This week’s readings came from Genesis 40-50 and Job 1-11. I want to go back, though, to Genesis 37 to pick up Joseph’s story from its beginning. Then I’ll make a few comments about Joseph and a very brief introduction to Job. I’ll wait to really dive into Job’s story until next week.
Joseph’s story really begins with Jacob. As you may recall, when Jacob deceived Esau and fled to his relatives in Laban’s house, he fell in love with Rachel, Laban’s younger daughter. He agreed to work seven years to marry her, but Laban deceived him by providing Rachel’s sister, Leah, as a wife instead. Jacob agreed to work another seven years for Rachel. Rachel was his favorite, though, and she ultimately gave birth to Joseph, so Joseph became Jacob’s favorite son.
When he was a teen, Joseph had a couple of dreams in which he saw his family bowing down to him. He told them these dreams, which didn’t go over well. His brothers resented him so much they wanted to kill him. However, they decided instead to sell him as a slave. Joseph ended up in Egypt as a slave in Potiphar’s house. Potiphar became so trusting of Joseph that he put him in charge of all that he owned. However, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph to sleep with her. After numerous refusals, she falsely accused him of attempted rape and Potiphar threw him in prison.
While in prison, Joseph successfully interpreted dreams for two other prisoners there from Pharaoh’s house. Two years later, Pharaoh had some troubling dreams himself and Joseph was taken from prison to interpret them for him. Joseph interpreted the dreams as God’s indicating of a coming famine. Pharaoh put him in charge of all of Egypt to plan and prepare for the coming lean years.
During the ensuing famine, Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt to buy food to take back home. Joseph recognized them and through a series of events, tested the current state of their character and then ultimately revealed himself to them as their brother. They were terrified that he might exact revenge, but Joseph reassured them.
But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21)
This is an example of several places in the Old Testament that point forward to a future salvation of God’s people through His messiah. Just as Joseph’s betrayal ultimately led to salvation, so Jesus’ betrayal (at the hand of Judas) ultimately led to our salvation.
After coming to Egypt, and as his death from old age was approaching, Jacob called his twelve sons together to give them his final words to them. These are the twelve sons who would eventually become the tribes of Israel (in birth order): Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin. Joseph was actually represented in the tribes through the names of his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Specifically, look at what Jacob had to say about Judah.
Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come…. Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk. (Genesis 49:1, 8-12)
Jacob made multiple references about royalty coming out of Judah’s line (bowing, lion, scepter, ruler’s staff, tribute) and notice especially the statement that “to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” The kings of Israel beginning with David came out of Judah’s descendants, and ultimately culminated in Jesus, our eternal king.
Some time after Jacob died, Joseph also approached death and called his relatives to hear this instruction.
And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” (Genesis 50:24-25)
I point this out simply because of Joseph’s acknowledgement that the Jews would remain in Egypt until God brought them back to Canaan, and Joseph indicated that by that time his remains would be just bones, e.g. a long period of time hence. We’ll see this request fulfilled when we get to Exodus, the next book in the Bible. However, first we’re going to look at Job’s story.
Job (pronounced ‘jOHb’) was a man living east of Canaan, but was probably contemporaneous with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (c. 2000 B.C.). His story may be historical, or allegorical, and is set in the canon of the Bible at the Bridgepoint between the history books and the wisdom books. The main point of Job is to provide some insight into that age-old question, “How can a good God allow suffering in His people?”
We’ll get into the details of Job’s story next week.
For Further Investigation