Category Archives: Life of Joseph

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.

Joseph – Chapter four

Chapter Four
Prison
Before the end of the day Joseph was stripped of his prosperity and position, and thrown – without the aid of judge or lawyer – into a miserable hole. It was a den that he found himself in with two or three little rooms crowded with prisoners. He looked down the large gloomy, windowless hall, stepped on the filthy black-flagged floor and nearly lost his courage. Almost he could have become surly and bitter as he moved to the tune of the weary clank of fetters around manacled feet.
As he dragged himself slowly over the floor, or around and around the huge stone columns the chains were riveted to, he dreamed of the days of his youth when he wondered freely on the broad Syrian plains.
He had many hours to think and to question himself. Why was he here in this dark, musty, filthy hole? Did not good come to those who were good and evil come to those who did evil? Was prosperity not a sign of Divine favor and adversity of Divine anger? And Joseph had always tried to be good. He had obeyed his father and behaved righteously, although his brothers were men of evil report and tried to teach him to do evil too.
He had kept his integrity, but what had it gained him? His gain was the murderous jealousy of his own family members. He had, in the full flesh of youthful passion, resisted the seduction of the beautiful Egyptian woman because he refused to sin against his God and his master; and what did that get him? It got him the brand of an adulterer and rapist – and underserved punishment.
He was always kind to his fellow prisoners, he was a good listener and gave comfort when it was needed; and what good would that do him? He had sown seeds of holiness and love and he was reaping nothing but disappointment, loss, suffering, and hate.
What about those dreams of his youth? Were they not from his Diety after all? He had always believed they were from Yahweh, and his father, who had talked to his God many times, had agreed. They could not be his imagination, nor could they have been mocking lies. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not lie. And the God who would not – could not – lie would not forsake him. And yet – Joseph was misunderstood, misrepresented, falsely accused, and wrongfully punished.
“But,” Joseph said in his heart, “who am I to reply against Yahweh? Does not he who formed me in father Adam’s loins – formed me from the dust of the ground – have the power to mold me as he desires? I will delight myself in the desire of my God. As the Almighty God lives, while I have breath in me and the life of Yahweh abides in my nostrils, my lips shall not speak wickedness, nor shall my tongue utter deceit. I will not put my integrity from me and I will hold fast to righteousness. Righteousness belongs to my Maker, who gives songs in the night.”
And the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy. He poured strength into his bones, tenacity into his character, and power into his soul. He gave him wisdom, modesty, courage, and manly resolution. And he taught him to hold his peace and wait.
Oh, Joseph didn’t see the changes as they were being made. He just submitted his will to Yahweh’s and the changes came as a natural result. When Joseph looked into the darkness of the cell, and saw the bright light of Yahweh’s mercy, he grew strong, sure, and powerful.
The keeper of the prison was rough, mean, and prejudiced; copying the dislikes of his master, the great Potiphar. He was predisposed to make Joseph’s life truly bitter; but Joseph’s God can take the hardest heart and turn it to his will – and the keeper ended up favoring Joseph.
It wasn’t long before Joseph was entrusted with the total care of the royal prisoners. Life took on new meaning; he was again in a position of trust and responsibility. But this time he had the trust of many who were more unfortunate than he. He took a deep human interest in each separate life, noticing their expressions and their pain. He listened to their tales and helped bear their burdens. He brought balm to their wounds and love to their heartaches and, in doing so, he told the prisoners of the love and mercy of his great God – the Creator of heaven and Earth and all that is therein.
And as he listened, comforted, and wiped the falling tears he discovered his own load was lighter and the marshes of salt tears in his own life were healed.
The Lord was bringing forth Joseph’s righteousness as the light and his judgment as the noonday. He was learning to walk by faith and not by sight.
Among the prisoners, there came two from Pharaoh’s house – his chief butler and his chief baker.
Pharaoh had indigestion and he was not supposed to get indigestion. The leading baker and the principal Butler were responsible to see that Pharaoh did not get an unsettled stomach. Pharaoh was offended! Then the stomachache turned into something more serious and Pharaoh spent many royal hours with his physicians losing the entire contents of his guts in a royal basin. Pharaoh was furious! Someone was to blame and both the leading baker and the prime butler should suffer until it was determined just who was to blame. They were responsible for Pharaoh’s royal digestive system and should have prevented it somehow, no matter who had actually done the foul deed. So he sent them into the custody of the captain of the guard (Potiphar) and he, in turn, sent them to Joseph and charged him with their care.
They, like other prisoners, confided in Joseph and Joseph told them of his God who is full of mercy and truth and knows the hearts of all men. He told them how the Lord had turned his mourning into dancing, put off his sadness, and filled him with gladness by his great mercy.
The chief butler listened eagerly. He said, “If I put my trust in your God, will he show me mercy also?”
Oh, yes,” Joseph said. “His loving kindness is first-rate. You can put your trust under the shadow of his wings and you will be abundantly satisfied with the magnitude of his care. He will give you drinks from the river of his pleasures; with him is the fountain of life and in his light, you will see light.”
But the chief baker put his nose in the air and sniffed disdainfully.
Then the morning came when both men arose from their sleep looking so dejected Joseph had to ask, “Why are you so sad today?”
They explained they had both had disturbing dreams the night before and there was no magician or wise man in the dungeon to interpret them.
“Oh, but interpretations belong to God,” Joseph said. “Tell me your dreams please.”
The chief baker smiled indulgently and turned away, but the head butler was of a different disposition.
“Listen,” he said, “to what I saw in my dream. There before me was a vine and in the vine were three branches. The vine suddenly budded before me – it’s blossoms simply shot forth, and its clusters were soon full of ripe grapes. Then Pharaoh’s cup appeared in my hand and I was pressing the grapes into the cup. Then I put the full cup into Pharaoh’s hand.”
Joseph sat for a moment with his head bowed. When he looked up his eyes sparkled with gladness.
“This,” he said, “is the interpretation of your dream. The three branches represent three days before Pharaoh will restore your self-respect and your position. You will give Pharaoh his cup again just as you always have.”
The chief butler was overjoyed! “Oh thank you! You were right about your God showing me mercy and I will never forget your kindness. I assure you, if there is ever anything I can do for you, just let me know. ”Well, yes,” Joseph answered, “there is something you can do. Please don’t forget me; as soon as you are in good standing again, show your kindness toward me by telling Pharaoh about me and get me out of here. I was snatched from the land of my people, the Hebrews, and sold here. Then, too, I didn’t do the awful thing I was accused of when they put me in here.”
“Wait,” said the key baker. “Listen to my dream.” He had been thinking that if the chief butler’s dream brought such a good interpretation, he’d like to get his interpreted with good tidings too.
Accordingly, he said, “I dreamed there were three baskets on my head. The top basket had all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh and the birds ate them out of the basket while it was on my head.”
But, when he saw the grave, almost sad look in Joseph’s eyes, apprehension filled his being and he was almost afraid to listen to the interpretation.
“This is what it means,” Joseph said, “The three baskets also represent three days in your dream. Within three days Pharaoh will take you from here and hang you on a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh from off your bones.”
The chief baker turned white and Joseph said gently, “You must make your peace with God; with whom you will find mercy and grace. He is your Creator and he loves you. He is always ready to restore the repentant soul to his kingdom.” But the chief baker returned his nose to the air and said haughtily, “What do I have to do with your God, or you? You aren’t a magician! You have lied to me and I will not listen further, thank you!”
And all Joseph’s pleading was to no avail. He simply refused to listen and Joseph finally gave up and returned his thoughts to others.
Three days later was Pharaoh’s birthday. What could he do to celebrate? He would make a feast for all his servants! Well, he wouldn’t make it of course. Pharaohs didn’t cook meals and serve their servants. But he would make them prepare a feast and then he would make them eat it. And. Oh yes, his chief baker and chief baker must be brought up from the dungeon to complete the party. No one must be missing. Everyone in his obsequious household must be present to give him honor on this his birthday. So he had the two prisoners brought up and attired in the grab of their positions.
The chief butler had such a sweet look of peace and gladness about him that Pharaoh immediately had him restored to his full butlership and he served pharaoh on the spot by placing the cup in his hands.
But when he saw the fear and dread in his former chief baker’s eyes he said, “Alas! So my chief baker has a guilty conscience, does he? Off with him! Hang him swiftly! This is my birthday present to me.”
Therefore, Joseph’s interpretations were proved correct! But in all the excitement, the chief butler forgot all about him.

Joseph, Son of a Prince With God, chapter three

Chapter Three

Temptation

Potiphar was the chief executioner and the head of the military force employed by the court as the royal body guard. He was an Egyptian grandee, a member of the proud aristocracy, high in office and court favor.

Joseph could almost feel an affinity with him, but he lived in a splendid palace covered with hieroglyphics and filled with slaves.

Joseph, used to the tenderness of his simple and beloved home, almost trembled as he passed up the pillared avenue through the sphinx guarded gates, and into the recesses of that great Egyptian palace where everything, even the language, was strange and new.

Then he remembered his God, Yahweh, was with him and peace descended. He looked at the mysterious wings carved in the porticoes of so many of the buildings and thought of the everlasting wings of his Father-God’s care under which his soul was nestled. Yahweh was on his throne and all was well. Joseph’s muscles had hardened on the long way to Egypt and his chin had acquired a square look. He was still little more than a boy, but was fast taking on the look of a man.

Joseph had always been reliable, industrious, prompt, diligent, and obedient; always doing everything he did as unto the Lord. As a consequence, whatever his hand found to do, he did with all his might.

At first they gave him tasks so menial they made him feel sick at himself that he should have sunk so low. Then he would remember he was the servant of the Most-High God, Yahweh, and that made him most conscientious and careful no matter how low the task.

When the master wasn’t looking the other slaves relaxed but Joseph wasn’t working for any earthly master. His Master was always present, so Joseph was always serving. It wasn’t from fear of the lash that Joseph worked; it was in anticipation of the smile from his Lord that he did his duties. And he carried out his responsibilities so well the other slaves, like his brothers, pointed to him in envy.

Every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor; it is the gift of Yahweh, so the Almighty made all that Joseph did prosper; even blessing Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake, extending even to his fields.

And Joseph, though he had lost his noble wrap, never lost his nobility. It stayed with him in his bearing and in his character. He didn’t give in to useless regrets and unavailing tears; but, rather strengthened his hands and his feeble knees and made straight paths for his feet so his lame soul might not be dislocated, but healed. He was careful to pursue peace with all men, and holiness before his God; setting himself to live by the grace of God and not allowing any root of bitterness to spring up and cause trouble. Therefore, each succeeding day brought him closer to Yahweh. In Yahweh, Joseph was free, so he could do everything he did, vigorously, as unto the Lord.

Joseph sought Yahweh’s will in every situation and the way he did the most trifling things was based on the loftiest principles in the same way that a drop of dew on a rose petal is determined by the same physical laws Yahweh used to control the molding of the universe.

Joseph trod the floor of his captivity with the same love and reverence as he would have walked the golden streets of the City that was the goal of his sojourn. The City his great-grandfather had been pursuing all the days of his life.

Since everything Joseph handled went well, success followed him like a shadow and touched everything he did as though he had a magic hand. He was Potiphar’s favorite slave and it wasn’t long before he made Joseph the overseer of his residence and put all that he owned under the capable hands of Joseph. So, again, Joseph had the position of trust and authority in the household where he lived.

Joseph was no longer a boy. He had matured in body and mind with a strength and fineness which made others look twice at him. He was tall and well-built with grace in every movement, walking with a grave assurance that caught everyone’s attention. His features were strong and well chiseled; and he had an “other world” look about him that intrigued those around him but his royal bearing kept them from getting too close.

The fact that he was a prosperous man – a man of position and authority – made him even more intriguing. And Potiphar’s wife was captivated – and stimulated.

But Joseph had his armor on. It wasn’t easy to get through the whole armor of God. She cast her hungry eyes on Joseph and saw that his midriff was gird with truth, the breast-plate of righteousness was in place and he stood solidly in the preparation of the gospel of peace. And before everything he held the shield of faith around him like a guardhouse. The salvation of his God sat on him like a crown and he used the Word of God for a defense.

But this liberated Egyptian woman was even more enthralled by his lack of availability. She had always had any man she wanted and it gave her quite a thrill to think of the conquest this Hebrew slave would be. She was a resourceful lady and didn’t mind doing anything it took to get what she wanted. She was confident she would soon tear down the standards of this strange, but alluring, man and bend him to her will.

Therefore, she draped herself – or rather, she had her slaves dress her – in the most flimsy, enticing garment in her vast wardrobe. She painted her eyes to make them as exotic as eyes can be made to look by a skilled craftsman. Then she had her lips painted into a fine pout of fire. She had a delicately crafted necklace laid against her palpitating chest and long twinkling earrings hung from her lobes. She had subtle shadows painted her appealing eyes and more jewels hung on her arms and fingers. Then she arranged herself on a lounge and waited.

The lounge was situated in a place where Joseph would have to come close enough for her to touch him as he passed on his daily rounds.

He didn’t seem even to notice as he passed, but she was prepared for that. She reached out her long bare arm and pulled him toward her. She made her voice lilt into pathos and said, “I’m so lonely, Joseph. Come sit by me and keep me company.”

Joseph bowed. “You will have to excuse me, my lady. I have duties to perform.”

But the “lady” didn’t let him go. She jerked him down to the lounge beside her said, languidly, “Oh you are a darling! You’re perfectly stunning when you’re so brave and businesslike.” Then enthusiastically, “But I’m going to drag you out of your shell and help you have some good times that will make you forget your old duties.” She pulled him to her and began to kiss him.

Her lips had scarcely touched his when he jerked free and stood far enough from her so that she would have had to leave the lounge to reach him.

He lifted his chin and said firmly, “Listen to me! My master has put me in charge of everything he owns. But you are his wife. He has not given you to me. Surely, when you think about it, you will not expect me to behave so wickedly. And, above all else, I will not sin against my God.”

Then he turned and walked away.

But Potiphar’s wife was not so easily defeated. She said, “If I want him, I can have him. And I want him!”

She would say, “Don’t be so imbalanced, Joseph. You have a right to have your happiness too. And I need you,” or “I thought I loved my husband when I married him, but he is so cruel. Oh, Joseph, I need to be comforted. Come, I’ll show you how.” Or, with drooping black lashes, “You’ve always been a kind person, Joseph, and I need someone I can really trust. Will you help me?”

Something protective would flare up in Joseph’s breast. He was needed here to shelter this poor woman; and, as he looked at the beautiful painted face, he would remember her purpose and go on being polite with gentle dignity as far out of her reach as he could get.

Then one morning, when the house was empty of everyone but those two, she searched for him till she found him in a small back room. She was seething! He was her husband’s slave, so that made him her property too. How dare he refuse to give her what she wanted!

“Well,” she said haughtily, “so this is where you have been hiding? Have you hidden yourself here all night while I writhed in my bed alone needing you there to comfort me? How dare you?”

“Oh, good morning,” Joseph said, trying to summon a smile. “No, I haven’t been here long. I have some things that need my attention quickly, if you will excuse me.”

He tried to work his way past her, through the door, but she wasn’t going to let him go again. She grabbed his garment and ripped it from his body but before she could get a tight hold on him, he jerked free, pushed past her and ran from the house.

Holding the wrap close and trembling with anger she ran to the courtyard and called all the men of the house to her. The tears of anger streaming down her face were mistaken by the men for tears of pain. The rage that shook her voice was thought to be fear.

“See what’s happened,” she said. “Your master brought a Hebrew among us and he thinks he’s better than we are.” Her voice shook with sobs. “He tried to rape me, but when I screamed, he went away and left his garment.”

She repeated the story later to her husband, but first she made sure to have just the right makeup and clothes to help her carry off her story well and she lowered and raised her eyelashes with just the right amount of tears and delicate shudders for the desired effect.

Joseph knew he was in trouble. He had tried to do the right thing and had done the only thing he could do, but he had to leave his clothing with Potiphar’s wife and that had started the gossip that was spreading through the house and fields like wildfire.

He had meant to do his work so he would stand well with his master’s wife, but he had crossed her and made her his foe, ruining his chance for the future. But wait! His hope was in Yahweh and in the end it would be found better to have done right and wait for his God to bless and vindicate him.

Joseph was shaken and weak from months of fighting and subduing a whole range of emotions besides keeping his master’s wife at bay. This latest scene had almost undone him. Well, he had kept his naturel tendencies, appetites, and desires under control and now he would just trust Yahweh to take his shattered, shaken body and give it renewed strength somehow. No matter what happened now, the awful persistent temptation was a thing of the past.

He carefully examined his behavior for wrong-doing on his part.

He had reasoned with her and told of his master’s kindness and trust; the confidence he did not dare betray. He tried to make her see her own responsibility as his master’s wife. He had even appealed to her conscience of what a great evil it would be to sin against his God in such a way. He had taken care to avoid her company as much as possible, and when it had all come to the immoral culmination, what could he have done but flee? He could not, would not acquiesce to sin. No, he would be more than conqueror through the G0d who loved him and promised to bless him even while he was still a seed in Abraham, his great-grandfather.

 

Joseph, son of a Prince With God continued

Young Joseph was seventeen years old, in his next memory, and living with his father in the land of Canaan. His half-brothers Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher were feeding their father’s flock and Joseph was working with them. But Joseph had another job. He was to watch his brothers and tell his father how they behaved. They had, more than once in the past, behaved very badly and it behooved their father to keep an eye on them. Consequently he gave the one son he could trust they duty of telling him when they did anything that would bring their father shame. Benjamin was still too young for the fields.

No one likes to be spied on and told on but the one who never does any wrong. Joseph’s half-brothers had long ago hardened their consciences and as a result did more wrong than right. He who is faithful in little is also faithful in much and he who is unjust in the least is also unjust in much. So Joseph’s father left the older unjust sons in the field and promoted Joseph. He gave him a long flowing white linen robe that extended to his ankles and wrists. It was embroidered with a long strip of color along the edge of the shirt and sleeves and was the kind of robe worn only by the opulent and noble who didn’t need to toil for a living. If this robe had been given to Reuben, his brothers wouldn’t have objected. He was the oldest and the natural heir to the position. The short colored garments of the laborer were their lot. They expected to go on wearing them the rest of their lives. They didn’t show stain, or cramp the free movement of their limbs as they waded through marshes or climbed hills. The robe that Joseph’s father gave him was not fit to wear while carrying stray sheep or fighting robbers or beasts. The older sons wouldn’t have minded if Reuben had been exempt from such hardship and toil. The richest inheritance and position would naturally go to the oldest. But their father couldn’t trust the oldest, so he gave it to the son he could trust. And Joseph was the son his father could trust in his old age.

Joseph’s brothers were furious. They couldn’t even be decent to him.

Instead of showing him the respect due his position, his brothers were no even civil to him. The breach between Joseph and his brothers grew wider and wider; and the little brother Benjamin grew dearer and dearer to him.

All the half-brothers had wives and children of their own; so Joseph, Benjamin, and their father had sweet fellowship and the bond between the three strengthened. And the jealousy of Joseph’s half-brothers grew into a huge canker eating into their souls.

Then one night Joseph had a dream. It was a disturbing dream and yet it was exciting. Joseph thought maybe it would make a good object lesson for his brothers to teach them to show him the respect appropriate his rank. He didn’t realize it would only add fuel to the fire of hatred. After all, he was still only a boy.

So he went to his brothers and said, “Listen to what I dreamed last night. In my dream we were all binding sheaves in the field, and see what happened! My sheave stood straight up. Now listen to what your sheaves did. Your bundles bowed down to mine.”

“Oh really!” His brothers’ faces were red and their voices loud. What they said was articulated through clenched teeth. “Do you think you will rule over us?  What makes you think you have a right to have jurisdiction over us?” And the hatred fermented and boiled.

But Joseph dreamed again, and out of the naiveté of youth, he told his brothers and father.

“This time the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed down to me,” he said. Shouldn’t his family be proud that someday he would be such a great ruler to command the greatest token of respect due anyone? But his brothers’ envy was beyond words and his father told him not to show such disrespect to his family.

Joseph’s brothers weren’t looking forward to the humiliation of bowing down to their brother and they had a strong suspicion his dreams were from Yahweh and would come true if they weren’t stopped some way. They seethed in their anger and resentment.

But Joseph had the love of Yahweh in his heart and the hope of eternity. He was loving, meek, gentle, long suffering, good, kind, and forgiving.

 

 

Chapter Two

Unless they are kept moving, sheep will completely devour the grass in any green area, so by and by Joseph’s brothers needed to find new grass for the herd. Eventually they ate the grass up in the new range and had to be led down even further from home until their destination was as far away as Shechem.

Shechem was a good distance from Hebron so their father didn’t expect to hear from his sons right away. But after long weeks with no word his worry for his sons was so great he was willing to send “his dearest son” to search for them.

Joseph didn’t know his life was a picture of the Son of his God sent to “seek and save that which is lost.”[i] Maybe Joseph’s father could know a little of the great cost it was to the Infinite God, Yahweh, to send his only begotten Son who dwelt in his father’s bosom; the Father who so loved the world that he sent his son to pursue and recover the lost sheep of humanity. And the Son who was sent? He came because of his own great love; and to those who would be his followers, he said, “As the father has sent me, so send I you.”[ii]

Accordingly, out of his great love for his errant sons, Joseph’s father sent the darling of his heart to search for them. And Joseph willingly went; always ready to do that which was required of him, even as far as risking his own life to get to the country where Israel’s children had made him “stink among the inhabitants of the land.”[iii]

Without hesitation Joseph said, “I am here to do your bidding, Father, whatever it may be.”[iv]

It wasn’t that he didn’t know there would be more to fear than the inhabitants of the land who his brothers had grievously wounded. He knew the mountainous country between Hebron and Shechem. He knew he would have to cross the Arnon River, go through land infested with outlaws and wild beasts, spend lonely nights in those mountains, and when he got there, he knew those false brothers wouldn’t welcome him with open arms. But he went anyway because he loved his brothers and his father; and besides that, he had a certain amount of responsibility for those he had authority over. He recognized that, even as young as he was.

Nevertheless, Joseph wasn’t filled with fear as he went on his long journey. His heart was singing to the Lord, “Your righteousness is like the great mountains, your judgments like the deep waters of the Arnon, O Lord. You are the preserver of both man and beast.”[v]

Joseph’s whole nature responded to the creation of his great God, Yahweh. His heart was in tune with the awe of David when, years later, he wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto Day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge.”[vi] And he would have agreed enthusiastically with Nahum, who wrote, “The Lord is good. A stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knows those who trust in him.”[vii]

So he arrived in Shechem with a loving heart and a light step.

When a working man spotted this beautiful boy wrapped in the robe of nobility, he went to him with deference and asked, “What are you looking for?”

And Joseph answered politely, “I am looking for my brothers, the sons of Israel. Please tell me where they are feeding the sheep.”

The man shook his head. “They left here,” he said. “I heard them say they were going to Dothan for better grazing.”

Joseph could have returned home then and said to his father, “They are all right. They are feeding the flock in Dothan.” He wouldn’t have been lying and he would have fulfilled his duty. But Joseph hadn’t seen his brothers for himself. He hadn’t gone all the way and greeted his brothers in his father’s name and seen with his own eyes that all was well. He would have to talk to them and see if there was anything they needed, too, before he returned to his father. He would give them his father’s love just as Jesus[viii], years later, would bring his Father’s love ot his wayward brothers.

However, joseph’s brothers saw him long before he reached them. There were nine of them, all grown men. But they were mean and they were cowards. Long ago, when Shechem had dishonored the family by violating their sister, Dinah, they had shown their true characters by their cowardly obnoxious act.

Accordingly, they watched Joseph come and plotted to kill him, throw him in a pit, and tell their father he was killed by a wild beast.

Joseph’s oldest brother, Reuben, had proved himself to be foolish, unreliable, and disrespectful in the past; but when he heard his brothers plotting to murder his little brother, he said, “N, wait a minute! That’s going a little too far. Don’t kill the kid. Just throw him into a pit for a while. That’ll fix him.” He told himself he would let him out when the others weren’t looking. Then he went about his business and forgot his brothers for a while.

Joseph didn’t expect his brothers to welcome him with open arms so he was surprised when they came running toward him with their arms flung wide. Before he could take in what was happening, those big strong men had fallen upon him and stripped the royal robe from his un-resisting form and thrown him into a pit.

The pit was empty of water but was dark and infested with vermin. Joseph began to cry for his brothers to lift him back out, but there only response was a harsh laugh as they walked away. Then his brothers spread their noon meal out and began to eat to the sound of their little brother’s pitiful pleading.

Joseph was still after a while and listened in unbelief and horror as his brothers plotted his death while they calmly filled their stomachs.

Then, off in the distance, he heard an approaching caravan. He would scream for help. Maybe his brothers would lift him out before strangers came t see their evil deed.

But the cry had barely left his lips when one of his brothers cried, “Kill him quick and shut him up before the strangers come and find us out.”

Judah, however, was searching in his mind for a way to keep his brothers from killing joseph. As he looked down the road that looked from the fords of the Jorden toward the coast of the Mediterranean, his eyes lighted on the approaching company. The road was a main thoroughfare and connected the territories beyond the Jorden with the sea coast. From there the road southward through Philistia and the Delta to the Nile were well traveled and easy going. Judah saw the long string of patient camels and guessed that they were Ishmaelite’s going from Gilead with spices, balm and myrrh to sell in Egypt for emblements. He also knew there was a great demand for slaves in Egypt, and these merchants were in the habit of buying slaves in their passage and selling them in Egypt.

So Judah turned to his brothers and cried, “Wait! What will it profit us to kill him and hide the deed? I have a better idea. Let’s sell him to these Midianite traders and then we won’t be responsible for killing our own brother. He is, after all, our own flesh and blood.”

Hence Joseph, in shocked silence, was lifted from the pit and sold for twenty shekels of silver. His life was saved, but for what? He who had worn the robe of royalty was now only one in a long line of fettered slaves, bound for a foreign land.

Anguish tore his heart and dry tears burned in the back of his young eyes. No way to send a message to his poor old father and let him know he was alive even! And what was his God doing? Did he care? Joseph remembered how Yahweh dealt with his father in mercy and grace. He remembered his great care of the past, and his heart was soothed. “Oh how deep are the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How un-searchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out.”[ix]

They traveled south from the direction that Joseph had come, but he knew that when they finally got as far south as Hebron, they would be miles to the west with no chance of anyone from his home seeing him even if they had been disposed to glance at a bunch of slaves.

The road was long and hard. The fettered slaves sometimes fell into each other. If one lagged behind, they all bore the punishment. Many times on that long journey Joseph had to remind himself Yahweh knew where he was and would take care of him. And just when He was beginning to doubt there would ever be an end, to this tramping in chains through endless wilderness, they reached a well-populated ribbon of green amid the waste of sand. And Joseph found himself the property of Potiphar, captain of the guard.

 

[i] Like 19:10

[ii] John 17:18

[iii] Genesis 34:30

[iv] Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42; John 5:30

[v] Psalm 36:6

[vi] Psalm 19:1, 2

[vii] Nahum 1:7

[viii] Yeshua

[ix] Romans 11:33

Joseph, Son of a Prince With God

Joseph

Part One

Early Days

Joseph walked the long miles through the desert dragging a chain between his legs there was plenty of time for visions of his eventful youth to dispel the depressive feeling of nonentity trying to take control of his tortured young mind. These memories he deliberately set before his self as a testimony of a life to hold fast to.

H reached into the farthest recesses of his memory and pulled out the files, one by one. First there was the time when he was still a babe in arms, about six years old – one of his first memories – when his father picked him up and set him, with his mother, on the back of a kneeling camel. He remembered the secure feeling while he was in his father’s arms, and the mingled fear and excitement as he was placed before his mother. Then, before he could guess what was going to happen, the camel rose in the air with a swaying motion that nearly took his breath away. The memory was still, after all these years, accompanied by a slight feeling of dizziness. Then he remembered a feeling of wonder as they begin to move forward. He remembered the thrill as his mother explained they were all leaving. Joseph’s ten brothers, his sister, Dinah, his aunts, with his father’s livestock as well as all their other personal possessions were never going to return to the land of his birth.

Ignoring the heavy iron chains that burned into his flesh and slowed his gait, Joseph focused his attention on the events of that journey that were sharp in his memory.  There was the argument ten days into their trip between his father and grandfather in the hill country of Gilead when everyone seemed to be holding their breath. It seemed that his grandfather had been angry at his father for leaving without saying good-bye. And Joseph’s father had been angry about the ill treatment Joseph’s grandfather was guilty of. The argument ended when the two of them built up a great heap of stones on the mountain that would separate the grandfather and father forever. They had a big feast that night and the following morning Joseph’s grandfather kissed them all good-bye, and that was the last time Joseph ever saw him.

Joseph could remember the panic that spread through the camp when the news came that the dread Uncle Esau was on his way to meet them with 400 followers. Joseph was sitting with his mother on the camel while his father rushed about dividing his family and stock and lining them up.

They were in the narrow Jabbok Valley and everywhere he looked he saw scarred limestone cliffs, very different from the grasslands around the home he had known all his life. Joseph and his mother were directed to stay at the end of the long line of family and stock. They would be safe back there, his mother said, but Joseph didn’t like being so far away from his father.

He remembered his very flesh was tingling with excitement. The whole thing was extremely exhilarating. Whoever, the thing that made the greatest impression on his young mind was that prayer of his father’s.

His big strong father, who seemed a tower of strength and reliability to Joseph, looked toward the heavens and cried out to the God of his fathers. He prayed humbly, reminding Yahweh of his mercy and his guiding care and revealed truth. Then he pled, with the conviction of one who knows Yahweh hears and answers prayer, for the deliverance from Uncle Esau. He pled for the lives of his family and reminded Yahweh of his promise to bless them.

Then his father sent presents to Uncle Esau and lay down to sleep.

Joseph’s father, Jacob, knew the principle that, years later, wise Solomon and his father, David, would record that, “A gift in secret pacifies anger…I laid down and slept: I awakened for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of peoples who have set themselves against me round about.”[i]

That was a night of somber anticipation when they crossed over the ford of the Jabbok River without the trusted father. But in the morning, when his father limped into camp to get his family ready to cross the Jabbok for the third time, the mark of royalty was on his countenance.

Later, he told Joseph of the struggle with the Man and the resulting blessing. And Joseph set his own face to seek Yahweh’s blessing.

The family moved across the river with Joseph and his mother on the rear camel. Uncle Esau and his 400 men were approaching the front.

But when Uncle Esau reached them he wasn’t a roaring wild man to be feared at all. He grabbed Joseph’s father and hugged and kissed him, weeping for joy.

Joseph would never forget the delight he felt at the sight. He laughed and took his mother’s face in his hands and said, “Oh see! Don’t you see what our God has done? He has taken the angry heart of the dread uncle and made it soft and loving.”

Joseph remembered the house at Succoth and the journey to Shechem only slightly; but the terrible thing that happened there was stamped into his memory forever. There was the horror that his father felt when his sister was defiled; the rage of his brothers; the deceit and finally, the massacre. Oh the shame of it! His brothers even had to be told to get rid of their false gods before they could flee to Bethel.

But in Bethel the whole family formally entered into a covenant with Yahweh. His father took him aside and showed him the very place where the foot of the mystic ladder had set on the ground so many years ago when he was a young man running from his brother’s wrath. Joseph listened well as his father told of the angels walking up and down the ladder, and how the Lord stood above it and spoke to him.

The covenant promise was etched solidly into Joseph’s memory cells and his whole being thrilled at his own part in that promise. The impression went deep into his heart and grew with each succeeding event of his life.

Joseph’s being thrilled again when he heard the story of how Yahweh changed his father’s name to Israel. His father explained that it was a re-affirmation of what he had been told when he struggled with Yahweh on the banks of the Jabbok while they waited for Uncle Esau. Joseph rejoiced that his father was a prince with God and knew in his heart Israel was an ideal for the son of Israel to model.

They left Bethel – the House of Yahweh – and headed for Bethlehem. The death of Deborah, his grandmother’s nursemaid, while they were still at Bethel, hadn’t made much of an impression on Joseph. Deborah was pretty much an unknown quantity in his young life. His father wept for her and joseph understood that she was a link to his grandmother. But his grandmother was already buried with his great-grandfather Abraham and great-grandmother Sarah in a cave in the field of Machpelah. He had never seen her.

Death was a face of life for Joseph but it didn’t pierce his soul with awful pain until he heard the weak cries of his mother just a short distance from Bethlehem.

One day there would be joyful scenes in this same place. Ruth would meet Boaz here and a beautiful story of love and faith would unfold. One day David would watch his sheep here and sing of his faith in his God. Here another Joseph would walk beside the as that carried Mary who, in turn, carried the Savior of the world in her womb.

But for Joseph, this was the place where his mother lost her own life as she ushered in the life of his little brother.

Joseph loved his little brother passionately. Perhaps his love was greater for his brother because Benjamin was his mother’s last gift to him and his father. Joseph and his father had always been close, but after that day, they were even closer. The three of them – Joseph, his father, and Benjamin – would have to comfort one another. The rest of the family couldn’t understand quite how they felt.

They buried her there on the narrow road to Bethlehem with a pillar to mark her resting place.

The way to Hebron from Bethlehem was hard for Joseph. He was all alone so much now. His half-brothers didn’t know what it was like to be the only son of a loving mother and have her wretched from his life at such an early age. A little later they buried his 103 year old grandfather and this new death poured salt in Joseph’s wounds. He suffered the death of his mother all over again.

But joseph had a God who is full of mercy and grace. As Job said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at the later day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold and not another.”[ii] Joseph had that same faith in that same God, and that faith was the fabric of the hope that he had of a reunion in eternity.

Young Joseph was seventeen years old, in his next memory, and living with his father in the land of Canaan. His half-brothers Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher were feeding their father’s flock and Joseph was working with them. But Joseph had another job. He was to watch his brothers and tell his father how they behaved. They had, more than once in the past, behaved very badly and it behooved their father to keep an eye on them. Consequently he gave the one son he could trust they duty of telling him when they did anything that would bring their father shame. Benjamin was still too young for the fields.

No one likes to be spied on and told on but the one who never does any wrong. Joseph’s half-brothers had long ago hardened their consciences and as a result did more wrong than right. He who is faithful in little is also faithful in much and he who is unjust in the least is also unjust in much. So Joseph’s father left the older unjust sons in the field and promoted Joseph. He gave him a long flowing white linen robe that extended to his ankles and wrists. It was embroidered with a long strip of color along the edge of the shirt and sleeves and was the kind of robe worn only by the opulent and noble who didn’t need to toil for a living. If this robe had been given to Reuben, his brothers wouldn’t have objected. He was the oldest and the natural heir to the position. The short colored garments of the laborer were their lot. They expected to go on wearing them the rest of their lives. They didn’t show stain, or cramp the free movement of their limbs as they waded through marshes or climbed hills. The robe that Joseph’s father gave him was not fit to wear while carrying stray sheep or fighting robbers or beasts. The older sons wouldn’t have minded if Reuben had been exempt from such hardship and toil. The richest inheritance and position would naturally go to the oldest. But their father couldn’t trust the oldest, so he gave it to the son he could trust. And Joseph was the son his father could trust in his old age.

 

 

[i] Proverbs 21:14; Psalms 3:5, 6 KJV slightly paraphrased by Allison Kohn

[ii] Job 19:25-27