(I am away from the group today) the last chapters describesome experiences Abraham’s descendants had while in Egypt. It included the death of Jacob and burial in Canaan. Then it described the death of Joseph and the way tat Judah was designated to be the tribe to carry on the heritage of Abraham. I wonder why it wasn’t Joseph. .
The following commentary was supplied by Al Grundstad:
Lost Boys Mad Dash to the End
Genesis: Chapters 45-50: Tuesday December 18
These are some of the issues the Lost Boys dealt with on our quick march to the book’s end.
This chapter tells the story of Joseph and the reconciliation between him and his brothers. Joseph had been made “a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” Joseph says that this is all God’s doing, and that his being sold into slavery to the Egyptian was God’s plan for the salvation of the Nation of Israel. This allowed Joseph to protect his family during a 7 year famine, and give them the “land o’ Goshen” in which to settle. He sought to save his family rather than seek revenge. This chapter was all about the forgiveness and reconciliation that god required of Joseph’s family so it would continue its nation building.
This chapter tells of the transfer (somewhat a leap of faith in that day as it would have been very difficult and dangerous) of the entire Nation of Israel to Egypt. The most notable comment of the story was Bill Nibbelink’s clever dodge of the difficult reading of all the names of the 12 sons of Jacob (frequently called Israel) and the sons of their son’s. This is the enumeration of the twelve tribes that would become the Nation of Israel. He reflected that chapters 9-25 contained many names that would be suitable for naming cats. He then picked up the story at verse 26.
An interesting segment dealt with the livelihoods of the tribes. They and all who went before them were shepherds and keepers of livestock. Joseph, knowing full well that Egyptians do not abide Hebrews let alone shepherds, makes sure that, when asked (in chapter 47), the brothers all tell Pharaoh that is what they are. We speculate that this may have been an ethnic purity tactic, allowing only these tribes to live in Goshen, apart from the Egyptians.
What is a blessing? What does it mean to be blessed? Who can give a blessing? There was a bit of blessing going on in this chapter. We discussed the possibility of a blessing sometimes being a promise, as “I will bless you with a child.” In a lesser way a blessing can be a wish or projection of some future outcome. It was discussed that blessings usually came from a high place to a lower place – a king to a subject, a priest to a parishioner, a father to a child, God to his people. So how does one come to a position where they are able to give blessings, and recipients come to expect the outcome?
Briefly we reflected back on the burials of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac back in Hebron. The tribes are in their new land, surviving a period of starvation and famine, but when it comes time there is every intent that one will go home. Jacob insists that he be taken back to Canaan upon his death. Birthright, family, tribe, nation; Israel was to stay united even after death in the land which God promised them.
More blessing. Jacob is near death. His favorite wife Rachel has died. Jacob blesses Joseph and asks to see Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Jacob puts his right hand on the head of the younger child (Ephraim) and his left hand on Manasseh – breaking the rules of primogeniture.
Blessings to end all blessings. Jacob blesses his sons, the tribes of the Nation of Israel. Here a blessing appears as a future projection based on one’s past behaviors and/or basic nature. Down the line Jacob lays the expectations of each tribe, in front of all the leaders of the tribes. Some good; some not so good. Some will be great; others not so much. Jacob also appears to be outright future telling by saying things like “Gad, atroopshallovercomehim: butheshallovercomeatthelast.”
After he had blessed all the tribes, Jacob reclined to his bed, drew his feet under himself, and expired. It would appear at that point Israel had become a nation.
Jacob is buried in the manner he wished. The brothers now are frightened that Joseph will now exact revenge on them for what they did. Joseph rather decides to leave that judgment to God. He promises to nourish the tribes and the tribes recognize him as their leader.
Joseph lived out the remainder of his 110 years and is buried in Egypt. We questioned the significance of the decision to bury him there and not in Canaan. It may be that, as Joseph believed to the end that God had sent him to Egypt as part of a great plan, they felt that God had decided that Egypt, not Canaan, was Joseph’s home.