Sunday, January 22, 2012


Note: I decided to do these blog posts after I had finished reading Genesis, and the only notes I have handy are my more recent ones from the end of the book. I'll post those first, then go back and fill in the beginning as I have the time.

Genesis is the first book of the Bible. It was written by Moses to the people of Israel, its purpose being to record God's creation of the world and His desire to have a relationship with them, a people set apart to worship Him.

Chapter 1: The Creation of The World
Verse 1 is introductory to the whole chapter. The overview of creation begins with verse 3.

Interesting theme development I'd like to follow: the symbolism of the sea, "the watery deep". The sea represents darkness and chaos "in the beginning", and when the new Heaven and Earth are created, there will be no sea (Revelation 21:1).

Chapter 2: The Creation of Man and Woman


Chapter 40: The Cupbearer and the Baker
While in prison, Joseph interprets the dreams of the pharaoh's cupbearer (who lives and is restored to his position) and his baker (who is killed). Joseph asks the cupbearer to tell Pharaoh about him, but he forgets.

Chapter 41: Joseph's Rise to Power
Two years later, Pharaoh has two disturbing dreams. His cupbearer suddenly remembers Joseph, who is brought out to interpret the dreams. Because of Joseph's wisdom, Pharaoh makes him second in command - and in charge of storing up food for the coming famine.

*At the time Joseph begins his service under Pharaoh, he has been in Egypt for 13 years.

*During this time, Joseph has two sons: Manasseh ("he who brings about forgetfulness" - referring to his troubles with his brothers and in Egypt) and Ephraim ("to bear fruit" - referring to his success in "the land of my suffering" v. 52).

Chapter 42: Joseph's Brother in Egypt
Jacob's family feels the effects of the famine, so he sends 10 of his sons to Egypt to buy grain. While there, Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they don't know who he is. (They believe he must be dead, having sold him more than 20 years earlier.) Joseph calls them spies and tests and questions them to find out what he can about his father and brother (Benjamin, who remained at home) and to see if they have changed. When he overhears them discussing their guilt over their treatment of him and how Reuben had wanted to save him, he weeps. He decides to keep Simeon prisoner and to send the rest home with their grain - and their silver, hidden in their sacks. He also tells them not to come back unless they bring their younger brother with them. Jacob grieves that now Simeon is lost to him and his sons want to take Benjamin away to Egypt.

Q? I wonder why Joseph chose Simeon, the second oldest son, as his prisoner instead of Reuben, the firstborn. Maybe it was his subtle way of thanking Reuben for his earlier efforts...?

Chapter 43: The Second Journey to Egypt
Jacob's family needs more grain, but Judah reminds him they won't be allowed to get any more unless Benjamin goes with them. He then promises his own life if something happens to Benjamin. Jacob reluctantly agrees, and the brothers return to Egypt to buy more grain and to return the money that was in their sacks. Joseph sees Benjamin is with his brothers, so he plans to hold a dinner for them.

Q? Why did they wait until they were out of grain before going back to Egypt? How long was Simeon held captive? Didn't they want to save him? Or did they leave him there indefinitely because Jacob wasn't willing to let go of Benjamin until the family was threatened with starvation?

*Joseph feels overwhelming love for Benjamin and shows him excessive favoritism, but the other brothers don't seem to mind. Maybe they've outgrown their jealousies.

*The brothers were astonished that, at Joseph's dinner, he had them seated in order of their birth.

*I found it interesting that the Egyptians found certain Hebrew practices detestable and wouldn't dine at the same table with them. For Joseph's dinner, there were at least three different tables set up: one for Joseph; one for the brothers, who couldn't yet know that Joseph (who appeared to be an Egyptian) was their brother; and one for the Egyptians in Joseph's service. It makes me wonder about Joseph's family meal time. His wife was Egyptian, so she must have eaten at separate table. His children were mixed blood of Hebrew and Egyptian. Could they eat at Joseph's table, or did they have to eat separately, too? I wouldn't think they were allowed to eat at the Egyptian table because of their Hebrew heritage.

Chapter 44: The Final Test
Joseph hides his silver cup in the mouth of Benjamin's sack and sends his brothers on their way. Then he sends his servant to catch them and search their bags. When the cup is discovered in Benjamin's sack, the brothers tear their clothing as an expression of grief, then they all head back to Egypt. Judah gives Joseph a moving speech to save Benjamin.

*NET Bible note: "Joseph's purpose was to single out Benjamin to see if the brothers would abandon him as they had abandoned Joseph. He wanted to see if they had changed."

Chapter 45: The Reconciliation of the Brothers
Joseph is moved to tears by his brothers' love for Benjamin and Jacob. He makes himself known to them, assures them of his forgiveness, and sends them to bring Jacob and all their families to Egypt. Jacob, upon learning Joseph is still alive, is initially shocked, but he recovers and prepares to go to him.

*Verse 5 - "Now, do not be upset and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life!" NET Bible note: "...Clearly God is able to transform the actions of wickedness to bring about some gracious end. But this is saying more than that; it is saying that from the beginning it was God who sent Joseph here..."

Chapter 46: The Family of Jacob Goes to Egypt
As Jacob/Israel begins his journey to Egypt, God reassures him and reaffirms His covenant. Joseph goes out to meet his father in Goshen and prepares them to meet Pharaoh.

Chapter 47: Joseph's Wise Administration
Pharaoh meets Joseph's father and brothers. He lets them live in the land of Goshen, and he offers jobs to anyone who is able to take care of his livestock.

As the people of Egypt run out of money to buy food, Joseph buys their livestock to add to Pharaoh's herds. Then as they run out of livestock to sell, Joseph buys their land and the Egyptians become slaves to Pharaoh. The agreement is for them to work the land and return 1/5 of the fruits of it to Pharaoh.

After living 17 years in Goshen, Jacob makes Joseph promise to bury him with his fathers instead of in Egypt when he dies.

Chapter 48: Manasseh and Ephraim
Joseph takes his sons Manasseh and Ephraim to Jacob, who takes them as his own sons and pronounces a blessing on them. He intentionally gives the firstborn blessing to the younger brother.

*Jacob's eyesight is poor in his old age - like Isaac's. But here Jacob is fully aware that he is blessing the younger son over the older one, not being tricked as he had tricked Isaac.

*From the Bible Knowledge Commentary: We tend to expect God to work in a certain way, according to our understanding, but His ways are not our ways. He often works in unconventional means.

Chapter 49: The Blessing of Jacob
As Jacob prepares to die, he calls his sons together to bless them. Then he dies.

*As firstborn, Reuben should have taken on the leadership role for the family and received a double portion of his father's blessing. Because he betrayed Jacob (by having intimate relations with Jacob's concubine, Rachel's maidservant), he is passed over. Simeon and Levi are also passed over because of their destructive rage in avenging their sister Dinah when she was raped by Shechem. The leadership is passed on to Judah, who is a descendant of Jesus Christ. The double portion is passed on to Joseph, the firstborn son of his favorite wife.

*Leah (the mother of Judah) was buried in the cave with the patriarchs and their wives, and later Jacob. Even though she was the "lesser" wife in Jacob's eyes, God blessed her abundantly. Rachel, on the other hand, was buried "on the way to Ephrath (Bethlehem)" (Gen. 48:7c).

Chapter 50: The Burials of Jacob and Joseph"
After Jacob dies, both his family and Egypt mourn. Joseph goes with his brothers and an entourage of Egyptian officials to bury his father as he had promised. The brothers worry that Joseph will now take revenge on them, but he assures them again that all is forgiven. Before Joseph dies at the age of 110, he makes the people of Israel promise they will bury him in the land God gives them after their deliverance from Egypt.

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