Jacob’s role as the central player seems to have ended with him fulfilling his vow at Bethel. Now the focus starts to shift to his sons, particularly to Rachel’s eldest son, Joseph.
The one Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote a mediocre musical-comedy about. One that never mentions God in its entire run.
But let’s ignore that version and look at what the Bible gives us. Let’s also ignore that supposedly Joseph is in his 60s at this point and his brothers even older, because that’s immediately contradicted by the second verse of this chapter, which places Joseph at 17, way before Isaac supposedly died. It also makes more sense this way, since it condenses the events of 34-35 in a few years, which feels more like how they happen as written, rather than having a 40+year gap.
This is one of those familiar stories that re-reading didn’t give me only two particular new insight:
First, there’s no mention here whether Joseph’s dreams come from God. He just has dreams about being better than his older brothers (like you’d imagine a teenager would fantasize about) and shares them (which is precisely the kind of dick thing a teenager would do). Yes, later, his dreams seem to be decidedly predictive, but here?
Well, let’s say they are predictive – but they only become true because of how his brothers react to hearing about them. If they’d just rolled their eyes at their spoiled little brother and held back their resentment, he would never have wound up in Egypt, becoming Pharaoh’s right hand man, and being lord over all of them.
Oops, was that spoilers?
But yeah, this seems to be the kind of “prophecy” where trying to stop a prophecy ensures that it will be fulfilled. I call them Terminator Prophecies, for obvious reasons. From now on, I’ll keep my eyes out for other examples as I read.
The Japanese: katsute “formerly” (v 1), tsugeguchi suru “to tattle-tell” (v 2), kawaigaru “to cherish,” suso “fringe, hem,” haregi “fanciest clothing” (v 3), odayaka ni “calmly, peacefully” (v 4), taba “sheaf,” yuwaeru “to bind,” netamu “to envy” (v 11), takurami “plot” (v 18), jushi “resin,” nyuukou “frankincense,” motsuyaku “myrrh” (v 25), aranuno “sackcloth” (v 34), jijuuchou “grand chamberlain” (v 36).
In addition to the vocabulary, this chapter twice (in v 21 and 27) used the phrase no wa yosou to mean “let’s not.” I’ve never heard that before. I don’t know if it’s somewhat archaic or what. Maybe I’ll ask my Japanese tutor the next time I see her…