Monday, January 4, 2010

Bible in 90 Days - Day 4

I can't believe I read all of Genesis in four days. I think the only other time I've read it that quickly was participating in the Pathfinder Bible Bowl and doing some last minute cramming.

I made an observation this morning to my hubby. If you read the story of Joseph saving Egypt from famine, you'll notice that Joseph stored up food during the years of plenty. Then, the Egyptians paid Pharaoh for the food during the famine years. I'm curious about how that food was grown. Did Pharaoh own the land and the crops initially? Did Pharaoh pay the Egyptians for food that the people had grown? Or was the food donated to Joseph's storehouses? If the people grew the food themselves, they were paying Pharaoh to buy back their own food. Just a thought, a question about the lifestyle during that time period.

As I was reading Genesis 45, I wondered if Jacob's sons confessed that they had sold Joseph into slavery. I don't think the text makes that clear.

And they went up out of Egypt,
and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,
And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive,
and he is governor over all the land of Egypt...
And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them...
Genesis 45:25-27

It is possible that Jacob determined what happened as the brothers were repeating Joseph's words. Joseph was very clear that his brothers had sold him into slavery, though God intended their evil for good.

That brings up another question I have. I've been taught that God does not cause anything negative, that He only allows bad things to happen. Anything evil that happens is caused by Satan. Joseph told his brothers:

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
Genesis 45:8.

Joseph is very clear in this text and a couple previous verses that he believes God sent him to Egypt. This doesn't fit in with what I've been taught. My childhood teaching would be that God knew that the famine was going to happen. God knew that Joseph's brothers were cruel and were going to sell him into slavery. Therefore, God allowed it to happen that He might use Joseph to save Egypt and all of Jacob's family (and others, I am sure). But that is not exactly what the text says. Am I reading the text properly, that God purposefully sent Joseph to Egypt (as opposed to using Joseph because he's already there)? If that's the case, God needed the brothers to sin so that Joseph ended up in Egypt. Or maybe I'm just confused over semantics...


Ann@His Grace To Me said...

Hmmmm. When I read the verse, it seems to say to me that Joseph is saying that God allowed the events to fall into place to cause him to be sent to Egypt. I'll have to think about it some more.

Cassandra said...

Ann - Thanks for your comment about my question. When I read it, I see "God sent me to Egypt." Not "God allowed me to be sent to Egypt" or "God used me for good because I was sent to Egypt." But maybe it's because of the translation from Hebrew into English?

Vizionheiry said...

The people own their own land. Pharoah didn't own the land but he governed it and placed Joseph in charge of it. He tells Joseph "I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt (Gen 41:41)"

On his journey throughout the land, Joseph established a land tax. He "collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and store it in the cities" (Gen 41:48)

Later on, yes he sold them back the food from the "tax" and then acquired the cattle, land and labor of the people (or established a feudal system/perpetual serfdom).

"The land became Pharoah's and Joseph reduced the people to servitude from one end of Egypt to the other." (Gen 47:21)

Joseph's rationale for this was

1) He protected his own family from faminie: "God has sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance." [Gen 45:7]

2)He made sure the priests were autonomous or separation from church & state

"However he did not buy the land of the priests because the yreceived a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharoah gave them. That is why they did not sell their land." [Gen 47:22]

But yes, what you witness is the establishment of a feudal governing system.

No the brothers did not confess to Jacob that they sold Joseph. Remember the brothers feared hearing the news of Benjamin going to see Joseph would kill him.
"Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow" [Gen 44:31] (They simply told Jacob all that Joseph told them about his experience as 2nd in command to Pharoah).

I doubt Joseph told Jacob the news too fearing he would also kill him with shock.

Anyway, Joseph ends up getting Jacob's blessings for his sons (though by rite, it should be Reuben, the oldest). And the brothers get their just due in their blessings or shall I say curses from Jacob in Genesis 49.

Your last few sentences are correct. God didn't "need the brothers to sin" but He knew they would sin. Everything in His own divine order.

In Genesis 6:5 God says tells us "how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."

This is before the great flood. But it still establishes that humans became wild especially after they met with temptation (Gen 3) and then the fallen angels & their children (Gen 6).

Even after the flood with Sodom & Gomorrah, God destroys it because "the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin is so grievous" Gen 18:20

Finally back to Joseph, he knew that God ordained him becoming an official because he dreamt it at 17 years old "We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it" [Gen 37:7].

Ok hope the scriptural references help. Good luck on yr 90 day journey!

Cassandra said...

Vizionheiry - Thanks for your insight! I'm going to pray about it and add this topic to my study list after the challenge is over.