Pax Hart

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Genesis 49: Jacob Blesses His Sons

As Jacob lies on his death bed, he blesses his sons, establishing the 12 tribes of Israel and giving the first foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Jacob then requests to be buries on the field of Machpelah (in Hebron), along with Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and his first wife Leah.

As the Age of the Patriarchs comes to a close, we can trace the threads of the generations:

We have Adam, created in God’s image, to Noah and his family. Everyone else perishes in the flood.
From the sons of Noah, we can trace to Terah in Ur, father of Abraham.
Then Isaac and Jacob.
Jacob’s sons make up the twelve tribes of Israel (literally the tribes of Jacob since God renamed him Israel.)

Judah, who became the tribe of Judah is a descendant of David, who is a descendant of Jesus. The first foreshadowing of Jesus is in verses 8 through 10:

“Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you.
You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

Genesis 48: Manasseh and Ephraim

As Jacob’s life comes to a close, it looks like there is going to be no other opportunity for direct communication with Elohim. God told Jacob to go to Egypt in chapter 46, and that seems to be the last communication from God until he speaks to Moses 400 years later.

Elohim has been with the family since Abraham’s father left Ur for Canaan, and we assume he was the household God of Terah’s descendants before that.

When Jacob passes away, the covenant made Elohim to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will only live in tradition. Joseph can interpret dreams, however, he has not interacted directly with Elohim.

By placing Ephraim, Joseph’s younger son, ahead of Manasseh, Jacob establishes that they thread of Elohim’s covenant will be passed to Ephraim’s descendants.

Genesis 47: Joseph and the Famine

Joseph presents five of his his brothers and Jacob to Pharaoh, they are granted the land of Goshen.

Joseph administers distributing grain to the Egyptians during the famine, first for money payment, then with payment of livestock. When they are out of money and livestock, they give Pharaoh they land and themselves as slaves.

This is a little sleazy as Joseph built up the reserve of grain by mandating a portion of their crops during the seven years of bounty, only to sell it back to them.

Joseph lives to one hundred and forty-seven. He requests that his body be returned to Canaan when they go back. This does happen during the Exodus. four hundred years later.

Genesis 46: Jacob Goes to Egypt

A monumental chapter as the entire tribe of Abraham is replanted in Egypt where they will live for the next 400 years, most of that time as slaves once the generation of Joseph is dead.

God speaks directly to Jacob:

1 So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

Until Moses, this might be the last time anyone hears from God in 400 years.

Genesis 45: Joseph Reveals Himself

This is a remarkable reveal, not just in the narrative, but in Joseph’s perspective.

He tells his brothers, “Do not be angry at selling me into slavery. There has already been two years of famine and there will be five more. You did not send me here, God sent me here ahead of you and put me into this position of power so that I can save you and my father from the famine.”

He does not say this ironically but in an outburst of emotion. This is what makes Joseph important. He gets it.

Similarly, in the Zohar, it is said that the seed contains the entire flower, and, when we look at the Heavens, we are seeing what was created by the finger of God.

Of course we know the science behind matter and how things occur, but we also have to hold onto the ability to see things at face value and appreciate them as objects created by God and aren’t we bless to have it.

This coffee cup is created by God. Aren’t we blessed to have it?
This cloud passing by was created by God. Aren’t we bless to have it?
Your mother was created by God. Aren’t we blessed to have her?

When we consider the enlightenment of Joseph, we see that even seemingly ghastly tings have their place in God’s plan:

This earthquake that leveled a city was created by God. Aren’t we blessed to have it?
Kim Jong Un was created by God. Aren’t we blessed to have him?

This is the spiritual work: to detach from our emotional reaction to everything, acknowledge that everything is a creation of God, and to praise it for that reason alone.

Genesis 44: A Silver Cup in a Sack

We have a scene which could possibly be some foreshadowing of redemption:

Joseph is is torturing the brothers now, He plants his silver cup in their bags to wrongfully accuse them of theft.

Judah offers himself into slavery (very likely a death sentence if he’s sent to the mines) in order to save Benjamin from the same fate and to save his father from certain death by grief.

Judah has gone from the one who casually suggesting selling his brother into slavery, albeit to save him from death, and is now offering his life to protect his father and his father’s favorite son.

Back in chapter 38, Judah was already humbled when he accidentally had sex with his daughter-in-law Tamar and got her pregnant. Now Judah is offering his life selflessly.

If anyone should find favor with God, Judah has proven himself worthy.

The silver cup could also be some sort of symbol. It is used not just for drinking but for divination.

Genesis 43: The Second Journey to Egypt

There are no miracles or supernatural occurrences in this chapter. God is an observer in this narrative but is not an influencer. He is watching how the characters react and the decisions they make without his intervention.

I look very carefully in each chapter for evidence of the miraculous, not to try to explain supernatural away, but to identify the touch of God to know his power and nature.

Joseph allowed himself to feel and be vulnerable, albeit he hid away so no one could see him week, but he did not prevent his emotion – he just composed himself before others.

Genesis 42: Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

This is a complicated story. The goal seems to be to get all of Jacob’s sons to Egypt.

In the Zohar, Egypt represents complete separation from God. It is the most advanced civilization on the planet. It’s pantheon of gods is highly developed. At the time of Joseph, unified Egypt has been around for two thousand years.

Why would anyone want to leave and go back to herding sheep in Canaan?

There is no God in this chapter that is visual. There is, however, the development of Joseph as a man and his instinct to get Benjamin to Egypt. Why Benjamin specifically other than that he wants to be reunited with all his brothers? Or maybe he only wants to be reunited with Benjamin. He does not ask about nor ask them to bring Jacob to Egypt.

The trip from Egypt to Canaan is probably a few weeks to a couple of months.

Genesis 41: Pharaoh’s Dream

God is in this chapter, silently, but he is working.

First, we have Joseph’s gift of dream interpretation. Throughout Mesopotamian history, dreams were always held to be extremely important for divination and Mesopotamian kings paid close attention to them.

In ancient Egypt, priests acted as dream interpreters. Hieroglyphics depicting dreams and their interpretations are evident. Dreams have been held in considerable importance through history by most cultures.

Then we have a prophetic dream by Pharaoh… one that turns out to be true and has huge ramifications.

The Nile was extremely reliable. It’s annual inundation is fed by the snow melt from the mountains in central Africa and the Nile delta was the bread basket of the ancient world. Whenever there was famine in the middle east or the Mediterranean, people went to the Egypt for food. A seven-year drought, blight or other climate or ecological disaster was a big deal. The fact that Pharaoh dreamed about it seven years in advance was supernatural. The fact that the great grandson of Abraham was sitting in an Egyptian prison, had the gift of divination from dreams, had used it before on Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker was arranged by God.

This is a silent miracle, but God’s fingers are all over this.

What we can learn about God’s nature and how he operates is the scale of the impact and the timelines.

Joseph was thirty years old at this point. He had been in prison for two year. He was sold into slavery when he was seventeen or eighteen. He had been Potiphar’s attendant for almost ten years.

It took seven years for the drought to hit Egypt after Joseph was released and made, essentially Prime Minister or Secretary of the Interior of Egypt. Joseph sets up the administration for famine relief. It is shocking that Pharaoh would do this but this could be the importance they put on dreams and divination.

There was not a Hebrew population in Egypt at this time. When Joseph claims that God interprets dreams, he is still talking about a family and tribal protector God that his great grandfather Terah took out of Ur.