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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Genesis 46. Jisrael, You'll all be saying it.

Genesis 46.

1 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

 Israel again? I thought we'd reverted to Jacob. Either way, he's journeyed to Beersheba, where Abraham discarded a son and Isaac spoke to God. Is Israel expecting an audience with God?

2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

 Well if he was he was right, or sort of, is "visions of the night" just a euphemism for "dreams". Did Israel walk all the way to Beersheba, expecting to speak with God because he heard stories from Isaac that he had done the same only to have his expectation met in a dream? If you've been thinking about something all day, you're pretty much guaranteed to dream about it. Ah well, let's see what God has to say for himself.

3 And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:

 First God has to clarify which God he is. Wait a minute! With the addition of the Egypt bit, this is exactly the same message he gave to Isaac while he was at Beersheba, again finding the need to explain that he is the 'God of his father', specifically identifying himself as one of many potential gods that could be speaking.

4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

 Israel is going to have a travelling companion. I'm guessing that God isn't omnipresent yet then? Israel and Isaac before him had to go specifically to Beersheba to talk to him and apparently in order to have a presence in Egypt, God is going to have to go with Israel. Will he no longer be present at Beersheba? And what's with the eye thing?

5 And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

 ...

6 And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:

 ...

7 His sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.

 Right, so a whole lot of people then. By my calculations the journey will have been almost a month.

8 And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn.

 Great, more generations. Will we have ages that we can extrapolate dates from?

9 And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.

 No! No ages, oh well. Perhaps we should count how many people embark upon this epic journey.

 Reuben plus children equals five. Note this is five males, it specifically said above that wives and daughters were on this jaunt but none are named

10 And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman.

 Adding Simeon plus his children equals twelve. It does mention a Canaanitish woman here but I think I have to resign myself to counting only males. Counting women and girls would be pure conjecture at this point and it has become pretty clear that this book doesn't place any value on either.

11 And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

 The comparatively unproductive Levi adds three sons and himself bringing us to sixteen.

12 And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zerah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul.

 Judah and his offspring then. Well, Er and Onan died back in Genesis 38 so they're not coming. There's Shelah, Pharez and Zerar and Pharez's boys which brings us to twenty-two.

13 And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.

 twenty-seven.

14 And the sons of Zebulun; Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel.

 thirty-one.

15 These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three.

 Oh, so the author has counted them for me. OK, So with Dinah that's thirty-two which leaves us one short and I've counted them over and over. Who are we missing?

 OK let's sort this out.

 Reuben 1
   Hanoch 2
   Phallu 3
   Hezron 4
   Carmi 5

 Simeon 6
   Jemuel 7
   Jamin 8
   Ohad 9
   Jachin 10
   Zohar 11
   Shaul 12

 Levi 13
   Gershon 14
   Kohath 15
   Merari 16

 Judah 17
   Shelah 18
   Pharez 19
     Hezron 20
Hamul 21
   Zerah 22

 Issachar 23
   Tola 24
   Phuvah 25
   Job 26
   Shimron 27

 Zebulun 28
   Sered 29
   Elon 30
   Jahleel 31

 Dinah 32

 No. Definitely one missing. Oh well, let's move on and I'll stick with my count rather than rely on the author.


16 And the sons of Gad; Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.

 Forty.

17 And the sons of Asher; Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber, and Malchiel.

 Forty-eight.

18 These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.

 I concur. That is sixteen more people.

19 The sons of Rachel Jacob's wife; Joseph, and Benjamin.

 OK, so Joseph is already there so we can't count him. Benjamin makes forty-nine and Jacob/Israel makes fifty people that the author thought worth a mention.

20 And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.

 We're going a bit off-narrative now, this started as list of people who Israel brought with him but I think we're just counting up his descendants now. 

21 And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.

 Wait! Benjamin has sons!? this is very clumsily put together but no one can deny that Benjamin's sons get to come on the trip so let's keep counting.

 We've already counted Benjamin so adding ten sons equals sixty.

22 These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen.

 Agreed, but some of them aren't on this trip.

23 And the sons of Dan; Hushim.

 Sixty-two.

24 And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.

 Sixty-seven.

25 These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls were seven.

 No argument here.

26 All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six;

 I make it Sixty-seven, so without Jacob/Israel that is indeed threescore and six. Given that we are in agreement now, where or who was that extra person back in verse fifteen?

27 And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

 Agreed, Including Joseph and his children, we have seventy people.

28 And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.

 Having gotten almost all the way to the part fo Egypt in which Joseph lives 'Jisrael' (It's just easier this way) and his sixty-six family members stop in Goshen. Jisrael instructs Judah to go and get Joseph.

29 And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.

 Joseph arrives in Goshen and an emotional reunion occurs.

30 And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.

 I suppose that's the usual dramatic response, I'm so happy that I could die. Is this the first recorded instance of that sentiment?

31 And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father's house, I will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father's house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;

 Having reunited with his family, Joseph is going to report back to Pharaoh with the happy news.

32 And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.

 He's going to tell Pharaoh that his family are shepherds.

33 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?

 ...

34 That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

 He instructs his family that when asked they are to tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds. The apparent reason being that they want to stay and live in Goshen and not move further into Egypt and that Pharaoh will grant this because, and I'm not sure how this is possible, all shepherds are an abomination unto the Egyptians. An abomination? Now I know the Ancient Egyptians ate goat, lamb and mutton but how did they come by it if shepherd are an abomination. I could understand if they were swineherds.

What have we learned from Genesis 46?


  •  We've learned the size of Jisrael's family - excluding any wives or potential granddaughters.. or servants, handmaidens or dare I say slaves? basically we have no idea how big the tribe that moved from Canaan to Egypt was.
  •  We've learned that the narrator cannot decide between Jacob or Israel and I've learned that Jisrael is a handy shorthand.
  •  I think we can say that we've learned that God lived in Beersheba but has moved with his friend Jisrael to Egypt.
  •  We've learned that while enjoying goat, lamb and mutton, the Egyptians consider shepherds an abomination.
  •  Let us also not forget that we've learned that the author cannot count.


 Right, The tribe of Jisrael have made it to Egypt, can we move on now? Let's find out in Genesis 47.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Genesis 45. Go get your father (Endorsed by Pharaoh).

Genesis 45.

1 Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.

 Finally, the charade is over. Let's move on.

2 And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.

 He wept loudly then, I'm not sure if it is significant that the Egyptians heard him or just that he was loud. I'm guessing it shouldn't matter that the Egyptians hear his cries as they already know who he is, it is only his brothers who he has hidden his true identity from.

3 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.

 "doth my father yet live?" Judah just told you in the last chapter that he does, just four verses ago. Pay attention Joseph.

4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.

 This should prove to be a difficult reunion. Sure, they sold him into slavery but he just spent what I calculate to be about the last two years being properly unpleasant to them and imprisoning some of them. I don't think either party has the moral high ground in this situation.

5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

 If what Joseph says is true and God is responsible for them selling him into slavery then why has he been messing with them (messing with might be a bit of an understatement.)? Also, I think that Joseph is suggesting that the whole slavery, false accusation and imprisonment scenario was engineered by God to place him in charge of Egypt so that he could make sure that the Egyptians weathered the famine. It doesn't seem consistent with the character of God that we have come to know, to be so considerate of the plight of the Egyptians. If this is indeed what God has done, why then, if God is the all powerful creator of the earth and all things on it that we read a mere forty five chapters back, could he not have simply made Joseph Pharaoh? He the opportunity thirty three chapters back to make the whole line of Abraham the royal house of Egypt, surely that would have saved on some suffering? This God character seems to be lacking in long-term thinking skills.

6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.

 I had almost forgotten that Joseph had the power of prophecy and knew exactly how long the famine was going to last.

7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

 Right. So that's what all the lies and trickery were about. 

8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

 So is this a new Pharaoh? It very much came across that the chap/god/king he interpreted dreams for was an adult. If he was not however perhaps this explains his credulity.

9 Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not:

 Joseph tells the brothers to go fetch their father. So there is to be at least one more trip to Canaan and back. What has just occurred to me is, if they did not recognise their brother when they first met, why do they now believe this Egyptian who has been so unpleasant to them all this time when he says that he is their missing brother? Sure, you could say "well how would he know about Joseph being sold into slavery if he were not Joseph?" but you'd be forgetting that the Egyptian before them is a vizier or renown, what could he not know?

10 And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast:

 Joseph isn't asking them to bring Israel for a visit but rather to ask the entire family, which, assuming that each of the brothers has a wife and at least one child, is over thirty people, their effects and their animals. This is no small thing that he asks.

11 And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.

 He is offering food though. I think I'd take that offer even if it did involve dragging all those people from Canaan.

12 And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you.

 Taken literally these words are odd, as such, I am assuming that what he is saying is that by the actions of his generosity the brothers can see that he truly is Joseph.

13 And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither.

 "Tell him it's nice here. Now go and get him."

14 And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.

 Here comes the emotional part of the reunion.

15 Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.

 The emotional part continues.

16 And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying, Joseph's brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.

 Do we really care what Pharaoh thinks at this point? Joseph is pretty much in control here isn't he? I suppose it is useful to know that Joseph hasn't made an enemy of the Pharaoh by inviting his family to stay?

17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan;

 ...

18 And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.

 ...

19 Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.

 ...

20 Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.

 Pharaoh echoes although with greater verbosity what Joseph has offered. I suppose, as Pharaoh, you pretty much have to out-pomp your high vizier and make decrees look as though they were your idea all along.

21 And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way.

 Great.

22 To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment.

 Why is he favouring Benjamin? Perhaps there is some suggestion that Benjamin was not involved in his enslavement, but even if that were true, Joseph previously said that it was God that caused the whole thing. He should have no reason to favour one of his brothers over the others.

23 And to his father he sent after this manner; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way.

 I understand sending ten she asses with food for the journey but couldn't the ten asses laden with good thing have waited until he arrived in Egypt. It seems like an awful waste of ass power to carry the good things of Egypt to Canaan only to carry them all back to Egypt again.

24 So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.

 So off they go, those Brothers Israel, back to Canaan... Again.

25 And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,

 Oh, we're back to calling him Jacob.

26 And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not.

 I think I'd find it hard to believe as well. Clearly Jacob is not as credulous as his boys.

27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:

 There's nothing quite like ten asses laden with good things to revive a man's spirit...

28 And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

 ...and apparently, to make him believe pretty much anything he's told.


I don't think we've learned anything of note in this chapter, we all knew where the story was headed and we all knew that that the sons if Israel/Jacob are collectively lacking in intellect.

Let's just move on to Genesis 46.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Genesis 44. The Idiot Sons of Israel.

Genesis 44

1 And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man's money in his sack's mouth.

 OK. So either Joseph is allowing them to take their money back or he is trying to to pull the exact same trick as last time they left. Surely he can't expect them not to check their sacks this time... Surely.

2 And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack's mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.

 Right, maybe he is giving them the money back, but what fresh trickery is this? Is he going to attempt the same trick as before but this time with a silver cup? I say again, surely he can't expect them not to check their sacks this time... Surely?

3 As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.

 The brothers are up and out of there, notably, with their asses. I dare say it would be a long journey without them. It almost seems superfluous to mention their transport but then again, do we not have a phrase that ends in "...and the horse you rode in on" as though it were not a given that anyone who enters a town riding a beast would leave on the very same? Either way, there is no mention of whether the brothers checked their sacks before setting off.

4 And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?

...

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

 It is evident now that they did not check their sacks. Who wrote this? Either this is the fiction of an incredibly naïve author or these brothers are so stupid that they'd have difficulty finding their own mouths to put food in. I'm not being hyperbolic when I say I actually can not believe that a group of grown men would fall for this trick twice.

6 And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.

 To which I hope they said "look Mate, you really have to be having a laugh. This again?".

7 And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:

 ...

8 Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks' mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord's house silver or gold?

 ...

9 With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondmen.

 Oh come on lads! Really? Someone rides up to you and accuses you of the very same crime that you were accused of before and you don't find it suspicious? At the very least you could have checked the sacks before offering up the life of the apparently guilty party and condemning the rest of you to servitude. You have to know this is a trick right?

10 And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless.

 Luckily for these unparalleled dim-wits, Joseph seems to have plans for Benjamin, with whom the cup was planted, and so the steward doesn't take them up on their insane offer.

11 Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.

 Here it comes.

12 And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack.

...

13 Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.

 I still don't know how they didn't see this coming, I might be crediting them with too much to expect that they've realised their error and that they rent their clothes in shame for their idiocy.

14 And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.

 My head is in my hands, why the willingness to accept guilt? I simply cannot buy this characterization.

15 And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?

 OK. Let's continue anyway. Joseph begins his questioning.

16 And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord's servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.

 Judah again offers all of the brothers into slavery. Why Judah? It is clear that Joseph is only interested in Benjamin, The steward already rejected your offer.

17 And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.

 See! Now Joseph has turned you down in person. He only wants Benjamin, you and the rest of your brothers can piss off home to your father.

18 Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh.

 Oh! Wait what's this? Does Judah know he's been conned?

19 My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?

 Go on...

20 And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him.

 Go on...

21 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him.

 Yes, yes. Pray continue...

22 And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.

 All right, we all know this but go on. Hopefully you're about to redeem yourself by revealing that you know that you've been duped.

23 And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more.

 Right...

24 And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.

 Get on with it...

25 And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food.

 Please...

26 And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man's face, except our youngest brother be with us.

 Bored now...

27 And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons:

 ...

28 And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since:

 Hmm, this may be the first time that any of the brothers have revealed to this Egyptian that they somehow don't recognise as their brother, that they have a missing younger brother. Never mind though, it looks as though Judah is just going to try to play on Joseph's sympathies. My hope that he might somehow redeem himself by demonstrating that he understands something of his situation was entirely unfounded. Oh well.

29 And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

 Yes. It seems that is all he is doing.

30 Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad's life;

 Is he actually saying that it is a certainty that if Benjamin does not return, Israel will die?

31 It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave.

 Yes. He is actually saying that. I hope that he'd being somewhat dramatic, Israel only said that he'd be bereaved if Benjamin didn't come back, not that he'd die.

32 For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever.

 Oh. That's what it's all about, Judah is not afraid that his father will die but rather he has remembered that he offered to take the blame. 

33 Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.

 So he is offering himself in Benjamin's place.

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.

 I guess we won't see how Joseph responds until the next chapter.

What has Genesis 44 told us?


  •  It has confirmed that with the exception of perhaps Joseph, Israel's sons are all idiots.
  •  It has also added to the evidence that like the other righteous men of this book, Joseph is a more than slightly talented con-artist.


Genesis only has fifty chapters, let us hope that the rest of them aren't taken up by further trips between Canaan and Egypt. Let's be honest, how many times can this trick work? I hope we don't find out in Genesis 45.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Genesis 43. The Story Continues...

Genesis 43

1 And the famine was sore in the land.

Right you are. This story has been a few chapters in the telling now, I'm fairly certain that it’s clear that the ’famine was sore in the land’ by now.

2 And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food.

I guess we've gone back in time a little, They decided to go back at the end of the last chapter. Is it odd that Jacob (Israel) was only concerned by the lack of food and hadn't already sent them back to rescue/bargain for Simeon?

3 And Judah spake unto him, saying, The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.

Judah explains that they need to take Benjamin with them or they won’t be seen by the Don of Egypt (Joseph their brother if you’d forgotten).

4 If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food:

And get Simeon back, Judah! Don’t forget, if you take Benjamin with you, you’ll get Simeon back. Why have they forgotten about Simeon?

5 But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.

Yes we get it!

6 And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?

Jacob (Israel), quite oddly is accusing his sons of doing him wrong by happening to mention, when asked by the man that controlled all of the food in the known world, that they had younger brother.

7 And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down?

Clearly the brothers think his accusation is as odd as I do.

8 And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones.

Judah pitches the idea of bringing Benjamin along again.

9 I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:

Well Judah, Reuben already offered up the lives of his sons in the last chapter. I don’t think offering to bear the blame will in any way sweeten the deal...

10 For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.

...and adding caveats won’t help.

11 And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds:

Wait! What? I thought ’famine was sore in the land’. We now learn they have ready access to honey, nuts (including almonds?) and spices. How hungry can they really be?

12 And take double money in your hand; and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand; peradventure it was an oversight:

Taking the money back is a wise move as it was an obvious test (which they already failed once when they didn't turn back the moment they found the money). I fail to see how the money could have ’accidentally’ found its way into their bags and I fail to see how they failed to see that it was a test, but hey, it’s certainly not the greatest failure of intellect I've seen in this book so far.

13 Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man:

Right. Jacob (Israel) will allow Benjamin to go. I hope for his sake the whole thing goes well.

14 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.

Finally someone remembers Simeon!

15 And the men took that present, and they took double money in their hand, and Benjamin; and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.

I’m glad we did the whole trip to Egypt in one sentence, tales of desert journeys can be so tiresome. Let’s see what Joseph has to say.

16 And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon.

Clearly Joseph is pleased. He’s giving them dinner. With meat no less!

17 And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house.

OK.

18 And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph’s house; and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in; that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses.

Why didn't they just give the money back rather than worry about the possible retribution for keeping it.

19 And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house,

Ah right, they are about to, we just needed to be told about their fears beforehand.

20 And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food:

...

21 And it came to pass, when we came to the inn, that we opened our sacks, and, behold, every man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight: and we have brought it again in our hand.

I still think this ought to have been the first thing they said when they arrived, but, oh well.

22 And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.

...

23 And he said, Peace be to you, 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.

That’s just a plain lie. I'm guessing from the language that the steward has a different God or gods, I guess that’s not surprising with him being an Egyptian. Simeon is free at least, it doesn’t say how long he’s been locked up for but it’s at least as long as a trip from Egypt to Canaan and back and however long it took for Israel and sons to get hungry.

24 And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house, and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their asses provender.

Cool.

25 And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.

Good good.

26 And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth.

As planned. Will Joseph like the present?

27 And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?

Joseph asks after his dad. How nice.

28 And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.

OK.

29 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son.

An emotional reunion for Joseph. I’d imagine that the brothers would be slightly confused by Joseph’s emotional response, given that they don’t know that the man they are dealing with is Joseph. I still can’t figure out why they haven’t recognised him. Surely he can’t have changed that much.

30 And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there.

I suppose it’s a fair response to run off and hide in order to cry.

31 And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread.

Having regained his composure, Joseph orders the bread.

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.

I like that the author is acknowledging the multicultural nature of the gathering. I particularly enjoy the blasé acknowledgement of the racism displayed, it’s clearly commonplace and accepted. 

33 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marvelled one at another.

OK.

34 And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.

Everyone likes a party right? I wonder what the youthful Benjamin makes of his preferential treatment.

So what are we to make of this chapter?

This is by far the most detailed of the stories so far, however the details are often really odd and don't contribute to the narrative.

Let's see what happens in the next chapter.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Genesis 42. Food shopping in Egypt.

Genesis 42.

1 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?

OK. We're back with Jacob (Israel) and sons, evidently the 'global' famine has reached them too. Jacob, having heard that there is food in Egypt rebukes his sons for being feckless. If only he knew what they'd done to Joseph.

2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.

He instructs his sons to go and buy food from Egypt. Presumably their material wealth is sufficient to do this.

3 And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.

Right you are, who stayed behind?

4 But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.

Ah right, Benjamin stayed behind because Jacob was too afraid of losing yet another son. Does he not trust the older ten?

5 And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

As stated above.

6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.

The sons of Israel come face to face with their estranged brother who is now the governor of all of Egypt.

7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.

I suppose it would be possible, after all these years, for Joseph to adequately disguise himself such that his brothers wouldn't recognise him. They identify as coming from Canaan. Are they Canaanites at this point or are they merely sojourners in that land?

8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.

Understood.

9 And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.

That's a non-sequitur if ever I heard one. There doesn't seem to be any connection between the first part of the sentence and the second. His dreams had no spying connotations at all.

10 And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come.

What is with all of the sycophancy? Why does everyone in this book seem to be ready to prostrate themselves before anyone who has a bit more power than they do? Is it just a ridiculous extension of politeness or are they simply cowards?

11 We are all one man's sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.

OK. At this point both parties know that they are not spies. What does Joseph hope to gain by continuing to accuse them?

12 And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.

They've already denied it Joseph. Come on, they aren't likely to admit it just because you assert it again, besides, you know they aren't spies.

13 And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.

Accurate.

14 And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies:

Really? Again? Give it up Joseph!

15 Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither.

There is no logic to this. How will getting the youngest brother to come to Egypt prove their innocence? Of course we all know that proving their innocence is not Joseph's motivation but quite how he expects his brothers to accept that there is any logic to his request is beyond me.

16 Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies.

I understand that for some reason Joseph is motivated to get all of his brothers present before him, what I don't understand is why his brothers don't understand that the proof he asks for isn't proof of anything. Perhaps I'm being naïve, perhaps Joseph's brothers do understand that there is no logic in this exchange but have been 'convinced' by the many guards that Joseph must certainly have at his disposal.

17 And he put them all together into ward three days.

He's put them all into prison? Why haven't the brothers complied with his request?

18 And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God:

...

19 If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses:

...

20 But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.

OK. He asked them, supposedly to prove that they are innocent of espionage, to take corn back to their houses but to leave one of them behind to be imprisoned. Yet again he has devised a proof that proves nothing.

21 And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.

The brothers think that this misfortune is some kind of karmic repayment for their treatment of Joseph. If only they didn't think superstitiously as they were almost correct. What is happening now actually is as a direct result of what they did to Joseph, no cosmic balance keeping is required.

22 And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.

This line is constructed oddly however I think that Reuben is lamenting that he is also being punished for his brother's transgressions despite having protested against them.

23 And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.

That Joseph is so tricksy.

24 And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.

Was he crying about their admission of guilt? Do they actually feel guilt or are they just attributing their present predicament to their prior wrongdoing? Either way Joseph has taken and bound Simeon.

25 Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man's money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them.

Right you are. 

26 And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence.

OK. Nine of the sons of Israel are are on their way home to Benjamin and their father having lost yet another brother.

27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack's mouth.

Presumably Joseph didn't tell them that he'd given them their money back. Which brother found the money?

28 And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?

What are they afraid of? Punishment from God for having not paid for their goods, despite it being obvious that the money was either returned in error or deliberately by Joseph and as such the brothers are in no way culpable? Is this another case where the supposedly all-seeing and all-knowing Lord can be tricked into punishing someone who has been forced into breaking some rules by the deceitful act of a supposedly righteous man?

29 And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying,

Clearly they weren't that afraid as instead of returning directly to Egypt to give the money back, they continued home to tell their father about the whole thing.

30 The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country.

I think we are going to get a full account of the story above.

31 And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies:

Yup...

32 We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.

...

33 And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone:

...

34 And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land.

OK. Story over.

35 And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.

How afraid? Why on earth did they not check all of the sacks when one of them found the money in his sack back at the inn? What exactly are they afraid of?

36 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.

Jacob (Israel) is understandably unhappy at the loss of his children.

37 And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.

Reuben offers his father the lives of his own two sons to get permission to take Benjamin to Egypt and back. Given how easily they were imprisoned and how easily Simeon was taken from them, if I were Reuben, I would not be so confident.

38 And he 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.

Jacob (Israel) refuses to let Benjamin go. His reasoning seems to be based on his having forgotten that his first ten sons are in fact his sons.

Right. So what has gone on here?


  • Ten of Jacob's sons go to Egypt to buy some food. The youngest doesn't go because Jacob is afraid he'll die. For some reason he doesn't share the same fear for his other sons. Why not?
  • The Governor and grain vendor of Egypt turns out to be their brother Joseph. They don't recognise him. Why not?
  • Joseph pretends that he thinks they are spies in some ill thought out scheme to get them to bring Benjamin to him for some unknown reason.
  • Joseph imprisons Simeon and sends the rest back with the food they bought and then hides the money they paid in their bags to entrap them.
  • After all of this Jacob still refuses to let Benjamin go to Egypt.


What I really don't understand is what Joseph is attempting to do, I can't fathom his motivation. I also can't quite fathom how a man described as righteous and favoured by The Lord can be justified in engaging in such deception.

Hopefully we'll find out in Genesis 43.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Genesis 41. King Con: The rise of Joseph.


Genesis 41.

1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.

       Why do people in this period dream so infrequently? Are we really to believe that he didn't dream for two full years?

2 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.

       OK. Pharaoh is dreaming of seven well looked after, fat cattle feeding.

3 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.

       ...and then seven other less well looked after cows turn up.

4 And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.

       ...The hungry cows ate the fat ones. OK, Quite surreal I guess, Had he been out in the field with the cattle that day?

5 And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.

       More dreaming. It's seven ears of corn this time.

6 And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.

       Oh, OK. I'm seeing a pattern emerge...

7 And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.

       Yeah, that's what I thought. I'm loving the image of cannibalistic cereal crops by the way.

8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.

       They all said that they couldn't interpret them or none of them gave an interpretation that Pharaoh was happy with? I find it difficult to believe that all of these people in the business of magic and dream interpretations wouldn't have at least had a go.

9 Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:

       The butler finally speaks up for Joseph, I guess his con wasn't such a failure after all.

10 Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard's house, both me and the chief baker:

       Why is he telling Pharaoh this? has Pharaoh forgotten what he did only two years prior?

11 And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream.

       OK. This sentence seems a little back to front but I'll let it go.

12 And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret.

       That's what he had you believe anyway.

13 And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.

       'he restored'? 'he hanged'? Is the butler no longer talking to Pharaoh?

14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

       Joseph gets all dressed up for Pharaoh, I suppose it's useful to make a good impression with the guy who has the power to free you. I note the Joseph hasn't shaved or changed his clothes for the LORD which leads me to conclude that either the LORD isn't present or Joseph doesn't think the LORD is capable of freeing him.

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.

       So having duped a butler into believing he can interpret dreams to foretell the future, Joseph is now in a position to spin a yarn to the Pharaoh who has had a dream that no one has been able to interpret to his satisfaction. Will Joseph be able to get himself free?

16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.

       Joseph starts by pretending to be humble and attributes his apparent gift to God. It's a cunning set-up because now if anyone doubts him they are denying God. This set-up has the added benefit of limited liability, Joseph can deny that the predictions he makes are his at all.

17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:

       The next few verses recount the dreams almost word for word, this book is very big on efficiency.

18 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow:

       ...

19 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness:

       ...

20 And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine:

       ...

21 And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke.

       ...

22 And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good:

       ...

23 And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:

       ...

24 And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.

       ...

25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.

       Joseph begins his interpretation.

26 The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.

       OK,so both dreams are portentous of the same thing. It's a good start as now Joseph only has to fabricate one story, A story that stretches over at least seven years,making it very difficult to verify.

27 And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.

       Another seven years. If Joseph plays this right he can be long gone before his prediction will supposedly play out.

28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.

       Joseph,before continuing, reminds Pharaoh that these are God's predictions, making sure that his own liability is limited.

29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:

       Always good news,I can see why Pharaoh would likely want to accept this interpretation.

30 And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;

       This part is not so good but,it is a worrying prospect but it's seven years away so,not so concerning.

31 And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.

       Joseph is really playing up the severity of this famine. What's he trying to scare Pharaoh into?

32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.

       Oh.Nice call-back, he uses the fact that there were two dreams to imply that God was indicating that the famine shall be doubly severe. Should this also not mean that the time of plenty shall be doubly plentiful?

33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.

       I knew Joseph had something up his sleeve. He was only asked to interpret the dreams but having completed that task, he runs on, advising Pharaoh on what he should do about them. Not surprisingly his advice begins by recommending that Pharaoh appoints a 'wise man' over all Egypt. He's created himself a job. Logically,If Pharaoh takes him seriously, there is only one candidate for this role. All of the wise men of Egypt have proven themselves inadequate,only Joseph could interpret the dreams and therefore, surely only Joseph can fulfill this task.

34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.

       To Bolster his apparent wisdom, Joseph begins as though he already has been given the job by setting out the plan by which the new appointee should operate. I can't say that it's remarkable wisdom that he's laying down though, storing food in times of plenty should be obvious to anyone.

35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.

       I'd be surprised if something like this wasn't already happening on a locals scale, Joseph is really just suggesting a centralization and state control over long-term food storage.

36 And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.

       It's a good plan. It effectively solves a problem, that may or may not actually exist, that was dreamed up by Joseph who, if he's been effective in this con, will be put in charge of the whole thing.

37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.

       OK, looks like this might just work.

38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?

       Wait. Which God? Does Pharaoh worship the same god as Joseph? Is the God of Israel simply one of the Egyptian pantheon?

39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:

       Which God? Anyway, looks like Joseph is about to get given the job he created.

40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

       Yes, Joseph is given the job which seems now to include the power of the Pharaoh over all of Egypt. Could Pharaoh really be so stupid as to swallow Joseph's story and basically hand over his country? I can't imagine that in his wildest dreams Joseph would have thought that his con would have played out this way.  

41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.

       OK.

42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

       So he's dressing him up like a Pharaoh too.

43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.

       Yes, we understand that Pharaoh is making Joseph the ruler of Egypt.

44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

       Yes, we've got it. Joseph's in charge.

45 And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

       Zaphnathpaaneah? Is that even an Egyptian name or has the author just made this up? As is customary it seems, Joseph is given a wife with absolutely no mention of whether the woman had any say in the matter, in fairness it doesn't mention whether Joseph had a say in the matter either. Could either of these two parties refused the union? All that aside  Joseph's new wife, Asenath's father is a priest of On, is On the god that Pharaoh was referring to when he said Joseph is close to God,or just one of many gods that are seemingly shared trans-culturally?

46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.

       Right you are. Joseph begins his reign over Egypt.

47 And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.

       OK, So just as Joseph foretold there were seven years of plenty. I suppose Joseph actually could make accurate predictions about the future based on the nocturnal excursions of a Pharaoh's mind. Where does that leave the rest of us? Are dreams actually portentous of the future? Was this not a con after all, or is it possible that some creative story-telling is going on?

48 And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same.

       Joseph oversees the logistically difficult task of moving all of the collected food from the land to the cities.

49 And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.

       I doubt he collected as much corn as that. I haven't counted but I'm pretty certain that there is a great deal of sand in the sea.

50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.

       Joseph now has two sons. I really which I could get some good data out of this narrative to fix these events on the timeline.

51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house.

       OK, The evidence presented by this story does not show the hand (or mind) of any god in the successes of Joseph's life. The narrative presents Joseph as a very successful con-artists, outstripping even the greatest of his ancestors in this skill. Why is Joseph attributing his success to God? I notice also that it only says God here, not the LORD, which god are we talking about? Is it the same god that Pharaoh said was with Joseph? Is it Om? Is it his father, Israel's god, El? How many gods are there and which ones do each of these characters worship?

52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

       Why attribute this to God. Joseph is a self made man, an immoral and deceitful man, but self made none the less. He should be congratulating himself.

53 And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.

       OK.

54 And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.

       All lands? Everywhere on the entire planet? Does the continent of America or Australia exist at this time? Were there famines there too? Lucky that Egypt was prepared for it with all the crops collected from the Egyptian farmers. Will Joseph freely distribute all the bread back to those that worked hard for it?

55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.

       Canny Pharaoh, having delegated his power to Joseph, shirks all responsibility to his people.

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.

       Ah, so the famine was over all the face of the earth. That must surely include the Americas and Australia. In any event, why is Joseph selling the Egyptians own food back to them? Didn't they produce it all? Did Joseph pay them for it when he was collecting it up? Are the farmers that gave freely twenty percent of their crop for the last seven years, who don't have the money to buy their crops back condemned to starvation? Who gets to keep all of the profit earned from taking the people's food and selling it back to them? Joseph's scheme was not as it initially appeared a humanitarian effort to feed the nation during a time of famine but rather to mercilessly profit from a global food shortage.

57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.

       How exactly did the famine-stricken inhabitants of the Americas or Australia reach Egypt to bargain for their lives?

So what have we learned from this story?


  • Pharaoh and Joseph seem to share a belief in a God who may or may not be the LORD.
  • Joseph is happy to marry the daughter of a priest of a God other than the LORD.
  • Somehow, representatives of every land on the earth were able to get to Egypt to buy food. Perhaps more amazingly the news that Egypt had food to sell got to them in time such that they could then travel to Egypt and back before everyone in their homelands died of starvation.
  • Joseph is an excellent con-man managing to con his way out of jail and into a job he created mid-con, then using that job to charge the inhabitants of Egypt money to get back the food that he took from them and that they, themselves grew in the first place.


Perhaps we'll see what Joseph does with all the money he's made in Genesis 42.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Genesis 40. The Dream Deciphering Deception

Genesis 40.

1 And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt.

    The King of Egypt is offended by his baker and his butler. 

2 And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.

    Wait. This king is also called Pharaoh? Is he the same Pharaoh that Abraham swindled? Of course not, but I wish I knew why this narrative persists in using Pharaoh like a proper noun, an idea supported in the previous line where he is referred to as the king of Egypt, distinguishing his title from the word Pharaoh which implies that Pharaoh is his name.

3 And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.

    A-ha, I was wondering why we needed to know about Pharaoh's displeasure with his food production and delivery arrangements. It's all coming together now.

4 And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.

    OK.

5 And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison.

    People dream. I imagine after being thrown in prison you might have some pretty bad dreams.
6 And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad.

    ...

7 And he asked Pharaoh's officers that were with him in the ward of his lord's house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day?

    Joseph asks the men why they are sad.
8 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 God? tell me them, I pray you.

    Hmm. While reading Genesis 37 I had wondered why Joseph's brothers thought that dreams were indicators of the future. I still don't know the why of it but I can at least see that the belief is commonplace at this time, even among people from different cultures. If the men were not in prison would they have had a dream interpreter to hand? When did dreams stop being predictors of future events, modern empirical studies have shown that dreams do not serve this function.
Joseph tells the men that God should be the interpreter, but then goes on to ask them to the dreams to him anyway? Does he think he is equal to God in the dream interpreting business?

9 And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me;

    ...

10 And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes:

    ...

11 And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand.

    It seems that the butler has had a dream pertinent to his former job. No surprise there I guess.

12 And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days:

    What would make him believe that?

13 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.

    I suppose at least this interpretation serves to give the man hope. How is Joseph so confident that he is right? The narrative so far only shows other people interpreting Joseph's dreams and not him interpreting other peoples. What experience of dream interpretation does he have that gives him the idea that he might be able to predict the future based on the machinations of this butler's subconscious mind?

14 But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house:

    Ahh, he's effectively laying a wager against his prediction. If his prediction somehow becomes a reality he is expecting a reward, if it doesn't he's no worse off. Does he have good reason to expect that his prediction will come true?

15 For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.

    I'll ask again, If he is innocent and is favoured by God, why is he incarcerated? I'm not certain I'd want the LORD advocating for me in court if this is the outcome. Surely the LORD could have saved Joseph from unwarranted imprisonment if he had wanted to.

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head:

    These people really hold stock in dream interpretations. The baker, seeing that Joseph gave an optimistic prediction based on the butler's dream and evidently believing that the act of interpretation has set the butler's future in stone, wants a similar outcome for himself and tells Joseph his dream.

17 And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head.

    ...

18 And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days:

    Why is Joseph convinced that the 'three' motif is indicative of days? Does he know that something noteworthy is going to occur in three days?

19 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.

    Oh. The poor baker has been given a rather less encouraging dream interpretation than the butler. Again I am wondering what could possibly make Joseph confident enough in his evaluation of a dream to tell a man that he'll die in a few days. We aren't given any details of the men's sentences. Is it possible that these outcomes are things that Joseph already knows? He is after all their effective jailor having been given the responsibility by the captain of the guard. Has he been given details that he is not sharing?

20 And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.
    ...

21 And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand:

    ...

22 But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them.

    Now we see a bit of what's gone on. Everyone in the nation would have been aware that it was Pharaoh's birthday. Three day's prior Joseph would have been entirely safe in predicting a major event would occur. Furthermore, The prison would have been informed in advance that Pharaoh was going to visit and as such Joseph would be able to safely weave Pharaoh into the predictions. Lastly, and this is largely assumption, but if one of the prisoners was to be released and one executed, I find it pretty likely that the captain of the guard would have been informed and from what we know of the trust he gives Joseph, Joseph must surely have known too. Joseph is a fraud. All he has done is attempt to take information that he has about the release of the butler and turn it into some gain for himself by convincing the butler that he was somehow instrumental in his release by magically interpreting his dream and being the bearer of a good omen. This is nothing but a self serving con-job, a method that Joseph's ancestors can attribute most of their success to.

23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.

    Alas, Joseph's con failed with the butler forgetting to speak up for him. Isn't the LORD supposed to be with this guy?

So What can we make of this tale?

All this story seems to be telling us is that Joseph is an opportunist scam-artist. Two men of high rank are admitted to the prison he is being kept in. They are left in his charge. Knowing their sentences he tries to secure a route to a pardon by fraudulently convincing the man who is going to be released that he, Joseph, is somehow instrumental in the man's good fortune via the 'magical' interpretation of a dream. Ultimately he fails as the man forgets to mention Joseph's 'help' to Pharaoh.

Will Joseph get out of prison in Genesis 41?

Book Index

GENESIS

| 1| 2| 3| 4| 5| 6| 7| 8| 9|10|
|11|12|13|14|15|16|17|18|19|20|
|21|22|23|24|25|26|27|28|29|30|
|31|32|33|34|35|36|37|38|39|40|
|41|42|43|44|45|46|

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