Saturday, January 17, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 17-18

Genesis 41-44

These chapters give us the heart of Joseph's restoration, beginning with his interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams, and ending on the verge of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers. The dreams of Pharaoh pair with Joseph's double dream in ch 37. The two sets of dreams bracket the period of Joseph's humiliation.

Chapters 42-44 constitute Joseph's testing of his brothers, as he seeks to determine the state of their hearts. The conclusion of the episode comes in Judah's refusal to allow Benjamin to be taken prisoner, but his insistence upon taking Benjamin's place. Since Judah had been the cold-hearted leader in the sale of Joseph into slavery, this shows the complete turnaround in Judah's character. This change had its beginning in the Tamar situation in ch 38. Throughout the testing, Joseph is in control of the situation, and is orchestrating events to move them to his own ends. Unlike ch 37, where God is not mentioned, God's control of all events is clear in the language.

One particularly important transition to note is the change from Jacob (42:36, the lamentation over the loss of Simeon) to Israel (43:6). Jacob is the character as schemer and supplanter, while Israel is the character of faith. It is in faith that Israel entrusts Benjamin to the care of Judah. The tone of 43:14 (If I am bereaved, I am bereaved) is completely different from that of 42:38 (ye shall bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave).

Matthew 12:15-13:9

In 12:15-21, the controversy with the Pharisees continues, with Jesus drawing his attention to his fulfillment of the Messianc promises from Isaiah. In the remainder of ch 12, Jesus focuses his attention against the Pharisees, first by means of a miracle (lending further credence to his Messianic claim), and then in direct criticisms of Pharisaism. Chapter 13 begins the third large teaching section in Matthew, concerned mainly with the parables of the kingdom.

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