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 40:18-19 . . Joseph answered: This is its interpretation: The three baskets are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and gibbet you upon a pole; and the birds will pick off your flesh.

It's lucky for the baker that he would be already dead before the gibbeting because a common method of gibbeting in those days was impaling; which was a grizzly spectacle. Wooden poles, about three to four inches in diameter were sharpened to a pencil point and forcibly inserted into the abdomen, up into the rib cage to catch on the spine in back of the throat; and the pole was then set upright to suspend the victim above the ground like human shish kabob.

I'm looking here at an impaling on an Assyrian stone relief-- in the July/August 2006 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review --commissioned by Sennacherib for his palace at Ninevah to celebrate the capture of Lachish. The victims are three Israelites who still have their heads; strongly suggesting that they were alive when the poles were run into their bellies and up into their upper torsos.

Nobody could possibly survive an injury like that for more than a few seconds. The pole would not only penetrate the stomach, but also the liver, diaphragm, lungs, some large blood vessels, and the bronchial tubes; resulting in almost instant death-- quite excruciating, and very bloody.

Public impaling was no doubt a very effective deterrent to insurrection; and nobody in those days seemed overly concerned about executing criminals in a "humane" manner. Cruel and unusual punishments were the norm; and nobody dared stage an Antiva and/or a Black LIves Matter protest about it lest their days end in like fashion.


Gen 40:20a . . Pharaoh's birthday came three days later, and he gave a banquet for all his officials and household staff.

What really is the purpose of a birthday party anyway if not to celebrate the continuance of your own existence?

For guys in Pharaoh's position (e.g. Kim Jong Un of N. Korea, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Thein Sein of Myanmar) life is good: better than what you could ever hope to ask for; and of course that's cause for celebration. But for the majority of their subjects, life wasn't all that good, and nothing to celebrate. No doubt relatively few Egyptians in that day derived a significant amount of pleasure from their own existence.

People normally count Job as one of the most righteous men who ever lived, yet when he lost his health and wealth, Job cursed the day of his birth and wished he was never born. (Job 3:1-26)


Gen 40:20b-23 . . He sent for his chief cup-bearer and chief baker, and they were brought to him from the prison. He then restored the chief cup-bearer to his former position, but he sentenced the chief baker to be impaled on a pole, just as Joseph had predicted. Pharaoh's cup-bearer, however, promptly forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.

One might wonder how it was possible for the cup-bearer to not be thoroughly amazed enough at the fulfillment of Joseph's predictions to begin exclaiming his prison experience with such enthusiasm as to totally rivet the attention of every single one of Pharaoh's courtiers and instantly secure Joseph's freedom.

But if we take into account the hand of God in the glove of His people's history, then it seems reasonable to conclude that God didn't want Joseph in the limelight just yet; so he put a mental block in the cup man's head to silence him for the time being.

No doubt when Joseph was apprised of recent developments by his friend Potiphar, he was deeply disappointed, and probably a bit consternated too. Joseph probably assumed-- and with good reason --that those successful predictions were his ticket to freedom at last.

But even if Pharaoh had taken note of Joseph at this particular point in the narrative, he was still Potiphar's property, and would have to remain in custody because of his "affair" with Potiphar's wife. Dreams or no dreams, does anyone seriously believe that Pharaoh would have taken the word of a slave over one of his own trusted courtiers?

So even had the cup-bearer brought Joseph's ability to Pharaoh's attention, it probably wouldn't have succeeded in gaining him the degree of freedom he really wanted. In point of fact, it may have even resulted in his death because Pharaoh would certainly want to know why Joseph hadn't been summarily executed on the spot for rape. No; bringing Joseph to Pharaoh's attention at this point would have caused problems for both the slave and his master.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 41:1a . .Two years later

Poor Joseph. He's now at the very threshold of his fourth decade of life and still hasn't slept with a girl, nor does he even really have a life of his own. He was under his dad's thumb for seventeen years as a kid, a slave in a foreign country for thirteen; and thus far nothing to show for it.

Gen 41:1b-7a . . Pharaoh had a dream, and behold, he was standing by the Nile. And lo, from the Nile there came up seven heifers, sleek and fat; and they grazed in the marsh grass. Then behold, seven other heifers came up after them from the Nile, ragged and bony, and they stood by the other heifers on the bank of the Nile. And the ragged and bony heifers ate the seven sleek and fat ones. Then Pharaoh awoke.

. . . And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; and behold, seven ears of grain came up on a single stalk, plump and good. Then behold, seven ears, shriveled and dehydrated by the east wind, sprouted up after them. And the shriveled ears devoured the seven plump and full ears.


Pharaoh's dreams are all the more disturbing because they contain incidents that are contrary to nature. Cows, as a rule, aren't carnivorous; and ears of grain derive their nourishment from the stems of their own parent plant, not dining upon each other.

The scenes in both dreams are extremely violent with the cows and the ears not just sitting down to dinner, but literally attacking their neighbors with desperate savagery, like ravenous caribes: eating everything-- flesh, hide, hooves, bones, grains, chaff, and all --raw and uncooked.


Gen 41:7b . .Then Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream.

The first dream was disturbing enough to wake Pharaoh from his sleep. But the second was so vivid and so real that when he awoke, he was actually surprised it was just a dream. And with that last dream, I'd not be surprised he was very relieved to discover it wasn't a reality.

Gen 41:8a . .The next morning, as he thought about it, Pharaoh became agitated as to what the dreams might mean. So he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt and told them about his dreams,

Magicians in those days were not the same as the sleight-of-hand entertainers of our own day. Those occultists were scary; they used dark arts that actually worked, and they were really and truly in touch with paranormal powers. The magicians who opposed Moses (Ex 7:11) were able to duplicate several of God's miracles; so ancient magicians were legitimately powerful sorcerers and to be seriously reckoned with.

I think it was mentioned previously that "wise men" were highly educated men of extraordinary intelligence; sort of like ancient college professors and wiz kids. Although Moses himself isn't stated to have been a wise man; he is stated to have been educated in all that Egypt had to offer. (Acts 7:22)

Incidentally, although Genesis never mentions God directly in Joseph's life, Stephen confirms that it was God's providence that made the young man so successful, and protected him from mortal harm. (Acts 7:9-10)


Gen 41:8b . . but not one of them could suggest what they meant.

No doubt the magicians and wise men would normally have guessed the meaning of Pharaoh's dreams in an instant via their connections with the dark world. But this time the dark world wasn't responsible for those two dreams.

That had to be a very tense moment for the think tank. Potentates have been known to execute brain trusts for failure to produce. (Dan 2:1-12)
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

Post #283

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Gen 41:9-13 . .Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh: Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

. . . Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged.


Why wait till now to talk about Josephs' abilities? Well . . first off, God more than likely put a mental block in the cupbearers head to forget all about Joseph; and that mental block could have been something as simple as a very reasonable decision on the cupbearer's part. Pharaoh already had a corps of magicians and wise men who were actually very proficient at their jobs. What need was there to suggest taking on another one; and a Hebrew slave at that?

No doubt during the performance of his duties over time, the cupbearer had seen lots of dreams correctly interpreted, so Joseph's dog and pony show was nothing new to him. The kind of mental block where people talk themselves out of something, is quite normal and very common. But now, circumstances are going to twinge the cupbearer's conscience, not just about Josephs' ability, but the fact that Joseph had practically begged the man to talk to Pharaoh and get him released as a return for the favor.


Gen 41:14a . . So Pharaoh sent for Joseph,

Normally, Egyptians didn't associate with Hebrews (cf. Gen 43:32) and that cultural barrier no doubt factored in to the cupbearer's mental block. But Pharaoh was at his wit's end, and was favorably disposed to swallow his pride for a matter that, to him, seemed of the utmost importance to not only himself, but also to the welfare of his whole country.

Gen 41:14b . . and he was quickly brought from the dungeon.

All this was done so that Joseph could appear in court that very day, not some other time. Pharaoh was anxious.

Gen 41:14c . .When he had shaved and changed his clothes,

Shaving for an Egyptian meant not only trimming and sculpting their beards (by now, Joseph must have looked like Rumpelstiltskin) but also cutting their hair; actually shaving their scalps bald like Vin Diesel. According to Herodotus, the Egyptians had extreme care for cleanliness and would let their hair and beards grow out only during periods of mourning.

Gen 41:14d . . he came before Pharaoh.

Jiminy! Here's this no-account sheep rancher from the outback getting the full-on attention of one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, monarchs in the world of that day!

You know, there comes a day-- and that day may never come for some people --when you get that big break. It's at that moment when you better have your ducks in a row and your peas in their pods because opportunity knocks only for those who are prepared for it. For all others, it's bye-bye; and don't call us; we'll call you-- or worse. If Joseph blows his big moment, he could very well end up not just sent back to prison for life; but gibbeted just like the baker. This is a tense moment, and somebody's life is about to change.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 41:15 . . I had a dream last night; Pharaoh told him; and none of these men can tell me what it means. But I have heard that you can interpret dreams, and that is why I have summoned you.

Potiphar of course would have been responsible for delivering Joseph, and probably informed him of the purpose. But just to set his mind at ease, I'm assuming Pharaoh himself personally informs Joseph of the reason why he's there because when prisoners like Joseph were summoned to a Pharaoh, it was more than likely for trial.

Gen 41:16 . . It is beyond my power to do this; Joseph replied. But God will tell you what it means and will set you at ease.

A verse like that is ambiguous since the Hebrew word translated "God" in that verse is plural so that verse could just as accurately be read: "But the gods will tell you what it means . . ." However, Pharaoh would have no problem with the god being Yhvh because his land was literally infested with gods and were a common part of everyday Egyptian life.

Although Mr. Pharaoh is probably not going to like what he hears, at least he'll have the peace of mind of knowing what to expect. How many of us really want our doctors to lie to us? No, we want the truth; even if it's terminal cancer.


Gen 41:17a . . So Pharaoh told him the dream.

Pharaoh is really grasping at straws here since Joseph had no credentials nor could produce any references aside from the cup-bearer's to recommend him and vouch for his skills; and he had only one successful interpretation to his credit thus far; so you can see just how desperate Pharaoh really is.

Gen 41:17b . . I was standing on the bank of the Nile River; he said.

The Nile River's role in the dream is highly significant since it was a major factor in Egypt's economy; especially its agriculture. Every year the Nile overflowed it banks; leaving behind a deposit of silt; which kept the land's flood plain replenished with a nice new layer of fresh topsoil. Take away the Nile's flooding, and eventually the soils would become depleted in an era when hardly anybody knew anything about crop rotation.

Not only that, but winds coming in from the eastern deserts would not only dry the soils out and blow them away, but in the process leave behind sands that would eventually render the land unproductive like during America's depression era when its croplands turned into dust bowls.

Lower the Nile's water level significantly, and it would make irrigation very difficult in a time without pumps powered by internal combustion engines or electric motors.

Joseph is going to predict a famine; and in those days, as even now, famines were caused by insufficient rainfall. Reduced rainfall results in less natural irrigation and less runoff, so that Egypt's worst fears will be realized: crops will dry up, the Nile won't overflow its banks, and its levels will shrink.

Back in chapter 2, Genesis says that a flow welled up from the ground to water the whole surface of the earth, and a river watered the garden of Eden. River systems irrigate the subsoil and replenish aquifers. Lower a river system too much, and see what happens.

I can recall an instance, I think it was somewhere in Australia, where the natural aquifer below a farmer's land went down because a marsh nearby was drained for commercial purposes. The aquifer was like a dam. When it went down, salt water moved in to take its place and the stuff percolated up and flooded the man's property. All his trees died and the land became good for nothing. Tamper with nature too much; and nature will tamper with you.


Gen 41:18a . . when out of the river

That is so perfect because the Nile was Egypt's source of life; so that whatever happened to the Nile, or whatever the Nile produced, effected Egyptian life in a big way.

During Moses' confrontation with Pharaoh in the book of Exodus, the Nile was turned into blood (Ex 7:17-25), and subsequently Egypt's streams, rivers, ponds, and their pools. Next, God made the Nile produce myriads of frogs (Ex 8:1-6), so that the frogs were so thick, they became a serious infestation. So then, the Nile, which ordinarily was a blessing, became a superfund site.


Gen 41:18b-24a . . there came up seven heifers, sleek and fat; and they grazed in the marsh grass. After them, seven other heifers came up-- ragged and bony, I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. The hideous heifers ate up the seven fat heifers that came up first. But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as hideous as before. Then I woke up.

. . . In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads sprouted-- withered and thin and dehydrated by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads.


This second dream sounds like a redux of The Little Shop Of Horrors.

Gen 41:24b . . I told this to the magicians, but none could explain it to me.

Since Pharaoh's brain trust couldn't figure out the dreams, then they certainly wouldn't be able to devise effective contingency plans to deal with their meanings. It's always nice to know the future so you can get ready for it; and certainly nobody likes to be kept in the dark.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 41:25a . .Then Joseph said to Pharaoh:

Note Joseph's quick response time. He didn't even go off and pray about it and wait for an answer from God-- no; he hopped right to it. Seeing as how Genesis doesn't say that God whispered inside Joseph's head, or spoke to him by an audible dictation that only Joseph's own ears could hear; then I think it safe to assume that God gave Joseph the interpretation of those dreams by means of his own intuition so that Joseph knew what they meant without even having to think about it.

Divine inspiration is very subtle at times and pretty amazing too. Back in the early days of Christianity, certain individuals were supernaturally enabled with a variety of useful skills and abilities; e.g. Rom 12:5-8 and 1Cor 12:1-11. Compare those passages with Exodus 31:1-6.


Gen 41:25b-32 . . Both dreams mean the same thing. God was telling you what he is about to do. The seven fat cows and the seven plump heads of grain both represent seven years of prosperity. The seven thin, ugly cows and the seven withered heads of grain represent seven years of famine. This will happen just as I have described it, for God has shown you what he is about to do.

. . .The next seven years will be a period of great prosperity throughout the land of Egypt. But afterward there will be seven years of famine so great that all the prosperity will be forgotten and wiped out. Famine will destroy the land. This famine will be so terrible that even the memory of the good years will be erased. As for having the dream twice, it means that the matter has been decreed by God and that he will make these events happen soon.


The "twice" method was first seen in Gen 37:5-11. Peter's vision (Acts 10:9-17) was the same one three times over, while Joseph's and Pharaoh's two dreams apiece were redundant, indicating that God meant business and wasn't going to change His mind regarding this matter. You know though, with some people, no matter how many times, or in how many ways, you try to tell them something, they refuse to listen; like when a girl keeps saying NO to a boy's advances and he just keeps coming on anyway because for some strange reason the boy thinks she doesn't mean it; and he's somehow convinced that her protests aren't serious.

Everybody accepted Joseph's interpretation without question-- Pharaoh and all the magicians and wise men (Gen 41:37) --and that is pretty amazing in itself.

Supposing you were a US President in San Diego for a one-night fund raiser and a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the President said he heard that the Border Patrol had an illegal immigrant from Sinaloa in custody for rape down in San Ysidro who says he knows exactly how to balance the Federal budget, stop processed food from poisoning Americans, eradicate genetically engineered crops, solve all your problems with Iran and North Korea, and get America out of Afghanistan. Would you be interested? I don't think so; you'd have to be pretty desperate.

I believe that while Pharaoh and his corps of geniuses were listening to Joseph's interpretation, God was doing a number on their minds so that they would accept what Joseph was telling them; and by the time he finished, they were amazed that they hadn't thought of the interpretation themselves because it seemed not only quite simple, and obviously true; but also the only possible explanation.

God wasn't bringing all these things to pass for the purpose of embarrassing or of dethroning the king of Egypt (not this one anyway). As a matter of fact, Pharaoh's control over the country would be strengthened by these events. The underlying purpose of it all had to do rather with God's plans and purposes for the people of Israel. Therefore, not only did God give Pharaoh the dreams, and give Joseph the true interpretation of the dreams, but also provided an effective action plan for Egypt's survival.

People often complain that they can't respect a hell-fire God because He only uses the threat of eternal suffering as coercion to get people in line. But the Bible's talk of hell and eternal suffering isn't meant to intimidate people. No, it's just like Pharaoh's dreams: talk of hell and eternal suffering is meant as an early warning of things to come-- inevitable things.

A Danger Foreseen;
Is Half-Avoided.

(Cheyenne Proverb)
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 41:33-36 . . Now therefore I suggest Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.

. . . And have them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up grain under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.


A grain czar "wise and discreet" was necessary so that the man appointed wouldn't be tempted to profit from his own country's misfortune like so many of Wall Street's psychopathic barracudas are wont to do. Thank God Pharaoh had the cool to realize that what his country faced was not just long lines at the gas pumps, but nothing less than a full blown national emergency.

On the other hand, a central bureaucracy could easily lead to despotism, red tape, favoritism, cronyism, nepotism, corruption, payoffs, bribes, artificial shortages, black marketing, and political manipulation; especially if all the available food supplies were in the hands of self-serving corporations like ENRON, Monsanto, Bechtel, and Nestlé.

The success of Joseph's plan relied heavily upon the integrity of its administrator. The right man would be a savior; the wrong man could become a tyrant; and if the top man was a crook, everybody under him could be expected to be crooked too, and instead of a program intended to help the poor, it would only serve as a golden opportunity to line the pockets of officials like Indian Agents of the old west who embezzled Native Americans out of thousands of dollars worth of food, tools, livestock, implements, shelter, and clothing.

It's been shown by historians that tithing was practiced in ancient Egypt and other nations, as a form of taxes or tribute to the king; but a 20 percent levy would be very unusual, and might well be resisted, especially if enacted by an unpopular sovereign. Thus, the chief administrator of Joseph's plan would have to be skilled in diplomacy and persuasion: a veritable expert on how to win friends and influence people.

Actually, the 20 percent wasn't a hardship. Egypt's agricultural production was so good that no doubt at least 20 percent went to waste anyway even after all the people were satisfied and Egypt's export commitments were fulfilled. (Here in the USA, we waste upwards of 40% of our annual purchases of food)

Some citizens might gripe at first, but it's hard to feel deprived when things are going good. The seven years of plenty would be a time of bumper crops and overabundance; and heck, you could give the children's food to the dogs and not hurt them. The only real malcontents in Egypt would be people who are never happy about anything anyway.

Americans themselves have so much left over that there's enough perfectly good food thrown out in the dumpsters behind super markets and fast food chains like Wendy's, Carl's Jr, Subway, McDonalds. Arby's, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Burger King to easily feed every homeless person in the USA three meals a day. And that's not even counting all the other restaurants and food courts that are tossing out literally tons of edible garbage every hour of the business day.

Although someone might get the wrong impression, there was really no indication in Joseph's presentation that he was throwing his hat in the ring. Such a thought could hardly have crossed his sheep-herder's mind. The last thing Joseph wanted was a long-term commitment to Federal employment in a foreign country when the only thing on his mind was getting back home to his dad in Hebron.

Joseph was not only an alien, but a slave; and a jailbird accused of rape. He had never held a political office of any kind whatsoever. His only experience in business management was the oversight of Potiphar's household affairs; nor had he any experience in either running or participating in a bureaucracy of the magnitude of which he spoke.

But there are people like Joseph who have a God-given natural aptitude in certain areas. They don't need training and they don't need experience. They're like some combat platoon sergeants who, when you throw them into the mouths of canons, don't panic and don't get flustered. They perform like they've been doing that sort of thing all their lives.

Joseph probably wasn't aware at first that he had a God-given knack for running a big show like a national food bank. But God was, and that's exactly why He's going to persuade the top brass to put His own man in charge because the very survival of the people of Israel heavily depends upon an effective contingency to meet those inevitable seven years of famine; and even after the famine ended, there would still yet be a time of recovery before Egypt got back up to speed.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 41:37-38 . . Joseph's suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his advisers. And Pharaoh said to his courtiers: Could we find another like him, a man in whom is the spirit of the gods?

If there was one thing those old-time pagans valued, it was a connection to the spirit world, and they sensed that Joseph had it. I think they were not only in awe of him, but maybe even just a bit afraid of him too.

The Hebrew word for "gods" is 'elohiym (el-o-heem') which is both plural and ambiguous, so you could just as easily translate it gods as God; but in the Egypt of that day and age, "gods" makes more sense.

Joseph is going to become very popular with Pharaoh, and it's all to the one true god's credit.

"God was with him . . . and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt." (Acts 7:9-10)

The Greek word for "favor" in that verse is charis (khar'-ece) which is the very word translated "grace" in English versions of the New Testament. So then, you could say that Joseph found grace in the eyes of Pharaoh just like Noah found grace in the eyes of God back in Gen 6:8.

Putting it all together, it says that Pharaoh was inclined to bless Joseph just like God was inclined to bless Noah; viz: to do good for him; provide for him, and protect him from harm. God trusted Noah, and assigned him the Herculean task of building the ark. Pharaoh trusted Joseph, and assigned him the Herculean task of implementing a plan to save his country from certain ruin. Noah's ark kept the human race alive. Joseph's plan kept the Egyptians alive (and his family too). Quite a few parallels in Noah and Joseph.

But in order for Joseph's plan to work, he had to have absolute power in the country of Egypt. Everybody had to fear him so they'd be sure to cooperate.


Gen 41:39-43 . .Then Pharaoh said to Joseph; Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you. So Pharaoh said to Joseph; I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.

. . .Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, "Make way!" Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.


Pharaoh's signet ring was for signing documents and authorizing whatever purchases and requisitions Joseph might need to fulfill his duties; and for mustering and/or conscripting the necessary manpower to get it all done. That signet ring was terrifying. With it, Joseph could actually order people gibbeted if he wanted and nobody would question it. (Hag 2:20-23)

Gen 41:44 . . Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph; Though I am Pharaoh, yet without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

Although Joseph was directly responsible to Pharaoh and to no one else, his powers were limited. He couldn't wage war or set foreign policy. He had no say in the balance of trade, or the colonization of foreign lands. There were other people taking care of those operations. Joseph's jurisdiction for the moment was related to the task he was assigned, sort of like the head of homeland security, a drug czar, or a FEMA commander. Joseph's position was in supreme oversight of Egypt's domestic product.

Gen 41:45a . . Pharaoh then gave Joseph the name Tsophnath Pa'neach, and he gave him for a wife Asenath daughter of Poti-phera, priest of On.

Tsophnath Pa'neach was an Egyptian name, same as Moses is an Egyptian name; which reflected Joseph's transition from Palestinian goat-herder to a naturalized Egyptian citizen; which of course had the effect of emancipating him from slavery.

Poti-phera is essentially the same name as Joseph's original master: Potiphar.

The city of On was possibly Heliopolis, a city dedicated to the worship of the Sun god.

Priests were a highly respected caste in Egypt. Having a father-in-law in the priesthood secured Joseph a privileged social status appropriate for a man in his position, and no doubt landed some good connections right in his lap. There's no record that Joseph protested the marriage, but likely saw it as an advantage he could exploit.

Everything Pharaoh did for Joseph worked in his favor towards giving him a highly visible public profile.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 41:45b-46a . .Thus Joseph emerged in charge of the land of Egypt. Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Joseph went from slave to aristocrat practically overnight; and with neither political, nor business experience on his résumé whatsoever.

Gen 41:46b . . Leaving Pharaoh's presence, Joseph traveled through all the land of Egypt.

That reminds me of how U.S. Presidents fly over disaster areas in a helicopter to "assess" the situation. Well Joseph didn't have a whirlybird at his disposal. If he was going to assess Egypt's agricultural assets first hand, and decide where to strategically locate his granaries, then he would have to do it in that spiffy government-provided conveyance that came with his job.

Joseph would actually get himself dirty down on the ground on Egypt's highways, byways, townships, and farmlands, rather than cruising aloft in the luxury and comfort of an Air Force One and delegating all the leg work to a corps of go-fers and fact-finders.

Joseph hasn't seen his dad for 13 years now, and if there ever was a golden opportunity for him to escape and get back to Canaan, this was it. But he couldn't. Joseph was in a catch-22. If he went back home at this point, the coming famine might destroy his own family. He had to stay and make sure Egypt became the world's bread basket so his kin would have somewhere to go and get food when those seven years of desperate want finally came along.

True, Pharaoh could just appoint someone else to the task if Joseph deserted his post, but Joseph couldn't take the chance his replacement wouldn't be a devil instead of a savior. Sometimes, when you want the job done right, you just have to do it yourself.

Then too, taking off now might cause Pharaoh to lose confidence in Joseph's predictions. He might suspect, and who wouldn't, that Joseph made it all up just so's he could get out of jail. Then Pharaoh would probably cancel any and all preparations for the years ahead; with tragic consequences. No, Joseph was stuck.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 41:47-49 . . During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

When there's small amounts to work with, it's easy to use small containers to tally it. But Egypt's abundance was so great that it was impractical to tally the grain with standard containers. Instead, I would think Joseph did it simply by building his silos to a standard size and dimension. So, instead of tallying "bushels" of grain, Joseph simplified the process by tallying silos.

Although storing the grain near the communities where it was grown was a practical consideration for later distribution, it was also a wise diplomatic move. When people see their hard-earned things carted off to the unknown, it makes them nervous about getting their stuff back. Putting his granaries nearby, reassured local growers and consumers that Joseph meant well by them and wasn't just taxing their produce for personal profit.

I would like to think that Joseph employed local labor for the construction of his granaries rather than contracting it out to a global construction company that polished the apple with him via his father-in-law's contacts; thus once again showing good faith by injecting wages into local economies. Little by little, Joseph was gaining the Egyptians' trust, which must have no doubt pleased Pharaoh well and made him feel pretty good about his choice of man for the job.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, Joseph's marriage was holding up okay and he became the father of two boys.


Gen 41:50 . . Before the years of famine came, Joseph became the father of two sons, whom Asenath daughter of Poti-phera, priest of On, bore to him.

In the Bible, it's the fathers who determine tribal ancestry; so the two boys were Hebrews by birth rather than Egyptians. I don't know how Mr. Poti-phera felt about that, but what was he to do? One of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, monarchs on earth had arranged his daughter's marriage to Joseph so there really wasn't much he could say about it.

Gen 41:51 . . Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said; God has made me forget all my troubles and the family of my father.

The meaning of Manessah's name in Hebrew is self explanatory. However, there is just no way that Joseph forgot all about his family. That verse has to be interpreted according to the progress of the narrative.

I seriously doubt that God deleted Joseph's memory; but rather, helped him to get over doting about his misfortunes. Doting can lead to serious psychological damage, dark thoughts, and long term depression, and/or in the case of anger, it can lead to malice and sleepless nights plotting revenge, or rehearsing retorts over and over again to counter something someone said that you didn't like.

Though they weren't ideal, Joseph was at peace with his current circumstances. Exactly how God brought him to that point isn't stated. But in chapters ahead, Joseph will inform his brothers that his misfortunes actually benefited everyone so that Joseph became a savior; not only to Egypt, but to his own family as well (Gen 45:4-11, Gen 50:20).

So then, in the end, Joseph accepted his plight graciously and held no hard feelings towards anyone in particular, nor was he blue and sad about being away from home all those years because he was fully aware it all worked toward a greater good.

Since Joseph couldn't leave Egypt himself to go home and visit his family, then one has to wonder why he didn't dispatch a messenger to let his dad know he was okay. Well; for one thing, to do so would have exposed his brothers' murderous scheme, and who knows what kind of disharmony that would have created in Jacob's home. This was one of those cases where it's better to follow the advice of some Beatles' lyrics; "Words of wisdom: let it be."

But seriously, I doubt Jacob would have believed it was actually his very own Joseph in Pharaoh's court but would have automatically assumed it was a cruel hoax. Later, Joseph is going to be sure that his brothers understand that they weren't being told second-hand about his prosperity, nor being fed a rumor; but were hearing about it from their long-lost brother's very own lips. (Gen 45:12-13)


Gen 41:52 . . Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said; God has made me fruitful in this land of my suffering.

Ephraim's name actually means "doubly fruitful" viz: bumper-crop fruitful; which is obviously in recognition of God's providence in a place where a man of God would certainly least expect to find it.

I still think that Joseph had given up all hope of having a normal life and a family of his own; but as it turns out, he got both anyway in spite of his unfortunate circumstances. Maybe he'd rather have married a girl back home, but you know what they say: Beggars can't be choosers. At least Joseph was no longer a jailed slave locked up as an accused rapist with no future at all. Asenath and Poti-phera may not have been Joseph's ideal in-laws, but they were acceptable; all things considered.
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Re: Genesis For The Mildly Curious

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Gen 41:53-54 . . At last the seven years of plenty came to an end. Then the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had predicted. There were crop failures in all the surrounding countries, too, but in Egypt there was plenty of grain in the storehouses.

Joseph had made no mention of the misfortunes of Egypt's neighbors to Pharaoh. But now comes out the reason for Egypt's incredible over-abundance during the good years. It wasn't meant just to sustain their own selves that God had so blessed the Egyptians, no, all around them countries were effected, became desperate, and forced to look outside themselves for relief.

In order for the countries all around Egypt to experience the famine, it would mean that they too were experiencing severe reductions in annual rainfall. Though northern Egypt, around the Nile delta, normally receives very little rain to begin with, it's agriculture prospers because of heavy rainfalls way down in Africa that feed tributaries flowing into the Nile; e.g. the Blue Nile. We're talking about a massive watershed encompassing several thousands of square miles of Africa's countryside. And that, added to the surrounding countries, really adds up to an incredibly large geographic area effected by an unbelievable large-scale drought.


Gen 41:53-56 . .Throughout the land of Egypt the people began to starve. They pleaded with Pharaoh for food, and he told them; Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you. So with severe famine everywhere in the land, Joseph opened up the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians.

Advocates of a welfare state might question Joseph's ethical integrity and want to know why he "sold" grain to his fellow citizens instead of just doling it out in soup lines. Well, for one thing, quite a few of the Egyptians had good incomes (Ex 3:20-22, Ex 11:2). They were quite prosperous and could easily afford to pay— at least at first. Secondly, Joseph answered to a higher power than himself. It was his duty to look out for Pharaoh's best interests, and make sure his boss received adequate taxes even during lean years. (cf. Matt 25:14-30, 1Cor 4:1-2, 1Pet 4:10)

Gen 41:57 . . And people from surrounding lands also came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe throughout the world.

The "world" likely refers to a political region rather than geographical. In other words; the world in Gen 41:57 was their world rather than the whole planet. Compare that to the world of Jesus' day.

"Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!" (John 12:18-19).

Wherever the famine was, it was severe; as opposed to severe in some places while tolerable in others; viz: nobody had it good. Wherever that famine went, if it went there at all, then it was all bad rather than some bad and some not so bad.

At this point, Joseph had been away from home for twenty years (cf. Gen 37:2, Gen 41:46, Gen 41:53) and had seen neither his dad nor his brothers even once in all that time. When he was sold into slavery, Joseph was just a young teen-ager; now he's in his late thirties. He was just a boy then; now he's a man.
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