The End of the Book of Genesis, once the tale of Jacob is concluded, is broken into the stories of the conduct of his sons. But one of these stands above his brothers, as he himself said he would, Joseph, then 10th son of Israel.
Joseph is probably my favorite of Israel's sons, with the exception of maybe Levi, but that is a story for another time. Joseph begins the story as a well-meaning, if spoiled young man. His father, Israel, loves and favors him more than his siblings, to no fault of his own. This is emphasized through his coat of many colors, which is a colorful garment that his father gives him. Such a garment is described as a robe, meaning it had long sleeves. And in those days, the only people who wore long sleeves were those who did not have to do manual labor. So this was no doubt quite insulting to his brothers.
But things get worse. Joseph has strange dreams, and when he explains these to his brothers, they become even more resentful of him. According to Joseph's dreams, he will be exalted over them. This thought germinates in their heads, leading them to plot against him. At first, they are going to kill him, but they decide that would be too much, even for a little punk like Joseph. So they sell him to some passing Midianites, and tear his goat, before staining it in lamb's blood.
Now while his brothers are faking his death, Joseph is carted off to Egypt to be sold. He ends up in the employ of Potiphar, a servant of Pharaoh. Now Joseph could have complained or whined, and he might be entitled to a little griping given his situation. But instead he does his best work and maintains good standing before God, and God blesses his master's house for his sake. This earns him great favor with Potiphar, who entrusts him with everything he owns.
Later, Joseph will be stripped of even his meagre authority and thrown in prison for years, but he will still maintain his good character and excellent work ethic, and for this, God will raise him up to rule over all of Egypt. And while I do not possess a fraction of Joseph's holiness or brilliance, I find him to be an excellent person to aspire to be like.
Friday, September 22, 2017
The Tale of Joseph
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