Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Year: Gen 41-43 for Jan 13

Ancient narrative form was never greater than in this story, for pure human interest.

"After two whole years" (41:1) directly recalls Joseph's request of 40:14, for us to consider, and ask ourselves what is being said about the events in the lives of those God leads.

How is it that the two years are passed in silence, without comment on Joseph's state of mind? We learn well enough about that in 41:16. But indeed, the story abbreviates from all that could be said. It summarizes (41:37). It gives the conclusions of events that it does not describe (41:39-45).

There is also a "point of theology," if we could call it that, regarding God's provision for Egypt. God is not "tribal" like the other gods. If it suits Him, he tells Pharaoh life-saving things (41:25), and Joseph is very plain about it (41:28), even to the detail of why Pharoah had two dreams (41:32). In the process, the reader might even recall that Joseph's dream came twice (37:6-9). The last verse of chapter 41 extends this theme of God's provision, to the whole world, almost as an extra thought (41:57).

When Joseph, while disguised from his brothers, tells them "for I fear God" (42:18), the reader understands this as a meaning two distinct things. Joseph is saying that in disguise, and the brothers take it that he is vowing his honesty in that way, and it is understood by them as so. However, But since the reader knows it is Joseph, then Joseph's piety comes out there. Also, in the story of the explanation of the "steward of Joseph's house" (43:19) there is an even stranger example of reference to The God of Jacob given -- by an Egyptian! He says "Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money" (43:23). Perhaps Joseph gave him those exact words to use regarding the incident. But the text has it coming out of his mouth. In any case, in Abraham's seed that nation was blessed.

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