Genesis 46-50

46: Jacob’s family moves to Egypt. It turns out after all that God sanctions the move to Egypt, telling Jacob that he will make him a great nation there. I think that God talks to Jacob directly more than to anyone else in Genesis. While Joseph attributes his dream interpretation to God, neither he nor his brothers ever appear to have a direct visitation or a personal assurance that they’re part of the earlier covenant. The family of Jacob is listed, and at the end of the list, it’s said that the number of persons in the household is seventy. This is a number that has importance throughout the Bible, but it looks that the list has been doctored a bit to add up. For one thing, there’s exactly one granddaughter in the entire list, but it’s highly unlikely that there would have been only one granddaughter and fifty-four grandsons and great-grandsons, even considering that married granddaughters may have stayed with their husband’s families. I find it really really funny that Benjamin has sons named Muppim and Huppim.

In a previous chapter, it’s mentioned that Egyptians don’t eat with Hebrews, and here it’s revealed that shepherds are abhorrent to Egypt. Even though Pharaoh and the Egyptians welcomed them down because they were Joseph’s family, it’s evident that there’s already prejudice against them as foreigners.

47: Joseph taxes Egypt. It’s an odd detail to me that Joseph takes five brothers to see Pharaoh with him. Why five? Pharaoh agrees to let the family settle in Goshen. Jacob tells Pharaoh that his days have been few and evil, and that he won’t live as long as his ancestors, although he does live to be 147.

Joseph is a profitable overseer for Pharaoh, and he takes all the Egyptian’s silver as payment for bread, and then takes their livestock, and then their farmland and taxes them permanently. He resettles the farmers. While a twenty percent tax is not that high in total, it’s unlikely that there was no tax before that and the arrangement is that the farmland and the harvest actually all belong to Pharaoh now, and the people are being allowed to keep 80% for food and resowing. Not surprisingly, Christian commentary on this chapter includes titles like Socialism Leads to Slavery and The Sin of Socialism. Also unsurprisingly, some of these are sermons against Obama. But look at this: Well, I tell you this – I know the Messiah; the Messiah is a friend of mine; and Mr. Obama is no Messiah! No, brothers and sisters, if Mr. Obama is a character from the Bible, then he is Pharaoh (http://tinyurl.com/4jetlnq). But that’s not the case in this story. If Mr. Obama is a socialist character from the Bible, then he is Joseph. The same Joseph whom God spoke to in dreams, whom God made prosper, whose ascension as Pharaoh’s second in command is always attributed to God, and who orchestrated the entire governmental takeover. Not only that, in this story, the Egyptians are grateful to Joseph for keeping them alive. It’s simply not mentioned at all what God thinks of Joseph’s governance, but the commentary suggests that the writer of Genesis would have considered Joseph’s plan to be smart and to explain the then current economics of Egyptian peasants.

What I do find troubling about the story as a modern person is that the stored grain presumably came from the farms of these same Egyptians during the seven years of plenty. It does seem remarkably unfair that they should be bankrupted when they produced the grain they now have to buy back.

48: Jacob blesses Ephraim and Manasseh. Jacob relays the words of the covenant to Joseph, but he doesn’t give Joseph any particular blessing for himself. Instead, he says that he will consider Joseph’s sons to be his own. Joseph was probably going to remain an official under Pharaoh, virtually considered an Egyptian, and never need lands or be a shepherd again nor pass those things to his children. For Joseph’s children to be considered part of Jacob’s family instead of Egyptians, they would need to be like Jacob’s sons.

Jacob gives the younger son his right hand, although he blesses both at once. Joseph should probably have smacked him. He tells Joseph that he has given him with single intent over your brothers what I took from the hand of the Emorite. It’s not clear what or where this is, but single intent translates literally one shoulder.

49: Jacob blesses the twelve sons. Firstborn Reuben is displaced from the birthright because he slept with his father’s concubine. The blessings and mixed blessings follow what Jacob knows and don’t seem to be influenced by God. As I mentioned before, Reuben is never rewarded for being the only brother to try to save Joseph’s life as a boy. Jacob outright curses Simeon and Levi for murdering the Shechemites. So Judah receives the birthright, where he is promised that his brothers will bow to him and he will have the tribute and submission.

The other brothers have no stories of their own, so it’s hard to know why they receive the blessings that they do – Zebulon will dwell by the sea, Issachar is a donkey and a serf, Dan is a judge and a snake, Gad will be goaded and a goad, Asher will have bread and kingly dishes, Naphtali is a hind and father of lovely fawns, Benjamin is a ravening wolf. Joseph does get a special blessing and his sons aren’t mentioned specifically. He’s the only son to be connected to God’s blessing. At this point, he’s obviously in a different situation than the others, but I do find it notable that while Jacob appeared also to love Benjamin more than his brothers previously, he gets a weak and ambiguous blessing.The commentary is fairly important here – it isn’t known whether this is a complete composition or a fragmented text, but it’s agreed that it’s one of the oldest, with such old and rare language that the interpretation is sometimes uncertain.

Jacob asks to be buried in the field at Mamre with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah. Jacob knows where Rachel was buried, as it was marked by a pillar in chapter 35, but Leah was the one to be buried in the family grave.

50: Jacob and Joseph’s deaths. When Jacob dies, Joseph gives him a full Egyptian embalming, then takes him back to Canaan to be buried in the family grave. The brothers tell Joseph, probably falsely, that Jacob had asked him to forgive them and they call themselves the servants of his father’s God. Joseph lives shorter than any of his ancestors, 110 years. He assures his brothers that God will take them to the covenant land and asks them to take his bones with them when it happens. He is also embalmed and put in a coffin in Egypt, and as we know, his brothers never left Egypt to be able to take him with them. His coffin is the last image in Genesis.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Larry Kenaan
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 07:45:17

    i like your post , really interesting

    Reply

  2. Willie Bowdoin
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 14:58:45

    Hey. I love your blog, I found it on Bing and I think it very interesting. I’ll visit again.

    Reply

  3. Brain Shuford
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 18:44:39

    i think you are right well done

    Reply

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