|1 year ago :: May 02, 2012 - 10:48AM #211|
Chapter 36 is mostly a genealogy, so I'll comment on just twelve of its forty-three verses.
†. Gen 36:1 . .This is the line of Esau— that is, Edom.
Edom is from the Hebrew word 'Edom (ed-ome') which is the color red; and was the tag hung on him back in Gen 25:30.
†. Gen 36:2-7 . . Esau took his wives from among the Canaanite women— Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah daughter of Zibeon the Hivite— and also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth. Adah bore to Esau Eliphaz; Basemath bore Reuel; and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. Those were the sons of Esau, who were born to him in the land of Canaan.
. . . Esau took his wives, his sons and daughters, and all the members of his household, his cattle and all his livestock, and all the property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to another land because of his brother Jacob. For their possessions were too many for them to dwell together, and the land where they sojourned could not support them because of their livestock.
Just as Lot had done, Esau chose to migrate rather than remain and cause problems for Jacob. Some say Esau did this out of respect for Jacob's patriarchal position; but no one really knows why. Maybe Esau just thought the grass was greener elsewhere.
Esau had done well for himself in spite of his loss of the birthright: which would have given him the lion's share of Isaac's estate— and with no tax complications; heirs in those days made out pretty good.
†. Gen 36:8 . . So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir— Esau being Edom.
Seir was the name of an oblong-shaped region extending south from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba— a.k.a. Idumaea. Seir includes the ruins of Petra, which were used as a movie set in a portion of the Indiana Jones trilogy.
†. Gen 36:9 . .This, then, is the line of Esau, the ancestor of the Edomites, in the hill country of Seir.
Of all Esau's progeny, Mr.Amalek really stands out in the Bible as the father of a very disagreeable people. Keep in mind that all of Esau's clan, including Amalek, are just as much Abraham's genetic kin as Jacob's family. (Deut 23:8)
During his journey with the people of Israel, after their liberation from Egyptian slavery, Moses was attacked by Amalek's clan. (Ex 17:8-16, Deut 25:17-19) Thus resulting in a perpetual curse upon the Amalekites as a people. An Agagite (descendant of Amalek, 1Sam 15:2-8) named Haman initiated a large-scale genocide against Israel in the book of Esther.
Haman's infamy is memorialized every year during the Jewish holiday of Purim. It's customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle noisemakers whenever the name of Haman is spoken in the Purim service.
Continued > >
|1 year ago :: May 02, 2012 - 10:55AM #212|
†. Gen 37:1-2a . . Now Jacob was settled in the land where his father had sojourned, the land of Canaan. This, then, is the line of Jacob:
Genesis doesn't list a big genealogy right here like the one for Esau in chapter 36, but rather, it's going to "follow" the line of Jacob from here on in to the end of Genesis.
†. Gen 37:2b . . At seventeen years of age, Joseph tended the flocks with his brothers, as a helper to the sons of his father's wives Bilhah and Zilpah.
Jacob never actually married those two servant women. They were his concubines in the same manner that Hagar was to Abraham. The Hebrew word is 'ishshah (ish-shaw') which just simply indicates a woman.
The words "as a helper to" aren't in the actual Hebrew of that passage. They're what is known as "inserted" words that translators sometimes employ to smooth out texts so they'll clearly say what the translators think the author meant to convey. Some translators insert the preposition "with" at that point, so the passage reads; "At seventeen years of age, Joseph tended the flocks with his brothers; the sons of his father's wives Bilhah and Zilpah.
Actually, Joseph was in charge of his brothers Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher; who were all older than him. And it was he who was responsible to manage the flocks because the phrase; "tended the flocks" actually connotes he was shepherding the flock; i.e. Joseph was the trail boss.
Joseph's authority was also indicated by the "coat of many colors" that his dad made for him. The Hebrew word for "colors" is of uncertain meaning and some translators prefer to render it "long sleeves" rather than colors.
It seems clear that the intent of this special garment was as a badge of Joseph's authority— sort of like a military man's uniform —and of his favored position in the family. Joseph may well have been the only one of Jacob's twelve sons that he could fully trust since, for the most part, the older men had proved themselves beyond control in the past.
The sons of Bilhah and Zilpah weren't really Joseph's full brothers, but half. The only full brother was Benjamin, and at this time, he was too young to go out on trail drives.
Genesis displayed a pretty bad case of sibling rivalry back in chapter 4, which led to a younger brother's untimely death. This case of sibling rivalry would surely have resulted in Joseph's untimely demise if God hadn't intervened to prevent it. It's really sad that the majority of Jacob's sons were dishonorable men; the kind you definitely don't want your own daughter bringing home to meet the folks.
Although Joseph was an intelligent boy, and a responsible person, he certainly lacked tact. His social skills were immature, and needed some serious refinement because he really had a way of chafing his older brothers.
†. Gen 37:2b . . And Joseph brought bad reports of them to their father.
Whether or not the "reports" could be construed as tattling is debatable. After all, Joseph, as trail boss, was directly responsible to Jacob. It's been my experience that upper management doesn't want to hear those kinds of reports. All they want to know is whether or not the company is meeting its deadlines and operating at a profit. It's lower management's responsibility to manage the work force so that upper management can remain undistracted to do other things that are far more worthy of their time, their talents, and their attention. A lower manager who can't rectify personnel problems in their own department usually gets fired and replaced by somebody who can.
†. Gen 37:3a . . Now Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons
Uh-oh! Doesn't that sound familiar? Isaac had his favorite too: Mr. Esau. There's nothing like favoritism to divide a family and guarantee it becoming an ugly environment festering with sibling rivalry, yet that is so human a thing to do. Put grown-ups in a group of kids and in no time at all, the grown-ups will gravitate towards favorites, and become merely tolerant of the others.
†. Gen 37:3b . . for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him an ornamented tunic.
The "ornamented tunic" is all the same as what's usually known as the coat of many colors.
One might be tempted to think Joseph was Jacob's favorite son because of his love for Rachel; but Genesis says it was because Joseph was "the child of his old age". Well, Benjamin was a child of Jacob's old age too but not nearly as favored. So the real meaning may be that Joseph was a child of wisdom, i.e. the wisdom of an older man; viz: Joseph was wise beyond his years and thus more a peer to Jacob rather than just another mouth to feed.
†. Gen 37:4 . . And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of his brothers, they hated him so that they could not speak a friendly word to him.
Genesis doesn't say the brothers wouldn't speak a friendly word; it says they "couldn't". Hatred does that to people. It just kills a person overcome with malice to be nice to the people they hate. They just can't do it. Their eyes narrow, their lips tighten, they look away, they become thin-skinned, their minds fill with epithets, they constantly take offense and can barely keep a civil tongue in their head, if at all, because deep in their hearts, they want the object of their hatred either dead or thoroughly disfigured and/or smitten with some sort of terrible misfortune.
†. Gen 37:5-8 . . Once Joseph had a dream which he told to his brothers; and they hated him even more. He said to them; Hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf stood up and remained upright; then your sheaves gathered around and bowed low to my sheaf. His brothers answered; Do you mean to reign over us? Do you mean to rule over us? And they hated him even more for his talk about his dreams.
Joseph's dream was valid enough, and it even eventually came true; but considering the already hostile mood festering against him among his brothers, Joseph really should have kept the dream to himself. There wasn't any real need for the others to know about it anyway, and you just have to wonder if maybe Joseph wasn't gloating over them just a little.
Continued > >
|1 year ago :: May 03, 2012 - 9:24AM #213|
†. Gen 37:9-11 . . He dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers, saying; Look, I have had another dream: And this time, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.
. . . And when he told it to his father and brothers, his father berated him. What; he said to him; is this dream you have dreamed? Are we to come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow low to you to the ground? So his brothers were wrought up at him, and his father kept the matter in mind.
As the family's prophet, Jacob's inspired intuition instantly caught the dream's message; though he was a bit indignant. However, Jacob didn't brush the dream off because his prophetic insight told him there just might be something to it.
Jacob interpreted the "moon" in the dream sequence to be Rachel. One might ask: How could she be subject to Joseph? she's dead. Well apparently Jacob perceived the dream to indicate a status that Joseph would occupy in the distant future; after they were all resurrected to live in the land of Canaan under very different circumstances.
†. Heb 11:8-10 . . By faith Abraham abode in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Jacob's dying words recorded in Gen 49:22-26 seem to bear out the distant-future aspects of Joseph's dream. Very intriguing.
†. Gen 37:12-14a . . One time, when his brothers had gone to pasture their father's flock at Shechem, Israel said to Joseph: Your brothers are pasturing at Shechem. Come, I will send you to them. He answered: I am ready. And he said to him: Go and see how your brothers are and how the flocks are faring, and bring me back word. So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.
A guy like Joseph is every supervisor's dream. When asked to do something, his response was; "I am ready."
Hebron (a.k.a. Hevron, a.k.a. Al Khalil) is still on the map. It's about 18½ miles west of the Dead Sea, as the crow flies, and about 20½ miles south of Jerusalem.
Shechem (a.k.a. Nablus) is still on the map too. It's about 48 miles north of Jerusalem; ergo: 68½ miles north of Hebron.
So Joseph had a long ways to go. It's amazing that people pastured their herds so far from home in those days; but then it wasn't unusual for out-west cattle barons during America's 1800's to pasture cows that far; and even farther.
The Prairie Cattle Company once ranged 156,000 cows on five million acres of land. At 640 acres per square mile; that factors out to something like 7,812 square miles; viz: an 88.37 mile square; which really isn't all that big when you think about it. It's a lot of area; but eighty-eight miles is really not all that great a distance for an automobile.
Personally, I would have been concerned about Joseph's safety more than anything else; but apparently nobody interferred with Jacob's family in those days (Gen 35:5) so they pretty much had carte blanche to graze wherever they liked in those parts.
†. Gen 37:14b-17 . .When he reached Shechem, a man came upon him wandering in the fields. The man asked him: What are you looking for? He answered: I am looking for my brothers. Could you tell me where they are pasturing? The man said: They have gone from here, for I heard them say "Let us go to Dothan". So Joseph followed his brothers and found them at Dothan.
It's interesting that the man isn't on record asking Joseph who he was nor who his brothers might be. Probably everybody around Shechem knew Jacob's family personally because they had all lived around there for some time before moving south. In America's olde West, people knew each other for miles around because, quite simply, there just wasn't all that many people to know.
Dothan has yet to be precisely located. Some say it was about 12 miles north of Shechem; but that's really only an educated guess. Years later, Dothan became the stage for a pretty exciting event (2Kgs 6:8-23).
†. Gen 37:18a . .They saw him from afar,
Just how far isn't said; though it was probably the youngest among Joseph's brothers who saw and recognized him first. A few of the men were getting up in years at this time and were well past young adulthood.
Optical science is relatively recent. For millennia, people got by on just their natural eyesight without the aid of spectacles. Prior to the invention of eyeglasses, Solomon rued that one of the curses of old age is failing eyesight. (Ecc 12:1-2)
The first recorded use of a "corrective" lens was by the emperor Nero (ce 37-68), who was known to watch the gladiatorial games through an emerald , presumably to correct for myopia. The gem probably wasn't ground to any specific prescription, nor even any particular shape. Nero probably discovered, like any kid does with a water glass, that the shape of the stone somehow modified light; and as luck would have it, Nero's emerald worked pretty well for him.
The Arabs had some understanding of lenses sometime around ce 1200, and eyeglasses began to come into common use in Italy around ce 1300. Practically all advances in the science of optics have taken place within just the last thousand years, so when the Bible says people like Isaac had "dim" eyes, it probably just means they could have used a pair of glasses.
†. Gen 37:18b-20 . . and before he came close to them they conspired to kill him. They said to one another: Here comes that dreamer! Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we can say a savage beast devoured him. We shall see what comes of his dreams!
The brothers' display of intended cruelty to their own kid brother Joseph is shocking coming from the sacred patriarchs of the people of Israel.
I seriously doubt the brothers were intent upon ending Joseph's life only so his dreams wouldn't come true. That was just bombastic rhetoric. Truth is: they just hated him; simple as that.
Isn't it odd that when people hate someone they want them dead? How about maybe a beating instead? Why not throw hot coffee or scalding water in their face, or maybe singe their back with a hot steam iron while they're sleeping? Why death? Because in the human heart, death is all that will truly satisfy its hatred. Maybe nobody reading this will ever actually murder anybody; but that doesn't mean you aren't a murder. Wishing somebody would die, is the wish of a murderer's heart; and that's the plain truth of it.
†. 1John 3:15 . .Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer
Continued > >
|1 year ago :: May 04, 2012 - 8:01AM #214|
†. Gen 37:21-22 . . But when Reuben heard it, he tried to save him from them. He said: Let us not take his life. And Reuben went on: Shed no blood! Cast him into that pit out in the wilderness, but do not touch him yourselves— intending to save him from them and restore him to his father.
The suggestion to murder Joseph was apparently discussed in private among only some of the brothers at first. When they attempted to bring Reuben in on it, he balked. Reuben, the firstborn, seems to be the one dissenting opinion in Joseph's case— so far. Exactly why, is not stated; but even though he messed up by sleeping with his father's concubine; that doesn't mean he's okay with murdering his own kid brother.
No doubt Simeon and Levi had no reservations about ending Joseph's life on the spot; having already displayed malicious tempers and made their bones while handling their sister's scandal back in chapter 34. Reuben's balk seems honestly motivated by a sincere concern for his dad's paternal feelings. Reuben already hurt Jacob's feelings once before by sleeping with his concubine. I don't think he wanted to do that again.
†. Gen 37:23-24 . .When Joseph came up to his brothers, they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the ornamented tunic that he was wearing, and took him and cast him into the pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.
No doubt some of the brothers would have sorely loved to burn that "despicable" coat to ashes since it fully represented their kid brother's lording it over them.
The Hebrew word for "pit" is bowr (bore); and means a hole (especially one used as a cistern or a prison).
The "pit" may have been one of two widely-known natural water tanks in that area. Some commentators believe the word "Dothan" means two wells, or two natural tanks; like the Terrapin Tanks in the 1948 western movie The 3 Godfathers with John Wayne and Ward Bond. I seriously doubt that experienced drovers like Jacob's sons would have dropped Joseph in a tank with water because if he were to die in there; his rotting body would have polluted it; thus rendering the precious resource unfit for drovers and their herds. Natural water sources were essential to the safety of both man and beast in those days.
Ancient Jews assumed the tank was home to some lethal critters.
T. And when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his garment, the figured garment that was on him, and took and threw him into the pit; but the pit was empty, no water was therein, but serpents and scorpions were in it. (Targum Jonathan)
†. Gen 37:25a . .Then they sat down to a meal.
Would you be comfortable sitting down to a meal while listening to somebody weeping and sobbing in the background? According to Gen 42:21 that's what Joseph's brothers did. He spent some of his time down in that tank begging for his life; and they just kept right on dining like he wasn't even there.
I read a story of the torture and mistreatment of suspects in Sadaam Hussein's pre-invasion jails. This one poor Iraqi man was forced down upon the jagged neck of a broken glass pop bottle; and while the bottle filled with blood from his torn colon, Iraqi police played a game of cards.
†. Gen 37:25b . . Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels bearing gum, balm, and ladanum to be taken to Egypt.
The gum may have been tragacanth, or goats-thorn gum, because it was supposed to be obtained from that plant.
The balm (or balsam) is an aromatic substance obtained from a plant of the genus Amyris, which is a native of Gilead. In point of biblical fact, Gilead was famous for its balm (Jer 8:22, Jer 46:11). Balms were of medical value in those days.
The ladanum was probably labdanum, (possibly myrrh), a yellowish brown to reddish brown aromatic gum resin with a bitter, slightly pungent taste obtained from a tree (esp. Commiphora abyssinica of the family Burseraceae) of eastern Africa and Arabia.
Gilead was located in the modern-day country of Jordan— a mountainous region on the east side of the Jordan River extending from the Sea of Galilee down to the north end of the Dead Sea. It's about sixty miles long and twenty miles wide. Its scenery is beautiful; the hills are fertile and crowned with forests. It was on Gilead's western boundary that Jacob confronted Laban in chapter 31, and also on Gilead's western boundary where Jacob grappled with the angel in chapter 32.
The land of Gilead connected to a major trade route (spice road) from Turkey and Mesopotamia to Egypt; and all points in between. Quite possibly the Ishmaelites were following a track that would eventually take them right down the very road that Hagar had taken towards Shur on her flight from Sarah back in chapter 16.
The Ishmaelites were a blended people consisting of the families of Ishmael and Midian, who were Abraham's progeny (Gen 16:15, Gen 25:2). The two ethnics— Midianites and Ishmaelites —are interchangeable (e.g. Gen 37:28, Jdgs 8:24, Jdgs 8:26) . Since the Ishmaelites were Abraham's progeny, then they were blood kin to Jacob's clan; ergo: blood kin not only to Joseph, but also to all the rest of the people of Israel.
†. Gen 37:26-27 . .Then Judah said to his brothers: What do we gain by killing our brother and covering up his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let us not do away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh. His brothers agreed.
Judah's alternative made good sea sense. There was always the risk that somebody might rescue Joseph out of that tank and he would then high-tail it for home and tattle on his brothers for what they did to him. With him an anonymous slave, miles and miles away in Egypt, everything would work out just the way most of them wanted, and the brothers would get a little something in return for Joseph's hide.
†. Gen 37:28 . .When Midianite traders passed by, they pulled Joseph up out of the pit. They sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who brought Joseph to Egypt.
The money in this instance isn't by weight as it had been in the purchase of Sarah's cemetery back in chapter 23. This money is by the piece; of which the precise nomenclature and value are currently unknown. If the pieces were the value of Israel's modern shekel, then the price of Joseph's sale was in the neighborhood of $5.29 US as of May 04, 2012. But those silver pieces could have been any size and worth; depending upon international merchant agreements in those days. Joseph was sold at a price that Moses' Law later fixed for juveniles. (Lev 27:5)
Incidentally, Christ himself was sold for thirty pieces of silver (Mtt 26:15); about which the Bible says was a "lordly" price. (Zech 11:12-13)
Continued > >
|1 year ago :: May 05, 2012 - 9:28AM #215|
†. Gen 37:29-30 . .When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he rent his clothes. Returning to his brothers, he said: The boy is gone! Now, what am I to do?
Precisely where, and why, Reuben wasn't present when his brothers sold Joseph isn't stated.
Reuben wasn't privy to his brothers' scheme to sell Joseph so he innocently "informs" them of their kid brother's disappearance. Imagine his dismay to discover that they, of all people, sold their own blood kin into slavery! How in blazes is he supposed to explain THAT to his dad!?!
Reuben is so disturbed that he can't think straight; so his brothers, in their characteristic cold, calculating way, devise yet another nefarious scheme. They will stain Joseph's ornamental garment with blood and let their dad draw his own conclusions about it.
†. Gen 37:31-32 . .Then they took Joseph's tunic, slaughtered a kid, and dipped the tunic in the blood. They had the ornamented tunic taken to their father, and they said: We found this. Please examine it; is it your son's tunic or not?
They told only a little white lie: they "found" this. So without any story-telling, nor details of the circumstances leading up to Joseph's disappearance, they let Jacob jump to his own conclusion. That is a very, very common, and very, very human way of telling a lie; viz: deliberately leaving people with a wrong impression.
I once worked in a boatyard in San Diego, and one day at work I noticed that a container of various sizes of nuts and bolts was missing off a work bench. I asked the guys in the shop if anybody knew where the container went. One of the men (who was never entirely honest) said; "Well . . so-and-so was in here." So-and-so was in here? What's that supposed to mean? You see, he was hoping I would jump to a conclusion about so and so; thus removing suspicion from himself.
Let me tell you an additional detail about that guy. He was a welder, and the sole support of his family. His welder's paycheck didn't go very far back in the 1970's what with a mortgage, and three kids and a wife to support. So his wife used to scrimp and pinch every penny she possibly could in order to save a few coins in a cookie jar each month to buy her and the kids something special once in a while. Well . . this guy was an avid Blacksmithing hobbyist. So one day, when his wife wasn't looking, he raided her cookie jar for money to buy a Blacksmith trade magazine.
To give you an idea of just how little his poor wife had managed to scrimp and penny-pinch; there was only just enough money in her jar to pay for that stupid magazine; and he took it all; every last cent. His wife was crushed when she found out what her husband had done; and he felt no remorse about it whatsoever; but thought it was all very humorous.
†. Gen 37:33-34 . . He recognized it, and said: My son's tunic! A savage beast devoured him! Joseph was torn by a beast! Jacob rent his clothes, put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
This is the very first mention of sackcloth in the Bible. It's a rough, coarse material like burlap commonly used for packaging grain in bags. Though an inexpensive fabric, it's prickly and chafes the skin so it's not really suitable for undergarments. Exactly where Jacob got the idea to abuse himself like that is unknown; but it's common in the Old Testament: mostly donned as an outer garment rather than under.
If Joseph was "torn" then why was his tunic still in one piece? It's not uncommon for carnivorous beasts like grizzly bears to devour a portion of people's clothing right along with their flesh.
Well . . poor Jacob is so overcome with grief over the loss of his favorite son that his logic chip just simply overheated and crashed. People who are gravely upset sometimes have trouble finding their car keys even if they're right inside their own pants pocket.
†. Gen 37:35a . . All his sons and daughters sought to comfort him
All his "sons and daughters" would include not only Dinah and the eleven brothers, but also Jacob's daughters-in-law and his grandchildren. Since there really is no word in ancient Hebrew for grandchildren, the English words sons, and daughters are ambiguous and can just as easily mean the very next of kin, and/or grandkids and great grandkids.
†. Gen 37:35b . . but he refused to be comforted, saying: No, I will go down to the netherworld mourning for my son.
The Hebrew word translated "netherworld" is sheol; and this is its first appearance in the Bible. Sheol is sometimes translated grave, sometimes hell, sometimes netherworld, and sometimes not translated at all but left as-is in Hebrew; presumably to avoid controversy.
By comparing Ps 16:10 with Acts 2:27 it's easily determined that the Hebrew sheol and the koiné Greek haides are one and the same place. Thus it becomes that sheol is properly understood as the afterlife rather than the grave. And so it is that Abraham and Lazarus were in sheol right along with the rich man in Luke 16:19-31, only their part of sheol is a lot more accommodating than the rich man's. In point of fact, the Lord depicted their part of sheol as paradise. (Luke 23:43)
†. Gen 37:35c . .Thus his father bewailed him.
Sometimes it's really best to leave people alone and let them grieve through their loss. Many a well-meaning "comforter" has only succeeded in making matters worse by attempting to talk friends out of their grief with good-intentioned, but nevertheless; air-headed philosophical musings. And people who stifle their grief are only forestalling the inevitable. One day, possibly when they least expect it, and quite possibly inconveniently, it will catch up to them.
†. Gen 37:36 . .The Midianites, meanwhile, sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, a courtier of Pharaoh, and his chief steward.
Although slavery normally isn't a blessing, in this case Joseph couldn't have been sold into a better situation. Potiphar was well-connected; not just another plantation owner who would work Joseph to the bone; undernourished, inadequately housed, and poorly clothed.
Courtiers were typically royalty's personal assistants and performed a variety of duties. Potiphar was "chief steward". The Hebrew words means boss of the butchers; an ambiguous term which implies not just slaughtering and/or cooking animals for food, but also supervising capital punishments, and/or supervising Pharaoh's personal bodyguards along with the oversight of his own private jails; especially jails for political prisoners.
Continued > >
|1 year ago :: May 06, 2012 - 7:32AM #216|
†. Gen 38:1a . . About that time
Joseph was 17 when he arrived in Egypt (Gen 37:2); and 30 when he became prime minister (Gen 41:46). When he went to work for Pharaoh; a 14-year period began, consisting of two divisions-- seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine. After 9 of the 14 years had passed-- the 7 years of plenty, and 2 of the years of famine --Joseph summoned his dad to Egypt (Gen 45:6-9) which would add up to a period of only about 22 years or so.
The reason I opened with that data is because some commentators feel that chapter 38 is out of place chronologically; that it really should have followed chapter 33 because there just isn't enough time lapsed-- from Joseph's arrival in Egypt and Jacob's summons --for all the births and all the growing-up time needed for the particulars in chapter 38 to reach an age mature enough to sleep with a woman and father a child (see Adam Clarke's Commentary for an analysis of the circumstances).
"about that time" is so ambiguous, and so unspecific, and the above mentioned time elements so narrow; that the phrase could simply indicate that the events of chapter 38 happened not right after Joseph went to Egypt, but most likely any time during the whole time Jacob was resident in Canaan; in other words: any time between chapter 33 and chapter 47. Joseph was 7 years old when Jacob returned to Canaan, and 17 when carted off to Egypt. So, adding 10 to the 22, would make the period of "about that time" equal to about 32 years total.
†. Gen 38:1b . . Judah
Judah's saga is pretty interesting because it concerns the Israeli tribe chosen to perpetuate the Jewish line to Messiah (Gen 49:8-12, Heb 7:14).
Some people call this section in Genesis sordid; but I think it's actually kind of comical because a very resourceful Gentile girl is going to really get one over on the "chosen people".
†. Gen 38:1c . . left his brothers
You can hardly blame Judah for wanting to put some distance between himself and the others once in a while. They were so cruel, so selfish, and so thoughtless. People of cruelty generally make bad company what with all their complaining, their sniping, their carping criticism, their tempers, their vindictiveness, and their propensity to harm people. If those boys were hard hearted against their own kid brother, just think how cruel they must have been with animals.
Judah was no prize himself, that's true, but at least he wasn't a cold blooded murderer at heart. I have no doubt he felt very bad at Josephs' sobbing and begging for his life down in that pit. But I thoroughly suspect he felt that selling his kid brother into slavery was the only way he could possibly save the boy's life. Even if Joseph had escaped his brothers that day, they would always be looking for another opportunity to finish the job.
†. Gen 38:1d . . and camped near a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah.
The community of Adullum was roughly 12 miles northwest of Hebron, and later apportioned to the tribe of Judah during Joshua's campaign. (Josh 15:35)
Some translations say that Judah "turned in" to Hirah; implying he lodged in Hirah's home rather than set up his own pavilion. The Hebrew word is natah (naw-taw') which simply means to stretch or spread out; which may indicate that Judah was into a little independent ranching on his own in the area; implying that Judah's spread neighbored Hirah's range land.
Natah is one of those ambiguous words with more than one meaning; which only serves to accent a frustrating fact of life in the world of Bible scholarship that it's pretty near impossible to translate ancient Hebrew texts verbatim into the English language without making an inadvertent error here and there.
†. Gen 38:2 . .There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shua, and he married her and cohabited with her.
This is certainly a very big problem that has always faced the people of God; whether Jew or Gentile-- where to find a spouse. From the spiritual aspect; Jacob's family was practically on an island in the midst of a piranha-infested ocean. The only viable option for them in that predicament was either for a prospective Canaanite to be a God-fearing person, e.g. Melchizedek (Gen 14:18) or sincerely convert to Jacob's religion like Ruth did. (Ru 1:16, Ru 2:11-12)
Whether the daughter converted isn't said. And since there existed no Divine prohibitions against intermarriage with Canaanites at this time (Moses' covenanted law doesn't have ex post facto jurisdiction (Gal 3:17) then surely no one could possibly accuse Judah of a sin for marrying outside either his religion or his ethnic identity. However, since two of Shua's boys were incorrigible and ended up dead, slain by God, and none of her three male children by Judah were selected to forward Abraham's line to Messiah; Judah's choice doesn't look good.
Gen 38:2 is tricky because at first glance it looks like the girl might be the daughter of a man named Shua. But in verse 12, the daughter's moniker in Hebrew is Bath-Shuwa' (see also 1Chrn 3:5) which is the very same moniker as Bathsheba's. (1Chrn 3:5)
Note : In Hebrew, a daughter is a bath; and a son is a ben (e.g. Judah ben Hur).
Bath-Shuwa' (or Bath-Shua) just simply means a daughter of wealth; which isn't really a name at all, but a status. Exactly what the status of a "daughter of wealth" is supposed to convey about a girl is hard to tell. Perhaps it just means she's an eligible consideration for marriage-- like a girl who comes of a good family; but that doesn't necessarily mean that a blue-blooded girl is the best choice. Things like education, breeding, and wealth are no guarantee that maybe a girl from across the tracks wouldn't make a much better wife and mother. (she'd certainly tend to be more frugal)
†. Gen 38:3-5 . . She conceived and bore a son, and he named him Er. She conceived again and bore a son, and named him Onan. Once again she bore a son, and named him Shelah; he was at Chezib when she bore him.
The community of Chezib (a.k.a. Achzib and Chozeba) has been identified-- by somebody named Conder (Palestine Exploration, Jan. 1875) --with Khirbet Kueizibah. The Talmud mentions that a plain is in front of Chozeba; so Kueizibah has before it the valley of Berachoth (wady Arrub); which is a bit southwest of Adullum. So although Judah moved away from Bath-shua's parents, it wasn't far away.
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|1 year ago :: May 07, 2012 - 9:31AM #217|
†. Gen 38:6 . . Judah got a wife for Er his first-born; her name was Tamar.
Ms. Tamar is a total mystery. Neither her family, her ethnic identity, her age, her looks, her education, her financial worth, nor anything else is known about her. But she's the one through whom God will bring Messiah into the world; so I think it's safe to say she was probably a much better woman than Bath-shua.
†. Gen 38:7 . . But Er, Judah's first-born, was displeasing to The Lord, and The Lord took his life.
Er has the distinction of being the very first member of the people of Israel-- the chosen people --whom God personally clipped Himself. Er won't be the last. He's a terrifying example of God's total lack of discrimination in regards to age, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and/or political affiliation. (cf. Num 16:28-35). However, there is risk involved when one is in close association with God because privelige carries along with it responsibility.
†. Amos 3:1-2 . . Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O children of Israel-- against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt --saying: You only have I known of all the families of the earth: that's why I will punish you for all your iniquities. (cf. Mtt 11:23, Luke 12:47-48, Rom 8:13)
†. Gen 38:8 . .Then Judah said to Onan: Join with your brother's wife and do your duty by her as a brother-in-law, and provide offspring for your brother.
Since Moses' covenanted Law doesn't have ex post facto jurisdiction (Gal 3:17) then Judah's directive wasn't a strict by-the-book legal requirement as-stipulated by Deut 25:5-6.
The later-to-come Mosaic "duty" to which Judah referred was apparently a widely accepted custom, not only in his own day, but in days preceding him. Some feel that the custom had its origin in the early-day practice of purchasing a wife rather than courting; so that she became a portion of the dead man's estate. As such, she remained the "property" (and the responsibility) of the clan; thus assuring widows of a livelihood, and of protection and security after their husband's death. In that respect, being a "mail order" bride had its advantages in an era when very few women had careers of their own outside the home.
†. Gen 38:9 . . But Onan, knowing that the seed would not count as his, spilled it on the ground whenever he joined with his brother's wife, so as not to provide offspring for his brother.
It's been suggested that Onan's motivation for leaving his new wife childless was to make sure Er didn't posthumously cause his own inheritance to be reduced. As the firstborn, Er came in for a larger portion of Judah's estate than Onan. But with Er dead and out of the way, Onan became the firstborn by natural succession. Actually, Onan didn't have to marry Tamar; but if and when he did, it was an implied consent to try his best to engender a boy so the dead man would have someone to carry on his name. But Onan chose instead to take advantage of his brother's widow and use her like a harlot; and that was not only a cruel thing to do, but a fatal error too.
†. Gen 38:10 . .What he did was displeasing to The Lord, and He took his life also.
Some have attempted to use this passage as a proof text that it's a sin to practice contraception. But any honest examination of the facts testifies otherwise. Onan evaded his obligation, and married his brother's widow under false pretenses; apparently with the full intention of protecting his own inheritance rather than that of his dead brother. That was unforgivable because it's all the same as fraud and breech of contract; not to mention deplorably uncaring about a widow's predicament (cf. Luke 7:11-15). Tamar had a legitimate right to a baby fathered by Judah's clan, and it was their moral, if not sacred, duty to make an honest attempt to provide her with not only a baby, but also a man by her side to take care of her too.
†. Gen 38:11a . .Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar: Stay as a widow in your father's house until my son Shelah grows up
At this point, Judah did the unthinkable: he disowned his daughter-in-law. That just wasn't done. When a girl married into a clan; she became one with that clan. I can scarce believe Judah sent her back to he father; and I'm honestly surprised Tamar's dad didn't march her right back to Judah's front door and get in his face about it and demand he fulfill his obligations to one of Israel's own widows.
†. Gen 38:11b . . for he thought: He too might die like his brothers.
No doubt Shelah's mom Bath-shua was by this time up in arms and protesting vehemently against any more marriages of her own sons to this "toxic" female.
It's only too clear what Judah had in mind. He had no intention of letting Tamar anywhere near his one and only surviving male heir. As far as he was concerned, Tamar was nothing less than a Black Widow-- one of the those deadly spiders in the southwest that eats her mate for dinner after the poor slob fulfills his one and only purpose in life.
†. Gen 38:11c . . So Tamar went to live in her father's house.
Sending Tamar back home, as an unattached girl, Judah no doubt sincerely hoped she would meet somebody in her own neighborhood; maybe an old boyfriend or two, and remarry before Shelah got old enough; thus, his last son would be safe from Ms. Black Widow. But as it turned out, Tamar had more grit than Mattie Ross of Darnel County. Judah's clan owed her dead husband a baby boy, and that was that.
You can hardly blame her. Jacob's clan was very wealthy, so that any children Tamar should produce by them, would have all the best that life had to offer in early-day Palestine; plus her grandchildren would be well taken care of too. Since nothing is said of her origin, Tamar may not have been a blue-blooded girl like her mother-in-law, but could have easily come from a low income community on the wrong side of the tracks. What would you do in the best interests of your children in that situation?
My dad's third wife married him for that very reason. She was just a 19 year-old Mexican housekeeper working in America on a green card, and my dad was pushing 60. At first she laughed him to scorn at his proposal, but later changed her mind when her entire family was plunged into poverty in Mexicali. She sacrificed her youth and her longings to marry an aging old man much senior to her-- one with a vasectomy and borderline impotence to boot --in order to rescue her mom, dad, and three sisters.
Dad moved the whole family to Tijuana and paid for enough second-hand lumber to build them a home; all the while working with the embassy to get his young wife a Visa. Then he sponsored her little sisters so they could go to school in America; and found her third sister a housekeeping job of her own. He supplied her step-dad with an old Smith & Wesson .22 pistol so he could get a job paying $17 a week as a cop. The entire family benefited immensely because just one of its daughters put their best interests ahead of her own.
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|1 year ago :: May 08, 2012 - 8:48AM #218|
†. Gen 38:12a . . As time went by, Judah's wife Bath-shua died.
This event left Judah single, and eligible to remarry; so that Tamar and Judah are now both single adults. However, Tamar is not really available: she's betrothed, and that makes things a little complicated.
†. Gen 38:12b . . After he got over her passing, Judah went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, together with his friend Hirah the Adullamite.
Timnah-- a.k.a. Tibneh: a deserted site southwest of Zorah, and two miles west of Ain Shems --was roughly 11 miles northwest from ancient Adullum towards Bethlehem.
†. Gen 38:13-14a . . And it was told Tamar, saying: Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep. So she took off her widow's garments, covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah;
The Hebrew words for "open place" are weird. They mean "an open eye". One of those words-- the one for "eye" --can also mean a spring or an artesian well (e.g. Gen 16:7). A wayside rest, like as can be usually found on many modern Federal highways, would probably qualify as an example of the "open place" to which Gen 38:14 refers.
Tamar's rest stop likely included a source of water, not for cars, but for the animals that men either herded, rode upon, or used for pack animals when they traveled up and down the primitive trails and roads of ancient Palestine.
Sheep-shearing occurs sometime in the spring, so the weather in Palestine at that season was sunny and warm. Veils weren't an eo ipso indication that a woman was loose, since Rebecca had worn one upon meeting her spouse-to-be Isaac (Gen 24:65). Although the text says that Tamar's veil covered her face (vs. 15), it likely not only covered her face, but her whole body, because veils were more like a burqa than the little mask-like nets that women sometimes wear to funerals; except that burqa's are cumbersome and ugly, whereas Tamar's veil was a lightweight wrap, and likely quite colorful and eye-catching.
†. Gen 38:14b . . for she saw that Shelah was grown up, yet she had not been given to him as wife.
Actually, Shelah wasn't the one who owed Tamar an Israeli baby; it was Judah, the head of the clan, and that's why he's the one she's coming after rather than Judah's son. Tamar is a scary girl; and one you wouldn't want to trifle with. Not many women would have had the chutzpah to do what she did. To begin with, for a lone woman to sit out along a remote road, unescorted, like she did, was inherently dangerous, and could have led to all sorts of mischief.
†. Gen 38:15a . .When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute,
The particular kind of prostitute in this episode is from the Hebrew word qedeshah (ked-ay-shaw') which isn't your typical working girl, but rather a devotee raising money for an established religion (Gen 38:21) typically an idolatrous kind of religion centered upon the worship of a goddess like Ashtoreth (a.k.a. Astarte). So one might say that a qedeshah's services were for a worthy cause.
†. Gen 38:15b . . for she had covered her face.
It's just amazing how difficult it is sometimes to recognize familiar people when they turn up in places we least expect them. Take Jesus for example. When he revived after his ordeal on the cross, people didn't know him right off: close friends like Mary Magdalena didn't recognize him at first even at close proximity (John 20:13-16). Another example is when Jesus came out to his followers' boat during a storm on open water. At first they thought he was a ghost, and Peter wouldn't believe it was Jesus until he gave him the power to walk on water himself (Mtt 14:25-29).
†. Gen 38:16-18a . . Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said: Come now, let me sleep with you. And what will you give me to sleep with you? she asked. I'll send you a young goat from my flock; he said. Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it? she asked.
The Hebrew word for "pledge" is 'arabown (ar-aw-bone') which means a pawn (given as security) as in pawn shop. This is the very first place in the Bible where that word is used.
In the usury business, an 'arabown is forfeited if the borrower fails to repay his loan. This is a very important principle in the plan of salvation.
†. Eph 1:13-14 . . In him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
In nutshell; the above means that if God should change His mind about sparing a sealed person, they would keep the Holy Spirit even in hell since the Spirit himself is the pledge; which of course would result in quite an embarrassment for God since He's otherwise well-known to be a man of His word.
But of course God won't renege because doing so would not only embarrass Himself, but embarrass His son too as Jesus has given his word that believers have nothing to fear.
†. John 5:24 . . I assure you, those who heed my message, and believe in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
†. Gen 38:18a . . He said: What pledge should I give you? Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand; she answered.
The items that Tamar required for a pledge were akin to a photo ID in those days. Judah's staff wasn't just a kendo stick or a walking cane or a shepherd's crook. It was more like a king's scepter, specially made just for him, and served the express purpose of identifying him as the head of his tribe. Staffs were made of either wood or metal, and usually capped with a masthead. The quality of the staff would of course depend upon the financial wherewithal of the person ordering it.
Judah's seal could have been a small, uniquely engraved cylinder, or possibly a ring (e.g. Jer 22:24) but wasn't always worn on a finger. Way back in Judah's day, seals were sometimes worn around the neck with a necklace; or attached to personal walking sticks and/or staffs with a lanyard, and forced into wax or soft clay to leave an impressed "signature". The whole shebang-- seal, cord, and staff --was often a unit; and there were no two alike.
The staff, with its cord and seal, was, of course, quite worthless for a shrine prostitute's purposes. In dollar value, it was nothing, as it couldn't be sold or traded. However, its value to Judah was why it was a good pledge item. He would certainly want it back.
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|1 year ago :: May 09, 2012 - 9:21AM #219|
†. Gen 38:18b-23 . . So he gave them to her and mated with her, and she conceived by him. After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow's clothes again.
. . . Meanwhile, Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite in order to get his pledge back from the woman, but he did not find her. He asked the men who lived there: Where is the shrine prostitute who was beside the road at Enaim? There hasn't been any shrine prostitute here; they said.
. . . So he went back to Judah and said: I didn't find her. Besides, the men who lived there said there hasn't been any shrine prostitute here. Then Judah said: Let her keep what she has or we will become a disgrace. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn't find her.
It might seem silly that Judah was concerned for his tribe's honor in this matter, but in those days, cult prostitutes did have a measure of respect in their community, and it wasn't unusual for every woman in the community to be expected to take a turn at supporting their "church" in that manner; so cult prostitution wasn't really looked upon as a vice but rather as a sacred obligation.
Judah's failure to pay up could be construed by locals as mockery of their religion's way of doing business, thus insulting those who believed and practiced it; so he emphasized his effort to find the woman and make good on his I.O.U. This appears to me the first instance of religious tolerance in the Bible; and the circumstances are intriguing: to say the least.
†. Gen 38:24 . . And it came to pass, about three months after, that Judah was told, saying: Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; furthermore she is with child by harlotry.
At this time, Tamar was living with her dad; so Judah wouldn't have known she was expecting unless a rumor mill brought the news around.
The word for "harlot" in Gen 38:24 is zanah (zaw-naw'), and the word for "harlotry" is zanuwn (zaw-noon') and both indicate adultery. Tamar is accused of adultery because at this point, she's assumed betrothed (though not yet married) to Shelah. (cf. Mtt 1:18-19)
†. Gen 38:24 . . So Judah said: Bring her out and let her be burned!
Since there were no Federal, nor any State, nor any Municipal laws in existence in primitive Palestine, local sheiks like Judah were the Supreme Court of their own tribes. Though Tamar was living back at home with her dad, she remained under Judah's jurisdiction because of her past marriages to two of Judah's sons.
Note : personally, I think Judah was relieved that he now had a valid excuse to keep his last surviving son from marrying Tamar.
†. Gen 38:25a . .When she was brought out,
It's odd to me that Judah didn't attend Tamar's execution. However; he was in for a very big jolt because Tamar produced a surprise character witness: himself.
†. Gen 38:26 . . she sent to her father-in-law, saying: By the man to whom these belong, I am with child. And she said: Please determine whose these are— the signet and cord, and staff. So Judah acknowledged them and said: She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son. And he never saw her again.
Actually, neither Judah nor Tamar were "righteous" in this matter. His comment was relative. It's like movies today. The good guys and the bad guys are no longer distinctly moral and immoral and/or scrupulous and unscrupulous. Often both sides of the equation are immoral and unscrupulous; with the "good" guys just being more likable.
†. Gen 38:27-28 . .When the time came for her to give birth, there were twins in her womb! While she was in labor, one of them put out his hand, and the midwife tied a crimson thread on that hand, to signify: This one came out first.
According to modern medicine, a baby isn't really born until it's head is outside the womb; so that it's legal (in some states) to kill babies with a so-called "dilation and extraction" abortion; which is a term coined by Ohio abortionist Dr. Martin Haskell for an abortion method in which he removes a baby's brain while it's head is still partially within the womb, and then completes the delivery by extracting the corpse. But in Tamar's day, even the exit of a hand was counted birth: thus Zerah became Tamar's legal firstborn son.
†. Gen 38:29 . . But just then he drew back his hand, and out came his brother; and she said: What a breach you have made for yourself! So he was named Perez (which means: break (as in break through a barrier or force a way through; viz: buck the line and/or go out of turn). Afterward his brother came out, on whose hand was the crimson thread; he was named Zerah (which means: a rising of light; viz: morning).
Well . . regardless of Zerah's primo-genitive prerogatives, God bypassed him in Judah's line to Messiah; which, by Divine appointment went to Perez, the second-born. (Mtt 1:1-3)
Note : you'd think holy propriety would demand that the sacred line to Messiah be pure. I mean, after all, a child of adultery and incest hardly seems like a proper ancestor for the King of Kings. But no, an ancestry of adultery and incest makes no difference to Christ. In point of fact, in time a famous harlot from Jericho named Rahab produced yet another male in the line to the lamb of God. (Mtt 1:4)
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|1 year ago :: May 10, 2012 - 8:37AM #220|
†. Gen 39:1-3 . . Now when Joseph arrived in Egypt with the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, a member of the personal staff of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Potiphar was the captain of the palace guard. The Lord was with Joseph and blessed him greatly as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that The Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.
The identity of the Pharaoh during this moment in history is a total mystery, and even that fact is a mystery in itself because Egypt was normally quite meticulous in recording its accomplishments, and the names of Egypt's dynastic successions are recorded practically without a break thru the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms, clear on back to 3,000 BC. But for some reason, so far unexplained, a blank occurs in its history between 1730 to 1580 BC.
This absence of information puzzles Egyptologists; and thus far has only been satisfactorily explained by the conquering-- and subsequent dominance --of Egypt by an ancient people called the Hyksos; who were Semitic tribes from Syria and Canaan. The Hyksos were of a different mentality than the Egyptians and apparently weren't inclined to keep a meticulous record of their own accomplishments as had their vanquished predecessors before them. Not only is there a dearth of documents from that period, but there aren't even any monuments to testify of it. If perchance Joseph was in Egypt during the Hyksos, that might explain why there exists not one shred of archaeological evidence to corroborate the Bible in regards to its story of Joseph in Egypt.
Joseph's success was, of course, in regards to his proficiency, and in no way says anything about his personal prosperity because as a slave, he had no income, owned no property, controlled no business ventures, nor maintained some sort of investment portfolio.
How Potiphar found out that Yhvh was Joseph's god isn't said. But in knowing, he quite naturally credited Yhvh with Joseph's proficiency because people in those days were very superstitious. Even Potiphar's own name, which in Egyptian is Pa-di-pa-ra, means "the gift of the god Ra".
†. Gen 39:3-6a . . So Joseph naturally became quite a favorite with him. Potiphar soon put Joseph in charge of his entire household and entrusted him with all his business. From the day Joseph was put in charge, Yhvh began to bless Potiphar for Joseph's sake. All his household affairs began to run smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished. So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn't have a worry in the world, except to decide what he wanted to eat!
This was all idyllic for Mr. Aristocrat; but unfortunately, there was a fly poised to plop itself into the ointment.
†. Gen 39:6b-7 . . Now Joseph was young, well built, and handsome. After a while, his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph and said; Sleep with me.
The apparent overture wasn't a request. Since Joseph was a slave, it wasn't necessary for Potiphar's wife to seduce him. She only had to give him an order, and he was expected to obey it.
It's not uncommon to find women who feel trapped in an unfulfilling marriages. Henry David Thoreau once wrote that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Well; some of that "mass of men" includes women.
Potiphar's wife (call her Anna for convenience) was a lively woman married to the wrong man. Her husband was a courtier, and maybe an older man, maybe a bit too old. It very well could be that Anna didn't marry for love; but for security. That's understandable since women of that day didn't have a lot of career options, nor a minority status, nor retirement benefits, nor entitlements like Medicare and Social Security. For women in Anna's day, marriage was often a matter of survival rather than a matter of the heart.
Anna was obviously still perky and maybe would have enjoyed dinner out and salsa dancing once or twice a week; while Potipher probably barely had enough energy left to plop down and fall asleep in his La-Z-Boy recliner after working 12-14 hours a day in the palace and just wanted to be left alone in his man cave with a can of beer and CNN. There are women who prefer older men; sometimes much older. But there are other women, like Anna, who prefer the young ones; however, sometimes life just doesn't give them any options.
So then, what's an active girl to do when her husband is old and boring, and here's this strapping, virile young slave guy around the house with you all day long? Well . .you're either going to drink a lot, get crabby, take pills, or make a move and see what happens. Unfortunately, Anna isn't going to be a very good sport about it.
†. Gen 39:8-18 . . But Joseph refused. Look; he told her: my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do! He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I ever do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.
. . . She kept putting pressure on him day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he avoided her as much as possible. One day, however, no one else was around when he was doing his work inside the house. She came and grabbed him by his shirt, demanding: Sleep with me! Joseph tore himself away, but as he did, his shirt came off. She was left holding it as he ran from the house.
. . .When she saw that she had his shirt and that he had fled, she began screaming. Soon all the men around the place came running. My husband has brought this Hebrew slave here to humiliate us; she sobbed. He tried to rape me, but I screamed. When he heard my loud cries, he ran and left his shirt behind with me.
. . . She kept the shirt with her, and when her husband came home that night, she told him her story. That Hebrew slave you've had around here tried to humiliate me; she said. I was saved only by my screams. He ran out, leaving his shirt behind!
Joseph's situation parallels a case in Harper Lee's book To Kill A Mockingbird where a promiscuous woman accuses an innocent man of rape in order to cover up her own indiscretions.
Scorned women can be very cruel. When I was a youthful, good-looking hunk, the wife (whom I was careful to avoid) of a good friend accused me to her husband of going off on her with abusive language in a tirade. To defend myself and expose his wife for the liar that she was, would have meant causing my friend deep humiliation; so I elected to keep silent and take the pain. Our friendship was of course ruined, and we parted. A few months later, I was told they divorced. Like that was any big surprise.
I've no doubt Potiphar didn't believe a word of his wife's story or otherwise he would have put Joseph to death rather than in a cushy jail where political prisoners were kept, but what was he to do? Stick up for a slave over his wife? Not happening. So Joseph was sacrificed to keep peace in the home.
†. Gen 39:20-23 . . But while Joseph was there in the prison, Yhvh was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because Yhvh was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
A trustee's lot in prison is much more agreeable than regular inmates. Joseph was very fortunate to have the Lord in his corner otherwise he might have been neglected; but as a trustee, he could roam about the cell block like as if he were one of the guards.
It would appear to the uninformed that Joseph had a natural aptitude for management; but actually he didn't; no, he was supernaturally-gifted. That is quite an advantage-- a resentful rival might even say: an unfair advantage.
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