Chapter 41 – We open with “2 years have passed” … Joseph has been IN PRISON for 2 years (WOW!!). In Genesis 37:2 as the story of Joseph begins we are told: “Joseph is a young man of 17.” In Genesis 41:46 we read: “Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh, king of Egypt…” All together this means Joseph was a slave or in prison for 13 YEARS!!! POOR GUY … I mean he was an immature fella, favored by his father Jacob, had his coat of many colors from his father that was made like a coat of what royalty would have worn, and he had dreams that he understood!! THEN he goes and pretty much holds it over his brothers (“nanny nanny boo boo look what he made me and not for youuuuuu!!) So they plan to kill him which Reuben disagrees, and Judah recommends they just sell him to the Ishmaelites.
He is sold and ends up as Potiphar’s trusted servant. Gen 39:2 said: “When his master saw that THE LORD WAS WITH HIM AND THAT THE LORD GAVE HIM SUCCESS IN EVERY THING HE DID, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant.” THEN Potiphar’s wife sets Joseph up because he WILL NOT go against God, lies about something he did not do, and there he goes to prison… FOR TWO YEARS!!
Prisons back in Joseph’s time were AWFUL!! They were damp, moldy, filthy, dark, smelly, rusty chains were used to restrain the prisoners; there was NO bathroom so everything happened where they were chained. Yet EVEN in prison, “THE LORD WAS WITH HIM” and the prison warden placed Joseph in charge of the people in the prison. We ended yesterday’s reading with Joseph being forgotten by some hope that the cupbearer might remember him. But Joseph was forgotten.
YET… Joseph does not faulter in his FAITH to God during the entire 13 years. GOD used this time to develop Joseph’s character. And don’t forget that as a young immature man of 17, Joseph had some experience with dreams. Can you see how God prepared Joseph for something great?? Pharaoh had dreams no one could interpret (notice that the people Pharaoh is calling on originally, are using satanic powers … and they cannot interpret the dreams from God.) And… “OH YEA” says the cupbearer…. I remember a Hebrew in prison who could interpret dreams accurately. Joseph was quickly brought up from the prison/dungeon/waste land (for real), scrubbed up, shaved, and given better clothing THEN thrust in front of the Pharaoh (not Potipher, who was just one of Pharaoh’s officials…. He was thrust before THE PHARAOH). Joseph had an opportunity to take all the credit for dream interpretation before the Pharaoh but instead says in verse 16: “I cannot do it (how humble is he???)…but God can.” Are you checking out Joseph’s character and integrity??? We need to remember the culture he was living in. It was Egypt, they did not believe in THE Lord (just one), but many gods. I literally stand/sit in awe of Joseph’s character. I probably would have said, “sure I can help!!,” taking credit for the gifts the Lord gave me. He risked not only not being heard but also being thrown back in prison. Look at what 2 Corinthians 3:5 says about how we are to be (and think about Joseph’s character):
Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God
In reading the dreams and interpretations I have to say the advice could be taken today. I just look at 9/11, earthquakes happening around us, Tsunamis, droughts, floods, “storms of the century”, wildfires out of control, the state of the economy, etc., and wonder if we shouldn’t be “stocking up”/making wise choices and plans for the future. No, I am not speaking of hoarding or evil things, simply being sure we are in tune to God and what HE is guiding us to do!
Joseph is placed in a position of authority, at a young age for that era. Pharaoh gives him his signet ring (from his finger), fine clothing to wear, a gold chain for his neck, and a chariot to ride in …. Talk about prestige!! Pharaoh changes Joseph’s name (verse 45) most likely so he would be accepted more readily by those in Egypt where he would be going to begin process for the storage of food. The BLB states the new name means: “treasury of the glorious rest.” However, in a small old book I have titled “Joseph from Pit to Pinnacle” by Charles Swindoll, on page 39 it states: “The small syllable “nath” is a reference to a goddess worshiped in Egypt named Neith. Translated, Pharaoh’s new name for Joseph meant “the god speaks and lives.” Joseph had no choice in his new name, I guess you could say it “came with the job.” He was also given a wife, Asenath (A GENTILE) daughter of Potiphera. Joseph (THE HEBREW IN THE LAND) and Asenath who was the daughter of an Egyptian priest had 2 children: Manasseh and Ephram. In the BLB, Manasseh shows a meaning of “causing to forget”. However, in the book by Chuck Swindoll, on page 41 it states: “The root of the name Manasseh is nasha, meaning “to forget.” But in the Hebrew construction of this word, Manasseh means ‘to take the sting out of a memory.’ Joseph has so many painful memories from his troublesome past. But with the birth of his first son, GOD removed the sting!!” Is that not totally AWESOME!!?? Ephraim according to the BLB means “I shall be twice fruitful.” We will hear both of these names again so remember who was the first born. We will talk about Ephraim again soon, as a place, as a people, as a gate, and as a Mount. The story of Joseph is the link between the “family” and the “nation”. The sons of Joseph (Hebrew) and Asenath (Gentile) WILL BECOME PART OF THE 12 TRIBES OF ISRAEL!!!! … look at the map I posted yesterday and you will see Manasseh and Ephraim….. WWWWWHHHHHAAAATTTTT???!!! >>> I know!!! 🙂
Notice Joseph’s character is one of being “Christ-like”. This is a character we could strive to be like, share with our children, and friends, etc … from the Bible as well as IN our actions. As we pray, “Make me less like me and more like you”, we can have a clear point of reference in the story of Joseph. Joseph was a man, just like you and me. The characteristics he holds are unbelievable.
We leave chapter 41 with Joseph having all a man could ever wish for!
Chapter 42: Joseph is NOW GOVERNOR of the land!! Jacob sends 10 of his sons to Egypt to come back with food because the famine was ALL over the world. As Joseph’s brother came before him, he began to remember the dream he had in Chapter 37 (how they would bow down to him). Joseph knew who they were and could have revealed his identity to them at once. However, can you IMAGINE what he must have been thinking?? I know I would have been thinking of their faces as I screamed “no don’t sell me, no don’t let me go” and they stood by and watched while he was sold to the Ishmaelites. Joseph tests them to see if they have changed over the years and sends for Benjamin. We could probably assume Joseph and Benjamin were close since they were true full brothers born of Jacob and Rachel (Jacob’s favorite wife). I am sure that when he saw Benjamin was not there, he assumed that the “step brothers” had killed or sold him also. Joseph also had no idea if his father was still alive until the brothers tell him so in verse 13. WHY didn’t the brothers recognize Joseph?? He was 13 years older, he was clean shaven as an Egyptian (no longer in a beard as a Hebrew man), he spoke the language of the land, he spoke to them harshly accusing them of being spies. They had NO idea Joseph could understand what they were saying and when Joseph heard their realizations … it became more than he could bear and he had to leave the room. Each time I read this I cry, it just touches me so deeply.
Did you notice that even in Joseph’s anger, he sent them away with MORE than they had come for? So it’s back, back, back to Canaan… back, back, back… to get Benjamin. Nine brothers (Simeon remained held by Joseph for “assurance of their return”) to bring Benjamin and we are not talking about a “drive to the nearby grocery store.” We are talking about a TRIP!!! Once back in Canaan, they find that their packs also have the silver they originally gave to Joseph to pay for the grain. Jacob tells them “everything is against me” (in verse 36). Jacob reminds them that first Joseph dies, Simeon is now being held in Egypt, and NOW they want his beloved son Benjamin, his ONLY son remaining from the wife he loved. Jacob tells them NO, he will not lose HIS SON. Reuben even offers to be responsible for everyone’s return by offering up the lives of his own two sons. I feel so deeply for the sons who have made the trip and returned and what they must be feeling to hear their father refer ONLY to Benjamin as their son. Look at what Romans 12:17-21 (NIV) says and how Joseph’s character matches up with this:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
It is hard not to read on! Keep in mind as you read that this is a TRUE story. It is REAL. When we read Job we discussed all he went through, but that God was faithful. We can see the same thing in the story with Joseph. Joseph is faithful to God. Joseph is faithful in the little things. God is faithful to Joseph, to HIS people, and even in feeding the Egyptians who do not even worship HIM.
Have you had the opportunity to look at the map of the 12 tribes then and now? Can you see that the VERY land that is being fought over today is the SAME land that was fought over since the beginning of time!! Can you see how the Israelites and Ishmaelites ARE the basis for everything? Can you see how God had a plan from the beginning and we are a part of that plan? And if today’s reading hasn’t blown your mind with the maps and information… just think for a moment about God’s prophesy from Ezekiel coming to pass on May 14, 1948, just as God said it would (Israel became a Nation again). THERE IS A PLAN!! GOD IS IN CONTROL, even when life does not go the way we desire, hope, dream… He IS still in control. We have the END of the BOOK at our finger tips and guess who wins???
Sharing HIS love,