genesis

Chapter 36

“Their possessions were too great for them to remain together [with his brother Jacob]; the land where they were staying could not support them both because of their livestock. So Esau [that is Edom] settled in the hill country of Seir.” (v.7-8)

This reminded me of the movie Sunshine. OK, it’s a bit of leap from Esau’s time to deep space in 2057, but there is a line in the film where the main character describes the purpose of mission – that the earth was mined for every last mineral and useful resource to create a payload (bomb) that would hopefully reignite the dying Sun. Hearing this was a lightbulb moment; I realised that the earth’s primary resources – air, water, earth – are ultimately finite. Unlike Esau and other people of his time, the majority of us are not conscious that our natural resources are limited. We are not sensitive to our environment. Our earth already struggles to feed us. If treated badly enough, there must come a point where those resources just can not be renewed. Yes, one day there will be a ‘new heaven and a new earth’. But I think God also requires us to be good stewards and care for his creation. [03-03-2008]

Chapters 37-40

Ghastly incidents aside, these stories all seem to have a common thread. They are about family relationships, loyalty, honour and duty, moral character, jealousy. Human nature under a microscope. How little things have changed. We think today’s society is so much more advanced. Take a look around. Yeah, right. [03-03-2008]

Chapter 38

How to make sense of this story? What does it teach us? I really feel for Tamar. Married into this family, and possibly even to their God. The shame she must have experienced for not having a child, and living with the stigma of being considered barren. Who knows what insults were hurled in her face, or if there was laughing behind her back. When she walked into a room did people suddenly stop talking in the way they do when you know you are the topic of conversation? How isolated she must have felt. And foolish for trusting Judah for such a long time? Angry? Absolutely! Heck! I would have been spitting chips! When she realised that Judah was not going to honour his promise, I guess she did what she thought she had to. Desperate times call for desperate measures. But her actions backfire badly – she is then accused of prostitution and almost put to death. Only her earlier strategic move – smart girl – and Judah’s final humiliation save her. (He could have had her put to death anyway. The others would have been none the wiser. Problem solved.) Maybe this illustrates what happens when we don’t trust God and try and take control of our own lives. (i.e. life goes pearshaped.) I need to check some commentaries on this one. [03-03-2008]

Chapters 40-43

This is such a familiar story to those of us who grew up in Sunday School. It says a lot about Joseph’s character, and his faithfulness to God. How easy it would have been to become bitter, and adopt the practices of the new land. Sold off by your brothers when you were 17, and imprisoned. And yet he finds favour with the guard, and ends up Pharoah’s right hand man. In stark contrast, how could the cupbearer forget about the man who saved him, leaving him in the dungeons for another 2 years? How could Simeon’s family leave him behind for however long it took them to eat through their supplies? I found this quite incredible – especially Simeon’s experience. I wonder if other prisoners spoke about Joseph while he was locked away? Did they mention that he too came from a far away place? How did Simeon respond when his family finally showed up? Apart from these questions, I liked being reminded that God can speak to us through dreams. But that only he can interpret them. I think it’s clear where this leaves New Age practices, but what of modern psychology? When does psychology move into the realm of the occult? We need to test dreams, just as we would any other “sign”, to check that it is indeed from God. Interpreting tongues is a spiritual gift. Could dream interpretation be a gift too – like Joseph’s God-given ability? Sometimes I think we don’t give enough attention to spiritual warfare and giftings. On a trivial note, according to the NIV, this is the only time that pistachios are mentioned in the Bible. (43:11) [10-03-2008]

Chapters 44-47

Can this be right? Is this an account of economic slavery? Back in Chapter 41 we read of Joseph’s grand plan for living through the famine by stockpiling food grown during the seven good years. Then when the famine arrived, the food was sold to the Egyptians. Didn’t they grow the food in the first place? Why should they have to buy it back? That seems to be a gross injustice. But it gets worse in Chapter 47. The famine was so severe that after all their money was gone, the people traded their livestock, then their land, and finally themselves, for grain. (47:13-20) They have effectively become slaves to the state. Forced to buy back the food that they had grown in the first place. Can this be right? [17-03-2008]

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