Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Sunday Sermonette: Count your blessings

Okay, the strange interlude is over and we get back to our pal Joseph in Chapter 39. This is a better yarn than most of what we've seen so far but in some ways it doesn't bear close scrutiny. Here goes.

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.
 Okay this is maybe not a big deal but here's Genesis 37:36: " And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard." As we noted before, the story keeps mixing up the Ishmaelites and the Midianites. Somehow there must have been two versions of the story and the scribe never sorted them out.

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
Keep in mind that Potiphar does not worship Joseph's God. Ancient Egyptian religion was polytheistic, as  just about everyone knows. Pharaoh was himself divine, and had the responsibility of interceding between the people and the deities, who represented various natural forces and entities.
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
Here again the NIV seems to clean things up. Most translations, including KJV and ASV, have "garment" rather than cloak, and the implication is that Joseph flees the house naked. Using the word "cloak" makes this seem more plausible.
13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
I will just note that Potiphar immediately presumes that his wife is telling the truth, and makes no effort to get Joseph's side of the story. But note the pattern, which will continue. God supposedly favors Joseph, and the way he shows it is by continually screwing him over and then elevating him within his screwed-over status. First God sends him dreams in which his brothers are subservient to him, so the brothers sell him into slavery. Then God makes him head slave. Then Joseph gets thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit. Then .. . Well, read on. But it seems to me that God could have gotten to the denouement by a more direct route.
But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

 So he goes from a cushy gig as a slave to a cushy gig as a prisoner. I dunno, if the Lord favored me, I'd hope for  a little better.

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