Sunday, September 20, 2009

15: Oh Brother

Genesis 43-45
Jacob changes his mind about sending his youngest son back to Egypt once the food runs out. Judah promises that he will bring his youngest son (Benjamin) back or he will take the blame for the rest of his life. Jacob tells them to bring double the silver (because they need to bring back the silver that Joseph gave back to them), and a bunch of other things from their land.

The brothers go back to Egypt and tell Joseph that they found silver in their bags on their way home (Joseph didn't tell them that it was him that gave their silver back). Joseph says "Don't be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver." I find it fascinating that when he doesn't want to tell them it was him that gave him the silver he says it was God. It's also interesting that these people are freely sinning (lying in this case) without condemnation.

This is just the beginning of Joseph's deception. He tells one of their servants to fill his brother's bags with all the silver they tried to pay him and put Joseph's silver cup in Benjamin's bag. The next day the brothers go on their way and Joseph sends a servant after them to accuse them of stealing Joseph's silver and silver cup. The brothers say that if the servant finds the cup in anyone's bag that that person will be killed and the rest of them will be Joseph's slaves. They all open their bags and of course the cup is in Benjamin's bag, so they all return to Egypt.

When they return to Joseph he says "Don't you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?". What a scam artist. He obviously didn't have to divine where to find the silver, he's the jerk that put it there. One has to wonder if Joseph "speaks to God" at all.

Joseph, being a "nice guy", says that only Benjamin has to be his slave and the rest of them can go home. Judah pleads to be his slave because he doesn't want to return home without Benjamin. Judah explains to Joseph how it would kill his (their) father if he didn't return with Benjamin. Now, I'm not even sure why Joseph wants one of his brothers as a slave, but Judah saying his father would die seems to make him not want Benjamin any more. Joseph is so upset that he reveals himself as their brother.

The brothers are scared shitless because they were the ones that sold him to Egypt. To comfort them Joseph says that he was sent to Egypt by God to help with the famine. No, he wasn't, his brothers did it because they were jerks. This seems like an argument I hear very often. Everything is "God's plan", but in the same breath I hear "we have free will". Sorry, you can't have this both ways. When Joseph's brothers sold him, they were either doing it under their own free will, or God was revoking their free will to serve his greater plan. So, today, when someone does something evil, I'm told it's because we have free will, but when someone does something awesome they always attribute it to God. So God revokes our free will to do nice things, but freely allows us to kill, rape, and destroy? This God doesn't seem very all powerful, or all wonderful.

The brothers are happy that Joseph is not going to kill and/or enslave them. Joseph tells them to bring their father down to Egypt and they can settle in the "fat of the land". Jews living in Egypt, what could go wrong?
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