Category Archives: Bible Story

Running The Race As A Winner – Day Fourteen

Never cast off, I am pitied, protected, and chastened;
Sealed to the day of redemption, an heir to the promises
By my Father.

The Church is the true seed of faithful Abraham – Jew and non-Jew together; we are chosen by God, justified through faith, and delivered from sin. We, the children of faith, have acquired blamelessness through our confidence in the God of our salvation; and we are free from the law of sin and death. We are the family of a loving Father – the community of the resurrection. We are fit and formed together by the one who began and will finalize the vocation and development of the individual parts of the whole – the body of Christ – the Church.

This is the fourteenth day of our wonderful challenge of running the race as a winner. As ones who are running in the victory already won, we will look for God’s direction in all that touches us. We know the Father is with us all the way – supportive in difficulty, ready to come to our defense, listening to what we have to say; we look for his answer in his Word and know it is wisdom speaking. He accepts us as we are but quickens us to new awareness; challenging us to greater heights, he induces more understanding by stimulating superior insight. He shows us our position spiritually, which gives us increased self-esteem, bringing light to our darkness and moving us to walk closer to himself.

Prayer: Lord God, my Father, my Savior, my Friend; you my strength; your law is perfect, it restores my soul; your testimonies are sure, they turn my simple faith to wisdom; your precepts are right, they put joy in my heart; your commandment is pure, it brings understanding to my sight. I will continually search the Scriptures for a better understanding of your character and that will strengthen the bond between us.

From Slaves to Soldiers

Chapter 23

Balaam stood on the heights of Baal and ordered seven – the number of perfection or completion – altars to be built and seven rams and seven sheep prepared for offerings.

Balak had them prepared and sacrificed a bull and a ram on each altar[1]. Then Balaam told Balak to stand watch by the offering while he went by himself to see if Yahweh would meet with him. He condescended to tell Balak that he would report to him what Yahweh said. He went off by his self and began casting spells that he assumed would exert powerful influence over Yahweh.

Yahweh did meet with Balaam and Balaam bragged that he had built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each. Remember that the ancients were in the habit of bribing their gods with sacrifices.

Yahweh told him to return to Balak with a message from him so he returned and told Balak and all the nobles of Moab what Yahweh said.

Under the power of the Holy Spirit of Yahweh he said that Balak had sent all the way to Aram (present day Syria) in the eastern mountains to bring Balaam back to Moab and curse Israel. He asked Balak and his nobles how he could curse a nation that God had not cursed or damn Israel when Yahweh did not damn them. He said he saw them from the heights where Balak led him. He saw that they would always be preserved as a distinct nation, thinking of themselves outsiders among the nations. He said there were so many of them that trying to count them would be like trying to count particles of dust. He concluded his speech about Yahweh’s chosen people by saying that they were a righteous people and he would be honored if he should leave life with the future Israel had. “Let me die the death of innocent people. Let my end be like theirs.”[2]

Balak was upset and chastised Balaam for blessing Israel instead of cursing them but Balaam reminded him that he had been careful to warn him that he had to speak the words Yahweh put in his mouth to speak.

Balak thought maybe if Balaam could only see the outskirts of the Israelite’s camp it would give him courage to curse them for him, so he took him to Watchmen’s Meadow at the top of Mount Pisgah and built seven altars there. He burned a ram and bull on each one.

Balaam told him to take up his station and he would meet with Yahweh by his self again. He cast more magic spells that would surely influence Yahweh’s decision, and again Yahweh sent him back to Balak with a message.

Balaam returned and told Balak and the Moabite noblemen that Yahweh said for Balak to stand up and listen carefully. He called him the son of the bird and may have been referring to the magical metal bird that the Kabalah says he carried on his shoulder and trusted in for prophesy and spiritual guidance. Yahweh told Balak, through the mouth of Balaam, that he is not a man given to lies or changing his mind. He told Balak that he said what he meant and did what he said he would do – and never made promises that he didn’t keep. He would keep his promises to his chosen people. Then Balaam told Balak that he was brought to Balak to bless Yahweh’s people – Yahweh blessed them and Balaam couldn’t change it. He further told Balak that Yahweh had no vision of misfortune or trouble for his chosen people. Balaam told Balak and his people that Yahweh was with Israel and they were with him, shouting praises to their King who brought them out of Egypt. Balaam said, “No magic spells can bind Jacob, and no incantations can hold back Israel. People will look at Jacob and Israel and say, “What a great thing has God done!” Look, a people raising to its feet, stretching like a lion, like a king-of-the-beasts, aroused, not sleeping, and not resting until its hunt is over and it’s eaten and drunk its fill.”

Balak implored Balaam to shut up. He said, “If you can’t curse them, at least don’t bless them.”

Balaam reminded Balak that he had told him earlier that all God spoke and only what he spoke Balaam would speak.

Balak tried again. Perhaps he could change Yahweh’s mind with more sacrifices from a different vantage point. He took Balaam to the top of Mount Peor where he would be looking at Israel over the wasteland to see if he could curse Yahweh’s chosen people from there.

They repeated the exercise with the seven altars and seven rams and bulls on that mountain

Balaam had been trying to get Yahweh to change his mind by using sorcery the same way that people today use what they call prayers that are supposed to influence God. People today use prayers in the same way Balaam used magic spells. They pass them around on Facebook, or in churches, with the promise that if the recipient will just say these words it will bring them good luck – happiness, money and power, or even dispel old curses. Well-meaning preachers of the gospel promise that if the hearer will repeat a prayer after them they will be saved. Yahweh reads our hearts and he knew Balaam’s heart was full of greed but he used him to declare his blessing on his chosen people in the presence of Israel’s enemies.

 

Summary of chapter 23

When they arrived at the high places of Baal Balaam ordered Balak to build seven altars and prepare oxen and rams for sacrifice. Balaam inquired of Yahweh, received an answer which he returned and repeated to Balak. When Balak, found that this was a prediction of the prosperity of the Israelites, he was greatly troubled. Balaam excused himself and Balak took him to another place, where he could only see a part of Israel, and repeated his sacrifices. Balaam again consulted Yahweh and returned with his answer, and again predicted the glory of Israel. Balak was angry and Balaam again excused himself. Balak proposed another trial and took him to another place where he repeated the same sacrifices.

 

Prayer: Lord, when your Kingdome comes your purpose will be achieved on Earth just as it is in Heaven. Secret things belong to you, but you have revealed to us that righteousness, joy, and peace in your Holy Spirit are the substance of your Kingdom. I will harmonize my actions and words to your will not merely out of duty but because I want to serve you with all my heart – because I am delighted to follow your commandments. Lord, I pray in agreement with Mark and Jill Herringshaw. Your word in Isaiah 55:9, says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” In response to your word I say, “I thank you for being above me and knowing what is best for me.” In this life, we are all searching for our purpose and asking for your will to be done. Nevertheless, let us not be blindsided and naive to think that as we ask, so we are ready for it to be revealed and respond accordingly. I pray for your family that as each of us comes to a point in our lives where we dare to ask you to reveal your will for us, that you would put us in a place of acceptance of what you reveal to us. I admit that, for myself, it may not be what I want, but it will surely be what I need in order to live a life fully invested in you. When fear attempts to consume me, be the destroyer of the fear by your perfect love for I know it casts out all fear. When you see that I am tempted to turn back and ignore your will, chasten my spirit and help me to see that you only want the best for me. Help me to realize that anything you bring into my life and anything you reveal to me is for my good. Give me a spirit of acceptance and a heart open to your move in my life. Most of all Lord, don’t let me ever get so caught up in seeking you out for a revelation that I forget to seek you, for you. Help me to always desire to be with you above all things. I seek your kingdom first and let everything else be added after that. I will let your love surround me and, by your word, cast out any fear or doubts. Help me to live in love with you, accept your will for my life and give me the proper response to your revelation.[3]

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Balaam cast spells that he thought would influence Yahweh’s decision. Do you think there is ever a time when our prayers can sway Yahweh’s decisions? What is it about Yahweh’s character that influenced your answer?
  2. The greatest mistake Balak and Balaam made, in their efforts to get power over Israel, was that they got Yahweh’s character confused with their man-made gods. Can you think of incidents in your life today where you or others have done the same thing?
  3. Balaam told Balak that Israel would always be a distinct nation and consider their selves a people apart. Did history validate that statement?
  4. Yeshua/Jesus taught his followers that our Heavenly Father delights to give us what we ask for[4]. Another time he told them that if they asked anything in his name[5] he will do it. Do you think asking “in Jesus name” will get you anything you want? Would Yahweh have changed his mind and let Balaam curse his chosen people if he had been able to “pray in Jesus name”? Eugene Peterson wording of what Yeshua said makes it plain that “in “Jesus name” aren’t magic words that will get us what we want without regard to Yahweh’s will. He said, “From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it.” Think about that.
  5. Why did Yahweh bless his chosen people? For what did he choose them? Are you and I chosen people?[6] What is the difference between us today, and the nation of Israel in those days?
  6. Why do you think Balak thought that if he took Balaam to another vantage point that he would be able to curse Yahweh’s people? Why do you think Balaam went with him? Was his purpose in going different from Yahweh’s purpose in his going?
  7. Do you think that Balak really listened to what Yahweh was saying to him through the speech of Balaam? Do you think that he realized that Yahweh was the God of the universe – its creator and sustainer? Do we always remember that we are talking to the Supreme Being when we pray to Yahweh? How would it change our prayers if we did? Would we have more peace?[7]

 

[1] Blessing and cursing in this way were thought of as religious rites, and therefore must be always heralded by sacrifice.

[2] He wished that when he came to die he might be as sure as they were that Yahweh would bless and multiply their seed, and make their name to be glorious in the earth.

[3]http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/prayerplainandsimple/2010/03/prayer-for-accepting-gods-will.html

[4] Matthew 7:9: Luke 11:8-13

[5] John 14:13

[6] John 15:16

[7] Philippians 4:4-7

Displaying Holiness Conversation on the book of Leviticus

Chapter 2

David J. Zucker, an American Rabbi, who has provided America and Britain with a life of service to congregations and is a chaplain, quotes Judith Romney Wegner as saying, “A paramount concern for the preservation of cosmic harmony in nature and society, led Israelite priests to make rules…” We know that Yahweh made these rules and passed them to the priests through Moses by the power of his Spirit. As a part of that cosmic harmony it was a good thing to follow the Whole Burnt Offering – the Olah -with an offering of the best part of the grain – the semolina – anointed with olive oil and frankincense – the Minchah. These gifts were required as a sign of submission to Israels King, Yahweh. The donor was to bring the offering to the priests and one of them would take a handful and burn it as an agreeable aroma to Yahweh. The part that remained was to be for Aaron and his sons. Oil and frankincense were associated with celebration and gladness. Today some Christians – Yahweh’s people – assemble for worship and raise their arms in submission to Yahweh. Others gather in community and follow well established rituals with candles, etc. that symbolize devotion to Yahweh.

Ligonier ministries says, “Minchah, the Hebrew term for the grain offering, is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to refer to the tribute that was offered to a great king as a sign of thanksgiving for his goodness to his subjects (Judg. 3:15). In essence, the grain offering served the same purpose. When ancient Israelites offered up their grain on the altar, they were thanking the Lord for His mercies and for supplying their needs. … Offering such things symbolized the need to dedicate every aspect of their daily lives to the Creator, including the labor by which they coaxed the grain from the ground.”[1]

The grain could be baked in an oven – challah, or rakik – , cooked on a grill, or fried in a pan but no matter how it was cooked it was to be made without leaven or sweetener because leaven represents decay, and sweeteners accelerate the process. Everything – all of the sacrifices were to be seasoned with salt – the salt of the covenant. This referred to a binding obligation to Yahweh. Salt was used, long before Moses came on the scene, as a symbol of permanence, loyalty, durability, fidelity, usefulness, value, and purification. Salt was used in treaties to seal a bond of friendship forever. Yahweh chose to employ this ancient custom to teach his people, Israel, because it was already familiar to them. He used salt to help his people understand the binding nature of his covenants with them.

Yahweh’s instructions were that yeast and sweeteners couldn’t be used in the burnt offerings. The priests were to eat their portion in the Tent of Meeting, dinning in Yahweh’s presence. It was a Kodesh Kodashim – a most holy portion. It was holy by association because the small portion that was burned was holy.

Leaven and sweeteners could not be used in the firstfruits offerings when, rather than the grain being stripped of its semolina, and then ground into flour and made into a dough, the grains were simply fire-roasted. The roasted whole grains then had olive oil and Frankincense poured on them and they were presented to the priest who took a small amount and threw it onto the altar fire. This was usually not done along with the Olah – an offering that made the donor acceptable to Yahweh. The grain offering maintained peace with him. Torah class says, “Once this is accomplished, and the worshipper is put into good standing with Yahweh, then the grain offering is accomplished and it expresses thankfulness for God’s provision, at the same time acknowledging the worshipper’s dedication to Yahweh. … [Now] let me point out something here that I think might be worthwhile to our understanding of sin, forgiveness and atonement in general, and the concept of forgiveness of sins by means of Yeshua’s sacrificial death on the Cross. When Messiah died, first and foremost, His sacrifice accomplished in a much more grand and complete manner the purpose of the ‘Olah and Minchah. His death, and our faith in Him, made us acceptable to God. His death allows us to approach Yahweh. And, we will remain acceptable to Yahweh regardless of our behavior … But, our behavior does matter. Yahweh is watching our behavior. Obedience does matter … [Humans have] the capacity (we call it “our will”) to sin but an occasion to exercise that will in disobedience did not arrive until [Yahweh] commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Hebrew sages characterize this nature to do wrong as the Yetzer Ha’rah……our evil inclination that lives side-by-side with our good inclination. But, many people with sinful natures do an awfully good job of not sinning outwardly…..they guard their behavior carefully. Not perfect, but pretty … good. … This is why Christ tells us in the Lord’s prayer to ask forgiveness for our trespasses…..our poor behavior…..our disobediences to God’s commands…….not for forgiveness for our corrupted nature. Because the Lord’s Prayer is a prayer only for the believer who already has a new and clean nature, an acceptable nature, thanks to the finished work of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit. … The example, shadow and type of that particular aspect of God’s justice system is given to us right here, in the first 2 chapters of Leviticus. [2]

Summary of chapter 2

The grain offering was a gift of homage, which recognized the superiority of him to whom it was offered, and ceremonially promised loyal obedience made by a created inferior to the superior Creator. It was in recognition of Yahweh’s bountiful provision and an expression of dedication, praise, and thanksgiving to Yahweh. Therefore, Yahweh gave instructions about how and where it was to be given. Oil, the symbol of Yahweh’s spirit, was to be used. Frankincense was also used and when burnt it released a fragrant odor – an emblem of prayer. They were to use the best part of the grain because it is always important to give the best to Yahweh – he who gave his best for us. “If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?”[3] What was left of the handful that went to the fire was for the priests to be eaten in Yahweh’s presence, in fellowship with their God. The offering could be prepared in different ways, but always without leaven or sweetener because they pictured corruption. They were told to always use salt as a remembrance of the perpetual duration of Yahweh’s contract with his people.

Prayer: Lord, you did not just create us and leave us up to our own devices. You are actively involved in the world and care what we do. Therefore, you did not just give us passive rights, but active responsibilities and duties. You are all strength for your people – you make your people strong and give us peace. When I cry out to you for help you change wild lament into whirling dance; you rip off my black mourning band and deck me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. Yahweh, my God, I can’t thank you enough. The Israelites brought you grain offerings as a symbol of their submission and devotion. I will remember that you said “you did it to me ….” so when someone is hungry and and I feed them, I will be feeding you. When someone is thirsty and I give them a drink, I will be giving to you. When someone is homeless and and I give them a room, I will be giving to you. When someone is shivering and I give them clothes, I will be giving to you. When someone is sick and I stop to visit, I will be doing it to and for you. When someone is in chains and I go to them with your love in my heart, I am giving to you. That will be my thanksgiving offering of submission and devotion.

 

 

Things to think about

  1. Why do you think Yahweh made rules about the grain offerings?
  2. What do the guidelines for the grain offerings have to do with the preservation of cosmic harmony in nature and society?
  3. Why do you think oil and frankincense was supposed to be used on the grain but leaven and sweetener was not allowed?
  4. What did the directives about the grain offerings tell Yahweh’s people about their God?
  5. Why was salt important? What is the meaning of the salt of the covenant?
  6. What was the difference between the grain offerings that was made after the Whole Burnt Offering of an animal and the first fruits offering?
  7. What commonality do you see between the “Lord’s prayer” and the grain offering?

 

 

[1] http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/grain-offering/

[2] http://www.torahclass.com/old-testament-studies/36-old-testament-studies-leviticus/156-lesson-4-chapter

[3] Romans 8:32

Displaying Holiness – a conversation of Leviticus

Chapter 1

Yahweh called Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting. Remember “Moses used to take the Tent and set it up outside the camp, some distance away. He called it the Tent of Meeting. Anyone who sought [Yahweh] would go to the Tent of Meeting outside the camp.”[1] Yahweh gave Moses instructions about how he wanted his people to do what they had been doing all along[2]. “Holman Bible Dictionary says,” Sacrifice in … Israel was not unique among the nations of the Ancient Near East in their use of sacrifices and offerings as a means of religious expression. Some type of sacrificial system characterized the many religious methodologies that the nations employed in their attempts to honor their gods. The presence of sacrifices and offerings in Israel, therefore, was a reflection of the larger culture of which this nation was a part.”[3] Biblical Training says, “The establishment of the covenant between Israel and the Lord [Yahweh] was accompanied by solemn sacrifices. The foundation principle of this covenant was obedience, not sacrifices[4]. Sacrifices were incidental—aids to obedience, but valueless without it.”[5] Yahweh used a practice common to the entire human race to teach his chosen people. The Passover feast was a reminder that Yahweh brought his people out of bondage in Egypt, but it was also a picture of things to come. Yeshua’s cousin, John, called Yeshua Yahweh’s Passover lamb[6] – a message through the ages that would prepare his people for Yeshua ha Mashiach.

The burnt offering expressed dedication because it was wholly burned. It had to be a flawless male because that would have been a prized possession. The condition of the bull would determine the condition of the herd or flock. The sacrifice was a substitute for the one offering it and meant that he was offering his total self to Yahweh. The blood of the covenant also had to be from a perfect male because it was a pattern of [7]the blood that Yeshua presented to the holy of holies before Yahweh in “heavenly places.[8]

The Tent of the Meeting was where Yahweh met with his people so that is where the Whole Burnt Offering was to be presented and slaughtered, with the hands of the one offering it on the head of the animal to relate the sacrifice as his substitute. The animal victim involuntarily gave its life to make expiation for the donor. The priests were to splash the blood of the atonement against all the sides of the altar – the place where divine and human worlds interacted – that stood at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Spurgeon says, “It was God’s intent to awaken in man a great disgust of sin, by making him see that it could only be put away by suffering and death. In the Tabernacle in the wilderness almost everything was sanctified by blood…. the troubled conscience would read lessons of peace and pardon.”[9] None of the blood was to be burned. One of the functions of salt was to absorb the blood.

If the Whole-Burnt-Offering came from the flock, whether sheep or goat, it was to be slaughtered – “על ירך המזבח צפנה, “at the north side of the altar.” The Tent opened to the east, the wash basin was on the west, and the ascent to the altar was to the south. Thus the north was the logical place for this activity. North suggests that the north side of the altar may have been the place for the smaller animals; the larger ones would have been prepared in front of the altar. The identification of the specific place [agrees] with 4:24, 29, and 33 which say that the purification offering (חטאת) is to be slaughtered where the whole offering is slaughtered. The remainder of the ritual is essentially the same as for the offering of cattle. (WBC)”[10]

David Guzik says, “He shall bring his offering of turtledoves or young pigeons: God would not accept any kind of bird, but He would accept turtledoves or young pigeons as sacrifices. The fact that God would accept a bull, a goat, a sheep, or a bird shows that God was more interested in the heart than in the actual animal being offered. If the sacrifice was made with the right heart, God accepted the poor man’s bird as much as the rich man’s bull. At the same time, the sacrifice had to correspond with what one could afford. It was wrong for a rich man to only offer a bird as a burnt offering. Therefore, when God made His offering for sin, He gave the richest, most costly thing He could – Himself.”[11]

In their wild state doves normally build their nests in the clefts of rocks, but when they are domesticated dove-cots are prepared for them. The dove was placed on the standards of the Assyrians and Babylonians in honor. Doves and turtle-doves were were clean and the only birds that could be offered in sacrifice. The dove was the omen of peace to Noah and is often mentioned as the emblem of purity, as in Psalms 68:13. It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and of tender and devoted affection.

The priest was to bring the dove or pigeon to the altar, wring off its head, and burn it on the altar after draining the blood on the side of the altar, and removing the gizzard and its contents that he threw on the east side of the altar where the ashes are piled. Then he was told to rip it open by its wings but leave it in one piece and burn it on the altar on the wood prepared for the fire. It would be a pleasing fragrance to Yahweh because it was the best the supplier had to give as his substitute to pay for his sins. The donor would be sacrificing the symbol of love, faithfulness, and self-sacrifice. The dove enjoys living near humans and humans enjoy having them around; so the presentation of a dove to Yahweh wasn’t an easy-out any more than giving up an animal that had the capacity to make its owner rich was.

Summary of chapter 1

Yahweh gave instructions for everything associated with the nature and quality of burnt offerings, and the ceremonies accompanying them, the person who brought the sacrifice and the priest who offered it that would bring the people of Israel into fellowship with him. His instructions also included the place where the sacrifice was to be made because, as Rev. John Schultz[12] says, it is important that humans play by Yahweh’s rules.

Prayer: Lord, I know that the old plan was only a hint of the good things in the new plan. Since that old “law plan” wasn’t complete in itself, it couldn’t complete those who followed it. No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution. If they had, the worshipers would have gone merrily on their way, no longer dragged down by their sins. Repeating the animals sacrifices year after year heightened awareness of sin and guilt because bull and goat blood can’t get rid of sin. That is what is meant by this prophecy; put in the mouth of Yeshua ha Mashiach when he said, “You don’t want sacrifices and offerings,” referring to practices according to the old plan. He said, “I’m here to do it your way,” and set aside the first in order to enact the new plan—your way—the way we are made fit for you by the once-for-all sacrifice of Yeshua ha Mashiach. The priest went to work at the altar each day, offered the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never made a dent in the sin problem. As a priest, Mashiach made a single perfect sacrifice for sins and he sat down right beside you where he waits for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process. Your Holy Spirit confirmed this when you said, “This new plan I’m making with Israel isn’t going to be written on paper, isn’t going to be chiseled in stone; this time I’m writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts. I’ll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.” Once sins are taken care of for good, there’s no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them. So I can now come to you in the “the Holy Place.” without hesitation, full of belief, confident that I am presentable inside and out. Yeshua has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as my priest before you. The “curtain” into your presence is his body. I will keep a firm grip on the promises that keep me going. You will always keep your word.

Things to think about

  1. Did Yahweh initiate animal sacrifice?
  2. Do you think the Israelites were trying to feed Yahweh as other people did with their gods?
  3. Why do you think Yahweh made rules for sacrifices and offerings?
  4. What is the connection between the burnt offering and dedication to Yahweh?
  5. Why do you think Yahweh prescribed a place and method for the sacrifices?
  6. Why should the donor put his hands on the sacrificial animal as it was being slaughtered?
  7. How do these practices relate to our identification with Yeshua ha Mashiach?

 

 

[1] Exodus 33:7

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altar_(Bible)

[3] http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/sacrifice-and-offering.html

[4] Exodus 19:4-8

[5] https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/sacrifice-and-offerings

[6] John 1:29-34

[7] Hebrews 9:23-26

[8] Ephesians 2:6

[9] “The Sprinkling of the Blood of the Sacrifice”, A Sermon Delivered by C. H. Spurgeon, May 11, 1884 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle Newington, London

[10] Enoch http://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/21119/why-must-animals-from-the-flock-be-slaughtered-on-the-north-side

[11] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/guz/leviticus-1.html

[12] http://www.bible-commentaries.com/source/johnschultz/leviticus/1.html

Book of beginnings

 

Preface

Genesis is not a science book, nor is it a history book.49 It is an introduction to who Yahweh is.

As we study the book of Genesis we will not impose any modern issues on the text. We will be studying from the point of view of the ones it was first written to and from; therefore, we will have to have some understanding of how the ancients saw their world and where the information for the book came from. We know that Moses wrote it, but where did Moses get his information?

Moses was an educated man. He would have had the writings from the entire known world to study and compare. It is possible that he had access to records brought to Egypt by his ancestors. Perhaps Abraham brought them from Ur. Or, God could have dictated them to Moses. That; however, will not be our focus as we study this book of beginnings.

In the beginning Yahweh created the heavens and the earth and the Word – that Word that later became flesh and dwelt among us – was with Yahweh – and he was Yahweh. Yahweh is the third person of the verb heyah “To Be”. Whether in the first or third person the word expresses our God as THE (one and only) Self-existent One responsible for all existence including his own –the great I AM.

“All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made.”1


Things to think about.

  1. God’s name, Yahweh, is transliterated Jehovah in the King James Bible. It is how I AM is translated in two different ways. Do you think the way God’s name is spelled makes a difference in who he is? Remember Yahweh is the third person of the verb heyah “To Be”. Whether in the first or third person the word expresses our God as THE (one and only) Self-existent One responsible for all existence including his own –the great I AM.
  2. Do you think the first people who read the book of Genesis were interested in scientific theories about how everything started?
  3. Do you think it mattered to Moses’ early readers where he got his information about the beginning?
  4. Why should we care that the things we are told have reliable sources?
  5. How do you think the people who first read the book of Genesis knew that they could trust what Moses was telling them?
  6. Where does faith come into what we believe about Genesis?
  7. John said that in the beginning Yahweh created the heavens and the earth and the Word – that Word that later became flesh and dwelt among us – was with Yahweh – and he was Yahweh.
    “All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made.” Think about that.

Consummation – Joseph

Consummation
Chapter Nine
Back in the land of promise Jacob was hungry too. The famine had taken its toll and left Joseph’s family with the money in their pockets but no bread on the table. His brothers listened to their children cry for food and their wives complain until they couldn’t stand it anymore and went to their father to complain. There they stood looking around at each other and shaking their heads over the problem, telling each other they just didn’t know what they were going to do about the situation.
“What good are you doing standing around looking at each other for a solution?” Jacob asked. “Egypt has food. There is your answer. Go to Egypt immediately and buy us food before we all starve.”
“That certainly seems to be a viable hypothesis,” his eldest son said. “All eleven of us shall go together to buy food from the store houses in Egypt that we have heard so much about.”
Jacob’s old wrinkled skin turned white on his face and his eyes grew dark in their wide round sockets. “No, no. Benjamin shall not go with you. Ten is enough to bring back the food. Benjamin shall stay here with me where I’ll know he’s safe and no evil will befall him.”
“What could possibly happen to him while he is gone with us to buy food?” Simeon’s voice rose with each word.
“Hush,” Levi admonished in an undertone to his brother. “The ten of us can go alone just as well as not; and there is no reason to get our father upset over Benjamin.”
Benjamin held his breath and let it out slowly. His forehead was creased with lines. “Of course not. I just lost my temper for a minute there.” Turning to his father, he said, “Yes, you’re right, of course. The ten of us will get started right away, won’t we, men?”
The brothers didn’t squander anymore time talking and were soon on the road to Egypt. It was mighty hot traveling long before they reached the desert. The land was parched and dry and the riverbeds offered no refreshment to the thirsty donkeys. The water they carried with them had to be used sparingly until they reached the Great Sea and even then it was low. By the time they reached their destination even those hardy shepherds were hot and tired and more than a little glad to have that part of the round trip over with.
As quickly as possible they made themselves as presentable as they were able to after their long journey and requested an audience with the prime minister, having been told it was he who was in charge of the food. Permission was granted with condescension and the ten of them went before the presence of the great man and bowed low to him, almost kissing his feet.
Joseph recognized them immediately but had no intention of revealing himself to them too soon. His Egyptian finery, his shaven face, and the office he held would keep them from identifying him. He even used an interpreter to talk with them, demanding to know who they were and where they came from.
Reuben spoke for the family and explained quite respectfully that they came from the land of Canaan to buy food for their families.
The brothers watched with growing apprehension as the interpreter talked to the important gentleman and the creases in great man’s forehead deepened while his eyes narrowed. He shook his head from side to side and his voice sounded like a low growl to his brothers as he answered. As he talked he drew himself up to an even more impressive height. The brothers began to sweat.
The interpreter swung toward the sons of Jacob and snapped, “You are spies! You have come sneaking around to find out where we are vulnerable.”
“No, no, I assure you that we are not spies,” Reuben said. “We are simply the sons of our father. There are twelve of us, but one had to stay with our father and the other is gone. We are all the sons of one man, honestly, and we simply came to buy food for our starving families.”
The servant turned back and spoke to the prime minister again while the ten brothers waited breathlessly, but the minister’s face only hardened and the words that sprang from his lips were plain to the brothers even before the interpreter spoke.
“No, you are not to be believed. You are surely spies. You insult the prime minister when you expect him to believe your foolish story.”
“Oh.” The word came out of Reuben’s mouth with a slow breath, but before he could answer the great man was speaking and he shut his own mouth deferentially and waited.
The servant whirled back toward the brothers when his master was finished speaking and said briskly, “You shall be tested. You say you have another brother at home? Well, we shall see if you are brothers at all now. Send for your youngest brother. One of you only shall go back to where you say you come from and bring your brother back here while the remainder of you shall be kept in prison. But for now you shall be tested more before that one is allowed to go. If you are not deceitful it will be seen after you have spent some time in prison. Guards! Guards! Away with these men! It is surely necessary to the life of our great Pharaoh to test their honesty.”
The next three days the brothers had a chance to wonder how much young Joseph had suffered in that hole so long ago. They saw over and over again in their own chains the manacles they had caused to shackle their little brother’s legs. Then they thought of the long journey from home through the desert and saw the bloody sores that must have been the result of those restraints rubbing lesions as he stumbled along in the heat.
They sighed with relief and trembled with fear when, three days later, they were brought from the prison into the great prime minister’s presence again.
Very sternly, and oh so far above them, the man began to speak in a clear grave voice. When he finished an interpreter turned to the brothers and repeated his words in Hebrew.
“Because I fear God you shall live if you do as I say. One of you only shall stay in prison and the rest of you shall go to your home with the food for your family. Then you will come back with your younger brother to prove your story is true; and then you shall all go free and no one will die.”
“This is because we ignored Joseph when he pled with us for his life,” one of the brothers said.
“Yes,” another agreed. “We saw the agony of his soul and refused to listen. Now we are being punished for our sin.”
“Didn’t I tell you” Reuben said, “not to sin against the poor boy? But would you listen? No! And now just look at the mess we’re in. We’re just going to have to pay for our sin, that’s all.”
Joseph had to leave for a few minutes then. The brothers had been speaking freely, assuming he couldn’t understand them. Joseph’s heart was touched by his brother’s imperfect repentance and he turned aside to weep by himself; but he still couldn’t trust his brothers and he had a deep need to see his father and younger brother.
“Where did he go?” Levi asked just as he returned with another prison guard who immediately put Simeon back in chains and led him away.
And while his brother were hastily preparing themselves for the journey home Joseph was giving orders for the food they ordered to be loaded on the donkeys. “Put the money they paid for the food back in their sacks,” he ordered, “and make sure they have plenty of food and water for the trip back home.”
The sons of Jacob didn’t talk much as they left the city and started on their way home. They had much to think about. But that night when they stopped at an inn for the night one of them opened his sack to fed his donkey and found his money that should have paid for his share of the food.
He turned to his brothers and howled, “This is awful! My money is back in my sack. It will seem that I am a thief. Now what shall I do?”
“We must get home as quickly as possible,” they decided, “before it is discovered and the Egyptians catch up and put you in prison too.”
But they whispered to each other fearfully as they traveled, “What is God doing to us? Are we finally going to be punished for the evil we did to our little brother?”
Explaining the absence of Simeon wasn’t something those evil men looked forward to either, or the demand by the ruler of Egypt for their return with Benjamin. It was beginning to look like they were going to get returned to them, full measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over the misery they had wished on their innocent little brother.
When they got home and unpacked, things seemed even worse, for their money was all still with them. They were all a bunch of no-good thieves, and they hadn’t intended to be at all. Was this their sin making itself manifest in their lives even against their volition? Could it be that sin had frozen itself into their beings and they couldn’t rid themselves of it now? There was only one thing to do: take the money and Benjamin, go back to Egypt, and try to make the lord of the land believe them. Could men who had lived a lie for over thirty years make themselves credible enough to be believed? Their father thought not.
“You shall not take my son Benjamin away from me too,” he insisted in pitiful anger. I have already lost two of my sons and you propose to take my Benjamin who has already been deprived of all the rest of his family except me. No, you won’t! I couldn’t bear to lose him too.”
But his own and the hunger of his family made the stipulation about taking Benjamin to Egypt vague in Jacob’s mind and he ordered his sons to return and buy more when their food ran out.
“We cannot go back without Benjamin,” Reuben said. “I promise you I will bring him back again if you put him in my care. I promise you on the life of my own sons that I will keep him safe – but we cannot go back without him.”
“Why did you tell him in the first place that you had another brother?” The Father’s question had tears in it. “How could you do this awful thing to me, to put my son in danger?”
“The man made a point of asking us about our family. He even asked if our father was still alive and if we had another brother,” Dan said. “How could we do anything else besides answer him honestly, especially when he was accusing us of being spies?”
“Yes,” Naphtali agreed, “how could we possibly know he would demand we bring our brother to Egypt?”
“Listen, Father,” Judah said. “Send him in my care and we will go and bring back food, and I promise you that I personally will make sure no harm comes to him. If we don’t go, we all die of starvation. Let me take full responsibility forever if I don’t bring him back to you safely with the food from Egypt. Think about it, if you had not held us back before we would have already been back with more food and Simeon and Benjamin too.”
Jacob caught his breath, let it out, and rubbed a tear from his eye. “If it must be so, then go, but take some of the best fruits from here for a peace offering. Tale some balm and honey too; and I think he would like a nice supply of spices and myrrh. They probably don’t get many pistachio nuts or almonds either; better take along a goodly portion of those. Make it all up into an attractive gift for the man; and take double your money. Perhaps the money was just and oversight and he will be glad to forgive it.”
Jacob’s eyes filled with tears again and he sobbed, “May God Almighty give you mercy before the lord of the land that you may bring me back my sons.” Then he stood tall and threw his shoulders back. “And if I am bereaved, I am bereaved!” And the old man turned his back on his sons and walked away toward the south; but his shoulders were still back and his back was straight.
His sons got their gift together and made haste back to Egypt.
And as Joseph saw the prodigals off in the distance, he said to his servants, “Kill the fatted calf.” He told his stewards to bring the men to his own house and make a feast ready for them to dine with him at noon.
That was quite a remarkable thing for the ruler of all Egypt, only inferior to the Pharaoh in regards to the throne, to invite a bunch of scruffy nomads into his house. The servants were rather astonished themselves but of course they wouldn’t show it by as much as a turn of their heads.
The act brought much more than astonishment to that bunch of scruffy nomads from Canaan – it brought fear. What now? Are they going to make us slaves and have our donkeys taken away from us, they asked themselves.
The sons of “Israel almost fell over themselves trying to explain to the houses steward how it came about that they still had the money from their first trip to Egypt. They quickly showed him the money that should have stayed in Egypt the first time and the equal to it they brought for the second supply of grain.
The steward surprised them by saying he had the money they brought the first time, so it must have been their god who put the money in their sacks. While they were trying to assimilate that news he brought Simeon out to meet them. Then he ushered them all back into the house and gave orders to have their feet washed and their donkeys fed – treating them just like honored guests.
“What’s going on?” Dan whispered.
“We are to have our noon meal her in the lord of the land’s house. Can you believe it?” Simeon said. “He seems to be a very decent man and he is going to keep his word. Did you have a lot of trouble getting Father to let you bring Benjamin?”
“If he is to be here at noon,” Judah said, “we’d better get our gift ready and make it and ourselves as attractive as possible.”
“I certainly hope he appreciated the trouble we have gone to,” Asher said. These donkeys are loaded down with gifts from Father sent to appease his lordship. Here, Benjamin, look lively there and get that donkey unloaded.”
“Oh, let the boy alone,” Judah said. “He is doing the best he can/ Here, Benjamin, I’ll take that. It’s much too heavy for you and I can just as well tale it.”
Levi laughed. “What’s the matter, Judah? He asked, with a sneer. “Are you afraid Father’s pet will break his nails?”
“I have enough sin to my account,” Judah said sternly. “I certainly don’t need anymore. I made our Father a promise and I intend to keep it. We certainly have enough problems without asking for more. Here, take this bundle and set it under that tree in the shade. Benjamin can work with them there while we unload the rest.”
Joseph, when he came at noon, accepted the gifts graciously as they bowed low before him, asking them how they were and how their journey had gone. “And how is your father, the old man you told me about?” he asked. “Is he still alive and healthy?”
When the interpreter relayed this to his brothers, Judah raised himself from the ground long enough to assure him that their father, his servant, was in good health and still very much alive; then he prostrated himself to the ground again.
Joseph saw Benjamin and asked if her were the brother thy told him about. As they assured him this was indeed the little brother, Joseph looked into the face of his mother’s son and yearned to throw his arms around him. But it wasn’t time yet, so he turned his back on his brothers and sought privacy to weep in his own chamber. He took comfort in knowing his God understood what he was going through and his Asenath was trying to understand.
Joseph couldn’t indulge in tears very long, and soon washed his face and returned to his guests, giving orders for the meal to be served immediately. Joseph wouldn’t eat with them, of course. They were far below him, both in the fact that they were Hebrews and Egyptians considered it an abomination to eat with a lowly Hebrew shepherd, and in rank. So the other Egyptians ate by themselves, Joseph ate by himself, and his brothers ate by themselves.
The thing that surprised the brothers is that they were seated according to their ages as though he knew their exact birth order; which of course he did, but the brothers had no way of knowing that. Then he did something even stranger – he gave Benjamin five times as much food as any of the rest of them got.
Now, in the past, they probably would have been very jealous of Benjamin and gotten angry; but they had learned a little in the years since their cruelty to Joseph and they were just happy to be eating at his lordship’s table instead of rotting in prison. Who cared if Benjamin had more than the rest. They all had plenty to eat and drink, so why begrudge their little brother more? They ate and drank and were merry with him instead. Joseph was impressed. He wanted to throw his arms around his brothers right then and there, but they had one more test to pass, so he held his peace.
Joseph commanded his steward to fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they could hold, and then put their money back into the mouth of each sack. “Also put my silver cup into the mouth of the younger man’s sack when you put his grain money in,” he said.
His servant did as he was bid and bright and early the next morning the sons of Jacob said their farewells, took their donkeys, and left the city.
Joseph gave them time enough so he was sure they had left the city, and then he told his steward to go after them. “And when you catch up with them,” he said, “accuse them of stealing my silver cup. Look first in the older men’s’ sacks and keep going until you find it in the youngest man’s sack where you put it. Then bring them back here to me.”
And so his faithful servant caught up with his unwary victims and accused them of stealing his master’s silver cup, the very cup that he drank out of. Not only that, but it was the cup he did his divinations out of, the servant informed them. “You have done evil – repaid his lordship’s goodness with evil!”
“Why, how could you accuse us of doing such a horrible thing? Reuben asked, as he raised himself up and squared his shoulders. “You know very well that when we found the money in the mouth of our sacks we returned it to you, so how could you think we would do something as awful as stealing silver or gold from your lord’s house? Of course we didn’t! If you find it with one of us, let him die and we will be your lord’s slaves.”
“No,” the haughty steward said. “Whoever is found with it shall be my slave and the rest of you shall be blameless.”
The steward started a methodical search that gave his tormented subjects plenty of time to become emotionally whiplashed between indignation and fear that it would be found in one of their sacks after all. Each sack had its money back in its mouth just like the last time so, after all, it was possible the cup would be found in one of their sacks too.
When the servant finally reached Benjamin’s sack and drew the cup out, his brothers were so upset they tore their clothes.
“Never mind that,” the happy steward said. “I have my man and my lord’s cup, so we shall be on our way.”
Benjamin’s brothers quickly loaded their donkeys and returned with him to the city where they fell to the ground before his lordship trembling.
“What possessed you to do something so foolish?” Joseph asked. “Didn’t you understand the power I have? How could you have done something so foolishly evil?”
“What is there for us to say?” Judah asked. “We can’t clear ourselves. We are your slaves.”
“Oh no,” Joseph said. “I will not require that. You are free to go, all except the one who was found with the stolen item. He shall be my slave. As for the rest of you, you may go in peace to your father.” He turned his back on his brothers with a snap of his fingers toward his steward who promptly started to lead Benjamin away.

Judah quickly made his way to the prime minister before he could disappear into his house, and said, “Please let your servant have a word with you, my lord. Please do not be angry with me. I know you have all the power of Pharaoh.”
When the interpreter finished telling the scowling lord, what Judah said, Joseph nodded curtly and the servant said, just as tersely, “You may speak.”
So Judah reminded the great man, as dramatically as he could, how he had asked if they had a brother and demanded he be brought to Egypt; and how they had told him it would kill their father if anything happened to him. He went on to tell Joseph how their father had answered when told of the situation and only let him go as a last resort. He also told him his poor father had lost Benjamin’s mother and only brother and wouldn’t be able to bear it if he lost Benjamin too. “I know that it would kill him and I shall bear the blame because I am the down payment on my promise to my father that his son will be returned to him safely. I cannot go to my father without him and watch him die of the pain. I beg of you to let me stay as your slave in his place for his father’s sake. Let Benjamin go to his father.”
Joseph couldn’t stand anymore. He had his answer, his brother, Judah, had passed the test and that was enough. He commanded all of his servants to go and leave him alone with the Hebrews, but when he told them who he was, he wept so loud all the house of Pharaoh could hear him.
And, when they realized he was the brother they had sold into slavery, his brothers were even more terrified. Their sin truly had found them out. Oh, what to do!
“Please come here close to me,” Joseph said through his tears. Well, it wouldn’t do any good to run and hide, so they approached him trembling.
“Don’t you understand?” he said. “I am Joseph, the brother you sold into bondage. Don’t be upset that it happened now though, because God sent me here to preserve life. The famine has been in all the land for two years, but it will continue for five more and God sent me her so he could use me to deliver you and save the lives of all your families. You see, it wasn’t you who sent me here, it was God. He sent me here to rule this land so you would be able to go live in the land of Goshen and not come into poverty in the next five years.
“You are the Lord’s people and the sheep of his pasture. Be thankful unto him and bless his name.”

Joseph chapters seven and Eight

Interlude
Chapter Seven
It was late into the night when Asenath and her father finally left Potiphar’s house and went home. Then Asenath lay awake for hours thinking of the wonderful things Joseph told her about her God. Consequently she slept late into the day and was surprised that the whole world seemed to be buzzing with some sort of news when she awoke.
She reacted to the news by blurting, “But that’s not true, Father! You know Joseph wouldn’t do anything like that. You must tell Potiphar right away, Father. You know you must!”
“He already knows, my dear,” her father said. “If he believed his wife, Joseph would have been put to death immediately, but she is his wife. He must defend his wife’s honor.”
Asenath began to sob. “But Father, you know Joseph wouldn’t do anything to dishonor any woman.”
Poti-Phera put his arm around Asenath’s shoulders and drew her close to his heart. “Yes, my daughter,” he said, “we all know that, but a man must not call his wife a liar or allow anyone else to call her one. You see, my dear, Potiphar’s first allegiance is to his wife. A man cannot abandon his wife whether she is wrong or right.”
Asenath ran to her room and threw herself across her bed, weeping bitterly. “Where are you now, my God?” she asked. “Where is the joy that was in my heart last night? Did you go to the prison with Joseph? Will you protect him in that awful place? Can you be here with me and in that prison with Joseph too? If you can’t, then please go to the prison and stay with Joseph.”
Then the Holy Spirit of God came and whispered to her heart, “I created the heavens and the earth by my great power. It was by my word that the earth made a channel for the mighty Nile River and it is my power that causes it to overflow and water the crops every year. It is I who determine its measurements and fastened its foundations.”
Asenath sat up and dried her tears and her soul sang, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth is removed, or the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea – even if the waters roar and are troubled and the mountains shake and tremble, we will not fear.”
Asenath’s father told his wife, “Leave her alone. The child was quite taken with the Hebrew slave. It will take time, but she will forget him.”
Six months later Asenath’s mother approached her father. “It has been long enough. Asenath isn’t getting any younger and she is doing nothing to attract the attention of the young men. She cares nothing for her appearance. All she cares about is finding some poor unfortunate slave and trying to make his or her life better. It’s ridiculous! What has she to do with the slaves but to give them orders? Why can’t she understand that she has more important things to worry about? She certainly must stop this foolishness and find a husband.”
“Now, now, my dear,” her husband said. “Asenath is very beautiful just the way she is and any young man worthy of her will be able to see that.”
His wife sighed deeply and turned away. Then she squared her shoulders and spun back to her husband. She laid her hand lovingly on his arm. “Dear husband,” she said softly, “the young men are looking for wives who can complement them in their chosen business. They expect their wives to compete well with other women. Asenath is extremely lovely, but the young men of today need sophistication in their wives.”
However Asenath’s lack of interest in beauty aids and jewelry wasn’t the only cause of disharmony in Poti-Phera’s household in the next few years. Asenath was a constant source of frustration for both her parents, not only because she didn’t conform to the social norm in in her dress, but because she was monotheistic and refused to worship any of the family gods. And she made an enemy of her sister by asking her if she thought her Creator wanted her to use contraceptives since he had told mankind as a whole to be fruitful and multiply.
Asenath hadn’t meant to make her sister mad. She was just wondering out loud about it, but it had the undesired effect of setting the whole family in an uproar for days.
It was because of these things that Asenath spent less and less time in the company of her family and childhood friends. And it was a result of this outcome that made her seem less and less a part of the family and community. She left the scorn of the people she knew and walked for hours among the palms letting the rich black soil of the Nile Valley sift through her toes.
Here she told her God all of her thoughts and feelings and heard his answers in his creation. The heavens eulogize the excellence of God and the expanse above displays his proficiency. Every day communicates his talent and each night exposes his knowledge. There is no speech nor language where the voice of nature praising God is not heard. Their evidence has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.
She was beholding, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord and being transformed into his image from one attribute to another by the Spirit of God.
“Maybe worshiping just one god isn’t so bad,” her father said. “Her god is n’t like any other god, after all. He is full of mercy and truth and doesn’t seem to require anything but love and devotion. Joseph told Asenath his god would give Asenath joy and peace and I believe he has.”
His wife drew in her breath and let it out slowly. “Yes dear, she does seem peaceful and happy, but I worry about her future and I don’t understand her god at all.”
“Well, dear, I believe I’ve devised a way to understand him. He seems to be everything that our gods aren’t. He is not unjust and he doesn’t demand the impossible.
His wife’s face went white. “Oh my husband,” she said with her hand over her mouth. “The gods will hear you and be angry.”
“They haven’t been able to do anything to hurt Asenath,” he said. “I believe she said he is all powerful and can’t be moved. I’m well satisfied Asenath has made this gracious and mighty god hers.”
His wife was silent a moment with her head down, the she looked up and said, “Yes, I believe I am too. Her devotion is so great she might not even need a husband to make her happy. Oh, I don’t believe that! How can a woman live a lifetime without a husband?”
“Maybe her god will give her a husband,” her spouse said.
Her sigh contained a sob this time. “He would have to be a mighty god indeed to do that. You just won’t understand, will you?” She put her hand lovingly on his arm. “Forgive me, my dear. I won’t let this cause friction between us. I will just accept it as an immutable fact.”

A Mighty God Indeed
Chapter Eight
Sesostris III, Pharaoh of Egypt, sat on his steed and watched his subjects bow to his new prime minister with a satisfied mind. This man commanded immediate respect from all who saw him. Sesostris saw it in the faces of his people. Yes, his royal magnificence was well pleased with his appointment. But what was this? Joseph was bowing himself to a young girl. She was plainly attired but she wore that same other-world nobility that made Joseph stand out in a crowd. Neither said anything, of course, but their eyes met and Sesostris saw the invisible link. He turned to the captain of the guard and said, “Who is that girl? Bring her and her father to me immediately!” He was so excited he almost fell off his lordly seat.
Potiphar bowed and obeyed.
At first Asenath was frightened when Potiphar summoned her and her father to follow him. She had been walking on clouds ever since she discovered the new prime minister they were called out to pay their respects to was none other than Joseph, the beloved Hebrew slave. It all seemed like some wonderful dream and, when Potiphar instructed her father to bring her and follow him immediately, she wondered if this dream was going to turn into a nightmare. But when she saw they were headed straight for Pharaoh and Joseph, she didn’t care what the outcome was so long as she could be that near Joseph.
Asenath hardly knew how she got through the formalities. Her head was spinning and she couldn’t get her breath. She didn’t dare look up but she could see Joseph in her mind’s eye and she could feel his presence. Then, as if in a dream, something Pharaoh was saying caught her attention.
“… she will become his wife as soon as you can prepare her …”
Asenath looked up into Joseph’s eyes and saw pleasure – and it was her that he was pleased with. “What?” she whispered.
Yes, it was true. Asenath was to be Joseph’s wife. Her eyes shone like two lights under black lashes and the color flooded her cheeks.
Joseph’s words were like velvet to Asenath’s ears. “God has made up for all the bad by giving me such a wife,” just as though she were better than being made ruler of all Egypt.
Asenath and Joseph were married in a ceremony of great pomp and circumstance to the great delight of her mother, but Asenath was carried through the whole thing in a fog of delight that she was to be the wife of her beloved Joseph. The joy they shared in the Lord made their marriage a continual source of bliss for both of them.
Today, we in America, have a four sector economy with cash flowing from households to goods and services, credit markets, foreign economies, and the government; and from government to goods and service markets. Factor payments include wages, rents, interest, and profits.
Egypt’s economy was different in the way factor payments were made because of the slave market. The economy was very much agrarian and depended on slave labor for its production. Joseph’s 1/5 tax on all the produce of the land wasn’t much for the land owners to spare and the slave population did the actual gathering and built the cities for storage. Joseph’s royal bearing lead to respect and love wherever he went stimulating cooperation.
These were happy years for Joseph and Asenath. They had two sons and Joseph named them to express his fulfillment and happiness: Manasseh for forgotten pain and Ephraim (double prosperity) for fruitfulness.
Then the seven years of famine came and Joseph sold back to the Egyptians what he obtained for them in the seven years of plenty, not only providing food for all of Egypt, but making Pharaoh exceedingly rich and powerful.

Part Two Asenath, chapter Six continued

Asenath wondered if Joseph’s God would think deception was sin. Well she had to find out, and speaking to the Hebrew was the only way to find out – and deception was the only way she would get to see the Hebrew, wasn’t it? But what if deception was sin to Joseph’s God? That would only make the sin barrier wider and it would be that much harder to find the solution. Oh, what to do! What to do!
Asenath sighed and called her maid. She would began practicing the art of makeup in earnest and if she decided not to use it to disguise herself, she decided, at least she would be making her mother happy by learning to use it well.
She was delighted to find she could make herself look older by the artful application of makeup and jewelry. She experimented all that day and half the next. It was amazing! Face paint and clothes could make her look quite different and she was sure she could fool anyone easily. Just to make sure though, she got herself up in the most elaborate disguise she could imagine and went and stood before her mother.
“Goodness, Asenath, you’ll have to do better than that,” her mother said. “You look much too old. Go wash it off and try again, Dear. Why not ask my maid to help?”
“But Mother!” Asenath said. “How did you recognize me? I was sure no one would know me this way.”
Her mother’s eyes widened and her mouth fell open for a moment, but the shock was replaced by her usual calm smile almost immediately. “Why yes, Dear, I see what you mean. You have changed the shape of your mouth and eyes and it’s very clever but it makes you look much too old. Go change it now, please. That’s a good girl.”
Asenath’s head was down and her shoulders were slumped forward as she left the room and almost knocked her father over.
“Oh! Why Asenath, it’s you,” he said. “You look – funny.” Lines creased his forehead. “I was just going to look for you. I’m going over to Potiphar’s and I’d like for you to go along. But if you don’t feel well, of course, it can wait.”
“No, no, I’m alright, Asenath said. I just need some time to change. Is Mother going?”
“No, that’s why I need you. Potiphar isn’t at home and I need to talk to Joseph. It would better if I didn’t go alone,” her father said. “Hurry and change.”
So Asenath, with mingled feelings of fear and anticipation, found herself going to Potiphar’s with no disguise to protect her. Well, at least she would go with her head up. She wasn’t deceiving anyone and if his wife got upset and mean she, Asenath, would just have to cross that bridge when she came to it.
Then, after all, Potiphar’s wife wasn’t even at home when they got there; but how was Asenath going to get Joseph alone to ask her questions?
Asenath’s father was talking business to Joseph and it wasn’t likely he would say, when he was ready to go home, “Well, Asenath, I’ll go on home and leave you to talk to Joseph now.”
But wait! What was that her father was saying? “We Egyptians worship many gods. Of which of them do you speak, Joseph? Asenath’s father was a priest in the service of Ra, the sun god.
“I speak of the God of heaven and Earth and all that is – the Creator,” Joseph said. “Almighty God!”
Asenath’s father laughed good naturedly. “You say that as though your god were the God of gods.”
“Yes,” Joseph said. “He is the eternal self-existent Master of the universe. He created all that is and rules the universe in loving kindness, judgment, and mercy.”
“But sin is a violation of his standard and character,” Asenath said, “and he must judge it and reject it. That is why sin causes spiritual death resulting in separation from Joseph’s God.”
Joseph gave her a comradely smile and said, “And as long as sin separates us from God, we can’t enjoy the life and relationship with him he wants us to have.”
“But,” Asenath’s father said, “can’t we gain acceptance by proper living and good deeds? And surely your god will accept a blood sacrifice, will he not?”
“I’ve wanted you to explain to me about the blood atonement,” Asenath told Joseph. “Who can offer a sacrifice for me?”
“God will provide the blood atonement,” Joseph said. “We make the blood sacrifice to show a picture of what we know about God.”
“What do you mean?” Asenath asked. “I thought blood sacrifices were made to appease the gods.”
Then she remembered and her breath went in sharply. “Oh, but we can’t, can we? You said God would provide the blood atonement.”
“When we see the sacrifice suffering and bleeding because of our sins, we are reminded of the awfulness of sin and the death that we deserve,” Joseph said. “We see God’s holiness – he alone hates all evil. We see his justice – he does not leave sin unpunished. And we see his mercy in that he is ready to pardon us, who truly turn from our sin and believe him.”
Asenath’s father was smiling indulgently and waiting patiently, but Asenath was afraid it wouldn’t last.
“I must find out more about your wonderful God,” she said. “I want him to be my God too.” She turned to her father. “Oh Father, can’t we stay and learn more about this God?”
Her father patted her on the back and said kindly, “You may stay here as long as you want to, Daughter, but I must return to my duties.”
“Oh, no, please Father, you must not leave me here alone! Potiphar’s wife might return.” Asenath covered her mouth and a groan escaped her lips as her face turned red.
“Ah,” her father said. “I see,” and he seated himself to stay a while. That was when Asenath begin to understand why her father hadn’t wanted to come here alone to see Joseph in Potiphar’s house where Potiphar’s wife was usually so much in evidence.
So Asenath also settled down and began to ask more questions.
“You have no temple here for your God,” she said, “and you have no priest to make the sacrifice. How, then, can I have the blood of the atonement?”
“God has provided the blood of the atonement, little sister,” Joseph said, bowing slightly. Men and women often called each other brother and sister as a term of endearment and Asenath’s whole being warmed to the address. “God accepted Abel’s sacrifice because he believed God would provide the recompense for his sins, and God consumed the sacrifice with fire. We know that Enoch walked with God by faith and God regarded his faith as righteousness and took him to live with him in heaven. We know that our father, Noah, also walked in faith with God – and God saved him and his family out of the great flood. Father Abraham believed God and it was esteemed by God as righteousness. My fathers, Isaac and Jacob, believed God and the sin barrier was removed because they believed. God will send One to be the blood atonement who will fulfill all the righteousness requirements of God’s holiness.”
Asenath was listening with growing joy and now she broke into Joseph’s account with her words almost running over themselves. “So God will be my god and I can walk with him just because I believe that he will send One to pay the price for my sins?”
“That’s right, little sister,” Joseph said. “And he will talk to your heart and be your guide throughout eternity.”
“You must worship and please Osiris if you want eternal life,” Asenath’s father said philosophically.
“No,” Joseph said, “for my god is my Redeemer and he lives and will stand on the earth in the last days. And after my skin is struck off, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God for myself.” He turned again to Asenath. “Our eyes shall behold him, little sister. Oh how my heart yearns within me for that day!”
Asenath didn’t see Joseph again for a good long while, because it was the very next day that Potiphar had him thrown into prison. But he taught her to pray and to sing a hymn to the Most High God before she left and it was a great comfort and joy to her.
Many times she stood on the banks of the Nile and sang these words and they were a balm to her lonely heart (for Asenath couldn’t look at another man after her encounter with Joseph without comparing him unfavorably): “Truly my soul waits upon God. My salvation comes from God. He is my defense, and I shall not be moved from him. My soul, wait only upon God, for my confidence is in him, my rock and my salvation; my defense. In God alone is my salvation and my glory; he is the rock of my strength and my sanctuary.
“Oh God, you are my God and I will seek you first: for my soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you. With others the land is dry and thirsty. There is no water. I long to see you, in your power and glory. Your loving kindness is better than life. My lips shall I praise you, as long as I live, and I will lift up my hands in your name.”

Joseph, Part Two, chapter Six – Asenath

Chapter Six
Twenty Three Years Earlier
Asenath
When the young Hebrew slave was brought into Egypt and bought by Potiphar it caused a lot of talk. Hebrews didn’t come into the slave markets of Egypt. The regions of the upper Nile and central Africa were constantly being drained to meet the insatiable demand for slaves, but a lighter complexioned man in bondage was a rare sight indeed and created quite a stir.
Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Phera, priest of On, had never seen a Hebrew before and made it her business to accompany her father whenever he had affairs to conduct with Potiphar. She liked to watch the Hebrew as he went about his duties looking like a young god, as though the simplest task was a matter of great importance.
Potiphar’s wife noticed and frowned. One day she came and stood by Asenath and put her arm around her. “You like him, don’t you little girl?” she said sweetly, “but you’re too young for him and he’s my property. If I ever hear that you have touched him or let him touch you, you’ll be very sorry. Is that clear, my little dear?” She dug her long nails into Asenath’s tender shoulder and twisted them.
Asenath almost cried out loud at the pain but she stopped herself just in time and turned to look at her hostesses’ face. There was a sweet smile on her lips, but her eyes were cruel slits of smoldering fire.
“Oh please try to defy me,” she said softly. “I would enjoy so much showing you how very serious I am.” The smile never left her face.
Asenath cringed and swallowed the lump in her throat. “I won’t touch him,” she said. “I believe you.”
The nasty woman’s fingernails dug into Asenath’s arm this time. “Or let him touch you?” she purred.
“I won’t let him touch me,” Asenath whimpered. “I promise.”
Asenath never went back to Potiphar’s house after that, but she meet the young Hebrew one say as she was walking down the road that followed the Nile. She was carrying a heavy burden and he took it from her and told her that, since he had to go to her father’s house on some business for Potiphar, he would carry it all the way for her.
She thanked him and said, “There is something that I have wanted to ask you for a long time and I might not ever get the chance again. Tell me please, why you don’t act like other slaves. You act almost as if – as though you have authority over everything you do. Sometimes I thought maybe you were a god in disguise come down to spy on us mortals. If you are, I hope you’ll pardon me for asking.”
Joseph laughed. “No, I’m not a god, but I am intimately acquainted with the great God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. In his presence is fullness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore. I am set apart unto him.”
“Yes, I believe you are a very righteous person, Asenath said “It must be because you are special to your god.”
“Ah, but one is righteous; everyone has sinned; no one can be as glorious as our Creator God,” Joseph said. Since God is holy and just, I could not have an intimate relationship with him and have his righteousness until my sin was dealt with. You see, he cannot allow sin in his holy presence.”
“I see,” Asenath said. “How was your sin dealt with? I hope you don’t mind my asking. And why can’t this god allow sin in his presence?”
“Because sin is a violation of his standard and character,” Joseph said gravely. “He must judge and reject it. That is why sin causes spiritual death, which is separation from God. As long as sin separates us from God we cannot enjoy the life and relationship God wants for us.”
Asenath took a deep breath and her eyes sparkled. “You said us. Does your God want a relationship with someone like me too? I try to be good but I hate your mistress and sometimes I would like her dead because she was cruel to me. I beg your pardon if you like her, but I can’t! I will try not to hate her though if your God wants to have a relationship with me. Can he give me joy too?”
“Yes, he can,” Joseph said. They walking so slowly they were almost standing still. “But no one can remove the sin barrier by his own effort.”
“Oh!” Asenath sighed. “Then there is no hope for me? What removed it for you? Did someone else help?”
“No one can redeem his brother from the bondage of sin,” Joseph said, “Nor can he give God a redemption for himself, because the ransom of the soul is too costly.”
Asenath groaned. “Oh, it’s far worse than having one’s body in bondage then. But what made your soul free? What can free mine?”
“God must take the initiative,” Joseph explained. He smiled and Asenath thought it was the sweetest smile she had ever seen. “He provides the solution. It is he that redeemed my soul. The sin barrier can be removed by believing God’s promise and by having the blood of the atonement. Our father, Adam believed God and it was accounted unto him for righteousness. “
“But what did God say to Adam that he believed?”
“He promised that someday the offspring of woman would come into the world and defeat sin,” Joseph said. “He said, to the originator of sin, ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman. And between your seed and her seed, and he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heal.’”
Asenath thought about everything was saying and tried to understand it. They were almost at her door. “Oh, but oh I wish I understood! There is still the blood atonement you haven’t explained and I do so want to know.”
It was at that moment her father approached them so she left Joseph giving him a noble bow and went to the garden to puzzle over what he said.
Was it true that Joseph’s God had given him joy and made him noble and righteous and wanted to do the same for her?
It was quite a while before Asenath saw the Hebrew slave again but she couldn’t get him off her mind. And, strangely, a lot of the things she was in the habit of doing made her feel uncomfortable; and she wondered if perhaps they were things the Hebrew’s God would call sin.
Had the Hebrew’s God heard her say she wanted to have a relationship with him and was perhaps trying to tell her they were a violation of his standard? Could he do that? Hadn’t the Hebrew told her his God was the Creator of the heavens and the earth? If he could do that maybe he could speak right to her heart this way. She would listen and try to find out more about him that way.
But Asenath didn’t seem to be getting any word from the Hebrew’s God. So, eventually, she tried to throw herself into the endless gaiety of the Egyptian upper class, but the days were only filled with everything that was sordid and useless in an endless round of wearisome entertainment. There was no joy. What had Joseph said about pleasures forevermore? Oh, what could remove the sin barrier for her so she could go into the presence of Joseph’s wonderful god and have fullness of joy? Joseph had said something about blood atonement. Maybe that would do it. “I must find out,” she told herself and set about steadily toward finding a way to talk to Potiphar’s Hebrew slave without his wife finding out.
Asenath watched her mother’s slave dress her and apply makeup, and she thought of Potiphar’s wife. Asenath’s mother had taught her well. She knew that women were to more than just the wives of their husbands; they were to be their friends and companions too. In order to make herself attractive for her own husband, Asenath’s mother spent long hours on her adornments. She wore elaborate wigs that had been plaited into tresses threaded with gold tubes. She used green eye shadow made from malachite to enhance the beauty of her eyes, and had them carefully underlined. He had her eyebrows painted with hohl paste until they arches most attractively. She had her fingernails painted a beautiful reddish-orange with henna and her fingers adorned with lovely rings. Her armlets, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces were all chosen carefully for just the right effect. But she did this all to please her own husband. Potiphar’s wife wasn’t doing it just for Potiphar; Asenath was sure of that. Why did she think she needed other men too? And Joseph was one of her husband’s employees, after all. What did she want with him?
Well, it was better not to go into that. After all, Asenath was trying not to hate the woman, if that would please Joseph’s God. But she still didn’t have that relationship with him that Joseph told her brought the kind of joy that made a man a prince even while he was a slave. She must speak to Joseph again and find out about the blood atonement. Would she have to go to the land of the Hebrews and find a Hebrew priest to make a sacrifice for her or something?
Asenath tried to remember everything she could about Potiphar’s estate. It was huge, of course. All wealthy Egyptian estates were self-sufficient with apartments for the master and his family and rooms for all of the servants. She only knew where a few of these were located but they didn’t matter. Even in disguise, she didn’t dare go near the main house. So her mind’s eye wandered through the lush walled garden living room to all the buildings around it that served the household.
There was the balcony were grain was ground into flour and made into bread, and next to it was the brewery where the grain used for making bear was fermented in water. Then there was the butchery where cattle and fowl were prepared for serving. And, last of all, was the building where the weavers made fine linens for the household. Asenath had heard that Joseph was now the overseer of all these buildings. She he would be there when the livestock was counted and he would go into the fields periodically to make sure they were being cared for properly.
Asenath thought about posing as a herdsman, but how was she to know when Joseph would be checking the herds? She wasn’t really built like the herdsmen either, so she abandoned that idea.
“You will soon be taking a greater interest in your own appearance, my Asenath,” her mother said hopefully.
But Asenath only smiled and went back to her internal study of Potiphar’s estate. She thought of the pools of water warmed by the sun where the men carried the harvested flax to soak under the weight of stones. Again, it was the men who removed the stocks from the water, after the rind became loose, to dry in the sun. And it was the men who beat them afterwards on stone slabs with wooden mallets, and combed the rind and outer fibers away to use for lamp-wick; the inner part would be used for weaving.
But both men and women spun the fibers into thread. Asenath had watched them do it. They made the thread on a wooden spindle and wove it into cloth on a loom. It looked fairly simple. The threads were interlaced at right angles by means of a shuttle which was used to pass some of the threads between others – and additional threads were passed firmly into additional threads. Sometimes designs were woven into the fabric with colored threads. Asenath drew her brows together. Maybe it was too complicated after all.
“Why do you scowl at me, Asenath?” her mother asked. “Have I something on wrong, or perhaps my clothes are miss-matched? What is the problem?”
“No, no, Mother, you look beautiful,” Asenath assured her. “I was just thinking. Do you think I could learn to weave, or dye thread?”
A silvery tinkle of a laugh escaped the lips of her mother and she said, “Oh no, dear. What you want to learn to do is apply makeup and dress properly.”
“All right, Mother, if it will please you I will learn to do a better job with my appearance.”

Joseph, Chapter Five

Chapter Five
Pharaoh’s Dream
Two whole years later Pharaoh had his own dream. He dreamed he was standing by the great Nile River when unexpectedly up from the water there came seven beautiful fat cows and began to feed in the meadow. Pharaoh sighed contentedly. A fine dream indeed to sooth his royal slumber.
Ah, but wait! What is this coming up from the river now? Seven more cows? Only these cows were gaunt and ugly. Ugh! Pharaoh groaned and tried to shake the dream off; but before he could, the seven horrid scrawny cows ate up the seven fine-looking hefty cows. Horrors!
Pharaoh finely succeeded in waking his royal body up. He sat up in his bed and puzzled over the disturbing dream for a while, but drowsiness overtook him before long and he slept again.
Then suddenly into his slumber sprang seven fat juicy ears of corn on one stock. Quickly in their wake seven more appeared, but they were thin and blasted by the east wind. And what was this? They were devouring the healthy corn! The whole thing was so real he didn’t know he was dreaming at first. He thought, this is what the dream meant, but then he woke up and realized they were both dreams. Pharaoh was depressed.
What kinds of dreams were these anyway, to disturb his royal sleep? Therefore, he called all of the wise men and magicians of Egypt and told them his dreams.

Meanwhile Joseph had long ago stopped hoping the chief butler would be able to get him out of prison. At first he occupied some of the long hours by thinking of all the reasons why his release might have been delayed. Of course some time would have been taken up by visits from friends who had been sad about his captivity and rejoiced at his release. Then too, while he was absent from his duties things would have gone wrong that needed righting. And he would, of course, have to wait for the right time to talk to the king about joseph’s release. Then it came to him that maybe Pharaoh wouldn’t be disposed to grant a request to the chief butler so recently returned from confinement.
Heartsick and disappointed, Joseph turned to Yahweh; and slowly he began to realize that if was Yahweh’s will for him to be out of prison, he wouldn’t need any help from the chief butler. So he returned to doing whatever his hand found to do with all his might because his god was his boss and he was working for him. Man had failed him again, but Yahweh cannot fail and he could not fail Joseph. Hence, Joseph waited on the Lord and renewed his strength – he soared on the power of Yahweh – he rested himself on his God’s promises. Though it seemed at times he was running from one arduous task to another all day, he wasn’t weary because he did it in Yahweh’s strength. He relaxed and let his God work through him and Yahweh’s love flow through him.
It was in this same strength that he walked from one day to the next in the seemingly endless time of his prison life. But because of that strength he didn’t faint; for the everlasting god, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth doesn’t become weary or tired.

And back at the palace, all the Egyptian magicians and wise men were no help. It was obvious to even the dullest mind that two such similar dreams full of bad omen were extremely important. There was much speculation and confusion. Many made apparent guesses and angered Pharaoh which only caused more panic. It wasn’t that all Egyptian wise men and magicians were exceedingly stupid, but Joseph’s God was at work in the courts of Pharaoh. And he, would could soften the heart of a cold hard prison keeper and put favor in it for Joseph, could also render the minds of the diviners dull to make the opportunity for Joseph.
And it was Yahweh who put the chief butler’s mind back in working order so he could tell Pharaoh of his own experience with a dream in the prison.
It sounded good to Pharaoh. He sent for Joseph immediately.
The royal minions lost no time in summoning Joseph from the dark recesses of his abode. Joseph left the dark eagerly and went into the light. He had to shut his eyes against the brightness at first, but he was living with the power of Yahweh in him and didn’t take long to adjust.
Perfect cleanliness and propriety of dress must be attended to before Joseph could go into the presence of Pharaoh. He must be clean shaven as an Egyptian would be. Hebrew men didn’t like to go without their beards, but Joseph was going before Pharaoh as a chattel of the Egyptian government so, out of respect, he would go clean shaven.
It was indeed an awesome thing to go before the great Pharaoh of Egypt, but Joseph wasn’t thinking of that honor. He was thinking of what a great honor Yahweh had given him. He, Joseph, was a son of Israel – a prince with God – and was, in his own right, a prince of the Most High God. He was an heir to the promises: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse whoever curses you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So it was with the countenance of a royal prince that Joseph went before pharaoh. And Pharaoh looket him and thought, Ah, here is a man whose testimony is in his royal bearing that he can be trusted! And Pharaoh felt an instant affinity with him.
“I have been trying to get my dreams interpreted but no one seems to be able to tell me what they mean,” he said, then bluntly added, “I’ve heard you can understand and interpret dreams. Can you?”
“It is not me that comprehends and illuminates dreams.” Joseph said calmly. “My god will give Pharaoh an answer that will bring him peace.”
“Very good,” Pharaoh said. “Then listen to what I dreamed.” Then Pharaoh related the two dreams to Joseph and as he told his story, he watched the grave young man standing deferentially but confidently before him.
Then, in the presence of the breathless throngs, and surrounded by jealous magicians and wise men, the young Hebrew prince interpreted the royal dreams.
The dreams were set, without doubt, in Egypt, with the Nile figuring dominantly. The waters of the Nile were highly esteemed by the natives not only for their peculiarly luscious, refreshing, and nutritive qualities; but for the annual floods that made the soil so rich and fertile.
In fact, the Nile was so enthusiastically regarded that it was the object of idolatrous worship. The cow of Pharaoh’s dream was the well-known buffalo, a species of ox that delighted to stand in the Nile waters for hours cooling off with everything but its head under the water. Horned cattle coming out of the water were an everyday occurrence in Egypt, so Joseph’s audience had no trouble believing Joseph when he told them the sevens of Pharaoh’s dream were emblems of seven years of great plenty through the land of Egypt.
Joseph continued his interpretation with, “God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.” It was said with humility and respect and there was no arrogance about his manner.
He didn’t say, “My God told me to tell you what he is about to do.” He said, “God has shown you,” and “The thing is established by God and he will shortly bring it to pass.” He left himself and his part in the interpretation out altogether.
But the wise statesman-like policy he recommended was even more impressive. He didn’t offer his own services. He advised the appointment of a discreet and wise man whose specialty it would be to create a new department of public business. Its purpose would be to gather in the resources of Egypt to be stored in readiness for the coming need of which the sevens of lean, ugly, empty, and parched were a picture.
And pharaoh looked at his servants and asked, “Can we find any man like this one? Is there any other man in whom the Spirit of God is?”
Then he turned to Joseph and said, “It is obvious there is no other man as wise and discerning as you are since God has shown you all these things you have told us today. You, and only you, shall be Egypt’s overseer ad rule my people according to your word. Only in regard to my throne will I be greater than you.”
Pharaoh took his signet ring off and put it on joseph. Then he ordered him to be dressed in garments of fine linen from the royal wardrobe and put a gold chain around his neck.
Thirty-three years had passed since the coat of many colors had been violently torn from him and defiled by blood; but Yahweh had not forgotten him. He who was once trampled upon as the off scouring of all things soon found himself riding in the second chariot as Prime Minister of Egypt, second only to the king, with all Egypt commanded to bow before him.
But there saw work to be done and Joseph couldn’t spend all of his time riding around in chariots.