Genesis 37-40

So Rachel and Isaac have died and Esau has moved away from Jacob into the country of Seir.  It is now time to move to our next main character a generation down: Joseph.

Genesis 37

  • Jacob settles in the land of Canaan, where Isaac lived.
  • At the age of seventeen, Joseph often tended to the flocks with his half brothers (Bilhah’s and Zilpah’s sons).  He told Jacob the bad things that they did.
  • Jacob loved Joseph more than the others.  He gave him a beautiful robe (the coat of many colors).  Joseph’s brothers hated him, since his father favored him.
  • Joseph had two dreams.  In one, his bundle of grains stood up while all his brothers’ bundles of grain bowed down to his.  In the other, the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him (his father, his mother, and his eleven brothers).  While his brothers hated him all the more, his father wondered what the dream may mean.
  • Jacob told Joseph to go check on the flocks at Shechem, since they had been gone for a while.  Joseph met a man on the way that told him they were now in Dothan.
  • His brothers noticed Joseph at a distance.  They plotted to kill him, but Reuben convinced them to throw him in a well instead (planning to save him later).
  • They threw him in the well.  Ishmaelite traders came by later, and they sold Joseph as a slave to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.  The traders headed off to Egypt with Joseph.
  • Reuben came back later and noticed Joseph was no longer in the pit.  Rather than worrying about Joseph, he wondered what would happen to himself.
  • He and his brothers killed a goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in it.  They took it to their father, who assumed Joseph had been killed by a wild animal (hmmm… they deceived their father… where have I seen this before?).
  • Jacob could not be comforted.  He said he would mourn to the day he died.
  • Back in Egypt, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoah and captain of the palace guard.

Genesis 38

  • At about the time Joseph was sold to Potiphar in Egypt, Judah married a Canaanite woman and had three sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah.
  • Er grew up and Judah arranged Er’s marriage with Tamar.  Er was wicked, so God took his life.
  • The law required Onan to marry Tamar (since he was the brother of Er and Tamar had no son, leaving her no heir).  Onan was not willing to have a child with Tamar… he used methods to prevent her from getting pregnant.  So God killed him too.
  • Shelah was still young, so Judah told Tamar to not marry until Shelah was old enough to marry her.  Until then, she would live with her parents.  But Judah had no intentions of Shelah marrying Tamar.
  • After a while, Judah’s wife died.  After the mourning, Judah went to Timnah to oversee the his sheep’s shearing.
  • Tamar heard word of this.  Knowing that Shelah had already grown up, she removed her widow garments and made herself look like a prostitute.  She sat at the road to the entrance to a village leading to Timnah.
  • Judah agreed to give Tamar an identification seal, a cord, and his walking stick in order to sleep with her (not knowing she was his daughter-in-law).
  • When Judah heard that Tamar was pregnant by prostitution, he said to bring her out and burn her.  Once she revealed that she had his identification seal and walking stick, Judah realized he was more in the wrong thn she was.  She was spared, but he never slept with her again.
  • Tamar had twin sons.  One baby started to be birthed first, but he draw back and the other baby was born first.  The firstborn was Perez (“breaking out”), while the almost-firstborn was named Zerah (“scarlet” or “brightness”).

Genesis 39

  • In Egypt, God blessed Joseph so that everything in Potiphar’s household flourished.  Potiphar put Joseph in charge of everything in his house and even let him make all the business decisions.  All Potiphar had to do was decide what to eat.
  • Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph to sleep with her.  He kept refusing, saying it would be a great sin against God.  Eventually, they were alone.  She again tried to seduce him, grabbing him by the shirt.  He fled, leaving his shirt with her.
  • Potiphar’s wife said that Joseph had tried to rape her, fleeing when she started screaming.  And she had his shirt for proof.
  • Potiphar threw Joseph into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held.  God continued to bless Joseph, so that the chief jailer put him in charge of everything.  Just like Potiphar, the chief jailer had no more worries, as Joseph took care of everything.

Genesis 40

  • Pharaoah’s chief cup-bearer and chief baker got in trouble with Pharaoah, so they were thrown in prison as well.
  • They each had a dream.  Joseph said that God could interpret dreams, so he could help them out.
  • The cup-bearer had seen a vine with three branches that budded and blossomed.  There were also grapes on it, which he made a juice from for Pharaoah.  Joseph interpreted it to mean that in three days Pharaoah would set him free, and he would keep his position.
  • Joseph also told the cup-bearer to put in a good word for him so that he could be set free from a prison that he did not deserve.
  • The baker had a dream of having three baskets of pastries on his head.  The top basket had bakery goods for Pharaoah, but the birds ate them up.  It meant that in three days, Pharaoah would cut off his head and impale his body on a pole, where birds would peck away at his flesh.
  • The interpretations proved correct: the cup-bearer was fine and the baker was killed.  However, the cup-bearer forgot all about Joseph.
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