Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Genesis 42: Jacob Has a New Favorite Son

Today's podcast

Joseph's Brothers Go to Egypt (v. 1-38)

Jacob had heard that there was grain for sale in Egypt and he told his sons to go there to get some. He sent 10 of them, but kept Benjamin behind because he was afraid he might get hurt.

What about the other 10 that he sent? Apparently with Joseph gone Jacob picked a new favorite. He seems to just be a terrible father.

From Guzik
Famine is not a good thing, but God used it. God can and does use material need and lack in our life to get us to do things we normally would never do. Normally, the brothers would never go to Egypt. But need drove them to Egypt.
We saw this in the reading from last time, that God is the cause of this famine. It appears that he did it to get this particular story to play out in this family. It might seem okay to use need to get people to act a certain way, but what happens when you consider the broader implications of this action? Think about all of the other people who are hurt by this. Certainly many died as well, collateral damage doesn't seem like it is really considered here.

This is how I picture Joseph (pic source)
As we saw last time, Joseph is in charge of selling the grain and he was the person that his brothers had to deal with to buy grain from Egypt. He recognized them, but they didn't recognize him. He basically harassed them, he called them spies and put them in jail for a few days. They explained their situation, and he said he would believe them if they went back home and brought their last brother here.

It's not completely clear to me if he is messing with them or if he is truly pissed at them and punishing them. I think it is really both, which of course makes it hard to disentangle. He loves his brothers, but they also tried to kill him and sold him into slavery. Mixed emotions I'm sure.

This is interesting, from Guzik
"One is no more": This was a lie, and the brothers knew it. They had every reason to believe Joseph was not dead, but living a horrible life of slavery. Perhaps they had repeated the lie to themselves so often they came to believe it.
He points out that they lied and said that Joseph is dead when really the sold him in to slavery. Perhaps this was part of why Joseph was so pissed, they claimed he was dead.

They didn't realize that Joseph could understand them (there was an interpreter between them) and they said that they really were guilty for what they did to Joseph and they are getting what they deserve. He turned so they couldn't see him an cried.

This is what I mean when I say he seems to really care for them. He is very moved that they still think about him and are ashamed of what they did to him.

Then he said that all of them except one (Simeon) should go home with the grain they came for. When they bring back the last brother they will get Simeon back. He also arranged for their money to be put back in their grain pouches.

I'm not sure I understand this, is he giving them the money so he can accuse them of being thieves later?

When they were travelling back one of the brother found the money in the pouch as they were feeding their donkeys. They freaked out and said "What is this that God has done to us?"

I have 2 comments here, first, why blame this on God? They know they aren't thieves, so there was apparently some kind of mix up. Are they saying that God magicked the money into their bags? Perhaps this was just a figure of speech or something. Like a way to say "this was so unlucky" or something.
Second, why not sent one of the brothers back to give the money back? What a perfect way to prove they aren't spies, "We found this money that should be yours, there was a mix up and we wanted to give it back as soon as discovered the error"

They get home and tell Jacob the whole story, and they discover not just the one bundle of money in one pouch, but all 9 have money in their sack's of grain. Jacob is distraught that another of his sons is dead. He doesn't want to let Benjamin go because he will be forfeiting yet another son.

Wow, Jacob is a really shitty person. He's willing to just give up on Simeon to keep from risking Benjamin. He says if Benjamin dies he won't have any left, I'm guessing that's sons from one particular wife. What about his other sons that are all right in front of him?

Guzik seems to agree with me
Apparently, Jacob didn’t think too much of Simeon. It didn’t matter to him that Simeon spent the rest of his life in an Egyptian jail.
Reuben offers up his 2 sons for Jacob to kill if he fails to bring back Benjamin safe, but Jacob says no because he doesn't want to risk Benjamin's life.

What the hell kind of offer is that? If your son dies feel free to kill your grandson? The fact that he would even offer this to Jacob means he thought it might work, and that Jacob is a horrible person. Also, Jacob didn't say how terrible of a thing it was, he just didn't want to risk Benjamin even with I don't know, this whole thing is screwed up.

Also, how would Reuben's sons feel about having their lives offered up as collateral? I guess we can only hope they were not privy to this particular conversation. [thanks Ahab for pointing this out] 

for the verses of note post


Genesis 42:4,38 Jacob is still playing favorites among his children

"But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph's brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him...But he said, "My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol."

Genesis 42:37 Reuben offered his sons lives up for collateral

"Then Reuben said to his father, 'Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.'"

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