7/17 Reading (Genesis 37-39; Luke 11)

Genesis 37: This chapter is about Joseph, Israel’s first son with Rachel. He is also his favorite son, which upsets his brothers. He describes two dreams he has, both showing domination over his family. As can be expected, this upsets his brothers even more. After he continues to receive more favoritism from his father, some of his brothers plot to kill him when he travels to where they are tending their livestock. But instead of killing him, they tear off his special cloak and throw him in a pit. Their brother Judah convinced them to sell him as a slave. They then trick their father, Israel, and make him think Joseph was killed by a wild animal. Israel goes into mourning. The ends with Joseph being sold to even more people.

There’s a lot of deceitful things going on here. Joseph being sold and Israel thinking he’s dead. Jealousy is a tough thing.

Genesis 38: First thing, there’s a lot of sex in this chapter. Some of it has some interesting details. I wonder how people who think of the Bible as pure view this chapter. I also find it interesting that many people are uncomfortable whenever the conversation turns to sex. After reading this chapter, I wonder why that is? If it’s acceptable to talk about sex in the Bible, then why does it bother people?

Here’s what this chapter was about: Judah, Joseph’s brother, left his family to start his own family. He had three sons. He found a wife (Tamar) for his first son, but that son was evil, so God killed him. Judah told his second son to lay with Tamar to conceive and produce offspring. “‘Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her; raise up offspring for your brother.’ ⁹ But since Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, he spilled his semen on the ground whenever he went in to his brother’s wife, so that he would not give offspring to his brother” (Gen 38.8-9). This bothered God, so he killed that son. Judas told Tamar that she would remain a widow until the third son was old enough to lay with her. Over this time Judah’s wife died. Soon after Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law, concealed herself and tricked Judah into thinking she was a prostitute. He saw her and said “Come, let me come in to you” (Gen. 38.16). He promises her one of his sheep as payment and she agreed as long as he gave her his signet, cord, and staff as collateral. They did it, she left, and was pregnant. Judah tried to provide his payment at a later date but couldn’t find the prostitute, still not knowing it was Tamar. Three months later Judah found out that Tamar was pregnant and he wanted to burn her for being a whore. However, she had the collateral and presented it when questioned. Judah realized that Tamar was the prostitute and owned up to his deed. She had twins. The chapter ended with the following:

While she was in labor, one put out a hand; and the midwife took and bound on his hand a crimson thread, saying, “This one came out first.” ²⁹ But just then he drew back his hand, and out came his brother; and she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore he was named Perez. ³⁰ Afterward his brother came out with the crimson thread on his hand; and he was named Zerah. (Gen. 38.28-30)

As I said at the beginning of my reflection for this reading, there was a lot of sex in this chapter. It was everywhere. It really does make me wonder why our society acts like conversations about sex are taboo. Also, there is significance in the last bit about the order of the birth, I just don’t know it yet. At least, I think there is.

Genesis 39: Back to Joseph again. Joseph’s master, Potiphar, in Egypt finds that Joseph is blessed by God, so he continues to give Joseph more and more authority over his household. This makes sense because the Potiphar prospered with Joseph around. However, things start to go south when Potiphar’s wife takes a liking to Joseph and asks him to have sex with her. He refused multiple advances. She wouldn’t be denied, so she forcefully grabbed his garment and tried to force him to have sex with her. He flees, but he leaves his garment there. She used this to accuse Joseph of attempting to rape her. So, off to prison for Joseph. But, since God was protecting Joseph, the chief jailer liked him and gave him authority over all of the prisoners. The chief jailer started to prosper.

Part of me feels a little sorry for Joseph. He is just trying to do the right thing and he continues to get taken advantage of. That being said, since God is protecting him, he seems to be doing just fine.

Luke 11: My first thought while reading this chapter was the Jesus pissed off a lot of people. He challenged the status-quo. He pushed the boundaries on everything. He challenged the rich to do more. He pushed the powerful to do more. But he also pushed everyone to do more. To become better by following God and helping your neighbors. It’s clear why this made a lot of people very angry, especially the wealthy and the powerful. He did some impressive things that pushed the envelope. I like it!

In this chapter Jesus teaches his disciples a version of the lord’s prayer (Notes say to see Mt. 6.9-13 for a more elaborate version). He then tells a parable that focuses on persistence. I didn’t quite get this part until I read the notes. To me my first thought was that Jesus was telling his followers they can have whatever they ask for. Here’s what he said: “‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11.9-10)

This was followed by Jesus continuing to cast out demons from people. This leads to more people testing Jesus and a conversation about Beelzebul, the ruler of demons. Jesus ends this discussion with the following statement: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Luke 11.23). I immediately read this as almost like an ultimatum. The accompanying notes argue that this statement “registers the uncompromising demands of Jesus’ call to discipleship” (p. 1852). What this means is that when it comes to a fight between Jesus and the demons, don’t remain neutral.

It’s near the end of this chapter when I really started to think about what I said in my reflection above. Jesus admonishes the Pharisees and the lawyers here. He challenges them and calls them out on their lack of willingness to help others. You see at the end that they are starting to conspire against him: “When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, ⁵⁴ lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say” (Luke 11.53-54).

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