Genesis 1-2

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...
As I read the creation story today, I am struck (not for the first time, but maybe the most clearly) by how closely the Genesis account of creation meshes with the "scientific" account of creation. That is to say, if one were to describe creation in the way many scientists now believe it occurred to one with the scientific background and knowledge of someone living 4,500 years ago, that description would be very similar to what we see in scripture.

"God said, 'Let there be light.'" He spoke the universe into existence. I suspect that there was a pretty "big bang" when that happened. He gathered the waters and the earth. Life began in the water and moved to the land. The animals were created and then man.

All sounds like the process and progression that scientists now claim created - uncaused and unguided - the universe and life.

Genesis 3-4

The third and fourth chapters of Genesis bring us two stories. The second is Cain and Abel. The first is the central story, the central issue, of both Christianity and Judaism - the fall of man.

To start with, I cannot accept this passage, actually any of the passages in at least the first third of the book of Genesis, as literal history. Setting aside the fact that there was no witness to the creation - at least no human witness - there are issues that arise when comparing these stories with what science tells us about the history of the world, and what common sense tells us. (Did Cain and Seth marry their own sisters, children of Adam and Eve about whom we aren't told? I don't believe that, but some people do.) Certainly, much of the passage reads as history, but not all of it. The "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" sounds metaphorical, the "cherubim and flaming sword" guarding Eden sound poetic.

Whether the story of the fall is historical or metaphorical, it is the background assumption for everything that follows. "Since by man came death," wrote Paul to the Corinthians, "by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." And indeed, this 3rd chapter of Genesis also contains the first Biblical allusion to Christ, as God addresses the serpent:

I will put enmity between [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
Certainly, "her offspring" is a foreshadowing of the incarnation, and the crushing of the serpent's head represents Christ's ultimate victory over death.

Are we all tainted by "original sin?" J.I. Packer, in Concise Theology, describes original sin as the doctrine that

makes the point that we are not sinners because we sin, but rather we sin because we are sinners, born with a nature enslaved to sin...[and] it derives to us in a real though mysterious way from Adam, our first representative before God.
It's a doctrine that has always bothered me. But I certainly cannot argue that I'm aware of any counter-examples that falsify it. Well, other than Jesus, of course. I will say that as I age, I become more aware of my own shortcomings, moral and otherwise, and if "total depravity" and "original sin" aren't technically accurate terms, well, they'll do until we figure out what the correct terms are.

The story of Cain and Abel - that I don't really know what to do with. If it's not historical, if it is supposed to be a metaphor, well, I don't understand what the metaphor is1. All I have are questions. Why was Cain's offering rejected? Who was the mark of Cain supposed to protect him from? What is the lesson here?

OK, on one more re-reading (this time in the NIV) something stands out that didn't when I read the KJV. In verse 7, the Lord says to Cain, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." This is the free will argument. We are faced with the world, and many choices. Cain chose wrong, he did not master his sin, and was punished as a result. Is this just an extension of the lesson of chapter 3? Punishment comes to those who do not follow God's will.

Well, maybe...

Genesis 5

Before I get to today's reading, I need to make an update to yesterday's. I misread my schedule, and instead of reading Genesis 3-4, I should have read Genesis 3-5.

So a quick comment on chapter 5.

Chapter 5 contains the first (but certainly not the last) extended genealogy in the Old Testament. It was previewed at the end of chapter four with a brief genealogy of Cain to Lamech and his sons. But chapter 5 makes it explicit up-front - "this is the book of the generations of Adam [KJV]." (Or "this is the written account of Adam's line [NIV].")

Clearly, this passage is historical in nature. There is no poetry, almost nothing that can be taken as prophecy, or metaphor, or wisdom. The lineage of Adam to Noah: Adam->Seth->Enos[h]->Cainan (or Kenan)->Mahalale[e]l->Jared->Enoch->Methuselah->Lamech->Noah.

So there are a couple of interesting things in this genealogy:

Not as quick a comment as I had intended. Ah, well...

Genesis 6-9

I wonder if there's any better known story from the Bible than the story of Noah and the flood. It's been told so many times in so many ways that I wouldn't even know where to begin to try to add anything to it, and it's one of the most straightforward stories in the Bible. God "saw how corrupt the earth had become" and said, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth." Noah was a righteous man, did what God asked, and he and his family were saved, as well as two of every animal, male and female.

This is not the only version of the flood story in the ancient near-east. It is likely, overwhelmingly likely, in my opinion, that this is based on a historical event. But it also reads as a theodicy, a meditation on the nature and behavior of God.

Genesis 10-11

At the end of chapter 9, the earth has been de-populated, as God washed away most of mankind in the flood. So the next step is repopulation. Chapter 10 is a genealogy chapter, listing the descendants of the sons of Noah. There's very little narrative, though it does contain the first mention of Nimrod, son of Cush, "a mighty hunter before the LORD." He is credited (though we might use that term advisedly) with establishing a kingdom in Babylon, and building the city of Nineveh. Each of those is a kingdom that will be viewed negatively by the people of God, so maybe "blamed" would be a more apt description than "credited."

And then, in chapter 11, the world re-populated promptly lapses again into sin. The story of the tower of Babel is, surprisingly for a story with such reknown and impact, only 9 verses long. And that's followed by more genealogy, as we get the line of descent from Shem to Abram.

And that is more than enough of the "book report" format.

Genesis 12-14

In chapter 12, the story of the Jews really begins, as God calls Abram.
I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
It is not the first time that God has chosen one man over others. He chose Abel's sacrifice over Cain's, and he chose Noah and his family over the rest of humanity. But it is the first time that he chooses one man to establish a line through which he will enlighten and bless humanity, as opposed to just not punishing one. So Abram, with his family and his brother Lot, moves through the Holy Land (which becomes the Holy Land in verse seven: "unto thy seed will I give this land") but continued south to Egypt because there was a famine in the land. Some unseemly, at least to our modern eyes, behavior benefits Abram before he heads north into the promised land once more.

In chapter 13, Abram and Lot, along with all of their possessions, arive back in Bethel. But they've accumulated so much wealth, in the form of cattle and sheep and camels, that the land will not support both of them and their possessions. Abram suggests to Lot that he (Lot) go one way (choose one) and he (Abram) will go the other. Lot chose "the whole plain of the Jordan." Abram moved to Hebron.

Chapter 14 tells the story of Abram's rescue of Lot. The backdrop was the war between the kings of many of the small kingdoms of the ancient near-east. Many of them were rebelling against Chedorlaomer (Kedorlaomer), having been subject to him for 12 years. Two of the kings were the kings of Sodom () and Gomorrah (). Lot was swept up or captured or kidnapped during this war, and carried away to the north. Abram went after them, and with "the 318 trained men born in his household," he defeated Kedorlaomer and brought back Lot and his possessions. The king of Sodom encouraged him to return the people and keep the possessions, but Abram refused to keep anything other than what his men had eaten, claiming that he had made an oath to God.

Genesis 15-17

We've already seen God promise the land of Canaan to Abram. In chapters 15-17, we see the establishment of a formal covenant between God and Abram, whom he renames Abraham.

Chapter 15 begins with the Lord appearing to Abram in a vision and telling him that a great nation will be established of his descendants. Abram points out that he doesn't actually have any children and God assures him that he will. God instructs him to perform a sacrifice, and they establish a covenant.

Chapter 16 has Sarai, barren to this point, offering her maid Hagar to Abram as a vessel for producing an heir. But after Hagar is impregnated, she begins "to despise" Sarai. Sarai mistreats her and Hagar flees, only to have an angel of the Lord appear to her and send her back with news that the Lord would "so increase [her] descendants that they will be too numerous to count." So she returned and "bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne."

Then in chapter 17, the Lord confirms his covenant with Abram. He renames him Abraham ("for I have made you a father of many nations") and gives him "the whole land of Canaan." He also renames Sarai to Sarah. He sets circumcision as the sign of the covenant. He tells Abraham that Sarah will bear him a son and they are to call him Isaac. And then Abraham, and all of the men of his house, "that very day" were circumcised.

Genesis 18-20

Chapter 18 tells of another meeting between Abraham and the LORD. It starts with Abraham seeing three men standing nearby. He encourages Sarah to bake bread, and he has a servant prepare a calf, and he feeds the men. At some point, it becomes obvious that the men either are manifestations of, or represent, the LORD. The LORD tells Abraham that he will return in a year and Sarah will have a son. Sarah, overhearing, laughs at the impossibility of having a son at her age, but denies it when challenged.

As the three are/the LORD is leaving, they/he look(s) toward Sodom, and the LORD informs Abraham of his intent to examine Sodom, discover if it is as bad as he's been led to believe, and destroy it if true. Abraham negotiates and wins the sparing of the city if it contains 10 righteous men.

Chapter 19 chronicles

It ends with the disturbing story of Lot's daughters being impregnated by their father.

In chapter 20, Abraham and Sarah travel to Gerar and deal with the king, Abimelech. As in Egypt, Abraham presents Sarah as his sister. As in Egypt, the king takes Sarah. As in Egypt, God punishes the king for taking another man's wife. And, as in Egypt, Abraham leaves richer than he came.

Genesis 21-23

Chapter 21 begins with the birth of Isaac, just as God had promised. Abraham was a 100 year old new dad, and Sarah was a 90-something new mom. But as Isaac was weaned, the friction between Sarah and Hagar increased. Sarah begged Abraham to send them away, and God told Abraham to do what Sarah wanted, because it was "through Isaac that your offspring [b] will be reckoned." Hagar and Ishmael went off through the desert, and when the water was gone, she left him under a bush to die. But an Angel appeared and led them to water, so they survived and lived in the desert. "God was with the boy as he grew up." Abraham and Abimelech formed a treaty that Abraham (who had God's support) would "not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants."

In chapter 22 God tested Abraham. He instructed Abraham to take his son Isaac, through who he had promised to make a great nation, into the mountains and sacrifice him. When Abraham was just about to do so, the Lord provided a ram to take his place, but Abraham had demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice his son. The chapter ends with a couple of incongruous verses of genealogy about the sons borne to Milcah and Nahor.

Chapter 23 sees the death of Sarah at 127 years old, in Hebron in Canaan. Abraham negotiated for the rights to the field of Ephron the Hittite in which to bury her, and "Ephron's field in Machpelah near Mamre...was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city." He buried Sarah in the cave, and "the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site."

Genesis 24-26

Chapter 24 features the familiar story of Isaac and Rebekah. Abraham wants to find a wife for his son Isaac from among his own people. He sends a servant to "Aram Naharaim," to the town of Nahor, where the servant finds Rebekah drawing water from the well. After some discussion with Rebekah, in which she responds in the way that the servant had prayed to the Lord that she would, she agrees to go back and become Isaac's bride.

In chapter 25, Abraham, having taken a new wife, fathers more children (including Midian), but still "left everything he owned to Isaac" when he died. He was buried (by his sons Isaac and Ishmael) in the cave in Hebron with Sarah. The rest of the chapter gives genealogies, at least for one generation, for Ishmael and Isaac. As for Ishmael, "His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, as you go toward Asshur. And they lived in hostility toward all their brothers." Isaac and Rebekah have twins, Esau and Jacob. Esau is the older, but sells his birthright to his brother Jacob in exchange for a meal, for "some bread and some lentil stew."

Chapter 26 features the third iteration of the "she's my sister, not my wife" story. First it was Abram and Sarai in Egypt with Pharoah (GEN 12). Then it was Abraham and Sarah in Gerar with Abimelech (GEN 20). Now it's Isaac and Rebekah in Gerar with Abimelech. And there's more echoing in the second half of the chapter, as Isaac and Abimelech (and Phicol the commander of his forces) negotiate a pact over a well, much as Abraham and Abimelech (and Phicol the commander of his forces) did at Beersheba (GEN 21).

Genesis 27-29

In Genesis 27, Isaac, aging and blind, wants to bless his elder son (and favorite) Esau. He sends Esau out to hunt, telling him to return and prepare a meal for him, and receive his blessing. Esau goes out hunting, but Rebekah, having overheard, encourages Jacob (her favorite) to kill a goat, prepare a meal, and receive Esau's blessing. He protests that Isaac won't be fooled, as Esau is hairy and Jacob isn't, but Rebekah prepares the goatskins and hangs them on Jacob's neck and arms. Jacob feeds Isaac and receives the blessing intended for Esau, including "be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you." Esau returns, prepares a meal for Isaac and prepares to receive his father's blessing, only to find that his younger twin has already received it. Isaac blesses him, but not with the same blessing. Esau determined that he would kill has brother as soon as the days of mourning for their father had passed. Rebekah hears this and encourages Jacob to leave for Haran, to escape his brother's wrath, and also to look for a non-Canaanite, non-Hittite wife.

Genesis 28 features the story of Jacob's journey to Haran. He actually goes at the behest of his father, as Isaac wants him to find a wife from his own people. He stops and sleeps in Bethel, and has a dream. In his dream, he sees a ladder (or staircase) reaching to heaven, with Angels traveling up and down upon it. At the top, God stands and tells him

Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.

In Genesis 29 Jacob arrives in Haran where he meets his mother's brother Laban, and Laban's daughters (Jacob's cousins) Leah and Rachel. He stays and works for Laban, who agrees to give him Rachel as a wife after 7 years. When the 7 years ends, there's a wedding feast and Laban brings his daughter in to Jacob, but he discovers the following morning that it was Leah rather than Rachel. Laban explains that they don't give the younger daughter in marriage until the older is wed. The upshot is that Jacob remains for seven more years, and then marries Rachel. He loves her, but Leah, who is unloved, begins having children, while Rachel remains barren. At least, that's the case through the end of chapter 29.

Genesis 30-32

In chapter 30, Rachel, upset that her sister Leah is bearing sons to Jacob (four so far - Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah), sends her maidservant Bilhah to Jacob to provide children for her. Bilhah bears two sons (Dan, Naphtali). Leah, who had stopped having children, sent her maidservant Zilpah to Jacob, and he fathered two more sons (Gad, Asher). Then Leah gives Rachel some mandrakes which Reuben had gathered in exchange for the right(?) to go and sleep with Jacob again, and she eventually produces two more sons (Issachar, Zebulun) and a daughter (Dinah). Then "God remembered Rachel...and opened her womb." She bore a son (Joseph) and prayed for another.

After the birth of Joseph, Jacob went to Laban and expressed a desire to return to his "own homeland." Laban wanted him to remain, knowing that God had blessed him through Jacob, but said he could leave if he wanted, and "name your wages." Jacob proposed to take all "speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat." Laban agreed, then promptly removed all of the described animals from the flock and into the care of his sons, and three days travel away from where Jacob was tending his flocks. Jacob peeled strips of bark from trees, exposing white wood, and putting those strips into the watering trough "so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink." And the animals mated in front of the trough and had spotted or streaked offspring, which he separated from Laban's flock. He did this when the strong animals mated but not the weak, so the weak animals went to Laban and he kept the strong. "The man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and maidservants and menservants, and camels and donkeys."

In Genesis 31, Jacob sees a change in Laban's attitude towards him. Then the LORD tells him to "go back to the land of your fathers." He calls Rachel and Leah in from the fields, and describes for them the ways that Laban has been unfair to him, and a dream in which God encouraged him to leave. They gather together all of the children, and all of Jacob's herds and flocks and head back to Canaan, without telling Laban. In the process, Rachel takes Laban's "household Gods."

Laban (of course) pursues, and catches up with them in the hill country of Gilead. They talk, and Jacob says that he left without telling for fear that Laban would take his daughters, Jacob's wives, from him by force. And he agrees that "if you find anyone who has your gods, he shall not live." They search the entire camp but do not find the gods (which are hidden in Rachel's camel's saddle, and she refuses to stand up from it, claiming that she's having her period). They set up a pillar of stone at that spot, and agree that neither shall pass it to harm the other. The next morning, Laban kissed and blessed his daughters and grandchildren and turned back towards his home.

Chapter 32 deals with Jacob's return home. He knew when he left that his brother Esau wanted to kill him, and he knows that he must deal with Esau. First, he divides his party into two groups, on the grounds that if Esau finds and destroys one, the other will survive. Then he gathers groups from his herds and sends them ahead with messengers, as a gift to Esau. That night, he sent his two wives, 11 sons (no mention of his daughter) and possessions across the ford of Jabbok. Alone on the other side, he wrestled with a man until daybreak, and then the man injured Jacob's hip. Jacob demands a blessing, and the man tells him, "your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel [he struggles with God], because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome."

Genesis 33-36

In Genesis 33, Jacob returns home. He meets with his brother Esau, and they throw their arms around one another and reconcile. Esau doesn't want the gifts of sheep and cattle, but Jacob insists. They settle back into Canaan, with Jacob buying land from "Hamor, the father of Shechem." "There he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel."

I said yesterday that Dinah had disappeared from the narrative, but she returns in chapter 34. She is raped by Shechem, the son of Hamor. His claims to be in love with her, and tells his father that he wants her for his wife. Hamor tells Jacob, but Jacob's sons have found out what happened and are furious. They deceitfully agree to intermarry with Hamor's people if, and only if, the men are all circumcised. The "Hamorites" agree and all the men are circumcised. Three days later, while the men are all recovering from the procedure, "still in pain," Simeon and Levi take their swords and kill every male in the city. Then "the sons of Jacob" loot and plunder the city. Jacob is upset, feeling that this will make it much harder and more dangerous for them to live there, but his sons think that doing otherwise would have meant allowing that their sister be treated as a prostitute.

Genesis 35 - God appears to Jacob and tells him to return to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar. So he has his family give up all of their "foreign gods" and "rings in their ears" and he buries them "under the oak at Shechem." The return to Bethel and Jacob builds an altar "and called the place El Bethel." God again tells him that his name shall be Israel and that "a nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you."

As they moved on from Bethel, Rachel went in to labor and struggled to give birth. As she was dying, she named her new-born son Ben-Oni (son of my struggle) but Jacob called him Benjamin (son of my right hand.) Rachel was buried. Eventually, they return to Hebron. Isaac "died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years." Esau and Jacob buried him.

Chapter 36 lists the descendants of Esau, sometimes called Edom. First, he and Jacob separated, much as Abram and Lot had done earlier, because the land could not support all of their wealth (livestock). Then we get "the account of Esau the father of the Edomites." Notable descendants are mentioned, as well as chiefs and kings of his line.

We've now been introduced to the 12 tribes of Israel:

Genesis 37-39

Genesis 37 begins with Joseph, now 17, working in the fields with his brothers (mostly half-brothers). His brothers resent Joseph, for being his father's favorite, shown by, for one example, receiving a "richly ornamented robe." He describes for his brothers a dream in which they are gathering sheaves in the field and his brothers' sheaves bow to his. Later, out in the fields, his brothers decide to kill him, but Rueben convinces them to throw him into a cistern, thinking that he can be rescued later. They throw him into a cistern, but see a group of Ishmaelites traveling and sell him into slavery. They tear his robe, cover it with goat's blood, and return it to Jacob/Israel, who mourns his son. Joseph reaches Egypt and is sold to Potiphar, captain of the Pharoah's guard.

In chapter 38, we get the story of Judah and Tamar. Judah took a wife and fathered, over a period of years, three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah. Er married a woman named Tamar, but "was wicked in the LORD's sight; so the LORD put him to death." Judah told Onan that he needed to father children with Tamar, to "fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother." Onan lay with her but intentionally did not get her pregnant, "spill[ing] his semen on the ground...What he did was wicked in the LORD's sight; so he put him to death also." Judah told Tamar to live as a widow in her father's house and that Shelah until Shelah grew up.

Some time later, after the death of Judah's wife, he traveled to Timnah to shear his sheep. Tamar, hearing about this, put on a veil and went out to that part of the country, because, though Shelah was grown, he had not been given to her. Judah, thinking her a prostitute, offered to pay a kid (goat) for sex. As he didn't have the kid with him, he gave her his signet and staff as collateral. When he later tried to pay, she, having dropped the veil and returned to her father's house, was not to be found. No one knew anything about a prostitute having been there.

Three months later, they came to Judah saying that his daughter-in-law Tamar was pregnant and, therefore, "guilty of prostitution." He said that she must be burned. She sent a message saying that she was pregnant by the man who had given her "these" and sent back the signet and staff. He reacted that "she is more righteous than I, since I wouldn't give her to my son Shelah." She later gave birth to twins, Perez and Zerah.

Genesis 39 returns to the story of Joseph, now living as a slave in Potiphar's house. He is trusted by his master, as the LORD helps him and gives him success in all he does. Potiphar's wife is attracted to him, and attempts to seduce him, but he refuses to violate his master's trust. He flees the house, leaving his cloak behind. When Potiphar returns, his wife presents the cloak as evidence in support of her story that Joseph tried "to make sport of" her. Potiphar is furious and Joseph is thrown in to prison. But even in prison, "the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden." As in Potiphar's house, the LORD gave him success in all that he did.

Genesis 40-42

In Genesis 40, Joseph is joined in prison by the Pharoah's cupbearer and chief baker, both of whom have displeased Pharoah. During their first night they each of a dream, which they share with Joseph the following day. Joseph interprets the dreams (saying "interpretation belongs to God") and informs them (correctly) that the cupbearer will be restored to his position in three days, and the baker will be hanged. The cupbearer promises to remember Joseph, but promptly forgets him upon being restored in his position.

Chapter 41 starts with Pharoah's dreams. He dreams of seven fat cattle being consumed by seven skinny cattle, and seven full ears of corns being swallowed up by seven thin ones. He sends for his wise men and magicians but no one can interpret the dreams for him. Then his cupbearer remembers Joseph. Pharoah calls for him from the prison. Joseph says that he can't interpret Pharoah's dreams but that God will give Pharoah the answers that he wants. He then says that the dreams represent seven years of plenty which will be followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh needs to go throughout the land and stockpile food during the years of plenty to survive the years of famine. As Joseph clearly has the support of God, Pharoah appoints him to be the overseer of this effort. Joseph becomes the most powerful man in Egypt (other than Pharoah) and gathers huge stores of food during the next seven years. He also marries and has two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And then the famine begins, and he opens the storehouses and sells food to Egyptians. "And all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world."

In chapter 42, some of the men from other countries turn out to be Joseph's brothers, all of whom other than Benjamin have been sent to Egypt by their father to buy grain. He recognized them and spoke to them harshly, accusing them of being spies looking for weakness in Egypt. He told them that to prove they were not spies, one of them would be held and the others must go get their youngest brother. He had Simeon taken and bound, then gave the rest of them grain and sent them back, holding Simeon hostage until they returned with the youngest brother. In each of their sacks, he also placed the money which they had used to buy the grain. Jacob/Israel refused to let them take Benjamin to Egypt, as he had already lost Joseph, and now Simeon.

Genesis 43-46

Genesis 43 starts with the continuing famine in Canaan. Jacob's sons, other than Simeon, have returned, but the food they brought back is running out and Jacob implores them to go back to Egypt and buy more. His sons resist, protesting that the overseer told them they would not see him again if they did not bring back their youngest brother. Judah tells Jacob that he will stand as guarantor for Benjamin's safe return, and that he is willing to lay down his life if Benjamin does not come back. Jacob relents, and the 10 brothers take the silver that was returned to them on their last trip and enough for purchase of more grain, and head to Egypt. When Joseph sees them, he instructs his steward to prepare a meal for them at his residence. They gather at Joseph's house, where Simeon is brought out to them. Joseph sees Benjamin and inquires after their father, then retires to his private quarters to weep. Then he came out and feasted with them.

The story continues in chapter 44 when, following their feast, he has the stewards fill his brothers bags with grain. He also has their silver placed back in the bags, and one of his own silver cups into Benjamin's bag. His brothers head back to Canaan, but Joseph sends a his steward after them, and when he overtakes them, accuses them of having stolen a silver cup. They deny it, and agree that if any one is found to have taken it, that one will become a slave to Joseph. They all drop their bags and the steward finds the cup in Benjamin's. They all go back to Joseph's house, where his brothers fall down and bow before him, acknowledging themselves as his slaves. He says that only the one found with the cup is his slave, the rest are free to go. Judah pleads with Joseph to keep him instead, as Benjamin is the youngest, the only remaining son of the wife their father loved, and the loss of him would kill their father.

Finally, in chapter 45, Joseph acknowledges his identity to his brothers. He sends everyone else from the room, and tells his brothers who he is. They are frightened, but he tells them not to be frightened and not to be angry, that they hadn't sent him into slavery, but GOD had sent him ahead into Egypt to prepare for the time of famine. And after they all threw their arms around one another and wept, he told them to go back to Canaan and get their father. Pharoah gave Joseph and his family the land of Goshen, so they took carts and donkeys and returned to Canaan where they told Jacob that Joseph was still alive and the ruler of Egypt.

In Genesis 46, we get a genealogy of Israel as it entered in to the land of Goshen at the behest of Pharoah. After packing up, they headed towards Egypt. At Beersheba, they stopped and Israel prayed to the LORD, who told him that he would bring him back out of Egypt. The list of direct descendants of Israel, not counting sons' wives, is said to be 66, and, with Joseph and the two sons born to him in Egypt, 70. They settle in, and tell Pharoah that they are shephards.

Genesis 47-50

In Genesis 47, Joseph brought five of his brothers before Pharoah, who asked their occupations. The explained that they were all shepherds, from a line of shepherds. Pharoah tells Joseph to settle his family in Goshen, and if any had "special ability," to put them in charge of Pharoah's own livestock. Joseph then introduced Pharoah to Jacob, who blessed him. Joseph then settled his family in "the best part of the land, the district of Rameses" and provided them with food.

The famine was still in effect, and the people of Egypt came to Joseph. First, Joseph "collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying," then he took all of the livestock of the people in exchange for food, and then Joseph "bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh." Joseph established a law - "still in force today" - that one fifth of all of the produce in Egypt belonged to Pharoah. And "the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen...acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number."

As Jacob aged, he made his son Joseph swear to return his body and bury him where his fathers were buried.

In chapter 48, the dying Jacob called Joseph to him, and told him of the promises of God Almighty to "make you fruitful" and to give the land of Canaan "as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you." He said that Joseph's sons would be reckoned as sons of Jacob "just as Reuben and Simeon" were. Any subsequent children born to Joseph would be Joseph's, "reckoned under the names of their brothers." And then Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, but he crossed his arms to give the right-hand blessing to the younger brother.

Chapter 49 shows Jacob's blessings for his sons. After giving those blessings, and instructing his sons to bury him where Abraham and Sarah are buried, he dies.

Genesis concludes in chapter 50 with the burial of Jacob. He is mourned in Egypt, then Joseph informs Pharoah of his (Joseph's) oath to bury Jacob in Canaan. A large group goes up, they mourn Jacob, and bury him. With their father buried, Joseph's brothers are concerned, again, that he will take revenge upon them for their actions selling him into slavery. He reiterates that while the meant ill, God meant well by it, and that he holds no grudge. Joseph lived to 110 years old, and was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.