Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Genesis Recap

The book of Genesis began with God's creation of the world and the fall of mankind, the flood which swept away those who refused to repent (even after Noah's years of preaching while he built the ark!) and the new beginning with Noah and his family.  Years later, the incident involving the construction of the Tower of Babel, in clear disregard of God's instructions to spread out over all the earth, led to the confusing of communications into separate languages and work on the tower ceased.

In this blog, my main focus has been upon the story of the lives of the patriarchs of Israel.  This began with the call of Abraham and his faithful obedience in following God to an unknown place, which turned out to be Canaan.  We traced major incidents in the life of Abraham, the most important of which was the covenant which God made with Abraham.  We also traced events in the lives of Abraham's son Isaac and Isaac's sons Jacob and Esau.

Jacob, although not the firstborn, bought the right of the firstborn from his twin brother Esau, and later deceived his father Isaac into also giving him the blessing which normally would have gone to Esau.  Needless to say, Esau was not pleased with these arrangements and Jacob had to flee to his uncle's home in Haran, where he remained for many years.  Jacob had twelve sons and one daughter, and we followed their story as the family eventually traveled back to Canaan.

Next came the story of the jealousy of the other brothers towards their father Jacob's favorite son, Joseph.  They had nearly killed Joseph, for they resented some dreams which he had which seemed to portray Joseph as reigning over them.  Instead, they decided to sell him into slavery in Egypt.  Joseph remains faithful to God despite the fact that he endures years of hard work, suffering and imprisonment due to his brothers jealousy and greed and his master's wife's false accusations.  He is finally promoted into service with the Pharaoh after successfully interpreting Pharaoh's troubling dreams and devising a way to deal with an upcoming famine.  At that point, Joseph is immediately promoted into being Pharaoh's prime minister, and he successfully puts the plan for preparing for the famine into motion.  Joseph's plan saves Egypt and also blesses the peoples of other nations as they come to Egypt to buy food during the famine.

Joseph's brothers also come to Egypt to buy food, and he recognizes them. It has been many years, and Joseph is dressed in the manner of the Egyptians, so they do not recognized him.  He accuses them of spying on Egypt, and when they assure him that they are all brothers of one father, he commands them to bring their younger brother Benjamin to him as proof of their innocence.  They are guilt-ridden about their treatment of Joseph, and are eventually forced to bring Benjamin to Joseph.  Joseph tests the brothers to see if they have changed at all since the time when they sold him by setting up Benjamin for a 'theft' and threatening to enslave him.  Judah begs to take his younger brother Benjamin's place and for Joseph to allow Benjamin to be returned to their elderly father.  At this point, Joseph can restrain himself no longer and he reveals himself to his brothers.

The brothers are now terrified that Joseph will want retribution, but he assures them that although they meant harm to him, God had allowed things to progress this way in order that many lives would be saved.  He invites the entire family to stay in Egypt during the famine, and arranges for them to receive property in the best part of the land, Goshen.  Pharaoh is delighted with these arrangements and orders carts and supplies for the brothers so that they can go to Canaan and retrieve their father and families and bring them to Egypt.

Joseph continues in his duties for Pharaoh, and the rest of the Israelites settle in Goshen.  Goshen is near enough that they may see Joseph, yet far enough apart from the Egyptians that the Israelites will continue to remain a separate people and not be tempted to compromise and worship the various 'gods' of the Egyptians.

Jacob dies and his sons are permitted to bury him in Canaan, as he made them swear to do.  They return to Egypt and before Joseph dies, he also makes his brothers take an oath that they will bring his bones with them when the Lord leads them back to Canaan.  When Joseph dies, he is embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt, awaiting his journey back to the Promised Land.

Now we continue the story of this family as the book of Exodus begins.

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