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Why is chapter 36 included in Genesis? It doesn't add much to the plot of the saga of the Patriarchs. It was just as necessary to register Esau's descendants as it was those of Jacob. The Messiah was to be a descendant of Abraham. Since Esau is a descendant of Abraham, it is necessary to show that the promised Savior would not be through this line. It saved potential troubles from arising. These genealogies are proof of the truths of the prophecies. The Messiah was to come from a particular family. We know those prophecies were fulfilled by Christ. They show that the promised Messiah is found in the person of Jesus of Nazareth who sprang from the last and only remaining branch of the family of David. Incidently, did you know that now no Jew can positively trace himself back to the family of David? It seems the genealogy records were destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem. All that remains are the ones recorded in the Bible.

I am glad to get to the study of Joseph after all the deceit and rape and murders. Joseph, from early on, lets God take control. Joseph - the Dreamer. Genesis is full of dreams. A great number of them are divinely sent as revelations from God. Abraham, Jacob and Joseph all had this type of dream. It gave them vision - a radiant hope for the future and a healthy discontent with the status quo. It's those kind of people who change the world. The ones who've heard the voice of God and were never the same, and because they were never the same, the world would never be the same.

This story of Joseph reads like a great novel or unfolds like a good mini-series. As I got to the end of the lesson I felt rather up in the air. I know what happens next and the end result, but I just couldn't leave him sold into slavery. Did anyone else finish reading his story to the end of Genesis? Let's review the characters in this story.

The first one is Patriarch Jacob. Jacob spent most of his life deceiving and being deceived and is about to be deceived again. He had a knowledge of God's will and what God expected out of him, but, instead of letting God do things God's way, he wanted to use that knowledge to his advantage. He's older and wiser now and is willing to let God take control.

The second character is 17-year-old Joseph. Joseph is a dreamer with righteousness inside out. He feels compelled to report on his brothers --Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher-- when they do wrong. He is the son of the favored wife, Rachel, and is himself the favored son. He is given a princely coat by his father, a coat of distinction. He's "blessed" with these dreams of being a lord and ruler over his family. I don't know why he is compelled to share these dreams. It just brings him trouble. But his father remembers them. After all, Jacob has had revelations from God in the form of dreams, too. God didn't have to send these dreams in order for God to use Joseph, but I imagine they were a source of comfort to Joseph while he was a slave and in prison.

The character of Joseph reminds me of the man in Psalm 1:1-3.

  1. Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, not sits in the seat of scoffers;
  2. but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.
  3. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Joseph is going to need those deep roots of faith to get him through the harsh winds of strife that lie ahead.

The next characters are the 10 older brothers. From their point of view, Joseph was a goodie-two shoes, tattletale, dreamer who needed to be brought down to size. And who better to do it than these brothers? Aren't these the brothers who killed and pillaged a whole village not long ago? Aren't they a source of terror to the neighboring peoples? How dare this young, pompous half-brother think we would ever bow down to him! Ha!

S. I. McMillon, in his book None of These Diseases, says, "The moment I start hating a man, I become his slave." The brothers are filled with hate toward Joseph.

The brothers are out caring for their father's flocks near Shecham, where they did all their murdering, and Joseph is sent to see how they are doing. As they see him coming they start plotting. Murder is seriously considered, but the oldest brother, Reuben, talks them out of that. They end up stripping him of his princely coat, dipping it in blood to be taken back to deceive their father, and Joseph is sold to a band of Ishmaelites traveling to Egypt. And there we have to leave Joseph who is sold as a slave to an officer of Pharaoh.

In my Clarke commentary I ran across a comparison of Joseph with Christ. Neither the Old nor New Testament say anything about Joseph being a "type" of Christ or Christ being a type of Joseph to my knowledge. So I think we'd better be careful in carrying this too far, but listen to the similarities.

  • Joseph was sent to visit his brothers by his father. Jesus states he was sent by His Father. He was sent to visit his brothers.
  • Joseph was an innocent person sold for a few pieces of silver. Jesus was innocent and sold for a few pieces of silver.
  • This bargain for Joseph was proposed by brother Judah. The Greek name for Judah is Judas, a "brother" of Christ.
  • By means of this bargain Joseph became his brother's lord and savior and savior for strangers throughout the known world. Judas' bargain brought on Jesus' reign as Lord and Savior of the Jews and the entire world.
  • This would not have happened but for this plot of destroying Joseph, the act of rejecting and exposing him to sale. Jesus knew the plot to destroy Him was necessary and that He was to be rejected and exposed to sale.
  • Both had the same fortune that appeared on the surface as misfortune. Same innocence. Nothing wrong was done by either Joseph or Jesus. Jealousy and hatred were the motivating factors.
  • Joseph in prison between 2 prisoners. Jesus on the cross between 2 thieves. Joseph foretells the deliverance of one of his fellow prisoners, the death of the other. Christ tells one of the thieves, "Today you will be with me in paradise." The other reviles him.

    I don't know how inspiring that is to you or if there is a lesson for us in this comparison. I just found it fascinating. Brenda is lecturing next week so you might ought to be ready for a test on it.

    I don't know a whole lot of Egyptian history except what I've learned in Sunday school classes and a little I picked up while living in Italy. When we were studying Abraham I wondered what Abraham saw when he went down into Egypt. I didn't know if the pyramids were built yet or not. My knowledge of histories of different cultures didn't seem to be blending well. As I was trying to figure out what Jacob saw as he got there, I was taking all these notes out of a couple different books. They weren't making much sense until I started putting them down in chart form. Then I got several things straightened out in my mind. You may have had it all straight all along, or maybe you don't even care if you have it straight. But, anyway, in the hopes that it may be beneficial to a few people, here is the chart I made out for myself. The Hebrew and Egyptian cultures cross paths so many times throughout the Old Testament. Perhaps you can get something out of it.

    Jeannie Cole

    West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
    Ladies Bible Class, Spring 1989

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