At this point, the Bible pauses to enact a musical written by Saint Andrew, Saint Lloyd and the Hermit Webber. what Chapter 37 tells us most assuredly is that teenagers have no idea of tact or diplomacy and leaves us wondering how any of us made it through without being murdered. Yes, it’s the story of Joseph (and possibly a multi-coloured external garment).
Jacob and family have moved to Canaan, where they were not known. Joseph as we know from the tale, was the youngest and most favoured of all Jacob’s 12 sons. And his brothers were most put out about this. Joseph had a dream; in the dream there were 12 sheaves of wheat and one of the sheaves stood up straight and the other 11 were bowed down to it. The upright sheaf was owned by Joseph, in case you needed that extra detail. Now, Joseph was not a bright lad – his brothers were already grumbling about dream number one – because he tells them about a second dream in which the sun, moon and (eleven) stars were bowing to him. Side project for my loyal readers: if you have siblings, go to them and tell them that they will bow down to you because you will be above them all. Now describe your injuries.
Joseph’s brothers go off to feed their flock (flock, in this case, means actual sheep – Jesus hasn’t been born yet) and Jacob – also known in this chapter as Israel – sends Joseph off to meet them. The brothers see him coming and decide to kill him by dropping him into a deep hole and saying that a beast killed him.
20Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
So they remove his coat of many colourstm and tip him in the hole. As they are eating, they see some Ishmeelites and decide to sell Joseph to them as a slave. So they do that and tell Jacob he is now minus one son. The Ishmeelites somehow become Midianites and sell Joseph to the Egyptians. As Joseph is a main character, again God continues his vendetta against the Egyptians.
We leave Joseph for a while, because his brother Judah has just become married to Shuah. He has children by her and they are called Er, Onan and Shelah – 3 boys. Er, in some unspecified way, annoys God so God kills him. And I hope that Er learns his lesson well. Onan, who becomes famous after his death, is ordered by God to marry the wife of Er and to give her a son. So he goes to her
9And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.
10And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.
Finally, Judah tells this unfortunate woman (Tamar, wife of Er) to wait at his house until Shelah is old enough to marry her. And she agrees.
And now it goes a bit weird. Judah goes to see a friend, so Tamar changes out of her widow’s clothes and into normal clothes plus a veil. Because Judah hasn’t gotten around to marrying her to Shelah. She tricks him into sleeping with her – he thinks she is merely a prostitute. She then returns with some of his symbols and pretends nothing has happened. After 3 months Tamar is visibly pregnant and still not married to Tamar. So Judah, in a fit of enlightenment, declares that Tamar must be burnt. She then proves that Judah is the father of her baby and accepted that it was his own fault because he hadn’t given her to his youngest son quickly enough.
Then, because things haven’t been weird enough, she is pregnant with twins. When giving birth one of the twins sticks his arm out (no, I’m not telling you from where) and the midwife puts a thread on his arm to prove he was born first. But the twins pull a switcheroo and the other twin is born first. First born child (no thread) was called Pharez and the second born (with the thread) was called Zarah. And I am sure that this will cause some problems further down the line.
But what of Joseph? Well, 38 chapters in we’re still in Genesis and Joseph is in Egypt – where we will catch up with him next time in Chapter 39.
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