Genesis 43

The Return to Egypt

In the last chapter Israel alias Jacob was adamant in sending his last born, Benjamin with the other brothers to Egypt. They give him an ultimatum, either he releases the boy or all of them die from the famine. One of his sons, Judah, puts his life on the line and promises their old man that he will be responsible for Benjamin.

Am a little confused here though, if they are buying food from Egypt because of famine, where do they get honey, almonds and nuts to present to Joseph as presents? Israel’s family must be wasteful even in a great famine. They have finished all the food and have to go back so soon? What if there is no more and what year of the famine are we in? Someone help with that piece of detail, I think I must have missed it some where.

I will just mention that even during this second meeting, the brothers still don’t recognize Joseph.

There is a parallel I’d like to draw here with one of the Lukan parables in the NT, the parable of the prodigal son. In the NT, after meeting his son, the father orders a feast in honor of his son and asks that he be dressed in a clean robe and so on, here Joseph after seeing his brother Benjamin, issues a directive that a feast be made for his brothers and they be given water to wash their feet and Simeon, their brother who was in custody is released. Someone could object that am stretching the semblance here, but we all agree the structure is the same! And if we accept the structure to be the same, then we can as well conclude one is a re-harsh of the other and we all know which came first!

A section of this story also doesn’t add up. If it is an abomination for Egyptians to eat with Hebrews, then the Pharaoh’s appointment of Joseph as governor would have been met with great opposition and the other top ranking officials would have planned to undermine him in all ways possible. And since we are not told some thing of this kind happened, we can dismiss the whole story as a fabrication or a misrepresentation of facts.

The chapter ends on a party mode. We will see in the next chapter how the party ends. Stay tuned, don’t go away!

Joseph and his brothers. Artist Anton Franz Maulbertsch

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Genesis 42

Joseph’s Brothers Sent to Egypt

We are no longer dealing with dreams, though the story is getting more interesting as we go along. In this chapter, which is quite long, Israel/ Jacob sends 10 of his sons to Egypt having heard there is food in Egypt.

Joseph sees his brothers, recognizes them and has a bitter exchange with them and all the while they do not recognize him. I don’t know if it is possible, I will let the reader decide, that 10 brothers couldn’t recognize their brother and we have not been told he wore disguise or had his face and voice altered surgically.

Joseph taking advantage of their ignorance, I shall call it so, harangues them before detaining his brother Simon and sending the rest with grains back home and their silver which they only discover while they are on their way. The workers under Joseph would protest the order to return the silver to these 10. There is no such protest!

I have said before concerning the scribes who wrote the bible stories, the ones we have met so far, that they were ignorant of the world around them. They write here there was famine in every other place except Egypt where the Pharaoh under the wise counsel of Joseph had the Egyptians store food. This my friends, I don’t think makes any sense. If there is a world famine for seven days and there is food in just one place, there would be disaster. The Egyptians would be fighting to get the food, foreigners would wage war just to get the food. There would be massive loss of life and destruction of property and this at least could not have passed unrecorded by historians of the time!

Besides, if the famine was worldwide as the scribes would want us believe,how is it then we have no Chinese or Indians or any other civilizations already present mention such a devastating famine?

Their father refuses to let them go back with Benjamin as the chapter closes, we will see what happens when we get to the next chapter! Stay tuned.

Joseph selling grain in Egypt. Painting by Jan van Noordt

 

 

Genesis 41

Pharaoh’s Dream

We are still in the theme of dreams and the scribes have gone a notch higher in the content and dreamer. The dreamer is Pharaoh and there is no one to interpret his dreams for him. The scribes have also improved their game, even though the dreamer is one, he has two dreams similar in structure but different only in detail.

The scribes here however seem to have missed the point in the last chapter that Joseph is the head honcho at the prison and enjoys the favours of the wardens so must have been well taken care of.  This being the case, the matter of Joseph having to shave and shower shouldn’t really arise.

Things turn out good for Joseph for the services he renders the Pharaoh. He is made second in command and rides with the Pharaoh. He is also given a wife and with whom he has two sons. All men in Egypt are to bow before him a parallel that we can make of Jesus being second to god and all bowing to him.

The problem that I have with this story however is that at the beginning of the Egyptian civilization they lived along the flood plains of the Nile River and so it is impossible to imagine a drought of 7 years. What happened to the river? Did it dry up and is there any evidence that would support the drying of Nile for 7 years in the last 2000 or so years? Any geologists please help.

Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream. Painting by Tissot

Genesis 40

Joseph Interprets a Dream

In this chapter, we are transported straight to dreamland and their interpretations. We have two guys; one the Pharaoh’s baker and the other cup-bearer joining Joseph in gulag where he[Joseph] is still head honcho. These two new prisoners, who are in prison for reasons that are unclear to me, both dream. Their dreams are similar in structure and differ only in detail and as such I find a difficulty in understanding why the interpretations are different. Joseph tells them that interpretations belong to god but goes ahead to do it. Is he god?

I don’t know about you, but there is no way I can have a long face for dreaming about vines, wines, grapes and so on. Or for that matter dreaming about bread baskets. If having such a dream gives you the freaks, you need help. And it is these two dreams that the two gentlemen had, wore long faces and Joseph set to interpret. Since the two men have no names, we can as well say they are cardboard characters, mentioned only for effect.

What I want us to pay attention to however, is from 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: the three branches are three days; 13 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you will put Pharaoh’s cup into his hand according to your former custom when you were his cup-bearer. 14 Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. The reason this is important if you haven’t noticed is similar to what happens in the new testament in the story of Jesus. The three days represent the 3 days he is said to have died while the second part is the words of one of the guys nailed with him who asked to be remembered when he goes to the house of the father.

The next dream also has a similar import. I will just show the interpretation by Joseph and I hope you will be able to draw parallels with the new testament stories. 18 Then Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; 19 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh off you.”

I also need to mention another important parallel in this story that the writers of the gospel stories could have made use of since by now me and you are aware that they could have access to the OT material, the Torah and other Hebrew text. And this is it, apart from the 3 days that are very symbolic is the people arrested one is cup-bearer and another baker. In the NT, Jesus asks his disciples to take wine and drink as a symbol of his blood for the forgiveness of sins and bread as his flesh. In fact, we can say confidently that the scribes creating the mythical Jesus could have given these and other stories as we shall see flesh to make him credible.

The only difference however as I can see is that the cup-bearer doesn’t remember Joseph.

Joseph interprets dreams painting adapted from lavistachurchofchrist.org