Archive for the ‘Genesis’ Category

Genesis 50

We wrap up Genesis 50 with Jacob’s death.  Joseph “fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him”.  He was heartbroken to see him die after their reunion together.  Joseph has his servants embalm his father, which took forty days.  It is interesting that not only did the family mourn Jacob’s death but “the Egyptians wept for him seventy days”.  Joseph was part of the kingdom, well loved and respected.  And that carried to his family who had come to live with him there.

But now Joseph has to keep a promise he made to his dad.  So he goes in to talk with Pharaoh in order to make a huge request.  “Let me please go up and bury my father”.  Joseph had been sworn to take Jacob back and bury him with his parents and grandparents, and Joseph now has to fulfill those wishes.  Pharaoh gives permission and sends a small army of people with Joseph to make the journey.  “Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen”.

Thus his sons did for him as he had commanded them, for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah”.  With Jacob dead and buried, the brothers of Joseph now begin to worry about what he might do to them for their selling him as a slave many years ago.  After all, maybe Joseph has been nice for the benefit of their father, and now will turn against them and punish them for what they did. So they come up with a scheme to “’Say to Joseph, Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you” which they were going to say was Jacob’s request.  Another lie which this family has been far too good at making.

Joseph wept when they spoke to him”.  Even after all these years of taking care of his family, they still don’t trust him.  Then Joseph makes a powerful statement we all should cling to every day.  “Joseph said to them, Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people. should be kept alive, as they are today”.  God is in control of all things.  Bad things may happen to good people, but they don’t happen without God’s knowledge and outside His plan.  He is in control.  He does take evil and turn it to good.  God has a way.  He will make a way through the wilderness if we only follow!

Genesis 49

Genesis 49 has a family gathering at Jacob’s death bed.  “Jacob called his sons and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come”.  Jacob does some blessing and vision casting for his boys.  It’s been quite a ride together as a family, and now Jacob has them all together for one last time before he passes away.  He brings them together and one by one talks about their future.  This is where he tells Rueben and Simeon that they have blown their place in the future of his lineage through their sinful acts.

Here is the list and words from Jacob:

  1. Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength….Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it
  2. Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords….in their anger they killed men, and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen
  3. Judah is a lion’s cub….The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples
  4. Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea
  5. Issachar is a strong donkey
  6. Dan shall judge his people
  7. Raiders shall raid Gad, but he shall raid at their heels.
  8. Asher’s food shall be rich, and he shall yield royal delicacies.
  9. Naphtali is a doe let loose that bears beautiful fawns.
  10. Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall
  11. Benjamin is a ravenous wolf

He talks individually to each of his boys, one by one, except for Simeon and Levi which he addresses together since they committed their sins as one.  Powerful way to say goodbye, as he gives direction for their future and lets them know what lies ahead.  As parents, we can learn much from Jacob’s example here.  We need to speak truth into our kids, even at an older age, and share what God has given us as a message for each of them.  Too often we aren’t very good about sharing God’s vision for our children when we may well be the messenger God wants to use to deliver it.

This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him”.  Jacob is ready to head to eternity with God, and gives one last command.  “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah”.  He wanted to go back home and be buried where his dad and grandfather were laid to rest.  Then he was ready to go to the Lord.  “When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people”.  Are you ready with your legacy?  Is it in place and has it been communicated?

Genesis 48

Genesis 48 is about legacy.  Jacob is about to die, and Joseph is told that his “father is ill” and comes to him along with his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim.  Jacob has carried the torch of God for 147 years, not without sin or failure to walk with God at times, but he is an example of a man who finishes well.  He is determined to pass the torch on to those who follow and does that here.  That is how we should live as well – finishing well and intentionally passing the torch to those who will follow us.

Jacob retells the story of God’s appearance to him and the promise that God would make him fruitful and a mighty nation.  He basically shares his testimony and the promises God had given and his experience walking with God.  And then Jacob adopts his grandsons as the ones who will carry on the lineage.  Jacob’s own two oldest sons – Reuben and Simeon – had disqualified themselves from a place of leadership in the family because of their sin so Jacob adopt’s these two sons of Joseph in their place.  From this time forward, most lists of the twelve tribes contain the names of Ephraim and Manasseh rather than Joseph.

If you look at the maps in the back of your Bible you will see a map that shows the areas given to the twelve tribes and you will notice something: There are twelve tribes but you don’t see the name of Levi (they were the priests and given land in each tribe) or Joseph, but you do see the names of Ephraim and Manasseh. In essence, Jacob is giving Joseph the double blessing that is generally reserved for the firstborn (Reuben).  The reason for this gift is that Jacob wants to honor the memory of his beloved wife Rachel, whom he lost early.  When she died a part of him died as well.

Then comes the blessing – a powerful thing for a father or grandfather to do.  “Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). And he blessed Joseph and said,”The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth”.  Have you blessed your children?  There is power in that act.

The chapter comes to an end with Jacob giving Joseph a piece of land.  This was a big ending for Joseph to make.  By giving his sons to Jacob, he was basically consenting to their rejection in respect to a future and position in Egypt.  All that he had worked for in that land would be given up as these boys became part of the sheep herding family that were his roots.  He had faith in God’s promises and was willing to pass the torch according to God’s design and put his boys in the place they could continue the legacy of Jacob.

Genesis 47

Genesis 47 has Joseph coming before Pharaoh to let him know his brothers and father had arrived from Canaan.  As Joseph had told them, Pharaoh asked what their occupation was and why they were there – and they answered honestly.  Pharaoh then invited them to live in Goshen on the best of the land in his kingdom.  “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock”.  Pretty good outcome considering they had sold Joseph off as a slave some 20 years earlier.

Then Joseph brings his father Jacob in to meet Pharaoh.  He too answers the questions of Pharaoh and then “Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out”.  Jacob describes his life as being few and evil – he had a hard life.  And now he will die outside the Promised Land as he finishes up his final seventeen years in Goshen.  Jacob dies at 147 years of age.  Here’s a summary of his life:

  1. He struggled with his brother even before he was born in his mother’s womb.
  2. His family was a mess – mom and dad weren’t on the same page at all about the boys
  3. He stole his father’s blessing from his brother
  4. He spent years serving his uncle getting cheated all along that time
  5. He planned to marry Rachel and ended up with four wives
  6. He finally fled from his uncle and had to develop a truce to allow him peace
  7. His only daughter was raped
  8. He lived in fear of attack when his sons killed the people who had raped their sister
  9. He lost the wife he truly loved at an early age
  10. His oldest son violated one of his women
  11. His favorite son was lost through deceit and jealousy of his other sons for decades
  12. He was on the verge of losing everything due to the famine happening in the world

Not an easy life indeed for Jacob.

Joseph continues to be wise in his administration of things for Pharaoh.  The famine continues:

–       “Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought. And Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house

–       they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys

–       Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for all the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe on them. The land became Pharaoh’s

–       I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh. Now here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land….at the harvests you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own

He collects all the money, livestock, and land over the years in exchange for food.  Now Pharaoh owns everything, and the people are slaves that will farm for him.  They get 80% of their efforts and have to give a fifth of their production to the Pharaoh, but that is how Joseph will create an ongoing and sustainable flow of food into the kingdom.  A brilliant plan through great leadership and strategy.

Genesis 46

Genesis 46 has Jacob (Israel) deciding it was ok to make the trip to see his lost and dead son Joseph.  At least that is what he had been convinced was the case.  This is a big deal as Jacob and the entire family have to leave everything that was familiar to them.  “God spoke to Israel in visions of the night….Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes”.  God directly communicated with Jacob that it is the right thing to do – to go to Egypt with all his family and livestock as Joseph had requested.  God makes that very clear to him.

Before leaving, Jacob offers sacrifices to God.  He doesn’t ask for anything but gives God praise that his son Joseph is alive.  We get a list of how many are going to make the trip here:

Sons of Leah – 33

Sons of Zilpah – 16

Sons of Rachel – 14

Sons of Bilhah – 7

All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy”.  This is quite a batch of people to move from Canaan to Egypt.

They take off from Canaan and begin the rather long journey.  Judah is sent ahead of the rest to show the way and to let Joseph know they are enroute.  Remember that Judah is the one who had made promises earlier about protecting his family before.  This shows that Jacob trusted his son, even with some of the shortcomings he has had.  Grace is part of God’s kingdom and needs to be part of our families.  As they moved closer “Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen. He presented himself to him and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while”.

The reunion happens and Jacob comes face to face with the son he thought he had lost 22 years earlier.  The fact that he is able to be reunited gives Jacob peace and he tells Joseph that he is now ready to die.  Joseph prepares his family for their encounter with Pharaoh and tells them to be completely honest – which hasn’t been one of the traits that defined the family over the years.  “Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians”.  He tells them not to play any games but to be truthful and trust God to take care of the situation.

Genesis 45

Genesis 45 has Joseph unable to contain the secret any longer.  “Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him….he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it”.  He’s been very controlled and been able to contain his excitement and love for his family, but now it has become known.  “Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence”.

Let’s face it – this was a shocker to his brothers.  And they are not sure what to think.  After all, they had sold him to slavery years earlier and they could easily have something coming in return for that betrayal.  But “Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life”.  Joseph has processed what has happened and has understood this was God’s plan – not that of his brothers.  He was sent to this place to do God’s will and to make a way for the lineage to continue.

He makes it very clear to them that it was not their plan that landed him where he is.  “So it was not you who sent me here, but God”.  Now that the cat is out of the bag, he is anxious to see his father.  “Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry”.  They experience some real healing family time together.  “Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him”.

But now it is time for them to go back home and bring everyone and their father back.  Pharaoh heard about the brothers – after all the secret was no longer a secret and Joseph’s servants had let Pharaoh know.  So he orders that they be given all they need to bring back Jacob and all the family and livestock to live in Egypt.  They head home and tell their dad but “his heart became numb, for he did not believe them“.  This was a pretty big change from the lies they had told and convinced him of years earlier.  But they persisted and convince him he should go.  “It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die”.  There is one more chapter to this story yet to be told.

Genesis 44

Genesis 44 has Joseph setting up his brothers in the next phase of his plan to restore his family.  He has managed to get them to bring his little brother Benjamin to Egypt, and now has his servants set up the fall of the brothers again.  As they prepare to leave with the second batch of grain they had purchased, Joseph instructs his servants to “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain”.

The brothers take off to go back home, and shortly after they left Joseph sends his servants after them.  They catch them and accuse them of stealing a silver cup, and when they make the accusation, of course the brothers all deny it.  In fact they said “Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord’s servants….the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack”.  That didn’t turn out like they had planned at all.  The brothers are distraught knowing that this is the worst outcome they could have had.

Jacob had made it clear that Benjamin was to be protected and brought back at all cost.  So now there is a big dilemma.  Joseph tells them the rest can leave, but Benjamin had to remain.  Judah steps in as he had pledged to his father that he’d get the boy back safe.  Now his skin is on the line.  He tells the entire story to Joseph in great detail.  Joseph had to be quite controlled as he relived the story of his sale and the lies that were told to his dad about him being killed by a wild animal.

Judah finally pleads saying “Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol”.  Those were the words of his father Jacob, and Judah makes an impassioned offer to trade himself for Benjamin so the lad could be taken back to his dad.  What a plot Joseph has in his mind to bring everyone together bit by bit.

Genesis 43

Genesis 43 has the famine in Canaan continuing and getting worse.  So Jacob evaluates things and “when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, Go again, buy us a little food”.  He sees the writing on the wall – they are going to starve is they don’t get some more grain.  The brothers won’t go back unless they can take Benjamin with them which is what Joseph had told them had to happen if they were to return.  Jacob is not interested in that – but finally gives in.

He tells them to take some of the fruit of the land, along with double the money (returning the money that they had brought back the first time), and Benjamin.  Jacob’s comment on the money was that “perhaps it was an oversight”.  Not likely given the situation in Egypt, but he sends them on.  “So the men took this present, and they took double the money with them, and Benjamin”.  When they arrive they are taken to Joseph’s house.  The brothers are freaking out believing that they are in trouble because of the prior visit and the money being returned in the bags of grain.

The men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph’s house”.  After all, they were from a foreign land and wouldn’t expect to be taken to the house of the #2 man in the kingdom.  But they are, and they talk with the steward of Joseph’s house and confess the money in the bag situation.  But they find out that he was in fact the one who had taken their money earlier, and put it back.  God takes away the fear by connecting the dots for them.  “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money”.  All is well.

They still have no idea who Joseph is.  He comes home for lunch and asks them “about their welfare and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke”?  Once again, “his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep”.  Joseph is still very connected even after all they have done to him and years being apart.  He is so glad to see his younger brother Benjamin, as well as the rest of his family.  He feeds them and cares for them and they just “looked at one another in amazement”.  How could this be happening?  It was because of the grace of God who takes all things and puts them together for good!

Genesis 42

Genesis 42 has the famine reaching the land of Canaan where Jacob and his people are.  “Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, Why do you look at one another”?  It seems pretty obvious doesn’t it – that in the midst of famine when there is an option for grain in a neighboring place, you would load up and go get some.  Jacob tells them “Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die”.  So ten of his sons (all but Benjamin) go to Egypt to buy grain and when they get there – “Joseph was governor over the land….Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him”.

He grills them and treats them roughly because it wasn’t time to reveal his identity yet.  Joseph wanted a full family reunion.  So “he put them all together in custody for three days”.  They were locked up and confined while Joseph made it clear who was in charge.  But after their captivity, he lets them out and instructs them to “bring your youngest brother to me”.  Joseph wants to see his little brother.  The rest of the brothers argue about the penalty they are now paying for how they had treated Joseph many years earlier when they sold him into slavery.

Joseph is touched by their discussion.  They didn’t realize he could understand them but he could, and as he did “he turned away from them and wept”.  His heart was touched and the sweetness of the potential of a reunion with his father and all his brothers was overwhelming.  He has his people pack their bags with grain, and also instructs them to return the money they had brought along to pay for the grain in the top of each sack.  They discover it on their return trip when they stop to feed their animals and are fearful of what that may mean.

As they get back to Canaan and their father, they tell the story of this man in Egypt and his rough treatment of them.  They recall the accusation of being spies, and how he insisted they return with their younger brother in order to secure the release of Simeon who was kept in jail to guarantee their return.  Jacob was not pleased when he learned they intended to take Benjamin there.  He said “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left”.  Remember that Joseph and Benjamin were the only two sons of Rachel, and he wasn’t about to lose the second as he had accepted the lie that Joseph was dead many years earlier.  Even with Reuben’s promise of safe return, Jacob is not ready to allow it to happen.

Genesis 41

Genesis 41 has Joseph still locked up and in jail.  “After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed”.  Sounds familiar – dreams seem to be an area that Joseph was good at.  He had correctly interpreted the dreams of the cupbearer and baker two years earlier, and now Pharaoh has a dream but “in the morning his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men”.  He knew it meant something and wanted to understand what that was, but just couldn’t find anyone who could explain it.  “Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, I remember my offenses today”.  So the cupbearer told his story of Joseph’s dream interpretation.

It didn’t take Pharaoh long to act.  “Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit”.  Amazing how quickly Joseph went from prisoner to dream whisperer.  But Joseph doesn’t take any credit for his ability.  He points to God as the source.  “Joseph answered Pharaoh, It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer”.  He knew where the source of wisdom came from.  And he was quick to make that the center of his ability.  “God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do”.

There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt”.  Joseph makes it very clear that a major disruption is coming, so he continues and tells Pharaoh to “therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt”.  Joseph doesn’t position himself for that spot.  He simply gives the wisdom and plan from God.  But Pharaoh figures out the best solution is Joseph himself and says “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command”.

So once again Joseph rises in power from prison to the top of the food chain.  He is now the man in charge of preparing for the pending disaster.  “Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt….He put in every city the food from the fields around it”.  Joseph prepares for famine.  And just as God had given him interpretation, “The seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said”.  Things are bad and people began to be in hardship as they didn’t have enough to eat.  Pharaoh was clear on his plan. “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do”.  God has again made Joseph the man in charge.

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