph was handsome and good-looking. 7And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’ 8But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Look, with me here, my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my hand. 9He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ 10And although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not consent to lie beside her or to be with her.

  11One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work, and while no one else was in the house, 12she caught hold of his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me!’ But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. 13When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14she called out to the members of her household and said to them, ‘See, my husband has brought among us a Hebrew to insult us! He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice; 15and when he heard me raise my voice and cry out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.’16Then she kept his garment by her until his master came home, 17and she told him the same story, saying, ‘The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to insult me; 18but as soon as I raised my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me, and fled outside.’

 19 When his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, saying, ‘This is the way your servant treated me’, he became enraged. 20And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison. 

21But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favour in the sight of the chief jailer. 22The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.

Genesis 38

Tuesday July 17:

Genesis Chapter 38

Judah was a pre-eminent clan in Israel, and this tale of Judah’s toledot is a good segue while we let Yosef’s abduction mature.  You can reduce it to a warning against ‘spilling of seed’, of Onanism or masturbation by men – or you can read it for a tale of a woman of spirit who would not accept her temporizing father-in-law, and tricks him into providing her with a legitimate heir.  The tribe of Judah may have intermarried with Canaanites – but it was not bad news despite the ideological resistance to assimilation which was heightened in the Second Temple time of the ‘Priestly’ edition.  Tamar is a bit like Ruth, a figure of the integration of a strong line into the geneology of Jacob. 

Genesis Chapter 38

NRSV

 It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and settled near a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah.

 2There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua; he married her and went in to her. 3She conceived and bore a son; and he named him Er. 4Again she conceived and bore a son whom she named Onan. 5Yet again she bore a son, and she named him Shelah. Shewas in Chezib when she bore him. 

 6Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn; her name was Tamar. 7But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death.

  8Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her; raise up offspring for your brother.’ 9But since Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, he spilled his semen on the ground whenever he went in to his brother’s wife, so that he would not give offspring to his brother. 10What he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also.

  11Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, ‘Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up’—for he feared that he too would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.

 12 In course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died; when Judah’s time of mourning was over, he went up to Timnah to his sheep-shearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.

  13When Tamar was told, ‘Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep’, 14she put off her widow’s garments, put on a veil, wrapped herself up, and sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. She saw that Shelah was grown up, yet she had not been given to him in marriage.

  15When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16He went over to her at the roadside, and said, ‘Come, let me come in to you’, for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, ‘What will you give me, that you may come in to me?’ 17He answered, ‘I will send you a kid from the flock.’ And she said, ‘Only if you give me a pledge, until you send it.’ 18He said, ‘What pledge shall I give you?’ She replied, ‘Your signet and your cord, and the staff that is in your hand.’ So he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19Then she got up and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.

 20 When Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to recover the pledge from the woman, he could not find her. 21He asked the townspeople, ‘Where is the temple prostitute who was at Enaim by the wayside?’ But they said, ‘No prostitute has been here.’ 22So he returned to Judah, and said, ‘I have not found her; moreover, the townspeople said, “No prostitute has been here.” ’

  23Judah replied, ‘Let her keep the things as her own, otherwise we will be laughed at; you see, I sent this kid, and you could not find her.’

 24 About three months later Judah was told, ‘Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the whore; moreover she is pregnant as a result of whoredom.’ And Judah said, ‘Bring her out, and let her be burned.’ 25As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, ‘It was the owner of these who made me pregnant.’ And she said, ‘Take note, please, whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.’ 26Then Judah acknowledged them and said, ‘She is more in the right than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.’ And he did not lie with her again.

 27 When the time of her delivery came, there were twins in her womb.28While she was in labour, one put out a hand; and the midwife took and bound on his hand a crimson thread, saying, ‘This one came out first.’29But just then he drew back his hand, and out came his brother; and she said, ‘What a breach you have made for yourself!’ Therefore he was named Perez. 30Afterwards his brother came out with the crimson thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah.

Genesis 37

Monday February 13:

Genesis Chapter 37

Welcome to Yosef’s cycle of stories, like a novella in a different kind of book!  The Jahwist voice dominates, though the Elohist adds some apologetic bits salvaging Reuben’s reputation.  Here is the familiar story of the many-coloured coat of Joseph, his interpretation of dreams, and his brothers’ betrayals.  The Midianite traders haul Joseph off to Egypt – thanks to Reuben, who averted fratricide but did not save his brother from abduction.  Imagine this in terms of the tension between the heartland of Judah and Jerusalem, and the hinterland of the other 10 tribes of Israel.  Imagine this as another etiological legend of ‘where we come from’ – not only from the east, but also from the south and west – not only from Europe, but also from Asia…

Genesis Chapter 37

NRSV

 Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. 2This is the story of the family of Jacob.

 Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father.

 

 3Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves.4But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

 5 Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6He said to them, ‘Listen to this dream that I dreamed. 7There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright; then your sheaves gathered around it, and bowed down to my sheaf.’ 8His brothers said to him, ‘Are you indeed to reign over us? Are you indeed to have dominion over us?’ So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.

 9 He had another dream, and told it to his brothers, saying, ‘Look, I have had another dream: the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.’ 10But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, ‘What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?’ 11So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

 12 Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem.13And Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’14So he said to him, ‘Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.’ So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.

 He came to Shechem, 15and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, ‘What are you seeking?’ 16‘I am seeking my brothers,’ he said; ‘tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.’17The man said, ‘They have gone away, for I heard them say, “Let us go to Dothan.” ’ So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan.

  18They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him. 19They said to one another, ‘Here comes this dreamer. 20Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.’ 

 21But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, ‘Let us not take his life.’22Reuben said to them, ‘Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him’—that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father. 23So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; 24and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

 25 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.

  26Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers agreed.

 28When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

 29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. 30He returned to his brothers, and said, ‘The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?’ 31Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. 32They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, ‘This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not.’ 33He recognized it, and said, ‘It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.’

  34Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son for many days. 35All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, ‘No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.’ Thus his father bewailed him. 

 36Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

STARTING YOSEF’S CYCLE

GENESIS:

“The Gospel According to Torah”

Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com

Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com

Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca

Summer Reading 2018

 

STARTING YOSEF’S CYCLE

Reading Week from July 15

Garret Talk Tues July 17

Genesis 37-42: Mon July 16 to Sat July 21

 Sunday, July 15

Sunday Summary

 I invite anybody reading this site to reflect a bit on our wider community context.  I’m an old white guy, with lots of regret for how I’ve cooperated with the cool stuff God’s up to around us, and been complicit in our resistance to all that redemptive change.  This discipline of reading the old stuff while learning to ‘read’ my context and ‘read’ the people I meet, helps me to put our specific little congregation, and peculiar little denomination, in wider context.

Monday July 16:

Genesis Chapter 37

Welcome to Yosef’s cycle of stories, like a novella in a different kind of book!  The Jahwist voice dominates, though the Elohist adds some apologetic bits salvaging Reuben’s reputation.  Here is the familiar story of the many-coloured coat of Joseph, his interpretation of dreams, and his brothers’ betrayals.  The Midianite traders haul Joseph off to Egypt – thanks to Reuben, who averted fratricide but did not save his brother from abduction.  Imagine this in terms of the tension between the heartland of Judah and Jerusalem, and the hinterland of the other 10 tribes of Israel.  Imagine this as another etiological legend of ‘where we come from’ – not only from the east, but also from the south and west – not only from Europe, but also from Asia…

Tuesday July 17:

Genesis Chapter 38

Judah was a pre-eminent clan in Israel, and this tale of Judah’s toledot is a good segue while we let Yosef’s abduction mature.  You can reduce it to a warning against ‘spilling of seed’, of Onanism or masturbation by men – or you can read it for a tale of a woman of spirit who would not accept her temporizing father-in-law, and tricks him into providing her with a legitimate heir.  The tribe of Judah may have intermarried with Canaanites – but it was not bad news despite the ideological resistance to assimilation which was heightened in the Second Temple time of the ‘Priestly’ edition.  Tamar is a bit like Ruth, a figure of the integration of a strong line into the geneology of Jacob. 

Wednesday July 18:

Genesis Chapter 39

Now we are back to the main drama of Yosef, with the Jahwist’s narrative.  Here, Joseph is a boss in Egypt and a trusty of the Pharaoh.  Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce him and he refuses, in the continuing theme of the temptations of assimilation and success.  Yosef remains pure, and becomes the boss of the prison.  Who is your role model, and what did that hero do?  Most of us in the UCC are working class and civil service folks, the people who really make things work for those who appear to be the rich and powerful, but could not succeed without us.  We were warned not to be ‘tall poppies’, presuming to rise too far, or mix with our social betters – but we also knew the dignity of service, as distinguished from slavery.

 Thursday, July 19:

Genesis Chapter 40

Here’s the Elohist’s version of the same tale.  It’s not just the naming of God as Elohim rather than Jahweh, but the use of dreams as intermediaries of divine presence and revelation, that signals the difference.  Here, Yosef is less of a success in Egypt or in prison – but a seer for fellow prisoners’ dreams, and a person at risk of the same arbitrary fates and tyrannies which befall the baker and cupbearer of the Pharaoh.  My people take care of their working class and civil service peers from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, and our friendships and loyalties serve us well, in narratives like the Elohist’s.  Do you ever interpret meaning and purpose to your colleagues in the world?

 Friday July 20:

Genesis Chapter 41

Yosef the dream-seer finds vindication in this continuation of the Elohist’s version of the story of how the alien prisoner succeeded as a stranger in a strange land.  The narrative of seven fat years followed by seven lean years, and changing fortunes of the marginal and the powerful, echoes for millennia in exile and diaspora.  It’s also a sophisticated set of political perceptions of taxation and public commonwealth within a model of monarchy and empire, responding to the inevitable cycles of drought and famine.  We are not only the victims of natural and imperial oppressions and challenges, but can imagine civic service to heal and help, like Yosef.

 Saturday July 21:

Genesis Chapter 42

The drama unfolds now as Yaakov sends 10 sons to Egypt to supply their want.  Yaakov holds back his youngest beloved Benjamin, and we the readers know that Yosef is the boss in Egypt.  The literary art carries the story of the reunion - and Yosef’s deceptions offer a complex character study. However, try reading Simeon the hostage, and rehabilitating Reuben again, as the voice of moderation, in terms of their tribes’ locations on the dry south end of Judea and the east bank of the Jordan, and the repetitions and inconsistencies as evidence of the interweaving of Jahwist and Elohist traditions.  Had Yaakov lost heartland southern and eastern regions – or were they Israel’s hope (not reality) all along – and how might that give hope to later exiles?

Genesis 36

GENESIS:  

“The Gospel According to Torah” 

Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com 

Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com 

Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  

Summer Reading 2018 

Genesis Chapter 36 

Can you name the 50 states of the USA to our south (plus the territory of Puerto Rico and District of Columbia)?  Neither can I – but we can sure give it a fair try!  Can you name the states of Australia?  The home counties and shires of Ulster or Eire?   If you read chapter 37:2, you’ll see this summed up as part of the toledot of Jacob – even though it is the recital of the rivals, the cousins, in Edom to the south of Israel.   

Can we understand ourselves apart from those we are not?  Can understanding our ‘twins separated at birth’ like USA or Australia, or our cousins in Ulster or Eire, enrich our self-understanding as Canadians?  Dismiss this all at your own loss and impoverishment!  

Esau’s Hittite wives were slurred by Rebekah earlier, but in this summary, get better treatment.  After all, the ‘brothers’  and the ‘cousins’, those named as among Edom’s clans to the south of Israel, and among Ishmael’s Arab offspring, are obviously intermarrying – and Moses himself takes a wife from the clan of Reuel!  The ‘other’ are not simply demonized – but they are distinguished. 

You might also notice the acknowledgment that Edom attained a stable monarchy before Judah and Israel.  These are respected neighbours, part of the stage that has been set. 

Genesis Chapter 36

NRSV

These are the descendants of Esau (that is, Edom). 

 2Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah daughter of Anah son of Zibeon the Hivite, 3and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebaioth. 4Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau; Basemath bore Reuel; 5and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan. 

6 Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his cattle, all his livestock, and all the property he had acquired in the land of Canaan; and he moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. 7For their possessions were too great for them to live together; the land where they were living could not support them because of their livestock. 8So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir; Esau is Edom. 

9 These are the descendants of Esau, ancestor of the Edomites, in the hill country of Seir. 

 10These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz, son of Adah the wife of Esau; Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath. 11The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. 12(Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, Esau’s son; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.) These were the sons of Adah, Esau’s wife. 

 13These were the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These were the sons of Esau’s wife Basemath. 14These were the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah, daughter of Anah son of Zibeon: she bore to Esau Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. 

15 These are the clans of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: the clans Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16Korah, Gatam, and Amalek; these are the clans of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; they are the sons of Adah.  

17These are the sons of Esau’s son Reuel: the clans Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah; these are the clans of Reuel in the land of Edom; they are the sons of Esau’s wife Basemath. 

 18These are the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah: the clans Jeush, Jalam, and Korah; these are the clans born of Esau’s wife Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah. 19These are the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these are their clans. 

20 These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the clans of the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom. 22The sons of Lotan were Hori and Heman; and Lotan’s sister was Timna. 23These are the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. 24These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah; he is the Anah who found the springs in the wilderness, as he pastured the donkeys of his father Zibeon. 

 25These are the children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah daughter of Anah. 

 26These are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. 27These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan. 

 28These are the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran.  

29These are the clans of the Horites: the clans Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 30Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the clans of the Horites, clan by clan in the land of Seir. 

31 These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites. 

 32Bela son of Beor reigned in Edom, the name of his city being Dinhabah. 33Bela died, and Jobab son of Zerah of Bozrah succeeded him as king. 34Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites succeeded him as king. 35Husham died, and Hadad son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country of Moab, succeeded him as king, the name of his city being Avith. 36Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah succeeded him as king. 37Samlah died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates succeeded him as king. 38Shaul died, and Baal-hanan son of Achbor succeeded him as king. 39Baal-hanan son of Achbor died, and Hadar succeeded him as king, the name of his city being Pau; his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Me-zahab. 

40 These are the names of the clans of Esau, according to their families and their localities by their names: the clans Timna, Alvah, Jetheth,41Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43Magdiel, and Iram; these are the clans of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of Edom), according to their settlements in the land that they held. 

Genesis 35

GENESIS:  

“The Gospel According to Torah” 

Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com 

Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com 

Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  

Summer Reading 2018 

 

ISRAEL’S HOMECOMING 

Reading Week from July 8 

Garret Talk , Tues July 11 

Genesis 31-36: Mon July 9 to Sat July 14 

 

Genesis Chapter 35 

God relocates Yaakov from Shechem to Bethel, and there the people are expected to ditch their accumulated ‘foreign gods’ they have picked up on their way among other people.  More etiological legends are echoed, including the burial of Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, buried at Bethel.  The sacred shrine of Bethel is reinforced with another vision, ritual, and promise.  This competing shrine to Jerusalem, in Samaria, in the north, will remain a countermelody to the songs of the temple in the south.  We get a replay of Yaakov’s renaming as Israel. 

On the way to Isaac’s home in Hebron, Benjamin is born to Rachel, precious youngest, born in Judea – though Rachel dies in childbirth, buried in etiological legend of Bethlehem, Ephrath.    

The story of Reuben’s public affair with Bilhah is not simply a matter of taboo and social rules about incest beyond genetic risks.  It is a slur against the people named for Reuben, the tribe who redeems its reputation as shock troops in the invasion of Canaan, and gets territory on the far side of the Dead Sea.  Remember the insult to Moab as the result of Lot’s daughter’s incest?  This is an explanation for the first-born ending up more marginal than Judah – who was 4th born after the hotheads Simeon and Levi.     

The 12 sons of Yaakov are listed: 6 from Leah, 2 each from Rachel and the maids.  It’s worth taking the time again to find them on a map, to see the layers of meaning of these 12 names over time and space. 

Esau and Yaakov together bury Isaac, just as Ishmael and Isaac had together buried Abraham.  We have arrived, completing the toledot.  The stage is set for Torah – except for the story cycle of Joseph, the necessary set-up for Exodus.  Once we have those first scrolls of Torah, the stage is set for all our scripture, the people and the land and the book. There is a ‘people of God’, and other peoples in varying relation to ours. 

Genesis Chapter 35 

NRSV 

God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel, and settle there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.’ 

 2So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your clothes; 3then come, let us go up to Bethel, that I may make an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.’  

4So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak that was near Shechem. 

5 As they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities all around them, so that no one pursued them. 

 6Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, 7and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. 

 8And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So it was called Allon-bacuth. 

9 God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. 10God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ So he was called Israel. 

11God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you. 12The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.’ 13Then God went up from him at the place where he had spoken with him.  

14Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured out a drink-offering on it, and poured oil on it. 15So Jacob called the place where God had spoken with him Bethel. 

16 Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel was in childbirth, and she had a difficult labour. 17When she was in her difficult labour, the midwife said to her, ‘Do not be afraid; for now you will have another son.’ 18As her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. 

 19So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day. 21Israel journeyed on, and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder. 

22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard of it. 

Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.  

23The sons of Leah: 

 Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 

 24The sons of Rachel: 

 Joseph and Benjamin. 

 25The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid:  

Dan and Naphtali.  

26The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid:  

Gad and Asher.  

These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram. 

27 Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had resided as aliens. 

 28Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years. 29And Isaac breathed his last; he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him. 

 

Genesis 34

GENESIS:  

“The Gospel According to Torah” 

Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com 

Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com 

Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  

Summer Reading 2018 

 

ISRAEL’S HOMECOMING 

Reading Week from July 8 

Garret Talk , Tues July 11 

Genesis 31-36: Mon July 9 to Sat July 14 

Here is the tale of ‘the rape of Dinah’.  Dinah takes an undue risk, allegedly visiting the women of Hamor.  We are old enough to know this rhetoric from a more conservative time when the risky sexual exploration by women was revealed.  However, Shechem is accused by the text of forceful coercion of Dinah, so we still call it rape.  

However violent and non-consensual was the initial sex, Shechem does fall in love with the victim of his crime, and tries to ‘do the right thing’ by marrying her, with his father’s permission. 

Yaakov hears of the scandal, but bides his time till his sons return from herding.   Hamor tries to negotiate a marriage through Yaakov, then tries to persuade the 11 sons to assimilate into his tribe, for economic security.  Shechem sweetens the deal with an offer of a premium bride-price.  

The sons of Yaakov counter-bid to Hamor that the men of Shechem assimilate to Israel instead, through circumcision.  Shechem persuades them to agree, by arguing that in reality, the assimilation will be of Israel into Hamor’s tribe.  They accept circumcision – which incapacitates them for a few days. 

Now, the rash full brothers of Leah, Simeon and Levi, take on God’s job of vengeance for the rape – and massacre the men of the city.  The rest of the 9 brothers, finding the dead bodies, join in for the pillaging of the city’s stuff. 

Yaakov castigates them for the risk they draw to their minority people – but they protest that their sister cannot be treated like a whore.   

Can you read this not as moral personal tale, but as a figure for the plight of minorities resisting assimilation but keeping pride?  

 Genesis Chapter 34

NRSV

Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the region. 

 2When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the region, saw her, he seized her and lay with her by force. 

 3And his soul was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob; he loved the girl, and spoke tenderly to her. 

 4So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, ‘Get me this girl to be my wife.’ 

5 Now Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter Dinah; but his sons were with his cattle in the field, so Jacob held his peace until they came. 

 6And Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him, 7just as the sons of Jacob came in from the field. When they heard of it, the men were indignant and very angry, because he had committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done. 

8 But Hamor spoke with them, saying, ‘The heart of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage. 9Make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. 10You shall live with us; and the land shall be open to you; live and trade in it, and get property in it.’  

11Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, ‘Let me find favour with you, and whatever you say to me I will give. 12Put the marriage present and gift as high as you like, and I will give whatever you ask me; only give me the girl to be my wife.’ 

13 The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 14They said to them, ‘We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. 15Only on this condition will we consent to you: that you will become as we are and every male among you be circumcised. 16Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live among you and become one people. 17But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and be gone.’ 

18 Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor’s son Shechem. 19And the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. Now he was the most honoured of all his family. 20So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying,  

21‘These people are friendly with us; let them live in the land and trade in it, for the land is large enough for them; let us take their daughters in marriage, and let us give them our daughters. 22Only on this condition will they agree to live among us, to become one people: that every male among us be circumcised as they are circumcised. 23Will not their livestock, their property, and all their animals be ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will live among us.’ 

 24And all who went out of the city gate heeded Hamor and his son Shechem; and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city. 

25 On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city unawares, and killed all the males. 26They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away. 

 27And the other sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled.28They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. 29All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and made their prey. 

30Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.’ 

 31But they said, ‘Should our sister be treated like a whore?’ 

Genesis 33

GENESIS:  

“The Gospel According to Torah” 

Posted daily at www.hereticslikeus.com 

Weekly summaries also at www.billbrucewords.com 

Concurrently at www.trinityunitedkw.ca  

Summer Reading 2018 

ISRAEL’S HOMECOMING 

Reading Week from July 8 

Garret Talk , Tues July 11 

Genesis 31-36: Mon July 9 to Sat July 14

How do you visualize this strategic procession south to meet Esau?  First come many livestock and gifts.  Is the movie between your ears similar to mine? What about the party of 400 armed men coming north? 

Yaakov goes first, to risk the wrath of his brother Esau, however mollified by the gifts sent on ahead, behind him he risks first the maids and their children, then Leah and hers, and last but anything but least, Rachel and Joseph.   

Esau invites, or at least offers to permit Yaakov to join him in the south, but Yaakov settles first in the north, with etiological references to Succoth, and Shechem. We laughed out loud at the dissonance between the dialogue and the reality of this big reunion.   

This is a negotiation, as Yaakov pays off Esau to let the old grudges go. Esau tries to keep military escort or custody for the newcomers all the way south to Seir.  Yaakove pleads the weakness of his kids and says he’ll come along later.  Or not. 

 There is a claim that Yaakov buys turf from the sons of Hamor at Shechem, more land claims, and that he builds an altar from this antiquity.  If the sons of Hamor had seen what was coming, would the price have changed? 

What would you risk in facing the unknown ahead?  What would you claim when you arrive?  

We do prefer the older conventional reading, of Esau forgiving his long-lost brother for old frauds.  However, when we actually read the text, it seems less innocent and benign between the brothers. 

Genesis 33

NRSV

Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him.  

So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. 2He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. 3He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother. 

4 But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 

 5When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he said, ‘Who are these with you?’ Jacob said, ‘The children whom God has graciously given your servant.’ 6Then the maids drew near, they and their children, and bowed down; 7Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down; and finally Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. 8Esau said, ‘What do you mean by all this company that I met?’ Jacob answered, ‘To find favour with my lord.’ 9But Esau said, ‘I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.’10Jacob said, ‘No, please; if I find favour with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God—since you have received me with such favour. 11Please accept my gift that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have everything I want.’ So he urged him, and he took it. 

12 Then Esau said, ‘Let us journey on our way, and I will go alongside you.’ 13But Jacob said to him, ‘My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds, which are nursing, are a care to me; and if they are overdriven for one day, all the flocks will die. 14Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.’ 

15 So Esau said, ‘Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.’ But he said, ‘Why should my lord be so kind to me?’ 16So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. 

 17But Jacob journeyed to Succoth,and built himself a house, and made booths for his cattle; therefore the place is called Succoth. 

18 Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram; and he camped before the city. 

19And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for one hundred pieces of money the plot of land on which he had pitched his tent. 

 20There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.