Friday, July 5, 2024

Hillsdale College: Genesis Story Video 6 Joseph

 Lecture 6: Joseph

Video : Joseph Ch. 37-50

-Genesis ends with the long and complex story of Joseph

-a penitential narrative that is a fitting transition to Exodus

-pinnacle of artistic as the longest and most cohesive narrative 

-parallel structures predicated upon as what we see as a penitential narrative meaning the story of Joseph is told twice 

-brothers who betray him by selling him into slavery then Joseph in Egypt when Benjamin returns to become the new Joseph and his brothers tempted to do to Benjamin like they did to Joseph because both Joseph and Benjamin are the sons of Rachel who are the favored sons of Israel

-The Joseph story begins when Esau meets Jacob in reconciliation where Jacob lines up his family in preferential order-hierarchy of his sons with Joseph being the most protracted by Israel

Ch. 37: 1-4

**Clues in the chapter

-lineage of Jacob: Joseph 17 years old, focus immediately on Joseph

-Joseph brought ill report to their father (youngest brother just being a snitch-tattle tale?)

-the brothers do not hate Joseph because of his tunic but the narrative set up that Joseph is the favored son so they hate him for being the favorite

-the tunic represents his ornate status of being favored by Israel

Vs. 5-8

-Joseph dreams a dream and tell his brothers that one day he will rule over them

-Joseph becomes a reader of dreams (not a dreamer)

-In this dream we see Joseph as the dreamer 

-Why does Joseph tell his brothers about his dreams? To needle them or is he just curious at the meaning of the dream 

-Joseph not the reader of dreams yet in the narrative

-Joseph recounts a second dream to his brother of the sun and moon, and 11 stars bowing

 Then his brothers went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.”

So he said to him, “Here I am.”


-Joseph is not bringing an ill report just to bring it but Jacob asks him to check on his brothers and bring back a report

“Then he said to him, “Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me.” So he sent him out of the Valley of Hebron, and he went to Shechem”

Vs. 18-20 the plot to kill Joseph

-They plan to kill him and fling him into one of the pits and tell their father he was devoured by a vicious beast 

-They are speaking in a unified manner (all at once with the same hatred of Joseph)


-all the sheaves on one side and Joseph separated by himself

-we see the sibling rivalry play out differently from Esau and Jacob which was one against one, but with Joseph it is all 11 brothers united  against the 1 beloved brother

Reuben only one speaking up to not take his life 

 But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, “Let us not kill him.” 22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him”—that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father. 23 So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. 24 Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it.

****Detail: Reuben is the eldest son-trying to help Joseph

-Reuen is the one who slept with one of Israel’s concubines so there is a break in his relationship with his father

-now think about what would happen if all the brothers fling Joseph in the pit and Reuben is the one who rescuers Joseph 

-But also if Reuben does save Joseph then what would happen to the other brothers? They are willing to sacrifice one brother, but Reuben is willing to throw all the brothers under the bus on behalf of Joseph to gain his father’s good graces as the 1st born

They decide to sell Joseph instead:

And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead with their camels, bearing spices, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry them down to Egypt. 26 So Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.” And his brothers listened. 28 Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

-Note***Judah wants material gain in selling Joseph into slavery

-Reuben came to the pit and his plan was changed as can’t rescue Joseph so they put blood on the tunic and take it to Israel to identify it to see Joseph is dead

-The news and Israel’s response is a condensed view of his favoritism of Joseph and his brothers hatred against 

And he recognized it and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. 35 And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, “For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.

-mourning beloved son-all his children come to try to comfort him and he refuses them 

-Israel is rejected all the love from all his other children on behalf of his one beloved son

Chapter 42: Joseph’s brothers arrive in Egypt

Note: Judah and Tamar scene

-shows how mercenary Judah is, quick to be is judging others, how unjust he can be, not giving up his own son who he is afraid will die if he marries Tamar 

-When we Judah again he is radically changed, transformed in the text, Judah’s tough exterior is cracked, has moments of introspection, he sees his own responsibility in the lives of others

-Ch. 42-Joseph has read all the kings dreams and is now a high ranking official

-Book end narrative to the Joseph story as the brothers are now coming before him

-Repetition patterned story with Benjamin

So Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, “Lest some calamity befall him.”

Story structure: Will the brothers do the same and sacrifice Benjamin?

***note that the brothers all bow down before Joseph like the dreams he had dreamed

-Joseph makes a weird accusation against his brothers calling them spies 

How is this connected to the previous Joseph story?

-2nd part of the Joseph story is the playing out of the first part

-Joseph needs them to see their misdeeds-he needs them to replay that drama one more time

-to get them to stop and turn back from their ways, to see their errors

Why accuse them as spies?

-that is what they accused Joseph of being- a spy for their father

-turn of events Joseph is accusing them of being spies

Vs. 10- The set up:

3 And they said, “Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and in fact, the youngest is with our father today, and one is no more.”

14 But Joseph said to them, “It is as I spoke to you, saying, ‘You are spies!’ 15 In this manner you shall be tested: By the life of Pharaoh, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you, and let him bring your brother; and you shall be [c]kept in prison, that your words may be tested to see whether there is any truth in you; or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies!” 17 So he [d]put them all together in prison three days.

Then Joseph said to them the third day, “Do this and live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined to your prison house; but you, go and carry grain for the famine of your houses. 20 And bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die.”

Change in the strategy:

-1st he says one will go and all the rest will stay 

-remember Reuben’s plan to save Joseph and get back into good graces of Israel

-so it would be one brother and Benjamin against the other brothers with this set up

-Question is will we give up all the other brothers for the one?

-Twist: Joseph switched it that only one brother will stay and the others will go get Benjamin

-again all the brothers against one brother 

-Joseph’s plan is working as the brothers reflect on the sin against Joseph

And they did so. 21 Then they said to one another, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.”

-Reuben-at first they all speak as on voice and Reuben being one who speaks out and once again Reuben speaks so the pattern is repeated 

-Joseph weeps-but then puts in money in their sack so they will be looked at as spies and thieves

-reminder that they sold Joseph for money 

-Simeon is the brother aht stays in Egypt 

-they report everything to Israel and in order to get Simeon back they must bring Benjamin to Joseph (sacrifice imagery repeated)

Israel’s response Vs. 36-37:

 Then it happened as they emptied their sacks, that surprisingly each man’s bundle of money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid. 36 And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.”

-Reuben speak up to put both brothers in his hands to try to gain Israel’s good graces

-Rueben willing to sacrifice his two sons for his two brothers - especially on behalf of Benjamin

Israel’s response:

But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is left alone. If any calamity should befall him along the way in which you go, then you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.”

-All the children listening once again that Benjamin alone is the beloved son

-Israel saying that he will keep Benjamin and let Simeon stay in Egypt (willing to sacrifice Simeon)

-Replay of the Joseph story-Israel will not be consoled is something happens to Benjamin

Chapter 43

Plotline-They bring Benjamin to Egypt 

-Vs. 11 Israel relents to allow Benjamin to go to Egypt with his brothers

So the man brought the men into Joseph’s house and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys feed. 25 Then they made the present ready for Joseph’s coming at noon, for they heard that they would eat bread there.

-They bowed down in front of Joseph yet again-the dream 

-Joseph sees his brother Benjamin and has to leave to weep and get composes

-When he returns he breaks bread with all his brothers

-The brothers are astonished because Joseph seats him in order of their birthright

 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth; and the men looked in astonishment at one another. 34 Then he took servings to them from before him, but Benjamin’s serving was five times as much as any of theirs. So they drank and were merry with him.

-Joseph paints a picture to serve the eldest 1st? Setting up propper birth order. But, the last gets the biggest portion

-It is a reminder of the favoritism that exists in this family -favor heaped on Benjamin

Chapter 44: The next set-up:

-the goblet is planted in Benjamin’s bag to accuse him of stealing 

-When accused the brothers say to kill the guilty brother and the rest would become slaves because they were for sure none of them would steal from Joseph

-Irony-it is joseph's story of either killing him or selling him into slavery 

 And he said, “Now also let it be according to your words; he with whom it is found shall be my slave, and you shall be blameless.” 11 Then each man speedily let down his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack. 12 So he searched. He began with the oldest and [b]left off with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 Then they tore their clothes, and each man loaded his donkey and returned to the city.

14 So Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, and he was still there; and they fell before him on the ground. 15 And Joseph said to them, “What deed is this you have done? Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?”

-Joseph gives the brothers the option of leaving Benjamin as a slave and letting them go home free to their father


-here is the culmination of the history of Joseph’s story-the favoritism of the family-The choices the brothers made-the repetition of sacrifice 

-They have a choice-they could go back and tell Israel Benjamin is a thief and throw that favoritism in Israel’s face-they could rid them of the beloved son to restore the family with no more favoritism, to sacrifice Benjamin like they had done Joseph-they could justify leaving Benjamin because he is a thief-show their father that he was wrong to favor a thief

But-Judah can’t do so:

27 Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons; 28 and the one went out from me, and I said, “Surely he is torn to pieces”; and I have not seen him since. 29 But if you take this one also from me, and calamity befalls him, you shall bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.’

“Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since his life is bound up in the lad’s life, 31 it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave. 32 For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father forever.’ 33 Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. 34 For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would [c]come upon my father?”

-All the sacrificial systems-exchanges-sacrificial brothers-

-All is undone with the self-sacrifice Judah is putting out in front of Joseph

-He who suggested slavery for Joseph is now accepting to become a slave on behalf of his brother. He sacrifices himself for the one he assumes is guilty

-He sacrifices himself for the love of his father even though he knows that his father loves Benjamin over Judah

-Judah can be seen as the hero in this story as he swallows all the rivalry, knowing whom Israel favors and loves, but still willing to take the place of Benjamin 

Chapter 45: Reconciliation

Joseph sees this sacrificial story is broken and opens for reconciliation:

-He reveals himself to his brothers 

Ch. 50: Culmination of Joseph’s dream

-The brothers beg for forgiveness and attest they are Joseph’s servants 

-they now understand the dream and bow down before Joseph 

-Would you rule over us when asked about the dream?

-now accepting Joseph’s rule over them at the end of the narrative 

-They want to fulfill the dream by becoming Joseph’s slaves 

Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke [d]kindly to them.

Comes full circle-Joseph reads his dream:

-the dream was not about being master or lord, but about sustenance- one brother, Joseph, keeping his brothers alive

-he rejects their dream of lord and master, but instead offers them an understanding that the dream revealed he will take care of his brothers not rule over them like a tyrant

-Joseph gets to read the dream of the the young Joseph who dreamed 

So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. 23 Joseph saw Ephraim’s children in the third generation. The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph’s knees.

24 And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely [e]visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

-Note: Joseph dies at 110 which is the age of perfection in Egypt where it is 120 in Israelite tradition

-Egyptian flavor that leads into Exodus where we find the Isrealites in slavery to Egypt