Dinah is Defiled. A bit difficult to interpret this. It makes clear that Shechem “defiled” Dinah, but it also makes clear that he loved her. Some people have interpreted this defilation as rape, but my contention is, “whatever happened to just read the black parts?” Yes, in some cases we are left to our own devices for interpretation, but if God wanted it to be clear that this was rape, He would have let it be known. This defilation, in my personal opinion, was that of Shechem allowing his burning attraction to Dinah spiral out of control, and the issue was what sexual acts were committed. The Bible also makes clear that Shechem wanted Dinah to be his wife. This leads me to conclude that God does not want us treating our wife-to-be, or any woman for that matter, as if she were a porn star. Does it not reflect poorly on a man when he is in public talking about whatever crude sexual acts he performs on his wife?
Simeon and Levi kill all the male inhabitants of Hamor and Shechem’s city after an arrangement was made. Jacob is displeased with his two sons. However, they felt about Dinah’s defilation, it does not justify breaking a pre-existing agreement. The door is now open for revenge, and Jacob along with his family now have to face inevitable consequences.
Jacob Returns to Bethel. There are many different answers to the question of “where is home?” “Where the heart is” some people say. Home is wherever you find God. Larry Fleet finds Him in his Chevrolet with the windows down. He does that a lot.
Mistakes were made and “the path” was deviated from, but so long as we are breathing, it is never too late to right the ship. No matter what predicament we find ourselves in, the will of God exists, and because of this, there is a way. His way; “The” way.
Once again, we see children emulating their parents. Jacob’s children also keep with them “idols,” which Jacob commands they leave behind before the sojourn to Bethel. He also commands them to change their garments. There is something to that. Any time we feel that we have undergone a transformation of sorts, maybe we should change our appearance if even just a tiny change. Continual staring at an older version of ourselves may lead us to continuing to behave like the older version.
The Deaths of Rachel and Isaac. Rachel calls her last son “Ben-Oni,” meaning ‘son of my sorrow.’ This is, again, from Enduring Word:
“Ultimately, this shows the futility of Rachel’s competition with her sister Leah. Now at the time of her final “victory,” all she found was sorrow.”
It takes Rachel until her last breaths to realize that the everlasting competition between her and her sister was a fruitless endeavor. She gives birth to who appear to be the “favored” sons, Joseph and Benjamin, but this is no preponderance. Rachel dies a sad death – a death that she asked for. “Give me children, or I’ll die,” she said earlier in Genesis. Be careful what you pray or wish for.
Reuben sleeps with Jacob’s “concubine.” “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” We see this repeatedly in Genesis, and it happens to be quite a perfect saying, all things considered. This sort of “Jerry Springer” saga continues as none of the twelve sons of Jacob seem to be able to break their karmic chains.
This might sound weird to say, but a nice end to Genesis 35 as Jacob and Esau reunite to bury their aging father, Isaac.
Joseph’s Dreams. Joseph tells his brothers and his father some pretentious dreams, and as you can imagine, they do not take very kindly to them. Something like, “Who does this seventeen-year-old kid think he is telling us that he is going to be our superior?” Mr. Joseph is clearly the favorite son out of the twelve, as signified by the coat of many colors. There is a lot in that, the coat of many colors, but these are notes. All we need to know, really, is that the coat represents status and/or privilege. Even though Jacob, Joseph’s father, is perturbed by Joseph’s dreams himself, he is well-accustomed to that of the dream, so he understood that it would behoove him to take the dreams into consideration. Jacob has enough evidence at his disposal to understand that it is most likely Joseph that will continue the legacy of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Joseph Sold into Slavery. The story of Joseph being sold into slavery is very similar to that of Jesus. Joseph is betrayed by people who are supposed to be closest to him, thrown into a pit (and into prison), but is eventually “resurrected,” if you will. Obviously, Joseph does not have much to do with the developments, but is it not the goal to emulate Jesus to the best of our ability? It is evident that Joseph is “the one.” At least the one that God chose.
Reuben and Judah, but Reuben in particular, turn “babyface.” In pro wrestling, if you are not familiar, when you go from bad guy to good guy, they call it a “face turn.” In the verses prior, Reuben had just done something reprehensible, sleeping with Jacob’s “side-piece,” but he has decided to turn toward the good. He knows the heartache it would cause Jacob if Joseph were to truly die, and he knows the right thing to do is not to kill his brother. I hear your snark. Yes, that should be obvious, but think of the time in which we are talking about. Nothing was off-limits it seems. You might be thinking that this is hardly a face turn from Reuben and Judah, as they only decide to sell rather than kill Joseph, but it is the beginning – the genesis of a face turn.
Jacob grieves the loss of Joseph, unbeknownst to him that he is very much alive. Joseph’s brothers tell a very evil lie to their own father. The takeaway from all of this, however, is that if this chain of events did not take place the way they did, then we would never have seen the glory of God’s plan. A lot of terrible things happen to Joseph, but they were all a necessary component of the plan.
Judah and Tamar. You’ll have to forgive me as I don’t have much on this peculiar story. I don’t right now, anyway. It is similar to what we have seen throughout the book of Genesis, that any circumnavigation of God’s ultimate plan, will inevitably fail – and fail quite miserably. Also, it could be that when we talk about God bringing one to their knees, that can manifest itself in a multitude of different ways, one of those ways being severe embarrassment. It must have been humiliating and embarrassing for Judah to be caught sleeping with a prostitute, although Tamar was just playing the role, but also to be caught attempting to demonize Tamar while he is guilty of virtually the same offense.
Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife. This story doesn’t have much to do with Potiphar’s wife in all honesty. Basically, Potiphar’s wife is sexually harassing Joseph, but Joseph does the right thing and refuses. Well, women don’t do well with rejection, so she lies to people and says that Joseph tried to have sex with her. They believe her, probably because Joseph is a slave, and Joseph is sent to prison. An unfortunate string of events, or at least on the surface you might think it is. He was thrown into a pit, then sold into slavery, now he’s locked up, but people seem to really take to Joseph. Joseph becomes something like the top slave and the top prisoner. That’s really something. No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, the option to do the best that we can is always there. That’s what Joseph does, and that’s probably why people like him.
It’s interesting. Whether your family loves or hates you, whichever one it is, it is almost as if we don’t have anything to do with it. Regardless of whatever happens, the members of our family are kind of destined to either love or hate us, but when we move out amongst the world that is when we really find out for sure, right? Do people truly like me or not?
Jordan Peterson (yes, again) says it pretty well in his Biblical Series. “It makes you wonder who you could be, despite the fact that other people think that you’re whatever you appear to be.”
Joseph Interprets Dreams. I used to believe that if I told somebody a dream of mine that it would immediately render whatever prediction or meaning the dream had to be null and void. With this thinking, I went through a stage where I kept my dreams to myself. Don’t do that. Dreams absolutely mean something, but the probability that we interpret our own dreams correctly isn’t very high. How could it not be? We are biased viewers of our own dream.
Joseph, the prisoner who had every reason to only care about himself, sees the baker and the butler upset and cares for them. Hey, this is probably why people (outside of his brothers) liked him so much. They need a dream interpreter, and Joseph is a confident man. He believes that he can do it probably because he knows God is with him. The dreams are interpreted, one of them is good, the other one bad, but they are accurate interpretations. Anyway, Joseph’s correct interpretation spares the butler’s life, and Joseph asks him to maybe remember that on his way out. Of course, Joseph is wronged yet again as the butler forgets to mention him. Two more years will pass before Joseph’s opportunity to leave prison comes. God’s plan.
Pharaoh’s Dreams. Pharaoh has some disturbing dreams happen to him. That’s what dreams do, right? They just happen to you involuntarily. It’s a recurring dream, which to me means that clearly, something is trying to make itself known to us. This time Joseph is remembered, and Pharaoh sends for him to interpret his dreams. Joseph says to Pharaoh that it is not really him interpreting the dreams, but that it is God. A humble man, Joseph, who understands that his God-given talents are indeed God-given. He tells Pharaoh that there will be seven years of triumph, and seven years of tragedy. The time span of seven years is a constant throughout Genesis. If we think back to when Jacob was serving under Laban, he did so for seven years, and then another seven. There is a theory that every seven years, every cell in our body has been replaced by a new cell. It is interesting to think about the automatic changes that occur from ages seven to fourteen, to twenty-one, and so on and so forth. The sticklers will of course point out that you can say this about the changes that occur every eight years, nine years, and ten years. That’s annoying, isn’t it? Let cool ideas be cool ideas.
Joseph Rises to Power. It’s not a Jesus-like resurrection, but as mentioned before, it is still a resurrection. From slave and prisoner to almost de facto King of Egypt. He isn’t the “face of Egypt,” as that moniker Pharoah probably wouldn’t relinquish, but the point is that Joseph is in a significant position of power. People like people who do their best. Joseph gets a wife, and she gives birth to Manasseh and Ephraim. Forgetfulness, or letting go, and fruitfulness. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh, “For God,” he said, “has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, saying, “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
Benjamin Franklin said, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” Joseph is aware that the famine is coming because that happens in life – things go extremely bad, and they can go bad for a long time. However, Joseph is prepared for it and because of his preparation, people have a place that they can go when the famine comes.
Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt. Joseph’s brothers are all kind of waiting for somebody to take on the responsibility of dealing with the famine. Finally, Jacob tells them all to get out and go, but keeps his youngest son, Benjamin, at home. He is probably leery of sending his favorite son back out with his brothers. Something bad happened the last time he did that.
In this “Genesis Notes” series, we have talked a lot about “breaking the karmic chains.” Joseph seems to be an example of “it can be done.” When Joseph encounters his brothers, he still loves them but deals with them harshly to see if they leave learned from their past behavior. It seems that is all Joseph cared about – if they learned their lessons and grew.
By the look of it, they seem to at least have a conscience, and feel guilt. They more than likely have felt the pain of this guilt for a long time. At least thirteen years. Joseph weeps when he hears his brothers feel remorse.
Joseph’s Brothers Return Home. When the brothers see that the money has been returned to them, their conscience immediately kicks in. They think of God first. In the previous fragments, we see that when they think they are about to be in a bit of trouble, they accept that it is due to their actions in the past. So, the brothers return to their father, Jacob, and inform him of what happened. Jacob is a little peeved. He sees that they no longer have Simeon with them, which reminds him that the last time they went out they lost Joseph, and now they are requesting that they take Benjamin with them. “These things are against” Jacob, and he essentially declines. However, Reuben, in the midst of a face turn, steps up and takes responsibility. “Kill my two sons if I fail to return Benjamin to you.” The brothers are starting to turn a corner it seems.
The Brothers Return with Benjamin. This time it is Judah who accepts responsibility. He tells an already leery Jacob that they were commanded to return to Egypt with their younger brother Benjamin. Judah tells Jacob that if they do not return with Benjamin that he could be held personally responsible. Joseph sees that his brothers did as commanded and prepares a feast for them. The tests Joseph is running his brothers through have not yet been completed, though.
The Feast with Joseph. Joseph sits his brothers down in chronological order. He is really messing with his brothers at this point. Maybe he is trying to clue them in. The feast begins and Joseph serves Benjamin double than the rest of his brothers. One can only assume that this is to see whether or not the other brothers will become envious. Apparently, they pass the test, but there is still more testing to come. How do you know that you have learned a lesson? We can think that we have learned a lesson, but we only truly know when another circumstance presents itself. If we fall back into old behavior, obviously, we have learned nothing. So far so good for the brothers.
Joseph Detains Benjamin. Joseph sends his brothers on their way, but unbeknownst to them he secretly places his, I guess silver cup, in Benjamin’s sack. He sends his steward after them to accuse them of stealing the cup. The brothers deny any wrongdoing, but when they empty their sacks, Joseph’s cup is revealed to be in Benjamin’s possession. “They tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey and returned to the city.” This is a familiar act, that of tearing their clothes. Their father Jacob did the same upon finding out that Joseph was “killed.” It is meant to represent a severe amount of anguish. As a group, they must have felt that they were turning a corner, only for that to be ripped out from under them. In what appears to be a final test, Joseph detains Benjamin and attempts to send the rest of his brothers on their way, probably to see if they would yet again leave one behind. Judah, who took personal responsibility for Benjamin, speaks up.
Judah’s Plea for Benjamin. Judah passes Joseph’s final test. He would not return to Jacob without Benjamin; he would not leave one of his brothers behind. They’ve accepted any possible consequence for their actions, they’ve accepted the responsibility to do better than they have, and they’ve finally come out the other side as changed men. The babyface turn has been completed.
Joseph Reveals His Identity. Well, there really isn’t a whole lot left to say as we approach the end of the story and the end of Genesis. The story has a happy ending and ends with reconciliation, peace, and contentment. Human beings don’t exactly know what to make of peace and contentment. When we find ourselves at peace, we don’t have a whole lot to say, do we? It is in tragedy, not triumph, that we have more to say. Probably because we need to be able to articulate ourselves when things are going wrong so that we have an idea of how to behave going forward. Anyway, Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. He is not angry, resentful, or vengeful towards them. Which is good, obviously, because if he was then the story wouldn’t end the way that it does. It is interesting that Pharoah is pleased that Joseph has rekindled the relationship with his brothers. The Pharaoh in Genesis seems to be relatively good, whereas the Pharoah in Exodus is quite the opposite. We do not know for sure, but the Pharaoh in Genesis is rumored to be Sesostris III, or at least one of the three Sesostris’, and the Pharaoh in Exodus to be Ramesses II. Jacob’s spirit is revived when he finds that Joseph is still alive. Well, certainly. May we live well so that our parents live long.
Jacob’s Journey to Egypt/Jacob Settles in Goshen. God appears to Jacob in the beginning of this, and I think it is interesting that God has to repeat his name. “Jacob, Jacob.” This is most likely due to Jacob’s advanced age. He is probably a little fearful of the journey and maybe he is a little skeptical that his son Joseph is still alive, but the Lord tells him not to be afraid. That is mostly what God’s message is. “Have no fear.” So, anyway, practically the whole family takes off to Egypt. There is a bit of a discussion about how to approach Pharoah, but it seems to go smoothly.
Joseph and the Famine. The famine is severe, but Joseph is prepared. He pretty much saves Egypt and the surrounding areas from death. Although, there was perhaps a mistake on Joseph’s part, as the transactions he made with the inhabitants of the surrounding areas led to Pharaoh having complete control. It’s hard to say, really, because he saved so many lives. What it is – is a precursor for what’s to come in Exodus, which is very much the rise of tyranny, and the escape of tyranny. As said earlier, the Pharaoh of this time, Sesostris 1, 2, or 3, is relatively good compared to Ramesses.
Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Sons, then his own. I will admit that I am becoming mentally exhausted, which might be why these are getting shorter. Maybe not, though. There might be just less in these. Anyway, it’s notable that Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons before his own. Perhaps for good reason, but Jacob might understand that his blood has something to do with the defective behavior of his offspring. In any case, he sort of calls his children out in a way. At least some of them. Reuben, Simeon, and Levi in particular. Something like, “Listen, yes, perhaps you emulated me to some degree, but your life is your responsibility. You did what you did, and you have to live with it.”
The Death of Jacob. I think Jacob probably welcomed this day. He was probably waiting for it. Jacob knew his home was with God.
The Burial of Jacob. I keep coming back to the apparent “goodness” of Pharoah. He seems to care for God’s children, this one. Again, not the Pharaoh that follows. Pharaoh goes with Joseph to bury Jacob, and I think that’s really something. Joseph made quite the impression on the people of Egypt, so much so that even the Egyptians grieved the loss of his father.
Joseph Reassures His Brothers. What do you do when the leader(s) are on their way out? I think about this quite a bit. There are some great people in my family that will eventually give way to time. The possibility that the foundation of our families collapses with the departures of the leaders is very real. Joseph’s brothers have a moment of weakness, here. They think Joseph will turn heel on them because, well, if anyone knows that human beings can and will turn heel, it’s Joseph’s brothers. Well, Joseph delivers them a Godly message. “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?” What more is there to do or say? Everything is going to be alright so long as we do not abandon our faith. Maybe this is a future blog, but I can remember breaking down a bit the other night thinking to myself, “I just want somebody to tell me that it is going to be okay.” An important distinction to make: Not that it is okay not to be. Because it is not. Now, this is of course me being in fear and not fully trusting, but that is the answer. God has already assured me, us, that all will be okay. Do not fear.
The Death of Joseph. “Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father’s household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. Joseph saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation. Also, the children of Makir, the son of Manasseh, were brought up on Joseph’s knees.
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. God will surely come to you and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”
So, Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years old, and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”
And that’s Genesis.
I want to thank you all for reading, if of course, you have. I hope that you have found these notes useful as I have. It was a lot of work. Exhausting work, but enjoyable work. Again, thank you all for reading.