The Story of Joseph — 37, 39-47

Joseph was the favored son of Israel (formally Jacob) which made his brothers jealous.  When Joseph revealed dreams of his greatness to his brothers, they decided to plot against him. Far out in the pasture, they took his clothes and threw him into a dry pit too deep for him for climb out. While the brothers were temporally away from the pit, some Midianite traders found Joseph, lifted him out and sold him to a caravan of Ishmaelites on the way to Egypt. The brothers were horrified when they returned to the pit to find Joseph gone. To cover their guilt, they dipped Joseph’s clothes in goat’s blood to show to their father Israel.  Israel immediately went into mourning. Joseph was sold to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. 

Joseph became successful in the house of his master and soon became the overseer. Joseph was also handsome to the point that his master’s wife wanted to have sex with him, but Joseph steadfastly refused. One day when propositioning Joseph, the wife tore off a piece of Joseph’s clothes. When the master came home that day, she complained that she was raped; Joseph wound up in prison.

Joseph found equal success in prison and soon became favored by the chief jailer to care for the other prisoners. One day some new prisoners made residence; they were the Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and chief baker. The cupbearer had a dream that Joseph interpreted for him as meaning that the cupbearer will be restored to office in three days. Joseph asked for a favor in return for the cupbearer to ask Pharaoh to get him out of prison. The baker had a dream also, but with a fatal outcome. Joseph’s interpretations proved true, but the cupbearer forgot about Joseph. 

Two years later, Pharaoh had a dream and could not interpret it. The cupbearer recalled to Pharaoh how Joseph had successfully interpreted his and the baker’s dreams; so Pharaoh sent for Joseph. Joseph interpreted the dreams as seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of storing the food and made him second in command. Naturally Joseph was successful in everything he did, so by the end of seven years, there was more food than they could count.  When famine began, Joseph began selling the grain. There is a touching part of the story where the famine reunites Joseph with his family.

Comment: In 45:9 we find that according to Joseph, God made him lord over Egypt  — He punishes his friends and rewards his enemies.  In this case, God creates a famine and puts an Israelite in charge of making the Egyptians rich and the Israelites their slaves. ater he rescues the Israelites from Egypt and makes them slaves to him by dangling dreams of glory in front of their faces. What a bitter irony.

Judah met his wife Shua (38:1-2) when Joseph was seventeen years old (37:2).  Joseph was thirty years old when he entered Pharaoh’s service (41:46). By 45:6, there were seven years of plenty and two years of famine; that adds up to twenty-two years. By 46:12, twenty-two years later, Judah is supposed to have produced three generations of children.