The first three chapters of Exodus are absolutely packed with stuff, just as the first three chapters of Genesis are. In these chapters, Joseph and all his immediate family have died, a new Pharaoh begins oppressing the Israelites, Moses is born, grown, kills a man, flees the country, gets married, and meets God in a burning bush. That’s possibly close to 50 years of story packed into a mere three chapters. Let’s dive in.
Date: 1450-1410 B.C.
“Exodus” comes from a Greek translation of this book. “Exodus” literally means “way out” and is a principal theme of the book as the Hebrews leave Egypt. Evidence within the book lead to the conclusion that the author was a highly educated man who had been a long-time resident of Egypt and was an eyewitness of the Exodus – i.e. Moses. He was familiar with the crop sequence in Lower Egypt (Ex. 9:31-32); his descriptions accurately conform to known conditions (2:3, 12); and he includes details suitable only to an eyewitness account (15:27).
In Genesis 47, the Israelites move in, Jacob blesses Pharaoh, and the famine becomes so severe that all the Egyptians sell their livestock, their land, and themselves into bondage to Pharaoh, just for food to survive. So from that time on, 1/5 of all the produce grown was to be given to Pharaoh (that’s DOUBLE the tithe that Christians have pledged to God!). Joseph also swears to bury his father with his father’s fathers.
In Genesis 48, Jacob is a doting grandfather who blesses his grandchildren. But he does so in a bit of an unconventional way, basically passing on the blessing of his own father – giving the second born child a greater blessing than the first.
Genesis 43 is an interesting look in to the change that has taken place in Joseph’s brothers. Judah – the one who originally convinced the brothers to sell Joseph into slavery – tells his father that he will bear the blame for Benjamin’s possible harm for the rest of his life if the boy is harmed. Reuben (the oldest) had already offered his two sons to Jacob in the previous chapter as a guarantee for Benjamin’s safety.
Now when they go back, they take not only double the silver (since Joseph had returned their silver to them on the first journey), but also gifts for Joseph, to try to “butter him up” a bit and allow Simeon and Benjamin to return safely with them.
A few observations from Chapter 40:
- God sent had the cupbearer and the baker to the prison Joseph was in (and not a different one). This was God’s way of getting Joseph one step closer to Pharaoh.
- God sent them both dreams that they couldn’t interpret.
- God wanted Joseph – the True God worshiper – to interpret the dreams and act as a witness and testimony to these two men.
- Yet even after Joseph’s correct interpretations came to pass, the cupbearer forgot him.
In Genesis 37, Joseph becomes the obvious favorite of Daddy after receipt of his rainbow coat, and his brothers hate him for it (and the fact that he tattles on them). But Joseph arrogantly reveals dreams to them where they serve he (he obviously knows he’s Daddy’s favorite – teenage punk). Jacob sent the kid to the fields to keep an eye on his brothers, but they decide to kill him. Reuben (the firstborn – the one who slept with his Daddy’s third wife) saves him by convincing them to just throw him in a big pot (he would rescue him later). Judah (the second born) convince them to sell Joseph to Ishmael’s descendants (Islam eventually sprouts from Ishmael’s line) and take him to Egypt. They do, Reuben freaks out, they pour blood on Joseph’s coat, his Daddy freaks out, end of story…
In Genesis 34, Leah’s daughter Dinah is raped, and her blood brothers (Leah’s second and third sons) avenge her by killing all the men in the whole city where she was defiled. This was only possible after convincing the city that circumcising all their men was the only way they would give their sister as the defiler’s wife. Jacob fears that the whole land will avenge that city now – but the sons reply, “Would it be better for our daughter to be treated like a prostitute?” Apparently they have some sort of familial honor (these three all have the same mother anyway).
In Genesis 31, Jacob flees from Laban his uncle with all his possessions and family. But first, he spoke to his wives about it to convince them of his “truth” and set their hearts against their father and for him. The daughters agreed with him – “Our father treats us like foreigners! So, everything he has is rightfully ours!” And they all set off secretly, while Rachel stole her father’s gods (so Laban is not a God follower then? Is Rachel? Is Jacob even?). Laban pursued them, caught them, and searched for his gods, which his daughter Rachel lied about and deceived him again. Then Jacob and Laban set up a marker to forever divide their lands and families.
In an effort to keep these notes a bit shorter, for a while I’ll write some Inductive Bible Study notes on the full three chapters of reading per day (and not on each individual chapter). This will additionally help us to get a Big Picture view of the full day’s reading.
First part of Genesis 28 is family drama. Jacob received the blessing in the previous chapter, Esau has vowed to kill him. Mother hears about it and makes up an excuse to send Jacob away, and still receive his father’s blessing to go. Continue Reading
Let’s continue the Inductive Bible Study Method we learned last time.
Abraham takes a third wife when he’s very old (a replacement for Sarah perhaps? Since Hagar, his second has been sent away). He has tons more kids, but leaves everything to Isaac, but still gave gifts to his concubines’ (more than one?) sons so that they wouldn’t be empty-handed when he died. Ishmael reappears and helps Isaac bury their father with Sarah – on the field he bought (smart guy). Continue Reading
It may be time to tone it down a bit in the analysis of Genesis. I can’t really afford to write nearly 1,500 words per day as I have been. But, this is a great time to introduce the Inductive Bible Study Method, which you can do at home yourself to study the Bible and glean as much as you can from the text (it’s how I was taught to study the Bible).
The Inductive Bible Study Method
There are three basic questions to ask for every passage you read:
- What does it say? (Observation)
- What does it mean? (Interpretation)
- How does it apply to my life? (Application)
Begins the story of Sodom and Gomorrah when Abraham receives the Lord and two angelic visitors and pleads for the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction (his nephew Lot lives in the city and he is obviously concerned for him). Abraham talks the Lord into sparing the city for the sake of just 10 righteous people (down from 50). The Lord agrees – likely because he already knows that there are far less than 10 righteous people in the city – but Abraham leaves it at that, and lets the matter rest – depending on the just judgment of the Lord after his own prayers for mercy.