We are in the World Stream back in the ancient world of Genesis. We start the transition to the life of Joseph while reading with the New English Translation this week.
36 – is a pause in the Patriarch’s direct story to list the names of the people related to Esau. They become the Edomites from Edom in time. He was the first born twin before Jacob, but he was irreligious, profane, the Scriptures say he “despised” his birthright of first born and traded it for some soup! Heavens, that is like taking your great grandmother’s wedding ring to a pawn shop so you can have money to gas up your rig and go buy burgers for your buddies – Esau was not fit to lead his family and become the nation of “The Chosen People”. Where does this indiscipline lead to? : The Amalekites [v. 12] were from Esau. They were the first to attack the Israelites ca. 450 years later when they left Egypt. They also oppressed Israel during the time of the Judges that started a few generations yet later. Notice that Esau moves AWAY from his brother Jacob. This is never a smart thing to move and get away from a blessed family member. Ch. 36 is a “btw-chapter” telling of those who make a choice and put distance between themselves and God’s place of interest. Note which of the descendants are born and where they end up. Note which are born to concubines or “call-girls” if you will, and trace what those gems turn out to be doing. Whole encyclopedias of dubious activity can be traced to the names listed here in 36. Some are still troubling God’s Chosen People today. This is more than a cumbersome list. It is a chart that can answer questions that linger in the news even today.
37 – Joseph enters the scene and one of the themes of his existence is that when this boy dreams, listen to him. He understands dreams, can interpret them and even interpret them for others; their dreams. His ability saves the known world in time. Needless to say, he is a favorite and his father Jacob could have found a better way to express this sentiment but he isn’t always prudent and the colorful coat makes the other brothers jealous. They opt not to kill him but to sell him into slavery. In a couple of chapters we see why Joseph is needed in Egypt, for the sake of the known world, he goes there. There would be simpler ways to accomplish the same thing but Joseph apparently needs to be humbled before he is exalted. There’s a back story to ch. 37 and that is the one of birthright. Jacob has 12 sons and Joseph is 11th – far from being “firstborn” but he is Jacob’s favorite being the firstborn of Rachel; his father Jacob’s favorite wife. Reuben the firstborn cannot be heir because of his behavior in Gen. 35:22, Simeon and Levi are next but their killing spree in Gen. 34:25-30 removes them from this wish-list. Judah was 4th, and indeed Judah and Joseph may have been rivals. Thus Judah is actively involved in selling off Joseph into slavery. He doesn’t want to murder and disqualify himself. He just wants Joseph out of his way. So is Judah in line for the birthright? Should he be? See what the writer of Genesis tells us next to help us decide about Judahs’ character …
38 – Judah puts distance between himself and his family – never a good thing. He sees a Canaanite woman and “wants her”. He seems to live by the penchant of lust: “i see, i want, i take.” He has sons with her. He controls their lives and relationships, the daughter-in-laws’ lives and their relationships. He continues to live by his urges and thinks one of his own daughters-in-law is a prostitute. He later declares [in his false self-righteousness] that she should be executed … except she is pregnant from him and she is his own son’s widow! Crazy stuff! So due to his character, the focus of the rest of Genesis will be on Joseph, not Judah. The name of the country is “voila”/whaddayaknow, named after Judah. The tribe who attempted to be the most faithful for the longest (in a way). The line of the Messiah comes via Judah. God uses whom He will to accomplish his purposes and this should encourage all of us who wish to be used of God to bless the world.
39 – Joseph shows his sterling character against that of Judah and his other ruffian brothers in this chapter. He advances to the top of Egyptian society – as far as he can be promoted as a purchased slave. He is put upon by his boss’es wife, he resists, is then lied about and thrown in prison. God was with him. He had favor there too and rises to the top of this setting too – again, As for timeline/perspective: Joseph was born 75 years after Abraham [his g.g.father] died, and 30 years before Isaac [his g.father] died. It’s in the 19th century B.C., Joseph is 17 when he is sold as a slave. He serves for 11 years, and serves time for 2 years. He is 30 when he is made ruler (next chapter) and this happens the year that Isaac dies. So when he said goodbye to his father 13 years prior, it was his last he would see of Isaac. And he would not see anyone in his family for 13 years. More on this next week.
“Lord give us patience through what we see as setbacks. For in our heart of hearts, we know that you know what you are doing. Be very near us in the times that strengthen and shape our character. Thank you Lord for being near us no matter how we feel each day. Amen”