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A Journey Thru The Bible's First Book

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Gen 35:22b-26 . . Now the sons of Jacob were twelve in number. The sons of
Leah: Reuben-- Jacob's first-born --Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel's maid: Dan
and Naphtali. And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's maid: Gad and Asher. These are the
sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

By the customs of that day, a maid's children sired by her mistress's husband,
belonged to the mistress. So that Leah's children, counting Dinah, totaled nine; and
those of Rachel: four.

Of the four mothers, only two can be proven biologically related to Abraham. The
genealogies of the maids Bilhah and Zilpah are currently unknown and wouldn't
matter anyway seeing as how in the Bible, it's the father who determines a child's
tribal affiliation rather than the mother.

NOTE: It's sometimes assumed that Jesus' mom Mary, and Zacharias' wife
Elizabeth, were members of the same tribe seeing as how the New Testament says
they were cousins (Luke 1:36). However, Elizabeth was related to Aaron, who
himself was related to Leah's son Levi, while Mary was related to David, who
himself was related to Leah's son Judah. So Mary and Elizabeth were cousins due to
the same grandmother rather than the same tribe.

Gen 35:27 . . And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, at Kiriath-arba-- now
Hebron --where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.

Modern Hebron is located about 33 kilometers (20½ miles) south of Jerusalem as
the crow flies.

Although this is the first mention of a visit from Jacob since returning from up
north, it probably wasn't the first instance: just the first one mentioned when his
whole family, and the entire troupe-- servants and animals --came with him.

Isaac was around 135 when Jacob left home to escape his sibling's wrath in chapter
28. His eyes were going bad even then, and by now, many years later, Isaac was
probably quite blind. Since there is neither a record of his reactions, nor of a cordial
response to his son's visit; it's possible Isaac had gone senile as well as blind.

Gen 35:28 . . Isaac was a hundred and eighty years old

At the time of Isaac's death, Jacob was 120 years old, having been born when his
dad was 60 (Gen 25:26). When Jacob was 130, Joseph was 39 (cf. Gen 41:46, 53,
54; 45:6, 47:9). So that when Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery at 17 (Gen
37:2), Jacob's age was 108; which was 12 years prior to Isaac's death. The
insertion of Isaac's passing in the Bible record at this point, is sort of like a
parenthesis because, chronologically, it's too soon.

Gen 35:29a . . So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his
people, being old and full of days.

Christ said the very hairs of our head are numbered. Well . . so's our breaths.
Finally, one day, after countless thousands, we inhale that very last one, and it
oozes back out as a ghastly rasp.

While some people see a glass as half full, and others see as half empty; engineers
see as overkill: viz: the glass is too big. Well . . in Isaac's case, the glass was full
up to the top. On Sept 11, 2003, the actor John Ritter died of a torn aorta just one
week shy of his 55th birthday. That is way too young to take your last breath. His
glass wasn't full yet. With adequate health care, John Ritter may have lived another
25 years.

Gen 35:29b . . And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

A death in the family often brings its members closer together than a birth. By this
time, Jacob and his brother were older and wiser, had mended their fences, and
were getting on with their lives; refusing to hold any grudges. Esau, I believe, by
this time fully understood what happened concerning the stolen birthright-- that it
was God's intention for Jacob to have it in the first place --and he was peaceably
resigned to accept it.

After the funeral, Esau will begin planning to move away from the region; no longer
having a paternal tie to the land wherein his father lived. It's not uncommon for
children to settle within driving distance while their parents are living. But when
your parents are dead, there's not much reason to stay in the neighborhood
anymore-- and for some, it might be just the excuse they need to finally move
away and start a new life elsewhere.
_
 
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Chapter 36 is mostly genealogy, so I'm only going to do just twelve of its forty
three verses.

Gen 36:1 . .This is the line of Esau-- that is, Edom.

Edom is from the Hebrew word 'Edom (ed-ome') which is the color red; and was
the tag hung on him back in Gen 25:30.

Gen 36:2-7 . . Esau took his wives from among the Canaanite women-- Adah
daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah daughter of Zibeon
the Hivite-- and also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth. Adah
bore to Esau Eliphaz; Basemath bore Reuel; and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam,
and Korah. Those were the sons of Esau, who were born to him in the land of
Canaan.

. . . Esau took his wives, his sons and daughters, and all the members of his
household, his cattle and all his livestock, and all the property that he had acquired
in the land of Canaan, and went to another land because of his brother Jacob. For
their possessions were too many for them to dwell together, and the land where
they sojourned could not support them because of their livestock.

Just as Lot had done, Esau chose to migrate rather than remain and cause
problems for Jacob. Some say Esau did this out of respect for Jacob's patriarchal
position; but no one really knows why. Maybe Esau just thought the grass was
greener elsewhere.

Esau had done well for himself in spite of his loss of the birthright: which would
have given him the lion's share of Isaac's estate-- and with no tax complications;
heirs in those days made out pretty good.

Gen 36:8 . . So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir-- Esau being Edom.

Seir was the name of an oblong-shaped region extending south from the Dead Sea
to the Gulf of Aqaba-- a.k.a. Idumaea. Seir includes the ruins of Petra, which were
used as a movie set in a portion of the Indiana Jones trilogy.

Gen 36:9-12 . .These are the names of Esau's sons: Eliphaz, the son of Esau's
wife Adah; Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath. The sons of Eliphaz were
Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. Timna was a concubine of Esau's son
Eliphaz; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.

Of all Esau's progeny, Mr. Amalek really stands out in the Bible as the father of a
very disagreeable people. Keep in mind that all of Esau's clan, including Amalek,
are just as much Abraham's biological kin as Jacob's family. (Deut 23:8)

During his journey with the people of Israel, after their liberation from Egyptian
slavery, Moses was attacked by Amalek's clan. (Ex 17:8-16, Deut 25:17-19) Thus
resulting in a perpetual curse upon the Amalekites as a people. An Agagite
(descendant of Amalek, 1Sam 15:2-8) named Haman initiated a large-scale
genocide against Israel in the book of Esther.

Haman's infamy is memorialized every year during the Jewish holiday of Purim. It's
customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle noisemakers whenever the name of
Haman is spoken in the Purim service.
_
 
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Gen 37:1-2a . . Now Jacob was settled in the land where his father had
sojourned, the land of Canaan. This, then, is the line of Jacob:

Genesis doesn't list a big genealogy right here like the one for Esau in chapter 36,
but rather, it's going to "follow" the line of Jacob from here on in to the end of
Genesis.

Gen 37:2b . . At seventeen years of age, Joseph tended the flocks with his
brothers, as a helper to the sons of his father's wives Bilhah and Zilpah.

Although "his . . .wives" is vernacularly correct; there's no record of Jacob actually
marrying either of the two maids. They were his concubines in the same manner as
Hagar when Sarah pushed her handmaid off on Abraham as a "wife" (Gen 16:4).

NOTE: Jacob was pretty much stuck with Bilhah and Zilpah because were he ever to
emancipate them, he would forfeit any and all children the two servant women bore
for him; which is exactly how Abraham disinherited his eldest son Ishmael. We
talked about that back in chapter 21.

The words "as a helper to" aren't in the actual Hebrew of that passage. They're
what is known as inserted words that translators sometimes employ to smooth out
texts so they'll clearly say what the translators think the author meant to convey.
Some translators insert the preposition "with" at that point, so the passage reads;
"Joseph tended the flocks with his brothers"

Actually, Joseph was in charge of his brothers Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher; who
were all older than him. And it was he who was responsible to manage the flocks
because the phrase; "tended the flocks" actually connotes he was shepherding the
flock; i.e. Joseph was the trail boss.

Joseph's authority was also indicated by the "coat of many colors" that his dad
made for him. The Hebrew word for "colors" is of uncertain meaning and some
translators prefer to render it "long sleeves" rather than colors.

It seems clear that the intent of this special garment was as a badge of Joseph's
authority-- sort of like a military man's uniform --and of his favored position in the
family. Joseph may well have been the only one of Jacob's twelve sons that he
could fully trust since, for the most part, the older men had proved themselves
beyond control in the past.

The sons of Bilhah and Zilpah weren't really Joseph's full brothers, but half. The
only full brother was Benjamin, and at this time, he was too young to go out on
trail drives.

Genesis displayed a pretty bad case of sibling rivalry back in chapter 4, which led to
a younger brother's untimely death. This case of sibling rivalry would surely have
resulted in Joseph's untimely demise if God hadn't intervened to prevent it. It's
really sad that the majority of Jacob's sons were dishonorable men; the kind you
definitely don't want your own daughter bringing home to meet the folks.

Although Joseph was an intelligent boy, and a responsible person, he certainly
lacked tact. His social skills were immature, and needed some serious refinement
because he really had a way of boasting, and chafing his older brothers.

Gen 37:2b . . And Joseph brought bad reports of them to their father.

Whether or not the "reports" could be construed as tattling is debatable. After all,
Joseph, as trail boss, was directly responsible to Jacob.

It's been my experience that upper management doesn't want to hear those kinds
of reports. All they want to know is whether or not the company is meeting its
deadlines and operating at a profit. It's lower management's responsibility to
manage the work force so that upper management can remain undistracted to do
other things that are far more worthy of their time, their talents, and their
attention. A lower manager who can't rectify personnel problems in their own
department usually gets fired and replaced by somebody who can.

Gen 37:3a . . Now Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons

Uh-oh! Doesn't that sound familiar? Isaac had his favorite too: Mr. Esau. There's
nothing like favoritism to divide a family and guarantee it becoming an ugly
environment festering with sibling rivalry, yet that is so human a thing to do. Put
grown-ups in a group of kids and in no time at all, the grown-ups will gravitate
towards favorites, and become merely tolerant of the others.

Gen 37:3b . . for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him an
ornamented tunic.

The "ornamented tunic" is all the same as what's usually known as the coat of
many colors.

One might be tempted to think Joseph was Jacob's favorite son because of his love
for Rachel; but Genesis says it was because Joseph was "the child of his old age".
Well, Benjamin was a child of Jacob's old age too but not nearly as favored. So the
real meaning may be that Joseph was a child of wisdom, i.e. the intelligence of an
older man; viz: Joseph was smart beyond his years and thus more a peer to Jacob
rather than just another mouth to feed.

Gen 37:4 . . And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any
of his brothers, they hated him so that they could not speak a friendly word to him.

Genesis doesn't say the brothers wouldn't speak a friendly word; it says they
"couldn't".

Hatred does that to people. It just kills a person overcome with malice to be nice to
the people they hate. They just can't do it. Their eyes narrow, their lips tighten,
they look away, they become thin-skinned, their minds fill with epithets, they
constantly take offense and can barely keep a civil tongue in their head, if at all,
because deep in their hearts, they want the object of their hatred either dead or
thoroughly disfigured and/or smitten with some sort of terrible misfortune.
_
 
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Gen 37:5-8 . . Once Joseph had a dream which he told to his brothers; and they
hated him even more.

. . . He said to them: Hear this dream which I have dreamed. There we were
binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf stood up and remained
upright; then your sheaves gathered around and bowed low to my sheaf.

. . . His brothers answered: Do you mean to reign over us? Do you mean to rule
over us? And they hated him even more for his talk about his dreams.

Considering the already hostile mood fomenting among his brothers, Joseph really
should have kept the dream to himself. There wasn't any real need for the others to
know about it anyway. It's said that silence is golden. Well, sometimes silence is
diplomatic too.

Gen 37:9-11 . . He dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers, saying;
Look, I have had another dream: And this time, the sun, the moon, and eleven
stars were bowing down to me.

. . . And when he told it to his father and brothers, his father berated him. What; he
said to him; is this dream you have dreamed? Are we to come, I and your mother
and your brothers, and bow low to you to the ground? So his brothers were
wrought up at him, and his father kept the matter in mind.

As the family's prophet, Jacob's inspired intuition instantly caught the dream's
message; though he was a bit indignant. However, Jacob didn't brush the dream off
because his prophetic insight told him there just might be something to it.

Jacob interpreted the moon in Joseph's dream sequence to be Rachel; so one might
ask: How could she be subject to Joseph while deceased?

Well; the mother element of the family of Israel at that time was a composite unity
consisting of four biological moms-- Rachel and Leah, and Bilhah and Zilpah --not
just the one. So the logical conclusion is that the moon's identity wasn't restricted
to Rachel; there were still three moms remaining alive to represent the moon and
thus fulfill Joseph's dream.

Gen 37:12-14a . . One time, when his brothers had gone to pasture their father's
flock at Shechem, Israel said to Joseph: Your brothers are pasturing at Shechem.
Come, I will send you to them. He answered: I am ready. And he said to him: Go
and see how your brothers are and how the flocks are faring, and bring me back
word. So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.

A guy like Joseph is every supervisor's dream. When asked to do something, his
response was; "I am ready."

Hebron (a.k.a. Hevron, a.k.a. Al Khalil) is still on the map. It's about 18½ miles
west of the Dead Sea, as the crow flies, and about 20½ miles south of Jerusalem.

Shechem (a.k.a. Nablus) is still on the map too. It's about 48 miles north of
Jerusalem; ergo: 68½ miles north of Hebron.

So Joseph had a long ways to go. It's amazing that people pastured their herds so
far from home in those days; but then it wasn't unusual for out-west cattle barons
during America's 1800's to pasture cows that far; and even farther.

The Prairie Cattle Company once ranged 156,000 cows on five million acres of land.
At 640 acres per square mile; that factors out to something like 7,812 square
miles; viz: an 88⅜ mile square; which really isn't all that big when you think about
it. It's a lot of area; but 88⅜ miles is really not all that great a distance for an
automobile; though the distance around the perimeter would be something like
353½ miles. At 55 mph it would take roughly 6½ hours start to finish-- quite a bit
longer on a camel and/or a donkey's back.

Personally, I would have been concerned about Joseph's safety more than anything
else; but apparently nobody interfered with Jacob's family in those days (Gen 35:5)
so they pretty much had carte blanche to graze wherever they liked in those parts.

Gen 37:14b-17 . .When he reached Shechem, a man came upon him wandering
in the fields. The man asked him: What are you looking for? He answered: I am
looking for my brothers. Could you tell me where they are pasturing? The man
said: They have gone from here, for I heard them say "Let us go to Dothan". So
Joseph followed his brothers and found them at Dothan.

It's interesting that the man isn't on record asking Joseph who he was nor who his
brothers might be. Probably everybody around Shechem knew Jacob's family
personally because they had all lived around there for some time before moving
south. In America's olde West, people knew each other for miles around because,
quite simply, there just wasn't all that many people to know.

Dothan has yet to be precisely located. Some say it was about 12 miles north of
Shechem; but that's really only an educated guess. Years later, Dothan became the
stage for a pretty exciting event. (2Kgs 6:8-23)
_
 
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Gen 37:18a . .They saw him from afar,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hatred for one's kin doesn't make the hater guilty of murder; it's only saying that
someone harboring hatred for their kin has the nature of a murderer; and were
conditions favorable, they would definitely act it out.

For example if a lion never ate meat even once in its life, it would still be a
carnivore because lions have the nature of a carnivore. In like manner, even if
someone's hatred never drove them to lethal violence; they would still be a
murderer because they have a murderous nature. In other words: people's nature--
i.e. the core of their being --defines them just as much as their conduct.

"Out of the heart come murders" (Matt 15:19)
_
 
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Gen 35:22b-26 . . Now the sons of Jacob were twelve in number. The sons of
Leah: Reuben-- Jacob's first-born --Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel's maid: Dan
and Naphtali. And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's maid: Gad and Asher. These are the
sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

By the customs of that day, a maid's children sired by her mistress's husband,
belonged to the mistress. So that Leah's children, counting Dinah, totaled nine; and
those of Rachel: four.

Of the four mothers, only two can be proven biologically related to Abraham. The
genealogies of the maids Bilhah and Zilpah are currently unknown and wouldn't
matter anyway seeing as how in the Bible, it's the father who determines a child's
tribal affiliation rather than the mother.

NOTE: It's sometimes assumed that Jesus' mom Mary, and Zacharias' wife
Elizabeth, were members of the same tribe seeing as how the New Testament says
they were cousins (Luke 1:36). However, Elizabeth was related to Aaron, who
himself was related to Leah's son Levi, while Mary was related to David, who
himself was related to Leah's son Judah. So Mary and Elizabeth were cousins due to
the same grandmother rather than the same tribe.

Gen 35:27 . . And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, at Kiriath-arba-- now
Hebron --where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.

Modern Hebron is located about 33 kilometers (20½ miles) south of Jerusalem as
the crow flies.

Although this is the first mention of a visit from Jacob since returning from up
north, it probably wasn't the first instance: just the first one mentioned when his
whole family, and the entire troupe-- servants and animals --came with him.

Isaac was around 135 when Jacob left home to escape his sibling's wrath in chapter
28. His eyes were going bad even then, and by now, many years later, Isaac was
probably quite blind. Since there is neither a record of his reactions, nor of a cordial
response to his son's visit; it's possible Isaac had gone senile as well as blind.

Gen 35:28 . . Isaac was a hundred and eighty years old

At the time of Isaac's death, Jacob was 120 years old, having been born when his
dad was 60 (Gen 25:26). When Jacob was 130, Joseph was 39 (cf. Gen 41:46, 53,
54; 45:6, 47:9). So that when Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery at 17 (Gen
37:2), Jacob's age was 108; which was 12 years prior to Isaac's death. The
insertion of Isaac's passing in the Bible record at this point, is sort of like a
parenthesis because, chronologically, it's too soon.

Gen 35:29a . . So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his
people, being old and full of days.

Christ said the very hairs of our head are numbered. Well . . so's our breaths.
Finally, one day, after countless thousands, we inhale that very last one, and it
oozes back out as a ghastly rasp.

While some people see a glass as half full, and others see as half empty; engineers
see as overkill: viz: the glass is too big. Well . . in Isaac's case, the glass was full
up to the top. On Sept 11, 2003, the actor John Ritter died of a torn aorta just one
week shy of his 55th birthday. That is way too young to take your last breath. His
glass wasn't full yet. With adequate health care, John Ritter may have lived another
25 years.

Gen 35:29b . . And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

A death in the family often brings its members closer together than a birth. By this
time, Jacob and his brother were older and wiser, had mended their fences, and
were getting on with their lives; refusing to hold any grudges. Esau, I believe, by
this time fully understood what happened concerning the stolen birthright-- that it
was God's intention for Jacob to have it in the first place --and he was peaceably
resigned to accept it.

After the funeral, Esau will begin planning to move away from the region; no longer
having a paternal tie to the land wherein his father lived. It's not uncommon for
children to settle within driving distance while their parents are living. But when
your parents are dead, there's not much reason to stay in the neighborhood
anymore-- and for some, it might be just the excuse they need to finally move
away and start a new life elsewhere.
_
Jacob travelled more than once to Hebron? Really? Adding to the Word. Strike one.

The New Testament word describing Mary and Elizabeth as "cousins" is the Greek word syngenis, which simply means relative. Mary and Elizabeth could have been 2nd or 3rd or 4th cousins for all we know. But we do know they were related.

Isaac senile? Really. That's another strike.

John Ritter died at 55. Yes, and? No one - absolutely NO ONE - is promised another tomorrow, or another moment for that matter. Repent and put your faith and trust completely in the risen Christ NOW.
 
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Gen 37:21-22 . . But when Reuben heard it, he tried to save him from them. He
said: Let us not take his life. And Reuben went on: Shed no blood! Cast him into
that pit out in the wilderness, but do not touch him yourselves-- intending to save
him from them and restore him to his father.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I read a story of the torture and mistreatment of captives in Sadaam Hussein's pre
invasion jails. This one poor Iraqi man was forced sit down upon the jagged neck of
a broken glass pop bottle; and while the bottle filled with blood from his torn bowel,
Iraqi police played a game of cards.
_
 
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Gen 37:25b . . Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from
Gilead, their camels bearing gum, balm, and ladanum to be taken to Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Incidentally, Christ was sold out for thirty pieces of silver (Matt 26:15) about which
the Bible says was a "lordly" price. (Zech 11:12-13)
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Active
Gen 37:29-30 . .When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in
the pit, he rent his clothes. Returning to his brothers, he said: The boy is gone!
Now, what am I to do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtiers were typically royalty's personal assistants and performed a variety of
duties. Potiphar was "chief steward". The Hebrew words means boss of the
butchers; an ambiguous term which implies not just slaughtering and/or cooking
animals for food, but also supervising capital punishments, and/or supervising
Pharaoh's personal bodyguards along with the oversight of his own private jails;
especially jails for political prisoners.
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Active
Gen 38:1a . . About that time

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

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

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

Gen 38:1b . . Judah

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

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

Gen 38:1c . . left his brothers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bath-Shuwa' (or: Bath-Shua) just simply means a daughter of wealth; which isn't
really a name at all, but a status. Exactly what the status of a "daughter of wealth"
is supposed to convey about a girl is hard to tell. Perhaps it just means she's an
eligible consideration for marriage-- like a girl who comes of a good family; but that
doesn't necessarily mean that a blue-blooded girl is the best choice. Things like
education, breeding, and wealth are no guarantee that maybe a girl from across the
tracks wouldn't make a much better wife and mother. (she'd certainly tend to be
more frugal)
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Active
Gen 38:3-5 . . She conceived and bore a son, and he named him Er. She
conceived again and bore a son, and named him Onan. Once again she bore a son,
and named him Shelah; he was at Chezib when she bore him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I've a pretty good notion of what Judah had in mind. He had no intention of letting
Tamar anywhere near his one and only surviving male heir. As far as he was
concerned, Tamar was nothing less than a Black Widow-- one of the those
venomous spiders in the American southwest that eats her mate for dinner after
the poor hormone-driven slob fulfills his one and only purpose in life.
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Active
Gen 38:11c . . So Tamar went to live in her father's house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actually, Shelah wasn't the one who owed Tamar an Israeli baby; it was Judah, the
head of the clan, and that's why he's the one she's coming after rather than Judah's
son. Tamar is a scary girl; and one you wouldn't want to trifle with. Not many
women would have had the chutzpah to do what she did. To begin with, for a lone
woman to sit out along a remote road, unescorted, like she did, was inherently
dangerous, and could have led to all sorts of mischief.
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Active
Gen 38:15a . .When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are people who actually believe the Bible's God can get away with reneging
on His promises. A belief of that nature of course eo ipso insinuates that He lacks
integrity, i.e. the Bible's God is capable of dishonesty and can't be trusted to make
good on anything He says.
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Gen 38:18a . . He said: What pledge should I give you? Your seal and its cord,
and the staff in your hand; she answered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actually, neither Judah nor Tamar were "righteous" in this matter. His comment
was relative. Though both had behaved rather badly; Tamar held the high moral
ground. It's like movies today. The good guys and the bad guys are no longer
distinctly moral and immoral and/or scrupulous and unscrupulous. Often both sides
of the equation are immoral and unscrupulous; with the "good" guys just being
more likable.
_
 
Active
Gen 38:27-28 . . And it came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold,
there were twins in her womb. Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth,
one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand,
saying: This one came out first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to Rom 8:3 Christ didn't come in the likeness of innocent flesh; no, he
came in the likeness of sinful flesh, and his ancestry certainly proves it.
_
 
Active
Gen 39:1-3 . . Now when Joseph arrived in Egypt with the Ishmaelite traders, he
was purchased by Potiphar, a member of the personal staff of Pharaoh, the king of
Egypt. Potiphar was the captain of the palace guard. The Lord was with Joseph and
blessed him greatly as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar
noticed this and realized that The Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in
everything he did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So then, what's a desperate housewife to do when her husband is old and boring,
and here's this strapping, virile young slave guy around the house with you all day
long? Well . . you're either going to drink a lot, get witchy, take pills, or make a
move and see what happens. Unfortunately, Anna isn't going to be a very good
sport about it.
_
 
Active
Gen 39:8-9 . . But Joseph refused. Look; he told her; my master trusts me with
everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do! He
has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I
ever do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.

Note Joseph's diplomacy. He made no comments about Anna's age nor her appeal.
His defense was strictly reasonable rather than personal. All things considered;
Joseph simply wouldn't be able to live with either himself or his religion had he
betrayed Potiphar's trust; thus he was careful to avoid hurting Anna's feelings.

Gen 39:10-18 . . She kept putting pressure on him day after day, but he refused
to sleep with her, and he avoided her as much as possible. One day, however, no
one else was around when he was doing his work inside the house. She came and
grabbed him by his shirt, demanding: Sleep with me! Joseph tore himself away, but
as he did, his shirt came off. She was left holding it as he ran from the house.

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

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

From a strategic standpoint, Anna's action was a wise initiative just in case Joseph
began complaining to Potiphar about his wife's conduct.

Joseph's situation parallels a case in a novel by author Harper Lee titled "To Kill A
Mockingbird " wherein a promiscuous woman destroys an innocent man in order to
cover up her own indiscretions.

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

I seriously doubt Potiphar believed his wife's story (in point of fact, this may not
have been the first time she got in trouble with a man) or otherwise he would have
put Joseph to death rather than in a cushy jail where political prisoners were kept,
but what was he to do? Stick up for a slave over his wife? Not happening. I mean,
after all; Potiphar had to live with Anna, he didn't have to live with Joseph, so
Joseph was sacrificed to keep peace in the home.

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

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

Joseph had quite an advantage. His management skills weren't due to a natural
aptitude, rather, they were due to providence; just as his grandpa Abraham's
wealth and success were due to providence.
_
 
Active
Joseph was 17 when he arrived in Egypt, and 30 when he became prime minister.
So 13 years of his young adulthood were wasted in servitude and prison; and all
that time without even so much as a date or a girlfriend. More than a full decade of
the best years of his life went by with no female companionship whatsoever.

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

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

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

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

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

Gen 40:1a . . Some time later,

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be placed at the service of these two high ranking courtiers was really an honor,
even though they were just as much locked up as Joseph. However, he was a slave
and they were courtiers; so there was a big difference in rank even behind bars.
But the two men had it pretty cushy. They weren't treated like common convicts;
no, they each had a very competent, fully experienced butler with impeccable
references at their service-- Mr. Joseph ben Jacob.
_
 
Active
Gen 40:4b-8a . . After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two
men-- the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in
prison --had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

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

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

» Capitalizations are often arbitrary, i.e. not in the actual manuscripts; viz:
rather than translations, capitalizations are often interpretations. Caveat Lector.

Gen 40:8b . . Please tell me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apparently Pharaoh had actually gotten some sort of food poisoning, and the
investigation underway by Potiphar sought to find the source; and likely to
determine if it was in any way evidence of a conspiracy to assassinate Pharaoh.
_
 
Active
Gen 40:18-19 . . Joseph answered: This is its interpretation: The three baskets
are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and gibbet you upon a
pole; and the birds will pick off your flesh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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