Friday, March 4, 2011

Genesis 37:25 An Ishmaelite By Any Other Name...

"As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead.  Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way down to Egypt."  (Genesis 37:25 NIV)

While Joseph remained in the pit, his brothers were callously having a meal somewhere nearby.  As they ate, they noticed this caravan of Ishmaelites passing by on their way to Egypt.  In verse 28, they are referred to as 'Midianites', and later in verse 36 they are called 'Midianites' or 'Medanites'.  Midian and Medan were also sons of Ishmael, so it is still correct to call them Ishmaelites.

The balm sold by these merchants was "an oil or gum, with healing properties (see Jeremiah 51:8), exuded by the fruit or stems of one or more kinds of small trees.  The balm of Gilead was especially effective (see Jeremiah 8:22 and note; 46:11)." *

I bet Joseph could have benefited from a bit of that balm from Gilead himself, after being thrown down a dry cistern.

*New International Version Study Bible notes on Genesis 37:25.  The note referred to near Jeremiah 8:22 says that "The territory of Gilead was an important source of spices and medicinal herbs."

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