Genesis 44: Brothers return and face Joseph again; Translations!

Joseph commanded that the brother’s sacks be filled with food, and once again the money be put back into the sacks. This time, however, he tells them to put a silver cup into Benjamin’s sack and the brothers are sent off.

After they had traveled a bit, Joseph tells his stewards to catch up with them, and accuse them of theft.

Genesis 44:5 – Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.

Joseph is trying to give the impression to the brothers that he was able to divine the theft of the cup “which he drinketh”. The brothers vow no evil was done, and that there was no reason to steal from Joseph considering the money they intended to pay for the food was put back into their sacks. They also agree that whoever did steal the silver cup, would become a servant, and the others blameless.

Of course, the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack, so the brothers return to Joseph in Egypt to explain the situation. They explain to Joseph that there really is no explanation or way to clear themselves. They offer themselves up as servants, including the one with the cup in his sack.

44:17 – And he (Joseph) said, God forbid that I should do so…

Reason I point this verse out is because in the interlinear Hebrew translation, the “God” in this verse is not found, instead it is translated as “far be it from that I should do so”. Why throw God in there when in the original language there is no mention of God? Is this an example of man’s interference in Old Testament translation? Notice that none of the previously mentioned god names are found in the Hebrew text:

god forbid

Note the various translations among the different Bible versions:

god forbid versions

 

The only version that translates it as “God forbid” is the KJV. All others leave it out. Why is the KJV translator putting the word “God” into a verse it doesn’t belong? Also, are all these translations saying the same exact thing? I don’t think so:

  • “the man who was found to have the cup” is NOT the same as “the man who stole the cup”
  • “Far be it from me to do such a thing” is NOT the same as “I swear that I will not do this”

Now take such a distinction in meaning and translation and apply it to the entire Bible and every single verse and suddenly it becomes clear why people just can’t agree on what the Bible says (though they are 100% sure that their translation is the correct one.)

Back to the story, Judah asks for permission to speak to Joseph, and goes over the story of the first visit, the conditions they were given if they ever came back, the distress it all caused their father Jacob, and the distress that their current predicament would put on their father, “sorrow to the grave”. Judah begs for Joseph to let Benjamin go and return to his father, and Judah will take his place as servant. The more I look into this the more I realize that it’s not that Judah is concerned about his father’s distress, but that it all falls upon Judah himself.

44:34 – For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.

Interesting insight into the reasoning for Judah to offer himself up in Benjamin’s place.

 

Advertisements

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 42: Joseph in Egypt. First visit of Joseph’s brothers during the Famine

The story shifts back to Canaan, where Jacob (who is supposed to be called Israel but the writer continues with Jacob) tells his sons to stop looking at each other and head down to Egypt because he heard there are food stores there and to buy food so they do not starve.

The famine is in Canaan. Exactly what is this famine? No rain? Too much sun? Unseasonable weather? Again, is there historical record of such a famine? Surely there would be tree rings at least among the great Cedars of Lebanon that would show that this famine was world wide?

10 of Joseph’s brothers took the journey, Benjamin the youngest stayed behind at Jacob’s request. It’s not enough that he THINKS (thanks to the deception of his sons) that he already lost Joseph, he knew he risked losing his 10 sons in their journey, so he preserves Benjamin.

In an interesting dialogue and exchange of words, the 10 brothers make their way to Egypt where Joseph recognizes them (but they do not recognize him) and he speaks sternly with them. Joseph accuses them of being spies, and in their now humble countenances they deny the accusation. They mention that they are all brothers, and behind them were their father and their youngest brother, and a brother who “was not” (Joseph, who they presumed dead).

“Was not” is a term used to describe Enoch. We are told Enoch didn’t die but was taken by God. Do Joseph’s brothers think he was taken also? While he isn’t dead he isn’t on earth the way Enoch was taken?

Joseph leverages the situation by demanding that while he imprisons 9 of them, the 10th goes and retrieves Benjamin, because they are not allowed to proceed further without the 10th son.

Joseph imprisons the 10 sons for 3 days (note the 3 day significance). He releases them but tells them to bring Benjamin to him, to prove their story of their younger brother, so that they should not die. He also tells them to take food back to their house.

There are two languages being used here, we are told Joseph is using an interpreter to speak to his brothers, and while his brothers speak amongst each other, he is able to understand them. It is at this point Reuben the eldest explains that they are all guilty of what happened to Joseph, which is why they are facing their current dilemma.

Joseph, understanding their words, becomes emotional and retreats away from them. After regaining his countenance, he binds Simeon in front of the rest of the brothers and sent them on their way with corn and even returns the money they left behind for the purchase into their sacks.

This sent fear into Jacob and his remaining sons as they all discovered that not only were there sacks full of food, but the money they intended to leave behind was put back in their sacks. The accusation of theft could easily be levied upon them now.

Jacob is in a bad situation:

Genesis 42:37 – And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him (Benjamin who Joseph requested) not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. And he (Jacob) said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

Where are the prayer to Elohim? Where are the prayers to Jehovah? Where are the interceding hands? Jacob and his fathers Isaac and Abraham were promised a covenant, so where is there faith in this covenant? This boggles my mind. These men were being pulled in and out of their own beliefs and the promises of their god. While this is a good analogy for modern Christians who lack faith, these men like Jacob actually spoke directly to their god and are still not reaching out to him despite the godly assurances and covenant.

The random intercessions of Jehovah and/or Elohim are interesting. As most modern Christians would say, “God” is just sitting back watching events unfold, testing his servants Jacob and his sons. There could be more to this story. There have been no mentions of altars, burnt offerings, pouring offerings, oil offerings. We are mired in a tangential story that might be telling us, the reader, that the details are not what is important, but the overall message. Fair enough.

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 36: Esau, twin of Jacob; Lineage

The author of the Genesis at this time has dedicated a Chapter to Esau, twin brother of Jacob. It should be remembered that Esau was twice the victim of the deception of his twin, first regarding his birthright, and second regarding his father Isaac’s final blessing which was meant for the firstborn (Esau.)

Today, Esau is demonized because of the Bible’s connection to him as Edom and the Edomites. Review Genesis up to this point and I challenge you to find the wickedness in Esau, compared to the wickedness of his brother Jacob. Jehovah as a god is protecting and claiming the wicked of the two. Also a reminder that Jehovah did tell Abraham that his first born actual son Esau would grow up to be a great nation.

Verse also says Esau was the TRUE (blood) seed of Abraham but Jacob would be CALLED the seed of Abraham (after the divine impregnation of elderly Sarah) and given the favored covenant by Jehovah.

  • What does this tell you about Esau and his descendants? Once demonized always demonized? Will their future biblical actions support this treatment?

The Bible rhymes sometimes. In this Chapter we find the common theme of Esau and his brother Jacob being too rich to subsist on the same piece of land. This is no different than Abraham and Lot splitting off because both had become too big for the land they occupied. Each group left peacefully but the Bible would treat Lot and Esau much differently.

Observations about the lineage of Esau:

  • The Bible attributes the people of Esau to Mount Seir
  • The distinguished titles for the men was “Duke”

Back to verse:

Genesis 36:24 – And these are the children of Zibeon; both Aiah, and Anah: this was that Anah that found the mules in the wilderness, as he fed the asses of Zibeon his father.

The author is clarifying which Anah he is referring to, and refers to a story that he must be assuming the reader would understand. Does this story about finding mules in the wilderness have significance later? If not, something tells me we are missing a lot more history the author intended for us to understand.

If this is the case, can we even say the Bible is complete?

36:31 – And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel

So it looks like the lineage of Esau advanced much faster than the lineage of Isaac. Of course as we read further we see why it took so long for the Israelites to obtain a king.

36:43 … these be the dukes of Edom, according to their habitations in the land of their possession: he is Esau the father of the Edomites

So they possessed the land, and the author does not say whether they possess the land by force, whether it was appointed/landmarked for them, nor does it say they were wicked or evil. A really neutral Chapter in Genesis I am going to reference multiple times in the future as the story of the Edomites continues on.

  • Who were the Edomites worshiping at this time? No mention is made
  • The authors descriptive styles of lineage and the reign of kings (aka Dukes for the Edomites) is very different from what we find in the future books of Kings.
  • The author felt Esau was still an important part of the history to dedicate a complete chapter on his lineage. I hope more detail is added in future verse.

Or, Genesis 36 is just a description of the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise that Esau will become a great nation and that eventually Esau would break the yoke of his brother Jacob off of his neck? Could be a closing chapter for the tragic story of Esau as it related to his twin brother’s deception.

 

 

Genesis 35: Analysis of the 12 sons

Most would read through Genesis chapters 29 through 35 and say OK, they are all Jacob’s sons. I have questions though, especially after the intervention of Jehovah in Sarah’s impregnation and bearing of Isaac long after she admitted she was past child bearing years. Remember, the Bible does not say that Abraham was the one that impregnated her, impregnation was only done after Jehovah’s “visit” to her.

Was this the case in any of the children of Jacob? After all, we have the miraculous “opening of Rachel’s womb” in chapter 35. Any other miraculous child births? A quick look at the language surrounding each of the 12 considered Jacob’s sons, who the mother was, and how Jacob was attributed to each:

12 sons
Excuse the spell-check notifications, I wanted to whip this up ASAP. Also thanks to LibreOffice for the free (with a healthy voluntary donation) access to a spreadsheet program.

Again, it is ASSUMED that Jacob is the father of all, but I’m only listing exactly how the Bible words the birth of each son. Does it conclude anything? Not necessarily, but if there are patterns in the future regarding the behavior, actions, destinies, or other factors defined to particular sons, I want to make sure I’ve noted the Bible’s treatment and verbiage from the start in case there was a pattern or hint.

Observations:

  • Joseph and Benjamin were born of a mother who was once barren, so there was divine intervention to open her womb (when it was also divine intervention, according to Jacob, that closed it from the start. Genesis 30:2)
  • 4 of the 12 were born of “handmaids.” Will this affect the future of the 4 children and thus tribes? Will they be lesser? Greater? Unaffected?
  • Leah, the “hated” was the mother with the most of the 12 sons (6 of 12).
  • Rachel, who Jacob loved, was only the mother of 2 sons

Here is a listing of each 12 sons and the meaning of their names:

12 sons name def
Hopefully the font comes out ok for mobile devices. If you would like a higher quality image please let me know.

Observations regarding name meanings:

  • The Lord/Yahweh/Jehovah is attributed to the first 4 sons plus 1 latter son, 5 total
  • God/Elohim is attributed to 3 sons total.
  • 4 sons have no attribution to Elohim or Yahweh for name purposes
  • Leah understood she was the ‘hated’ or least of Jacob’s wives
  • Benjamin’s official name was Ben-oni; Verse says his father named him Benjamin
    • Will Benjamin prove to be Jacob’s right hand as indicated in the chart? Or was it a name of endearment/nickname because of the idea that he was Rachel’s last son so Jacob had to elevate the son that would grow up without his biological mother?
  • Leah (first wife of Jacob) and her sister (second wife of Jacob) show interesting patterns regarding the names of their sons:
    • Leah’s focus seems to be on Jacob, pleasing Jacob, and being accepted by Jacob
    • Rachel’s focus seems to be on herself, for example, boasting how she prevailed over her sister
      • Benjamin is the exception of course, being that she did not live to name him
      • What does this say about Leah vs Rachel? One (Rachel) was only thinking of herself, the other (Leah) was only thinking about her husband.
  • Remember that at the end of Genesis 35, Reuben lay with the Bilhah, mother of his little brothers Dan and Naphtali. Will this affect the future of this familiar structure? We will find out.

In many cultures, names are sacred and, when looked at from the future, give us a descriptive tale of what was going on in the past. It should also be remembered that in many cultures, individuals had multiple names: birth names, child names, adult names. This is why I hit the pause button and focused on Genesis 29-35 to analyze the naming of the 12 sons who will define the future 12 tribes of Israel. I’m looking for hints, clues, and patterns that might lead to a better understanding of future events that the Bible will describe. Spoiler alert: Many of these tribes will end up fighting each other and I want to know if the Bible is hinting at it from the earliest description. Only verse will tell.