Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Year: Gen 48-50 for Jan 15

Families are awkward and messy, and things are left unfinished and unresolved as often as not.

This passage, which is most centered on Jacob's gathering to his fathers until the last two paragraphs (50:15ff) of Genesis, is not different. There are great moments, when three generations are together, Jacob, Joseph, and his two sons, at Jacob's bedside when he is ill. Yet what is to Joseph a wrong on Jacob's part (48:13-14,17), and displeased him (48:17) is deliberate on Jacob's part, and due to foresight (48:19), not bad eyesight (48:10).

Again, in the scene in which Jacob pronounces to his sons the foresight of "what shall happen to you in days to come" (49:1), the pronouncements are uneven, as is what shall happen to them each, uneven: some cryptic (49:19), some metaphorical (49:21), some straightforward (49:13), and for two, for Joseph and Judah, very extensive: 5 verses for Joseph, and 5 for Judah.

At the last, at the end of this book, when Joseph himself dies, although he had "made the sons of Israel swear, saying, 'God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here,'" (50:25) yet the end of the story leaves that task undone, and with no explanation why (50:26). Such is the unevenness of families, even of this one, blessed "up to the bounties of the everlasting hills" (49:26).

Joseph taught his brothers about God's ways, unforced, when he could have said things to his own advantage, about their past. What did Joseph tell them? "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.' Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them." (50:19-21). And to us.

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