Bible blog 1710

This blog was following the book of Genesis in tandem with the gospel of Mark, the lAtter being completed two weeks ago. It will now complete Genesis. The whole series canbe accessed from my archive. The daily headlines are reminders of the world we live in.

POPE TO RECOGNISE PALESTINIAN STATE image

Genesis 46 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

46 Isra’el took everything he owned with him on his journey. He arrived at Be’er-Sheva and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Yitz’chak. 2 In a vision at night God called to Isra’el, “Ya‘akov! Ya‘akov!” He answered, “Here I am.” 3 He said, “I am God, the God of your father. Don’t be afraid to go down to Egypt. It is there that I will make you into a great nation. 4 Not only will I go down with you to Egypt; but I will also bring you back here again, after Yosef has closed your eyes.”

5 So Ya‘akov left Be’er-Sheva; the sons of Isra’el brought Ya‘akov their father, their little ones and their wives in the wagons Pharaoh had sent to carry them. 6 They took their cattle and their possessions which they had acquired in the land of Kena‘an and arrived in Egypt, Ya‘akov and all his descendants with him — 7 his sons, grandsons, daughters, granddaughters and all his descendants he brought with him into Egypt.

8 These are the names of Isra’el’s children who came into Egypt, Ya‘akov and his sons: Re’uven Ya‘akov’s firstborn; 9 and the sons of Re’uven — Hanokh, Pallu, Hetzron and Karmi.

10 The sons of Shim‘on: Y’mu’el, Yamin, Ohad, Yakhin, Tzochar and Sha’ul the son of a Kena‘ani woman.

11 The sons of Levi: Gershon, K’hat and M’rari.

12 The sons of Y’hudah: ‘Er, Onan, Shelah, Peretz and Zerach; but ‘Er and Onan died in the land of Kena‘an. The sons of Peretz were Hetzron and Hamul.

13 The sons of Yissakhar: Tola, Puvah, Yov and Shimron.

14 The sons of Z’vulun: Sered, Elon and Yachle’el.

15 These were the children of Le’ah whom she bore to Ya‘akov in Paddan-Aram, with his daughter Dinah. In sum, his sons and daughters numbered thirty-three.

16 The sons of Gad: Tzifyon, Haggi, Shuni, Etzbon, ‘Eri, Arodi and Ar’eli.

17 The children of Asher: Yimnah, Yishvah, Yishvi, B’ri‘ah, and their sister Serach. The sons of B’ri‘ah were Hever and Malki’el.

18 These were the children of Zilpah, whom Lavan gave to Le’ah his daughter; she bore them to Ya‘akov — sixteen people.

19 The sons of Rachel Ya‘akov’s wife: Yosef and Binyamin.

20 To Yosef in the land of Egypt were born M’nasheh and Efrayim, whom Osnat the daughter of Poti-Fera priest of On bore to him.

21 The sons of Binyamin: Bela, Bekher, Ashbel, Gera, Na‘aman, Echi, Rosh, Mupim, Hupim and Ard.

22 These were the children of Rachel who were born to Ya‘akov — in sum, fourteen people.

23 The sons of Dan: Hushim.

24 The sons of Naftali: Yachtze’el, Guni, Yetzer and Shillem.

25 These were the sons of Bilhah, whom Lavan gave to Rachel his daughter; she bore them to Ya‘akov — in sum, seven people.

26 All the people belonging to Ya‘akov coming into Egypt, his direct descendants (not counting Ya‘akov’s sons’ wives), totaled sixty-six. 27 The sons of Yosef, born to him in Egypt, were two in number. Thus all the people in Ya‘akov’s family who entered Egypt numbered seventy.

28 Ya‘akov sent Y’hudah ahead of him to Yosef, so that the latter might guide him on the road to Goshen; thus they arrived in the land of Goshen. 29 Yosef prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet Isra’el his father. He presented himself to him, embraced him and wept on his neck for a long time. 30 Then Isra’el said to Yosef, “Now I can die, because I have seen your face and seen that you are still alive.”

31 Yosef said to his brothers and his father’s family, “I’m going up to tell Pharaoh. I’ll say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s family, who were in the land of Kena‘an, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds and keepers of livestock; they have brought their flocks, their herds and all their possessions.’ 33 Now when Pharaoh summons you and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 tell him, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth until now, both we and our ancestors.’ This will ensure that you will live in the land of Goshen — for any shepherd is abhorrent to the Egyptians.”

Arriving in Egypt

Arriving in Egypt

Genesis 47 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

47 Then Yosef went in and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers have come from the land of Kena‘an with their flocks, livestock and all their possessions; right now they are in the land of Goshen.” 2 He took five of his brothers and presented them to Pharaoh. 3 Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” They answered Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, both we and our ancestors,” 4 and added, “We have come to live in the land, because in the land of Kena‘an there is no place to pasture your servant’s flocks, the famine is so severe there. Therefore, please, let your servants live in the land of Goshen.” 5 Pharaoh said to Yosef, “Your father and brothers have come to you, 6 and the land of Egypt lies before you. Have your father and brothers live on the best property in the country — let them live in the land of Goshen. Moreover, if you know that some of them are particularly competent, put them in charge of my livestock.”

7 Yosef then brought in Ya‘akov his father and presented him to Pharaoh, and Ya‘akov blessed Pharaoh. 8 Pharaoh asked Ya‘akov, “How old are you?” 9 and Ya‘akov replied, “The time of my stay on earth has been 130 years; they have been few and difficult, fewer than the years my ancestors lived.” 10 Then Ya‘akov blessed Pharaoh and left his presence.

11 Yosef found a place for his father and brothers and gave them property in the land of Egypt, in the best region of the country, in the land of Ra‘amses, as Pharaoh had ordered. 12 Yosef provided food for his father, his brothers and all his father’s household, taking full care of even the youngest.

13 There was no food anywhere, for the famine was very severe, so that both Egypt and Kena‘an grew weak from hunger. 14 Yosef collected all the money there was in Egypt and Kena‘an in exchange for the grain they bought, and put the money in Pharaoh’s treasury. 15 When all the money in Egypt had been spent, and likewise in Kena‘an, all the Egyptians approached Yosef and said, “Give us something to eat, even though we have no money; why should we die before your eyes?” 16 Yosef replied, “Give me your livestock. If you don’t have money, I will give you food in exchange for your livestock.” 17 So they brought Yosef their livestock; and Yosef gave them food in exchange for the horses, flocks, cattle and donkeys — all that year he provided them with food in exchange for all their livestock.

18 When that year was over, they approached Yosef again and said to him, “We won’t hide from my lord that all our money is spent, and the herds of livestock belong to my lord. We have nothing left, as my lord can see, but our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be enslaved to Pharaoh. But also give us seed to plant, so that we can stay alive and not die, and so that the land won’t become barren.” 20 So Yosef acquired all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh, as one by one the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine weighed on them so severely. Thus the land became the property of Pharaoh. 21 As for the people, he reduced them to serfdom city by city, from one end of Egypt’s territory to the other. 22 Only the priests’ land did he not acquire, because the priests were entitled to provisions from Pharaoh, and they ate from what Pharaoh provided them; therefore they did not sell their land.

23 Then Yosef said to the people, “As of today I have acquired you and your land for Pharaoh. Here is seed for you to sow the land. 24 When harvest time comes, you are to give twenty percent to Pharaoh; eighty percent will be yours to keep for seed to plant in the fields, as well as for your food and for that of your households and your little ones.”

25 They replied, “You have saved our lives! So if it pleases my lord, we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.” 26 Yosef made it a law for the country of Egypt, valid to this day, that Pharaoh should have twenty percent. Only the property belonging to the priests did not become Pharaoh’s.

27 Isra’el lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. They acquired possessions in it and were productive, and their numbers multiplied greatly

28 Ya‘akov lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; thus Ya‘akov lived to be 147 years old. 29 The time came when Isra’el was approaching death; so he called for his son Yosef and said to him, “If you truly love me, please put your hand under my thigh and pledge that, out of consideration for me, you will not bury me in Egypt. 30 Rather, when I sleep with my fathers, you are to carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.” He replied, “I will do as you have said.” 31 He said, “Swear it to me,” and he swore to him. Then Isra’el bowed down at the head of his bed.image

These long chapters complete the story of Yosef’s rescue of his family. Yaakov, the man of faith, once more receives word from his God, that the journey down to Egypt is part of the divine plan for his people whom he will again bring up from that land. If God’s promise is applied to Yaakov himself, then it will only be fulfilled, as the audience will find, in Yaakov’s burial by Yosef. God’s overarching providence is again noted: the descent of the tribe into Egypt is no unfortunate necessity, it is the means by which God’s promise to Avraham will come true. The list of those settling in Egypt is made to add up the perfect number 70: there are no exceptions, the whole of Israel comes to Egypt.

The meeting of Yosef with his father is briefly described, but is the centrepiece of the narrative: the son has led the father into a foreign land, where his life can be preserved. The father’s idle favouritism towards his son is replaced by the son’s effective rescue of the father. Both see this as an instance of God’s blessing.

I cannot make sense of the story about the brothers being or not being shepherds, since after all the fuss they tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds and he still permits them to settle the land. The alleged Egyptian dislike of shepherds may be to do with either a) they are usually nomads and wander into anybody’s land or b) the alien Hyksos who ruled Egypt called themselves shepherds. I think the storyteller wants to establish the Israeli right to the pastures of Goshen. 

Yaakov’s meeting with Pharaoh is marvellously described, with the elderly but powerless Yaakov pulling rank on Pharaoh by blessing him at the start and the finish of it.

The means by which Yosef reduced the free population of Egypt to servitude is given at length, so it’s not an irrelevant sideshow as many commentators think. Some indeed have seen it as an ironical prequel to the enslavement of Israelis by Egyptians, something that would give the ancient audience a wry laugh. I think that’s nearly right, but that it’s not funny. In his moment of triumph Yosef shows that he still hasn’t learned that making people bow down is wrong and has consequences, this time for his descendants rather than for Yosef himself. He has again been too clever for his own good.

The narrator’s commitment to the justice of God never wavers. Of course he did not learn this in a moment of ecstasy but rather was part of tradition which ascribed the best human justice to God, believing that it was a gift and a blessing.

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