Boaz Obed Ruth and Obed had a son named Obed. Obed is the grandfather of King David

Day 98 (April 8): Descendants of Boaz, Hezron, Jerahmeel, Caleb, Hur, Judah, Shelah and Elkanah and how the Old Testament came to be

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today, the reading is from three different books, Ruth, 1 Chronicles, and 1 Samuel.  The reason for this is the Bible we are using is chronological, so it skips around the traditional Bible a bit.  We have already looked at background information on Ruth.  For information on 1 Chronicles, see www.biblestudytools.com/nlt/1-chronicles/ and for info on 1 Samuel, go to http://www.biblestudytools.com/nlt/1-samuel/.

Today’s Reading
Ruth 4:13-22
1 Samuel 1:1-8
1 Chronicles 2:18-55
1 Chronicles 4:1-23
(1140, 1100, 1003 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. I know that all of the genealogy is important in establishing family lines from the 12 tribes, but Rob, I’ll leave this one to you.  Can you tell us what is important to note in today’s reading?

A. Well, if we were just reading Chronicles, we would see that the writer is working his way through the 12 tribes (not including the Levites) up to the point of the writing.  The best guess about the books of Chronicles — 1 and 2 to Christians, Jews only have one book, but the same material — is that it was written after the return from exile in Babylon by Ezra the priest, probably around that late 5th century BC.  We will see Ezra as a central player in reestablishing Jerusalem after the exile much later (Book of Ezra).  This, by the way, makes it among the newest books of the OT.  The tradition is that it was written, whether by Ezra or not, to allow the Jews to connect with their heritage, especially the greatest of their kings: David.  One thing to watch for along these lines, Chronicles will often leave out some of the more scandalous actions of David that 2 Samuel leaves in, probably because they wanted him cast in the best light possible, so watch for that.

So, the longwinded answer to your question is that these genealogies are all about establishing David as the centerpiece of Jewish history.  This requires tracing the lines from his ancestor Judah, via his son Perez (remember him and his brother being born from the scandal of Genesis 38?)  So in that regard, the end of Ruth and the beginning of 1 Chronicles are focused on the same person: David; Chronicles just gives the ENTIRE family line (or some summary of it), where Ruth is only interested in David’s direct line via Boaz and David’s father Jesse.  David still won’t come on the scene, however, until 1 Samuel 16 or so.

Q. Can you give us a nutshell version of how the Bible was written and put together?  Or who wrote it but how it was collected?  I can picture that some may be chiseled out on stones and others may be written on paper.  But, it had to have been difficult, to say the least.  I can’t imagine deciphering all of these names and rewriting them.  And then, there were so many authors and I would guess, so many places the Scriptures were left.  How did those who discovered it know that it was to go together and all from God?

A. Why don’t we just work on a summary of the OT, and perhaps sometime we can go over the NT, since they are vastly different processes.  I wouldn’t put too much stock in the idea that the OT was written in stone.  There is little that is more inconvenient to work with than heavy rock!  So while the 10 Commandments were probably written in stone at least once, the bulk of the OT was written on scrolls of leather, papyrus — which was invented in Egypt — or other material.  Books as we would recognize them, called codices, or codex, would not be invented until the after Christ (i.e. early A.D.).  So basically, you’re talking about scrolls.

The stories recorded in these scrolls were based upon oral traditions of the ancient Jewish people passed down from generation to generation.  While portions of the writings of Moses or other OT figures may have been written down by them during their lifetimes, the suspicion is that the works we see are edited versions of their stories to which they likely contributed in some form.  It is very unlikely, for example, that Moses dictated the first five books of the OT, though this does NOT mean that Moses had no hand in their composition.  There were very likely collections of copies of Moses’ writings of things like the Law or tales of the Israelites time in the wilderness that were edited together and compiled into the volumes we see here.  Most of this editing likely took place during the reign of the monarchs, around 1000 to say 800 BC — some scholars feel the writings are much more recent, but I think those dates are accurate.  For the more recent writings in the books we are beginning to move into — the prophets, Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah — we will see the particular purposes that caused them to be written (usually because the author will tell us!)  I feel it is very reasonable to hold that the so-called “traditional” authors of most of these volumes had some role in their composition, but most volumes likely went through an editing process of some sort to reach the final product.

All but the most recent writings were written exclusively in ancient Hebrew — there’s a little Aramaic in the youngest works.  The works that were copied onto scrolls were kept in the temple in Jerusalem and the synagogues throughout Judea or anywhere else Jews lived.  Since most of the Jewish population (like the world) could not read, it was the responsibility of the priesthood to read and interpret the Law for the people.

One other major development from around the 2nd Century BC: the OT was translated into a form of ancient Greek called Koine (pronounced coin-nay, meaning “common”).  This work became known as the Septuagint — usually abbreviated LXX, or 70 in Roman numerals — and was the “Bible” that most early Christians would have used, including Paul.  The books use by early Christians caused, as you might expect, most Jews to abandon its use, but it is still the subject of study today.  Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lxx.

That’s a good start to some basics of the OT, but we can continue to have discussions about subsets of the OT — and later the NT — as they come up.  Do note that each of the introductions that we are listing at the beginning of each book gives you detailed information about “how we got it” and “who wrote it,” etc.

For further reading: How the Bible came to be, https://bibleresources.americanbible.org/resource/how-the-bible-came-to-us

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Tomorrow’s reading: 1 Samuel 1:9-4:11

God appoints judges Book of Judges in the Bible

Day 90 (March 31): Victories for Judah, Simeon, many battles lost, Israelites turn to Baal, God rescues with judges, Othniel, Ehud become judges

Wong Chim Yuen

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Judges 1-3:30
For background information on Judges, go to http://www.biblestudytools.com/nlt/judges/
(1374-34 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Judges 1:6): What is the practice of cutting off thumbs and big toes?  I remember something with priests and some kind of ceremony where toes or feet were included.  Another thought: To be a leader takes a good amount of risk of your own life, even today.  But a point that might be worth noting is did any of the leaders who followed God ever get killed?

A. The act of cutting off toes and thumbs was a common mutilation of this era.  This disfigurement caused the man to be no longer fit for military service, as he could not march or carry a weapon such as a sword or spear.

Regarding Israel’s leaders, we will see some of them get into trouble, but only those who are unfaithful.  The first king of the nation, Saul, dies in combat, and we will see how Samson’s unfaithfulness to God causes his downfall later in this text.

Q. (1:20): I remembered you said that Anak’s people where the “giants” who scared the Israelite scouts because of their size.  I just looked up Anak and my Bible dictionary said that he and his descendants were part of the Nephilim that we talked about in Genesis.  They were ancient heroes, a product of sexual relations between heavenly beings and humans.  I am surprised this came up again.

A. Honestly, I suspect part of the reason it is mentioned in Genesis at all is because the descendants of this Anak settle in the land of Canaan.  If you look back at it, you can see a bit more clearly now why the author of Genesis (whoever it was) spent all that time looking at family lines: they keep coming up because the descendants are still around.

Q. (1:21-36): Several of the tribes failed to clear their land of Canaanites.  Is there a reason? 2:1-5 gives us the answer, right?

A. You got it.

Q. (2:10): I think we see a pattern here of one Israelite generation following the word of God and then the next generation falls from obedience.  Thank goodness we have the Bible to show us that following the Lord has to be a constant practice.  We have to teach it to our children, so if they stray, they have Christianity as their foundation and will likely come back.  Then, they teach their kids the same thing.  Any comments on the patterns?

A. It appears what keeps happening is that these “next” generations are taking for granted what God had provided to their families, and just as God (through Moses) warned them (Deuteronomy 6:12 and 8:11), when they forgot God, they tended to make bad decisions.  That appears to be the pattern.

I think we can see this in the lives of our own families.  People who started with nothing and worked their way into wealth would be much more likely to appreciate what they have, but their children, who do not know poverty, are much more likely to take the wealth for granted, even if the parents warn them not to.  I do think that teaching our kids to trust in Christ is, obviously, a worthwhile goal, but we have to ensure that we are really trusting in Him, and not just our wealth or possessions, because kids see through facades like that.  If we try to fake it, or don’t give God our whole heart, I think our children will be much more susceptible to the types of corruption that we see in this story and throughout the Bible.

Q. (2:11): Why were the false idols so attractive to the Israelites.  Is it because they could see the idols, where God is not visible?

A. That certainly would have something to do with it.  I think a majority of the problem is that the gods such as Baal and Asherah had their power related to things such as crop growth and fertility, both of which were crucial to the survival of the people.  Just like us today, the people were seduced by the voices of others telling them that all they had to do was put this faith in this product or this god, and they would be taken care of.  In a way, it is remarkable how close we are to that very pattern in our consumeristic thoughts today.

Q. (2:16): Will we find out who the judges are?

A. The point of the book is to reveal the way that God raised up leaders from the people (which the book calls judges, but they are more like tribal warlords at this point) to deal with the series of crises that arise during the book.  The introduction at the top of the page lists the major judges and what they did.

O. (2:21-23): I love when the answer to a question is right there in plain sight, “I did this (no longer drive out nations that Joshua left unconquered) to test Israel — to see whether or not they would follow the ways of the Lord as their ancestors did.”  I think that many times, I need wait a little longer for answers.  I get impatient.

Q. (3:15): Why is someone being left-handed important enough to mention?

A. My notes indicate two reasons this was noticeable.  First, the tribe Ehud is from, Benjamin, means “son of my right hand,” so the reference is somewhat ironic, and is perhaps a bit of humor on the authors part.  The other thing that IS crucial is that being left-handed, Ehud could conceal his dagger on the opposite side where it would commonly be searched for on his right side.  This is probably what allowed him to sneak the dagger into the king’s chamber and assassinate him.

Q. (3:21-23): This scene sounds like something from South Park.  (I have not watched it in 14-15 years, but what I remember is that it’s pretty vile humor.)  Why is this in the Bible?  I don’t mind.  It offers some comedy.  Also, NLT says that he escaped through the latrine, which has a footnote that it could be a porch and that the Hebrew translation is uncertain.  Maybe it was through the bathroom window, onto the porch? Ha.

A. I don’t really have a good answer to this question.  The author is recounting what he was (I assume) told happened.  Ehud skillfully assassinates the king, and even if it is (sort of) humorous, he deals a major blow to the enemy and then brings peace to the entire nation for almost 100 years.

Q. (3:30): So there was peace for 80 years.  Because of the calm, we can assume that Ehud was a follower of God?

A. Yes.  When the story tells us that God raised a person up, it is a person who follows Him faithfully.  That’s the pattern that is set and will be followed.

For further study: Why did the Israelites keep worshipping other idols when they have God? Aren’t we better today than they were? https://www.gotquestions.org/Baal-and-Asherah.html

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Tomorrow’s reading: Judges 3:31-6:40

Judah Ephraim and Manasseh Joseph and his wife Asenath, had two sons named Ephraim and Manasseh. Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob (Israel), was given two portions of land, which were handed down to the tribes of his two sons.

Day 86 (March 27): Allotments for Judah, Ephraim, and West Manasseh

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Joshua 15:20-17:18
(1399 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Joshua 15:63): This is the second time I have seen a passage that says the Israelites could not drive out some of the people.  What is the purpose of God allowing this?

A. These other nations appear to be a test of the people’s resolve, and their ability to follow God’s orders.  Much like the 10 spies who came back proclaiming, “giants” to scare all the people, we will see the Israelites fear the iron weapons that some of the tribes possess, and they will make decisions that go against what God has told them to do.  God has made His will clear: all the tribes in the land are to be removed by force.  But Israel has, with the Gibeonites, and will continue to violate this requirement by making more treaties, or not trusting in God and losing the subsequent battle (we will see this in Judges).  So basically, what is happening is not what God desires, which could be the definition of sin in that sense.  Even today, God often allows us to make bad decisions, and then live with the consequences in the hope that we will learn from our failures.  That appears to be why God is allowing these other nations to continue.  Much like our bad decisions, the decisions that Israel is making in this period will be costly.

Overall, even with the land “conquered,” there will still be many battles to fight, because many of the tribes that Israel will face are powerful and will not surrender easily.  David will achieve great victories over some of these nations, including victory at Jerusalem where he will establish his capital, but that’s a long way off.

For further study
Twelve things you may not know about Judah: https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/12-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-tribe-of-judah.html
— There are difficulties with some of the land allocations, or rather the people who inhabit them. https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/27-the-israelites-move-into-canaan/canaan-is-divided-among-the-twelve-tribes/
— A few summary points for dividing the land, https://enterthebible.org/passage/joshua-13-21-distribution-of-the-land

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Tomorrow’s reading: Joshua 18:1-19:48

Map of Joshua's campaigns in Canaan

Day 85 (March 26): 31 kings defeated, tribes divvy up lands east and west of Jordan, Caleb gets allotment for past courage

 www.thebiblejourney.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Joshua 12:7-15:19
(1399 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Joshua 13:1, 14:10): From reading about these battles, the text makes me feel like the battles happened real fast, but I guess that wasn’t the case if Joshua is getting old.  So, we can tell from Caleb that the Israelites have been battling for 45 years.  When God told the Israelites that they would receive the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I didn’t have a feeling that they would have to fight for it.  I thought after all that misery of slavery, escaping from Egypt and wandering in the desert for 40 years, that the land of milk and honey would be ready and waiting for them to relax.  Why did they have to work so hard for the land?

A. The events described in the first 12 or so chapters do appear to take place quickly, but what Joshua is doing is establishing a beachhead of sorts in the land.  From here, the long process of taking the entire land happens over a generation or more – 45 years according to the verse you point to.  I don’t know exactly why it takes so long, but I guess it has to do with settling in new towns and taking over the old ones, which is probably not a fast job.  The central victories that are won in the first few chapters do tell the story though: Israel established itself as the dominant power in the region by destroying Jericho and Ai (along with the other battles mentioned), and from there, the battle is already won, they simply have to complete the task.

Q. Is there any significance to how the territories are laid out?

A. Honestly, not as far as I can tell.  There will “be” significance, if you will.  That is, the territories will become important for future direction of the story, but this is really an establishing moment, and I don’t think there is much significance to the locations at this point.  Here’s just one example: some of the tribes that border other regions (Dan in the north for example) will be more susceptible to the corruption of other tribes because Israel fails to drive out all the people that God tells them to.  We’ll see how this plays out.

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Tomorrow’s reading: Joshua 15:20-17:18

The brothers return for more grain and take Benjamin with them. They bow before him before Joseph reveals his identity. Isaac is taken down to Egypt for a reunion with Joseph.

Day 16 (Jan. 16): Joseph’s brothers go to Egypt twice, brothers feast at the palace, silver cup trick, Judah pleads with Joseph, Joseph reveals identity

Wycliffe BibleTranslators of Russia

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Genesis 42-45:15
(1875 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (42:9): Joseph sees his dreams come true.  Are we to believe that this just happened, that Joseph can see into the future or that God made it happen?  In Gen. 45:5, Joseph said that it was God who sent him to Egypt to save his family.

A. My interpretation would be that God was telling Joseph in the vision that he would be the leader of his family, and that his power would rise even above his father Jacob (the sun in Joseph’s dream).  It was God that provided the vision to Joseph, but it was unclear exactly HOW this would come about.  God’s actions, especially providing Joseph with the interpretation of dreams that he could not have known otherwise, certainly points to God being involved in the process, but you can decide for yourself if God “made it happen” in the deterministic sense.

Q/O. (42:14): I see a common scenario thus far in the Bible of schemes for the purpose of assessing loyalty, honor and love.  1) In the Garden, the serpent tempts Eve and Adam to see if they are following God’s commands.  Adam and Eve fail and lose their cushy lifestyle.  2) God tests Abraham’s loyalty by asking him to sacrifice Isaac, his only son.  Abraham is rewarded with a blessing that he is the father of many and through his descendants, all nations will be blessed.  3) Jacob’s loyalty to God is tested when he is tricked by Laban and has to put up with Laban’s cruelty.  Jacob remains true to God, giving Him the credit for his fortune.  4) Jacob tests his father-in-law with his spotted goats and sheep. Laban tries to trick Jacob, but it backfires on him.  He fails the test. Jacob outwits him and prospers.  5) Joseph tests his brothers compassion by planting a silver cup in Benjamin’s bag and accusing him of stealing.  Joseph wins his brothers back.  There are obvious reasons for these tests of love and loyalty.  These tests seem necessary to set wrongs right or weed out the bad apples.  God has apparently administered some of these tests himself and allows others to test on his behalf.  Who tests us — God, the devil or both?

A. Let me start by saying that you have asked a complicated question that does not have a single concrete answer.  In James 1:13, James tells us that God does not tempt anyone to evil, at least directly.  But it is quite clear in the information you have assembled that God DOES allow testing of our hearts, in the examples that you cite, and even in the life of Jesus who was led by the Spirit into the wilderness specifically to BE TESTED by Satan (in Matthew 4).  So scripture does show that God is willing to put us to the test in order to prove (to ourselves and those around us) that our faith is genuine and not easily cast aside.  We will see more examples of the temptation God allows in Job (our next reading) and Exodus.

O. (42:21): Joseph’s brothers feeling that they are suffering the consequences of mistreating their brother reminds me of “an eye for an eye …” Exodus 21:24.

O. (42:32): This verse shows the class inferiority between the Egyptians and Joseph’s brothers.  It’s interesting whom God chooses to carry out his work, not the most famous or rich, but more often, the humble.

Q. (43:37): Jacob’s sons from Leah are not his favored sons.  We know that this troubles the brothers.  But, yet, here they change their attitude and promise to protect the one known surviving favored son.  Can you give us some insight on why they changed?

A. I think that they are changed men, but their resolve to protect Benjamin comes down to their love for their father.  The story seems to imply that the brothers feel that if they return to Jacob without Benjamin, Jacob will die of a broken heart, having lost both of the sons he cares most about.  It would appear that, besides Reuben who obviously thought the whole idea was a bad one, the other brothers came to regret their decision, and they probably DID assume that Joseph was dead- in that regard they told the truth as they understood it.

Q. Also, we talked in an earlier day’s readings about how Joseph was sold as a slave because of his bragging about his dreams.  Potiphar noticed God’s presence in Joseph, so when was his turning point to follow God?

A. It appears being sold into slavery was Joseph’s turning point as well.  While the text does not state it, it appears that slavery humbles him and helps him to focus on God.  Since he is a slave, Joseph is “stuck” in his service to Potiphar (and later the jailer), but rather than be bitter about his downfall, Joseph trusts that God will restore him.

Q. (44:15) Was Joseph a prophet?

A. In the sense of being able to see the future?  Sort of.  Don’t forget, the story told us that the only vision that was actually Joseph’s was the one of his family bowing down to him.  The rest of the visions and dreams have been from other people (the baker, cupbearer, and Pharaoh).  So I would be hard pressed to declare Joseph a prophet.  In the particular verse in question, it almost appears that Joseph is just using bluster to intimidate his brothers.  He can’t really see how things are in the future, he’s just bragging to them.

The other thing that is worth mentioning is our understanding of the word “prophet”.  The word has a very particular meaning to Jewish readership in particular.  The Prophets (capital P) were a particular group of individuals whose were give a particular vision by God: to call His people back into right relationship with Him.  Prophecy is not just about predicting the future, but rather about calling for people to repent and return to the ways they know to be true but are not following.  The “future” aspect of prophecy works in two ways: the prophet will warn about what happens if the people fail to repent (Jeremiah is the poster boy of this), and the other way prophecy works is in more the sense we are used to seeing.  A prophet such as Isaiah will talk about a day in the future when God will act in a particular way to restore things that have gone wrong (the result of the people failing to repent).  Basically, prophesies such as those about Jesus are about the way that God will restore things to rights, and not abandon His people.  So in this definition, I would say we can clearly see that Joseph is not a prophet in the sense that the Bible defines it.

Q.  (37:7) I’m backing up here to address something I forgot in Day 14.  I have never appreciated egoism.  Personally, I would have sided with the brothers.  This conflict seems to work in God’s favor in the long run, but he hasn’t purposely set it up like this, right?  He just knows how it will turn out.  I’m trying to accept that God doesn’t control people, he just knows what they are going to do.  In this story of Joseph and his brothers, it’s hard not to think God is making conflict for his own purposes, especially when Joseph said that God made it all happen to save their lives (45:5).

A. This is a pretty complicated story, and it can be hard to sort out exactly what God is doing with these men.  As I mentioned a couple of days ago, it is important to understand that without Joseph in Egypt, the family probably starves.  Now having said that, you are touching upon one of the most important issues that the Bible wrestles with: what role does God play in our destiny (if any)?  I can tell you honestly that its not going to get any easier, as both Exodus and Job both discuss this issue in complicated ways.  So buckle up, we’ve got a ways to go.

My response to the issue of God “setting up” the situation for the brothers is one where I would disagree.  The mindset that I bring to complicated scriptures like this one (and others such as the crucifixion, by the way) is to say God did not cause people to do evil things.  God did gift Joseph with visions of the future, but He did NOT make Joseph arrogant and desire to brag about his visions to his father and brothers.  God certainly did not make Joseph’s brothers desire to kill him, and then settle on selling him into slavery.  But God may have provided a way of protecting Joseph: He may have made it so that the caravan that Joseph was sold to pass at just the right moment to keep his brothers from killing him (since slavery is vastly preferable to being dead).  In the end, Joseph being in Egypt allows his brothers the chance to find forgiveness, after everyone (including Joseph) has been punished for their sins.  So basically, did God cause the situations in this story?  I would say no (though I think there would be some who would disagree with me).  But God did bring salvation to the family THROUGH the terrible actions of Joseph and his brothers.

This is foreshadowing of the cross itself and the sacrifice of Christ (Joseph being the Christ figure).  Did God make Judas betray, Caiaphas accuse, and Pilate condemn?  No.   The crucifixion was the darkest moment in human history: the one man in the entire world who was truly innocent of sin was tortured and brutally killed in our place.  Yet that moment was necessary for the restoration of God and man.  Out of that moment of darkness, God brought light three days later.  The darkness of the crucifixion changed everything.  God took the worst of who we are, our jealousy, our fear, and our willingness to kill, and used it to bring about the salvation of the entire world.  That is the true power of God’s grace: not to cause evil, but to bring goodness through it.

For further interest
More on biblical famine: https://theconversation.com/famine-in-the-bible-is-more-than-a-curse-it-is-a-signal-of-change-and-a-chance-for-a-new-beginning-152288

Shop: Jacob’s children — Joseph and his brothers — offer so many examples of sour states of mind that are timeless: we experience them today just like they did more than 3,500 years ago.  Help yourself get out of negative spiraling of your thoughts with Livin’ Lights “All Good Thoughts” shirt, the Good Life shirt or maybe if you are holding resentment, Forgive 490.

Tomorrow’s reading: Genesis 45:16-47:27

Jacob gave his favored son, Joseph, a robe of many colors, to which Jacob's other sons became embittered.

Day 14 (Jan. 14): Joseph’s dreams, brothers sell Joseph, Judah and Tamar, Judah’s descendants, Joseph revered by Potiphar, Potiphar’s retaliates

John Paul Stanley / YoPlace.com

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
— Genesis 37-38
1 Chronicles 2:3-6
1 Chronicles 2:8
Genesis 39
(1898 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (37:5): If we are supposed to learn something from Joseph’s dream story, I would think that it is sometimes things happen for a reason and to trust in God.  But how do you know when God is influencing a situation?  This story does not tell us that God gave Joseph those dreams.  Also, being the favored son, I can totally understand why the brothers felt jealous of Joseph.  Then, to tell of his boastful dreams would have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

A. You actually make a keen observation in noting the absence of God in Joseph’s dreams.  And while dreams will become important in his life, at this point, Joseph is an arrogant young man who is basically gloating about the dreams that he is having and how he will rule over his family (even his parents, something that would have been exceedingly rare in his day).  You get it exactly right: it is Joseph’s bragging (and his special robe or coat) that gets him in trouble with his jealous brothers and motivates them to sell him into slavery.  As we will explore throughout this story, God will use all of these events (including Joseph’s arrogance) to bring about the salvation of Jacob’s family, so you could make the argument that God is “planting the seeds” for the story that will unfold in the events we have read today.

Q. (38:1-30):  What is the significance to the Judah-and-Tamar story?  I see a few points: 1) God saw evil in a descendant of Abraham — Er — and took his life. 2) Widowers were well respected.  If their husband died, they were owed a caretaker from their deceased husband’s family. 3) Birth order is important in these times.  But, like we have learned, God doesn’t give it the importance that humans do. In the birth of Tamar and Judah’s twins, maybe God did this as a point:  It’s an argument to say who was born first.  One started to come out, but then the other somehow took over.  So, maybe God is saying they are equally important.

A. I agree with these suggestions you have made, but there is a larger picture at play.  Basically, Judah’s descendants will be among the most important Israelites in their history.  Ruth Chapter 4 actually tells us why the story of Tamar is important: Perez, the firstborn twin (though not Judah’s firstborn) is the ancestor of King David, and Perez’s line will give birth to numerous kings.  Note also, that Jesus (as a descendent of David) is ALSO of the line of Perez, and therefore Judah and Tamar.  Pretty amazing that God originates the world’s salvation through this troubling story of prostitution and incest.  We will see more examples of this type of story as we read on, notably in the stories of David and Solomon.

O. (39:3): Potiphar noticed that the Lord was with Joseph.  I wonder what made him say that?  Has anyone looked at someone and said to themselves, “They must believe in God?”

Q. (39: 7-10): Joseph had the willpower to deny Potiphar’s wife who was begging him for sex.  Joseph had the strength, yet so many men and women, even followers of God, give in to temptation.  Does the Bible tell us how to ignore temptation?

A. Part of the point of the story of Joseph is that he is held up as a perfect example of submission and faithfulness to God (at least AFTER being sold into slavery).  We will continue to see the ways that God will use Joseph and Joseph will prosper because he has faith in God when things get bad (and they are about to get really bad!)

When it comes to resisting temptation, the model of Joseph is a good one: Joseph is able to resist temptation because he trusts in God.  Having a powerful faith in God, and trusting that He knows what is best for us, compared to say the fall story in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve became convinced that God was withholding something from them.  If we trust in the idea that God desires the best for us, then if we learn about the things that God (through the Bible) says are wrong or to be avoided, then we are more likely to avoid them.  Ultimately, it is important to understand that we will ALL fall into some sort of temptation eventually; it is in our nature.  This does not excuse our actions, but it does prevent us from thinking that God gives up on us when we screw up.  Quite the opposite: God desires to forgive and restore us to right relationship with Him.  So doing our best to avoid temptation is a good and desirable thing, but it is just as important for us to understand God’s desire to reconcile us to Himself through Christ.

For more insight: Dreams can be important! https://guideposts.org/angels-and-miracles/miracles/gods-grace/the-importance-of-dreams-in-the-bible/ 

Shop: Human emotions — like Joseph’s pride and his brothers’ jealousy — can get in the way of true joy. In Philippians 4:8, God gives us instruction to think about only good things. This shirt design is a great reminder for you and all of those around you to seek positivity: https://livinlight.org/product/all-good-thoughts/

Tomorrow’s reading: Genesis 40; Genesis 35:28-29; Genesis 41