Sunday, December 7, 2014

Jacob's Favored Son

Three years ago, we related the story of Jacob over a period of several weeks, concluding with this post wherein it is suggested that we might move on to the story of Joseph.  A bit tardy, but let's explore that now.

Jacob finally got a son on Rachel after siring ten others by other women.  Inevitably, because Rachel was Jacob’s favorite wife, this boy, hight Joseph,  became his favored son.  As the child grew and his older brothers observed the favoritism bestowed upon him by their father, jealousy grew in their hearts.  Finally they were so enraged that they sold Joseph as a slave to a bunch of Ishmaelites headed to Egypt.  Of course, they covered their actions with lies.

Jealousy leads to rage, and rage leads to perfidy.

In Egypt, the young man became a household servant to one Potiphar.  His service was so outstanding that soon enough the master made Joseph manager of the estate and gave him charge over all things.  Potiphar’s wife soon enough looked upon Joseph with lust, jealousy of his handsome physique driving her to put the make on the young man.  He rebuffed her advances, observing that as his wife she was the sole thing reserved by Potiphar unto himself.  To defile each other in the slaking of  carnal lust would be a great sin against the master, and against God. Nevertheless, the woman persisted and Joseph resisted to the point, that enraged, she falsely accused him of attempted rape and he was thrown into the pokey.

Jealousy leads to rage, and rage leads to perfidy.

Yet Joseph in due time was elevated by the warden to head assistant, effectively making Joseph trustee and resident in charge, while the warden possibly spent his time fishing in the Nile.  Now two of the prisoners were former servants of the King, one the chief butler, the other the chief baker.  Each, having displeased the King, wound up in the calaboose.

Each of these men had a dream, and each was puzzled thereby. In those days dreams had significant meaning, could they but be understood or interpreted.  Joseph assured these fellows that he could interpret dreams correctly, so they shared, and he did.  The King, he said, would lift up the butler’s head and replace him in his former position.  The baker, on the contrary, would have his head lifted up and removed from his shoulders.  And thus it was.

Time passes, considerable time, and Joseph still lies in gaol.  Eventually, though, Pharaoh has a dream, and his wizards, and aides, and sycophants are unable to interpret it.  The King’s puzzlement becomes the talk of the palace, and the chief butler, hearing this, tells the King, “I had almost forgotten it, but there was a fellow, Joseph by name, imprisoned with me who interprets dreams.”  So the King fetched Joseph up from jail and laid the matter before him.  Joseph spelled it all out in vivid detail, and soon enough he was given a new name, Zaphnathpaaneah, befitting his new position, for he was  appointed Prime Minister of the realm, second only to Pharaoh in the kingdom.  Joseph was thirty years of age.

The King’s dream featured a bunch of cows, seven very fat cows, and seven exceedingly skinny ones.  The lean ones ate the fat ones.  The interpretation:  the country will have seven years of bountiful crop production, followed by seven years of drought and famine.  So, believing his own prediction, the new  Prime Minister  concentrated the nation’s efforts on storing up provisions during the productive years against the lean years in which the crops would fail.  And it happened just so,

Based on a reading of Genesis, chapters 37, 39-41

Key passage:  The Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper. Genesis 39:23b  

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