Monday, April 11, 2011

Genesis 46:31-34 Joseph's Plans

"Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father's household, 'I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, "My brothers and my father's household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me.  The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.'  When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, 'What is your occupation?' you should answer, 'Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.'  Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians."  (Genesis 46:31-34 NIV)

Joseph knows that Pharaoh is likely to grant his request for his father and brothers' households to live in Egypt.  Joseph hopes to secure a place for them in Goshen, a fertile part of Egypt, which would be a great place to raise crops, flocks and herds.  Joseph instructs his brothers as to what they should say when Pharaoh interviews them:  They are shepherds who have tended livestock all their lives.

Joseph knows that this will strengthen his family's chances of being allowed to live in Goshen.  Shepherds were, as Joseph said, detestable to the Egyptians.  Therefore, Pharaoh would be inclined to allow them to live in Goshen, somewhat apart from the rest of the Egyptians.  This would help ensure their physical safety and, whether Joseph realized this or not, would help the nation of Israel to develop without the temptation to intermarry among their Egyptian neighbors, who worshiped many 'gods'.

I was also thinking about how Joseph's faithfulness in his duties helped pave the way for his father's household to live in Egypt.
  • If Joseph hadn't faithfully carried out his duties after he had been sold into slavery, he never would have attained a high position in his master Potiphar's household.
  • If he hadn't continued to be faithful to God, he might not have been able to resist Potiphar's wife's advances.
  • If he hadn't inquired about his fellow prisoners' welfare in prison, he would never have had the chance to interpret their dreams.
  • If he hadn't interpreted their dreams through God-given wisdom, he would never have been summoned to appear before Pharaoh.
  • If he hadn't interpreted Pharaoh's dreams, he would never have been made the prime minister of Egypt.
  • If he wasn't put in charge of Egypt's famine relief, he would probably never have seen his brothers when they came to Egypt to buy food.
  • Finally, if he had been bitter instead of gracious toward his brothers, they and his father's household would have been at least impoverished, and possibly even eliminated, during the famine.
  • Instead, his repeated acts of faithfully carrying out his duties in a godly manner led to an extensive knowledge of the land of Egypt and a grateful Pharaoh, who would be glad to grant his request to allow the Israelites to settle in the land.
  • The Israelites would eventually grow into a mighty nation, and the Savior of the world would come through Jacob's family line.

I think I will go do some wash now, and then get dinner ready.  As I do these everyday tasks, I will probably be rehearsing in my mind other things which need doing.  Thinking about Joseph, though, I have the feeling that I will be doing these tasks in a much more godly spirit than usual.  We never know what could come of it all, now do we?!

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