deception

Day 45

Time to get up to speed on some Genesis! Ooh yeah!


Genesis 44

Long story short, Joseph decides to screw with his brothers some more. As they’re leaving, he loads their bags with money, and puts his silver cup in Benjamin’s bag. Joseph tells his steward to follow them and accuse them of stealing.

The brothers are basically like, “Are you serious? We were honest and brought your money back. Why would we steal from you? Fine, you know what? If you find this stolen silver or whatever, then you can just go right ahead and enslave whoever has it.” At this point, after what happened last time, I don’t know why they didn’t search their bags beforehand.

Then the steward is all, “Alright, man. Slaves it is. By the way, Benjamin had this silver cup. Slavery, HOOO!”

The brothers tear their clothes out of grief and return to the city.

The last part of Gen 44 is Judah recounting their entire story to Joseph, including the conversation they had with their father before leaving, and the father’s extreme sorrow should Benjamin not return. Judah finally asks to stay in place of Benjamin rather than return and watch his father die from grief.

Favorite Quotes:

“Why have you repaid evil for good?”

— Joseph, Genesis 44:4

“What deed is this you have done? Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?”

— Joseph to his brothers, Genesis 44:15

The first quote is a question that I feel ought to be asked of many people, and in a larger sense, of the whole human race. The fact that we are granted life and will, granted the ability to have a human experience and explore this amazing world is good. Scratch that. It’s full-on capital-G Good. It is a goodness and a truth that we are alive and that we exist. But why, as a species, as a people, have we repaid this goodness and truth with evil? Why have we disrespected our brothers and sisters, why have we disrespected the earth upon which we live?

If you ask the Catholics, we are all tainted by Original Sin by virtue of birth, but I prefer a more psychological explanation that requires fewer assumptions. It seems fairly evident to me that we have people who are raised by imperfect parents and they grow up to be imperfect people. This is normal; no one is perfect. The problem is that insecurities arise, prejudices arise, assumptions arise, and hatreds arise. People lack respect and love for their fellow man, they lack understanding, and so we gossip, we despise, we are cruel to one another. We lash out to protect ourselves, but we perpetuate a cycle of pain. Why have we repaid evil for Good? It is a damn shame, but at this point in time, it could not be any other way.

The second quote just sounds intense. Something I could picture being read by Jules Winnfield (as played by Mr. Samuel L. Jackson, of course). “Did you not KNOW that such a man as I… can cer-tain-ly practice di-vi-na-tion?”

juleswinn

“N*gga, you really gonna drag me into this mess?” ¹

Hell yes, I am.


Genesis 45

Joseph finally breaks down after Judah pleads his case for his father’s life and the freedom of his brother, speaking passionately for he is truly his brother’s keeper. (See what I did there?) Joseph sends away all his servants and reveals himself to his brothers.

This is my favorite part of this story because Joseph tells his brothers not to grieve or be angry. He tells them it was good that he was sent to Egypt, because now with his ability to interpret dreams he has saved many people from famine and has provided for his family. He tells his brothers that it was God, not they, who landed him in Egypt. I like this because it is a Biblical illustration of the idea of little miracles adding up to bigger ones.

  1. Brothers become jealous of Joseph
  2. Brothers decide to sell Joseph to Midianites make money
  3. Joseph is sold in Egypt to the captain of the guard
  4. Joseph distinguishes himself in the house of his master, but is imprisoned from a false claim by the master’s wife
  5. Joseph meets Pharaoh’s butler and baker, who had landed themselves in prison
  6. Joseph interprets their dreams, the butler is freed
  7. Joseph is forgotten until the Pharaoh has a strange dream two years later
  8. The butler remembers Joseph and he is brought before Pharaoh
  9. Joseph becomes a trusted adviser with great power and is able to mitigate the effects of the coming famine
  10. Joseph is able to provide for his family during the famine and is reunited with his brothers.

Literally, God could have made this really easy and straightforward, but this is not the way the universe works. All these little things, the infidelity of the wife, the crime of the butler, etc., all these things had to add up over time to put Joseph in exactly the right place. This is the miracle, that all of these people, including him, his brothers, and everyone else… their actions collectively resulted in the new present moment. When a man becomes like a king, it seems more miraculous, but these patterns are all around us, even in the most mundane of places.

Joseph tells his brothers to retrieve his father and family, and that they will dwell in the land of Goshen and be provided for. Pharaoh hears all this and promises Joseph that he will help him take care of his father.

The brothers get back and tell the story to their father, who can scarcely believe it. When he sees the carts laden with food and grain, he knows that there is truth in their words, and vows to see Joseph, his son, before he passes on.


¹ Pulp Fiction, Directed by Quentin Tarantino. 1994 Miramax Films. Image accessed from http://mattfinchmediastudies.blogspot.com/2011/01/characterisation-jules-winnfield.html

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Day 43

THE END IS NIGH!

The end of Genesis, that is. Genesis only goes up to 50 or so chapters, so in a few days I’ll be knee-deep in Exodus. Looking forward to it.

Time to play catch up.


Genesis 42

Jacob knows that Egypt has plenty of grain, but it seems that given what his sons did to Joseph, they exchange a series of worried glances when Jacob mentions Egypt. Jacob/Israel sends his sons to buy grain. Long story short, Joseph recognizes his brothers but they do not recognize him. He accuses them of being spies and says that they must bring their youngest brother back with them, and that they must leave one of their number there. Benjamin, the youngest, was told to stay at home by Jacob, “Lest some calamity befall him” (Genesis 42:4).

After this demand, they realize that they are being punished, essentially, for what they did to Joseph in the past. It seems that their deeds have caught up to them. Reuben condemns them with several Biblically-worded I-told-you-so’s.

So Joseph holds Simeon there, he gives his brothers grain, and their money back, and the brothers go back and tell their father what happened. The brothers are worried that there is some kind of trick or trap awaiting them when they find all their money has been restored, and their father is afraid. Reuben promises that Benjamin and Simeon both will be safe.

Favorite Quote:

“Do this and live, for I fear God.”

— Joseph, Genesis 42:18

I spoke previously about the different meanings of the Hebrew word “yirah,” which is often translated as “fear.” Joseph’s point here seems to me to be that who shows respect and humility to God, and as such his word can be trusted.


Genesis 43

Israel is reluctant to send his youngest son with the boys, and so they refrain from returning to Egypt. Once all the grain is gone, they no longer have much choice. Israel gets upset at his children for having told Joseph that they had another brother, but it really wasn’t their fault. Judah finally convinces his father to send all of them, and Israel gives them gifts to bring to Joseph in hopes that he will be appeased.

Once they arrive in Egypt, Joseph has them taken into his house, and his brothers are afraid. They say in Genesis 43:18,

“It is because of the money, which was returned in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may make a case against us and seize us, to take us as slaves with our donkeys.”

They speak with Joseph’s steward and explain the situation and the misunderstanding, but he tells them there is no need to worry and returns Simeon to them before bringing them into the house. Joseph came out to meet them and spoke with them and then they sat to eat.

Joseph arranged them, “the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth; and the men looked in astonishment at one another” (Genesis 43:33). Joseph, knowing his brother’s ages, seats them accordingly. To them, this is shaping up to be some Twilight Zone business. Joseph serves Benjamin five times as much as anybody else, and they all eat and drink happily.

Favorite Quote:

“If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!”

— Israel, Genesis 43:14

Here we see Israel the father finally stop denying what needs to be done and turning his circumstances over to the grace of God. You know, for a family that has had so much interaction with the Lord, they sure do have their struggles with faith.

Good day, all. Peace be upon you.

Day 29

I almost forgot to play catch-up today. I’m going to knock this one out. Here we go:


Genesis 29

Jacob makes his way to Haran and meets Rachel, a shepherdess, outside the city. After having spoken to the local shepherds, he knows her to be Laban’s daughter. He moves the stone from the nearby well, helps her get water for her flock, and then kisses her. Man, Jacob is a smooth operator.

Rachel goes and tells her father, who invites Jacob into the house. Jacob stays with Laban for a month before Laban finally asks how he should pay Jacob for his service. Jacob wants to take Rachel as his wife, and in an absolutely terrible display of negotiating skills, volunteers to work seven years in order to wed Rachel.

Two verses later, Jacob’s labors are completed, and in a shocking display of audacity that I hope was somehow phrased more delicately in the original Hebrew, Jacob asks that he may have Rachel as his wife so that he “may go in to her” (Genesis 29:21). And he says this to her dad.

Maybe this was some kind of consummation thing? Because Laban tricks Jacob, and gives him Leah to sleep with instead. Jacob doesn’t realize this until the morning and he is understandably upset. Laban explains that it is not customary to give away the younger daughter before the older, and so Jacob has to deal with both. Since Laban couldn’t marry off Leah in seven years, Jacob gets a package deal. Although, it’s not really a deal, since things work out weird, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Laban tells Jacob to “[fulfill] her week,” and then he would be allowed to also take Rachel as his wife. This confused me a bit, but I looked up Adam Clarke’s commentary on the matter, and he explains that this is a reference to a “bridal week” which consists of long celebrations following a marriage.¹ In other words, once all the guests leave and this deception is finished, you can also have Rachel. But… you have to work seven more years afterwards!

“What a man soweth, that shall he reap. Jacob had before practiced deceit, and is now deceived.”

— Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible

Jacob works a total of fourteen years for his two wives, one of whom he never asked for, and Leah bore him four children at some point, while Rachel, whom he loved most dearly, bore him none. Matthew Henry’s commentary does not say much about this point except to dissect the names of Leah’s sons.

The most obvious information I gleaned from this chapter is in regards to Jacob’s labor. He works for such a long time to realize his dream, to manifest his life with Rachel. Sometimes, this is what we must do. Ask and ye shall receive, but remember that God works within the language of the world… asking God with words is only so helpful. God gave us bodies and minds that we may “ask” with those; our actions are like words, but much, much louder. Jacob does not pray for a “miracle,” but one can imagine him praying for strength and willpower that he may complete his task. I wonder if the reversal of roles was lost on him or not; perhaps he prayed for forgiveness now that he knows the feeling of being deceived.

Either way, I have a feeling we will revisit Jacob and his business tomorrow. I’m going to stay up and watch the eclipse.

Farewell, all. Peace be upon you.


¹ Clarke, Adam. http://biblehub.com/commentaries/genesis/29-27.htm