Day 15--Blessing the Boys--""Persistent Goodness" (Gen 46-50)
January 15, 2021, 8:15 AM

Day 15 Gen 46-50

First of all—YOU DID IT!! You should be doing the Happy Dance of praise and glory! You read an entire, big, fat book of the Bible! You read the entire book of Genesis! This is a major, foundational accomplishment and I hope you can spend a few minutes being pleased with your achievement. (By the way, if you don’t dance, rest assured, I will dance in my kitchen on your behalf!)

But now let’s dig in, shall we?

So much to touch on in today’s readings, so maybe I’ll do a ‘riff’ day again, which means I’ll comment briefly on a few passages that I noted. I’ll do a mini reference for each one with just the chapter and verse since we already know we are reading in Genesis.

46:26  Jacob’s immediate family numbered 66, and if you add in Joseph’s family already in Egypt, that equals 70 people! That would be quite a Thanksgiving Day table, wouldn’t it? [70 is also a biblically significant number. Moses had 70 elders in the desert. Jesus sent out the 70 to do mission work.] Remember that early in Genesis, when Adam and Eve had been placed together in the Garden that God said “Be fruitful and multiply”? Well, Jacob/Israel certainly lived into that command. And as we will see today, his family became the original settlers of the Promised Land, each receiving their own piece of land, excluding Joseph and Levi. However Joseph’s sons did receive a portion of land as well. So if you think of all these people as having the last name “Israel” after their father’s house, you will understand where the modern day country of Israel originates from. (I will post the map we used at bible study on our FB page.)

46:34b [remember that ‘b’ refers to the second half of the whole verse 34] “All shepherds were abhorrent to the Egyptians”. This reminded me of Jesus’ birth when the shepherds were the first to hear the good news from the angels (Luke 2: 8-20). Even in the earliest accounts of our scriptures, the shepherds were ostracized. [Scripture just means writing—we refer to them as ‘holy scriptures’ to remind ourselves and to tell others that this is Holy Writing.]

47: 29-31  “Put your hand under my thigh” I know we already talked about this, but note that having Joseph do this with his father underscores exactly why this type of oath had power—Jacob clearly had…ahem…powerful loins in order to produce a family of this size (Ok, in fairness Co-produce! He certainly did not give birth to all of these children, or carry them to term himself!!). Joseph understood that even as his father aged, Jacob/Israel’s power was still very present, and the son was subservient to the father, despite the fact that Jospeph was second in command in Egypt.

49: 1-29 The blessings of the tribe of Israel—I will send a chart to all of you about this, but each blessing corresponded to the character of each of Jacob/Israel’s son.

49:33  When Jacob/Israel died, he “was gathered to his people”. Isn’t this a graceful way for us to think about death as well?

50: 1-14 How a culture treats their dead speaks about their reverence for life. This particular death, preparation and burial is not characteristic of traditional Hebrew practices, nor does it reflect modern Jewish practices today. Hebrew people buried their dead within 48 hours and they were not embalmed. Perhaps Joseph was taking advantage of his time in Egypt to embalm his father, knowing the long journey that was ahead of them. (For a fascinating read, google ancient Egyptian burial practices.) My sister, who is Jewish, has often told me of the challenge of burying someone within 48 hours, particularly in this time of Covid. Even in times without a pandemic to consider, getting to a funeral within 48 hours can be a challenge. But they take seriously the words of God “From dust you came, to dust you shall return.” NOT embalming someone assures that they will return to the earth more quickly.

50:20  OK—FAVE verse for life…well, one of them.  “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good.” I swoon when I read this because even though it refers to Joseph, it is a faith-life lesson that I want to remember. Even when Joseph was in a pit, he trusted. Even when Joseph was sold into slavery, he believed. Even when he was unfairly accused and was thrown in jail, his faith made him a leader and counselor of the other prisoners. Perhaps I should end there….

Be blessed, and be a blessing to others.

ML

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