This week we take on the narrative of Joseph, Genesis' longest set of stories centered on a single figure. Wow, he's really the little brother from hell! Note that the narrative style is very different, with less direct interaction between God and Joseph than we saw in the stories of Abraham and Jacob. God's dealings with Joseph are through dreams and the ability to interpret dreams, rather than direct conversation or visions. One Biblical scholar argues that this change marks a transition to seeing God at work in human history in ways that are "hidden... but nonetheless reliable." (Walter Brueggemann, commentary on Genesis, p. 289.) The end result of Joseph's story is the lodging of Jacob's family in Egypt, providing for the development of the twelve tribes of Israel through his twelve sons, and their enslavement by Pharaoh as described in Exodus.
As always: don't get lost in the repetitions, keep forging onward to get the gist of the narrative arc - enjoy!
And a reminder: we'll be meeting this Thursday, Nov 1, 7:00-8:30pm in the Parish Hall at 157 Montague.
Some questions for consideration as we read:
- Joseph is annoying, and gifted with dream interpretation, and successful - but what is his relationship with God really about? What does his faith look like?
- In the arc of stories through Genesis, why are the families so dysfunctional? Sibling rivalries, parental favoritism and/or indifference, etc. Along that line of thinking, the story of Tamar and Judah is a very strange insertion in the beginning of the Joseph cycle - what narrative parallels are there that can help us make sense of it?
- Does this God have a plan that Gen 1 to Ex 1 reveals? Or has this just been a bunch of craziness?