Genesis 40 – Joseph Interprets Two Prisoners’ Dreams

Joseph has already been in prison for a long enough time to have earned great confidence from his keeper,  and now he is joined by Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and baker (roles important to any Pharaoh, should he not wish to be poisoned), who are imprisoned for an unnamed “offense against their lord of Egypt.”  These men would be accustomed to a better lifestyle and to having access to the magicians and “wise men” in Pharaoh’s court.  It would seem that the Lord has inspired them to be very curious about the dreams they have had; and the scripture tells us that these dreams did in fact each have its own interpretation (verse 5).

But now they have nobody to turn to in order to try to find out what these dreams mean.  Joseph, seeing their distress, persuades them to tell him about the dreams.  After hearing each one, he says “This is its interpretation” – as someone speaking with authority,  as indeed he was.  In verses 20-22 both prophecies are fulfilled, proving him correct (unfortunate for the baker).

But the cupbearer does not honor Joseph’s request to “remember” him to Pharaoh, and Joseph remains in prison.  But note his confidence that he can interpret those dreams, and the knowledge of where that gift comes from (verse 8).  After all he has endured – and still in prison, he clearly knows that God is helping him.

When circumstances in life are such that our own outlook seems dim, do we tend to wonder why the Lord has turned His back on us?  If we do our very best to serve Him, we can sometimes examine some of those times and see for ourselves how He has enriched us – or someone else through us.

In those situations, I have often found great comfort in the book of James, and am fond of the New American Standard version’s translation of James 1:2-4 ” Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

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Genesis 39 – Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

We move past Genesis 38 and the story of Judah and Tamar, who are related (pun intended) in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, as told in Mt 1:3 – and into chapter 39.  Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard, had bought Joseph from Ishmaelites.  Joseph was successful in this Egyptians master’s home because the Lord was with him; and because of that,  Potiphar enjoyed prosperity (v 5).  Verse 6 says “Joseph was handsome in form and appearance” (exactly as his mother, Rachel was described in Gen 29:17); and Potiphar’s wife would not leave him alone, trying to persuade him to “lie with” her. Unable to slip her grasp, Joseph just leaves her holding the garment and puts some “gone” between him and the master’s wife.

Considering her behavior, it’s not too surprising that she makes up the story that gets Joseph thrown in prison (v 17-18).  She places an interesting play on the term “laugh” in this chapter to drive the stake in deep.  She first uses the contempt that the men of the household would have for Joseph both as a slave, and by not being Egyptian of birth, to make the “attack” on her personal to them (v 14 “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us”).  Since the “he” in that statement is Potiphar, the whole thing then becomes partly his fault – further pushing any suspicion from herself.  In verse 17, she uses “laugh” in the intimate form as when Abimilech discovered “Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife” in Gen 26:8,  and knew she was not his sister.

Joseph again goes from a “most favored” status to fellowship with the king’s prisoners. But the Lord showed him steadfast love (v 21) and he succeeded in whatever he did there as he again won favor, this time with the prison keeper.

Two things are remarkable about Joseph in this chapter. The first is obvious – a young man being seduced by a desirable woman, yet he does the right thing.  Contrast his character with his brothers (Reuben with his father’s concubine in ch 35, and Judah with his own daughter-in-law – thinking he was visiting a prostitute as her face was covered in ch 38).  The other notable thing about Joseph is his statement to Potiphar’s wife that he could not do “this great wickedness and sin against God.” It is his recognition of what sin really means that has meaning for us today.  We sometimes hurt ourselves when we sin, and we often hurt other people because of it.  But it always hurts the Lord.

Notice as was the case with Potiphar, Joseph’s success with the Lord’s help was such that the prison keeper did not have to think about any of the things he was in charge of.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 37 – Joseph’s Dreams

Moving from Genesis 32 to Genesis 37 – here are some highlights we have skipped over.  Esau and Jacob’s reunion goes much better than he had feared, but they have little to do with each other. Esau and his people move from the land of Canaan, and he is the father of the Edomites (we will hear much about them, particularly after the Babylonian captivity). Dinah, Leah’s daughter is sexually assaulted by Shechem.  Ultimately, Jacob’s sons (led by Simeon and Levi, who slaughter him and all the males of the city) take their revenge.  Jacob seems more worried about himself and his reputation in the land than anything else.  Reuben has laid with his father’s concubine in an apparent effort to assume position in the family, very much a slap in the face of Jacob – for which he will carry a grudge.

Isaac has died, as well as Rachel (after bearing his son Benjamin). And as 35:22-25 state  “…Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. 23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant: Dan and Naphtali.”  So now we have the basis for the “twelve tribes of Israel.”

Jacob, having already proved he was not the best father, shows favoritism to Joseph and made him a “robe of many colors.” We read about this same Hebrew term (for the robe) again only in 2 Sam. 13:18, with (King) David’s daughter Tamar. So we know it is a very special coat, and simply seeing him wear it must have angered his brothers. Then Joseph has what can only be thought of as the bad judgment to tell them about his dreams that seem to signify his entire family bowing down to him. His angry and jealous brothers conspire to kill him. Reuben talks them into throwing him into a pit, hoping to save him later. But Judah talks the others into selling him to Midianite traders, who in turn sell him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.  Jacob’s despair, thinking he is dead, is deep after the boys pull off their deception (v 31-35).

Joseph has gone from favored son to prisoner in a far-off land – betrayed by his own family in the worst possible ways. How quickly ones fortune can turn! And soon, God will show that to be very much the case – as He has special plans for Jacobs’s favorite.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

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Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert