Chapter 40 JOSEPH WONDERS (GENESIS 37)

How do you think Joseph felt…when brothers attacked him suddenly?  When they threw him into the well?  How would YOU have handled it?

          All this seems to have taken place in a fairly brief span of time.  Joseph had left home early that morning (I think he lived in Beth el at the time), walked over to Shechem (how far from where he lived?), asked a man about his brothers and was told they’d gone on over to Dothan. ( How far away was that?)  He didn’t have a bike, or a moped.  Everywhere he went it was on foot and in a fairly hot, desert land. Must have been mid-day or later in the afternoon before he  caught up with the band of brothers.  How long did the ordeal between him and his brothers last? Got sold into slavery.  Transaction was brief, cruel and simple. Twenty pieces of silver. 

           How do you think he traveled to Egypt? How far was it?  After the deal is sealed, Joseph begins that journey. Once again, on foot. Keep in mind, it’s already been a long day.  And the ordeal when his brothers ganged up on him must have taken a heavy toll.  He has no idea why they did it.  Or where he’s going now.  Or who his captors are.  Do you think they had him make the trip on camel’s back??  Probably not.  That was to carry precious cargo.  Goods.  If anything, the traders may have unloaded some of the camels’ cargo onto Joseph to lighten their load.  I’ve seen pictures of camel caravans with prisoners trailing along in the procession.  Usually tied together by ropes around their necks, hands  tied behind their backs.  He has been kidnapped.  He is enslaved. Could you put yourself in that place? 

          I don’t believe you can understand Scripture until you begin to understand how the events took place, and how the human beings in the story dealt with the challenges.  And I think we miss the point entirely if we slide casually over these incidents, or view them only with a detached curiosity.  These were real events, real people.  And their experiences can be a source of strength and occasion to renew your faith…If you understand the same God is alive, well, and at work today.

           Before I get discouraged and give up, or begin to feel to sorry for myself for being “tempted and tried and oft made to wonder, why it should be thus all the day long . . .” I might consider what I face in comparison with what someone like Joseph dealt with.  My “problems” seem so small by comparison.  I honestly think, if we could “place ourselves” in such situations we could draw a more objective perspective on our own situations.  We’d probably be ashamed at our “pity parties,” and how we spend so much time mountain climbing over molehills. Then came the traders.  It appears to have been two separate groups who passed by that day. Ishmaelites came by first in a caravan.  By the time the “Brothers” had decided what they were going to do, they’d left and here comes another group.  Midianites.  Who were these guys?  Iranians? Arabs.  Certainly not Muslims at this time.  But they were people of the desert. Always Rough.  As tough and demanding, cruel and unforgiving as the desert over which they traveled.  What was Joseph thinking by this time?  If he were needing and searching for sympathy, he certainly wouldn’t get any from these guys.

           Elsewhere, Jesus spoke of how the Lord cares for even the tiniest, most insignificant creatures.  And then, by inference, he said:  “Shall he not also take care of you; Oh you of little faith?” 

           In my study of Scripture, I’ve made it a practice to answer a question when it is asked.  Sometimes the answer is inferred by the way the question is asked.   PERHAPS IT WOULD BE WISE IF YOU ANSWERED THAT QUESTION.   DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE HE CARES?  FOR YOU?  If you really believe He cares for you and is with you, and will make even evil things serve a good purpose, what does that do to your thought processes?  If you make study notes, may I suggest that you write that question down somewhere?  Then write your own honest answer.  In bold, red letters!

           If I have any understanding at all of Scripture, I am convinced that the same God, who dealt with Joseph and got him through those awful ordeals, is with us today.  And, no mater how difficult and painful and perplexing your situation may be. . . HE IS WITH YOU.   IN HIS TIME HE WILL DELIVER YOU.

            In my reading and thinking, I believe logic drives you relentlessly to that conclusion.  Trials to be sure.  Pain to be sure.  But “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”  In spite of painful uncertainty, one fact seems to keep emerging throughout the length and breadth of the Bible:  THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO! And in His infinite wisdom and love he has determined that “All things work together for good to those who love Him” and seek to do His will.

 How do you think Joseph felt when the traders got possession of him?

            How would he react when he got to Egypt?  Remember, he’d probably never been “out of town.”  Never saw a chariot.  Or even a horse.  Much less the thoroughbred steeds, high-spirited, chomping at their bits, pawing, stomping and snorting fire. He’d never seen pyramids.  Probably his “home” was built of mud and whatever raw materials were available.  It was certainly not an architectural masterpiece in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright.  And he’s coming into a huge metropolitan area with great structures framed against the horizon and even today featured in books about the marvels of ancient civilizations.  Think like Joseph.  Put yourself in his place.

          And when Joseph had time to clear his head, what do you suppose he thought about his Dad?  Think about that poor old guy.  Didn’t know the truth for years.  He not only had lost a son.  He’d lost his sons.  They pulled a cruel hoax on him and apparently the truth wasn’t known until years later.  Think of his grief. Even today when I see the black flags waving in the wind in memory of our sons who were listed as MIA or perhaps KIA and whose fate is still unknown, my heart hurts for the parents who never knew.  And perhaps my never know what happened to their sons or daughters.

          The uncertainty was, itself, an indescribable almost unendurable agony.

           Think for a moment, too, about how Joseph’s dad, Jacob, was told the lie about Joseph’s “death.”  It appears that his brothers were so ashamed and cowardly they had someone else tell their Father what had happened.  John Walsh wasn’t on the scene to help locate the missing boy.  Those who weren’t guilty didn’t even know he was “missing.”  The brothers bit their tongues and hid their shame.  What about the goat’s blood?  There was no DNA test to confirm if it were animal or human blood.  No search teams were sent out.  No round the clock coverage on the media.  No cadaver dogs.  The brothers (who were the pillars, the “Founding Fathers” of Judaism,) looked as if they’d pulled off their plot successfully.

 

          As I reflected on this first study of “God’s Comeback Kids,” I couldn’t ignore the repeated occurrence and significance of dreams. . . especially Joseph’s early dreams.  Probably he was unwise to reveal that to his brothers.  In fact, in one case, his Dad got upset with him.  While we’re told the brothers became envious and enraged, the comment made about Jacob is simply that he was “thinking about” what Joseph had said.”  Probably didn’t know what to make of such a thing, and wished Joseph had kept it to himself.   He may have thought it would have been better to wait and let them find out for themselves.  But Joseph was young.  Impetuous.  Unwise, and just blurted it out. You know now how the brothers felt by the way they reacted.  I don’t honestly know how I’d have reacted in any role in this drama.  Most of the dreams I have make no sense at all, and they’ve usually fled my consciousness by the time I get the cobwebs out of my brain.  I’ve never felt any were important enough to mess with and certainly haven’t gone to a fortune teller to have them try to figure out what they may have meant.

       But he’d had a dream.  When I wondered how that young man kept hope alive, kept his sanity, or his integrity. . . I finally figured it must have had something to do with those early dreams.  They were so vivid and so real that he must have believed them.  He never forgot them.  Maybe that was what kept him sane and tough in the dark days in the dungeon.  How could you explain his survival otherwise?  Men in those circumstances went stark raving mad.  They died.

       I’ve an idea that some who read this have at some point in their lives had encounters of a similar nature.  Maybe not exactly the same thing.  Perhaps there have been times when you felt God was near, and speaking (not audibly, necessarily), but the closeness was unmistakable.  And seemed very real.  And it left a lasting impression which you can never forget.  Because of that early “encounter,” you  probably can understand something about Joseph’s early experience with God. . . and the lasting impact it had upon him.

         When he got down to Egypt, wonder what it was like?  You know he was homesick.  I remembered the “summer” I spent in New York.  I was homesick by the time I left town.  It got worse.  I got to see the Yankees and the Giants and watched the old Brooklyn Dodgers play in Ebbetts Field.  I got to see Joltin’ Joe Dimaggio, and Phil “Scooter” Rizutto, and Johnny Mize and Yogi Berra play in Yankee Stadium.  And I almost died I was so homesick!  Years later I heard Jim Croce lament in one of his songs about N.Y.  “I lived here ‘bout a year and I never once felt at home.  Thass th’ reason why I gotta get outta heah, Gotta get outta heah cause New York’s not my home!”   And I was among friends and family members! 

 For Joseph there had been no time to pack.  No time to say “so long” to anyone.  Didn’t even have his toothbrush!  In less time than it takes to say it, his life was changed. Forever.

            Imagine being taken against your will, by total strangers, who roughed you up and you couldn’t understand a thing they said.  And you got where they were going and they sold you to some other strange guy, pocketed their profit, and went about their business.  From the pit, into the frying pan, and now into the fire!  Now you’re in the hands of another who feels he’s made a pretty decent transaction and purchased some fresh flesh for his stable of slaves.  And you’re hungry, thirsty and lonely, and tired, and afraid and no one gives a rip.

         Abruptly, he becomes the possession of a high ranking military officer in Pharaoh’s army. There’s a brief “break in the action” in the next chapter before the story of Joseph’s life picks up again.  As bad as it seems as we leave him here, and just when you think things couldn’t get worse, they do!

 A servant, a friend and fellow student, ~donkimrey~

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3 responses to “Chapter 40 JOSEPH WONDERS (GENESIS 37)

  1. There is a brother in my congregation who is going through a Joseph experience. He will need to trust the Lord in whatever the days ahead bring. The scripture tells many stories like the Potiphar story that do not seem very hope-filled. As we say, “God works in mysterious ways.” Nevertheless, he is at work even when everything is frightening and seems darkest or even at an end. God is still at work in his life, though it seems to this brother like he is not. Nevertheless, we know “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Even if it seems like he no longer cares what happens to us.

  2. Don, you asked, “If you really believe He cares for you and is with you, and will make even evil things serve a good purpose, what does that do to your thought processes?” I thought about that, and if one truly believes God will turn a bad thing to good, it almost makes one welcome whatever challenges come! When in the “eye” of life’s storm, however, it is mighty hard to think that way, nearly impossible, in fact.

    More food for thought here: I believe God chose Abraham to form his covenant with, because he knew Abraham would teach his children the covenant. Covenant people know better than to disobey! And I believe Jacob likely spoke often with Joseph about these things, serving Joseph well spiritually, even at his young age. So when God brought about the divine appointment: being thrown into a well, then in prison for thirteen years for something he didn’t do, because a work needed to be done in him, Joseph was up to the test and the task. Suffering is meaningful, and for Joseph his time in the well and prison will become incredibly meaningful. God honored Joseph’s faith, trust and obedience in a mighty way, didn’t he? Again, almost makes one eager for his/her own test and task. (Now Don, you may need to remind me I said that when I’m in my own “well” or “prison!”) And when it happens, I just pray I have the faith, trust and obedience of Joseph.. smile.

  3. You asked me to post my blog article about Joseph as a comment on your own essay here. If you click my name (above) it will take you to that blog. 😉

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