Tag Archives: Adventure

From slaves to Soldiers

Chapter 21

 

The Canaanite king of Arad in the Negev (in the south) attacked Israel and took prisoners. Israel made a vow to Yahweh that if he would deliver the Canaanite people into their power that they would destroy everything as a holy destruction. We must remember that Israel lived in 1,200 BC and reflected the culture of that time. Yahweh had told them not to be buddies with the cultures of the land he was giving them.[1] When Canaan attacked them and they went to Yahweh for help, at least, some of them would have remembered Yahweh’s promise to give them the land; and that the land had vomited the Canaanites out because of their sin. The Canaanite people were an extremely violent people involved in and promoting idolatry, gang rape, bestiality, child sacrifice, and many other evil and grotesque practices.[2] Yahweh answered their supplication and they defeated Arad and named it Hormah which means Holy Destruction.

Israel set out from along the Red Sea Road, a detour around Edom. Yahweh wouldn’t have allowed them to go to war with Edom so they had to take a longer way around. They became petulant and cantankerous as they walked and spoke out against Yahweh and Moses. They asked Moses why he yanked them out of Egypt to die in that god-forsaken country. Since Yahweh was giving them manna, had given them water from the rock twice, and victory over their attacking enemies twice it would seem to the reader that their complaints were ridiculous. As Guy Winch says, “The constant negativity issuing forth from chronic complainers presents a huge challenge for those around them. And nothing makes chronic complainers happier than being more miserable than their friends. Trying to remain positive, motivated and productive amid a constant stream of complaints and dissatisfaction can try anyone’s patience.”[3] Any of the Israelites who were predisposed to have positive attitudes would have soon succumbed to negativity themselves under the pressure from the constant griping and moaning.

Israel purported to not being able to stand it anymore so Yahweh sent poisonous snakes to put them out of their misery. Many of them died and the people went to Moses and admitted that their attitude was a sin against Yahweh and him. They asked him to go implore Yahweh to take the snakes away.

Moses went to Yahweh and his God told him to make a snake and put it on a pole. He said that anyone who looked at it would live. Years later, Yeshua told the leader who came to him by night and asked how to be born again, “No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.”[4] The snake on the pole did at least two things. It pictured Yeshua/Jesus on the cross and it gave the chosen people an opportunity to make the decision to believe Yahweh when he said that looking at that man-made serpent would give them life. They couldn’t possibly understand how looking at a cooper snake formed by Moses and put on a pole could credibly give them life. Those who made the choice to believe Yahweh and looked at the snake as commanded by Yahweh lived. In the same way, when we, today, “look at” Yeshua/Jesus on the cross believing that he died so that we could have life, we live.

The narrator recorded four camps before they reached the Arnon River that marked the border between Amorite country and Moab. Moses, at Yahweh’s command, gathered the people and their God gave them water from a well. They named the place The Well and sang the song we have adapted for our use in community worship service.

They sang something like this:

“Erupt, Well!
Sing the Song of the Well,
the well sunk by princes,
Dug out by the peoples’ leaders
digging with their scepters and staffs.”

We sing, “Spring up O Well, within my soul. Spring up O Well, and make me whole. Spring up O Well, and give to me, your life abundantly!”

We equate the well with the water of life that Yeshua promised[5] and Jeremiah talked about when he said that those who reject the fountains of living water – Yahweh – will be ashamed.

Israel traveled to the valley that opens into the fields of Moab where the summit rises and overlooked the wasteland. They sent agents to the king of the Amorites asking for permission to cross their land, promising to keep to the road and not trespass or drink from their wells.

“[The Amorites were an] ancient tribe of Canaanites, technically not of Canaanite ethnicity, the Amorites appear as nomadic clans ruled by fierce tribal chiefs, who forced themselves into lands they needed to graze their herds. Some of the Akkadian literature of this era speaks disparagingly of the Amorites, and implies that the Akkadian and Sumerian speakers of Mesopotamia viewed their nomadic and primitive way of life with disgust and contempt, for example:
“The MAR.TU who know no grain… The MAR.TU who know no house nor town, the boors of the mountains… The MAR.TU who digs up truffles… who does not bend his knees (to cultivate the land), who eats raw meat, who has no house during his lifetime, who is not buried after death[6]

“The rise of the Amorite kingdoms in Mesopotamia brought about deep and lasting repercussions in its political, social, and economic structure, especially in southern Mesopotamia[7].”

“Amorites succeeded in invading Mesopotamia and by about 1700 BC their descendants created the Babylonian Empire, centered on their capital city of Babylon (the old city of Akkad).[8]

They not only wouldn’t let Israel pass through their land, but they attacked Israel in the wilderness. Israel fought hard and defeated them decisively. They took possession of Amorite cities and surrounding settlements. The narrator wrote that Heshbon was the capital city of Sihon king of the Amorites. He had attacked the former king of Moab and captured all his land as far north as the river Arnon. The narrator recorded a folk song about Heshbon and its devastation.

While they were living in Amorite country Moses sent scouts to other Amorite country where they drove out the inhabitants and moved in. When they turned north on the road to Bashan (which contained sixty walled cities and many unwalled towns) the king of Og marched out to meet Moses in battle. The king was a giant of a man but Yahweh assured Moses that he should not be afraid of him because he, Yahweh, was giving Moses victory over him and his people. Israel defeated Og and took no prisoners. The narrator wrote that there wasn’t a single survivor.

 

Summary of chapter 21

This chapter started with the conflict with Arad (a small border chieftain). The narrator wrote about the experience of the fiery serpents (Many, many times before this the sinful and unreasonable complaints of the people of God had long ago exceeded the merciful and understanding forbearance of God[9].) The narrator gave the reader an abbreviated account of several of the encampments of Israel. He recorded the continued journey. “Of particular interest is the mention of ‘The Book of the Wars of Jehovah.’ Moses here quoted from it; but we cannot know all that was in it or in fact anything that was in it except what is quoted here. Certainly, it has the utility of showing that ‘books’ were being written in that era of time, and that there were perhaps many of them. Writing had been known for centuries, as witnessed by the Code of Hammurabi dated from about 2000 B.C.”[10]. The record of the well was not a case of Moses striking the rock and bringing forth water, but of Yahweh’s ordering a well to be dug; and the leaders of the people did the digging. That’s still the way Yahweh gives water to people all over the world. Yahweh works through the hands and hearts of his people. Finally, the narrator recorded the conflict with the Amorites, and a defeat of Bashan and the formal conquest of the land of Canaan began in earnest.[11]

 

Prayer: Lord I realize that there’s far more to this life than trusting in you for salvation. There’s also suffering for you. I know that the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting. I’m involved in the same kind of struggle I read that Israel went through, and I am made of the same clay that they were. I am still living in this corrupted body and need to hold tight to your hand as I walk this mortal road. You didn’t go to all the trouble of sending your Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. You came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in you is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust you has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. We are in the same condition as Israel was in the wilderness. Then, as now, your light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not interested in pleasing you. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates your light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. Nevertheless, anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes your light so the work can be seen for what it is – your salvation power. Thank you for your great love and mercy. I pray my love will flourish so that I will not only love much but also well. Show me how, moment by moment, to love appropriately. Help me to use my head and test my feelings so that my love is sincere and intelligent; and not just sentimental gush. Help me to live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life you will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making you attractive to all. I know that you, who started this great work in me will keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day you, Yeshua ha Mashiach, return.[12]

 

 

Things to think about

  1. We know that Arad wasn’t destroyed until after Joshua took Israel in to possess the land, so why do you think Israel named the town Holy Destruction after Yahweh gave them victory over Arad as recorded in this chapter?
  2. Holy destruction meant that the people didn’t take any booty from the defeated enemy as was the custom, but instead destroyed everything completely. Why do you think Yahweh didn’t want them to take the possessions of the Canaanites into the households of his chosen people?
  3. What does the story about Israel’s battle with Arad tell you about the character of Yahweh?
  4. The actions and words of the Israelite people when they accused Moses of yanking them out of Egypt to die in that god forsaken country were shameful. Do you recall ever having that attitude yourself? Israel’s salvation was to look up to the representation of Yahweh’s power and grace in the copper snake. What can we do when we find ourselves in the same situation?
  5. What does the story of the serpents and Yahweh’s provision for healing his people tell you about the character of Yahweh? Does he have a right to destroy evil societies and people? Why?
  6. What did the story of the well tell you about the character of Yahweh? What did it tell you about the people of Israel’s mood and the ambiance around the well they dug?
  7. Why do you think Moses sent ambassadors to ask permission to cross Amorite territory instead of just attacking them? Why do you think the king of Og marched out against Israel? What did this story tell you about Yahweh? Does he still have the power to topple and establish nations? What do your meditations on the subject tell you are the conditions under which Yahweh has taken ultimate power from nations in recent years?

 

 

[1] Exodus 23:27-31; Lev 18:24-28; 20:22-23;

[2] https://www.knowingthebible.net/the-extermination-of-the-canaanites

[3] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201107/how-deal-chronic-complainers

[4] John 3:13-15; Romans 8:3

[5] John 4:14; 7:38; Jeramiah 17:13

[6] Chiera 1934: 58 and 112 ww.ancient-origins.net/history-important-events/fierce-amorites-and-first-king-babylonian-empire-003269

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amorites

[8] http://quatr.us/westasia/history/amorites.htm#topbar

[9] https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/numbers-21.html

[10] IBID

[11] IBID

[12] Philippians 1,1’ John 3

The Baker Family Saga books

The Baker Family Saga

The Road West

By Allison Kohn
Series: The Baker Family Saga, 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 61,570. Language: English. Published: August 17, 2014. Category: Fiction » Christian » Historical
This is the first book in the Baker family sage, previously published as Evelyn’s Anxious Bench.Delores Ayotte says: Although this is a fictional novel, Author Allison Kohn does a great job of combining both fact and fiction to describe the extreme conditions of that era. “Evelyn’s Anxious Bench” is an easy-to-read, Christian novel which is sure to attract a wide reading audience.
Dianna’s Source of Strength

By Allison Kohn
Series: The Baker Family Saga, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 41,890. Language: English. Published: August 20, 2014. Category: Fiction » Christian » Historical
This is the second book in The Baker Family Saga. Dianna has grown into a beautiful young lady with the attending consequences.Love and danger are now a part of her life and she needs strength to endure and triumph.
Angels, Eagles, and Fire

By Allison Kohn
Series: The Baker Family Saga, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 42,210. Language: English. Published: August 21, 2014. Category: Fiction » Christian » Historical
This is the third book in the Baker Family Saga. There is danger around every corner. Richard runs into thieves on his way home. Linda and Pearl set a house on fire. Pearl meets a panther, and Alice, Donna, and Linda are the target of Chester Thomas.
Deep Trouble

By Allison Kohn
Series: The Baker Family Saga, Book 4. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 82,480. Language: English. Published: August 25, 2014. Category: Fiction » Christian » Historical
This is the forth book in The Baker Family Saga. Alice, Donna, and Rose are old enough to get a little culture in the big city of San Francisco, California. But the kind of culture they find when they get there is not what they expected. California in the gold rush days, even the end of them, is no place for gently nurtured young ladies. Being drugged and kidnapped is only the beginning.
Banner of Love

By Allison Kohn
Series: The Baker Family Saga, Book 5. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 51,950. Language: English. Published: August 25, 2014. Category: Fiction » Christian » Historical
This is the fifth book in the Baker Family Saga. The Civil War takes over the lives of the family because four of the young adults are visiting their married cousin, Mary, when war breaks out. Two of them side with the South and two of them side with the North. That is a cause for trouble, especially when Linda is one of the company in Mary’s home and. for that matter, in the battle field.

Review

My Review of
The Last Ember
by
Daneil Levin

A young American lawyer and former doctoral student in classics, Jonathan Martin, is summoned to Rome to examine a client’s ancient artifact and with a map of ancient Rome discovers secrets that will keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat from start to finish. The author has a flare for storytelling and did his research well. If you like history, adventure, mysteries, or thrillers you’ll love this book.

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 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.

Another review of Are The Stars Out Tonight

5.0 out of 5 stars Judith has stars in her eyes., July 3, 2014
By Sugar “Sugar” (WI, USA) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Are The Stars OutTonight (Kindle Edition)
Are the stars out tonight? By the time you finish reading this story you will know for sure that they are! Judith is a student of the stars, trying to figure out the secrets they hold and wondering if her parents are, indeed, amoungst them. She is beckoned to travel the stars and gets to see firsthand, what lies out there in the blackness.

There is a lot of technical terms that go along with this story, but Ms. Kohn has written the story in a way that helps you understand it. Are the Stars Out Tonight brings to the forefront the idea of God’s creation and how we, as earthlings, treat our planet.

http://www.amazon.com/Are-Stars-OutTonight-Allison-Kohn-ebook/dp/B00LDUVN2U/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404487368&sr=1-2

Review of Garden of Reflection

http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Reflection-Jacqueline-Coote-ebook/dp/B00K5YVOJC/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1404420949&sr=8-7&keywords=Garden+of+Reflection

What a wonderful read. This book drew me in and kept me interested to the end. It is a fantasy with a lesson that I enjoyed, even though I didn’t need the lesson. It is told so well I could almost hear the birds singing and the water falling in the fountain. The author paints wonderful pictures with her words. I recommend it to anyone, especially women, who has a working imagination.