10. Genesis 37 – 50 (Joseph)
A Chronological Daily Bible Study of the Old Testament
7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and a Practical Daily Application
Sunday (Genesis 37)
37:1 But Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, in the land of Canaan.
37:2 This is the account of Jacob.
Joseph, his seventeen-year-old son, was taking care of the flocks with his brothers. Now he was a youngster working with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father.
37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons because he was a son born to him late in life, and he made a special tunic for him. 37:4 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated Joseph and were not able to speak to him kindly.
37:5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him even more. 37:6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 37:7 There we were, binding sheaves of grain in the middle of the field. Suddenly my sheaf rose up and stood upright and your sheaves surrounded my sheaf and bowed down to it!” 37:8 Then his brothers asked him, “Do you really think you will rule over us or have dominion over us?” They hated him even more because of his dream and because of what he said.
37:9 Then he had another dream, and told it to his brothers. “Look,” he said. “I had another dream. The sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 37:10 When he told his father and his brothers, his father rebuked him, saying, “What is this dream that you had? Will I, your mother, and your brothers really come and bow down to you?” 37:11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept in mind what Joseph said.
37:12 When his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 37:13 Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I will send you to them.” “I’m ready,” Joseph replied. 37:14 So Jacob said to him, “Go now and check on the welfare of your brothers and of the flocks, and bring me word.” So Jacob sent him from the valley of Hebron.
37:15 When Joseph reached Shechem, a man found him wandering in the field, so the man asked him, “What are you looking for?” 37:16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Please tell me where they are grazing their flocks.” 37:17 The man said, “They left this area, for I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.
37:18 Now Joseph’s brothers saw him from a distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 37:19 They said to one another, “Here comes this master of dreams! 37:20 Come now, let’s kill him, throw him into one of the cisterns, and then say that a wild animal ate him. Then we’ll see how his dreams turn out!”
37:21 When Reuben heard this, he rescued Joseph from their hands, saying, “Let’s not take his life!” 37:22 Reuben continued, “Don’t shed blood! Throw him into this cistern that is here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” (Reuben said this so he could rescue Joseph from them and take him back to his father.)
37:23 When Joseph reached his brothers, they stripped him of his tunic, the special tunic that he wore. 37:24 Then they took him and threw him into the cistern. (Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.)
37:25 When they sat down to eat their food, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were carrying spices, balm, and myrrh down to Egypt. 37:26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 37:27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not lay a hand on him, for after all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers agreed. 37:28 So when the Midianite merchants passed by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. The Ishmaelites then took Joseph to Egypt.
37:29 Later Reuben returned to the cistern to find that Joseph was not in it! He tore his clothes, 37:30 returned to his brothers, and said, “The boy isn’t there! And I, where can I go?” 37:31 So they took Joseph’s tunic, killed a young goat, and dipped the tunic in the blood. 37:32 Then they brought the special tunic to their father and said, “We found this. Determine now whether it is your son’s tunic or not.”
37:33 He recognized it and exclaimed, “It is my son’s tunic! A wild animal has eaten him! Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!” 37:34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned for his son many days. 37:35 All his sons and daughters stood by him to console him, but he refused to be consoled. “No,” he said, “I will go to the grave mourning my son.” So Joseph’s father wept for him.
37:36 Now in Egypt the Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.
Judah and Tamar
38:1 At that time Judah left his brothers and stayed with an Adullamite man named Hirah.
38:2 There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. Judah acquired her as a wife and had marital relations with her. 38:3 She became pregnant and had a son. Judah named him Er. 38:4 She became pregnant again and had another son, whom she named Onan. 38:5 Then she had yet another son, whom she named Shelah. She gave birth to him in Kezib.
38:6 Judah acquired a wife for Er his firstborn; her name was Tamar. 38:7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord killed him.
38:8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Have sexual relations with your brother’s wife and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her so that you may raise up a descendant for your brother.” 38:9 But Onan knew that the child would not be considered his. So whenever he had sexual relations with his brother’s wife, he withdrew prematurely so as not to give his brother a descendant. 38:10 What he did was evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord killed him too.
38:11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until Shelah my son grows up.” For he thought, “I don’t want him to die like his brothers.” So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house.
38:12 After some time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. After Judah was consoled, he left for Timnah to visit his sheepshearers, along with his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 38:13 Tamar was told, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” 38:14 So she removed her widow’s clothes and covered herself with a veil. She wrapped herself and sat at the entrance to Enaim which is on the way to Timnah. (She did this because she saw that she had not been given to Shelah as a wife, even though he had now grown up.)
38:15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute because she had covered her face. 38:16 He turned aside to her along the road and said, “Come on! I want to have sex with you.” (He did not realize it was his daughter-in-law.) She asked, “What will you give me in exchange for having sex with you?” 38:17 He replied, “I’ll send you a young goat from the flock.” She asked, “Will you give me a pledge until you send it?” 38:18 He said, “What pledge should I give you?” She replied, “Your seal, your cord, and the staff that’s in your hand.” So he gave them to her and had sex with her. She became pregnant by him. 38:19 She left immediately, removed her veil, and put on her widow’s clothes.
38:20 Then Judah had his friend Hirah the Adullamite take a young goat to get back from the woman the items he had given in pledge, but Hirah could not find her. 38:21 He asked the men who were there, “Where is the cult prostitute who was at Enaim by the road?” But they replied, “There has been no cult prostitute here.” 38:22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I couldn’t find her. Moreover, the men of the place said, ‘There has been no cult prostitute here.’” 38:23 Judah said, “Let her keep the things for herself. Otherwise we will appear to be dishonest. I did indeed send this young goat, but you couldn’t find her.”
38:24 After three months Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has turned to prostitution, and as a result she has become pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!” 38:25 While they were bringing her out, she sent word to her father-in-law: “I am pregnant by the man to whom these belong.” Then she said, “Identify the one to whom the seal, cord, and staff belong.” 38:26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more upright than I am, because I wouldn’t give her to Shelah my son.” He did not have sexual relations with her again.
38:27 When it was time for her to give birth, there were twins in her womb. 38:28 While she was giving birth, one child put out his hand, and the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 38:29 But then he drew back his hand, and his brother came out before him. She said, “How you have broken out of the womb!” So he was named Perez. 38:30 Afterward his brother came out – the one who had the scarlet thread on his hand – and he was named Zerah.
Lord, when we play-favorites among children, or anyone else with whom we should have equally-loving relationships, we sow the seeds of jealousy. Help me to be appropriately balanced in all of my relationships. Lord, may I learn from this story of the greed and jealousy of Joseph's brothers to not be likewise motivated from my selfish and shallow flesh. Lord, when we join with evil the result is usually evil. May I be found faithful in consulting you before joining in business, ministry, and/or personal relationship with others. Lord, may I obey Your Holy Spirit when He warns me that even a small deceit on my part can lead others to deceive as well – and what I thought I had accomplished in the moment may easily become a greater hassle than I imagined I was avoiding.
Scripture In Perspective
We read in Genesis 36:1-43 the record of the descendants of Esau, then the text turned to Jacob, who “... lived in the land where his father had stayed, in the land of Canaan.”
At the age of seventeen Joseph would have worked in the fields for many years but was now old enough to be trusted to travel about independently. 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 days work – so he brought that report to his father.
Despite the trouble caused by Isaac’s preferential treatment of Esau, and Rebekah’s preference for Jacob, Jacob repeated their error and was obvious in 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 “wild 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 (now known as Arabs) and they sold Joseph into slavery for 20 pieces of silver. (Joseph was later resold, presumably for profit, 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 thast 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.
Judah, as was traditional, required his second son to sleep with her in order to give her a son so as to carry-on his brother’s line – but Onan was selfish as he knew the son would not be considered his own – and therefore he would not himself inherit Er’s blessings as the first born. So Onan deliberately acted to keep her from getting pregnant. The Lord God saw that as evil and killed him.
Judah, down to the last of three sons asked Tamar to live elsewhere while Shelah grew up enough to be available for marriage. Judah’s true motivation was a superstitious fear that Tamar was somehow the cause of the deaths of Er and Onan and he wanted to protect Shelah. Tamar believed him and agreed to live apart for a while.
Interact With The Text
Jacob exhibited poor judgment throughout his life, always because he was not listening to the Lord God, so once again he behaved impetuously and irresponsibly and the result was conflict. Joseph’s brothers were both vengeful and greedy. (Judas later sold-out Jesus, also for 20 pieces of silver.) Judah’s sons were half-Canaanite and Tamar likely Canaanite, therefore their children would have been three-quarters Canaanite - that culture was pagan. Following in the pattern of his father, Jacob/Israel’s mutually-deceitful relationship with Laban, Judah became ensnared in one with Tamar.
Why would anyone not expect anger and jealousy when someone who should be a peer, indeed should be submitted to his elder brothers, is instead arbitrarily treated with favoritism?
When Joseph brought a bad report against some of his brothers, even with the good intention of loyalty to his father, should he not have anticipated they’d be angry?
Judah buried and mourned his wife and then decided to travel with his friend to Timnah where the sheep were being sheared.
Tamar, left waiting long after Judah’s third son Shelah was old enough to give her a son in the name of her dead husband Er, decided that Judah was vulnerable to a trick.
Tamar disguised herself along the road to Timnah and as she suspected Judah mistook her for a cult prostitute and propositioned her. He offered her a goat in exchange for sex, but did not have one with him, so she requested his “... seal, cord, and staff” as collateral to assure that he would keep his promise.
When Tamar later was found to be pregnant Judah intended to punish her until she proved, with his “... seal, cord, and staff”, that the child was his. (She had twins, with the curious twist of the first partially-leaving the womb only to retreat and the second to be fully-birthed before the first finally came out, perhaps an echo of Jacob and Esau.)
Have you ever been so angry with someone, or so jealous of them, that you plotted in your mind a way to “get rid of them”? What did you do? If you did not act on your plot, what was it that stopped you? If you did act on it in some way was your action restrained by someone or something? Esau was “evil in the Lord’s sight”. but it was Onan’s disobedience and selfishness was “... was evil in the Lord’s sight”, what is the difference? Judah had in some way or ways “taught” Tamar that he would be vulnerable to the appeal of a cult prostitute. Perhaps it was something he said during his mourning for his wife, perhaps she had observed him being unfaithful in the past, perhaps it was just the deceitful way he had dealt with her. How have people “taught” you that they would be vulnerable to certain temptations?
Knowing that his brothers were already hostile might Joseph have shared his dreams only with his father? Reuben had violated an important tradition when he slept with Bilhah, his father's concubine, and he failed to demand that his brothers not harm Joseph in any way - so there was a pattern of poor choices in his life. Twice the Lord intervened and punished evil, killing the two sons, yet Judah does not appear to have consulted the Lord God, rather choosing to deceive Tamar to protect his remaining son. The promise Tamar wanted kept by Judah was not a goat for sex but a child by Judah's son Shelah to continue the line of Er (which would also entitle her to Er’s inheritance). She bore twins by Judah whose standing would have been somewhat equal to that of Shelah.
When have you experienced and/or observed favoritism among people who should be peers-in-relationship? What was the result? When have you observed others doing the wrong thing, and because you were somehow sympathetic with their feelings, you failed to challenge them to do the right thing before the Lord? When have you ever been fearful and reacted defensively without first consulting God?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be imbalanced in your treatment of peers, also to reveal to you where greed or jealously or some other weakness has (or is) lead (leading) you to commit acts of evil against others - or to condone them when committed by others. Ask Him to reveal to you where you may be making choices out of fear without first consulting Him, also to reveal to you any place in your life where your actions and/or words might be 'teaching' observers that you are vulnerable to temptation.
I will accept what the Holy Spirit shows me, perhaps affirmed through a Biblical 'elder', and will immediately act to restore balance. I agree to not merely acknowledge that I make poor choices based on greed or jealousy or the fear to confront evil in others but to act upon it in the area(s) that the Holy Spirit reveals to me. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement with me for courage and wisdom and to hold me accountable. I will prayerfully listen to the Holy Spirit as He shows me what it is that I say and/or do that conveys the message of my vulnerability to specific temptation(s). It may be crude and crass humor about romantic relationship, a lust for money or power, a predisposition toward 'experience' (needing emotional stimulation), a predisposition to danger 'adrenaline junkie', dressing provocatively, a need to 'keep up with the Joneses', a pattern of making idols of celebrities (the physically-attractive, sports stars, entertainers, the rich, the powerful, etc.). I will confess and repent of those things and submit them to the Holy Spirit for purging. I will ask at least one fellow believer to help me in monitoring my actions and/or words for any sign of their return.
Be Specific ________________________________________________
Monday (Genesis 39 - 40)
Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife
39:1 Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt. An Egyptian named Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard, purchased him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there. 39:2 The Lord was with Joseph. He was successful and lived in the household of his Egyptian master. 39:3 His master observed that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made everything he was doing successful. 39:4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal attendant. Potiphar appointed Joseph overseer of his household and put him in charge of everything he owned. 39:5 From the time Potiphar appointed him over his household and over all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s household for Joseph’s sake. The blessing of the Lord was on everything that he had, both in his house and in his fields. 39:6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; he gave no thought to anything except the food he ate.
Now Joseph was well built and good-looking. 39:7 Soon after these things, his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Have sex with me.” 39:8 But he refused, saying to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not give any thought to his household with me here, and everything that he owns he has put into my care. 39:9 There is no one greater in this household than I am. He has withheld nothing from me except you because you are his wife. So how could I do such a great evil and sin against God?” 39:10 Even though she continued to speak to Joseph day after day, he did not respond to her invitation to have sex with her.
39:11 One day he went into the house to do his work when none of the household servants were there in the house. 39:12 She grabbed him by his outer garment, saying, “Have sex with me!” But he left his outer garment in her hand and ran outside. 39:13 When she saw that he had left his outer garment in her hand and had run outside, 39:14 she called for her household servants and said to them, “See, my husband brought in a Hebrew man to us to humiliate us. He tried to have sex with me, but I screamed loudly. 39:15 When he heard me raise my voice and scream, he left his outer garment beside me and ran outside.”
39:16 So she laid his outer garment beside her until his master came home. 39:17 This is what she said to him: “That Hebrew slave you brought to us tried to humiliate me, 39:18 but when I raised my voice and screamed, he left his outer garment and ran outside.”
39:19 When his master heard his wife say, “This is the way your slave treated me,” he became furious. 39:20 Joseph’s master took him and threw him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. So he was there in the prison.
39:21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him kindness. He granted him favor in the sight of the prison warden. 39:22 The warden put all the prisoners under Joseph’s care. He was in charge of whatever they were doing. 39:23 The warden did not concern himself with anything that was in Joseph’s care because the Lord was with him and whatever he was doing the Lord was making successful.
The Cupbearer and the Baker
40:1 After these things happened, the cupbearer to the king of Egypt and the royal baker offended their master, the king of Egypt. 40:2 Pharaoh was enraged with his two officials, the cupbearer and the baker, 40:3 so he imprisoned them in the house of the captain of the guard in the same facility where Joseph was confined. 40:4 The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be their attendant, and he served them.
They spent some time in custody. 40:5 Both of them, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, had a dream the same night. Each man’s dream had its own meaning. 40:6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were looking depressed. 40:7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” 40:8 They told him, “We both had dreams, but there is no one to interpret them.” Joseph responded, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me.”
40:9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph: “In my dream, there was a vine in front of me. 40:10 On the vine there were three branches. As it budded, its blossoms opened and its clusters ripened into grapes. 40:11 Now Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, so I took the grapes, squeezed them into his cup, and put the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”
40:12 “This is its meaning,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches represent three days. 40:13 In three more days Pharaoh will reinstate you and restore you to your office. You will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you did before when you were cupbearer. 40:14 But remember me when it goes well for you, and show me kindness. Make mention of me to Pharaoh and bring me out of this prison, 40:15 for I really was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews and I have done nothing wrong here for which they should put me in a dungeon.”
40:16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation of the first dream was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also appeared in my dream and there were three baskets of white bread on my head. 40:17 In the top basket there were baked goods of every kind for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them from the basket that was on my head.”
40:18 Joseph replied, “This is its meaning: The three baskets represent three days. 40:19 In three more days Pharaoh will decapitate you and impale you on a pole. Then the birds will eat your flesh from you.”
40:20 On the third day it was Pharaoh’s birthday, so he gave a feast for all his servants. He “lifted up” the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker in the midst of his servants. 40:21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his former position so that he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand, 40:22 but the chief baker he impaled, just as Joseph had predicted. 40:23 But the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph – he forgot him.
Lord, sometimes life isn’t fair but You are always faithful. Please help me to be faithful to You no matter what happens! Lord, may I be as faithful and wise as Joseph, remembering that all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (in this case the gift of interpretation) and all power belong to you.
Scripture In Perspective
Joseph was a slave but his strong work ethic overcame his fear and sadness and earned him the respect of his owner, Potiphar.
The text draws attention to Joseph’s concern for his diet, perhaps a precursor to those Hebrews who were later taken into slavery and who also requested special consideration for the foods they were served.
Potipher’s wife persistently attempted to seduce Joseph but he refused, citing both his loyalty to Potipher 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 – landing 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.
The text does not trouble itself to explain how it was that the baker and the cupbearer “... offended their master, the king of Egypt”, it could easily have been something very trivial before a petty tyrant. They 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.
Interact With The Text
What Joseph’s brothers meant for evil, which means they were unknowingly partnering with Satan, the Lord God eventually turned to good in the life of Joseph. Facing false accusations from Potiphar’s wife Joseph was in a lose-lose situation. If he tried to defend himself, a foreigner and a slave, he would have to call Potiphar’s wife a harlot and a liar. Sometimes life isn’t fair. Joseph was careful to remind the baker and the cupbearer “Don’t interpretations belong to God?” Are we as careful as Joseph to direct people to recognize that all glory, all power, and all understanding belong to the Lord God?
How different might Joseph’s future have been had he ignored the Lord God and submitted to temptation? The Lord blessed his obedience and later used him to save his people. Had Joseph failed then God would have used another, perhaps Benjamin or Reuben. Why do you think that the Lord did not intervene, perhaps causing Potiphar to secretly observe his wife’s infidelity? He gave Joseph the gift of interpretation so that he could demonstrate it to the cupbearer because He had a future plan to use that knowledge to bring Joseph before the king of Egypt.
Satan was not done with Joseph. He used his brother’s greed and pride against him and then he used Potipher’s wife’s lust to tempt him – but because Joseph honored God Satan’s attempted-temptation never got that far – it became a test which Joseph passed. What Satan meant for evil, through Potiphar’s wife’s treachery, God mitigated – blessing Joseph while in prison. Does He not often still do the same for the faithful? Sometimes things don’t happen in the time and the way that we desire, but the Lord will make a way for us as best serves His great and perfect plan.
When have you been confronted with an appealing and ‘easy’ sin but you chose to declare your obligation to neither sin against man or God? Or did you? What was the result of your choice? When have you, or someone you know, been treated in an unfair manner, unable to mount a defense? How did the Lord God turn those circumstances to good because you remained faithful to Him? When have you done a favor and expected one in return and been forgotten – or have forgotten another to whom you owed a favor?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where the Enemy is tempting you. Ask Him to show you where the Lord God has blessed you despite the ill-intentions of someone who abused their power against you. Ask Him to reveal to you a place where you either owe someone a favor or where God has given you a gift and you have failed to be certain that everyone knows that the gift is from God and you are merely His vessel of power.
Today I will be honest with myself, and the Holy Spirit, and acknowledge the place or places in my life where He has revealed that I am being tested and am allowing it to become a temptation. As necessary I will ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement with me for the courage and wisdom to resist. I will also assert my authority as a child of God to instruct the Enemy (or his demonic emissary) to depart. I will testify to the human agent of temptation, where possible, my reasons for resisting (to not sin against God or man). I will share the story of God’s blessing despite the ill-treatment of the world – giving all of the glory to Him – and emphasizing the blessing rather than the earlier mistreatment. I will make specific plans to return an overdue favor and/or I will testify to the source of my gifts – the Lord God – and use the opportunity to tell of His grace and power, share with others as He uses me as His vessel.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
Tuesday (Genesis 41)
Joseph’s Rise to Power
41:1 At the end of two full years Pharaoh had a dream. As he was standing by the Nile, 41:2 seven fine-looking, fat cows were coming up out of the Nile, and they grazed in the reeds. 41:3 Then seven bad-looking, thin cows were coming up after them from the Nile, and they stood beside the other cows at the edge of the river. 41:4 The bad-looking, thin cows ate the seven fine-looking, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
41:5 Then he fell asleep again and had a second dream: There were seven heads of grain growing on one stalk, healthy and good. 41:6 Then seven heads of grain, thin and burned by the east wind, were sprouting up after them. 41:7 The thin heads swallowed up the seven healthy and full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up and realized it was a dream.
41:8 In the morning he was troubled, so he called for all the diviner-priests of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him. 41:9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I recall my failures. 41:10 Pharaoh was enraged with his servants, and he put me in prison in the house of the captain of the guards – me and the chief baker. 41:11 We each had a dream one night; each of us had a dream with its own meaning. 41:12 Now a young man, a Hebrew, a servant of the captain of the guards, was with us there. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted the meaning of each of our respective dreams for us. 41:13 It happened just as he had said to us – Pharaoh restored me to my office, but he impaled the baker.”
41:14 Then Pharaoh summoned Joseph. So they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; he shaved himself, changed his clothes, and came before Pharaoh. 41:15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard about you, that you can interpret dreams.” 41:16 Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “It is not within my power, but God will speak concerning the welfare of Pharaoh.”
41:17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing by the edge of the Nile. 41:18 Then seven fat and fine-looking cows were coming up out of the Nile, and they grazed in the reeds. 41:19 Then seven other cows came up after them; they were scrawny, very bad-looking, and lean. I had never seen such bad-looking cows as these in all the land of Egypt! 41:20 The lean, bad-looking cows ate up the seven fat cows. 41:21 When they had eaten them, no one would have known that they had done so, for they were just as bad-looking as before. Then I woke up. 41:22 I also saw in my dream seven heads of grain growing on one stalk, full and good. 41:23 Then seven heads of grain, withered and thin and burned with the east wind, were sprouting up after them. 41:24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads of grain. So I told all this to the diviner-priests, but no one could tell me its meaning.”
41:25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Both dreams of Pharaoh have the same meaning. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 41:26 The seven good cows represent seven years, and the seven good heads of grain represent seven years. Both dreams have the same meaning. 41:27 The seven lean, bad-looking cows that came up after them represent seven years, as do the seven empty heads of grain burned with the east wind. They represent seven years of famine. 41:28 This is just what I told Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 41:29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the whole land of Egypt. 41:30 But seven years of famine will occur after them, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will devastate the land. 41:31 The previous abundance of the land will not be remembered because of the famine that follows, for the famine will be very severe. 41:32 The dream was repeated to Pharaoh because the matter has been decreed by God, and God will make it happen soon.
41:33 “So now Pharaoh should look for a wise and discerning man and give him authority over all the land of Egypt. 41:34 Pharaoh should do this – he should appoint officials throughout the land to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 41:35 They should gather all the excess food during these good years that are coming. By Pharaoh’s authority they should store up grain so the cities will have food, and they should preserve it. 41:36 This food should be held in storage for the land in preparation for the seven years of famine that will occur throughout the land of Egypt. In this way the land will survive the famine.”
41:37 This advice made sense to Pharaoh and all his officials. 41:38 So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find a man like Joseph, one in whom the Spirit of God is present?” 41:39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Because God has enabled you to know all this, there is no one as wise and discerning as you are! 41:40 You will oversee my household, and all my people will submit to your commands. Only I, the king, will be greater than you.
41:41 “See here,” Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I place you in authority over all the land of Egypt.” 41:42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his own hand and put it on Joseph’s. He clothed him with fine linen clothes and put a gold chain around his neck. 41:43 Pharaoh had him ride in the chariot used by his second-in-command, and they cried out before him, “Kneel down!” So he placed him over all the land of Egypt. 41:44 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your permission no one will move his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt.” 41:45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah. He also gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. So Joseph took charge of all the land of Egypt.
41:46 Now Joseph was 30 years old when he began serving Pharaoh king of Egypt. Joseph was commissioned by Pharaoh and was in charge of all the land of Egypt. 41:47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced large, bountiful harvests. 41:48 Joseph collected all the excess food in the land of Egypt during the seven years and stored it in the cities. In every city he put the food gathered from the fields around it. 41:49 Joseph stored up a vast amount of grain, like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it because it was impossible to measure.
41:50 Two sons were born to Joseph before the famine came. Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, was their mother. 41:51 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, saying, “Certainly God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s house.” 41:52 He named the second child Ephraim, saying, “Certainly God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
41:53 The seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt came to an end. 41:54 Then the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had predicted. There was famine in all the other lands, but throughout the land of Egypt there was food. 41:55 When all the land of Egypt experienced the famine, the people cried out to Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh said to all the people of Egypt, “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.”
41:56 While the famine was over all the earth, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians. The famine was severe throughout the land of Egypt. 41:57 People from every country came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain because the famine was severe throughout the earth.
Lord, may Your perfect meaning be made known to me by Your indwelling Holy Spirit and may I be as bold as Joseph in sharing that with others. May my faithful submission to Your Word and to Your Holy Spirit equip me to be a valuable servant in Your service.
Scripture In Perspective
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, but his “... diviner-priests” (men whose “gift of interpretation” came to them from the evil one because he was the one usually giving the visions to Pharaoh - even if they would not have acknowledged that), were unable to interpret these dreams (because they came from the Lord).
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 all-but his equal in power throughout all of Egypt.
Joseph did as he had learned from God, storing-up the grain for the famine – when it came the people Egypt, and in the nations surrounding it, bought the grain they had stored and the people’s needs met.
Interact With The Text
Neither the Cupbearer or the Pharaoh would have understood the difference between the sources of their dreams, they just pragmatically and superstitiously went to whomever seemed most-capable of providing answers. Joseph was faithful to God in his ethics and his humility, thus he was valuable to God in providing a source of grain for his people when the famine came.
Joseph would appear to have prepped Pharaoh a little with his choice of phrases as he described the one Pharaoh whom should choose to lead the famine preparations “... a wise and discerning man” (Joseph was the only one with a clue as to the dreams) and “... give him authority” (Pharaoh was unlikely to have trusted many of those around him). The text does not report that Joseph offered any resistance to the Pharaoh’s provision of an Egyptian to be his wife, even though the daughter of the “priest of On” very probably practiced witchcraft. Sometimes one may be faithful in some areas and not even think to invite the Lord into decision making in others.
Joseph, as a result of God’s action, went from a falsely-imprisoned man to informing Pharaoh and even advising him. Joseph’s ascension to power would be like someone from South Korea becoming the second most powerful man in China.
When has the Lord God blessed you with the opportunity to inform, and perhaps advise, someone in authority? Were you humble in so-doing? How did they receive your input? When have you observed someone wisely anticipating difficult times and leading others to make wise provision – and thus they were better prepared and could even help others? (Perhaps investing in healthy relationships, preparing for storms, getting a generator, storing extra wood for a fireplace, investing wisely, etc.)
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where He has given you information of value to someone in a position of authority. Pray for clarity, wisdom (knowledge plus understanding), and courage. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you need to prepare for difficult times ahead.
Today I will find a way to deliver the information that I have been given. This may be a teacher, parent, bureaucrat, politician, member of law enforcement, coach, neighbor, or friend. I will do so in an appropriate manner and remain humble throughout the process. I will consult with a Biblical “elder” before, during, and after the process for prayer, accountability, and wise counsel. I agree to act promptly and wisely on what the Holy Spirit shows me about the areas where I need to be better prepared for the storms of life; be they Bible knowledge and understanding (wisdom), energy, finances, food, health, healthy relationships, or other areas.
Be Specific _________________________________________________
Wednesday (Genesis 42 - 44)
Joseph’s Brothers in Egypt
42:1 When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you looking at each other?” 42:2 He then said, “Look, I hear that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy grain for us so that we may live and not die.”
42:3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 42:4 But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, “What if some accident happens to him?” 42:5 So Israel’s sons came to buy grain among the other travelers, for the famine was severe in the land of Canaan.
42:6 Now Joseph was the ruler of the country, the one who sold grain to all the people of the country. Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground. 42:7 When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger to them and spoke to them harshly. He asked, “Where do you come from?” They answered, “From the land of Canaan, to buy grain for food.”
42:8 Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 42:9 Then Joseph remembered the dreams he had dreamed about them, and he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see if our land is vulnerable!”
42:10 But they exclaimed, “No, my lord! Your servants have come to buy grain for food! 42:11 We are all the sons of one man; we are honest men! Your servants are not spies.”
42:12 “No,” he insisted, “but you have come to see if our land is vulnerable.” 42:13 They replied, “Your servants are from a family of twelve brothers. We are the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is with our father at this time, and one is no longer alive.”
42:14 But Joseph told them, “It is just as I said to you: You are spies! 42:15 You will be tested in this way: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not depart from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 42:16 One of you must go and get your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison. In this way your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If not, then, as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 42:17 He imprisoned them all for three days. 42:18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do as I say and you will live, for I fear God. 42:19 If you are honest men, leave one of your brothers confined here in prison while the rest of you go and take grain back for your hungry families. 42:20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me. Then your words will be verified and you will not die.” They did as he said.
42:21 They said to one other, “Surely we’re being punished because of our brother, because we saw how distressed he was when he cried to us for mercy, but we refused to listen. That is why this distress has come on us!” 42:22 Reuben said to them, “Didn’t I say to you, ‘Don’t sin against the boy,’ but you wouldn’t listen? So now we must pay for shedding his blood!” 42:23 (Now they did not know that Joseph could understand them, for he was speaking through an interpreter.) 42:24 He turned away from them and wept. When he turned around and spoke to them again, he had Simeon taken from them and tied up before their eyes.
42:25 Then Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to return each man’s money to his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. His orders were carried out. 42:26 So they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.
42:27 When one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey at their resting place, he saw his money in the mouth of his sack. 42:28 He said to his brothers, “My money was returned! Here it is in my sack!” They were dismayed; they turned trembling one to another and said, “What in the world has God done to us?”
42:29 They returned to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan and told him all the things that had happened to them, saying, 42:30 “The man, the lord of the land, spoke harshly to us and treated us as if we were spying on the land. 42:31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies! 42:32 We are from a family of twelve brothers; we are the sons of one father. One is no longer alive, and the youngest is with our father at this time in the land of Canaan.’
42:33 “Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain for your hungry households and go. 42:34 But bring your youngest brother back to me so I will know that you are honest men and not spies. Then I will give your brother back to you and you may move about freely in the land.’”
42:35 When they were emptying their sacks, there was each man’s bag of money in his sack! When they and their father saw the bags of money, they were afraid. 42:36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You are making me childless! Joseph is gone. Simeon is gone. And now you want to take Benjamin! Everything is against me.”
42:37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put my two sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my care and I will bring him back to you.” 42:38 But Jacob replied, “My son will not go down there with you, for his brother is dead and he alone is left. If an accident happens to him on the journey you have to make, then you will bring down my gray hair in sorrow to the grave.”
The Second Journey to Egypt
43:1 Now the famine was severe in the land. 43:2 When they finished eating the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Return, buy us a little more food.”
43:3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, ‘You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 43:4 If you send our brother with us, we’ll go down and buy food for you. 43:5 But if you will not send him, we won’t go down there because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.’”
43:6 Israel said, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had one more brother?”
43:7 They replied, “The man questioned us thoroughly about ourselves and our family, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ So we answered him in this way. How could we possibly know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?”
43:8 Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the boy with me and we will go immediately. Then we will live and not die – we and you and our little ones. 43:9 I myself pledge security for him; you may hold me liable. If I do not bring him back to you and place him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 43:10 But if we had not delayed, we could have traveled there and back twice by now!”
43:11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: Take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and take a gift down to the man – a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, pistachios and almonds. 43:12 Take double the money with you; you must take back the money that was returned in the mouths of your sacks – perhaps it was an oversight. 43:13 Take your brother too, and go right away to the man. 43:14 May the sovereign God grant you mercy before the man so that he may release your other brother and Benjamin! As for me, if I lose my children I lose them.”
43:15 So the men took these gifts, and they took double the money with them, along with Benjamin. Then they hurried down to Egypt and stood before Joseph. 43:16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the servant who was over his household, “Bring the men to the house. Slaughter an animal and prepare it, for the men will eat with me at noon.” 43:17 The man did just as Joseph said; he brought the men into Joseph’s house.
43:18 But the men were afraid when they were brought to Joseph’s house. They said, “We are being brought in because of the money that was returned in our sacks last time. He wants to capture us, make us slaves, and take our donkeys!” 43:19 So they approached the man who was in charge of Joseph’s household and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 43:20 They said, “My lord, we did indeed come down the first time to buy food. 43:21 But when we came to the place where we spent the night, we opened our sacks and each of us found his money – the full amount – in the mouth of his sack. So we have returned it. 43:22 We have brought additional money with us to buy food. We do not know who put the money in our sacks!”
43:23 “Everything is fine,” the man in charge of Joseph’s household told them. “Don’t be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks. I had your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.
43:24 The servant in charge brought the men into Joseph’s house. He gave them water, and they washed their feet. Then he gave food to their donkeys. 43:25 They got their gifts ready for Joseph’s arrival at noon, for they had heard that they were to have a meal there.
43:26 When Joseph came home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought inside, and they bowed down to the ground before him. 43:27 He asked them how they were doing. Then he said, “Is your aging father well, the one you spoke about? Is he still alive?” 43:28 “Your servant our father is well,” they replied. “He is still alive.” They bowed down in humility.
43:29 When Joseph looked up and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, he said, “Is this your youngest brother, whom you told me about?” Then he said, “May God be gracious to you, my son.” 43:30 Joseph hurried out, for he was overcome by affection for his brother and was at the point of tears. So he went to his room and wept there.
43:31 Then he washed his face and came out. With composure he said, “Set out the food.” 43:32 They set a place for him, a separate place for his brothers, and another for the Egyptians who were eating with him. (The Egyptians are not able to eat with Hebrews, for the Egyptians think it is disgusting to do so.) 43:33 They sat before him, arranged by order of birth, beginning with the firstborn and ending with the youngest. The men looked at each other in astonishment. 43:34 He gave them portions of the food set before him, but the portion for Benjamin was five times greater than the portions for any of the others. They drank with Joseph until they all became drunk.
The Final Test
44:1 He instructed the servant who was over his household, “Fill the sacks of the men with as much food as they can carry and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. 44:2 Then put my cup – the silver cup – in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the money for his grain.” He did as Joseph instructed.
44:3 When morning came, the men and their donkeys were sent off. 44:4 They had not gone very far from the city when Joseph said to the servant who was over his household, “Pursue the men at once! When you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? 44:5 Doesn’t my master drink from this cup and use it for divination? You have done wrong!’”
44:6 When the man overtook them, he spoke these words to them. 44:7 They answered him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! 44:8 Look, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. Why then would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 44:9 If one of us has it, he will die, and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves!”
44:10 He replied, “You have suggested your own punishment! The one who has it will become my slave, but the rest of you will go free.” 44:11 So each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 44:12 Then the man searched. He began with the oldest and finished with the youngest. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack! 44:13 They all tore their clothes! Then each man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.
44:14 So Judah and his brothers came back to Joseph’s house. He was still there, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 44:15 Joseph said to them, “What did you think you were doing? Don’t you know that a man like me can find out things like this by divination?”
44:16 Judah replied, “What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? How can we clear ourselves? God has exposed the sin of your servants! We are now my lord’s slaves, we and the one in whose possession the cup was found.”
44:17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do this! The man in whose hand the cup was found will become my slave, but the rest of you may go back to your father in peace.”
44:18 Then Judah approached him and said, “My lord, please allow your servant to speak a word with you. Please do not get angry with your servant, for you are just like Pharaoh. 44:19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 44:20 We said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young boy who was born when our father was old. The boy’s brother is dead. He is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’
44:21 “Then you told your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him.’ 44:22 We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father. If he leaves his father, his father will die.’ 44:23 But you said to your servants, ‘If your youngest brother does not come down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 44:24 When we returned to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
44:25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy us a little food.’ 44:26 But we replied, ‘We cannot go down there. If our youngest brother is with us, then we will go, for we won’t be permitted to see the man’s face if our youngest brother is not with us.’
44:27 “Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife gave me two sons. 44:28 The first disappeared and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” I have not seen him since. 44:29 If you take this one from me too and an accident happens to him, then you will bring down my gray hair in tragedy to the grave.’
44:30 “So now, when I return to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us – his very life is bound up in his son’s life. 44:31 When he sees the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father in sorrow to the grave. 44:32 Indeed, your servant pledged security for the boy with my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame before my father all my life.’
44:33 “So now, please let your servant remain as my lord’s slave instead of the boy. As for the boy, let him go back with his brothers. 44:34 For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see my father’s pain.”
Lord, sometimes You test me because I have shown evidence of a poor character in the past. May I be humble and allow Your testing to teach me and never respond with rebellion so that it becomes a temptation and then sin. Numbers 32:23 and John 3:20 remind us that our sins will find us out, and 1 John 1:10 says that if we claim to be without sin we make Jesus a liar (He said all have sinned) and therefore the Word does not live in us (we are unsaved). So please accept my confession so that I may be wiped clean and not have to look over my shoulder every day in fear of the retribution of God or of man. Sometimes we give too much information to people who may misuse it, give us the wisdom to know what to share and when to take a little extra care. May we be both surprised and grateful when You have gone on ahead and prepared just what we need for us, blessing us beyond our rightfully-humble expectations. When You test me for integrity and obedience may I not be found wanting, rather willing to be fully honest and fully surrendered.
Scripture In Perspective
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 an 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 and 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.
His final exclamation was “As for me, if I lose my children I lose them.”, meaning that he recognized that them not going meant they all would starve to death – so his desire to withhold Benjamin was meaningless.
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’s servant explained that it was “Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks.”
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 “drunk”, which given what is believed to be the traditionally low-alcohol content of wine served at feasts (in those days) may have been an indicator of how long they were together, and/or as the NET translator’s notes suggest “they drank and were intoxicated with him” (or very comfortable and merry with him).
Joseph was not yet done in his testing of 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.
The evidence of Judah’s changed heart was not only his offer to remain as a slave in Benjamin’s place but his exclamation “I couldn’t bear to see my father’s pain.”
Interact With The Text
Joseph had good cause to mistrust his brothers. Joseph’s testing of his brothers continued and their tortured souls from their mistreatment of him (though they though him dead, or lost forever in slavery) made them cooperative rather than rebellious. Joseph’s father and brothers were in a no-win situation, Joseph had the food and the power of a huge nation, and they were hungry and powerless.
Joseph may have been working his way toward forgiveness, once he had tested the character of those who had so badly mistreated him. Joseph is testing his brothers one last time – apparently the pain of their betrayal remained intensely difficult for him to overcome.
Jacob/Israel feared the loss of Benjamin because he had never ceased mourning the loss of Joseph, however, because the other sons had lied to him about Joseph they no longer whined about his improper favoritism. When they sinned in their anger against Joseph they lost the right to complain about their father’s sin. Simeon was in prison in Egypt, the people were hungry due to the famine, yet Jacob/Israel’s fear of losing Benjamin caused him to refuse to allow the only thing that will make it possible to buy more grain. Is this wisdom evidence of an absence of trust in the Lord God? Why do you suppose that the record does not show Jacob/Israel ever consulting God about this situation? Would you offer yourself as a slave for a sibling, especially one who had been treated with favoritism ahead of you all of his life?
Putting yourself in Joseph’s place, the favored son of his father (a man of considerable means), sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused and imprisoned while a slave, raised to great authority and power by a foreign king, married to an Egyptian woman with children by her, and now confronted with his brothers. How easy would it be for you to forgive them after all of that? Remember that he was raised to be a Hebrew, not an Egyptian; believing that being-Hebrew was something special whereas Egyptians thought Hebrews to be a lesser-people not fit to even dine with.
If Joseph had not been there to save and to later distribute the grain what might Jacob/Israel’s family done for food during the famine? God surely would have provided but what a convoluted way for it to happen because of the sin of Joseph’s brothers. Had Joseph/Israel been a more pious man, one who properly discipled his sons in the importance of a healthy relationship with God, they might have made many better decisions. Jacob/Israel does refer to the “sovereign God” (El Shaddai), as opposed to the “Lord God”, which suggests that he still views his relationship with God as hierarchical and distant. [Note: Genesis 1 uses “sovereign” as God is acting alone in Creation and His relationship with man is not yet the purpose of the text, Genesis 2 and 3 use “Lord”, which also becomes an element of Satan’s deception as he persuades Eve to drop “Lord” from her title of respect for God.] Even after all that had transpired Joseph still struggled to disclose his identity to them. Perhaps out of insecurity that they might condemn him for appearing to sell-out to the Egyptians? Perhaps still working-past his mistrust? Would you offer yourself as a slave for a sibling, especially one who had been treated with favoritism ahead of you all of his life? How is Judah’s offer to be a substitute for Benjamin a precursor to the offer of Jesus to be our substitute? Judah’s offer was significantly motivated by guilt, for what he had helped to do to Benjamin’s brother Joseph, and for the pain that had caused his father Jacob/Israel for many years.
When have you made a bad decision that made something in your future a whole lot more complicated and difficult than it may otherwise have been? When have you been faced with a difficult decision, one that places someone or something you value greatly in harms-way, but one which is plainly unavoidable? How did you manage your decision making process? Was the Lord God intentionally invited into that process? How did things work out? When have you found yourself in a no-win situation, partially a result of your own prior poor choices, and you initially forgot to invite God into your decision making?
When did you finally invite Him and what was the result? When have you been mistreated by someone, or a group/organization, and the roles have been reversed and they are now before you in need of your grace. How did you evaluate their sincerity? How did you deal with your need to give them grace? When have you stood-up for another, even offering to take the blame or to fill their place? What was your motivation and how did it work out?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be complicating your future because of poor choices today, to reveal to you a place of decision making where He’d like to be invited but one where you have so far made decisions without inviting His input, and to show you where you need to reconsider resistance to a changed strategy as your circumstances do not allow you the luxury of stubbornness – especially stubbornness born of fear. Ask Him to show you where you need to forgive and reconcile and perhaps even restore a broken relationship, to show you where you where your decisions may be motivated by a sense of guilt, and whether or not that guilt is genuine or a lie of the enemy. Ask Him also to remind you when He asked you to stand-in for another and you were faithful in so-doing.
I agree to accept what the Holy Spirit shows me and to act to bring my choices into line with what God desires rather than what I have been doing out of the weakness of my flesh. I will intentionally invite the Holy Spirit to direct my decision making in the area(s) that He reveals to me where I have to-date been making decisions in the flesh. If I have difficulty being certain what He is saying I will ask one who is qualified as a Biblical “elder” to ask God to reveal it to him. I will prayerfully consult the Holy Spirit for wisdom and will allow Him to direct my decisions – and to be my courage where I need to make some risky choices. I will follow where the Holy Spirit leads me, even though difficult, to offer the same grace that my Lord God – Whom I have so often and grievously offended – has given me – to those who have offended me. Restoration of relationship may not be possible or even wise, but forgiveness equals freedom and reconciliation means that I stand with Christ with a heart of love. I will prayerfully reject any false-guilt the Holy Spirit reveals to me. I will acknowledge and seek to make-right anything He reveals that requires it. I will celebrate the occasion, or occasions, that He has found me a useful tool of His blessing to serve another as a substitute – or at least to have made a genuine offer to do so.
Be Specific ________________________________________________
Thursday (Genesis 45 - 46)
The Reconciliation of the Brothers
45:1 Joseph was no longer able to control himself before all his attendants, so he cried out, “Make everyone go out from my presence!” No one remained with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 45:2 He wept loudly; the Egyptians heard it and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.
45:3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” His brothers could not answer him because they were dumbfounded before him. 45:4 Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me,” so they came near. Then he said, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 45:5 Now, do not be upset and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life! 45:6 For these past two years there has been famine in the land and for five more years there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 45:7 God sent me ahead of you to preserve you on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 45:8 So now, it is not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me an adviser to Pharaoh, lord over all his household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 45:9 Now go up to my father quickly and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: “God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not delay! 45:10 You will live in the land of Goshen, and you will be near me – you, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and everything you have. 45:11 I will provide you with food there because there will be five more years of famine. Otherwise you would become poor – you, your household, and everyone who belongs to you.”‘ 45:12 You and my brother Benjamin can certainly see with your own eyes that I really am the one who speaks to you. 45:13 So tell my father about all my honor in Egypt and about everything you have seen. But bring my father down here quickly!”
45:14 Then he threw himself on the neck of his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 45:15 He kissed all his brothers and wept over them. After this his brothers talked with him.
45:16 Now it was reported in the household of Pharaoh, “Joseph’s brothers have arrived.” It pleased Pharaoh and his servants. 45:17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and go to the land of Canaan! 45:18 Get your father and your households and come to me! Then I will give you the best land in Egypt and you will eat the best of the land.’ 45:19 You are also commanded to say, ‘Do this: Take for yourselves wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives. Bring your father and come. 45:20 Don’t worry about your belongings, for the best of all the land of Egypt will be yours.’”
45:21 So the sons of Israel did as he said. Joseph gave them wagons as Pharaoh had instructed, and he gave them provisions for the journey. 45:22 He gave sets of clothes to each one of them, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five sets of clothes. 45:23 To his father he sent the following: ten donkeys loaded with the best products of Egypt and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, food, and provisions for his father’s journey. 45:24 Then he sent his brothers on their way and they left. He said to them, “As you travel don’t be overcome with fear.”
45:25 So they went up from Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 45:26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned, for he did not believe them. 45:27 But when they related to him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him, their father Jacob’s spirit revived. 45:28 Then Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive! I will go and see him before I die.”
The Family of Jacob goes to Egypt
46:1 So Israel began his journey, taking with him all that he had. When he came to Beer Sheba he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 46:2 God spoke to Israel in a vision during the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” He replied, “Here I am!” 46:3 He said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 46:4 I will go down with you to Egypt and I myself will certainly bring you back from there. Joseph will close your eyes.”
46:5 Then Jacob started out from Beer Sheba, and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little children, and their wives in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent along to transport him. 46:6 Jacob and all his descendants took their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and they went to Egypt. 46:7 He brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons, his daughters and granddaughters – all his descendants.
46:8 These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt – Jacob and his sons:
Reuben, the firstborn of Jacob.
46:9 The sons of Reuben:
Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.
46:10 The sons of Simeon:
Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar,
and Shaul (the son of a Canaanite woman).
46:11 The sons of Levi:
Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
46:12 The sons of Judah:
Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah
(but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan).
The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.
46:13 The sons of Issachar:
Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron.
46:14 The sons of Zebulun:
Sered, Elon, and Jahleel.
46:15 These were the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, along with Dinah his daughter. His sons and daughters numbered thirty-three in all.
46:16 The sons of Gad:
Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli.
46:17 The sons of Asher:
Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and Serah their sister.
The sons of Beriah were Heber and Malkiel.
46:18 These were the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter. She bore these to Jacob, sixteen in all.
46:19 The sons of Rachel the wife of Jacob:
Joseph and Benjamin.
46:20 Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph in the land of Egypt. Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore them to him.
46:21 The sons of Benjamin:
Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.
46:22 These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob, fourteen in all.
46:23 The son of Dan: Hushim.
46:24 The sons of Naphtali:
Jahziel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem.
46:25 These were the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter. She bore these to Jacob, seven in all.
46:26 All the direct descendants of Jacob who went to Egypt with him were sixty-six in number. (This number does not include the wives of Jacob’s sons.) 46:27 Counting the two sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt, all the people of the household of Jacob who were in Egypt numbered seventy.
46:28 Jacob sent Judah before him to Joseph to accompany him to Goshen. So they came to the land of Goshen. 46:29 Joseph harnessed his chariot and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen. When he met him, he hugged his neck and wept on his neck for quite some time.
46:30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.” 46:31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, ‘My brothers and my father’s household who were in the land of Canaan have come to me. 46:32 The men are shepherds; they take care of livestock. They have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.’ 46:33 Pharaoh will summon you and say, ‘What is your occupation?’ 46:34 Tell him, ‘Your servants have taken care of cattle from our youth until now, both we and our fathers,’ so that you may live in the land of Goshen, for everyone who takes care of sheep is disgusting to the Egyptians.”
Lord, despite the evil intentions of mere humankind Your great plan will be fulfilled. May I not be afraid as I step out in faith and go where You send me.
Scripture In Perspective
Although his 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, and one of which the Lord God promised he would “... certainly bring you back from there.”
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.
Interact With The Text
When we are dealing with matters of importance to the Lord God humankind only imagines that they have decisive power.
Why would God allow Jacob/Israel’s people to relocate to a land of slaves? (Joseph created a nation of slaves to benefit Pharaoh, his use of power went far beyond what he had originally proposed to Pharaoh as a solution to the famine.)
Joseph’s integrity had limits as he had no problem with his family deceiving Pharaoh.
When have you experienced, or observed, someone who was generally of high-integrity forget their integrity for the sake of family or friends, or to abuse their power in unexpected ways?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any place where you may be careless about integrity for the sake of temporary benefit to family or friends.
I will carefully consider if I am selling-out my integrity to assist family or friends. If so I will make things right. If not I will celebrate God’s victory in that part of my life.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
Friday (Genesis 47)
Joseph’s Wise Administration
47:1 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father, my brothers, their flocks and herds, and all that they own have arrived from the land of
Canaan. They are now in the land of Goshen.” 47:2 He took five of his brothers and introduced them to Pharaoh.
47:3 Pharaoh said to Joseph’s brothers, “What is your occupation?” They said to Pharaoh, “Your servants take care of flocks, just as our ancestors did.” 47:4 Then they said to Pharaoh, “We have come to live as temporary residents in the land. There is no pasture for your servants’ flocks because the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. So now, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen.”
47:5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 47:6 The land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best region of the land. They may live in the land of Goshen. If you know of any highly capable men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”
47:7 Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and presented him before Pharaoh. Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 47:8 Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How long have you lived?” 47:9 Jacob said to Pharaoh, “All the years of my travels are 130. All the years of my life have been few and painful; the years of my travels are not as long as those of my ancestors.” 47:10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.
47:11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers. He gave them territory in the land of Egypt, in the best region of the land, the land of Rameses, just as Pharaoh had commanded. 47:12 Joseph also provided food for his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household, according to the number of their little children.
47:13 But there was no food in all the land because the famine was very severe; the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 47:14 Joseph collected all the money that could be found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan as payment for the grain they were buying. Then Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s palace. 47:15 When the money from the lands of Egypt and Canaan was used up, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food! Why should we die before your very eyes because our money has run out?”
47:16 Then Joseph said, “If your money is gone, bring your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock.” 47:17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for their horses, the livestock of their flocks and herds, and their donkeys. He got them through that year by giving them food in exchange for livestock.
47:18 When that year was over, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We cannot hide from our lord that the money is used up and the livestock and the animals belong to our lord. Nothing remains before our lord except our bodies and our land. 47:19 Why should we die before your very eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we, with our land, will become Pharaoh’s slaves. Give us seed that we may live and not die. Then the land will not become desolate.”
47:20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. Each of the Egyptians sold his field, for the famine was severe. So the land became Pharaoh’s. 47:21 Joseph made all the people slaves from one end of Egypt’s border to the other end of it. 47:22 But he did not purchase the land of the priests because the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh and they ate from their allotment that Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.
47:23 Joseph said to the people, “Since I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you. Cultivate the land. 47:24 When you gather in the crop, give one-fifth of it to Pharaoh, and the rest will be yours for seed for the fields and for you to eat, including those in your households and your little children.” 47:25 They replied, “You have saved our lives! You are showing us favor, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.”
47:26 So Joseph made it a statute, which is in effect to this day throughout the land of Egypt: One-fifth belongs to Pharaoh. Only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s.
47:27 Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, and they owned land there. They were fruitful and increased rapidly in number.
47:28 Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; the years of Jacob’s life were 147 in all. 47:29 The time for Israel to die approached, so he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 47:30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” Joseph said, “I will do as you say.”
47:31 Jacob said, “Swear to me that you will do so.” So Joseph gave him his word. Then Israel bowed down at the head of his bed.
Lord, when people are hungry they become easy prey for manipulation, may we be good stewards as You meet our physical needs so that we are never vulnerable to the world.
Scripture In Perspective
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.
Interact With The Text
One of the seeds Joseph planted is of the opportunity for a future Pharaoh to add his family to the population of slaves in Egypt. The Hebrews multiplied financially in a fertile land which allowed them to benefit from their hard work - and numerically - as they were blessed by the Lord God in fulfillment of His prophesy.
What were Joseph’s options? Buy greater loyalty of the people to the Pharaoh through the giving of the grain to them? Barter a percentage of crops, a lease of the land, only a percentage of the livestock, and/or a term of free-labor instead of slavery and the taking of all of the money and the land and the livestock and the freedom of the people? Jacob/Israel never forgot that Egypt was not his home, nor was it to become the permanent home of his people, he used the symbolism of his burial in Canaan as a reminder to everyone of the promise of the Lord God to one day return them to the Promised Land.
Joseph’s family was not included in the enslavement of the people and the acquisition of their money, land, and livestock. With only those closely associated with the Pharaoh and the priests still free a great deal more power was concentrated in a ruling class and the potential for great jealousy toward the non-Egyptian Hebrews planted. The Lord God had revealed to Jacob/Israel, and to Joseph through him, His plan to make His people a nation of tribes for the first time. The nature of leadership in Israel would have to change in recognition of the needs of their increased numbers.
When have you observed a concentration of power and resources in a community, or a region/nation, where not everyone was treated equally? What sort of troubles did that create? When have you been a part of a growing fellowship or other organization and experienced the demands of that growth for shared leadership?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be vulnerable to losing your freedom because you are becoming, or have become, too dependent upon others – who do not serve the Lord God. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where more leaders may be needed, and where a clarification of foundational values may also need to be emphasized.
I agree to make an intentional effort to get out of debt, to reduce spending, to become as energy-independent as possible, to grow as much food as possible, to network with others to share food and other resources, and to otherwise limit my actual and potential dependence upon government should circumstances become economically difficult - as described in today’s Bible text. I will prayerfully see if I need to be prepared for leadership, or if I need to be preparing others, or both – and I will do so. I will also prayerfully consider if our community/institutional growth has weakened, or threatens to weaken, our remembrance of our foundational purpose and values – and I will do what I can to remind myself and others of them.
Be Specific _____________________________________________
Saturday (Genesis 48 - 50)
Manasseh and Ephraim
48:1 After these things Joseph was told, “Your father is weakening.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. 48:2 When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has just come to you,” Israel regained strength and sat up on his bed. 48:3 Jacob said to Joseph, “The sovereign God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. 48:4 He said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will multiply you. I will make you into a group of nations, and I will give this land to your descendants as an everlasting possession.’
48:5 “Now, as for your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, they will be mine. Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine just as Reuben and Simeon are. 48:6 Any children that you father after them will be yours; they will be listed under the names of their brothers in their inheritance. 48:7 But as for me, when I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died – to my sorrow – in the land of Canaan. It happened along the way, some distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).
48:8 When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he asked, “Who are these?” 48:9 Joseph said to his father, “They are the sons God has given me in this place.” His father said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” 48:10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of his age; he was not able to see well. So Joseph brought his sons near to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. 48:11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see you again, but now God has allowed me to see your children too.”
48:12 So Joseph moved them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. 48:13 Joseph positioned them; he put Ephraim on his right hand across from Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh on his left hand across from Israel’s right hand. Then Joseph brought them closer to his father. 48:14 Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, although he was the younger. Crossing his hands, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, for Manasseh was the firstborn.
48:15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,
“May the God before whom my fathers
Abraham and Isaac walked –
the God who has been my shepherd
all my life long to this day,
48:16 the Angel who has protected me
from all harm –
bless these boys.
May my name be named in them,
and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac.
May they grow into a multitude on the earth.”
48:17 When Joseph saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him. So he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 48:18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.”
48:19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a nation and he too will become great. In spite of this, his younger brother will be even greater and his descendants will become a multitude of nations.” 48:20 So he blessed them that day, saying,
“By you will Israel bless, saying,
‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”
So he put Ephraim before Manasseh.
48:21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you back to the land of your fathers. 48:22 As one who is above your brothers, I give to you the mountain slope, which I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”
The Blessing of Jacob
49:1 Jacob called for his sons and said, “Gather together so I can tell you what will happen to you in the future.
49:2 “Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob;
listen to Israel, your father.
49:3 Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might and the beginning of my strength,
outstanding in dignity, outstanding in power.
49:4 You are destructive like water and will not excel,
for you got on your father’s bed,
then you defiled it – he got on my couch!
49:5 Simeon and Levi are brothers,
weapons of violence are their knives!
49:6 O my soul, do not come into their council,
do not be united to their assembly, my heart,
for in their anger they have killed men,
and for pleasure they have hamstrung oxen.
49:7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce,
and their fury, for it was cruel.
I will divide them in Jacob,
and scatter them in Israel!
49:8 Judah, your brothers will praise you.
Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies,
your father’s sons will bow down before you.
49:9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah,
from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He crouches and lies down like a lion;
like a lioness – who will rouse him?
49:10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs;
the nations will obey him.
49:11 Binding his foal to the vine,
and his colt to the choicest vine,
he will wash his garments in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.
49:12 His eyes will be dark from wine,
and his teeth white from milk.
49:13 Zebulun will live by the haven of the sea
and become a haven for ships;
his border will extend to Sidon.
49:14 Issachar is a strong-boned donkey
lying down between two saddlebags.
49:15 When he sees a good resting place,
and the pleasant land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
and become a slave laborer.
49:16 Dan will judge his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
49:17 May Dan be a snake beside the road,
a viper by the path,
that bites the heels of the horse
so that its rider falls backward.
49:18 I wait for your deliverance, O Lord.
49:19 Gad will be raided by marauding bands,
but he will attack them at their heels.
49:20 Asher’s food will be rich,
and he will provide delicacies to royalty.
49:21 Naphtali is a free running doe,
he speaks delightful words.
49:22 Joseph is a fruitful bough,
a fruitful bough near a spring
whose branches climb over the wall.
49:23 The archers will attack him,
they will shoot at him and oppose him.
49:24 But his bow will remain steady,
and his hands will be skillful;
because of the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
49:25 because of the God of your father,
who will help you,
because of the sovereign God,
who will bless you
with blessings from the sky above,
blessings from the deep that lies below,
and blessings of the breasts and womb.
49:26 The blessings of your father are greater
than the blessings of the eternal mountains
or the desirable things of the age-old hills.
They will be on the head of Joseph
and on the brow of the prince of his brothers.
49:27 Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
in the morning devouring the prey,
and in the evening dividing the plunder.”
49:28 These are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He gave each of them an appropriate blessing.
49:29 Then he instructed them, “I am about to go to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite. 49:30 It is the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought for a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite. 49:31 There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah; there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah; and there I buried Leah. 49:32 The field and the cave in it were acquired from the sons of Heth.”
49:33 When Jacob finished giving these instructions to his sons, he pulled his feet up onto the bed, breathed his last breath, and went to his people.
The Burials of Jacob and Joseph
50:1 Then Joseph hugged his father’s face. He wept over him and kissed him. 50:2 Joseph instructed the physicians in his service to embalm his father, so the physicians embalmed Israel. 50:3 They took forty days, for that is the full time needed for embalming. The Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.
50:4 When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s royal court, “If I have found favor in your sight, please say to Pharaoh, 50:5 ‘My father made me swear an oath. He said, “I am about to die. Bury me in my tomb that I dug for myself there in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go and bury my father; then I will return.’” 50:6 So Pharaoh said, “Go and bury your father, just as he made you swear to do.”
50:7 So Joseph went up to bury his father; all Pharaoh’s officials went with him – the senior courtiers of his household, all the senior officials of the land of Egypt, 50:8 all Joseph’s household, his brothers, and his father’s household. But they left their little children and their flocks and herds in the land of Goshen. 50:9 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him, so it was a very large entourage.
50:10 When they came to the threshing floor of Atad on the other side of the Jordan, they mourned there with very great and bitter sorrow. There Joseph observed a seven day period of mourning for his father. 50:11 When the Canaanites who lived in the land saw them mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a very sad occasion for the Egyptians.” That is why its name was called Abel Mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan.
50:12 So the sons of Jacob did for him just as he had instructed them. 50:13 His sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, near Mamre. This is the field Abraham purchased as a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite. 50:14 After he buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, along with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to bury his father.
50:15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge and wants to repay us in full for all the harm we did to him?” 50:16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave these instructions before he died: 50:17 ‘Tell Joseph this: Please forgive the sin of your brothers and the wrong they did when they treated you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sin of the servants of the God of your father.” When this message was reported to him, Joseph wept. 50:18 Then his brothers also came and threw themselves down before him; they said, “Here we are; we are your slaves.” 50:19 But Joseph answered them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 50:20 As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day. 50:21 So now, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your little children.” Then he consoled them and spoke kindly to them.
50:22 Joseph lived in Egypt, along with his father’s family. Joseph lived 110 years. 50:23 Joseph saw the descendants of Ephraim to the third generation. He also saw the children of Makir the son of Manasseh; they were given special inheritance rights by Joseph.
50:24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to you and lead you up from this land to the land he swore on oath to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 50:25 Joseph made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He said, “God will surely come to you. Then you must carry my bones up from this place.” 50:26 So Joseph died at the age of 110. After they embalmed him, his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Lord, Your prophesy is revealed at the perfect time, may we serve You in faithful and patient-trust and not demand to know every detail of the future. Lord, may I remember that there is a difference between hurt and harm, the way that Jacob/Israel understood in his prayer for Joseph’s children. Your knowledge of the future is accurate, Your understanding of the heart of man clear, and Your wisdom perfect. May I be found as humble and kind as Joseph, meekly refusing to use the power I have to take vengeance upon those who have wronged me.
Scripture In Perspective
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.
Reuben, despite being the first born, was denied leadership due to his effort to manipulate power by his sin against his father with Behulah. The tribe by his name would tend toward the destructive and would not excel.
Simeon and Levi were called-out for his cruelty, together with Levi, and told that the tribes by their name would be divided in Jacob (physical inheritance) and Israel (tribal roles).
Judah was lifted to the role of leader of the 12 Tribes and was identified as the next in the line that would flow from him to Jesus the Christ “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; the nations will obey him.”
Zebulun’s tribe would be fishermen, sailors, and traders.
Issachar’s tribe would readily exchange freedom for comfort, working hard but as slaves.
Dan’s tribe would be a means of the Lord God’s accountability to fellow tribes.
Gad’s tribe would struggle to remain in freedom and at peace but would cleverly harass their enemies even though facing great odds.
Asher’s tribe would be chefs and servants of royalty, perhaps looking ahead to the Israelite kings and/or the service of foreign kings while in captivity.
Naphtali’s tribe would be artists and poets prone to constant movement.
Joseph would become two tribes though his sons, adopted by Jacob/Israel as peers to Joseph and his brothers: Ephraim and Manasseh were already blessed and given their prophesies in 48:5-12, one taking Joseph’s place and the other Levi’s.
Benjamin’s tribe would be effective hunter-warriors who would acquire clothing, food, and other resources for the other tribes.
He concluded with an insistence that they bury him with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah.
Joseph was so highly respected and trusted in Egypt that not only did they join him in mourning the entire senior court of the Pharaoh, and many others (but not Pharaoh) traveled with him to Canaan to bury Jacob/Israel.
Joseph’s brothers, still stuck in their small world of fear, fussed about the possibility that Joseph might harm them now that their father was no longer alive. They went to Joseph in humility and pleaded for his mercy.
Joseph declared “Am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day.”
Joseph also promised to provide for them and their children and he comforted and encouraged them – as the prophesy had foretold they bowed-down to him, as even before his death Jacob/Israel had traveled to Egypt so that Joseph could provide for him (and his family).
Joseph later died and received the promise of his family that when God took them out of Egypt they would bring his bones with them.
Interact With The Text
Jacob/Israel , at the direction of God, makes two of Joseph’s sons peers with Joseph’s brothers as heads of tribes. Perhaps as a reward for Joseph’s faithful and personally-sacrificial service. The rest of the Old Testament revolves around the Tribes of Israel and these blessings and prophesies serve as a guideline to understanding.
Was it God’s desire that Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery so that he might become powerful enough to provide for them? The text does not say that – God saw what was in their hearts, prophesied in general how He would turn their evil to good, and then guided the process. God is never the author of sin.
The angels of God were sent to protect us from harm but not from hurt, are not hurts often a vehicle for learning? How does the blessing and prophesy of Judah remind you of Jesus the Christ? Joseph could have sought revenge – do you think that anyone, his brothers or the people in Egypt, would have questioned his right to do so? Joseph remained humble – clearly recognizing that vengeance belonged to the Lord.
God has revealed to Jacob/Israel and Joseph, through him, His plan to make His people a nation of tribes for the first time, this would change the nature of their leadership in recognition of the leadership needs of their increased numbers. Once again God directs that the first-born is not always the leader among the sons. Jacob/Israel was not communicating his personal opinion but the blessing and prophesy given to him by God. Despite all that he had suffered, most of his life lived away from his family, Joseph was gracious.
When have you been a part of a growing fellowship or other organization and experienced the demands of that growth for shared leadership? What have you been taught about the role of angels in the life of believers? Where in the Old Testament have you observed the blessing and prophesy that Jacob/Israel communicated to his sons actualized in the generations to come? When have you had the right, in the eyes of the world, and the power to wreak vengeance upon someone who had wronged you in the past. What did you do?
Faith In Action
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where more leaders may be needed, and where a clarification of foundational values may also need to be emphasized. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the times when God allowed you to experience hurt but protected you from harm. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you choices that you are making that make it more or less probable God will choose to bless you. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where God has redeemed good from what humans have intended for evil.
I will thank the Lord God for allowing hurts where I needed to be taught, or I was His tool to teach another, and that He has protected me from harm. I will share those stories with a fellow believer as a praise and with someone considering-Christ as an encouragement to surrender to Him. I will listen to the Holy Spirit and emphasize those areas of my life where I am living rightly before Him and repent, turn away from, those where I am in rebellion – no matter how minor. Where I am uncertain I will seek the prayerful counsel of one who is Biblically qualified as an “elder”. I will listen closely to the Holy Spirit to discover a place when I may show God’s forgiveness and grace, where I may choose to surrender my claim of righteous-vengeance to Him, and where I may encourage rather than terrify someone who has wronged me.
Be Specific _________________________________________________
All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org
Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.
Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.
Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study. Prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in August of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.