Peace & Blessings Beloved,
TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.
In the eighth post of our new Humble Servant Blog Series, Stories of the Bible, we're going to review God Saves Joseph & His Family, which can be found in the book of Genesis, starting with chapter 37, and ending with chapter 50.
The pages of Genesis 37-50 chronicle the life of Joseph, son of Jacob, and his many trials, and subsequent accomplishments, all a result of God's divine providence, and multitude of blessings upon him.
We begin with Joseph, age seventeen, who has been working in the fields for several years. At this point in his life Joseph was able to finally roam about by himself. In doing so, one day, he observed the sons of Bilhah, his brothers Dan and Naphtali, and the sons of Zilpah, Gad and Asher, and determined that they were not giving his father Jacob a full day’s work – so he brought that report to his father.
In light of the obvious tension an dissension caused by Isaac’s preferential treatment of Esau, and Rebekah’s preference for Jacob, Jacob followed down the same path, with his preference for Joseph, creating an environment likely to cause his brothers to be angry. Joseph, immaturely broadcasting his dreams about authority over his older brothers, parents, and others added to their anger.
The feeding of large herds would have required that the shepherds move from field to field across many miles. They could have been away from home for days or weeks at a time.
Jacob/Israel sent Joseph to check on his brothers and to return with a report as to their welfare. They were not where he expected but had moved on to Dothan.
Joseph’s brothers saw him coming and plotted to kill him, hide his body, and report him as killed and eaten by a feral animal.
Reuben persuaded them to throw him into a dry cistern (shallow well) instead as he planned to sneak back and rescue him – not out of love – but because he didn’t want Joseph’s blood on his hands. Reuben apparently left them and while he was away his brothers spotted a band of Midianite merchants, Ismaelites (modern day Arabs) and they sold Joseph into slavery for 20 pieces of silver. Joseph was later resold in Egypt.
When Reuben returned and discovered what they had done he was desperate and allowed them to draw him into their scheme to deceive their father Jacob/Israel into believing Joseph dead. Jacob/Israel vowed to go to his grave still mourning for Joseph.
After selling their brother Joseph into slavery, then covering-up by deceiving their father Jacob/Israel into believing that Joseph was dead, Judah separated himself from his brothers and married a Canaanite, something the Lord God had previously forbidden.
Judah had three sons and as was traditional he found a wife named Tamar for his first son, Er. But the Lord God found him to be evil and killed him.
Joseph was a slave but his strong work ethic overcame his fear and sadness and earned him the respect of his owner, Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife persistently attempted to seduce Joseph, but he refused, citing both his loyalty to Potiphar and to God, noting that his sin would be against God and man. Potiphar’s wife, feeling scorned, unleashed her lustful and selfish fury in a terrible lie, turning her husband against Joseph, which landed him in prison.
Joseph, powerless to defend himself against the false charges, was cared for by God Who touched the heart of the prison warden with a kindness toward Joseph.
As the warden observed the Lord’s blessings of Joseph spilling out into the prison population, making his job easier, he trusted Joseph with more and more of the responsibilities.
There was a baker and the cupbearer, both of whom were tossed into the same prison as Joseph, and he was assigned oversight of them. The baker and the cupbearer both received prophetic dreams from God in the same evening and Joseph, sensitive to their moods, inquired as to what was troubling them. His interpretation of the cupbearer’s dream was positive, so the baker shared his as well – but the baker’s dream-prophesy was of his death.
When Joseph informed the cupbearer that he would be reinstated he asked the cupbearer to mention his name, and his plea of innocence to the king, but the cupbearer was either fearful of once-again offending the king - or simply careless and forgetful – so Joseph remained forgotten in prison.
Two years passed, the Cupbearer was back in the palace, the Baker was dead, and Joseph was still in prison. The Pharaoh had dreams and visions visited upon him by the Lord God, neither of which that he could interpret. The Cupbearer finally remembered Joseph’s request, perhaps as it would now make him a hero to the Pharaoh and told the story of Joseph’s accuracy in interpreting dreams.
God’s message, repeated to Pharaoh twice for emphasis, was that a terrible famine of seven years was to follow seven good years. The counsel of God was that they store one-fifth of the grain during each of the seven good years to carry them through the seven years of famine.
Joseph advised Pharaoh to appoint and empower someone he trusted to oversee this so it would happen as instructed.
Pharaoh was impressed with Joseph’s connection to the God Who sent his dreams so he echoed Joseph’s advice to appoint one wise and discerning - and appointed Joseph.
Pharaoh went well beyond what Joseph had suggested, making him second in command throughout all of Egypt.
Joseph did as he had learned from God, storing-up the grain for the famine – when it came upon the people Egypt, and in the nations surrounding it, bought the grain they had stored, and the people’s needs met.
Jacob/Israel challenged his older sons for standing around looking helpless in the face of the famine to go to Egypt and to buy some grain, but he refused to send Benjamin with them.
When they arrived in Egypt Joseph recognized them, but they did not recognize him.
Joseph decided to test them by accusing them of being spies, at which time they defended themselves by saying they have a father and younger brother in Canaan – thinking that would be evidence that they were not spies – but Joseph wanted to see his brother Benjamin and wanted to know if his brothers were still selfish and untrustworthy.
Joseph threw them in jail for 3 days then demanded that one stay in prison as hostage while the others go and bring back Benjamin as evidence that they were not lying. Joseph’s brothers had carried the burden of their merciless mistreatment for many years, now they believed that their predicament in Egypt was punishment for that.
Joseph, yet to be recognized and communicating through an interpreter, was driven to tears and turned away. Joseph had their bags filled and the money secretly returned to them in their bags. When they found the money, they were frightened that the Egyptians might accuse them of theft, but as evidence of their spiritual immaturity, they blamed God.
They told their story to Jacob/Israel, but he refused to allow Benjamin to go, even after Reuben offered his own sons’ lives as assurance of Benjamin’s safe return. And so they waited as the famine worsened. Jacob/Israel’s family finally ran out of grain and was faced with the need to return to Egypt for more.
The older sons reminded their father that they cannot return to Egypt without Benjamin. He chastised them for sharing the information about Benjamin, not knowing that they were speaking to Joseph, and they explained that they had no way of knowing the way that he reacted to the information.
Jacob/Israel relented and instructed them to bring the first payments plus a second as well as the best of many other special things, so that they would be well-received, their older brother released, Benjamin left unharmed, and all would return with grain.
Joseph’s brothers arrived and immediately sought to neutralize any potential trouble due to the gold that had been returned to their grain sacks during their prior visit.
Joseph questioned them about their father, Jacob/Israel, and then greeted his younger brother Benjamin. Joseph was overwhelmed by emotion at the reunion, even though only he knew it to be a reunion and left the room to weep and to compose himself.
Joseph then joined them in a great feast, treating Benjamin to five-times more food than his brothers. They were astonished that he would do such a thing, as it would appear impolite to the others, but given Jacob/Israel’s propensity toward favoritism they were possibly most surprised that even in Egypt Benjamin was treated with favoritism.
They all ate and drank together until they were very comfortable and merry. Joseph was not yet done testing his brothers. He set them up with his silver cup on Benjamin’s bag to see if they would sell him out for their own sakes. Whereas on the first trip it was Reuben who pleaded for mercy and who offered himself as hostage, this time it was Judah.
Although Joseph's brothers had intended to do him evil the Lord God’s plan was to prepare a way for His children to survive the terrible famine to come.
Pharaoh was so fond of Joseph, and grateful for what he had done for Egypt, that he was more than delighted to welcome Joseph’s family.
Jacob/Israel gathered everything that his people could transport and headed to Egypt. He stopped to make a sacrifice to the Lord God and during the night the Lord gave him a vision to encourage him on his journey.
The Lord God knew then that Joseph would use the famine as a tool to enslave all of the peoples in Egypt, trading grain for all of their money, then for all of their cattle, and finally even for their freedom - and that he would give it all to Pharaoh.
The people of Jacob/Israel were headed into what was to become a land of slavery, but it was a land where they could multiply in great numbers. The descendants of Jacob/Israel were listed in detail by the author as a matter of historical documentation.
Joseph instructed his family to deceive Pharaoh, telling him that they tended cattle, because he wanted to give them Goshen because everyone who takes care of sheep is disgusting to the Egyptians and the Egyptians would have objected.
Joseph used the famine to systematically bring all of the money, all of the livestock, all of the land, and all of the people under the ownership and control of the Pharaoh.
After making the people slaves without money, land, or livestock he offers them seed to plant Pharaoh’s crops.
The Lord God had placed the Hebrews in the best land in Egypt and they were not initially subject to the Pharaoh’s ownership of them and all that they owned, so they flourished.
At 147 years old and near-death Jacob/Israel copied the priestly vow that Abraham administered to the servant he was sending to find a wife for Isaac and had Joseph swear, with his hand under his thigh – an intimate and submissive act – to bury him in Canaan and not in Egypt. Joseph gave his word.
Joseph heard that Jacob/Israel was fading and brought his two sons to him. Jacob/Israel reminded Joseph of God’s prophesy to him – one that contained an additional detail not in that given to Abraham and Isaac before him “I will make you into a group of nations ...”
Jacob/Israel – who had acknowledged many hurts to Pharaoh and then the loss of Rachel to Joseph - asked God to cause the angel that kept him from harm to also be with Joseph’s sons.
Joseph thought that Jacob/Israel was troubled by blindness, or confusion, when he was blessing the younger Ephraim before Manasseh – but it was God’s will.
Ephraim and Manasseh were numbered among the tribes, one taking Joseph’s place and the other Levi’s – who would be a ‘distributed’ people serving as priests but not as one of the 12-peer tribes.
He repeated God’s prophesy that Joseph and the rest of the extended family would one day return to the land of your fathers, then reiterated his favoritism by giving Joseph the mountain slope as symbolic of Joseph being above his brothers in favor.
On his death bed Jacob/Israel gathered his family to communicate God’s blessing and prophesy for each of those who would become the 12 political Tribes, plus the special priestly Tribe.
May we establish, nurture, and grow a sincere love for the word of God, and study it lovingly & faithfully.
I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.
Love you much.
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!
P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.