Exodus 4

Don’t want to be chosen.

I remember C S Lewis’ autobiography talking about being dragged “kicking and screaming” into the kingdom. 

It’s hard to demand your people’s freedom from the ruler who came up with the male infanticide policy, and threaten to kill his first born. Moses has run away from a life of unique privilege because he fears he may be killed for his rash murder of an abusive Egyptian he came upon. 

He’s given magical signs to show he is speaking with power. But he still doesnt want to speak to the Pharaoh. 

God says memorably “who gave human beings Thier mouths” and burns with anger at his chosen. 

And puts in place a plan B, to use his brother Aaron as mouthpiece.

On the journey back to Egypt, God seems to test the family is loyal to him, even though zipporah, Moses’ wife, is not an Israelite. She gets the gist the way women seem to and circumscises her first baby son. 

The people, when he arrives, worship God for sending a solution, albeit a flawed one, to their slavery and persecution.

Exodus 1

Genesis ended on a high with Joseph 2ic in Egypt and his family, the kernel of the nation of Israel in a privileged position.

But Joseph’s generation passes, and as the people thrive and the regime changes, xenophobia, or more specfically the world’s first anti semitism policy takes hold.

They are enslaved and cruel policies are introduced to have the baby boys killed.

God inspires and rewards kindness on the part of midwives charged with implementing the infanticide. Israel continues to thrive. 

The entire Egyptian population are encouraged to throw Israel’s male babies into the river on sight.

I love how god is in the kindness and mercy of the individual midwives’ passive protest. That is who I believe in.

Genesis 50

Massive happy ending, a bit of a rarity for old testament books. Joseph buries his father up in Canaan as he requested. 

He forgives his brothers again, emphasising the nature of god’s grace. They did indeed mean him harm but it was all part of the mighty plan, so who is he to hold a grudge. The brother’s do feel truly guilty for what they did.

Joseph lives a long and happy life. 

Genesis 49

Jacob gathers all the sons as he dies. And doesn’t pull any punches giving each a blessing that recalls their strengths and weaknesses in poetic form. 

The first three are strong, but Reuben the first born’s future will be constrained because of his incestuous relationship with Jacob’s concubine.

Simeon and Levi are strong but their bloodthirsty revenge for their sister Dinah back in chapter 34 still stains them. 

So he goes on though them, a clearly messianic prophesy for Judah. He will hold the “rulers scepter” until the one comes who owns it and claims the obedience of nations.

Joseph gets the greatest blessing, the best among brothers, blessed by the almighty, and rightly so. No one can call it boasting now.

And he dies. The one who walked a crooked path to his faith, who struggled with God. The embodiment of the contradictions of genesis, of humanity.

Genesis 46

The Israelites all come. It’s a list chapter. Heartfelt moment when Joseph hugs his father. 

God speaks to Jacob/Israel and promises good when they get to Egypt, and to bring them back.

It starts with a plan to keep them separate, which seems like a diplomatic win win for both peoples. The Israelites will be shepherds in goshen. It is a verdant bit of rural land near the nile Delta, it will mean geographic and cultural separation. 

They will be nomadic shepherds, something very unattractive to the urbanised Egyptians, self supporting, so no economic or social threat.

Should work out, shouldn’t it?

Anyway, sometimes it is god’s will to go to Egypt.

Genesis 45

Joseph reveals himself. He’s full of praise for God, his planning, so there are no recriminations directed at his brothers. Though as he sends them off to fetch their father and households, he tells them not to argue on the way. 

Such a happy ending. Though in the back of my mind I’m remembering that the next book is exodus, where the nation of Israel are shaves in Egypt trying desperately to leave. There has already been mention of how the Egyptians detest the Israelites. 

We still have a long long path until the Messiah comes. 

Still, this is a great lesson in how, as the old hymn says “God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year”.

I’m 54. Lots of years left, most likely. What has God for in store for me?

Genesis 44

Joseph continues to seriously punk his brothers, engineering a false accusation of theft to justify demanding that Benjamin, his only full brother, stay in Egypt as his slave and not return to his homeland and father.

Enough already, this has been going on for chapters. What is going on? 

Judah’s response answers, I think. He offers and impassioned and brave defense talking about how loved the youngest brother is, how it would break their fathers heart… He even mentions the other brother who “died” IE: Joseph.

He offers himself in substitute as slave.

Back in chapter 38, the brothers as a group came up with the plan to kill Joseph. 

Reuben softened the plan by suggesting they put him down a well (the word used in my translation was”cistern”. I hope it was a well). 

It was Judah who came up with the suggestion of selling him into slavery. He said at the time it would prevent his blood being on their shoulders.

The summary of Joseph’s fate is”he died” however. And now Judah is offering to sell himself into slavery to avoid that fate for another younger, loved, brother.

He lived though the silent shame of their father’s grief over Joseph. 

He came face to face with his own callousness and hypocrisy over the birth of his own son to Tamar, who had to trick him by posing as a prostitute to conceive the heir.

He made a solemn vow to his father to protect Benjamin on the journey to Egypt to get food.

This is a man with a lot of bad mistakes behind him, repentant, pleading to offer his liberty for anothers.

That’s what Joseph is about. That’s what he has drawn out. Time for the reveal, I think.

Genesis 43

The brothers need more food and they know to go back to Egypt they must take Benjamin, the youngest and Joseph’s only full brother. Rachel their mother died giving birth to him.

It tears papa Israel apart. You’d think he’d rather they starve.

Judah promises earnestly to keep him safe. Rachel was Israel’s true love, and the lost Joseph was his favoured son. Judah’s vow is ironic since it was  his jealous plan to get rid of Joseph.

When they arrive Joseph embraces Benjamin and runs away to weep in his bedroom, deeply moved. He keeps organising them to get silver valuables and they panic, thinking they’ll be accused as thieves. The chapter ends in a big feast. But still they don’t know who he is.

Genesis 42

Egypt is rich in a time of famine, under Joseph (and god’s) stewardship. The brother’s come, and so starts a multi chapter lesson in grace.

Joseph is almost toying with them. There is no question of him forgiving them. He has seen god’s plan in all of it. 

But they don’t recognise him so he sets tasks of faith for them, they must trust his words, and he engineers grace. He gives them more than they asked for, and their guilty consciences keep them in a fine state of panic the more good things happen.

They desperately need to be schooled in faith, goodness and grace. We’ve seen into some of their lives. 

This is god’s transformation of the whole family into the nation of Israel, his people.

Oh that I could be this influence.  In my family, in my world. 

I love the non preachy nature of it. Joseph is where he is by acts of grace and faith. And he demonstrates rather than speaks it to his brothers. 

Genesis 41

The epitome of the “old testament story”. In a stunning reversal of fortune, Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream and goes from jail to 2ic in charge of all of Egypt.

One mention of God: as the source of the dream and the interpretation. But he is directing everything.

Everyone in my immediate family is in some kind of pain. And some kind of rebellion against God. Reverse it father, reverse it!