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Jan 10, 2015

90 Day Challenge – Day 10

Sarah Christmyer

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Bible Time Period: Patriarchs

In the time of the Patriarchs, you called Abraham and promised his children land, a royal kingdom, and worldwide blessing: Help me to trust in your promises today.


The remainder of Genesis is taken up with the story of Jacob’s son Joseph:  not his firstborn son, but his first son with his favorite wife, Rachel.  This is wonderful storytelling, easy to read and imagine, full of truths about God and the way he relates to his children.  The readings today cover Joseph’s early years and imprisonment in Egypt.

Today’s Reading

Genesis 37-40

Today’s Question

The flow of the story is interrupted in Chapter 38 with an incident involving Joseph’s older brother Judah.  Both men will play key roles in the history of Israel, so it is worth taking note:  What is Judah like?  How is he different from Joseph?

Join the discussion below!

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  • Judah is an interesting character and plays a vital role in sending Joseph to Egypt by selling him to the Ishmaelites. Judah wanted to save his son Shelah from his daughter-in -law Tamar. But God’s plan was different. When he knows about his act with Tamar he respects her and thereby makes history in the Bible by getting children through his own daughter-in law.. Both Perez and Zerah become important in the salvation history.
    Joseph is very different from Judah. Joseph is the son of Rachel the favorite wife of Jacob and therefore his favorite son… .

  • Joseph seems like the more sensitive one..he is the dreamers, and also the interpreter of dreams,,,living is important to him, but only will he do so in Egypt by following Jewish rules and laws as he understood them…more of a visionary…Judah is an earthly man…He is concerned about his own family and property, ….his own prosperity…

  • I view Judah differently than I have in the past. In the past I compared him to Joseph, seeing Judah as the reasonable one who prevents The murder of Joseph and later on handles the internment of Benjami by Joseph. I saw Judah as part of the thug brothers who mistreat their younger brother.

    This morning I see a kinder and loving man. This is expressed through his human interactions in Chapter 38 showing what type of just ruler he will be of the family clan and as the founder of the later tribe of Judah. There is a humility in Judah, a righteousness of doing the right thing for individuals and for the family clan.

    He is a lot like us. Isn’t he? We all are not destine to greatness like a Joseph or a saint, yet we can strive to be humble, loving, compassionate, obedient, and caring in our everyday interactions. I respect Judah more than I did before.

    • I’m sorry, Mike, and I appreciate your compassion for Judah; life certainly was hard back then, and difficult choices had to be made. But how is what he did to Tamar righteous? Admitting his culpability is good, but it would not have happened at all if he had cared for her, as custom dictated, instead of sending her away with a lie, then using her as a prostitute. She had a very difficult choice to make, too.

      • Kerry, I believe you missed my point. In reading this passage for this study, I saw a different dimension of Judah, a nuance. Normally Judah is painted in a poor light for some of the reasons you mentioned. Yet, he also acted like how many of yes do in trying to make the morally correct decision within the context of an imperfect world and/or within living in the state of sin. That is all. Our biblical figures are indeed complex!

        I do agree with you that it us appalling, and morally offensive st times to read about some of the unruly practices and norms within the social, historical and cultural context of the times in the OT. The treatment of people – women, foreigners, enemies, poor, sinners, etc – is upsetting. Thank goodness for Jesus and all his followers for the revealing the power of compassion and love.

        • Yes, thank goodness for Jesus at those times. I agree with finding myself upset too. Makes me understand why reading the Bible wasn’t stressed in my Catholic upbringing of the late 40’s and 50’s.

  • “For he is our brother, our own flesh”. Genesis 37:27 Judah seemed to have be more practical than his other brothers who desperately wanted to kill Joseph. Perhaps Judah didn’t want the death of his brother, Joseph on his conscience. Joseph reminded me of one who is a bit immature and gullible when he was seventeen.
    To answer the question, and this one has been very hard for me, I find that Judah was pragmatic and Joseph was the dreamer.
    As someone pointed out in an earlier challenge, can the angst between brothers be repeating itself again in the bible? First there was Cain and Abel, then Isaac and Ishmael and lastly Jacob and Esau. Could this be another struggle within a family? Stay tuned.

    • Blessings….Joseph’s relationship must have been quite different than that of Judah and the rest. Joseph was loved completely by his father. Some aspects of the story reveal that Jacob was un-trusting of his sons. The only time it’s revealed that Jacob had anything negative to think about Joseph was when Joseph told of his dream that the sun and the moon and 11 stars bowed before Joseph. While the others were furious at this, the father took it, questioned Joseph, but was written that he thought about what this could mean – he did not carry the grudge against his son. The others however, did and drove them to hurt their kid brother. Being the last in a large family, I could relate to Joseph…God bless.

      • Jacob/Israel did show a certain affinity toward Joseph. I am a semi middle child that got/gets lost at times but finds her way back to the fold, so to speak. I have such a deep respect for individuals that study and learn about the bible because there can be so many misinterpretations due to ignorance. That is why this question was so hard for me. I just couldn’t wrap my head around this. The culture and events of that time must have been paramount with this growing Jewish population. When Judah went to marry outside his culture, I was stymied. Perhaps he was being defiant like Esau. I am such a novice, but I digress. What you said was so true and thank you for replying. This one has been a struggle for me, so it’s good to know that you helped me out! May God bless.

        • I too am a novice, and find it so difficult to understand so much of what I am reading. I feel like I am reading these chapters from a literature point versus a spiritual point of view. I am learning so much, however, and know that this is a great way for me to dive into the Bible. Afterward I will be able to go back and reflect on these stories and see the meaning God wants me to glean from each.

  • Putting things into context, Judah lived a few years knowing that he was involved with his brother being sold into slavery. He most likely worried for Joseph and his father Jacob. He must’ve wondered daily if this was the day Jacob would find out about the crime of his sons. It is certain that Judah and the rest of his brothers were not at peace. The story of Judah branching out on his own demonstrates what happens when someone is not at peace – poor decisions are made continuously. He married outside his faith (i.e. those not part of the covenant with God, the Canaanites), he sought out the services of a prostitute and bore children from her; and was blind to the fact that he had sex with his own daughter in law. The man was certainly lost. After the event of his brother Joseph being sold into slavery, Judah should’ve repented and admitted his sin to his father and recovered his brother instead of leaving him to live a life of slavery.

    Two things to keep in mind with the story as it unfolds in Chapter 37 – Joseph’s brothers were incredibly envious of Joseph, the favored son of Jacob because of his love for Rachel. In fact, it shows in the chapter that Jacob wasn’t very trusting of his others sons asking Joseph to keep an eye on them (see Genesis 37:2 – Joseph reported back to this father on everything his brothers were doing; especially the bad things; specifically related to Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher). Jealousy was a prime motive for doing away with their younger brother. Though Reuben and Judah convinced the others to not kill the young 17 year old Joseph, none of them had the courage to tell their father of Joseph’s demise (see Genesis 37:32 “Then they sent someone to bring the long ornamented tunic to their father, with the message: “We found this. See whether it is your son’s tunic or not.”). Incredible. Notice also that after this event (see Chapter 38) , Judah is shown to be branching out of his own – sin separates us not only from God but from each other.

    Lastly, notice that the deception of Tamar in chapter 38 will foreshadow the deception Joseph would have upon his brothers in Egypt later on….

    • After reading your post, I feel like I should go back and erase mine! I agree with everything that you say here and find it interesting that we see the story very differently. (Your Biblical knowledge is obviously much greater than mine, so I would say your observations are more fact based whereas mine, emotional.) I guess I was looking at the thought process of Judah as it occurred and not as it equated to his relationship, or non-relationship with God. Thank you for your viewpoint. I too thought the instance where none of the brothers would face their father to tell him of their brothers demise was truly repugnant! I guess this act gives credence to the favoring of Joseph!

      • Hi Michelle. I too am very much a novice in reading the enjoying the Bible and its messages. I’ve just been re-reading the Bible since 2012 and only have gotten up to 1 Kings – the reason; I like to read and put myself in the story. Feel what they are feeling. Take the words written and look for their hidden treasures by connecting each verse and chapter with the verse and chapter before and afterwards. I’m read a chapter on the train getting into work and then reflect on it all day – it’s amazing what is revealed to you as you think about the story and how you’re living your day.

        I find that the more I get to know these people in the Bible stories, the more I’m learning about myself. And that’s no surprise – people have been the same since the beginning; we have the same failings and fears today as they did back then. They also have the same hopes and joys.

        Do enjoy the rest of the study and never be hard on yourself; God speaks to us in ways that we need for the moment. Nobody’s wrong with what they feel and understand from the Words. We are all learning and more importantly, experiencing the living Bible. How great is that? 🙂

        • Thank you, Joe. I think this is why I have a little sympathy for the Judahs out there even though they have done horrific things. We are all going through life and it is very challenging, at times. I am just grateful that God is merciful and I know that as long as I come to Him for forgiveness, He will show me kindness and mercy. Blessings to you.

          • Thank you Michelle, I feel the same way. One of the not-so-good bosses I have had in my younger years taught me something that was actually VERY good! That it is always possible (but only if you actually try to do so) to turn mistakes around and make it so that you are better off having made the mistake than if you never made it. I think that true goodness of people should never be thought of how many, nor how bad the mistakes we make, rather how we admit, accept, learn from, recover from, and react to our mistakes we make. We can all clearly see that Judah was making mistakes(like we ALL do), but I dearly loved the fact that Judah quickly and easily admitted that he was wrong!

          • Funny you should say that Kevin! I’ve made my share of mistakes, and yet I can truly say that the long term effects have ultimately led to my personal and spiritual development. How can this be? And yet, by the grace of God…

            I keep saying this, but it’s true… “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

        • I like what you say about reading a chapter a day, then pondering on what you read throughout your day and noticing how it pertains to our own lives at a given moment in time. I’ve read the bible several times and each time, different things strike me. I guess it depends on where we are in our own walk of faith with God at any given moment.
          That’s the beauty of studying the Scriptures. It is a lifelong adventurous journey of faith!
          May God bless us all as we read and re-read these posts during this 90 Day Challenge. We are walking alongside one another for this part of our journey.

      • No kidding it was bothering him. Then again, you could imagine the bitterness Joseph felt on the receiving end? The great part about Joseph is that even though he was enslaved to a foreign land (remember, Egypt was a world power at the time and must have been quite intimidating) and then imprisoned for something he did not do, he still managed to come out of it 2nd to Pharaoh. Talk about persevering until the end as it is written in Matthew 24:13 “But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.”

  • In thinking about the character of Jacob’s sons. I noticed how the sons had interacted in the previous chapters, particularly in reguard to their sister Dianah. Simon and Levi appear in this instance to act impetuously They appear to also be the ones acting emotionally in this instance. Reuben and Judah are the one who are reluctant to harm Joseph. It seems to me that Judah struggles with his passions and tries to do what is right in a compromising way. Joseph on the other hand seems to be an extremely talented administrater. He uses his God given talents for the greater glory of God.

  • What is Judah like? To me, this is a difficult question to answer as his history is quite sad when you think how it formed the man he was to become. This is true for all of us, for that matter. In Judah’s case, however, I believe his story differs from his brother Joseph because of the circumstances he lived. He was born to a lesser favored mother which means he was less favored than his brother Joseph. It is understandable to see why he would harbor animosity towards his brother; he wanted to be recognized in his father’s eyes and when he wasn’t, his inclination was to turn towards anger. He slept with his father’s concubine Bilhal and then took part in Joseph’s plight. That being said, we do get glimpses of potential goodness when he keeps his brothers from killing Joseph but instead devises the plan to sell him to the Ishmaelites. I am sure it can be argued that the “situation” that came with Tamar would not have occurred had Judah given Tamar to his third son Shelah. Can you blame him for not doing so, however, as his other two sons that were married to her died!? When he did realize that he is the one who slept with and impregnated Tamar, however, he took full ownership of his actions. Although the act of having relations with a prostitute, wrong, his ownership of the mistake is applaudable, after all, he could have had her killed. Yes, the brothers differ greatly but I think each, while traveling on his own journey is coming to find goodness which is only found through God. (Note: My Bible knowledge is embarrassingly low so I am writing only as I am reading and not with the foresight of what is to come.)

    • Did Judah sleep with Bilhal too? I know it says in Genesis 35:22 that Reuben slept with Bilhal but I can’t find where Judah did too.
      Isn’t it amazing that when you put yourself in the place of the characters things turn from “black and white” to “gray”. In this story we become more understanding of why the brothers are angry with Joseph. We also understand that Joseph is not bragging but is acting like most 17 year olds would act. He just didn’t realize when he blurted out his dreams that he would hurt anyones feelings. It wasn’t right for Abraham to favor Joseph over the other children but that just shows Abraham was human just like us.

      • I think you mean Jacob/Israel, but I agree – he could have been a little less obvious about his favoritism. I think Joseph was young, as you say, and also a bit cocky/spoiled. Amazing how the events of our lives humble us, huh? Joseph certainly was humbled and became a man of great integrity, as his experiences in Egypt express – particularly when he forgives his brothers and saves them all from starvation. A monk said this at a mission in my parish, and it resonates with me: When praying, do not ask for humility; achieving this virtue HURTS! Ask, instead, for the strength and steadfastness to endure whatever struggles we must endure to achieve humility.

      • Oops, my mistake. As I mentioned I am a novice and am obviously prone to mixing up my characters. Thanks for catching it.

        • L.O.L.!!! I caught the mistake you made and then I made one of my own that Kerry caught. I KNOW that I mix up my characters. Kerry caught that I said Abraham when I should have said Jacob/Israel. Thanks Kerry! Helping each other keep the story straight is the benefit of this discussion board.

  • Do you think there is a foreshadowing of the future of Jesus? Judah sells out his brother. Judas sells out Jesus. Just a thought…..

    • Hey, that’s a good one. 🙂

      However, our propensity to back stab even those we love is pretty great when put to the test. I could see Judah symbolizing the crowd who demanded Jesus’ crucifixion – they caved based on the opinion of the many. Judah probably felt he had to go along with his brothers…

    • Kim, your comment caught my attention and challenged me to try out ‘Typography’. I read somewhere that the early Church Fathers and many bible scholars used typography (the study of types) to get a better understanding of the scriptures. So here we go:

      JOSEPH: Was the first-born son of Rachel / JESUS: Was the first-born son of Mary
      JOSEPH: Was sold into slavery / JESUS: Was sold to the Pharisees by Judas
      JOSEPH: Was tempted to sin by Potiphar’s wife / JESUS: Was tempted by the devil in the desert
      JOSEPH: Was imprisoned / JESUS: Was held prisoner and suffered at the hands of Pointius Pilate
      JOSEPH: Was released from prison and became Pharoah’s ‘right-hand man’ / JESUS: Rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

      I hope I am not grasping at straws here, but it so interesting to see how Jesus seems to live the lives of the people of Israel all over again – but he does it right of course!.

      It is important to note that doing typography in this way does not mean that we now equate Old Testament characters to Jesus – now way!. However, we can see some similarities in their experiences.

  • What I noticed in the reading is that Jacob was the deceiver and now deception is his plight… His sons deceive him in regards to the disappearance of Joseph, his son Judah deceives his daughter-in-law who in turn deceives her father-in-law. It reminds me of life in general. If we bring up children in a world where it is OK to cheat the government by not declaring income on taxes, or big business by not letting a cashier know when something did not ring up on our receipt, etc… Then our children internalize these sins as excusable and things that can be rationalized. Each successive generation accepts a little bit more as acceptable and soon sin prevails in our lives and is easily rationalized by the next generation. It is only when someone who is close to God, as Joseph, that we begin to recognize goodness and start to see sin for what it really is. Joseph remained close to the Lord in all circumstances.. good and bad. Therefore he was able to see sin for what it was and to avoid it, as he did with his master’s wife.

  • God works even through our goofiness! I find Judah a “luke warm” person – non-committal in his relationships with his brothers and his own family; non-committal in his relationship with God. I do not have much sympathy for him as he does little to protect those under his care. His behavior in dealing with Tamar is exceptionally galling. He lies to her, sending her back to her father to live in mourning, which must have placed her in a very low social position. She did what she did out of desperation, as a means of obtaining the security she was promised through the covenant of marriage into Judah’s family. At least Judah had the courage to admit his fault in the situation, and Tamar secured her place in the bloodline of the Savior!
    Does anyone else see the connection between the stories concerning men and women of the Bible to those of Disney movies, like Aladdin and The Little Mermaid? Silly, maybe, but think about it! Who, in the movies and the Bible, have authority yet bumble about making bad decisions; who in these stories and film, actually affect real action and change, for good or evil? I offer Tamar and Jezebel as prime examples.

    • I like the way you think, Fisher! I hadn’t thought about Disney movies, but I do like to look at movies, literature, music, everyday life to find similarities and differences…so thanks for this slant on it…and imagine…Scripture is God’s way of showing us ways people have related to Him and others…and how He relates to us…in the end it is up to us to make decisions about how we are going to relate to God and a friend has told me many, many times it is all about choices…and those no one can make for us…we need to that for ourselves. However, as you have pointed out, that has not always been possible for some people…it sometimes, depends on what gender, race, or age you are…

  • I used to think that Joseph was the innocent dreamer but am revising that view. Instead of being a brother, he caused trouble by telling tales, describing his dreams and went about better dressed than them. Alternatively he was exceptionally naive and lacked empathy. Maybe Judah gave up and moved away when he realised, his father would not increase his love for all of his sons. He used Tamar but when he heard she was pregnant he forgot his own behavior and was ready to have her killed (the same double standards still exist today). He had the honesty to acknowledge his own failings and faults and the heart not to take it out on Tamar, showing that having gained the freedom to start his own life away from his father and brothers, he was able to grow and develop. Judah is learning to rule his passions, accept responsibility for his actions and his family. In contrast, Joseph is taking on responsibility for a country, learning how to plan on a large scale and interact sensibly with people. God is with both of them on their different paths and is helping them to grow and mature. In the same way he is ready to do for all generations of his children.

    • I agree with you, Liz, about all of us on our paths with Joseph and Judah as perfect examples. Now, if only we could release our own children, after having done what we could regarding their faith foundations, and trust that God is with them on their paths, too!

    • Nicely put, and we certainly see this today as well. As sinners can we but not see parts of ourselves in the plights of Judah and Joseph?

  • When Judah says, “What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood” I think there are two ways to look at this. Either he did truly care for his brother or he was just trying to keep his own conscience clear. Either way the chapter that relates about Judah and Tamar tells a bit more about Judah. He was careful to protect his own as was shown when the first and second sons died before having children. He was not about to put his one remaining son at risk. Perhaps he hoped Tamar would just solve her own dilemma and he wouldn’t have to deal with it. Actually that is what happened as Tamar did trick him. As we have mentioned before, I think, these are the ancestors of Jesus. Doesn’t God have a sense of humor? Joseph, on the other hand, was a dreamer and realized fully the impact of being his fathers’ favorite. The true measure of Joseph is when he is in a difficult situation and “Daddy” was not around to help; we realize how he depends on God and the gifts that God has given him (interpreting dreams) and the ability to do all the master required of him with integrity.

  • Today’s Question: … Joseph’s older brother Judah. Both men will play key roles in the history of Israel.

    Since Joseph was their father’s favorite, there was sibling rivalry in the household, and the plot to get rid of Joseph ensued. “This is the beginning of rivalry for power between Judah and Joseph that will continue with their respective tribes (the tribes of Judah and Ephraim),” according to Agape Bible Study. [Later the Kingdom of Israel is split into two: the kingdoms of Israel in the North and
    Judah in the South].

    Jacob had a total of 12 sons by 4 women (Leah, Rachel, and two concubines), but each son will represent one of the 12 Tribes. Hard to wrap my head around that concept now that I am reminded of all of their wrong doings, yet they end up being tribal leaders to reach the Promised Land.

    JOSEPH played a really important role in the bible by saving his family from the famine that would otherwise have killed them. He is the most worthy of Jacob’s sons and is rewarded eventually when he receives the family’s birthright. Yes, he was the favorite child, but his brothers greatly sinned – let’s not forget they nearly had him brother killed when they sold him into slavery.

    JUDAH’s important role in the history of Israel: Jesus’ genealogy comes through Judah (means praise) not Joseph! There was Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob, then Judah, then Perez……. Jesus Christ.

    • That is right!, In fact, If they would have caused his death, and even if they would have released him back to his home, and NOT sold him to slavery, their whole family and most other families would have starved to death during the 7 year drought. In actuality Judah saved THOUSANDS of peoples lives by selling Jacob into slavery!!!

      • Amazing. Heaven must have been laughing… OK, you sold Joseph as a slave, now watch how I’ll turn it around. We haven’t gotten there yet, but read Genesis 50:20 “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. “

  • The promise made to the Patriarchs has fallen on Judah (his older brothers all brought shame on Jacob in chapters 34 and 35). Judah acts like a typical human; he doesn’t trust in God, instead he fails to give his third son Shelah in marriage to Tamar as prescribed by the levirate law. God manages to bring good out of Judah’s weaknesses, though, as Perez, the ancestor of David and Jesus, is born from Judah’s intercourse with Tamar.

    We are told three times in Chapter 39 that God is with Joseph. Reminds me the line from the Hail Mary. Joseph is protected despite the dangers he faces because he is a righteous and honest person who trusts in God. The brothers, like all humans, are tested. Joseph is tempted by Potiphar’s wife but resists. Though things continue to go bad for him, he remains true to God and trusts in the gifts he has received, the interpretation of dreams, to redeem him.

  • Although Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob, Judah showed compassion for his sibling. Judah persuaded his brothers not to kill Joseph but to sell him into slavery instead since the older brothers did not like their younger brother Joseph. Joseph was the “Guess What” sibling in Jacob’s family. He seemed to have a way of relaying information about his brothers to his father that upset his older brothers.
    Could it be that Judah with the more practical outlook on life would become the leader of a nation rather than Joseph because Joseph had such a naive outlook on life, or course, given his age this seems completely understandable. I hope I am not too far fetched with my thoughts, I just think that Joseph was very much like a 17 year old whereas Judah had maturity on his side.
    I find the concept of the relationships of brothers (whether they are at odds or love each other) in Genesis interesting. It seems to lay the groundwork on perhaps ‘good vs. evil’, ‘right vs. wrong’, hatred vs. love, stubbornness vs. acceptance, etc.

  • I have looked over several of the comments , and was struck by the various ways each of us views the readings…as a whole, many look at them factually…others look at them through emotions and relationally, both out our own experiences…now I am sure there are other ways to view these readings, but using just these two ways, I would offer up this,,,there is no right or wrong way to read Scripture…after all it is the Spirit within each of us that is guiding our thoughts, when we have asked Him to do so before we began reading. Even if we have not God will lead us to what He wants us to glean from them through the discussion with others…secondly, men look at things differently than women do…it is not unusual for men to look at the facts of what they are reading, and women to look at them more from an emotional/relational angle…Neither is wrong, but together we get a broader view of what God is telling us…For God created both men and women; and, since Scripture is God inspired, I believe God speaks to all…not only in this way, but spirally…for people read Scripture who are at a very wide variety of levels, educationally, socially, psychologically, spiritually,etc. Yet, as has been my experience, God touches the searchers right where they are, then, as through this study, moves them to a place that He wants them to be…let all be encouraged by what God is doing in all of us, He moved Sarah to write this message, and each us to comment; and many more to read them. Finally, I can not condemn Judah at all. For in my 68 years, I know there have been times in my life that I should have come clean about something I have done, but did not. The regrets are still with me to this day…this is a very human action…maybe not as severe as Judah’s was…but it is understandable. Lord, help us to make right decisions when we are in situations when we want to cover up instead of coming clean. Give us the courage to make the right decision. I ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    • Thanks, Beverly, I could not agree more! We each are able to see different perspectives on the same reading(s). Because we post them in this forum, we can all broaden our views and knowledge of scripture. This gives us all a deeper understanding. It also helps me avoid misunderstandings of some readings. After viewing other peoples posts, I realize that they are Spot On, and what I was thinking was incorrect. I can go back, read it again, and realize why I misunderstood it!!!

      • You were not necessarily wrong…what you had thought…did it broaden your understanding of your own unique situation at the time? (Even if that was something you didn’t really want to hear?)…Then, it was not wrong…it was what you were supposed to get out of it for you…and what you got out of it might be just what someone else needs to hear to grow in their relationship with God…then also, it is not wrong…U am convinced that the Holy Spirit drives ours when we read Scripture with reliance on God to speak to us through it. Ours is only to accept what God is showing us…

        • Thanks again Beverly, that is right. However once in a while, I misread a word that reverses/changes the whole meaning of a sentence/paragraph. In this it is a true misunderstanding or not understanding. Sometimes I catch them myself, sometimes your posts inspire me to go back and re-read and catch them! Thanks again!

          • You are welcome…And I must tell you, no one understands misreading something more than one with bipolar illness…Praying to the Holy Spirit before I read, then trusting God to assist me as I read has helped me a lot…I find it totally humbling and am in awe when I read that what I have written has reached the heart of someone…it is then I thank God for who He is; and that He is making a difference in someone’s life…for in many other situations, what I have to say is of no consequence to others…this alone keeps me humble…

          • Beverly, you are a beautiful person and I can just picture you planting seeds everywhere you go…

          • What a joy it was for me to read the second reading at Mass today as we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord. And the affirmation, “The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth.” (1 John 5:8)

            May the Holy Spirit guide each one of us every moment of our days.

          • One of the ways we know that we are on the right track with God is that we get affirmations of that…

  • I have to admit I kinda like Judah. He is the embodiment of “the spirit is willing the flesh is weak” He saves Joseph’s life by selling him. Bad idea!! He is deceived by Tamar because he hasn’t had the courage to keep his promise to her.
    Now Joseph is one of those people that I would admire from afar. But I would find it a little hard to be close friend of. He is just a little to virtuous. I might be like Potiphar’s wife and want to take him down a bit.

  • My “take” on this story – which is one of my favorites – considers Joseph being the youngest and as the youngest he wants very much to be accepted by his brothers. Hence the reason he tells them of his dreams. The brothers thought he was a braggart but Joseph was the baby brother and just wanted them to love him. Joseph lived by faith and the brothers by conscience, or lack thereof. Jealousy was rampant during that time. I don’t see Joseph as a complainer because of his fate. He says little and speaks God’s truths. He follows God and complains little. Would that we could all be like that. As for his brothers, I’m not real crazy about how they behaved, especially the fact that God played such a small part in their lives. Perhaps next time I will see things differently. THIS time I am a fan of Joseph!

    • I agree with you that Joseph is the most admirable of the Brothers. But I actually see myself in Judah.

    • canaanites were destroyed with every other person – why are you confused by canaanites now, when there are more other people around?
      it has been at least 550yrs since Noah – time for all manner of men to be born… all of those sons/grandsons of noah… if you take the Biblical history literally, that still leaves time and time again for several people to grow up and argue and learn to hate each other…

      • But they are of the line of Cain right? How and when do they crop up again? Perhaps there were Canaanite wives with Noah’s sons??

        • ummm, no … they were and are people who live in the land of canaan… ‘canaanites’ is like saying New York-ians or Californians; its not at all like saying the French or the Argentinians…. canaan was a smallish place where the Bible has said Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob were living… there were towns and villages throughout canaan (which the hittites, hivites and several other clans of noah’s lineage lived), but not enough for the people to declare themselves independent of anyone else… that’s where the Philistines and the Romans come in…
          peoples of canaan eventually grew together to keep the Israelites tied up, and booted out… the world’s history hasn’t changed much over the millennia – we folks of the USA are not nearly united enough to stay away from the incoming people; even the language is changing… once upon a time, you would say we speak English, and those that didn’t were kinda frowned upon… now, though, you have real hodge-podgery going on, with foods having three different languages upon them, and the build-it-yourself furniture available at Walmart are all 6+ languages…

    • Thank you for asking this Carrie, I had the EXACT same question, but had not taken time to find the answer yet. Rather than going back and reading all through Genesis again, I think I found the answer here:
      Canaan was the name of a large and prosperous country (at times independent, at others a tributary to Egypt) which corresponds roughly to present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel and was also known as Phoenicia. The origin of the name `Canaan’ for the land comes from various ancient texts (among them the Hebrew Bible) and …. According to the Bible the land was named after a man called Canaan, the grandson of Noah (Genesis 10).
      Thanks again for asking!!!

  • Judah is truly a Man of Faith despite his sins (as we have come to see so far). He left his father after Jacob learns of the apparent death of Joseph – perhaps Judah, recognizing that he and his brothers had done wrong, left his brothers and went down to Adullam and marries a Canaanite woman (like his uncle Esau). Perhaps his father’s excessive mourning, given his feelings of guilt, was more than he could bear.

    Joseph is more of a Majestic Man, possibly narcissistic as revealed by the telling of dreams. I would think their traits explained today would make them Introverted (Judah) and extroverted (Joseph). We already know that The line of Judah is the line of Kings David and Solomon as well as “the lion of Judah (Rev 5:5). Judah appears to be a truthful and overly cautious man, as we can see in two events; He doesn’t wish to kill his brother as the rest did, which eventually not only saves Joseph’s life but the lineage of Israel, and secondly where he acts as an over cautious father not marrying shellac to Tamar. Also when he displays his courage in recognizing his error with Tamor and corrects it, saving her life.

    Are we intended to compare an overcautious father (Judah) with his risk-taking taking father (Jacob) sending Joseph to his brothers? Did Judah remember that his father was asked “is this your tunic?” Judah, I suggest, was chosen because of these traits. Joseph is always represented as being more “in the world,” whereas Judah is more “withdrawn” from it, a trait favored by God.

    Both inherited a highly responsible role that was not handed on by birthrights- Judah, being 4th born, received it due to the un-forgiveness of the wrongs by Rueben, Simeon and Levi. Joseph received a level of power in Egypt through a hard life of misery and misfortune.This is the mystery of providence. Similarities relate this little story to the main narrative: the deception involving an article of clothing (the widow’s garments of Tamar, Judah’s seal, cord, and staff) point back to the bloody tunic that deceives Jacob in 37:31–33; a woman attempts the seduction of a man separated from his family, for righteous purposes in chap. 38, for unrighteous purposes in chap. 39. These Sons of Jacob will establish the two great kingdoms in the Holy Land. It also seems they display two different ways of serving God.

  • Joseph was blessed by God with the gift of dreams. When he was young, he innocently relayed the dreams to his brothers, but it seems that he did not try to interpret their meaning, though his brothers, in their own guilt, could understand their meaning. Even his father, Israel (who loved Joseph the best of all his sons) reproved him and asked if they were all supposed to bow down before him. Fast forward to the future, when Joseph is blessed by God with the skill to interpret dreams.

    Judah didn’t want the brothers to kill Joseph, and so he was sold into slavery instead. It seems that the pattern of deception surrounding Judah begins with this event. At times he is the deceiver and other times, the deceived. Somehow, through all the trickery, God’s plans for humanity will not be thwarted.

    And so it goes. Sometimes like Judah, we also try to shape events to fit into our perception of what should be. Thankfully, the all-knowing God can weave a good outcome in spite of our actions. And sometimes like Joseph, we are blessed with gifts and although life throws us a bunch of curveballs, we can use His gracious gifts to us to fulfill His plan for our lives.

  • It’s interesting how the meaning of dreams seem to be in focus now. When Jacob wrestled at Peniel, there is no indication he was dreaming but it made me wonder, since the wrestling occurred until daybreak. In last year’s comments someone thought he was wrestling with Michael the Archangel and God sent Raphael to help him when he was struck in the hip. Now with Joseph’s dreams they are more in the forefront of the story giving more interpretation to them. These readings from 37-40 made me feel like I was in a dream, with no clarity of the actions of the Kings butler & baker and Tamar, Judah, the Pharaoh’s wife and even Joseph. Someone mentioned they are as real as people in today’s world with their frailties, sins and mercy from God. Thus, brings my question… are we missing the true messages that come to us in a dream? Are dreams messages from God? Or, if these chapters 37-40 seem like a dream to me, what message am I missing? Some said Joseph was too virtuous and maybe lets things happen as they may, while some like Judah because he’s earthly and makes things happen. I love reading everyone’s messages because I learn so much more than I know. But, today I am at a loss in drawing my own conclusion.

    • I believe that God speaks to us in dreams but we often don’t recognize it. Most of the time we don’t even remember our dreams, or like some of these biblical figures, seem to make absolutely no sense. I was blessed (I think!) when I had a strange dream, I had a follow up “dialogue” with God or an angel, I don’t know which (again, like Jacob, we’re not sure whether it was God or an angel). God or the angel spoke to me and told me “you must do something”. I just have to figure out how I’m going to do it! I’m trusting in the Lord to guide me.

  • It’s funny. After reading the comments and thinking about the readings, I can kind of see Joseph as a foreshadowing of Jesus and Judah as a foreshadowing of ourselves. There are so many parts of Joseph’s story that I see in the passion narrative and so many parts of Judah’s story that I see in ourselves!

    • After your comment, I went back and reread the 4 chapters. It’s true! Other characters represent human failings as well, from Onan’s early form of contraception (which greatly offended The Lord) to the cupbearer forgetting Joseph after his tribulation had ended.

  • Favoritism. Preferences. This theme is disturbing in that it is so blatant and obvious. This is what caused the familial imbalance – jealousy, anger, resentment. Was this allowed by God for the greater story? Or was it just sinful humanity that was later used by God? Can anyone speak to this?

    Have witnessed the consequences of favoritism, always destructive.

    • I don’t think any of it is “allowed” by God except for the fact that He allows each and every one of us to have “free will”.

      • I feel that God does “allow” certain circumstances in my life, as in allowing a door to open or to shut to an opportunity or situation. Through praying “thy will be done” aren’t we accepting that God allow something for us, or not to allow? Yes I agree free will is given to us, but in some cases we have not exercised the free will. I just thought that Jacob showed such obvious favoritism to both his wife Rachel and son Joseph, that could it somehow have been God’s plan to allow it to work it for the greater good and bring the other parts of the story to fruition?

        • Well, I’m not a biblical scholar, so unless I quote a specific source, most of what I say is conjecture and my own opinion. To respond to your original question, I would say, “it’s just sinful humanity that was later used by God”.

          Do you think God would allow jealousy, anger, resentment, in order to create an open or shut door? In what way could we NOT exercise free will?

          Perhaps in Jacob’s case, God understood that human nature (e.g. the sinful nature) would polay ut a certain way. Since God is all-knowing, His mind is like a mega computer that can calculate all the typical scenarios and outcomes. He just had to input all the data as well as the variables. I hope I’m not making it more complicated with my analogy!

          I agree, Theresa, that God does allow certain circumstances, as in allowing a door to open or to shut to an opportunity or situation.

          Again, I’m not a scholar, but I do believe that God will take all of our humanness and somehow make it work for the greater good. And so perhaps, the favoritism that you’ve witnessed up close and personal cannot stop God from working God in their lives or yours.

  • This morning when I participated in this discussion I was content with my safe answer. I thought I would look at the other responses this evening and what a turn the responses took! It’s good to discuss all aspects and as Beverly put it, all of us have our own points of view. Kudos to you Beverly! Could it be that we are witnessing the emergence so to speak of a civilization that is “growing up” before the Lord, Our God and as a teacher He must be patient with this young group? This thought struck a chord with me when I was reading the responses. All of them are great thoughts!

  • I really appreciate everyone’s comments during these studies. I oftentimes find myself lost or confused in the readings. I do not have a lot of time to read and reflect and dig deeper but I am still taking this journey as I have in the past in order to deepen my knowledge as a Catholic. I believe it is so important to not become someone that just goes through the motions as we see occurring all too often in parishes lately, repeating the same verses week in and week out without really knowing where they came from, what they mean, or what affect they can have on their present day lives.

    The Joseph and Judah passages really had me reflect on myself and how I see myself as a follower of Christ. They taught me, above all, to sacrifice myself to God and to never lose sight of how lucky we are to be in his hands and in his mercy. I like how pnky puts it “we are growing up” before the lord. I also really liked George B’s comments.

    • M.g thanks for being honest as many catholics are lukewarm Christians. Thanks for taking it further. Hopefully others will see your light.

  • It is occurring to me why God allows the multiple wives/concubines back then, and not now. He is still wanting for Mankind to populate the earth. I have noticed lately that the occasions of deceitful/wrongful intercourse in the past chapters has been in general, always for “procreation”. i.e. God was pretty unhappy that the one son wasted his seed on the ground rather than try for procreation(birth control).
    I have only noticed it lately in the last day or so of reading that it is starting to be written about it being done for pleasure and self satisfaction. I was very very impressed/pleased that Joseph resisted the temptation with the King’s wife. I am still perplexed as to why God was allowing prostitution back then. But maybe it was it was making babies? Did the Harlots of those days use any form of birth control?

  • Judah lives similar to sin of today. He is wanting control of his way of life without God. He is sinful, having intercourse with his dusghter/in law (yuck). He wanted one of his sons to take care of this, but instead temptation is what he chooses to throw the towel in so that he gets temporary Judah satisfaction.

    Joseph on the other hand knows, prays and is completely appreciative of his blessings from The Lord. This is true from the moment he was brought to Egypt. The Lord was with him and people felt that presence in his character. He knew how to stay true to God. Amen!

    This world is tough it is very easy to get caught up in the midst of life and it’s temptation. I know for me what has truly brought me closer to God is daily prayer….every single day. I am getting much better asking God to continually give me the word, actions, listening daily. I know when I am more in tuned of his presence how at peace tough situations could have been. I still need a long way, but am working to bring Him closer and closer with me as I live life here on Earth as I would live it in Heaven.

    • Amen Carla, that’s the best advice. When we pray to God daily, we are inviting Him into our lives continuously. He will walk with us. He will pick us up when we fall. He will take us places we never imagined. Glory and praise to God!

  • Judah is the fourth born of Jacob. In Chpt. 37 we see Judah collude with his
    brothers to get rid of Joseph, but it appears that he has some sense of compassion and insists that they should sell him to the Ishmaelites ‘ … and let not our hand be upon him. For he is our own flesh.’

    After this heinous act, we see Judah practically ‘descending into hell’. I have no better words to describe the mess he gets himself into. When we sin, we move away from God and things usually get from bad to worse, until we humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. In spite of his many failings, Judah once again displays his capacity for compassion, when he spares Tamar’s life upon realizing he was the father of the child she was carrying. The scriptures say ‘And he did not lie with her gain.’ (Chp 38: 26) I see this as repentance. The Church teaches us that true repentance is not just being contrite (sorry for our sins), but also having a firm purpose of amendment or the intention not to repeat this sin again. I see a glimmer of hope for Judah.

    Chapter 37 also starts off with the story of Joseph as a teen. I can say his behaviour is age
    appropriate – considering his has 10 older brothers who don’t seem to like him much. I have 2 boys and the little one is constantly telling tales about his elder brother …. ‘mum he is not doing his homework, he is on Facebook!’ And I get at least 10 of these ‘ill reports’ daily! Jacob/Israel favours him I believe because is his the first-born son of Rachel whom he loved first.

    Joseph is obedient (Israel sends him to go check on his brothers in the fields and he does so). He shows his naiveté when he shares his dream with all his brothers, not
    stopping to think for once what they might read into it. Shortly thereafter, we read about his brothers selling him into slavery. Chapter 39 tells the story of his time in Egypt as a slave of Potiphar. The scriptures say that ‘The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man.’ I think being the favoured last born child, Jacob/Israel must have spent a lot of ‘quality
    time’ with him, teaching him about the God of his Fathers (Abraham, Issac). Joseph has therefore grown up immersed in God’s Word and we now see him as a righteous man, choosing not to offend God (under duress) when he responds to Potiphar’s wife ‘how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

    When he lands in prison, it is clear that God is with him, and the keeper of the prison commits to Joseph’s care all the prisoners who were in the prison. We also see God’s mighty hand rests on him in his ability to interpret dreams, and he (Joseph) acknowledges that interpretations are not the work of man but of God (Gen 40: 8).

    Comparing both Judah and Joseph, I’d say that Joseph was closer to God than Judah, and because I know the rest of the story, God performs mighty works through him. Judah on the other hand is a work in progress (like most of us), and there is always hope that we can restore our broken relationship with God.

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