Joseph: Eleven Bible Studies on Genesis

Joseph: Eleven Bible Studies on Genesis

Joseph: Eleven Bible Studies on Genesis

Joseph: Eleven Bible Studies on Genesis

Excerpt

Few stories in the Bible tell of God’s interaction with the people as intimately and humanly as does the story of Joseph. The careful reader is rewarded with a sense of real familiarity with the events in the lives of this small circle of human characters. Time and time again, one is struck by the fact that most of the circumstances in this story could just as easily have taken place in our own modem day. So much in this tale seems so familiar that it hardly seems appropriate to categorize it as some sort of time capsule from a distant time and place.

As to the story’s scope, it follows a particular progression from the smallest social unit to the very largest, then back again. In the beginning, the scene is narrow, limited to a single family; the scene then gradually widens until it eventually encompasses the entire body politic; finally, as events run their course, the scene again narrows its focus on just the family.

The basic plot is easily summarized. A father favors one son over all the others, and this favoritism sparks ill-will in the ones who feel slighted, which in turn leads to wrongdoing and undeserved suffering. But there is one among the jealous brothers who feels a strong sense of responsibility. Finally, following one confusing turn of events after another, the one truly important thing becomes an old man’s desire to die in peace.

By no fault of its own, the family becomes enveloped by the kind of catastrophic famine that is as common in our day as it was in theirs. The fate of the smallest social unit, the family, is thus inextricably bound to the fate of the whole world. Family members suddenly find themselves at the mercy of the powerful; an ordinary man finds himself tossed into prison without regard for the fact that he happens to be innocent. As is the case today, the starving have no choice but to throw themselves at the feet of those who have plenty and humbly to acquiesce when they are unjustly abused.

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