7/19 Reading (Genesis 43-45; Luke 13)

Genesis 43: Reading this chapter reminded me that God renamed Jacob Israel, yet the text refers to him as Jacob in Gen. 42. The text refers to him as Israel in this chapter. It’s interesting how this one starts out. Apparently some time has passed because they are now out of grain again. They seem to have forgotten about the brother who is still in prison. Israel charges them with returning to buy more grain, but they declined because they were told they had to return with the youngest brother, Benjamin. At first Israel says no, but Judah convinces him saying “Then Judah said to his father Israel, ‘Send the boy with me, and let us be on our way, so that we may live and not die—you and we and also our little ones. ⁹ I myself will be surety for him; you can hold me accountable for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.’” (Gen. 43.8-9) Israel agrees and tells them to all bring gifts for the man (Joseph) along with the money from the first trip and more money to pay this time.

When they return Joseph has them taken to his house. They were fearful he would enslave them. But, it was to dine and for him to meet his brother Benjamin. They still didn’t know who he was. But they did notice that when they ate, Benjamin had five times as much food as they did. According to the notes this aligns with the earlier favoritism that Joseph enjoyed because his mother was Rachel, Israel’s favorite wife.

Genesis 44: Joseph tests his brothers again. He orders their sacks to be filled with grain, their money placed on top, and a silver cup placed in Benjamin’s sack. They then leave, but Joseph’s steward, who set this up, overtakes them and accuses them of theft. They empty their bags, see the silver cup, and return to Joseph to ask for his mercy. The brothers offer themselves as slaves to Joseph, but he says only Benjamin has to be his slave because of this theft. Judah steps up and tells the story of how Israel would be devastated and surely die if Benjamin isn’t returned to him. Judah says that he will forever be guilty if they leave Benjamin and he begs Joseph to take him instead. This was all a test to see if the brothers will treat Benjamin the same way they treated him. It seems they passed because of what happens in the next chapter (I had to read ahead).

Genesis 45: Joseph weeps and reveals himself to his brothers. He assures them that it was God who wanted him to go into slavery and end up in Egypt so he could one day save his family during the famine. Joseph, and the Pharaoh, invite his father, brothers, and their families to live in Egypt and not have to worry about going hungry or perhaps ending up in poverty. The brothers go home with many gifts to them their father what has happened. It’s interesting that the text refers to Jacob as Jacob and Israel in the last paragraph here. This is not the first time this has happened. Does this reflect different sources?

Luke 13: This chapter includes more examples of Jesus’ incredible acts and reactions from those who are in authority. He rebukes their criticism and even shames them.

On a side note, I have to admit, reading Luke can be very confusing and at times frustrating. Half of the time I’ve had to reread what Jesus told people because I didn’t understand what he was saying. I’ve noticed that periodically random stories are included in a chapter that don’t really seem to relate to the overall message. I wonder if it will be the same when I read the other gospels? My hope is that it won’t be as challenging, but we shall see.

Now, back to this chapter. Jesus warns everyone to repent so they don’t parish the way others have before them. This is suddenly followed by the parable about the man with a fig tree and his frustration that no fruit has grown for three years. He wants to remove it, but his gardener says ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. ⁹ If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13.8-9) Could this have to do with the importance of patience? If so, what does it have to do with repentance? The notes indicate to compare Mt 21.18–19; Mk 11.12–14 to this parable.

Jesus cures a woman who had been crippled for 18 years on the sabbath. This is what leads to people of authority, in this case the leader of the synagogue, to call Jesus our for this and to remind the followers that the sabbath is meant for rest. Jesus wasn’t too happy with him and this is where he shames the leader and the other opponents. I’m assuming this adds to the growing level of frustration towards Jesus.

Jesus continues on his way to Jerusalem, stopping in towns and villages to teach others and to cure others. His response to someone who asked if only a few will be saved confused me. This is what he said:

He said to them, ²⁴ “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. ²⁵ When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ ²⁶ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ ²⁷ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ ²⁸ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. ²⁹ Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. ³⁰ Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13.24-30)

Perhaps I’m being lazy, but I really have no clue as to what that means. The notes called this the “necessity of discipline for salvation” and refers to Mt 7.13–14,22–23; 8.11–12; 19.30; Mk 10.31 (p. 1857). Perhaps they can help me.

The chapter ends with some Pharisees, who I thought didn’t like Jesus, warning him that Herod wanted to kill him for his preaching. Jesus pretty much says that he can’t stop him.

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