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Archive for March 31st, 2019

Image result for icon of Joseph, Patriarch

Collect of the Day:Almighty God, You have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of Your servant Joseph, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at last we may with him attain to Your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Bio: Joseph was the son of the patriarch Jacob (February 5) and Rachel. The favorite son of his father, he incurred the jealousy of his older brothers, who sold him into slavery in Egypt and told their father he was dead (Genesis 37). In Egypt he became the chief servant in the home of Potiphar, a military official.  Because Joseph refused to commit adultery with his master’s wife, he was unjustly accused of attempted rape and thrown into jail (Genesis 39). Years later, he interpreted dreams for Pharoah, who then freed him from prison and placed him in charge of the entire country. When his brothers came from Canaan to Egypt in search of food, they did not recognize him. He eventually revealed his identity to them, forgave them, and invited both them and his father to live in Egypt. He is especially remembered and honored for his moral uprightness (Genesis 39) and for his willingness to forgive his brothers (Genesis 45 and 50).

In this time of the church year, the Old Testament lessons are the narrative of Joseph.  The Joseph narrative continues till the end of Genesis, chapter 50. Joseph is crucial in the narration of salvation history.

Joseph’s tale begins when he was 17 years of age.  Joseph is the beloved son of Jacob.  Jacob had 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel and of the 12 sons Joseph is Jacob’s beloved son, his favorite.  Jacob had two wives, Rachel and Leah and two concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah and they were the mothers of the 12 (cf. Genesis 35:  22b-26).  Of the 4 mothers, Jacob’s favorite wife was Rachel.

From the get-go in chapter 37, Joseph had dreams and his dreams signified that his mother and father, and pointedly, his 11 brothers would bow down to Joseph.  Joseph was already the favorite and Jacob gave him a “coat of many colors” and so Joseph’s brothers, “…hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.” (vs.4).

The brothers 11 wanted to kill Joseph but the oldest said no.  They eventually sold Joseph into slavery for 20 shekels of silver (vs. 28) and he went into a foreign land, Egypt, as a slave…a slave who would eventually free his brothers some 20 years later.  The brothers 11 told their father Jacob that Jacob was killed by a “fierce animal” and they dipped Joseph’s robe in goat’s blood to ‘prove’ Joseph’s death.  The brothers 11 also killed their Father’s heart with grief.

There are comparisons between Joseph and Jesus:

Joseph began ruling Egypt under Pharoah at the age of 30. Jesus began His public ministry around the age of 30.

Joseph’s brothers hated Joseph because he said he would one day rule over them. Many of Jesus’ brothers hated Him because He is the ruler of all men.

Joseph was tempted to sin by Potiphar’s wife and was led out of temptation. Jesus was tempted every way we are, yet was without sin so that He can lead us out of temptation.

Joseph was a free man and became a slave and one day would serve his brothers in a most unexpected way. Jesus was utterly free and became a slave and would serve His brothers in a most unexpected way. Joseph did not freely do this. It was against his will and yet, it was the Lord’s will. Jesus did so freely as it was the Lord’s will.

Joseph was betrayed by his brothers into a type of death: separation from his family and his land. Jesus was betrayed by His brothers into death itself.

Joseph was spared execution by his brothers, Jesus was not. Joseph was embalmed, “…and he was put in a coffin in Egypt” (the last verse of Genesis), and Jesus was put into a tomb but the tomb could not hold Him: The Word Made Flesh lives, He is risen!

There are probably more comparisons which you can make. In the comparisons above the theme of brothers stands out.

At the beginning of Genesis chapter 37, when Joseph’s brothers were out in the fields pasturing the flocks, Jacob sends  Joseph out to see how they are doing.  As Joseph goes into the wide expanse of Palestine, a man comes and speaks with Joseph.

15 And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” 16 “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” 17 And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

Reasoning that out in the Valley of Hebron there might have not been many people walking about. Some of the rabbis thought the man was an angel, no less than Gabriel because in Daniel 8:16, Gabriel is called a man. Nevertheless, the man does have an aura of mystery about him, because he comes out of nowhere, knows Joseph, though Joseph does not seem to know him and  by sending Joseph to his brothers begins the whole story of Joseph being sold into slavery. “What are you seeking?” 16 “I am seeking my brothers…”  Then as it turns out, Joseph years later, in a wholly different fashion, in Egypt,  or as he was known by the Egyptian name,  Zaphenath-paneah,as Pharoah’s second in command,Joseph would still seek his brothers.

Joseph, as a lord in Egypt, freed his brothers. Joseph knew it was right to do so. His brothers repented:

“And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[b] should be kept alive, as they are today. (chapter 50)

Jesus came as God incarnate to be our brother, and evil, greater than done to Joseph, was done to the only begotten Son of God, the Beloved, to keep a people alive to this day. God meant it for good.  The Lord still seeks His brothers and sisters. 

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”13 And again,“I will put my trust in him.”And again,“Behold, I and the children God has given me.” (Hebrews 2)

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