Sunday, October 15, 2006

What's in the Bible   Lesson 1.3  Joseph

This is part of my current Sunday School, which is a basic tour through the whole bible. The primary text is What's in the Bible by R. C. Sproul and Robert Wolgemuth. Most of the maps are from the Tyndale Handbook of Bible Charts and Maps

The approach here is big picture, less detail. The goal is to make you comfortable with the entire bible, so that when you look in detail at any one part you don't feel as though you're picking up a tome youv'e never read and starting in chapter 47.

I will maintain a list of links to the lessons in the left sidebar.

Joseph to Moses

We next look at two more famous men from early Jewish history: Joseph the shepherd who became a prince, and Moses the prince who became a shepherd.

Last week we spoke of the Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Today our story picks up with Jacob's children, especially his eleventh son, Joseph.

The twelve sons of Jacob become the twelve tribes of Israel--sort of. There are also twelve tribes according to the lands they were given when they inherited the Promised Land. Those are almost the same --except the Levites became the priestly tribe, and were not given any land. However, two sons of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) were given land--thus there are also twelve tribes by that reckoning. The Tribe of Judah and the Tribe of Benjamin joined together to form the Kingdom of Judah. The Levites who, as mentioned, became the priestly class and did not receive any tribal land, are linked today to living people who believe they are descendants of Levi. The remaining tribes (Reuben, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Ephraim, Manasseh) are considered lost. (Their whereabouts unknown following the Assyrian captivity, and the subject of tremendous speculation. The Book of Mormon states that Native Americans are descended from the tribe of Manasseh. According to The Book of Mormon, sons of the prophet Lehi founded the Nephite and Lamanite civilizations in the New World. Some Mormons also teach that northern Europeans are descended from Ephraim, making them natural heirs to God's covenant with the Israelites. Most Latter Day Saints see this relation as more symbolic (through adoption) than literal, however—no doubt this shift to "symbolic" is based in part on the fact that DNA testing has cast serious doubt on the veracity of these claims.)

Joseph was the firstborn of Jacob and his beloved wife Rachel. All redemptive history can be traced to a simple act of a man (Jacob) making a common parental blunder. He favored one son (Joseph—b. ca. BC 1780) over his ten brothers. Jacob gave Joseph an expensive "coat of many colors." In a butterfly effect, this seemingly minor act set into motion God's amazing plan:
2 This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. 5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it." 8 His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. (Genesis 37:2-11)
Jacob asked Joseph to go find his brothers, who were grazing their flocks near Shechem. When Joseph arrived, he learned that his brothers had gone on to Dothan, which lay along a major trade route to Egypt. Joseph's brothers intended to kill him, and present the hated garment, splashed with blood, to Jacob as evidence that Joseph had been eaten by wild animals. God, however, had something else in mind: Midianite traders, traveling to Egypt, purchased Joseph as a slave.

To be continued...

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