Epistles of Thomas

January 14, 2009

Genesis 37-39

Filed under: Old Testament — Thomas @ 21:35
Tags: , , , ,

Chapter 37 begins the Joseph story which is one my favourites in the Bible. The trouble begins when Jacob favours Joseph over his other sons and presents him with an “amazing technocolour dream coat.” OK, not really, but it was fancy and caused jealousy. Joseph doesn’t help his plight when he begins telling them the dreams he has. In his dreams his brothers, and even his parents, bow down to him. His brothers are very offended and when the opportunity presents itself they sell him to Ishmaelites headed for Egypt. It is interesting that it is Ishmaelites who take him away and create the opportunity for him to save Israel when famine strikes the land. Reuben, who thought nothing of sleeping with his father’s concubine (35:22), wants to return Joseph to their father but misses his opportunity.

Chapter 38 is an aside in which the story of Judah and Tamar is told. Judah married a Canaanite woman and had three sons. The first two died because of their wicked actions and Tamar is left childless. She conspires to get pregnant by Judah and disguises herself as a prostitute. He dutifully engages her services but then she disappears with his pledge. Aside from buying sex from a prostitute he views her as a shrine prostitute and obviously this is not a shrine to the God of his fathers. When he learns that Tamar is pregnant and guilty of prostitution he orders her burned to death. Fortunately for Tamar she still has his pledge and proves that he is the father. He recognises that “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah” (38:26). Apparently it is okay to buy sex from a shrine prostitute but not okay to be one unless you are doing it in order to get pregnant by your father-in-law who refused to marry his third son to you.

In Genesis 39, we return to Joseph in Egypt. He gets a prime job with Potiphar but unfortunately that man’s wife takes a liking to Joseph and desires him sexually. Joseph refuses on the grounds of his religion: “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? (39:9). Although the Ten Commandments have not yet been revealed Joseph recognises that adultery is sinful (in contrast to Reuben and Bilhah). Due to his refusal she acts out of spite and frames him for attempted rape. Potiphar has Joseph put in prison with the king’s prisoners.


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