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Dreams and Dreamers

Our reading introduces us to the character of Joseph, the first-born of Rachel – Jacob’s beloved. We do find that parental favoritism continues in the first family. This time it is Joseph by Jacob. We have already talked about Rachel being the favorite of Jacob, now we find that Joseph carries the favoritism. Maybe this seems natural to happen, but it will cause great struggle and even sorrow for all involved. In Genesis 37, the Dreamer appears, already in a favored position with his coat of many colors, which distinguishes him from his brothers – that means Bilhah and Zilpah and Leah’s boys. These are two hand maids, and a tricked wife. The favorite child comes with its own set of problems. The boys hated Joseph, they could barely stand him. But when Joseph relates his first dream, where they will all bow down to him – this causes rage! Then the second dream is one where all of the family, mom’s and dad plus the brothers will bow to Joseph. Even Jacob rebukes Joseph for such arrogance. Just as the LORD told Cain that sin crouched at the door, so it is here that the only thing keeping Joseph alive around his brothers is the opportunity to kill him. Joseph provides this opportunity when he goes to visit them in the fields. Now Joseph is only 17 yrs. old; yet sent on quite a journey. I estimate that Joseph had a trip from Hebron to Shechem was about 40 miles; then he had to go further to Dothan, probably another 15 miles or so.  Joseph was obviously wandering around, looking for his brothers at the time, even when sent to Dothan. Needless to say, the plot thickens. We know the rest of the story and how that Joseph is being put into the right place at the right time  – and sure enough his dreams were more prop hectic then just sleeping interludes.  I can’t imagine the hatred from the older brothers; I’ve had fights with my sisters, but not nought to kill them. Not the case here. They see Joseph wandering around, and begin to plot how to kill him. “Throw him in the pit, says Reuben.” Of course being the oldest, he will take the heat for the killed Joseph, he tries to set up a sub-plot to rescue Joseph later. Nope – Joseph has to get to Egypt. Sold into slavery [20 shekels of silver, not even the full price of a slave 30] none other than the Midianites [aka Abraham’s second marriage – Genesis 25]  who in-turn sell him to Potiphar’s household. Mean while, the brothers kill a goat, smear the blood on the “favorite” coat and present it to Jacob as proof that Joseph has been killed by an animal. Now think of the hatred present in the story – there is no remorse or guilt by any of the brothers. They’re glad to be rid of the little creep!

Picking up the story again in Genesis 39, Joseph is in the palace so to speak, and the repeated phrase “and the LORD was with Joseph.” It works out that everything Joseph does turns to success. He is elevated to high positions not once, but three times in his life. Oh, there is Potiphar’s wife – she really wants Joseph in a sexual way. They say there is nothing worse than a woman scorned – Joseph being a handsome dude, she intends to add him to her conquests. Nope – Joseph might be a braggart, and a spoiled child, but he does have scruples and morals – he will not sin against his master, and more importantly against God. Just as the brothers got their opportunity to get back at Joseph, so does this scorned woman – out from under his clothes he runs, but still winds up in jail. I found it interesting that the wife blames her husband for the “alleged” attack. Well, in jail, Joseph is raised to “bossman” for God was with him. The Cup-bearer and Baker have dreams. These dreams are interpreted by Joseph. [Sort of reminds you of Daniel, and his elevation during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign] The Baker will die, the Cup-bearer will live, Joseph only asks, don’t forget me down here! Hum, do good and get forgotten.  At this point I am sure all of us would be a bit ticked and sour about how life is treating us. Thus far Joseph is innocent, all he has done is have dreams and interpret dreams. Yet he has been sold by his brothers, framed by a woman and forgotten by a freed man. BUT; God was with Joseph!  Will we rest in the fact that Jesus is with us, even when all is a mess? Out of favor with man, but in favor with God.

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