Category Archives: Genesis
We have finally made it to the end of Genesis! Thank you for hanging around with me this long.
In this final chapter of Genesis, we see the entire funeral process for Jacob, and we also witness the eventual death of Joseph himself.
However, what stood out particularly strongly to me is what has always impressed me about Joseph. He was very quick to give God all of the credit He deserves for being the ultimate ruler of the universe.
When Jacob died, his other sons were worried about what Joseph would do to them now. I guess that they were worried that perhaps Joseph had been merciful to them for their father’s sake, but now that he was gone, that hedge of protection might be gone.
Gen 50:15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.
Gen 50:16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
Gen 50:17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
Gen 50:18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
Gen 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
Gen 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Gen 50:21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
As you can tell from that passage, Joseph was upset when he heard that his brothers were afraid of him. Perhaps this is because he has already forgiven them in chapter 45. Perhaps he was upset because he loved them and didn’t want them to be upset.
Then, this is what really stood out to me, his brothers were bowing to him and saying that they were his servants, and Joseph essentially asked them if they thought he was God.
When we get into positions of power, it is easy to have people praising what we do and thinking that we are all that. Joseph certainly had that as he was the second most powerful man in all of Egypt.
However, he quickly pointed out to them that he was not God. Since we will be leaving Joseph today, I thought it was appropriate to point this out one more time. He always turned all of the credit back to God and said that God made all this happen because of His will.
Now we reached the end of Genesis, I have to admit that I do have a newfound respect for the character of Joseph. He was always quick to acknowledge that there was a power beyond himself, and God deserved all the praise rather than Joseph himself.
See you all tomorrow in the exciting land of Exodus.
In Genesis chapter 49, Jacob knew that he was about to die, so he called all of his sons together to essentially tell them what will happen to them and their families in the future.
While there is a lot to say about each and every one, I think that Judah particularly stands out because of all of ties to Jesus that we can find throughout the passage.
Gen 49:8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.
Gen 49:9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
Gen 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
Gen 49:11 Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes:
Gen 49:12 His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.
Obviously, the Jesus reference comes through the strongest in verse 10. According to the Hebrew translator in my computer Bible produced by e-Sword, Shiloh is an epithet for the Messiah. Also, the fact that there would be no lawgiver out of Judah until the Messiah came also implies to me that the Messiah would come from Judah.
Maybe I am jumping a little bit too far on that alone, but the Messiah would obviously be a lawgiver, and if Judah would have one until the Messiah came, it isn’t that hard to think that the Messiah might come from Judah as well.
When you add that to the fact that the sceptre would not depart from Judah, if the Messiah came from anywhere else, that might be symbolic of the sceptre moving somewhere else.
All of the wine references make me think of the Last Supper and the fact that the wine was symbolic of the New Covenant between God and man that came into being through the blood of Jesus.
Obviously, the physical life of Jesus is chronicled in the New Testament, but you can already see prophecy concerning Him all the way back in Genesis. That is one of the most remarkable parts about the Bible. This document was written far before Jesus ever walked on the earth as a human being, but through divine inspiration, we can already see connections being made to the life of Jesus. No other book in history can compare to it.
In Genesis 48, something very interesting happened that didn’t normally happen in ancient cultures. Jacob/Israel was about to pass away, and before he did, Joseph wanted to go visit him with his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
Gen 48:3 And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me,
Gen 48:4 And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.
Gen 48:5 And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.
Gen 48:6 And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.
Israel essentially said that he was going to include Joseph’s two sons in his inheritance. I can’t imagine that this type of thing happened a lot in ancient cultures. Being included in the inheritance was a huge deal back then although I guess it still is today.
As we can see the future, these two rounded out the twelve tribes of Israel because Joseph and Levi did not receive land. However, Ephraim and Manasseh were both considered half tribes because Levi was still technically a tribe.
Regardless, these two half tribes made up the tribe that Joseph would have been. This wasn’t a punishment for Joseph, but it was more of a privilege for his children.
Israel was doing something that must not have been very common for the benefit of all two of his grandchildren.
While I have written before about the dangers of playing favorites, I think that this situation is a little bit different. He wasn’t playing favorites, but he was completing what should have been in place originally. Joseph should have received an inheritance just like his brothers did, and by giving an inheritance to his two sons instead, the puzzle was still complete so to speak.
I think that this shows something about the character of who God is. Even if things don’t seem to be adding up, God is a God of completeness. He doesn’t leave loose ends, and everything will always end up working out like He intended it to.
For example, when Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, God didn’t just say that He was going to have to alter his entire plan for the history of Israel. He doesn’t need to react to humans. He knows what humans will do before they do it. Since He is in control of both history and the future, He knew that He would complete everything that He had put in place from the beginning.
While it may seem strange that grandchildren were put on the same level as immediate children, the story does illustrate the concept of completion.
In Genesis chapter 47, it doesn’t seem like a lot of important stuff is really happening. After all, the entire nation is still under a very oppressive famine, and all of the people are beginning to trade in their property in order to get food.
Gen 47:19 Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.
It is obvious that people were worried about their lives more than anything else. They realized that all the possessions in the world wouldn’t help them if they died.
In a way, this is a good illustration of our spiritual lives.
I first encountered this idea Matthew Henry’s commentary, and I thought that I would expand on that thought a little bit.
First, so I can give credit where credit is due, here is what Henry wrote:
“Silver and gold would not feed them: they must have corn. All that a man hath will he give for his life.”
When I read this, I thought about everything we should give in the name of our eternal lives. For example, when you look at the life of Jesus, He gave up a lot to follow the will of His Father.
He gave up all of the comfort he had in heaven to come to earth and take on the form of a human. If that wasn’t enough, He was rejected by many, many people and ultimately had to die a humiliating and painful death to pay the price for sins that He never committed.
He gave everything He had for the purposes of God.
Similarly, we should be willing to sacrifice whatever is around us for the purposes of God. It is much easier for me to say that as a hypothetical concept, but it could easily be a reality for any one of us.
God can call us to do whatever He needs us to do whenever He wants us to do it.
Therefore, to kind of synthesize everything I have been saying, people want to try to do what they can to preserve their lives. In a spiritual sense, we need to be willing to give all we have. In particular, we should be willing to give everything we have for God.
Rom 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
In Genesis chapter 46, Israel very well might have been a little bit confused. Earlier in chapter 28 during the episode with Jacob’s ladder, God promised Jacob/Israel the land that he was standing on would be essentially an inheritance.
Now, Israel was being called to go down to Egypt, and God reassures him that that previous promise is still valid and that this is just a season.
Gen 46:2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.
Gen 46:3 And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:
Gen 46:4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.
Gen 46:5 And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.
Israel had to accept the fact that for the time being, God had a is slightly different plan for his life. Yes, his family would essentially end up on the land that they were promised, but they needed to go to Egypt right now.
I have heard that this is what happens to people sometimes when they are called to enter the mission field. According to the world’s definition, everything might be going perfectly. They might have a nice house, a well-paying job, a growing family and even a blossoming and flourishing Christian walk, but God might call on them for a radical change.
These people realize that they really need to go when God calls them. This feels like when Jesus called His disciples. Many of them left their jobs and presumably families to follow this teacher who was pretty much an unknown at the time. They did it because they had faith.
Israel didn’t have to go to Egypt, and he easily could have rebelled. He could have told God that he wanted to stay where he was because the land was promised to him and his family.
However, he didn’t do that whatsoever. He trusted God with everything he had and went down to Egypt.
This is yet another extension of the general theme that has been running through many of the stories we have been looking at in Genesis. When God calls you to do something, it is in your best interest to follow through. God will be in control of that and every situation, so we just need to follow through faith.
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Joseph could have been an incredibly bitter man, but in Genesis chapter 45, we see almost the exact opposite.
Finally, after everything that has been going on over the past few chapters, Joseph finally broke down and told his brothers who he really was.
At first, his brothers were afraid of this new prospect. After all, they could be in deep trouble. Joseph might hate them because of everything they put him through, and he was now in a position of power where he could easily make their lives miserable.
However, Joseph quickly put a stop to those thoughts.
Gen 45:4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
Gen 45:5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
Gen 45:6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
Gen 45:7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Gen 45:8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
Everything in this passage points directly back to God. Joseph never took any credit for becoming the second most powerful man in Egypt. He recognized the fact that everything was orchestrated through God’s plan.
As we go to Ecclesiastes 12:13, we find out what we are on earth to do.
Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
The entire purpose of our lives is essentially to glorify and respect God through all that we do and keep his commandments. Notice that that is our “whole duty.” There is no other task that we are called to do because this task fills the entirety of our mission.
Joseph obviously understood this concept even though the Biblical text as we know it wasn’t written when he was on earth. He understood that he wasn’t on earth to glorify his own accomplishments. He quickly turned the focus on what God had done through his life.
I think that this is a standard we should all strive for. When something goes really well, it is tempting to take credit for everything. It is easy to want to say that because I did something, a positive result happened.
However, when we take a page out of the life of Joseph and combine it with our mission as described in Ecclesiastes, we can understand a little more about how we are supposed to be God credit for what He does. It is one of our main purposes while on earth.
In Genesis chapter 44, I have to admit I kind of wonder what type of mind game Joseph was playing. Essentially, he forced his brothers to bring their youngest brother Benjamin with them if they wanted to buy more food.
However, it seems as if he only ordered Benjamin to come with them to cause controversy.
Gen 44:1 And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man’s money in his sack’s mouth.
Gen 44:2 And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack’s mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.
Again, he returned all of their money. That isn’t necessarily the problem here. He had his own personal goblet hidden in Benjamin’s bag to frame him in a way.
Why would he do that?
I think that he was testing all of his brothers to see if their attitudes and actions. After all, these were the guys who sold Joseph himself into slavery but seriously considered killing him first.
They were upset because he was the favorite son and had a vision that all of his family would bow down to him someday. Their resentment caused an awful lot of problems for Joseph.
Interestingly enough, Joseph and Benjamin were full brothers, and they were both the favorite children of their father Israel.
Gen 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.
Gen 42:4 But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.
Notice that both Joseph and Benjamin received special treatment. Perhaps Joseph was trying to find out if his brothers had any resentment towards Benjamin.
Perhaps he was trying to find out what his brothers would do. They were quick to try to get rid of him when he received special treatment, and maybe he was wondering if they would sell Benjamin out in a similar way.
He must have been relieved when he heard Judah speak from verse 18 through the end of this chapter. I won’t post all of the words here, but he essentially laid out the fact that they promised to keep Benjamin safe, and their father would be devastated if anything happened to him. Judah even offered to remain as a servant if Joseph would let Benjamin return home to their father.
First of all, Judah’s honesty and bravery are admirable. It must have been difficult for him to swallow his pride and essentially beg for his brother’s life. Nobody likes to be in a position where they are entirely at the mercy of someone else.
In a way though, that is our entire relationship with God. We need to swallow our pride and honestly recognize that we are sinful people who have no hope in and of ourselves. Then, we need to appeal to God and depend on his mercy to escape from this sin that we have been ensnared in. Of course, God’s mercy never fails.
Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
I know that the themes embedded in the salvation story are entirely woven throughout Scripture, and here is an interesting place where you can find an application of those lessons. Of course, it is not the entire story, but you can see some traits and connections here.
All of the sons of Israel knew that they needed to go back down to Egypt to get more grain, but they were nervous. Joseph was holding their brother Simeon, and he was only going to let him go if they brought their youngest brother Benjamin with them.
Israel didn’t want to risk losing another son. I can’t say I blame him whatsoever, but he didn’t seem overly worried about Simeon which is a little bit odd.
However, the famine was bad enough that Israel finally allowed all of them to go down to Egypt with Benjamin, but he gave them a piece of advice.
Gen 43:12 And take double money in your hand; and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand; peradventure it was an oversight:
I didn’t mention this in yesterday’s post, but when they left Egypt, Joseph commanded that all the money that they had brought to pay for the grain should be put back in their bags. However, he didn’t tell his brothers that, and they didn’t realize that until they got home.
They were understandably afraid that there was some mistake and perhaps they could be accused of thievery.
That is why Israel suggested that they bring the money again. They knew that they had bought the grain with that money, and they wanted to be honest about it.
That honesty paid off.
Gen 43:19 And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house,
Gen 43:20 And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food:
Gen 43:21 And it came to pass, when we came to the inn, that we opened our sacks, and, behold, every man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight: and we have brought it again in our hand.
Gen 43:22 And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.
Gen 43:23 And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them.
It is incredibly important to be upfront when we deal with other people. There are many Bible verses that talk about the importance of honesty, but let me give you a few of them right here.
Pro 12:22 Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.
Heb 13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
Israel had a difficult time with deception when he was younger, so it is nice to see him counseling his sons to deal honestly. We should try to explain everything clearly to people and not use people or situations for our own personal gains.
Genesis chapter 42 provides a very different situation than what we have seen before.
Joseph is now the governor of Egypt, and there is indeed a famine that God had warned Joseph about. Therefore, Joseph is in charge of distributing the stockpile of food that the government had put together.
His brothers came down to get some grain as well, but they didn’t recognize who Joseph was.
On the other hand, Joseph absolutely knew who they were, but he didn’t immediately reveal who he was.
Gen 42:7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
Gen 42:8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.
Gen 42:9 And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
Of course, the dream he was referring to came a few chapters back and made his brothers pretty mad at him.
Gen 37:5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
Gen 37:6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
Gen 37:7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
Gen 37:8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
However, while there is surely a lot to say about this story, the fact that God fulfilled every promise is what stands out to me.
At times, if I were Joseph, I might have wondered when this dream was going to come true or if it even would. After all, getting sold into slavery and thrown into jail on a totally fake charge are not typically the first steps on the pathway to be becoming a ruler.
Joseph didn’t lose faith though, and I think that is a major lesson we can learn from him. That faith characterized Joseph throughout his whole life, and he was mentioned for a different reason in the Hall of Fame of Faith in Hebrews Chapter 11.
Just like Joseph had this promise from God and knew that it would eventually come to pass, the Bible provides us with plenty of promises from God. Just like Joseph, we can know without a doubt that every promise God makes will come true.
If we keep our faith and trust in God, we will learn that there is something way beyond ourselves, and that is one of the best realizations we can never make.
In Genesis chapter 41, Pharaoh starts dreaming, and he wants his dreams interpreted. The butler remembered that Joseph had interpreted his dreams and recommended that Pharaoh talk to him.
Gen 41:15 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.
Gen 41:16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.
Again, before I move on with this story, I wanted to point out that Joseph wasn’t taking credit for any of this interpretation. It was God who was explaining it, and He was simply using Joseph to communicate His message. Joseph properly recognized this relationship.
The interpretation of his dream was also not quite so optimistic.
Gen 41:29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:
Gen 41:30 And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;
Gen 41:31 And the plenty shall be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.
Pharaoh ended up listening to Joseph, and they planned to use the surplus from the years of plenty to prepare for the inevitable famine.
If Joseph had not been in that place at that time, God would not have used him in such a powerful way. Of course, God can use anybody to accomplish any task, so He obviously still could have had someone else interpret that vision.
However, His plan was to have Joseph in that position to interpret that vision and to essentially have Pharaoh put him in charge of all of Egypt. That is why Joseph had to go through what he did.
From God’s perspective, He knew that He wanted to do great things through the life of Joseph. However, everything would not have worked out the same way if Joseph had never been sold into slavery and thrown in jail. God used every one of those challenges to mold Joseph into the person that he needed to become.
Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
God knew what the end was going to be. I know that happens in our lives as well. Sometimes, we don’t understand what is happening, but we need to persevere.
Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
It is definitely difficult to accept at times, but when you shift your perspective and realize that there is a greater purpose to every obstacle in life, it becomes a lot easier to persevere.