GENESIS 37:1 – 39:23 and MATTHEW 10:26–42
Jacob is now dwelling in Canaan as a stranger (sojourner) and is not to be compared with Esau who chose to live and become prominent in that land. Esau also took wives from amongst the Canaanites. Today, we have to live in a culture that is increasingly ungodly. There are many people in the Bible who had to navigate this challenging road. The same is true for us today.
Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
1Pe 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Though we have to live in such a world we do not have to become like it. Let’s ask this question once again. Are we more like Jacob or like Esau? We all have to live in today’s world but how do we relate to it? Are we comfortable with our environment becoming increasingly desensitized to the pollution around us? Are we allowing more of the world and its appetites to creep in to our walk as a believer and into our churches as leaders? Jacob was subjected to Canaan but was able to respond whenever God called him to move on. If entrapped by the world and its pull we will find difficulty in being able to separate when God calls us.
In verse 2-4 we see that Joseph, at the age of 17 is out working with his brethren in the field. He gives his father an evil report of their doings. What this report contained is not clear. Was Jacob being a talebearer or were his words reflecting something amiss in the lives and work of his brethren? Again, the scripture here is not clear but when looking later at the attitude of Joseph and his brothers certain deductions can be considered. Perhaps it was in the area of stewardship where the brothers were failing. I would suspect that Joseph was presenting an honest report to his father which cast an unfavourable shadow upon the others. This then would gender resentment towards Joseph. The brothers became further agitated when they saw how favourably disposed their father was towards Joseph.
In verses 5-11 we see Joseph having his prophetic dreams. In actuality his dream is somewhat aligned with the promises that God gave to Abraham. At first Abraham was promised the land that was before him as well as all the “dust of the earth”. (Gen 13: 14-18) This could be likened to Joseph’s first dream where it speaks regarding the fields of the earth. (Verse 7) In the second dream we find that the sun, moon and 11 stars would bow before him. (Verse 9) Yes, there would be the literal bowing of the 11 brethren later on but there is also an alignment and similarity with the promises that God made to Abraham. (Gen 17:6-7, 22:17-18)
It is also interesting to note that the establishing of the covenant with Abraham was at Hebron, probably in the vicinity where Joseph is experiencing his dreams. Joseph portrays the character and manner of person that God can use to continue the thread of His covenant and promise. We will later find that he is very much unlike his brothers. In verses 18-22 we see the planned treachery of his brothers. They are incensed and full of rage concerning Joseph. Stop and think as to what was going through their mind. It is one thing to be envious and jealous but does it have to go to this length? An inroad, a breech can be seen in how many of the brethren became comfortable in Canaan. In fact, some of them can be liked to Esau with their familiarity and willingness to take on Canaanite wives. (This will be covered in the next chapter)
I personally feel the enemy found an area that he could exploit so as to destroy Joseph (the dreamer) in his tracks. The enemy has a fair understanding of the purposes of God, much more than mortal man would understand. This was his opportunity to try and circumvent God’s established covenant made with Abraham. Similar accounts can be seen at the birth of Moses, (Exo 1:16) the birth of Joash the King (2 Kings 11:1) and even at the time of Christ when Herod sought to destroy all the male children. As mentioned in a previous commentary the enemy was able to plant in the heart of Judas the seeds of betrayal (John 13:2) which eventually allowed Satan to literally enter into Judas. (Joh 13:27) How else can one explain the extreme treachery and diabolical scheming of the brothers? In verses 23-24 they cast him into a pit which was empty having no water. They then sat down to eat (vs 25) as if nothing had happened. This is not normal behaviour, even for those who struggle with envy and jealousy. There is much more at work here. Once again we see the intervention of God by way of a group of merchant men who passed by. (vs 25) Judah somehow has the thought of sparing his brother by selling them to the Ishmaelite’s. Like the account of the wounded man on the Jericho road it takes foreign merchant men (Samaritan) to do that which is charitable. The group in the caravan take Joseph down to Egypt and sell him for 20 pieces of silver. In verses 29-35 the brethren make known of this account to Jacob lying about his true condition. They go to great lengths to convince that he died, perhaps by some beast. They then go through the motions of mourning with their father. This is not normal but demonically inspired. (In my opinion) May God grant that we have eyes to see and ears to hear the big picture in all of these events.
In verses 1-11 we have the account of Judah becoming overly familiar with Canaan. He was not being a mere sojourner but one who indulged in the affairs of its systems. This resulted in his taking a wife by the name of Shuah. (vs 2) In the conceptions that soon followed there were problems. The first born (Er) was later to be married to a woman named Tamar. (vs 6) Er turned out to be a wicked man and the Lord slew him. Judah then gave Tamar to the 2nd son (Onan) but due to self-serving reasons knowing that his seed would not be his, refused to allow conception. This displeased the Lord resulting in Onan being slain. (vs 10) Judah then kept Tamar in his house promising Shelah to be a future husband at a proper time. Judah however feared a similar catastrophe (death) for Shelah so he held him back from Tamar. (vs 11, 14)
In verses 13-19 we have the account of Tamar feigning herself as a harlot before Judah. Why did she do this? It can be assumed that Tamar knew the value of bringing forth seed through the line of Judah which would be linked to Jacob. Since she knew that Judah’s 3rd son would be denied her to be her husband (vs 14) she schemed a way to have seed preserved through her father in law. To help ensure that that she would be believed she exacted a pledge from Judah that consisted of a signet, bracelet and staff. Here we see Judah’s unbridled lust in selling out such valuable items for a moment’s pleasure. Once again we have another picture of what Esau was like. Tamar was clever in taking the pledge as future proof of what transpired. She reappears after 3 months when it is known that she is with child.
In verse 24 Judah discovers that the so called harlot is actually his daughter in law. Judah’s initial reaction is one of rage where he threatens to kill her. She declares the pledge she received from Judah whereby convincing him that her account is true. (Verses 25-26) He acknowledges that she is more righteous than he and also confirmed that it was due to his not giving his 3rd son to be her husband that caused her to take this action.
In verses 27-30 we have the birth of the twins Pharaz and Zerah who engage in a unique battle before birth. It appeared that Zerah would be the first to be born. You can see the importance placed upon whom actually is the first to be born. The wisdom of the midwife is seen as she places a scarlet thread upon the hand of the one to come out first but amazingly it is the other child (Pharaz) that emerges first. It is through this child that the future Lion of Judah would come forth. What an amazing account in the workings of God. The redeeming nature of God is not limited, even in the midst of such antics as seen in the account of Judah. Perhaps verse 26 represents a turning point in the life of Judah as he acknowledges the Truth of Tamar’s account as well as acknowledging his wrong regarding the denial of his 3rd son to Tamar.
The attention now turns to Joseph who was left abandoned by his brothers in Genesis 37. He was taken to Egypt and was sold by the Midianites to Potiphar, who was an officer to Pharaoh. How is it that someone like Joseph, a young man who was favoured and faithful l in his work suddenly become plunged into such a nightmarish scenario? One has to wonder if having the dreams was worth it. Is this even fair? Why would God allow such a thing to happen to one who was so innocent and filled with promise? This question is asked because many today wonder why tragedies take place in people’s lives. There are times when we understand why we go through certain things, but why Joseph, what did he do? We saw in the previous chapter a picture of the redemptive power of the Lion of the tribe of Judah. How is it that the future sceptre, the Lord Himself would one day forth from such a character as Judah as seen in Genesis 38? Now we will see a picture and type of the Lord through the life of Joseph. We will later see that Joseph will represent a type of salvation to his brethren as well as to Egypt when the famine hits the land. The Lord, like Joseph was an innocent victim who suffered greatly due to the sins of mankind. Jesus would one day suffer because of the responsibility that would be placed upon Him as the Saviour of the world as he approached the cross. Joseph is a very real type or example of the Lord Jesus Christ. In verses 1-6 we see how he found favour in the house of Potiphar as he became an overseer in his house. This is like the Lord who grew in favour with God and man in his developing years. (Luk 2:52) The balance of Genesis 39 focuses on the attempt of Potiphar’s wife to seduce Joseph and her subsequent response after Joseph flees from her advances. Here again we see another picture of Christ. He had to be tempted in all areas and yet he was able to prevail.
John 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me
Heb 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
In Joseph we see many of the priestly attributes of Christ. Remember, Judah portrays the sceptre and kingly role. Joseph was able to stand against her overtures and he did so by fleeing. The power of sin should never be minimized. If we dangle with sin and entertain it we may soon be overwhelmed by it.
Pro 23:30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Pro 23:31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
Pro 23:32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
Potiphar’s wife goes to great lengths to indict Joseph of the alleged crime. Her account is believable resulting in Joseph being put into prison. Once again, is this fair? How would you feel after another injustice such as this would have come upon you? In all of these ordeals you do not see Joseph complaining nor murmuring. The Bible says that the Word of the Lord tried and tested him during those years in prison. (Psa 105:19) This is why the Word of God is so important and needs to be embraced. It serves as an anchor and is helpful in bringing forth perspective at such times. There is too much theology today that would dismiss the ordeal that Joseph went through. The reason is that people for the most part do not really know the ways of God. The Lord becomes reasoned through the lens of men’s understanding thus rendering Him into someone far less than He really is. In many ways we are like Judah, prone to do our own thing and most grateful for the redemptive and saving power of the blood of the lamb. We desire to be like a Joseph but would we willingly submit to such injustices? Will our theology allow for it? Will we fall into the category that Paul warns about in not enduring “sound doctrine”, having ears that only filter out convenient teaching? We must appropriate the lessons from both Judah and Joseph.
Matthew 10 – Read day 14 commentary