Genesis: A quick redux. Genesis grade: A-

Genesis was an interesting read in that I started to find tangents and parallels taking place that I was not aware of before. I’ve heard people say the Bible is perfect, infallible, and the “word of God”. Well to be honest, I would think the word of God wouldn’t come off like a typical incomplete novel that was still in the works. Sounds critical of me to say but that is the truth. The timeline is erratic, a lot of information and data is missing, and I almost get the impression it was a series of stories squished together to try to fit into one.

Some major observations and questions I come across as I quickly review my findings:

  • Creation. Two stories and they do not match
  • Why is it important that precious stones exist in the lands where Jehovah and the Garden of Eden are placed?
  • Adam and Eve are assumed to be the first two people on earth but after reading the story again and comparing Genesis books 1 and 2, I no longer think that is the case: Cain is afraid of ‘whosoever’ he comes across will want to kill him despite the insinuation of modern translation that he is only the 3rd person on earth.
  • Elohim and Jehovah: Different traits, characteristics, actions
    • Elohim seems cosmic, universal, ethereal, spiritual “Elohim’s spirit floats over the waters”
    • Jehovah seems earthly, worldly, physical “he walks in the cool of the evening”
    • They give different instructions to Noah regarding animals to bring on the Ark and what animals they are allowed to eat
    • Elohim’s offerings are of bread and wine, oil and drink offerings
    • Jehovah’s offerings are beasts and blood, and rejected Cain’s offerings of first fruits
  • The patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Esau, the sons of Jacob and Esau) are all well off, lot’s of flocks and land. They live lives that TODAY would be considered sinful and evil
    • Lying and cheating their brethren
    • Having multiple wives, including wives of slave women
    • Having multiple children with multiple wives
    • Treating their children unequally in terms of their inheritance
    • Disobeying their fathers
    • Not paying heed to the promises of Jehovah “do not fear” yet they do and bring chaos to those around them (Pharaoh, Abimelech, etc.)
    • The non-Jehovah special lineage (Ishmael and Esau) really didn’t do anything wrong compared to their counterparts
  • There is no mention of a priesthood until we find out about Melchizedek, King Priest of the Most High God, who gives thanks with bread and wine (Jesus like) but not the blood and burning flesh of Jehovah
  • There is no mention that evil done by man is caused or influenced by the Devil/Satan.
  • Jehovah is not omnipotent or omniscient “I came to see for myself if the evil of Sodom and Gomorrah is true”
  • With all the knowledge we know about ancient Egypt, many data points are missing in the Genesis description of Egypt (Pharaoh names for example)
  • For one event to happen (the reunion of Joseph with his brothers which saves them from the drought) a WHOLE LOT of other steps were put into place to cause this event, as claimed by Joseph that it was all part of a master plan. Why would an omnipotent god need to do such a thing?
  • Big questions pop up why many of the events and geographical sites mentioned in Genesis are all big mysteries. Where is the evidence?
    • Where was the Garden of Eden and why is it not around today with Jehovah walking around it. Where is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Where is the “flame of a sword” that protects the Tree of Life? Where are the rivers Havilah and Pishon?
    • Do we know where Sodom & Gomorrah really were?
    • Where was the Tower of Babel?
    • Did the Nephilim who were offspring of the sons of Elohim and the daughters of man leave remains behind? Why do we not know the whole story of how that took place and what happened to those that “fell” in Genesis?
    • Is there physical evidence of the great war of kings in Genesis 14? It was of a grand scale and surely something would be left behind. And where did these kings come from?
  • “Israel” was NOT monotheistic, they CLEARLY worshiped other gods, they KNEW of other gods, they POSSESSED other gods (Jacob hiding his family’s idols from Elohim)
  • The patriarchs and the 12 sons of Israel are not boasted about, they clearly are human teetering on a wickedness that modern Christians would condemn. Will this be the case in future books ahead? SPOILER ALERT: I’m jumping ahead and spoiling the narrative by saying no, they get special treatment in future books and their wickedness still exists, if not worsens. This tells me there are yet more authors with different intentions in our future.

Some odd impressions about Jehovah I took that conflict with modern church teachings that I think the bible clearly insinuates:

  • Jehovah was a surrogate father, after all it was until “he did that thing when he visited Sarai” who the bible clearly says both her AND Abraham were beyond child birthing age, did she give birth to Isaac. Was Abraham really the father when it was only by a visit from Jehovah that she gave birth? The precedent was set in Genesis 6 when we are clearly told the spiritual/heavenly beings ARE able to breed with the daughters of man.
  • Jehovah clearly starts to sound like an earthly, tribal god. His physical form means he can walk the earth but is not always on earth because other times he appears in dreams to the patriarchs. He needs physical specificity in the case of: sacrifices (he enjoys the smell of burning flesh), Sodom & Gomorrah (he needs to see the evil for himself)
  • The 12 sons of Jacob and Jacob himself were pretty wicked, yet were protected by Jehovah despite their sins.
  • Jehovah has dragon and/or volcano traits to his being and I think we will see more of this in Exodus.

The “sins” of Adam and Eve all the way down to Jacob (who admitted to the Pharaoh his days have been short and evil) do give a very humanistic aspect to these early peoples, an aspect that even modern man can associate with: deceit, family conflict, land issues, weather related catastrophes, widespread wickedness, and much more.

Some points I’m looking to get clarified in future books:

  • The devil was not accused of involvement in any of the evil actions taken by the peoples of this day (save for the serpent who people insinuate is the devil but Genesis does NOT specify this). The evil comes from man himself, no credit is giving to the devil/Satan
  • The difference between El*elyon, El Shaddai, Elohim, and Yahweh. I no longer believe they are one in the same and have multiple Genesis verses to prove my point. I’m hoping it gets clarified in further verse.
  • When the flood occurred it was (again, different reasons were mentioned pertaining to the difference between Elohim and Jehovah) because the world was overly wicked. There is NO mention of CORRECTION to keep the world from becoming overly wicked again. All we have is a flood that wiped out the wickedness but no measure to prevent it from happening again.
    • SO, BIG QUESTION: Can the world ever become as wicked as described in the pre-flood days?
    • Just how did the author(s) of Genesis define “the world”? Was it the entire globe? The middle east specifically? The eastern hemisphere which we find that not until at least 1492 people thought was the entire world?

Overall my latest study into Genesis really opened my eyes about details NOT discussed by any church officials, bible studies, or conversations with fellow Christians of many denominations. All I get from them is broad assumptions (Adam was first man; Jehovah is the only god; the patriarchs were faithful and role models).

Let me say this, the patriarchs get a big NO WAY in terms of being role models. It can not be denied that their lifestyle would not mesh with modern times, whether the lifestyle of a modern Christian or an average US citizen (polygamy is now illegal).

The big hypocrisy between modern church goers and Genesis: Today it is frowned upon, if not outright illegal, to own slave servants or to marry multiple wives. But that’s what the patriarchs did and it was not frowned upon by Jehovah or Elohim! So why do people point to Genesis and say there are things in there that we should be doing? Isn’t it all or none? Do we get to pick and choose which rules we follow listed in the bible? I know future books of the Bible are really going to hammer this point home.

There is much much more to discuss regarding Genesis, but I need to move on to Exodus for the purpose of this blog. Genesis complete. Overall status: Confused but still open to the word of the bible, not convinced modern science meshes with Genesis, but I know there are many more themes to come in future books so I move on.

I give Genesis an A- because it is absolutely fascinating, but mysterious (thanks to all the missing information) so it puts me in detective and critical thinking mode. I think there are multiple authors and multiple stories squished into one, which is glaringly obvious, but because it warrants more questions it incites my imagination and critical thinking skills in looking for more proving data. Flaming swords, magic trees, Nephilim, giant sea and land creatures (Leviathan and Behemoth), tribal war gods: sorry to say it has a Lord of the Rings feel to it all. If someone does not take it serious I can see why, it’s not that hard to see. I loved the imagery I got from it all (Jehovah, who is given no physical description, “walking” in the cool of the evening in the Garden of Eden, or the Elohim floating over the cosmic waters) so I give it an A- in terms of its effect on my mind and how I place myself in this world.

Let’s see what Exodus does.

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Genesis 50: Jacob is buried in Canaan, Joseph returns to Egypt & dies

After Jacob passes away we get some insight into the interment rituals of the Egyptians that Joseph and his people also follow:

Genesis 50:2 – And Joseph commanded his servants they physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him three score and ten days.

Is embalming the tradition of the Hebrew people of this time? Why was Isaac embalmed? If you look a bit into the embalming rituals of the Egyptians, the body was prepped for an afterlife, a belief the Egyptians had. Was this belief in an afterlife also shared by the Hebrews? I found it odd that Joseph followed the Egyptian traditions of death, considering how the Egyptians would be treated in future texts as pagans. Why was Jehovah/The Lord or Elohim/God not displeased?

Also of note, 40 days were ‘fulfilled’ for the embalming of Jacob. Similar to the 40 days of the flood, this number repeats once more.

After the embalming period is complete, Joseph asks Pharaoh to grant him leave to return to Canaan to bury his father Jacob, as Jacob had asked of him. The Pharaoh grants him leave.

50:8 – And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt…. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.

Seems that the Pharaoh has done a good deed towards Joseph and his father. The mourning party ends up in Atad (beyond Jordan) where they mourn for Jacob for 7 days. Not only were the Egyptians mourning, the Canaanites who witnessed this mourning also memorialized the event by naming the place of mourning Abel-mizraim (KJV footnote: the mourning of the Egyptians.) Jacob was buried in the cave of Machpelah, which Abraham had purchased from Ephron the Hittite.

In verse 14 we see that Joseph returns to Egypt. Why not stay in Canaan? Was there nothing for him in Canaan? Was he obliged to return to Egypt because of a promise to the Pharaoh? Was the famine still strong where he would need to return to the food stores of Egypt?

In verse 15, in a somewhat rewind of the timeline, another conspiracy by the brothers of Joseph takes place:

50:15 – And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the *evil* which we did unto him.

I’d say somewhat of a state of paranoia, despite how Joseph has treated his brothers since he revealed himself, they still think (and know) they deserve to be punished for their evil actions towards Joseph. So they lie to Joseph, by sending him a messenger with a false message they say came from Jacob:

50:16 – And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the god of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.

Joseph’s reply:

50:19 – And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of Elohim? But as for you, ye thought evil against me: but Elohim meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

A couple of observations:

  • Why pile another lie on top of their previous lies to ask for forgiveness?
  • The evil mentioned so far has NOT been attributed to any Devil/Satan. In fact, at this point in the Bible, the overall theme seems to be that evil exists within man by nature, not because of the influence of an outside deity.
  • The play of events that lead up to this scene, evil and all, were meant by Elohim to bring about “good”
    • This reminds me of the distinction between Genesis Chapter 1 and 2, where we see two different creations stories.
      • The Elohim creation of 6 days, followed by a 7th day of rest
      • This creation was looked upon as “good”
    • Compare to the chaotic “creation” story of the Lord/Jehovah/Yahweh where Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden fruit and bad things begin to occur (curse upon man, curse upon women, Cain kills his brother Abel, etc.)
  • The whole ploy of famine, starvation, Joseph being sold into Egypt, his brothers entering Egypt, the distribution of stored foods, etc. was done so to “save much people alive”.
    • If there is an almighty god in power, why the need for such a ploy? Why not just end the famine?
    • Are we being told that the god in power does not have the power to end famine but does have the power to influence peoples actions to effect a certain outcome?
      • Is this a sign of an omnipotent god?
      • We are being told this by Joseph, a man, and not by Elohim/God or the Lord/Jehovah. How do we know this really was the intention?

Joseph lives to the age of 110 years old, where he lived to see the third generation of his son Ephraim’s children. He also promises to his brothers that Elohim will visit them while they are in Egypt, to bring them out of Egypt and into the land that was promised (at a cost, not just free) to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He also asks that his bones be taken out of Egypt and returned to Canaan. Joseph dies.

In another odd note that loops back to the beginning of Chapter 50, Joseph too is embalmed, and put in a “coffin”. Do we dare say it, that Joseph became an Egyptian mummy placed in an Egyptian sarcophagus?

joseph embalmed

It is at this point, despite knowing that many generations have already passed leading up to the death of Joseph: Just what do these people believe in regards to the afterlife? No mention is made, but if they are embalming themselves in the tradition of their Egyptian hosts, could we conclude they believe in an afterlife as well? Why no mention of anything at this point in the Bible?

I will have to read more to see if Joseph’s bones did return to Canaan and to see if there is any sort of afterlife for him and his ancestors.

Genesis ends. I will be doing a summary post with some observations of Genesis over all.

 

Genesis 43: The second reunion of brothers in Egypt, with Benjamin

After returning to Canaan with food they bought from their brother (who they did not recognize) in Egypt, enough time has passed where the ongoing famine has put Jacob in the situation where he needs to send his sons down once again.

This time Judah protests, finally admitting to his father that they were not to return unless they brought their youngest brother Benjamin at the orders of Joseph.

Genesis 43:6 – And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?

I note this as another example of deceit towards Jacob coming from his own sons. This time Judah steps up and asks to go down again, with Benjamin, and Judah would be wholly responsible for his safety. Israel agrees, and tells him to take extra gifts of the best fruits of the land, plus the double the money they initially took.

43:13 – And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.

In this verse “God Almighty” is translated as el sad*day:

el saday

I’ll cover this in my final Genesis summary but here we have another name for “God”. As I recall we have God (elohim), Jehovah God (yahweh elohim), Jehovah (yahweh), God Most High (el elyon), and now Almighty God (el sad*day). All the same being? Look at previous blog posts and my Genesis summary where I break down the use of the god titles and make the distinction between them and their actions.

So the brothers head down to Egypt again, this time with Benjamin, and stood before Joseph. Joseph tells his servants to prepare dinner for them, and the brothers were brought into Joseph’s house. They fear this is because of the money that was left in their sacks that could easily cause a charge of theft on them. So they find the steward of Joseph’s home and explain to him the money situation.

43:23 – And he (steward) said, Peace be to your, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them.

Even though we know Joseph had instructed his servants to put the money back into the sacks, the steward tells them it was a gift from Elohim. Joseph meets with his brothers, inquires about the health of his father, and then inquires about Benjamin, his brother from his biological mom Rachel. Joseph becomes emotional, heads back to his chambers where he weeps, then comes back out after regaining his composure.

43:32 – And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Interesting look at how, supposedly, the culture of the Egyptians at the time deals with non-Egyptians at meal time. Does Egyptian history tell us that this was indeed a cultural norm?

The brothers sit before Joseph from eldest to youngest, and were served their meals. Benjamin’s portions were five times larger than his brothers (noting this one down for future numerical reference.) And they drank and were merry with Joseph.

Genesis 41: Joseph in Egypt. Pharaoh’s dream

After two years (of Joseph’s imprisonment?) Pharaoh dreams and is troubled by what he saw. He first sees 7 well fed kine (cows) come out of the river and feed in the meadow. 7 more kine came out of the river, except these ones were lean and ill favored, and they stood by the 7 healthy kine. Then the ill and lean kine at the 7 healthy kine.

He had a second dream/vision: 7 ears of corn grew on one stalk, and they were good ears. Then 7 thin ears, blasted with the “east wind” came up after them. The 7 thin ears then ate the 7 healthy ears.

  • What exactly was the “east wind”? Whatever it was it seemed to dry up corn. Was there other directional winds?
  • East is probably the most mentioned cardinal direction in Genesis.

This troubled the Pharaoh so he called for his magicians and wise men to come interpret his dreams, but no one could.

The butler from Chapter 40 suddenly remembers his dream incident and let’s the Pharaoh know that Joseph interpreted his and the baker’s dreams and the interpretations were true. Pharaoh calls for Joseph and Joseph stands in the presence of the Pharaoh:

Genesis 41:15 – And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: Elohim shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.

What’s interesting here is, once again, Joseph speaks of Elohim as if Pharaoh knew who he would be talking about. There is no “Who is this Elohim?” or any other questioning by Pharaoh about who Joseph was referring to.

Will we find images, mentions, or statues of Elohim in ancient Egyptian material record? Did the Egyptians have an equivalent of Elohim in their pantheon? Did the Egyptians blame famines on one of their gods the way Joseph has attributed the famine to the choice of Elohim?

Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream as actions that Elohim is about to take on the land of Egypt. Seven years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine which will wipe out any of the “plenty” of the first seven years.

Joseph then leverages this by asking Pharaoh to set a wise and discreet man over Egypt to manage these 14 years so that they can survive the famine to come. This includes creating officers to oversee the plan, taking a fifth of all the plenty in the first 7 years, and storing food in the cities to help deal with the 7 year famine.

As if no one else in the Egyptian world could come up with this plan nor was there anyone wise enough in the Egyptian world to oversee and manage the upcoming 14 years, Pharaoh appoints Joseph over all the land of Egypt, and he will be so powerful that only the Pharaoh’s throne will be greater than his.

Joseph was 30 years old when this all happened. He was given the name Zaphenath-paneah (KJV footnote: translated in Coptic as “A revealer of secrets” or “The man to whom secrets are revealed”), and was given a wife named Asenath. He was arrayed in great Egyptian attire, and he would ride in the 2nd chariot of the Pharaoh.

Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons:

  • Manasseh – For Elohim hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house
  • Ephraim – For Elohim hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction

Important to note these two sons, because their “house” plays an important role in upcoming events and prophecies. Joseph’s wife was the daughter of Potiphar, Priest of On. Quick search shows On was Heliopolis, center for worship of the Sun god Ra. Can we assume Joseph’s sons are half Egyptian? Will this affect their future and will the Bible attribute any actions on their behalf on their Egyptian blood, if so?

As Joseph interpreted, the 7 years of plenty came, and he stored innumerable amounts of corn. When the famine famished the people of Egypt, they turned to the Pharaoh who told them to turn to Joseph and follow his commands.

Genesis 41:56 – And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that famine was so sore in all lands.

Verses like this abound in the Bible, and are very interesting because the word choice, today and with modern Christians, would have us believe that the ENTIRE EARTH was under famine, and that ALL COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD had to turn to Egypt to survive.

These are some very bold statements to make, and one has to really ask, is there evidence that the entire planet earth was under famine? Countries from all over the world had to come to Egypt for food? Surely this is an event that would be recorded all over the world and definitely recorded in Egypt so there should be no doubt it actually happened.

OR

For this author, and his readers, and the people of the time, “all the face of the earth” and “all countries” only meant those in the immediate areas who the author knew about? Science tells us there were people living in North and South America at the time. Does their material record or histories talk about a famine which required them ALL to sail across an ocean for food?

I know this sounds facetious but it’s a question that needs to be asked.

Because the word choice here in the Old Testament is also used in upcoming prophecies in the Old and New Testament and modern interpreters will say these prophecies are discussing the entire world when the argument could be made they were only for the geographical area known to the people at this time.

What about Joseph, is he mentioned in Egyptian hieroglyphics, oral and written traditions? Is his heroism and wisdom regarding the brutal 7 year famine put into remembrance in Egyptian culture? Does Egyptian history even mention a brutal 7 year famine?

Joseph’s wife was the daughter of Potiphar, Priest of On. Quick search shows On was Heliopolis “City of the Sun”, center for worship of the Sun god Ra. Can we assume Joseph’s sons are half Egyptian? Will this affect their future and will the Bible attribute any actions on their behalf on their Egyptian blood, if so?

We are not even given the name of this particular Pharaoh so once again, questions come up about the validity of this story if we can’t point it to a particular well recorded historical timeline of ancient Egypt.

 

 

 

Genesis 40: Joseph in Egypt. The Baker & the Butler

Not describing what exactly the Pharoah’s baker and butler did, whatever it was it angered the Pharaoh and he imprisoned them both. In Chapter 39 we find that Joseph, although imprisoned, found favor with the jailer/Captain of the Guard, so Joseph finds himself overseeing these other two prisoners.

After a season, one day Joseph finds both of them with sad countenances. He inquires about it and they tell him:

Genesis 40: And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to Elohim? tell me them, I pray you.

Couple of observations:

  • The two servants (KJV calls them officers) understand the concept that dreams aren’t just sleep visions, they call for interpretation.
  • Joseph speaks to them about Elohim as if they would know who he was talking about
    • Can we assume a polytheistic people like the Egyptians would acknowledge a foreign god and his powers?
    • Can we assume the servants were Egyptians and not Hebrews or other race as if often the case with servants?

Both dreams are told to Joseph, and Joseph asks both to remember him in the presence of the Pharoah next time they speak with him so that he could be removed from his imprisonment:

  • The butler dreamed about 3 branches of a vine, which quickly blossomed forth ripe grapes, which the butler pressed into wine into the Pharoah’s cup
    • Joseph interprets this dream that in 3 days the Pharaoh would restore the butler to his job and he will deliver the Pharoah’s cup into his hand
  • The baker dreamed about 3 white baskets stacked upon his head. In the uppermost basket were breadmeats meant for the Pharaoh, which birds ended up eating
    • Joseph interprets this dream that in 3 days the Pharaoh would hang the baker on a tree and that birds would eat his flesh.

Three days later, as Joseph had interpreted, both dreams came true. In the case of the baker who lived, he did not do as Joseph asked as a favor for interpreting the dream, he did not tell Pharoah about setting Joseph free.

What stuck out to me about this story is the idea that Joseph spoke to the servants about Elohim, and because so, seemed to act as a representative of this deity.

Egyptian culture and punishment: Is hanging on a tree normal punishment in ancient Egyptian culture? Why did both servants get imprisoned and only one was granted mercy. Was it because he was innocent? Or his crime was not as bad as the bakers? It was at the Pharoah’s whim?

This story, after I read it again, didn’t sound as Egyptian or Pharaoh style as I thought it would. This is going to require more research, because if this story is true, there should be some basis in this type of treatment (jail then hanging on a tree) in the material record and history of ancient Egypt as we know it today.

Also, isn’t “hanging on a tree” the term used to describe Jesus being crucified? If that’s the case the Baker had his head lifted off of him (beheaded) and then hung on the tree (crucified). Was beheading and crucifying part of ancient Egyptian culture? If not, then the validity of this story is in question, which raises similar questions about the entire Joseph in Egypt story-line.

A quick online search doesn’t come up with anything that would specifically prove this story to be culturally accurate to ancient Egypt. A topic worth investigating and I will report back to this chapter post should I find anything of significance.

Genesis 39: Joseph in Egypt. Joseph gets Imprisoned.

As I guessed in Chapter 38’s blog post, the timeline shifts and suddenly we are back with the narrative of Joseph and the timeline shift to Judah is done with. We left off with Joseph being sold to the Ishmaelites by the Midianites. The Ishmaelites were on their way to Egypt at the time Joseph was thrown into a pit by his brothers, so the Ishmaelites ended up selling Joseph to Potiphar, a high ranking Egyptian.

  • I’d imagine a caravan or company moving from Canaan to Egypt is going to take a few months to travel. In all this time, there is no dialogue between Joseph the son of Jacob and the Ishmaelites his cousins?
  • The Book of Jasher, considered non-inspired, goes into more detail, and guess what, at some point the Bible says “Is it not said in Jasher…” meaning the author is telling the reader that Jasher is authoritative. So why not reference it? Read more about the adventures of Joseph as he travels to Egypt in the Book of Jasher.

So we focus on Joseph’s stay in Egypt:

Genesis 39:2 – And Jehovah was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that Jehovah was with him, and that Jehovah made all that he did to prosper in his hand.

So here’s the concept: Joseph is a slave of the Egyptians, but in the meantime Jehovah is allowing Joseph to prosper among them, so much that Joseph’s slave owner acknowledges his blessing and takes advantage of it.

  • Joseph is still a slave, but seems to be accumulating physical wealth thanks to Jehovah
  • Potiphar acknowledges Jehovah’s siding with Joseph , but it is not mentioned that he bows or worships Jehovah
    • This is a key point I will bring up in later verse
    • Hint/Spoiler alert: This is not the first time this concept that outsiders receive Jehovah’s benefits but do not turn to him.
  • Is it possible to be a prosperous slave? How can you be prosperous when you have no freedom?

So eventually the blessing towards Joseph from Jehovah ends up spilling over into Potiphar’s hands.

Potiphar’s wife ends up lusting after Joseph. Joseph, seemingly understanding that he has a master and there is a certain decorum between a slave and his master, refuses her advances.

39:9 – There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife; how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

Joseph states his stance, and does not reference Yahweh, but Elohim. Go back one Chapter and look at what Judah had done, and how Jehovah was involved. There was no mention of Elohim. Compare and contrast Judah and Joseph. Joseph has referenced the rules of Elohim God. The difference between Jehovah and Elohim grows.

Her advances continue on for days. In one instance she is able to rip the garments off of him as he fled. She calls upon the men of her house, accuses him of attempted rape, and he his sent off to prison.

Interesting note: it is at this point Joseph is called a Hebrew, to distinguish him from everyone else in the Egyptian world. Who was the first Hebrew? Abraham?

To conclude Genesis 39:

  • Jehovah blessed Joseph, yet he was slave to Potiphar
  • Jehovah blessed Joseph, yet he was imprisoned by Potiphar but found favor in the jail keep
joseph prison
Blessed but imprisoned. Illustration looks like more of a western ideal of a jail cell but jail is jail is imprisoned. Why not just break him out? Yeah yeah I know, it’s all part of the master plan. That ‘master plan’ answer is a good cop out when no one really knows the answer.

 

Joseph, sold to slavery by his own brothers, sold by his own cousins to the Egyptians, falsely accused of sexual deviancy, falsely imprisoned. You know, if you are the kind that watches movies and can figure out the ending long before it comes, you can almost get the feeling that that Joseph is headed for great things. It’s this sort of narrative (down trodden individuals on the path to greatness) that transcends histories and cultures all over the world.

Genesis 38: Judah separates, the narrative separates.

In an odd break of the ongoing timeline and narrative we suddenly focus on Judah, who has left his brethren, and “turned in” to an Adullamite name Hirah. Not sure what “turned in” means but it seems as if Judah has gone on a sabbatical from his people and now finds himself among Canaanites, staying with Hirah.

Judah finds a daughter of a Canaanite named Shua and goes “in unto her” multiple times and she bares him three sons:

  • Er
  • Onan
  • Shelah
    • Shela, who BTW, the author wants you to know he was at Chezib when he was born
    • A quick search of Chezib shows nothing of major significance, once again telling me these words were meant for people of that time, who would know where Chezib was, after all the author intended to clarify this point.
    • The woman Judah “goes into” wasn’t important enough to be given a name?

Not sure why Judah separated from his brethren, but anyone with a large enough family will know that some members do separate from their kin and often never return, starting families on their own in far off lands (or in modern terms, out of state or country).

Genesis 38:6 – And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of Jehovah; and Jehovah slew him.

Jehovah is back in the picture, and he returns by slaying Judah’s firstborn. We can’t assume that Er and/or Tamar were adults at this time. Many cultures arrange marriages well before either bride or groom are of age to procreate. Assuming Er was a young man, whatever he did or said caused Jehovah to slay him. Looking at previous chapters with all the wickedness in the actions of Jacob and his sons, what Er did must have been colossally bad. Why not mention what made him wicked?

Plus, seems Judah had no say in the matter of the fate of his first born.

In somewhat of a hint at the age of the three sons of Judah at this time, Judah tells his 2nd son, Onan, to go into Tamar so that his slain by Jehovah brother’s seed can continue.

  • Once again, the concept of “seed” isn’t necessarily direct. By impregnating Tamar, Onan would really physically be creating his own seed. Though by implication the seed would be CALLED the seed of Er (remember Esau being the true seed of Isaac but Jacob would be CALLED his seed?)
  • The cultural concept of “seed” for this culture is less biological and more cultural.
  • Onan was now at the age where he could seed a woman. Teenager?
  • So what really caused Jehovah to slay Onan? The fact he wouldn’t impregnate his sister in law per his Israelite father’s judgement? Or because he spilled his seed on the ground?

Onan, possibly because of his Canaanite mother’s roots, does not agree with Judah the Israelite’s view that he should be going into his sister in law.

38:9 – And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased Jehovah, wherefore he slew him also.

Jehovah has so far slain two of Judah’s sons. No response from Judah. Judah, running out of sons, instructs his daughter in law:

38:11 – Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, Remain a widow at they father’s house, till Shelah my son be grown: for he said, Lest peradventure he die also, as his brethren did. And Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house.

How did his brethren die? At the hands of Jehovah. Judah won’t say it directly, but he tells Tamar to leave, because there is a chance that Shelah will meet the fate of his two brothers.

38:12 – And in the process of time the daughter of Shua Judah’s wife died; and Judah was comforted, and went up unto his sheepshearers to Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite

Observations:

  • The “process of time” means the narrative of Genesis has taken on a side story focusing on Judah, which means at some point we will probably go back in time to the era of a teenage Joseph. Right now we are at a point where Judah left his brethren, had sons, and the sons grew in years to conceive children. 15-20 years post Joseph being sold into slavery?
  • Judah had a non-Israelite friend, an Adullamite. Befriending and impregnating Canaanites does not seem to be an issue at this time for Israelites.
  • In the past, a male patriarch was “comforted” after the death of his mother or wife by finding a new or first wife. Just what comforted Judah in verse 12?

The story gets better:

38:13 – And it was told Tamar, saying, Behold thy father in law goeth up to Timnah to shear his sheep. And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.

Interesting look at this culture. There are such things as “widow’s garments”. Likely a custom that women would dress a certain way so that those around her knew her marital status. In this case, Tamar then wraps herself in a veil, which, even in modern times, seems to be somewhat of a common custom in Middle Eastern cultures. What happens next is shocking.

38:15 – When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned into her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?

We’ve just seen a man solicit his own daughter in law, who he though was a prostitute. She seems to have set it up where she knew he would come across her so she veiled herself. After all, time has passed and the process of marrying her to a now grown Shela has not occurred.

  • Was she in a hurry to be wed, gone into, since it’s noted that her marriage to Shela had not been set up?
  • Or was it her intention to blackmail Judah
  • At this time, in this culture, a woman who was veiled was considered a harlot/whore? Judah thought so

The transaction is agreed upon, Judah will go in unto her and he will give her items that can identify Judah at a later date plus a kid goat. He performs the act and she is impregnated.

After the deed was done, he goes to retrieve the kid goat, but Tamar has left (she replaced her veil with her usual widows garments). Judah returns and can not find her, asks around if anyone has seen the harlot, and the locals tell him there was no harlot there. Judah, to prevent shame, asks for everyone to search for her so he can pay her with the kid goat as he promised.

  • Harlotry or prostitution sounds like it was a common part of the culture
  • The shame here wasn’t that he solicited a prostitute, but that he couldn’t pay her properly

Get’s even better (or worse in my opinion):

38:24 – And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.

Judah wants to burn Tamar for what has just occurred. Not only that, he wants to burn her while she is pregnant with his child. No grievances for his actions, but let her be burnt. Not to say she was exactly innocent but she seemed to have schemed this well.

38:25 – When she was brought forth, she sent to her father in law, saying, By the man, whose these are, am I with child: and she said, Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet, and bracelets, and staff. And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.

We’ve just witnessed the moral of the story. Judah admitted the righteousness belonged to Tamar because, for some unexplained reason, Judah never married his grown son Shela to Tamar. Judah’s fault was not ensuring his promise to her that when Shela was grown, he would take his brothers place.

Judah didn’t perform his sworn duties to his daughter in law Tamar by marrying her to Shela and was humiliated. Er and Onan didn’t perform their duties to Tamar yet both were slain by Jehovah. No slaying for the third offense against Tamar by Judah?

In another rhyming Bible story, Tamar bore twins. The firstborn came out and the midwife attached a piece of scarlet to his wrist, signifying him the firstborn. However, his twin was able to breach first, and he became firstborn. The new firstborn was named Pharez (KJV note: that is, A breach) and the second one with the scarlet wristband came out and was named Zerah.

The first became second and the second became first. Esau and Jacob revisited.

What will the Bible hold for Pharez and Zerah, sons of Judah and his daughter in law Tamar?

Genesis 37: Joseph’s dreams, sold by his brothers into slavery

Growing up listening to Bible stories, this one is easy to reminisce about. I can almost remember my young mind imagining this story unfolding. From the colorful description of his vestments, to his dreams, and the horror of the thought of being sold into slavery by my own siblings, it really left a mark on my young mind.

Jacob (they are still referring to him as Jacob despite two separate and different incidents where Yahweh and Elohim have told Jacob he will now be called Israel) resides in Canaan, probably near his brother Esau,  but far enough away that both can comfortably set their flocks out to pasture without conflict.

Joseph (son of Rachel) was a teenager and was feeding flock with his brothers from Bilhah (Dan and Naphtali) and Zilpah (Gad and Asher).

Genesis 37:2 … Joseph, being 17 years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.

What evil report? Not sure if there is any significance but he is mentioned being with all the children of Jacob’s wives handmaids (though they are called his wives in this verse). Will these sons of handmaids have a different destiny than the sons of Rachel and Leah?

37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age:: and he made him a coat of many colours.

Now we see him referred to as Israel (note that in verse 1 he was called Jacob, why the sudden distinction?) Not only that, wasn’t Benjamin, the youngest of the 12 sons, another son of his old age, being younger than Joseph?

Not sure if this also refers to the “evil report” earlier mentioned, but the author notes that because Joseph is his father’s favorite, they were jealous of him and could not speak “peacefully” unto him.

The next stage of events:

  • Joseph tells them of a dream he had where each one was a sheave, and his sheave stood tallest and their sheaves bowed to his.
    • His brother’s hated him more
  • Joseph tells them of a second dream where the sun, the moon, and “the eleven stars” (representing his brothers) all bowed to him
    • Is “the” eleven stars a constellation? Star grouping? Zodiacal reference?
    • Israel later applies the sun to himself, the moon to Joseph’s mom, and he becomes angry with Joseph
    • Regardless, Isaac’s response to the 2nd dream doesn’t seem to be as bad as his brothers (verse 11)

After the dream, we know the brother’s are even more angry than before. Isaac sends Joseph off to check on his brothers tending flock, so he leaves the vale of Hebron and searches for them in Shechem. Along the way he meets a man who tells him his brothers moved on to Dothan.

The next stage of events:

  • The brothers see him coming and conspire to kill him, calling him “the dreamer”
  • Plan was to slay him, throw him in a pit, and blame an “evil beast”
    • Are we talking a wild animal or is this referring to something supernatural
    • Are there good and evil beasts?
  • Reuben, the eldest, talks them out of spilling blood but recommends just throwing him in a pit.
    • Reuben’s plan was keep Joseph away from them, so that he could eventually return Joseph to Israel
  • When Joseph meets his brothers, they strip him of his coat and throw him in an empty pit, with no water

 

Joseph pit
What’s the opposite of brotherly love?
  • Judah reiterates Reuben’s idea of not spilling blood, but in a not much less merciful act, proposes selling Joseph to a group of Ishmaelites they see on their way to Egypt for trade
    • I think this is important because it indicates a trade route already in existence between Canaan and Egypt, which the archaeological record should prove and could provide more background on the cultures at the time
    • Ishmael was their uncle, so in effect these were the 1st cousins/relatives or to the sons of Jacob
  • Before they could work this out, a group of Midianites found Joseph, rescued him from the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites
    • Price: 20 shekels of silver (will this be significant later?)
    • Note that Midian was another of Abraham’s sons (from one of his many concubines that he cast off)
      • So we have one set of cousins (Ishmaelites) ending up with Joseph after being sold by another set of cousins (Midianites) after his own brothers wanted to sell him
      • Is there more allegory to this story? More research is needed and I will add to this post if I find more info
  • Reuben discovers Joseph is no longer in the pit, probably doesn’t know he ended up with the Ishmaelites anyways, and the brothers take Joseph’s coat, dip it in goat’s blood, and return to their father with the bad news
  • Isaac takes the news poorly and becomes inconsolable
  • Joseph was sold to Potiphar, an officer of the Pharoah, captain of the guard in Egypt

Observations: A very wicked act by the sons of Isaac towards their own kin, because of a set of dreams. To be sure, Joseph was boastful, but growing up with brothers, it was par for the course. Let’s review the wickedness:

  • Brother’s are jealous towards Joseph and intend to act out
  • Initial intention is to kill him
  • Plan is then to sell him
  • When they realized the screwed up, rather than stop the deception they increase it by lying to their father about what happened
  • Their father believes Joseph is dead, when in fact he is alive and simply missing
    • The sons put even more despair into their father’s heart
    • The sons made no mention of FINDING Joseph but focused on executing the  overall deception
      • Possible despite their sorrow, they were glad Joseph was out of the picture?
  • Israel says he will go to the grave mourning his son’s death
    • Obviously his brother’s heard this, yet the did not go back on their lie
    • Seems they were willing to let their father suffer with this sorrow until the day of his death when they know Joseph could very well be alive

Of note: no mention of these evil deeds being at the hand or influence of the Devil/Satan. In fact, no mention of the interceding hand of Yahweh or God Elohim. Just a bunch of humans performing evil on their own.

Genesis 34 – Dinah and Shechem, genocide of the Hivite males

Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite defiles Jacob’s daughter from Leah, Dinah, and he falls in love with her. Shechem asks his father Hamor to go through the steps to make Dinah his wife. Hamor the father communed with Jacob the father in this matter, Jacob knowing his daughter was defiled but keeping it from his 12 sons.

Genesis 34:7 – And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter; which thing ought not to be done.

Observations:

  • The concept of Israel not being solely Jacob, but Israel being the collective group that differentiates itself from outsiders, in this case the Hivites.
  • Jacob’s sons at this point were “men”, not just children
  • A man has defiled a daughter and the writer insists this is a thing “which thing ought not to be done”. Fair enough. Will it happen again? Will the guilty parties be one of the twelve sons of Jacob, or related? The fact the writer noted an absolute statement, let’s see if it holds up in future verse.
  • The cultural concept of a communing in regards to a man/woman marriage is described in some detail. Father communes with father and a bargain or agreement is created.

Hamor, in bargaining for Dinah’s marriage to his son Shechem, offers all to Jacob, as long as he can arrange the marriage. Jacob’s sons, still angry:

34:13 – And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister: And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing; for that were a reproach unto us: But in this will we consent to you: If ye will be as we, that every male of you be circumcised; Then we will give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.

Interesting that it’s the sons, not Jacob, that lay the groundwork for a gentleman’s agreement. Hamor and his son approve of this agreement, but, we soon find out that Jacob’s sons didn’t plan on keeping this arrangement. Hamor and his son were quite serious about it however, as they pleaded to their people to honor the arrangement:

34:20 – And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying, These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters. Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised.

In another what seems like a logical step stemming from an affront of defiling a man’s daughter, Hamor and Shechem plead to their people to accept this arrangement with an egalitarian view that they all become one people. The Hivites accept, and all men become circumcised as per the arrangement.

On the 3rd day, Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob’s sons, then slew all the male Hivites in the city, despite the “consent” and agreement they made with the Hivites. This includes the slaying of Hamor and Shechem and taking spoils of the entire city. Wives and children were taken captive.

Jacob is displeased with their actions, but the brothers defend themselves by alluding to the fact that their sister was defiled.

Observations:

  • No mention whether the original agreement was falsely claimed by the 12 sons, though by Simeon and Levi’s actions that seemed to be the case.
  • As terrible as the defilement of Dinah was, the Hivites offered their entirety to Jacob and his sons and his people in what might be assumed as a penance to affront of defilement.
    • No mention of what Dinah thought of the whole situation, almost as if she did not have a voice, nor was it important.
    • Another clue to the role of women in this biblical culture
  • Israel is used as a term in this chapter to describe the collective group, not just Jacob which is what the mandate was in Chapter 32.
  • The sons come off as renegades, endangering their father and their collective, and breaking an agreement they made with those who were ready to make great changes to their way of life to accept Jacob and his people as equal.
  • No mention of the meddling hand of Jehovah AND
    • 34 chapters into Genesis, plenty of wickedness and deceit, but none of it has been equated with the Devil/Satan.
    • All actions up to this point can be attributed to simple human nature, good and bad. Nowadays we blame the bad on the Devil. Was this the case at this time in Biblical history?

In summary, while we might equate “defilement” with rape, we also need to understand that the culture of these peoples was much different than ours 2000+ years later. While the actions of Shemech would anger any father/brother, the consequential agreement and violation of that agreement would also be a defilement of mans ability to negotiate with his fellow man. Jacob’s two sons put their father in a serious bind, one which Jacob acknowledges threatens their entire collective.

 

Genesis 32… one more try

Back to grinding away at the Bible verse by verse. It’s good to be back. For reference, from this point on I will be covering the King James Version.

Jacob and Esau plan to meet. Jacob, knowing his treatment of his own brother was wicked, fears the worst. He prepares riches to give to his twin, and out of fear, splits his army into two groups, so that if Esau has intentions of war, at least one group of his will survive.

Jacob then prays to Jehovah, admitting he is not deserving of mercy and reminding Jehovah of the promise he made to him, in the hopes that Esau will not destroy his people:

Genesis 32:10 – I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant. (his words to Jehovah)

Jacob splits his two groups, sends one on their way with gifts of cattle and livestock, hoping to appease his brother.

In an odd scenario, Jacob finds himself alone after crossing the Jabbok ford, wrestling a man until sunrise:

32:24 – And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

Jacob wrestling
In this portrayal the “man” wrestling Jacob is a winged angel. So who or what did Jacob wrestle? KJV does not say angel, but a quick online search shows many translations saying he wrestled God or an Angel, not just a regular man. Biblehub.com Intralineal shows the correct translation as “man”. Mystery remains.

This man has dislocated Jacob’s leg/hip, but neither prevails over the other. In another instance of a name change (signifying a change in the narrative of the people), the man tells Jacob he will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel.

Jacob in return asks the man for his name, the man replying, in other words, “who are you to ask me of my name?”

32:31 – And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

Questions gathered from this Chapter:

  • Who was the man Jacob wrestled? An angel? Jehovah? A regular man?
  • What is the significance of “wrestling” in this culture?
  • Some have assumed this was “God” Jehovah testing Jacob… if so, why the need to test? If God is all knowing and all powerful, wouldn’t he know without having to test Jacob? The “test” theory, while fits the scene, doesn’t fit the God scenario.
  • What is the “sinew which shrank”? In this case it is referring to Jacob’s thigh, and we are told that the children of Israel do not eat of it because of this incident. Do not eat of it where? In animals? In humans?

A lot of unanswered questions in this Chapter, the author writes this seemingly knowing that whoever is reading it is contemporary, i.e. “…to this day” so people of that era would definitely know the context. More research needed, however, we do have more examples of the anthropological concept of explaining place names (Penuel/Peniel) and cultural customs (Israelites not eating the sinew that shrank).