Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Hello;

Back around 2000 or 2001; I got the daring idea to begin composing a daily, bite-size commentary on the book of Genesis. It was a clumsy effort at first but I stuck with it and as time went by, it got pretty good. On some forums where I've survived opposition long enough to complete the whole fifty chapters, Genesis has attracted several thousand views.

As of today's date, I'm 76 years old; and an on-going student of the Bible since 1968 via sermons, seminars, lectures, Sunday school classes, radio Bible programs, and various authors of a number of Bible-related books. Fifty-two years of Bible under my belt hasn't made me an authority; but they've at least made me competent enough to tackle Genesis.

Barring emergencies, accidents, vacations, unforeseen circumstances, and/or insurmountable distractions, database errors, pandemic shut-downs, computer crashes, black outs, brown outs, deaths in the family, Wall Street Armageddon, thread hijackers, excessive quarrelling and debating, the dog ate my homework, visiting relatives, ISIS, car repairs, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, student walk-outs, Carrington events, gasoline prices, medical issues, and/or hard luck and the forces of nature; I'm making an effort to post something every day including Sundays and holidays.

Some really good stuff is in Genesis: the origin of the cosmos, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the Flood, tower of Babel, and the origin of the Jews.

Big-name celebrities like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Ishmael, Rebecca, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph are here.

Not here are Moses vs. Pharaoh and the parting of the Red Sea. That story is in Exodus; Samson and Delilah are in Judges, David and Goliath are in 1Samuel; and Ruth and Esther are in books of the Bible named after them.

The author of Genesis is currently unknown; but commonly attributed to Moses. Seeing as he penned Exodus (Mark 12:26) it's conceivable that Moses also penned Genesis; but in reality, nobody really knows for sure.

Scholars have estimated the date of its writing at around 1450-1410 BC; a mere 3,400± years ago, which is pretty recent in the grand scheme of Earth's geological history.

Genesis may in fact be the result of several contributors beginning as far back as Adam himself; who would certainly know more about the creation than anybody, and who entertained no doubts whatsoever about the existence of an intelligent designer since he knew the creator Himself like a next door neighbor.

As time went by, others like Seth and Noah would add their own experiences to the record, and then Abraham his, Isaac his, Jacob his, and finally Judah or one of his descendants completing the record with Joseph's burial.

Genesis is quoted more than sixty times in the New Testament; and Christ authenticated its Divine inspiration by referring to it in his own teachings. (e.g. Matt 19:4-6, Matt 24:37-39, Mk 10:4-9, Luke 11:49-51, Luke 17:26 29 & 32, John 7:21-23, John 8:44 and John 8:56)

Buen Camino

(Pleasant Journey)
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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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.

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 subsequent arrival --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 tribal head 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 humorous because a very resourceful Gentile girl is going to really get one over on the "chosen people".


Gen 38:1c . . left his brothers

One 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, 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.

From the spiritual aspect; Jacob's family was practically on an island in the midst of a sea infested with caribes. The only viable option for spouses 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-- Israel's 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. Uri ben Hur, Ex 31:2).

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)
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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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 with Khirbet Kueizibah by somebody named Conder (Palestine Exploration, Jan. 1875). 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.

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 material 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 was only the beginning because God's chosen people weren't chosen to be His pampered pets; no, they were selected to be the number-one caretakers, and propagators, of the knowledge of God. So then, of all the people in the world, Jews have the least excuse for failure to comply with God's wishes because they have always had that information at their fingertips while a very large portion of the rest of the world; for many, many centuries, didn't. Therefore, the status of God's chosen people isn't something to be proud of; no, it's something to be afraid of.

"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." (Amos 3:1-2)


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.

NOTE: This is the first mention of adoption in the Bible. Others are Moses' adoption by an Egyptian princess, Manasseh's and Ephraim's adoption by Jacob, and Jesus' adoption by Joseph.

According to Deut 5:2-4, the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy isn't retroactive. So then Judah's directive wasn't a strict by-the-book legal requirement as-stipulated by Deut 25:5-6; but was nevertheless something that God approved without it being a covenanted requirement.

The "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 or were entitled to assistance programs.


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 Tamar back to her 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.

I've a pretty good notion of 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 venomous spiders in the American southwest that eats her mate for dinner after the poor hormone-driven slob fulfills his one and only purpose in life.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #273

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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?


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 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; and conveyed an altogether different message than a woman in mourning.


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.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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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 a pagan 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. (Matt 14:25-29)

Gen 38:16-17 . . 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" in that passage is 'arabown (ar-aw-bone') which means property given as security-- viz: collateral --as in a pawn shop or a bank loan. 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; i.e. make good on his promise. This is a very important element in the divine plan.

"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." (Eph 1:13-14)

The Greek word for "pledge" in that passage is arrhabon (ar-hrab-ohn') which means essentially the same as the Hebrew word 'arabown except that the Greek word indicates a little something extra.

Real estate transactions usually involve a sum called the earnest money. Although it may be applied towards the purchase price of property, earnest money itself serves a specific purpose of its own in the real estate business. In some quarters; this is also called good-faith money.

When the contract, and all the other necessary documents are submitted to Escrow, the buyer is required to also submit a token amount of the purchase price. It's usually a relatively small number of dollars compared to the full price of the property. I think ours was just $1,000 back in 1988 on a $74,000 home. When the buyer follows through on their intent to purchase the property, the good-faith money (minus some Escrow fees of course) goes towards the purchase.

However, if the buyer decides to renege, then they forfeit the good faith money. No doubt that's done to discourage vacillating buyers from fiddling around with other people's time and money.

So then, since God's Spirit is the earnest depicted in Eph 1:13-14; then, according to the principles underlying the arrhabon, should God betray a believer's trust by reneging on His promise to spare people who hear and believe the gospel, then He forfeits; and the believer gets to keep the Spirit regardless of their afterlife destiny.

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.

"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." (John 5:24)

There are people who actually believe the Bible's God can get away with reneging on His promises. A belief of that nature of course eo ipso insinuates that He lacks integrity, i.e. the Bible's God is capable of dishonesty and can't be trusted to make good on anything He says.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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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 or a thumb print 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 material 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.


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 mean adultery. Tamar is accused of adultery because at this point, she's assumed betrothed (though not yet married) to Shelah. (cf. Matt 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: I suspect Judah saw this turn of events as a golden opportunity to save his last surviving son from marrying Ms. Black Widow.

Gen 38:25a . .When she was brought out,

It's odd to me that Judah didn't attend Tamar's execution: possibly because he couldn't look her in the eye for reneging on his promise to give her Shelah. However; Judah was in for a very big jolt to his nervous system because Tamar produced a surprise witness.

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. Though both had behaved rather badly; Tamar held the high moral ground. 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.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 38:27-28 . . And it came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb. Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying: 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 its little corpse. But in Tamar's day, even the exit of so much as a hand was counted birth: thus baby Zerah became Tamar's legal firstborn son.

Gen 38:29 . . But it came about as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out. Then she said: What a breach you have made for yourself! So he was named Perez.

Perez's name indicates that he forced his way to the front of the line.

Gen 38:30 . . And afterward his brother came out who had the scarlet thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah.

Zerah's name sort of refers to dawn or morning twilight, viz: like when the sun is coming up; i.e. a new day, or something like that.

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. (Matt 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/or 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 (Matt 1:5). And let's not forget Ruth who descended from Lot sleeping with one of his own daughters in a cave. (cf. Gen 19:36-37, Ruth 4:10, and Matt 1:5)

According to Rom 8:3 Christ didn't come in the likeness of innocent flesh; no, he came in the likeness of sinful flesh, and his ancestry certainly proves it.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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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 an amorously active woman married to the wrong man. No children are listed for her husband so it's very possible Potiphar was a eunuch; a distinct possibility in ancient palaces. He might have been an older man too, maybe a bit too old.

Anna probably 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.

She was obviously still lively 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 cold bottle of Heineken and FOX News, so to speak.

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 a desperate housewife 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 witchy, take pills, or make a move and see what happens. Unfortunately, Anna isn't going to be a very good sport about it.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 39:8-9 . . 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.

Note Joseph's diplomacy. He made no comments about Anna's age nor her appeal. His defense was strictly reasonable rather than personal. All things considered; Joseph simply wouldn't be able to live with either himself or his religion had he betrayed Potiphar's trust; thus he was careful to avoid hurting Anna's feelings.

Gen 39:10-18 . . 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 abuse 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!


From a strategic standpoint, Anna's action was a wise initiative just in case Joseph began complaining to Potiphar about his wife's conduct.

Joseph's situation parallels a case in a novel by author Harper Lee titled "To Kill A Mockingbird " wherein a promiscuous woman destroys an innocent man in order to cover up her own indiscretions.


Gen 39:19-20a . .When his master heard the story that his wife told him, namely; "Thus and so your slave did to me" he was furious. So Joseph’s master had him put in prison, where the king’s prisoners were confined.

I seriously doubt Potiphar believed his wife's story (in point of fact, this may not have been the first time she got in trouble with a man) 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. I mean, after all; Potiphar had to live with Anna, he didn't have to live with Joseph, 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.

Joseph had quite an advantage. His management skills weren't due to a natural aptitude, rather, they were due to providence; just as his grandpa Abraham's wealth and success were due to providence.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Joseph was 17 when he arrived in Egypt, and 30 when he became prime minister. So 13 years of his young adulthood were wasted in servitude and prison; and all that time without even so much as a date or a girlfriend. More than a full decade of the best years of his life went by with no female companionship whatsoever.

A modern man's libido peaks in the years between 18 and 24, then begins tapering off as he gradually gets older. Since there is no record of Joseph's association with a special girl back home in Palestine, I think it's safe to conclude that he had never cuddled with a girl in his entire life till he got married sometime in his thirties. So you can see that Joseph was not only robbed of the best years of his life, but totally missed out on something that's very important to the psychological well being of the average red-blooded guy.

As Joseph got older, and began to realize that life was passing him by, and that his youth was ebbing away, he no doubt began to wonder if maybe his current situation wasn't permanent; and as the days and years continued to go by one after another, he must have become frightened, depressed, and desperate as he saw no plausible way to remedy his predicament and get his life back.

We used to joke among ourselves as professional welders that adverse conditions in the workplace build character. (chuckle) Like as if any blue collar skull needs "character" for anything. However, people destined for greatness can benefit immensely from character-building experiences that serve to temper their success; for example Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was immensely privileged and harbored a horrid superiority complex. Polio really humbled him, and in time, Roosevelt's handicap made him a much better man and a much better leader.

I've seen people's leadership and responsibility handed to them on the silver platter of privilege; resulting in their treating lower ranking employees with thoughtless contempt. If those managers had only started out laboring in construction, selling luggage, shackled in slavery, or convicted of crimes they didn't commit; then maybe they would have developed a sensitivity that would have made them, not just managers, but great managers.

Under normal circumstances, Joseph's alleged crime was punishable by death. So then, since he wasn't executed, but instead put in a prison normally reserved for political prisoners, his circumstances tend to support the opinion that Potiphar didn't believe his wife's story at all.


Gen 40:1a . . Some time later,

Exactly how long Joseph had been in prison prior to this next section is uncertain. However, his age would have been near 28 since it will be just two years afterwards that he's released. (Gen 41:1)

Gen 40:1b-4a . . the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt gave offense to their lord the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two courtiers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody, in the house of the chief steward, in the same prison house where Joseph was confined. The chief steward assigned Joseph to them, and he attended them.

The "chief steward" was Mr. Potiphar. (Gen 39:1)

Exactly what these two muckity-mucks did to warrant being placed under arrest isn't said, but since both men's functions were directly related to Pharaoh's nourishment; it's reasonable to assume their offenses most likely had something to do with the King's table. Perhaps the beverages, as well as the food, just happened to be tainted both at the same time, thus suggesting a conspiracy to poison their master. Since they weren't summarily executed, it's apparent that they're just suspects at this point, and being held without bail until Potiphar's secret service completed an investigation into the matter. It's entirely possible that some of the lower ranking members of the kitchen staff are being held too, though not in the same place.

Cupbearers weren't just flunky taste testers, but were savvy advisors: thus, in a position of great influence. They were also saddled with the responsibility of supervising the King's vineyards in order to ensure their potentate received only the very best beverages deserving of the rank. So cupbearers were very competent men who knew a thing or two about not only diplomacy, but also the wine business. Egyptian documents testify to their wealth and power (cf. Neh 2:1).

Although the baker wasn't up as high as a cupbearer, his duties were still critical. He didn't just make cookies and coffee cake, and/or supervise the kitchen staff, but did the shopping too. He sniffed all the meats, fowls, and fishes, and nibbled all the vegetables before they were ever brought inside the castle. Without the benefit of refrigeration, his responsibility was very great since his master could easily become gravely ill, and quite possibly die, from eating spoiled foods.

To be placed at the service of these two high ranking courtiers was really an honor, even though they were just as much locked up as Joseph. However, he was a slave and they were courtiers; so there was a big difference in rank even behind bars. But the two men had it pretty cushy. They weren't treated like common convicts; no, they each had a very competent, fully experienced butler with impeccable references at their service-- Mr. Joseph ben Jacob.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 40:4b-8a . . After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men-- the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison --had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

. . .When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh's officials who were in custody with him in his master's house: Why are your faces so sad today? We both had dreams; they answered, but there is no one to interpret them. Then Joseph said to them: Do not interpretations belong to God?


Actually, in the literal, Joseph said: Aren't interpretations with the gods? Because the word for "God" isn't Yhvh, rather, it's 'elohiym (el-o-heem') which isn't one of the creator's proper names, but a nondescript plural noun for all gods, both the true and the false, i.e. the real and the imagined.

Gen 40:8b . . Please tell me.

There's no record up to this point of Joseph ever interpreting a dream, not even his own. He dreamed in the past (e.g. Gen 37:5-7, Gen 37:9) but at the time he didn't know what his dreams meant; and in this particular instance, I seriously doubt he believed himself able to interpret a one. I think he was just curious. Jail is boring; what else was there to talk about? So what's going to happen next was probably just as big a surprise to him as it was to them.

Incidentally, there's no record of God ever speaking one-on-one with Joseph. He believed God was providentially active in his life, but was given no apparitions of any kind whatsoever to corroborate his confidence other than the fulfillment of his interpretations of people's dreams; which aren't eo ipso evidence of God at work. (e.g. Acts 16:16)

People's dreams normally don't stick in their memories for very long; but these two men's dreams seemed (to them anyway) to be of a mysteriously symbolic significance, and so disturbing that they can't get the details out of their minds.

In psychoanalysis, dreams are of interest because they're often expressions of subconscious anxieties and inner conflicts rather than portents and/or omens.

Dreams are both common and normal, and surely no one should try to derive a message from God out of them. But these men's dreams defied psychoanalysis because they were so weird and unnatural.

Had they been at liberty, they no doubt would have contacted one of Pharaoh's astrologers, or an occultist or a diviner, or a highly intuitive wiz kid to tell them the meanings. But for now they're stuck with Joseph-- a nice enough young fellow; but a total unknown in their world regarding matters of paranormal precognition.


Gen 40:9-13 . .Then the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph. He said to him: In my dream, there was a vine in front of me. On the vine were three branches. It had barely budded, when out came its blossoms and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand.

. . . Joseph said to him: This is its interpretation: The three branches are three days. In three days Pharaoh will pardon you and restore you to your post; you will place Pharaoh's cup in his hand, as was your custom formerly when you were his cupbearer.


From whence Joseph got his interpretation isn't stated. Genesis doesn't say he heard a voice, nor does it clearly say that God gave Joseph the interpretation. For all Joseph knew, (and them too) he was just taking a wild guess. It probably came right out of his head sort of like intuition or an imaginative locution.

Gen 40:14 . . But remember me when all is well with you again, and do me the kindness of mentioning me to Pharaoh, so as to free me from this place.

Don't worry, he won't; nor did he promise to.

Gen 40:15 . . For in truth, I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews; nor have I done anything here that they should have put me in the dungeon.

Joseph was telling the truth, but not the whole truth. He was in prison for the crime of rape. Whether he actually did it or not is immaterial. And he wasn't realistic: Joseph couldn't reasonably expect a courtier to take the word of a criminal; and a slave at that.

Gen 40:16a . .When the chief baker saw how favorably he had interpreted,

Apparently, for reasons unstated, the baker was somewhat reluctant to share his dream with Joseph at first, but relented when the first dream had a happy ending.

Gen 40:16b-17 . . he said to Joseph: In my dream, similarly, there were three openwork baskets on my head. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of food for Pharaoh that a baker prepares; and the birds were eating it out of the basket above my head.

Birds are usually an ill omen in Scripture; sort of like the connotation borne by serpents. So, now it comes out why the baker was reluctant to tell his dream. If Pharaoh ever suspected that his food was being picked over by birds, he would be very disappointed in the quality of the care that a potentate had a right to expect from his own personal team of cooks. Food left uncovered, exposed and out in the open, is certainly not food fit for a king.

The baker's dream may have been his subconscious at work reminiscing the error of his ways. Up till now, the baker had no doubt insisted upon his innocence; which was nothing less than feigned since he knew very well with whom the real fault lay between himself and the cupbearer.

Apparently Pharaoh had actually gotten some sort of food poisoning, and the investigation underway by Potiphar sought to find the source; and likely to determine if it was in any way evidence of a conspiracy to assassinate Pharaoh.
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