Saturday, October 3, 2015

Genesis 37:22


I think one of the things I find comforting in the story of Joseph is that he comes from a complicated family. My own family is a little complicated and messy.
Joseph is one of 13 children…12 boys and 1 girl. Today Joseph would say something like,
“Dad has been married 4 times. I have 6 half-brothers and 1 half-sister from step mom #1. I have 2 half-brothers each from step-mom #2 & #3. My youngest brother and I are from Dad’s 4th marriage. But Mom died giving birth to my little brother.
My own mom has been married 4 times (my dad was the first) but only had children with my dad. I do have one step-sister and one step brother that are my 3rd step-father’s children. My own Dad died when I was 15. I didn’t see him much. He struggled with alcoholism for all of the time I knew him.
It isn’t so different is it?
All of the emotions that go along with a blended complicated family are right there in chapter 37.
A complicated family is made all the more complex with a passive father. Jacob is kind-of a hot mess when we get to this chapter. His history may have had some part in that. 
Jacob fell in love with Rachel and wanted to marry her. He worked out a deal with her father, Laban, to do just that in exchange for working for him for 7 years. After the 7 years had passed Laban pulled the old switch-a-roo on poor Jacob, instead of marring Rachel as he expected, Jacob ended up married to Leah. Leah was Rachel’s older, less attractive sister. UGH! At which point Jacob struck another deal with Laban to work an additional 7 years so he can marry Rachel. During that time Leah had 7 children. At some point the handmaids of Leah and Rachel get into the act and each have two sons by Jacob. Rachel is barren and prays for God to give her children. She has Joseph and prays for another. When that other baby comes, she gives birth, and dies. Jacob is left with a lot of kids and Jacob has a favorite.
My step-sister is 8 days younger than me. We have almost nothing in common other than our age and the fact that our parents are married to one another. I remember at one point in high-school I was sick to death of hearing of her good grades and scholastic achievement. There may have been other things as well but I don’t recall anymore. What I do remember is how sick I was of her. I was making my mom’s & step-father’s bed and tiding up their room and I couldn’t take seeing her face one minute longer. I went around the room and turned all of the pictures of her over!
Joseph’s brothers threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery so by comparison what I did wasn’t so bad but I would guess the feeling was exactly the same!
That night my mom came into my room and said she was worried about my step-sister. I feel certain I rolled my eyes, if not outwardly for certain I did it in my mind’s eye.  My mom went on to explain that SS’s (step-sister) self-esteem must be very low right now because she has turned over all the pictures of herself.  My first thought was, "Oh, for the love of Pete! I don’t even get the credit for cleaning the master bedroom (surely she assumes SS did it)" and secondly, "she doesn't even see that I am seething with jealousy" --or whatever that emotion is that overcomes a teen sick to death of a sibling. Mom just assumes that SS is suffering with low self-esteem! heavy sigh I am invisible.
I don’t really remember how that particular situation resolved itself in my own family, but I feel certain that Joseph’s brothers felt similarly (times 17 years) and they were not missing him. All except for Reuben, maybe.
Reuben found a way to keep the other brothers from killing Joseph (throw him in the pit) and had planned to come back and rescue him. And that brings me to my verse.

     Genesis 37:22
                And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness but do not lay a hand on him.” –that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father.
When I read that (last part in particular) it struck me for the first time how much it is like my own salvation story.  When God called me to accept Jesus and follow him, I was in a pit. The enemy had me in his hand and it was through accepting Christ that I was rescued from his hand and restored to my Father.
Now, I don’t know if any Bible scholars see it the way I see it, but it jumped out at me. So I wanted to look at the Hebrew wording, especially on that last part since it is so clearly painting the redemptive picture of Jesus.
הַצִּ֤יל   haṣ-ṣîl   he might rid (Verb)
אֹתוֹ֙    ’ō-ṯōw   him
מִיָּדָ֔ם   mî-yā-ḏām,   out of their hands
לַהֲשִׁיב֖וֹ     la-hă-šî-ḇōw   to restore him (Verb)
אֶל־     ’el-   unto
אָבִֽיו׃     ’ā-ḇîw.     his father
For Old Testament text I like to check out my regular resources but I also like to use Jewish/Hebrew resources. As I said earlier, I am not a Bible scholar nor am I a Hebrew scholar. So this is just me wading through trying my best to understand the Lord.
One of my Jewish/Hebrew resources translates that verb as ‘to return’ rather than restore. Either way it reads redemptive to me. Did it strike you the same?
What part of Joseph's story strikes you and leaves you thinking about his story? 
Did you pick a verse to work on? Or just memorize? 
What parts of Joseph's story can you relate to? 

For the next posting read Genesis 38-39:18. Start to think about a verse that you want to focus on.

Thank you for joining me. Jump in at any point and read along & create a verse!

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