Genesis 46: Israel and his entire family are on the move to join Joseph in Egypt. I noticed again that the text uses Israel and Jacob interchangeably. Even when it is God speaking to him. For example, “When Israel set out on his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. ²God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob.’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’” (Gen. 46.1-2) I’m still a little confused as to why this happens? I understand that it’s probably not that important, I just find it interesting.
Much of this chapter focuses on the names of Israel’s family members. This part ends with an emphasis on the number of people he brings with him. But, it specifically mentions that the total number only includes his offspring (blood relatives), not his son’s wives. The total number is 70. Again with some variation of the number seven. The notes say the following about this: “A Priestly section listing Jacob’s descendants by their mothers, using the traditional number seventy (v. 27; Ex 1.5; Deut 10.22). Most names of the clan leaders are in the Priestly list in Num 26” (p. 74). Why is this the traditional number?
At one point Israel sends Judah ahead to Joseph to help. They met in Goshen (not quite sure where this was in relation to Egypt). Joseph tells them how to communicate with the Pharaoh since they are shepherds and apparently “all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians” (Gen. 46.34). Why? The notes say “there is no non-biblical evidence for this assertion” (p. 74-75).
Genesis 47: Joseph takes his brothers and his father to see the Pharaoh in this chapter. As the Pharaoh is a fan of Joseph, this goes pretty well. He specifically tells Joseph to “settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land; let them live in the land of Goshen; and if you know that there are capable men among them, put them in charge of my livestock’” (Gen. 47.6). Pretty cool!
The story shifts to discussion of the severity of the famine. I actually did a quick google search and it appears that there is some historical data to support this famine (see here). Pretty interesting. I need to read more when I have a little more time.
Back to what Joseph did for the people. He had the people continue to trade more and more of their assets so they could get the grains they need in order to feed their families. They end up giving away all their money, their livestock, and their land in order to provide for their families.
The chapter ends with Israel asking Joseph to make sure when he dies to bury him with his ancestors. Joseph swears that he will do it.
Genesis 48: This chapter starts with Joseph finding out his father is sick. Israel (aka Jacob) tells Joseph to bring his two sons to him. He told Joseph that because God blessed him and his offspring, Joseph’s sons are now his. Any future offspring will belong to Joseph. When Israel meets Joseph’s sons (Manasseh and Ephraim), he says he wants to bless them. Joseph presents his sons in a particular way to make sure the oldest, Manasseh, gets the right blessing. Apparently the right way to do this was for Israel to put his right hand on Manasseh and his left on Ephraim, but Israel purposefully crossed his arms so his right hand was on the younger boy, Ephraim. This upsets Joseph and he tells Israel to switch it back. However, Israel responds like this: “¹⁹ But his father refused, and said, ‘I know, my son, I know; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his off spring shall become a multitude of nations.’” (Gen. 48.19) There is clearly some significance here, but I don’t know what it is yet. Clearly Israel, and God, see the younger boy, Ephraim, as more important.
The notes indicate that the “narrative accounts for the division of the “house of Joseph” (Josh 17.17; 18.5; Judg 1.23,35) into two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim” (p. 76). The notes also point out that this mirrors Jacob’s own history and his rise above his older brother, Esau. Taking that into account makes sense.
Luke 14: This chapter starts with Jesus questioning the Pharisees on if he is allowed to heal on the sabbath. Their silence leads him to heal the man with dropsy. This is followed by a parable on humility which ends with the following statement: “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14.11)
The very next few verses really resonated with me: “He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. ¹³ But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. ¹⁴ And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’” (Luke 14.12-14) To me he is talking about helping those who are less fortunate and those who are unable to help themselves. As I’ve talked about with other readings, perhaps our elected officials need to reread this part of the Bible.
The next parable was about the official who’s friends turned him down for a dinner. The official gets angry and tells his servants to invite everyone in the streets. The emphasis here is that God doesn’t always call on us when it’s convenient for us. We need to be prepared for whenever it happens.
The last parable is about the difficulty of being one of Jesus’ followers. The talk is about what sacrifices someone should be willing to make to be his follower. Several parts of this parable bother me. For example, “‘Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. ²⁷ Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14.26-27) While the notes say that the use of the word “hate” is vivid language, this language just does not sit well with me. I recognize that Jesus was asking people to be willing to sacrifice everything, but if he or God approached me and asked me to sacrifice my family in order to follow him, I’d probably turn around and walk away. I believe in a God that wouldn’t ask that of me.
One thing that occurred to me through all of this is that I also believe in a God who wants me to think, who wants me to use my brain to question and to understand. I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who believes that.