Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Genesis 37:1-4

I’ve been delaying moving forward in Genesis, because we are coming to my favorite chapters, and I wanted to start this as I’m back to my routine of daily study. School starts on Wednesday (although I go back today), so I’ve been saving this part. We now begin our study of the life of Joseph. Jon Courson points out that while God gave one verse to his creation of the universe (Gen 1:36), he gives 12 chapters to Joseph. What does that tell you about how God values the life of one individual, including you? Wow!

Joseph has always been considered a type of Jesus. There is almost nothing negative noted about his life (much like one other OT character, Daniel). Both Joseph and Daniel were taken captive into enemy territory, and rose to places of prominence within the government while maintaining their personal integrity and their commitment to God. Their focus was on pleasing God, not man, so we have much to learn from them.

Genesis 37:2 tells us, “This is the account of Jacob.” Since we’ve just left the chapter devoted to Esau’s descendants, this may be why Jacob is listed as the star. However, these remaining chapters are truly more about Joseph and his role in the salvation of Jacob’s family. I said that there is almost nothing negative written about Joseph. However, Beth Moore and Jon Courson have different takes on these first verses:

Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. (Gen 37:2)

Okay, right off the bat I’m thinking that Joseph was a tattletale - and, as a teacher, I know how others respond to the class tattletale, so I’m seeing a problem here. While Beth Moore also sees it this way, Jon Courson gives Joseph the benefit of the doubt as the obedient son, completely loyal to his father’s interests, seeing after those interests. Courson says that, like Jesus, Joseph was not trying to please others, only his father. I’ll leave the interpretation to you, but, either way, we can see why Joseph’s older brothers would not be thrilled with him. But there’s more:

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. (vs. 3-4)

This is really the heart of the matter in this family: dad showed partiality to Joseph. He not only loves him the most, he blatantly displayed it, making for Joseph a fine coat of many colors that confirmed the favoritism. He probably received the biggest cuts of meat at dinner and the softest bed, too! The excuse for this partiality was that Joseph was “born to him in his old age.” However, so was Benjamin! Joseph was the firstborn of Jacob’s love, Rachel, which was probably what led to the special bond he felt. And how did Joseph’s brothers respond? They weren’t just annoyed - they actually HATED him for it! That is a strong word! They never said a kind word to their little brother!

We’ll see that Jacob suffered dearly for showing favoritism to Joseph. We need to learn this lesson as parents! It is so important that we encourage good relationships between our children. Showing partiality to one drives a wedge between siblings, and in the long run will not only hurt the child who is favored, but will also come back to haunt the parent. We have frequently heard that the problem for parents is that children do not come with a manual that tells us how to handle them - but that is not true! We have God’s Manual for Parents right here in His Word. Genesis is filled with examples of what NOT to do. We’ll see more tomorrow!


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