Outline of the Joseph Story • 37:2a This is the story (toledoth) of the family of Jacob • 37:2-36 Joseph is sold into Egypt • 38:1-30 Tamar and Judah • 39:1-20 Joseph, Potiphar, and Potiphar’s wife • 39:21-40:23 Joseph in prison (with butler and baker)
Outline (continued) • 41:1-57 Joseph in the palace (interprets dreams; develops strategy against hunger) • 42:1-38 First visit of ten brothers to Egypt • 43:1-45:28 Second visit of eleven brothers to Egypt (bring double money; steward: I received your money; silver cup in Benjamin’s sack)
Outline (continued) • 46:1-47:31 Jacob and descendants go to Egypt (Joseph acquires money, livestock, and Egyptians themselves for Pharaoh) • 48:1-50:26 Last days of Jacob (taken back to land for burial) and Joseph
How to tell a story • A little novel (contrast with the rest of Genesis) • Dreams in pairs; strong on symbolism, no words (first two get him into trouble; second two get him out of trouble) • sheaves (no interpretation needed) • heavenly bodies (no interpretation needed) • Butler and baker (Joseph interprets) • 7 fat/7 lean cows; 7 full.lean ears of grain (Joseph interprets; God alone gives dreams)
God’s hidden causality • God was with Joseph (39:5 Yahweh blessed Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake) • God prospered his affairs in prison • God-given ability to interpret dreams • 45:5-8 God sent me to preserve life; 50:19-20 you meant evil; God intended good
Joseph interprets events • For God sent me to preserve life…So it was not you who sent me here but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. • Do not be afraid! Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.
“Bow Down” • 37:7 Your sheaves bowed down to my sheaf • 37:9 The sun, the moon, and the eleven stars were bowing down to me • 37:10 Jacob: Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you? • 42:6 Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him on their first trip (cf. 43:26, 28) • 47:31 Israel bowed to Joseph
Significance of potential wrong endings • Joseph could have been killed in the pit • Joseph could have succumbed to sexual temptation • Joseph could have been executed because of the accusations of Potiphar’s wife • Unjust imprisonment could have ended the story
Potential wrong endings • The butler forgot him 40:23 • Jacob might have refused to let Benjamin go on a second trip • Brothers could have let Benjamin hold the bag when cup found.
The role of Chapter 38 • Joseph sold…Judah buys • Kills time while Joseph travels to Egypt • Tamar plays a role parallel to Potiphar’s wife • Reminds the reader that Judah is the other main character • You are more righteous than I!
The Role of Judah • 37:26 Judah saves Joseph: Let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites • 38 The adventures of Judah • Judah’s poor eyesight • Judah sires twins as Joseph does later • Perez beats out Zerah, just as Ephraim beats out Manasseh • 43:1ff. Judah takes full responsibility for Benjamin with his father Jacob
Judah (continued) • 44 Judah surpasses Joseph in love for his father. “Let me stay as a slave in Benjamin’s place.” (v 33) • 46:28 Judah goes ahead when his father and brothers go down to Egypt • 49:7-12 The scepter shall not depart from Judah…until tribute comes to him; and the obedience of the peoples is his. • Genesis ends with focus back on Judah.