A Study in Genesis
Goshen is where the Israel and his sons stayed in Egypt. Apparently Joseph did not want them to be in the palace or in the heart of idolatrous Egypt when they settled. All those in the house of Egypt left to bury Israel in Canaan. Only the little ones were left behind.
The term “days to come” is also translated “the last days” and is an interesting one. It refers to a time in the future when Elohim’s announced purposes for a particular group, a particular nation, or the world, were about to be consummated. The writer of Hebrews says that the last days were also the time of the arrival of the Messiah Yeshua (Heb. 1:1-2). Most often, it refers to Israel’s final rebellion against Elohim (Deut. 31:29) accompanied by a time of great trouble (Deut. 4:30, Ezek. 38:16), followed by the return of Yeshua (Hosea 3:5).
This is the first reference to illness in Scripture. We are not told how much time passed, but it was years. The individual blessings of Israel on his children and the two children of Joseph have significance for the historical development and have prophetic implications also.
They want to dwell in the land of Goshen. Joseph does not want them to stay in the palace of Pharaoh or even in the heart of Egypt. This appears to be an intentional act of Joseph. He knows that his father and brothers have a much bigger part of the bigger plan. They are not to become too “acquainted” with the idea of staying in Egypt.
Elohim came to Israel in a vision and told him to go down to Egypt. It is there that He will make a great nation of him. Elohim states that He will be with him. It is there that Jacob will die and Joseph will be by his side when he dies and will close his eyes.
Judah had just finished his impassioned speech concerning his father and his younger brother Benjamin. He offered to take the place of his brother and to be Joseph’s servant forever. Joseph was overcome with emotion.
Then mention of silver or money occurs twenty times in this account of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph was sold by his brothers for twenty pieces of silver. Now Joseph tests his brothers with silver. Joseph is very generous with them. He gives them more than their monies worth and secretly gives them their money back. This makes their supposed “ingratitude” they are accused of seem even worse.
Judah is protesting his father’s desire to send them back. Judah is now the spokesman for group and Reuben is not heard from again. They were told that they had to bring their little brother or else they could not get Simeon back nor could they get any food. They had to prove that they are a family as they first claimed, and not a sovereign nation spying on Egypt in order to later attack.
Ten of Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy grain. Jacob did not want Benjamin to go because he is the only other son of Rachel and he has taken Joseph’s place in his father’s affection. This is similar to what later happens to the tribes of Israel. Ten (the Northern Kingdom of Israel) are sent out into the world while two (the Southern Kingdom of Judah) stay in the land. Later all the sons of Israel were sent into the world for an extended period of time, just as all the tribes are dispersed in the world by Assyria and then Babylon for many centuries.
Keep in mind that these dreams that helped shape the events in Joseph’s life always occurred in twos. The dreams established matters and according to Torah, that must be done with two or more witnesses. The misfortunes of Joseph began and ended with these dreams.
The cupbearer and the baker are two servants that must be very trustworthy. If a scandal is among them, it could be hazardous to the kings health. The cupbearer would personally serve wine to the king. His loyalty had to be beyond reproach. He also held a position of great influence as a close and trusted adviser. Egyptian documents testify to the wealth and power of officials in this type of position.
Elohim was with Joseph. He prospered because Elohim blessed everything with which he was involved. Potiphar picked up on this and made him the overseer of his household. It was not uncommon for Asian slaves to be brought into the household and enjoy a superior status to the Egyptian slaves who worked in the fields. This was brought to light by an Egyptian papyrus called “Brooklyn 35.1446” from about 1833 – 1742 BC. Because of this, Joseph was given the opportunity to display his administrative talents to Potiphar. Unfortunately, he was also working very closely with Potiphar’s wife.
The time frame of this chapter is not easily ascertained. Many commentators say this is an interlude between the selling of Joseph to Potiphar to the time of his rise in power. If that were the case, then all the events in this chapter had to occur within about 23 years, which is difficult, but not impossible. There had to be time for Judah to marry, have three sons, one somewhat younger than the other two, and for them all to be of the age of marriage themselves. It is also possible that this chapter parallels some of the events in the preceding and proceeding chapters. The time of this chapter could start at the time of Jacob arriving in Shechem in chapter 33. The focus of this chapter is on Judah, his sons, and his daughter-in-law.
The events of this chapter take place sometime before the death of Isaac when Jacob and his family were living somewhere near Hebron. According to the genealogies given, Isaac died at 180 which would have made Jacob 120 at that time. Joseph had been sold into slavery approximately 12 years before the death of Isaac.
Esau had three wives. Two of them were from the daughters of Canaan. Rebekkah and Issac were disturbed with these two pagan wives of their son (Gen. 26:34). Esau never should have married these women. It is against Torah to marry Canaanites (Deut. 7:1-4). The drash, remez, or maybe even pashat message is that marriage to unbelievers or pagans is prohibited.
Elohim is calling Jacob back to Bethel where He wrestled with him all night. It is also where Elohim confirmed the Abrahamic covenant with Jacob. This chapter involves a re-commitment of Jacob and his family to serve Elohim.
Shechem loved Dinah and spoke tenderly to her. The thought of violent rape does not fit very well. The biggest problem with this union is that it’s not allowed according to Torah. Jacob should not have set up his home so close to the pagan city. He exposed his family to evil that otherwise could have been avoided.
Jacob had earlier arranged for his entourage to go to Esau in groups in order to affect an escape strategy. But since he has wrestled with Elohim the previous night, he knew he had nothing to fear. He is arranging his family and servants according to mothers and children.
Jacob is an intelligent man. He is offering great gifts and he also is determining an exit strategy. Now he is going to enter into prayer. Jacob is making laborious preparations for this confrontation. It is worth mentioning that trusting in Elohim does not mean that we should not be prepared.
Elohim told Jacob to leave and go back to the land of his fathers. This is where Elohim wants him. Elohim probably used the jealousy and suspicion of Laban to work His plan. He told his wives that they must leave because “Your dad has that look in his eye…” He is now going to lay out his case to his wives as to why they should leave.
The Hebrew term for the fruit is “duda’im.” This has been identified as “Mandragora officinarum” which grows wild in the fields. A chemical analysis of this fruit shows it contains purgative and narcotic substances. It had widespread medicinal use in ancient times and was thought to aphrodisiac powers. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sex was given the term “he’ mandragoriti” which means “Lady of the Mandrake.”
Laban was actually the grandson of Nahor. Bethuel was his father. However, this is common usage in Hebrew tradition. This also explains the supposed “gaps” in genealogies when doing comparisons. Grandfathers and great-grandfathers were often referred to as “fathers” in Scripture. Yeshua is often referred to as “son of David” although many generations separated them.
Isaac is reaffirming the blessing and the birthright as being the property of Jacob.
Here we have the case of the blessing of Jacob being bestowed to Jacob in an apparently treacherous fashion. However, Esau has already shown that he has no interest in the birthright. But after selling his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew, he shows no remorse for having done so. Then he further degrades his spiritual status by marrying Hittite women.
The descendants of Abraham and Issac are going to be regathered in the land of Israel. They will be called “sons of the living Elohim” (Hosea 1:11). We have the honor of being a part of Israel by being adopted sons of Elohim through the faithfulness of the Father (Romans 8:15-17). We too, will be brought in to the land of promise.
Abraham lived a long and full life. The phrase “he was gathered to his people” is saying that his family all gathered together before he died. Isaac is an often overlooked patriarch and that is not justifiable. Isaac was the only one who stayed in the land. He is the only one who was monogamous. He was also the only one who did not have his name changed. His life also displayed great faithfulness and trust in Elohim.
Note Abraham’s sensitivity to the importance of selecting a wife for his son. The responsibility was not taken lightly. Abraham seemed, once again, to realize that Elohim’s Torah did not allow for His people to marry pagan people (Deut. 7:1-4).
Sarah is the only woman whose age, death, and burial are distinctly noted in Scripture.
“After these things…” After the birth of Isacc, the expulsion of Ishmael, and the pact made with Abimelech, Elohim tests Abraham. We do not know what the time frame is, but it is probably years later, perhaps even twenty years after the birth of Isaac.
Elohim visited Sarah and made her fertile. A full 25 years had passed since Elohim first promised prosperity to Abraham. It was a year after Elohim last visited Abraham and Sarah and she bore a son just as promised. This is the first recorded instance of circumcision on the eighth day.
braham tells Abimelech’s men that Sarah is his sister. It would appear that Abraham’s life would have been in danger again had he said otherwise. The fact that they had no children gave this claim much credence.
Abraham and Lot displayed the act of loving their neighbor and loving the stranger among them. Obedience to this command has reaped blessings many times. These cases with Abraham and Lot are almost identical to what happened with the disciples after the resurrection of Messiah (Luke 24:28-31).
Torah states that all men must be circumcised before they partake of Passover (Exodus 12:48-49). Torah is very specific in that all eight day old baby boys and all men who wish to participate in Passover are to be circumcised.
Abram was already declared righteous by faithfulness in Gen. 15:6. Why must he now walk blameless before Elohim? Because Abram is demonstrating his faithfulness by walking blameless before Elohim. Israel was told to do the same thing (Deut. 18:13). We are told the same thing (Matt. 5:48).
Hagar was an Egyptian and was probably given to them by Pharaoh when they went to Egypt and Sarai was taken to Pharaoh. Hagar was given to Abram as a wife as desired by Sarai. We should keep in mind that all wives are not equal. If a man had more than one wife, one wife was primary and the others had a lower status. In this case, Sarai had primary status and Hagar was a lesser wife subject to Sarai as well as Abram.
Abram had just rescued Lot and his household from the kings of the east. He was probably fearful of their retribution. Elohim tells him not to fear them. Elohim is his shield. The enemy is powerless against him. Elohim tells Abram, “Your reward shall be very great.” Abram is going to find out more about his reward.
The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled for their lives. This is a display of the lack of character for which they were probably famous.
They split up with Lot taking the plain of Jordan and Abram dwelling the land of Canaan. Lot pitched his tent in a bad place. It would appear that he was dazzled by the affluence of the people and turned a blind eye to their immorality. The men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked against Elohim. Whether or not they knew the Torah of Elohim is essentially irrelevant. It did exist at this time because without the law (Torah), there is no transgression, and they were definitely transgressors (Rom. 4:15, 5:13).
Abram departed as Elohim instructed him. It is interesting that Lot appears to be voluntarily participating in this huge step of faithfulness also. Abram was not a young man when he did this. He was 75 years old. We are not told how old Lot is at this time. The journey that Abram is going to take is at least 1500 miles
All cultures have the same seven day work week that Elohim instituted for us at creation. Virtually all cultures from around the world have named that seven day week after five planets and the sun and moon. Consider the following: SUN-day, MOON-day, TUISCO, or Tuesday (Tuisco is the Anglo-Saxon term for Mars, WODEN’s-day (Woden is the word for Mercury), THOR’s-day (Thor is the same as Jupiter, FRIGA-day (Friga is the same as venus), and SATURN-day. In pagan cultures, SUN-day is almost universally declared the most sacred of all days.
The tenth chapter of Genesis is a remarkable historical document. Even some of the so-called “higher critics” of Scripture are amazed it’s historical accuracy. This chapter has been accurately labeled “The Table of Nations.” It reads like a family record and gives the family record of Noah’s grandsons and great-grandsons along with the cities or nations they established.
Much of Christianity teaches “dispensationalism.” This school of thought teaches biblical history as a number of successive, but different, economies or administrations under Elohim, which it calls “dispensations.”
There is continual testimony for all of us to see regarding both the curse on the ground and the judgment of the flood. The testimony of the curse is found in the structure of the basic laws of science, which are the laws of thermodynamics.
The logical reason for Noah to have known which animals were clean and which were unclean is for Noah to already have knowledge of Elohim’s Torah.
The reference in Gen. 6:1-2 to the “sons of Elohim” here refer to the line of Seth and the “daughters of men” refer to the ungodly line of Cain. That would tend to make sense since Chapter 5 of Genesis just gave us the genealogies of both men. With that being the case, then this passage would be referring to the mixing of marriages between believers and unbelievers. Elohim prohibits the marriage of His people with non-believers (Deut. 7:1-4, Ex. 34:14-16).
Genesis 5:1 conntains the first use of the word “book” in the Tanakh and gives us the genealogy of Adam. The first use of the word “book” in the Brit Hadasha is in Matthew 1:1. This is the record of the genealogy of Yeshua Messiah. This is an interesting correlation between the first Adam and the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:47).
The third chapter of Genesis showed us how sin came to life. Chapter four will give us the fruit that springs up from that root of sin. This chapter exemplifies the conflict between the “seed of the woman” (Abel) and the “seed of the serpent (Cain).” This conflict is more evident as time goes on.
The philosophical question has always been asked, “How could a holy and loving Elohim who created such a perfect world allow evil and corruption to appear at all?” The only real answer to this question is that it was all in His plan.
In Genesis 2:3 it says that Elohim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. It was on this day, seven days into creation, that Elohim instituted the Sabbath Day.
“Give me one example of functional complexity arising from chaos by chance.” Such an example does not exist.
Without understanding the foundation of Scripture—the Torah—our knowledge of the rest is pointless. The first Book of the Torah, Genesis (Heb. – Bereshith …”in the beginning”), tells us of the origins of all creation including the origins of His people, Israel. Genesis begins with the creation of the heavens and the earth by Elohim and finishes with the death of Joseph.
You May Also Like...
Ask the Rabbi
Do you have a question about scripture? Have an issue that requires some guidance?
Send us a message, and let our Rabbi help.
Watch us Live!
Join us for our Sabbath assembly each Friday night at 7pm, and our mid-week lesson each Wednesday evening at 6:15pm.
Miss a meeting? No problem! You can view videos of our previous lessons as well.