Genesis 40–43: Triumph & Testing

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 11: Monday

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.”
Genesis 41:30–40

Monday’s reading of Genesis 40–43, opens with Joseph in prison. Here he interprets the dreams of his fellow prisoners, Pharaoh’s cupbearer and chief baker, and implores the cupbearer to speak to Pharaoh about him and get him out of prison. The chapter ends with this sad commentary:

“Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.”
Genesis 41:23

Two full years pass while Joseph remains in prison, until the cupbearer finally remembers Joseph when Pharaoh is disturbed by his dreams of the cows and corn. Upon interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh as God’s warning to Pharaoh of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, Pharaoh makes Joseph second in the land in power. Joseph’s skills of administration are then put to use as he has grain gathered and stored for the hungry years.

Pharaoh also gives Joseph a wife, and when their sons are born, Joseph names them Manasseh, i.e., making to forget (NASB footnotes) and Ephraim, i.e. (NASB footnotes) fruitfulness.

“Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”

He named the second Ephraim, “For,” he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.””
Genesis 41:51–52

Meredith Kline comments:

“Joseph’s explanation of the names of Manasseh and Ephraim continued his witness to his God, with thanksgiving. He had forgotten the house of Jacob (v. 51) only in the sense that the hardship brought on him by his brothers was a thing of the past by virtue of the remarkable turn of providence.”1

Famine comes and Jacob and his sons and their families begin to suffer. The ten oldest brothers travel to Egypt to buy grain. They don’t recognize Joseph, but Joseph recognizes them. Kline writes:

“In the common emergency the whole family acted under Jacob’s authority. Benjamin now occupied the favourite’s position, a circumstance on which Joseph’s imminent testing of the ten would pivot.”2

The testing of the brothers begins in chapters 42–43. Their initial reactions begin to reveal the extent to which they have changed since the time, decades earlier, when they were ready to murder their brother, Joseph.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
Joseph éxpliquant les rêves du Pharaon (Joseph interprets the dreams of Pharaoh),
Jean-Adrien Guignet
: Public Domain.
1, 2Meredith G. Kline, “Genesis,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie,
J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 109.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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