It always seems like God has a plan. Even when it comes to the mundane things. He always knows what He wants done, how and why. Everything He does has a purpose and a reason, even if it’s not obvious to us. His plan is perfect, even when we aren’t.
In numbers 2 we see that God / YHWH even has a plan for the arrangement of the camp:
To the East was the camp of Judah which included the tribes of Judah, Issachar, & Zebulon. They spread East with 186,400 people.
To the North was the camp of Dan which included Dan, Naphatali, and Asher. They spread North with 157,600 people.
To the West was the camp of Ephraim with Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin. They spread West with 108,100 people.
To the South was the camp of Reuben with Reuben, Simeon, and Gad. They spread South with 151,400 people.
Meanwhile, the tribe of Levi directly surrounds the tabernacle with the Levites acting as a buffer between YHWH and the people.
This is how it would likely have looked from above.
Isn’t that amazing? YHWH always seems to have a plan and a purpose.
Well, Genesis is almost done. It is the beginning’s end. I really liked copying this chapter down. It was easy to process and write as there is a solid thought on each line (or in the least a solid chunk of a solid thought). It makes the process, oh, so much easier!
Israel has some final words to say to each of his sons. It is here that Jacob makes changes to the natural order of his progeny. Reuben was the firstborn, but here he officially loses that honor and privilege due to his hasty actions of sleeping with his father’s concubine. Yeah, now that was smart, Reuben </sarcasm>! Simeon and Levi are next in line, but they both lose that honor due to their rash decision to annihilate the Hivites (chapter 34) whose prince raped their sister Dinah. In fact, Simeon ended up receiving no natural inheritance at all when the Israelites reentered the land of Canaan.
So that left Judah to become heir apparent. He received the lion’s share of the blessing and inheritance (and gave some to Simeon because it was too much for them). Judah also received the blessing of having the Messiah, the Christ, come through his line.
It’s interesting to note that this is probably the last time that Joseph specifically gets named in the listing of the sons/tribes of Israel. From now on, Joseph’s place is taken by the half-tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (Joseph’s two sons that Israel claimed as his own in chapter 48).
After charging his sons (i like the way this brings the word “charging” into a clearer understanding than the way we recognize it today) to bury him with his fathers in the cave at the end of the field bought from Ephron, Jacob finally breathes his last.
What do we do to ruin our inheritance? Are we like Reuben, Simeon, and Levi allowing our rash, unthinking, and angry natures to destroy our blessings? Is that even possible? Think on these things.
Also of note, there are some interesting names of God that appear in this text: Abir Yacob (Mighty One of Jacob), Ra-ah (Shepherd), Eben Yisrael (Stone of Israel), Shaddai (Almighty), and of course El (God).
Joseph is more than 37 years old at this point. He was sold into slavery at the age of 18. He has lived more of his life in Egypt than he ever did in Canaan. Now, for the first time in 19 or more years he comes face to face with his brothers. They sold him into slavery because of his dreams and their jealousy of him and their father’s love for him.
Now, here they are bowing on their faces before him. After more than 19 years, Joseph has the opportunity to exact his revenge. He could arrest them, imprison them, and sell them into slavery, or worse. He could mock them, laugh at them and let them starve to death. He could reveal himself and simply threaten their lives. So what does he do?
Joseph decides to test them. He wants to know if they are the same jealous, angry, bitter men that they were when he was a child. He wants to know if there is remorse or if there is humility and love. He wants to know if they care more about themselves, or if they care about their family. So he accuses them of being spies, questions them, and puts them for a short stay in prison. Then he tells them that in order to be released or to get more grain they need to bring their youngest brother Benjamin back to Egypt with them. Meanwhile, he took Simeon and held him until the other brothers returned with Benjamin.
The brothers return home and tell Jacob, their father, what happened in Egypt. Jacob is upset and as time goes by they begin to run out of grain again. The brothers know that they can’t return to Egypt empty handed, so Reuben takes responsibility for Benjamin placing Benjamin’s fate on his own sons heads.
Are there situations that occurred a lifetime ago that you are still bitter and angry about? Do you have anger and unforgiveness towards someone that did something to you, or have you forgiven and moved on. It’s not a question of whether there is someone who hurt you. I don’t think that there is a person over the age of 20 who does not have emotional scars from something someone said or did to them. The question is, what are you doing about it? Joseph tested his brothers to see if they were still angry and bitter towards him and his brother Benjamin, but at the same time, God was testing Joseph to see if he still held anger and hostility towards his brothers.
When (not if) you are tested, how will you respond? Have you allowed anger and bitterness to take root in your life. I know that this is something that i am struggling with, and that i am in the process of trying to deal with. What about you?
Well, it seems the slower i write, the better i write. Since i ran out of ink in my Pilot Varsitys (disposable fountain style pens) i have had to switch back to ball point. As a result, my writing speed has increased. It is easier to write with ballpoint. The fountain pen is rougher and scratchier, and thereby requires a slower more careful pace. Also, the ink is is lighter in the ballpoint due to the nature of the ink and pen. As a result, i have been writing faster and much sloppier, and it has really been effecting the work. So today, i purposefully started slowing down and writing more carefully. As a result my writing definitely has improved, but by the end of the chapter i can definitely tell that it is slipping again. I really need to get myself another set of Varsitys or other fountain style.
The reality of the human condition and situation becomes darker in the face of this chapter. Here we begin to see the relationships between the siblings. We find that Joseph (Rachael’s older son) is clearly favored by his father and hated by his siblings. He tells his siblings about dreams he had that they and his father would bow down to him, and they become even more bitter and angry.
When they get a chance, a group of his brothers decide to gang up on him and kill him, but Reuben wants to protect him. So Reuben sets up a rescue plan. Unfortunately, at the last minute the other brothers change their mind and decide that money is worth more than blood on their hands, so they sell him as a slave, foiling Reuben’s plans.
Meanwhile; they kill a goat, put the blood on Joseph’s coat, bring it to their father, and allow their father to think that Joseph was killed by wild beasts. Thus their father mourns for Joseph, refuses to be comforted, and almost goes to his own grave. The brothers go on with their lives as if nothing had happened.
So who are the beasts?