1441.) Genesis 50

November 10, 2014

. . . of all the beginnings of the book of Genesis.

Genesis 50   (NRSV)

Then Joseph threw himself on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him. 2Joseph commanded the physicians in his service to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel; 3they spent forty days in doing this, for that is the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days.

Jacob was mourned for 70 days among the whole nation of Egypt. A royal mourning period in Egypt was 72 days. Jacob was obviously a greatly honored man.

–David Guzik

4When the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph addressed the household of Pharaoh, “If now I have found favor with you, please speak to Pharaoh as follows: 5My father made me swear an oath; he said, ‘I am about to die. In the tomb that I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.’ Now therefore let me go up, so that I may bury my father; then I will return.”

6Pharaoh answered, “Go up, and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

7So Joseph went up to bury his father.

Luther remarks that there is no burial recorded in the Scriptures quite as honorable as this or with such wealth of detail.

With him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen. 9Both chariots and charioteers went up with him. It was a very great company.

jacobs-life-map1

10When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they held there a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he observed a time of mourning for his father seven days. 11When the Canaanite inhabitants of the land saw the mourning on the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning on the part of the Egyptians.” Therefore the place was named Abel-mizraim; it is beyond the Jordan. 12Thus his sons did for him as he had instructed them. 13They carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah, the field near Mamre, which Abraham bought as a burial site from Ephron the Hittite.

So Jacob is buried alongside Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Leah. 

14After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.

Jacob’s sons burying their father, from the “Psalter of St. Louis,” thirteenth century

Joseph Forgives His Brothers

15Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?”

16So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17‘Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.”

Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.”

19But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

Romans 8:28 (Amplified Bible)

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.

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Music:

Are we able to be so generous with those who have hurt us, so trusting in a God who sometimes takes a long time to make things right?  Oh, that I would be able to live my life in God’s grace and peace, and leave the judgment to Him!  HERE  is  “My Life Is in You, Lord.”

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Joseph’s Last Days and Death

22So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s household; and Joseph lived one hundred ten years. 23Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation; the children of Machir son of Manasseh were also born on Joseph’s knees. 24Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die; but God will surely come to you, and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

Joseph was the human agent most responsible for bringing this family to Egypt.  Yet he knew that because of the covenant God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, this would not be their resting place.  They were headed — eventually — back to Canaan.

25So Joseph made the Israelites swear, saying, “When God comes to you, you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26And Joseph died, being one hundred ten years old; he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Joseph’s remains were taken to Canaan four hundred year later, and he was buried at Shechem:

Exodus 13:19 (NIV)

Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”

Joshua 24:32 (NIV)

And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants.

Reflection:

The book of Genesis begins with Creation, the Fall, the Flood, and the origin of nations at the Tower of Babel.  Next come the wonderful stories of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and his family, and Joseph.

What have you learned as you have been “DWELLING in the Word” in Genesis?

Please write a comment below!

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
neon sign.  http://savetherobot.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/the-end.jpg
map.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/jacobs-life-map1.jpg?w=434&h=320
Jacob’s burial.  http://www.biblepicturegallery.com/Thumbs/pa/Stories/bk_moses/jacob/Jacobs%20corpse%20being%20laid%20in%20a%20tomb%20by%20his%20twelve%20.jpg
Egyptian coffin.  http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhistorysources/unpacking/Resources/mumprnt.jpg
cartoon.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/genesis-cartoon.jpg?w=450

1440.) Genesis 49

November 7, 2014

Genesis 49  (NRSV)

Jacob’s Last Words to His Sons

Then Jacob called his sons, and said: “Gather around, that I may tell you what will happen to you in days to come. 2Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob; listen to Israel your father.

Some of these are not so much “blessings” as they are prophecies regarding what God will do with these tribes in the future.

–all comments from David Guzik

3Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the first fruits of my vigor, excelling in rank and excelling in power. 4Unstable as water, you shall no longer excel because you went up onto your father’s bed; then you defiled it—you went up onto my couch!

Reuben’s immorality with his father’s concubine Bilhah (the mother of his brothers Dan and Naphtali) is recorded in Genesis 35:22.

. . .

5Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords. 6May I never come into their council; may I not be joined to their company— for in their anger they killed men, and at their whim they hamstrung oxen. 7Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

The second-born son Simeon and the third-born son Levi received the same “blessing” for the same evil deed. They were instruments of cruelty when they wiped out all the men of Shechem in retaliation for the rape of their sister Dinah (Genesis 34:25-29).

. . .

8Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. 9Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches down, he stretches out like a lion, like a lioness—who dares rouse him up? 10The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and the obedience of the peoples is his.

The “leadership” prophecy took some 640 years to fulfill in part (with the reign of David, first of Judah’s dynasty of kings), and some 1600 years to fulfill in Jesus.

11Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he washes his garments in wine and his robe in the blood of grapes; 12his eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk.

Revelation 5:4-5 (New International Version)

I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

. . .

13Zebulun shall settle at the shore of the sea; he shall be a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon.

The tribe of Zebulun seems to settle the piece of land sitting between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee. Literally, shall dwell by the haven of the sea can be rendered “looking towards the sea.” Zebulun did look to the sea, both to the East and West.

. . .

14Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between the sheepfolds; 15he saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant; so he bowed his shoulder to the burden, and became a slave at forced labor.

Issachar was a large tribe – third in size according to the Numbers 26 census. Because of their size and abundance, they were often targets of oppressive foreign armies who put them into servitude. Thus, they became a band of slaves.

. . .

16Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. 17Dan shall be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider falls backward.

The tribe of Dan did judge his people. They supplied one of the most prominent of the Judges, Samson (Judges 13:2).  But Dan was a troublesome tribe. They introduced idolatry into Israel (Judges 18:30). Jeroboam set up one of his idolatrous golden calves in Dan (1 Kings 12:26-30) and later Dan became a center of idol worship in Israel (Amos 8:14).

. . .

18I wait for your salvation, O Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:9   (NRSV)

For God has destined us . . .  for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

19Gad shall be raided by raiders, but he shall raid at their heels.

The tribe of Gad supplied many fine troops for David (1 Chronicles 12:14).

. . .

20Asher’s food shall be rich, and he shall provide royal delicacies.

In Deuteronomy 33:24, Moses again took up this prophecy regarding Asher: Asher is most blessed of sons; let him be favored by his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil.

. . .

21Naphtali is a doe let loose that bears lovely fawns.

Naphtali’s land was in a key portion near the Sea of Galilee, the region where Jesus did much of His teaching and ministry.

Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned” (Matthew 4:12-16).

. . .

22Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. 23The archers fiercely attacked him; they shot at him and pressed him hard. 24Yet his bow remained taut, and his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, 25by the God of your father, who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. 26The blessings of your father are stronger than the blessings of the eternal mountains, the bounties of the everlasting hills; may they be on the head of Joseph, on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.

In his words about Joseph, Jacob listed five great titles for God. These titles show that Jacob did come to an understanding of who God is.

  • The Mighty God of Jacob
  • The Shepherd
  • The Stone of Israel
  • The God of your father
  • The Almighty

. . .

27Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey, and at evening dividing the spoil.”

This was the tribe with a reputation for fierceness. To see the great extent of this, look at Ehud (Judges 3:15-23), Saul (1 Samuel 9:1, 14:47-52), and Paul (Acts 8:1-3). The cruelty of the tribe in general is seen in Judges 19 and 20.

. . .

28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, blessing each one of them with a suitable blessing.

Jacob’s Death and Burial

29Then he charged them, saying to them, “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my ancestors—in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30in the cave in the field at Machpelah, near Mamre, in the land of Canaan, in the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a burial site. 31There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried; there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried; and there I buried Leah— 32the field and the cave that is in it were purchased from the Hittites.” 33When Jacob ended his charge to his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

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Words:

HERE  is a set of instructions for blessing your children in the Jewish way.  “Blessing Your Children”  by Rabbi Wyne.

Music:

“Day by Day”  by Carolina Sandell Berg (1832-1903), the “Fannie Crosby of Sweden.”  She wrote this hymn shortly after she witnessed the death of her father in a boating accident.   Sung by the Antrim Mennonite Choir from Antrim, Ohio.  (This video is a slow starter; the music doesn’t begin until you are 17 seconds in.)


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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Last will and testament.   http://www.jbmartinlaw.com/Portals/64616/images/iStock_000001424212XSmall-resized-600.jpg
water drop.    http://realitypod.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Aquagenic-Urticaria.jpg
sword.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/viking_sword_01.jpg
lion.  http://www.itsnature.org/Ground/images/article-pics/African_Lion.jpg
ship.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/guernsey/content/images/2004/07/27/cog_ship_203x152.jpg
donkey.  http://edwardkhoo.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/donkey.png
snake.    http://www.naturephoto-cz.com/photos/others/grass-snake-32959.jpg
raider logo (haha).   http://content.sportslogos.net/logos/7/585/full/2341.gif
cupcakes.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/cupcake1.png
doe with fawn.     http://www.garyengbergoutdoors.com/blog/wp-content/deer-doe-with-fawn.jpg
grapes on vine.  http://www.northforknaturals.com/images/large/wine-country/webgrapes362.jpg
wolf.    http://www.yellowstonewolf.com/Wolf1.jpg

1439.) Genesis 48

November 6, 2014

“Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Children” by Shoshanna Brombacher, 2008

Genesis 48   (NRSV)

Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Sons

After this Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. 2When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” he summoned his strength and sat up in bed.

3And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and he blessed me, 4and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers; I will make of you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your offspring after you for a perpetual holding.’ 5Therefore your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are now mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are.

Jacob’s adoption of Manasseh and Ephraim explains why there is some confusion about the 12 tribes and why they are often listed in different combinations.  Because of this adoption, there are actually 13 sons of Israel.  The 12 were born, but Joseph was divided into two tribes.  Therefore as the tribes are listed through the Old Testament, they can be juggled and still remain 12 tribes.  There are more than 20 different ways of listing the tribes in the Old Testament.

–David Guzik

6As for the offspring born to you after them, they shall be yours. They shall be recorded under the names of their brothers with regard to their inheritance. 7For when I came from Paddan, Rachel, alas, died in the land of Canaan on the way, while there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

8When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?”

9Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.”

And he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.”

10Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, and he could not see well. So Joseph brought them near him; and he kissed them and embraced them. 11Israel said to Joseph, “I did not expect to see your face; and here God has let me see your children also.”

12Then Joseph removed them from his father’s knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. 13Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them near him. 14But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands, for Manasseh was the firstborn.

“Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Sons” by graphic artist Duncan Long.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Genesis 48:14 (KJV) — And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.

Psalm 78:72 (KJV) — So he . . . guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.

“Guiding his hands wittingly.”  Do we ever read this story without thinking of the mean and faithless scheming of Genesis 27 (when Jacob, as he was then known, disguised himself to steal the blessing meant for Esau)?  Israel must have thought of it.  He must have felt humbly and sorrowfully how needless it all was.

There is a wonderful sense of release when we understand that we need never plan for ourselves, never try to twist circumstances so that our wishes shall come to pass.  We have only one thing to do, such a happy, peaceful thing that we can never be glad enough and grateful enough for it.  We have only to commit ourselves and our ways to Him who guides us by the skillfulness of His Hands.

15He blessed Joseph, and said, “The God before whom my ancestors Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, 16the angel who has redeemed me from all harm, bless the boys; and in them let my name be perpetuated, and the name of my ancestors Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude on the earth.”

"Jacob Blessing Ephraim and Manasseh"  by American artist Benjamin West, 1768 (Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio)

“Jacob Blessing Ephraim and Manasseh” by American artist Benjamin West, 1768 (Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio)

Hear Jacob proclaiming his faith!  His life is not the accumulation of his successes, but of the Lord’s faithfulness to him.

17When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father! Since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.”

“Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Sons” by Rembrandt, 1656 (Kassel, Germany)

19But his father refused, and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” 20So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will invoke blessings, saying, ‘God make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh.’“ So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. 21Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your ancestors.

This completes a wonderful work regarding Jacob’s recognition of God’s presence his life.

  • I am with you (Genesis 28:15): God gives the young believer every possible assurance of His presence and grace
  • I will be with you (Genesis 31:3): God expects the growing believer to trust He will be with us, even when we only have the promise of His presence
  • God . . . has been with me (Genesis 31:5): God gives a glorious testimony to the mature believer, able to say how God has been with us, even when we haven’t felt His presence in the way we wished
  • God will be with you (Genesis 48:21): God gives the mature believer the opportunity to encourage others with the promise of God’s presence

–David Guzik

22I now give to you one portion more than to your brothers, the portion that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”

The promise of another inheritance,
from 1 Peter 1:3-6 (New Living Translation)

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,  and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.  And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

So be truly glad.

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Music:

I love the idea of blessing our children and grandchildren, as we have seen Abraham and Isaac and Jacob do in these stories of Genesis.  Of course, we often ask God to bless us — yet it will be our great joy in heaven to bless God!  HERE  Phillips, Craig & Dean sing “When The Stars Burn Down (Blessing and Honor).”

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Brombacher.   http://www.chabad.org/media/images/255/ANJh2556075.jp
Long.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/48-jacob-jos-sons-duncanlong71.jpg?w=450
West.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Jacob_Blessing_Ephraim_and_Manasseh,_by_Benjamin_West.jpg
Rembrandt.  http://liberty92.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/jacob_blessing_the_children_of_joseph-rembrandt1.jpg

1438.) Genesis 47

November 5, 2014

Did Jacob take a trip to see the pyramids? Some of them were already several centuries old.

Genesis 47   (NRSV)

So Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and my brothers, with their flocks and herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan; they are now in the land of Goshen.” 2From among his brothers he took five men and presented them to Pharaoh.

3Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?”

And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, as our ancestors were.” 4They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to reside as aliens in the land; for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks because the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, we ask you, let your servants settle in the land of Goshen.”

5Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6The land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land; let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know that there are capable men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”

Jacob blesses Pharaoh

7Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob, and presented him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

8Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the years of your life?”

9Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my earthly sojourn are one hundred thirty; few and hard have been the years of my life. They do not compare with the years of the life of my ancestors during their long sojourn.” 10Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from the presence of Pharaoh.

I find it interesting that Pharaoh, himself considered a god, would accept a blessing via Jacob of another God.

11Joseph settled his father and his brothers, and granted them a holding in the land of Egypt, in the best part of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had instructed. 12And Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their dependents.

The Famine in Egypt

Joseph buys all the money, land, and people under Pharaoh in exchange for food.  He makes them slaves of Pharaoh!  Yet the people of Egypt regard Joseph not as a tyrant, but as a savior. 

“What is a man’s life worth?” Jesus asked . . .

13Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe. The land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. 14Joseph collected all the money to be found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. 15When the money from the land of Egypt and from the land of Canaan was spent, all the Egyptians came to Joseph, and said, “Give us food! Why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone.”

16And Joseph answered, “Give me your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock, if your money is gone.” 17So they brought their livestock to Joseph; and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys. That year he supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock.

18When that year was ended, they came to him the following year, and said to him, “We can not hide from my lord that our money is all spent; and the herds of cattle are my lord’s. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. 19Shall we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land in exchange for food. We with our land will become slaves to Pharaoh; just give us seed, so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”

. . . When I was a child, we sometimes visited my uncle and his family in Chicago for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  He was a surgeon, and always the house was filled with many very large bouquets of flowers and several huge gift baskets of food.  When I asked my mother why these things were there (such gifts did not show up at our house!), she told me that my uncle had saved these people’s lives with his medical work, and how do you say “Thank you” for getting your life back?  A bouquet of flowers is a small thing in comparison.

This memory has come back to me many times, and I think — Who has saved my/your life, not just for a few human years, but for all eternity?  How are we saying “Thank you” to the Lord?

20So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. All the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe upon them; and the land became Pharaoh’s. 21As for the people, he made slaves of them from one end of Egypt to the other. 22Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had a fixed allowance from Pharaoh, and lived on the allowance that Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their land.

23Then Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh, here is seed for you; sow the land. 24And at the harvests you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh, and four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.”

25They said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be slaves to Pharaoh.”

Romans 6:22 (Today’s New International Version)

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

26So Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt, and it stands to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth. The land of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh’s.

The Last Days of Jacob

27Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the region of Goshen; and they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied exceedingly. 28Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were one hundred forty-seven years. 29When the time of Israel’s death drew near, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor with you, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal loyally and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt. 30When I lie down with my ancestors, carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.”

Jacob knew Egypt was not his home.  He belonged in the land promised to him and his descendants and he wanted to be buried in the tomb there with his parents and grandparents.  He believed and understood he was the inheritor of Abraham’s covenant.

He answered, “I will do as you have said.”

31And he said, “Swear to me”; and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself on the head of his bed.

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Music:

Egypt was not Jacob’s home.  The earth is not our home.  This is not where we belong!

David’s daughter Sarah and her two daughters belted this song out for us while we were at the beach together a couple years ago!  Imagine a 6 year old and a 3 year old singing this song — loudly and with actions!

How can I not love it with their version in my head?!  HERE  is “Where I Belong”  by Building 429.

from Wikipedia:  Building 429 is a Christian rock band signed to Essential Records.  They were the Gospel Music Association 2005 New Artist of the Year.  Their name is derived from a Biblical passage known as Ephesians 4:29, which, in the New International Version of the Bible, reads as follows: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
pyramid in Egypt.    http://travel.smart-guide.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Pyramids-of-Egypt.jpg
Jacob blesses Pharaoh.      http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2005/images/jacob_pharaoh.jpg

1437.) Genesis 46

November 4, 2014
Jacob and his whole family move to Egypt to be with Joseph.

Jacob and his whole family move to Egypt to be with Joseph.

Genesis 46   (NRSV)

Jacob Brings His Whole Family to Egypt

When Israel set out on his journey with all that he had and came to Beer-sheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.”

3Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. 4I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again; and Joseph’s own hand shall close your eyes.”

Reflection:

Are you worried about your future?  Do you feel anxious while facing the unclear and unknown?  The promise God made to Jacob is also meant for you.  Take heart and believe the Lord:  “Do not be afraid, (insert your name here), for I am God. I have good plans for you. I myself will go with you wherever you go, and even death cannot separate you from my love.”

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Music:

HERE  is a song that speaks to the divine providence of God.  “God will make a way where there seems to be no way”  by Don Moen is a very encouraging song!

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5Then Jacob set out from Beer-sheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him. 6They also took their livestock and the goods that they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and they came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him, 7his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters; all his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.

Designs on this tapestry symbolize the sons of Jacob and their tribes.

Designs on this tapestry symbolize the sons of Jacob and their tribes.

8Now these are the names of the Israelites, Jacob and his offspring, who came to Egypt.

Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, 9and the children of Reuben: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi.

10The children of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman.

11The children of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

12The children of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan); and the children of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.

13The children of Issachar: Tola, Puvah, Jashub, and Shimron.

14The children of Zebulun: Sered, Elon, and Jahleel 15(these are the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, together with his daughter Dinah; in all his sons and his daughters numbered thirty-three).

16The children of Gad: Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli.

17The children of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and their sister Serah. The children of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel 18(these are the children of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Leah; and these she bore to Jacob—sixteen persons).

19The children of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 20To Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him.

21The children of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard 22(these are the children of Rachel, who were born to Jacob—fourteen persons in all).

23The children of Dan: Hashum.

24The children of Naphtali: Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem 25(these are the children of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Rachel, and these she bore to Jacob—seven persons in all).

“Jacob and His Family Entering Egypt” by Willem Reuter (The Iraq Museum, Baghdad)

26All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his own offspring, not including the wives of his sons, were sixty-six persons in all. 27The children of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two; all the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.

Jacob Settles in Goshen

28Israel sent Judah ahead to Joseph to lead the way before him into Goshen. When they came to the land of Goshen, 29Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen. He presented himself to him, fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.

Joseph is reunited with his father, Jacob. What a reunion that must have been!

30Israel said to Joseph, “I can die now, having seen for myself that you are still alive.”

31Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32The men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.’

33When Pharaoh calls you, and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our ancestors’ —in order that you may settle in the land of Goshen, because all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians.”

Remember the musical Oklahoma?  Well, the Egyptians are the farmers, and the Hebrews are the ranchers, and at this place and this time, they can’t be friends!

John 10:14-15 (English Standard Version)

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jacob moves to Egypt.    http://www.torahfamilyliving.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/01046001-RLW-Genesis-46-1-Jacob-moves-to-Egypt-to-be-with-Joseph.jpg
Twelve Tribes tapestry.   http://www.judaicaheirlooms.com/gallery/2/12tribes.jpg
Reuter.  http://wwwdelivery.superstock.com/Image/866/PreviewComp/SuperStock_866-4829.jpg
Joseph is reunited with Jacob and his brothers.    http://sprngoflfe.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/joseph027.jpg?w=432
sheep and shepherd.    http://bibledaily.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/shepherd-sheep.jpg

1436.) Genesis 45

November 3, 2014

“The Recognition of Joseph by his Brothers” fresco by Peter Cornelius, 1816 (Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

Genesis 45   (NRSV)

Joseph Reveals Himself to His Brothers

Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it.

3Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

Because of the punishment they anticipated, the great emotion of Joseph, and the total shock of learning Joseph was not only alive but right in front of them, the brothers were dismayed.  The ancient Hebrew word for dismayed (bahal) actually means, “amazed” or “frightened” or even “terrified.”

David Guzik

4Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.

All Joseph’s sorrows were for a purpose.  God used them to preserve his family and provide the conditions for it to become a nation.  Joseph was a victim of men, but God turned it around for His glory.   And remember, if this family does not go into Egypt, then they assimilate among the pagan tribes of the Promised Land and cease to become a distinctive people.  God had to put them in a place where they could grow in numbers, yet stay a distinctive nation.

–David Guzik

8″So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 10You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’

12“And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. 13You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” 14Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.

What a touching scene!  I think of Odysseus telling Telemachus, “I am your father.”  I think of children welcoming home their father or mother from war in a distant land.  I think of Jesus telling the woman at the well, “I am the Messiah.”  Suddenly the world is turned right side up!  Wonder and joy!

What meeting or reunion are you longing for?  Remember, “Nothing is impossible with God”  (Luke 1:37).

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Music:

HERE  is such a warm and friendly song!  “It’s Always Better When We’re Together” by Jack Johnson.

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16When the report was heard in Pharaoh’s house, “Joseph’s brothers have come,” Pharaoh and his servants were pleased. 17Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your animals and go back to the land of Canaan. 18Take your father and your households and come to me, so that I may give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you may enjoy the fat of the land.’

19″You are further charged to say, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. 20Give no thought to your possessions, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’“

Psalm 37:18-19 (New International Version)

The days of the blameless are known to the LORD,
and their inheritance will endure forever.

In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

21The sons of Israel did so. Joseph gave them wagons according to the instruction of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey. 22To each one of them he gave a set of garments; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five sets of garments. 23To his father he sent the following: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provision for his father on the journey. 24Then he sent his brothers on their way, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Do not quarrel along the way.”

25So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26And they told him, “Joseph is still alive! He is even ruler over all the land of Egypt.” He was stunned; he could not believe them. 27But when they told him all the words of Joseph that he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28Israel said, “Enough! My son Joseph is still alive. I must go and see him before I die.”

Luke 15:22-24 (New International Version)

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Cornelius.  http://www.wga.hu/art/c/corneliu/fresco2.jpg
Joseph hugs his brother.    http://www.bibleexplained.com/moses/Gene/Joseph-bro.jpg
“The Prodigal Son” by Liz Lemon Swindle.   http://www.artprints.com/images/ARTISTS/142-swindle/large/ls00033.jpg

1435.) Genesis 44

October 31, 2014

“Joseph’s cup is found in Benjamin’s sack” by New York-based Dutch artist Shoshanna Brombacher, 2008

Genesis 44   (NRSV)

Joseph Detains Benjamin

Then he commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the top of his sack. 2Put my cup, the silver cup, in the top of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him.

Joseph’s silver cup is reinterpreted as a chalice for the blood of Christ at Holy Communion.

3As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. 4When they had gone only a short distance from the city, Joseph said to his steward, “Go, follow after the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you returned evil for good? Why have you stolen my silver cup? 5Is it not from this that my lord drinks? Does he not indeed use it for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.’“

6When he overtook them, he repeated these words to them. 7They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants that they should do such a thing! 8Look, the money that we found at the top of our sacks, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan; why then would we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? 9Should it be found with any one of your servants, let him die; moreover the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”

The brothers confidently stated they they did not have the cup. This shows that they had a healthy trust in each other. If they did not trust each other they would have immediately wondered which brother stole the cup.  They were so confident they did not have the cup (and trusted each other so much), they declared the thief should be killed and all the others taken as slaves.

–David Guzik

10He said, “Even so; in accordance with your words, let it be: he with whom it is found shall become my slave, but the rest of you shall go free.”

11Then each one quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack. 12He searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.

“Joseph’s Brothers Find the Silver Goblet in Benjamin’s Sack” by Alexander Ivanov, 1861 (Tretjakov Gallery, Moscow)

13At this they tore their clothes. Then each one loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.

When Joseph was taken as a slave, the brothers allowed him to go and thought nothing of it.  Now they are willing to stand with Benjamin as he faces slavery or death. This demonstrates a significant change in the hearts and attitudes of Joseph’s brothers.

14Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house while he was still there; and they fell to the ground before him. 15Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that one such as I can practice divination?”

16And Judah said, “What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? How can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; here we are then, my lord’s slaves, both we and also the one in whose possession the cup has been found.”

With these words, Judah revealed God’s work among the brothers. In Judah’s mind, the brothers are now destined to live the rest of their lives as slaves in Egypt because they sold Joseph as a slave some 20 years before.

17But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the one in whose possession the cup was found shall be my slave; but as for you, go up in peace to your father.”

Judah Pleads for Benjamin’s Release

18Then Judah stepped up to him and said,

Donald Gray Barnhouse (pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA from 1927 to 1960) called this speech of Judah  “the most moving address in all the Word of God.”

“O my lord, let your servant please speak a word in my lord’s ears, and do not be angry with your servant; for you are like Pharaoh himself. 19My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ 20And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age. His brother is dead; he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’

21″Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, so that I may set my eyes on him.’ 22We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ 23Then you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.’ 24When we went back to your servant my father we told him the words of my lord.

25″And when our father said, ‘Go again, buy us a little food,’ 26we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother goes with us, will we go down; for we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons; 28one left me, and I said, Surely he has been torn to pieces; and I have never seen him since. 29If you take this one also from me, and harm comes to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in sorrow to Sheol.’

“Jacob caressing Benjamin” by Rembrandt

30″Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, 31when he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die; and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. 32For your servant became surety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame in the sight of my father all my life.’ 33Now therefore, please let your servant remain as a slave to my lord in place of the boy; and let the boy go back with his brothers. 34For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the suffering that would come upon my father.”

Judah shines forth as one willing to be a substitutionary sacrifice out of love for his father and for his brothers.  Remember, Judah was the one who suggested selling Joseph 20 years earlier (Genesis 37:26-27).  Here he willingly offers to lay down his life for his brother.

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Music:

HERE  is “Have Mercy on Me, O Lord God,” by Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV 721), played by American organ virtuoso Carlo Curley.   The music almost sounds like a beating heart — “Have mercy, Lord, my sin forgive, for Thy long-suffering is great!”

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from John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible:

Now, had Joseph been, as Judah supposed, an utter stranger to the family, yet even common humanity could not but be wrought upon by such powerful reasonings as these;  for nothing could be said more moving, more tender;  it was enough to melt a heart of stone:  but to Joseph, who was nearer a-kin to Benjamin than Judah himself, and who, at this time, felt a greater passion for him and his aged father, than Judah did, nothing could be more pleasingly nor more happily said.  Neither Jacob nor Benjamin needed an intercessor with Joseph, for he himself loved them.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Brombacher.  http://www.chabad.org/media/images/255/OmsD2556072.jpg
silver chalice.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/chalice.png?w=348&h=633
Ivanov.    http://static.artbible.info/large/jozef_beker.jpg
Judah pleads for Benjamin’s release.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/36-judah-pleads-for-ben.gif?w=450
Rembrandt.   http://www.stanfieldfineart.com/common/imgpiece.php?galleryId=18C5-ECFH-6E59&titleId=2270&whichimage=1