Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (Aug 13th)

Pastor's Summary of Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

Jacob is the first of his line to call Canaan home. (His father, Isaac, now dead, saw himself as a foreigner living there.) Why do his brothers hate Joseph? (1) he tells tales ("bad report", v. 2) about them; (2) Jacob loves him more than the other sons, even to the extent of making him "a long robe with sleeves" (v. 3) or a many-colored coat-such a robe was worn by royalty; and (3) Joseph has two dreams (vv. 5-11) which are interpreted as showing that his brothers and his parents will bow down to him.

In v. 13, Jacob ("Isreal") sends Joseph to his brothers. When he reaches Shechem, they are nowhere to be seen; he is told that they have moved on to other pastures. When the brothers see him, they plot his death. They say "Here comes this dreamer." (v. 19) In the ancient world, dreams were believed to be divinely inspired, but to be only effective as long as the dreamer lived. Pits or cisterns, dug to store rain-water, were used as prisons; they were usually dry near the end of summer. (Jeremiah spent time in one when the king did not want to heed his advice.) The brothers intend deceit-something fairly common in Genesis. They intend to kill him, but Reuben wants no part of it (v. 21-22).

Vv. 25-27, and v. 28 tell two stories of how Joseph got to Egypt: in the hands of Ishmaelite nomads, and in those of "Midianite traders":two versions of the story were merged in Genesis. In the ancient view "blood" (v. 26) could not be concealed; being sacred to God, he would exact vengeance on those who spilled it. Judah (and Reuben, v. 22) knew this. (When Cain killed Abel, God caused him to quit farming and become nomadic.) This story is part of salvation history, of how God came to exercise his saving grace in the world, working through ordinary people-as may be seen in the psalm 105.