GENESIS ch. 35 – 39


Bethel Revisited.

1 God said to Jacob: Go up now to Bethel. Settle there and build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau. 2So Jacob told his household and all who were with him: “Get rid of the foreign gods among you; then purify yourselves and change your clothes.3Let us now go up to Bethel so that I might build an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”4They gave Jacob all the foreign gods in their possession and also the rings they had in their ears and Jacob buried them under the oak that is near Shechem.5Then, as they set out, a great terror fell upon the surrounding towns, so that no one pursued the sons of Jacob.

6Thus Jacob and all the people who were with him arrived in Luz (now Bethel) in the land of Canaan. 7There he built an altar and called the place El-Bethel, for it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.  8Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died. She was buried under the oak below Bethel, and so it was named Allon-bacuth.

9On Jacob’s arrival from Paddan-aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him.10God said to him:

Your name is Jacob.

You will no longer be named Jacob,

but Israel will be your name.

So he was named Israel.11Then God said to him: I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed an assembly of nations, will stem from you, and kings will issue from your loins.12The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you; and to your descendants after you I will give the land.  13Then God departed from him.14In the place where God had spoken with him, Jacob set up a sacred pillar, a stone pillar, and upon it he made a libation and poured out oil. 15Jacob named the place where God spoke to him Bethel.


Jacob’s Family.

16Then they departed from Bethel; but while they still had some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel went into labor and suffered great distress.17When her labor was most intense, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for now you have another son.”18With her last breath—for she was at the point of death—she named him Ben-oni; but his father named him Benjamin.19Thus Rachel died; and she was buried on the road to Ephrath (now Bethlehem).  20Jacob set up a sacred pillar on her grave, and the same pillar marks Rachel’s grave to this day.

21Israel moved on and pitched his tent beyond Migdal-eder.22While Israel was encamped in that region, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine. When Israel heard of it, he was greatly offended.

The sons of Jacob were now twelve.23The sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun;24* the sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin;25the sons of Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali;26the sons of Leah’s maidservant Zilpah: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

27Jacob went home to his father Isaac at Mamre, in Kiriath-arba (now Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had resided.28The length of Isaac’s life was one hundred and eighty years;29then he breathed his last. He died as an old man and was gathered to his people. After a full life, his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.


Edomite Lists.

1These are the descendants of Esau (that is, Edom).2 Esau took his wives from among the Canaanite women: Adah, daughter of Elon the Hittite; Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah the son of Zibeon the Hivite; 3and Basemath, daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth.4Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau; Basemath bore Reuel; 5and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.

6Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, as well as his livestock, all his cattle, and all the property he had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to the land of Seir, away from his brother Jacob. 7Their possessions had become too great for them to dwell together, and the land in which they were residing could not support them because of their livestock.8So Esau settled in the highlands of Seir. (Esau is Edom.) 9These are the descendants of Esau, ancestor of the Edomites, in the highlands of Seir.

10These are the names of the sons of Esau: Eliphaz, son of Adah, wife of Esau, and Reuel, son of Basemath, wife of Esau.11 The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz.12Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, the son of Esau, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. Those were the sons of Adah, the wife of Esau.13These were the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. Those were the sons of Basemath, the wife of Esau. 14These were the sons of Esau’s wife Oholibamah—the daughter of Anah, son of Zibeon—whom she bore to Esau: Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.

15These are the clans of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz, Esau’s firstborn: the clans of Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz,16Korah, Gatam, and Amalek. These are the clans of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; they are the sons of Adah.17These are the sons of Reuel, son of Esau: the clans of Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These are the clans of Reuel in the land of Edom; they are the sons of Basemath, wife of Esau.18These were the sons of Oholibamah, wife of Esau: the clans of Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These are the clans of Esau’s wife Oholibamah, daughter of Anah.19These are the sons of Esau—that is, Edom—according to their clans.

20These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; those are the clans of the Horites, sons of Seir in the land of Edom.22 The sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam, and Lotan’s sister was Timna.23These are the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Mahanath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam.24These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah. He is the Anah who found water in the desert while he was pasturing the donkeys of his father Zibeon.25These are the children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah, daughter of Anah.26These are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran.27These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan.28These are the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran.29These are the clans of the Horites: the clans of Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah,30Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; those are the clans of the Horites, clan by clan, in the land of Seir.

31k These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the Israelites. 32Bela, son of Beor, became king in Edom; the name of his city was Dinhabah.33When Bela died, Jobab, son of Zerah, from Bozrah, succeeded him as king.34When Jobab died, Husham, from the land of the Temanites, succeeded him as king.35When Husham died, Hadad, son of Bedad, succeeded him as king. He is the one who defeated Midian in the country of Moab; the name of his city was Avith.36When Hadad died, Samlah, from Masrekah, succeeded him as king.37When Samlah died, Shaul, from Rehoboth-on-the-River, succeeded him as king.38When Shaul died, Baal-hanan, son of Achbor, succeeded him as king.39When Baal-hanan, son of Achbor, died, Hadad succeeded him as king; the name of his city was Pau. His wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, son of Mezahab.

40These are the names of the clans of Esau identified according to their families and localities: the clans of Timna, Alvah, Jetheth,41Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon,42Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar,43Magdiel, and Iram. Those are the clans of the Edomites, according to their settlements in their territorial holdings—that is, of Esau, the ancestor of the Edomites.


Joseph Sold into Egypt.

1Jacob settled in the land where his father had sojourned, the land of Canaan. 2This is the story of the family of Jacob. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he was tending the flocks with his brothers; he was an assistant to the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah, and Joseph brought their father bad reports about them.3Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long ornamented tunic. 4When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his brothers, they hated him so much that they could not say a kind word to him.

5* Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers, they hated him even more.a6He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had.7There we were, binding sheaves in the field, when suddenly my sheaf rose to an upright position, and your sheaves formed a ring around my sheaf and bowed down to it.”8His brothers said to him, “Are you really going to make yourself king over us? Will you rule over us?” So they hated him all the more because of his dreams and his reports.

9Then he had another dream, and told it to his brothers. “Look, I had another dream,” he said; “this time, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”10When he told it to his father and his brothers, his father reproved him and asked, “What is the meaning of this dream of yours? Can it be that I and your mother and your brothers are to come and bow to the ground before you?”11So his brothers were furious at him but his father kept the matter in mind.

12One day, when his brothers had gone to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem,13Israel said to Joseph, “Are your brothers not tending our flocks at Shechem? Come and I will send you to them.” “I am ready,” Joseph answered.14“Go then,” he replied; “see if all is well with your brothers and the flocks, and bring back word.” So he sent him off from the valley of Hebron. When Joseph reached Shechem,15a man came upon him as he was wandering about in the fields. “What are you looking for?” the man asked him.16“I am looking for my brothers,” he answered. “Please tell me where they are tending the flocks.”17The man told him, “They have moved on from here; in fact, I heard them say, ‘Let us go on to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan.18They saw him from a distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.19They said to one another: “Here comes that dreamer!20Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We will see then what comes of his dreams.”

21* But when Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from their hands, saying: “We must not take his life.”22Then Reuben said, “Do not shed blood! Throw him into this cistern in the wilderness; but do not lay a hand on him.” His purpose was to save him from their hands and restore him to his father. 23So when Joseph came up to his brothers, they stripped him of his tunic, the long ornamented tunic he had on;24then they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

25Then they sat down to eat. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, balm, and resin to be taken down to Egypt. 26Judah said to his brothers: “What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? 27Come, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers agreed.

28Midianite traders passed by, and they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern. They sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. 29When Reuben went back to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not in it, he tore his garments, 30and returning to his brothers, he exclaimed: “The boy is gone! And I—where can I turn?”31They took Joseph’s tunic, and after slaughtering a goat, dipped the tunic in its blood.32Then 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.”33He recognized it and exclaimed: “My son’s tunic! A wild beast has devoured him! Joseph has been torn to pieces!” 34Then Jacob tore his garments, put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned his son many days.35Though his sons and daughters tried to console him, he refused all consolation, saying, “No, I will go down mourning to my son in Sheol.”* Thus did his father weep for him. 36The Midianites, meanwhile, sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh and his chief steward.


Judah and Tamar.

1About that time Judah went down, away from his brothers, and pitched his tent near a certain Adullamite named Hirah.2There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite named Shua; he married her, and had intercourse with her. 3She conceived and bore a son, whom she named Er.4Again she conceived and bore a son, whom she named Onan.5Then she bore still another son, whom she named Shelah. She was in Chezib when she bore him.

6Judah got a wife named Tamar for his firstborn, Er.7But Er, Judah’s firstborn, greatly offended the LORD; so the LORD took his life. 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Have intercourse with your brother’s wife, in fulfillment of your duty as brother-in-law, and thus preserve your brother’s line.” 9Onan, however, knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he had intercourse with his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground, to avoid giving offspring to his brother.10What he did greatly offended the LORD, and the LORD took his life too.11Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up”—for he feared that Shelah also might die like his brothers. So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.

12Time passed, and the daughter of Shua, Judah’s wife, died. After Judah completed the period of mourning, he went up to Timnah, to those who were shearing his sheep, in company with his friend Hirah the Adullamite.13Then Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is on his way up to Timnah to shear his sheep.”14So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a shawl, and having wrapped herself sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the way to Timnah; for she was aware that, although Shelah was now grown up, she had not been given to him in marriage. 15When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, since she had covered her face.16So he went over to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me have intercourse with you,” for he did not realize that she was his daughter-in-law. She replied, “What will you pay me for letting you have intercourse with me?”17He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” “Very well,” she said, “provided you leave me a pledge until you send it.”18Judah asked, “What pledge should I leave you?” She answered, “Your seal and cord, and the staff in your hand.” So he gave them to her and had intercourse with her, and she conceived by him.19After she got up and went away, she took off her shawl and put on her widow’s garments again.

20Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite to recover the pledge from the woman; but he did not find her.21So he asked the men of that place, “Where is the prostitute, the one by the roadside in Enaim?” But they answered, “No prostitute has been here.”22He went back to Judah and told him, “I did not find her; and besides, the men of the place said, ‘No prostitute has been here.’”23“Let her keep the things,” Judah replied; “otherwise we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you did not find her.”

24About three months later, Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has acted like a harlot and now she is pregnant from her harlotry.” Judah said, “Bring her out; let her be burned.”25But as she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “It is by the man to whom these things belong that I am pregnant.” Then she said, “See whose seal and cord and staff these are.”26Judah recognized them and said, “She is in the right rather than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” He had no further sexual relations with her.

27When the time of her delivery came, there were twins in her womb. 28While she was giving birth, one put out his hand; and the midwife took and tied a crimson thread on his hand, noting, “This one came out first.”29 But as he withdrew his hand, his brother came out; and she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” So he was called Perez. 30Afterward his brother, who had the crimson thread on his hand, came out; he was called Zerah.


Joseph’s Temptation.

1When Joseph was taken down to Egypt, an Egyptian, Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh and his chief steward, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there.2 The LORD was with Joseph and he enjoyed great success and was assigned to the household of his Egyptian master.3When his master saw that the LORD was with him and brought him success in whatever he did,4he favored Joseph and made him his personal attendant; he put him in charge of his household and entrusted to him all his possessions. 5From the moment that he put him in charge of his household and all his possessions, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the LORD’s blessing was on everything he owned, both inside the house and out.6Having left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge, he gave no thought, with Joseph there, to anything but the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome.7After a time, his master’s wife looked at him with longing and said, “Lie with me.”8But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, as long as I am here, my master does not give a thought to anything in the house, but has entrusted to me all he owns.9He has no more authority in this house than I do. He has withheld from me nothing but you, since you are his wife. How, then, could I do this great wrong and sin against God?” 10 Although she spoke to him day after day, he would not agree to lie with her, or even be near her.


11One such day, when Joseph came into the house to do his work, and none of the household servants were then in the house,12she laid hold of him by his cloak, saying, “Lie with me!” But leaving the cloak in her hand, he escaped and ran outside.13When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand as he escaped outside,14she cried out to her household servants and told them, “Look! My husband has brought us a Hebrew man to mock us! He came in here to lie with me, but I cried out loudly.15When he heard me scream, he left his cloak beside me and escaped and ran outside.”

16She kept the cloak with her until his master came home.17Then she told him the same story: “The Hebrew slave whom you brought us came to me to amuse himself at my expense.18But when I screamed, he left his cloak beside me and escaped outside.”19When the master heard his wife’s story in which she reported, “Thus and so your servant did to me,” he became enraged.20Joseph’s master seized him and put him into the jail where the king’s prisoners were confined. And there he sat, in jail.

21But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him kindness by making the chief jailer well-disposed toward him. 22The chief jailer put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners in the jail. Everything that had to be done there, he was the one to do it.23The chief jailer did not have to look after anything that was in Joseph’s charge, since the LORD was with him and was bringing success to whatever he was doing.




This talk is by Catherine Upchurch

Throughout Genesis – are there any signs of progress towards holiness?  It highlights that God is savior, God is always savior.

“God said to Jacob”.  Gen. 35:1

They are in relationship.  God still speaks to us today – in ways don’t expect.



“God-given desire to listen to God by following the Spirit of Jesus present within daily life.”  Joan Muller


We can rely on the voice of God

–          In the living Word of Scripture

–          In the teachings of our church

–          In the wisdom of accumulated life experiences


Ignatius developed Rules for Discernment to keep his followers on the path to God


Jacob gets re-directed to Bethel where 20 years earlier he had had a vision of angels going up and down to heaven.  “Go up now to Bethel.”  Gen 35:1


Psalm 122

I rejoiced when they said to me,

“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

2And now our feet are standing

within your gates, Jerusalem.

3Jerusalem, built as a city,

walled round about.*

4There the tribes go up,

the tribes of the LORD,

As it was decreed for Israel,

to give thanks to the name of the LORD.c

5There are the thrones of justice,

the thrones of the house of David.


6For the peace of Jerusalem pray:

“May those who love you prosper!

7May peace be within your ramparts,

prosperity within your towers.”

8For the sake of my brothers and friends I say,

“Peace be with you.”

9For the sake of the house of the LORD, our God,

I pray for your good.


Bethel had a long history of being revered as a shrine.

How to be in the midst of others who are so different?

Radical symbolization (Walter Brueggemann)

The dramatic ritual of purification, altar building, and worship is a way of symbolically demonstrating faithfulness.

Our sacramental rituals as well.  The cross, not the world’s values.

Jacob is renamed “Israel”, promises are repeated

Recounting of “family trees”

–          Evidence of the fruitfulness promised by God

–          Remind us of God’s abiding presence

The Joseph narrative to come is the explanation of how Israel came to be in Egypt.

Hinneni  “here I am” or “I am ready”

God communicates through dreams often in the bible.  Joseph’s dreams were both a promise and a threat.  A promise from God to provide leadership to the people.  A threat to those whose position in the family order could be overturned.  Killing the dreamer does not kill the dream.

In the middle of the story of Joseph comes the story of Judah and Tamar, out of the blue.  Where is God in THIS story?

Without a male heir families died.  Levirate marriage – for the sake of the dead husband’s name.  Tamar deceives Judah.  In the end – “She is in the right rather than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.”  Gen 38:26   The issue is not prostitution or immorality.  The issue is responsibility and righteousness.

“The LORD was with him”.  Joseph knew that God was with him.


Jacob now leads his whole clan back to Bethel where he will create a site to kill animals for sacrifice.  All idols and jewelry are hidden under an oak tree near Shechem before they leave.

Brueggemann p. 282: “In the Christian tradition, the renunciation of foreign gods has been translated as renunciation of sinfulness.  Israel believed that the symbolic removal of foreign gods, purification, and change of garments were effective in disengagement from their real power.  In parallel fashion, Christian baptism is understood as disengagement from the powers of evil.”

Jewish tradition prevented the destruction of any book or item with the name of God on it.  Hence old Torah scrolls were placed in clay pots and hidden in caves or otherwise set aside in safe places.  This is behind our Catholic tradition as well – we do not casually toss bibles or other sacred items into the trash.  The preference is burning or burial, sometimes in the coffins of the dead (which is how a recent letter from the Office of Liturgy suggests that we dispose of now outdated Sacramentaries).

Name change Jacob to Israel is repeated, this time without elaboration. This had been related in chapter 32.  The promises are also repeated – descendants as numerous as the stars, the land.

A last son, Benjamin, was born to Rachel, she died in the birth.  As happens elsewhere in the bible – life and death are intimately connected.  Jacob changes his name away from “Son of Sorrow” BenOni to Benjamin = Son of the right hand / son of the south (note that the later tribal lands will have the tribe of Benjamin, along with Judah, as the south-most areas).  Also the country of Yemen – the south end of the peninsula.

Reuben lies with his father’s concubine Bilhah.  Israel heard – ????  Reuben is the firstborn of all of Jacob’s children, the first son of Leah.  Deut. 23:1: “A man shall not marry his father’s wife,



Fretheim p. 590: These lists feature descendants to hundreds of years in the future of the time of Jacob.  “Probably gathered by the Davidic monarchy after its subjugation of Edom.”

Fretheim p.590: “The author presents Esau’s family positively, highlighting stability, growth, and continuity.  The fact that Esau moves, rather than Jacob, says something about their historical relationships as well as the divine promise regarding Canaan; at the same time, the tradition speaks of the land of Seir as a divine gift for Esau (Deut. 2:5; Josh 24:4), and the oracle in 27:39-40 assumes a land.”

Deut: 2:4-5 “You are now about to pass through the territory of your relatives, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. Though they are afraid of you, be very careful5not to come in conflict with them, for I will not give you so much as a foot of their land, since I have already given Esau possession of the highlands of Seir.”

Josh. 24:4 “To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I assigned the mountain region of Seir to possess, while Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.”

These lists of the “non-chosen” peoples remember them and stand with the stories of the chosen people to provide context, a counter-point, and an explanation of the places / names / ancestors of people who figure in these stories and later ones.



Fretheim p. 592: “Despite all the focus on Joseph, the reader must think fundamentally in corporate terms; this story narrates the emergence of Israel’s family as Israel, the people of God.”

Chapters 37 to 50 are single unified story

Note the move from Israel a person to Israel a large extended family or clan to Israel as a people.

Note the use and abuse of power within the story as a whole.  Jacob, the brothers, Pharaoh, Joseph.

There is an interesting shift in these chapters: the promises made to Abraham are passed on only through Isaac.  The promises are passed on from Isaac only to Jacob.  Jacob/Israel however passes them on through all 12 sons.

Brueggemann p. 291: “George Coats has shown that the Joseph narrative is a literary device to link ancestral promises to the Exodus narrative of oppression and liberation.  Before this narrative, there were older traditions about the promise to the forebearers and about the deliverance from Egypt.  Tut no way was found to link the two memories, one of which is based in Canaan and the other in Egypt.”


“coat of many colors” is based on ancient Greek and Latin translations of the Hebrew OR  “a richly ornamented coat”  OR  “a long robe with sleeves”  the Hebrew words are uncertain

Fretheim p. 598: “This story begins in a familiar way: Jacob as an inept father; the deception of the father by sons; the conflict among brothers.”

Von Rad p. 352: “The father’s irritation at the dreams, whose real substance he cannot grasp, and his inability to put them easily from his mind constitute one of those masterful psychological statements of which the Joseph story is so full.”

Fretheim p. 598: “The stage is set for deep intrafamilial conflict.  ‘In a few short sentences the narrator has sketched out an unusually complex world of fateful familial stratification, relations, social hierarchy, concealed realms of discourse, rivalry, betrayal, obsessive love, ill-conceived gifts of passion, hatred, shunning.  The balance with which this system is presented leaves no heroes and no villains.’”

Fretheim p. 600: the brothers strip Joseph of his coat (status), throw him into a cistern (below them, no longer ‘above’ them), then sit down to eat.

Von Rad p. 353: “It is much more obvious to assume a double thread in the narrative.  According to one, Joseph was sold by his brothers to the Ishmaelites; according to the other, Joseph was stolen from the cistern in an unguarded moment by the Midianites, which thwarted Reuben’s plan to save him.”

Irony in the text: Jacob is deceived by his sons just as he deceived his father, the coat that was to symbolize love now provides evidence of death.



Clearly this chapter has been inserted into the Joseph story.

Fretheim p. 604: “This is a family story, not tribal history, that has a ‘wonderful openness to what is human – passions, guild, paternal anxiety, love, honor, chivalry, all churning up the narrow circle of one family in labyrinthine entanglement.’”

Fretheim p. 605  Elements of the story that resonate with other stories of the tradition:

  1. Marriage to Canaanites is both discouraged in the tradition and proves inevitable and important.
  2. Neither the firstborn sons of Jacob or Judah continue the line of promises
  3. Conflict between brothers (Onan’s refusal)
  4. Symbolic use of clothing by Tamar, Joseph, others
  5. Tamar and others confront the problem of childlessness
  6. Tamar, other women, act against convention and assist in
    God’s ultimate purposes
  7. Deceivers get deceived, a web of deception grows

Once again, of the twins born to Tamar and Judah, it is the younger one, Perez, who is the ancestor of David and Jesus



Fretheim p. 609: the story in this and next 2 chapters resembles loosely an Egyptian story “Tale of two brothers”.  Such stories and motifs are common across many cultures.

Fretheim p. 609: “The only concern that Potiphar has is eating; this reference hints subtly to a lack of interest in anything else, including his own wife.  This could explain her sexual interest in Joseph, who was well built and handsome.”

Potiphar and Joseph are somewhat equal in authority within the household.  Therefore, Joseph is not bound to obey Potiphar’s wife.

She holds Joseph’s garment and uses it in deception – as did his brothers.

Fretheim p. 612: “Success and prosperity are not a necessary or inevitable result of either God’s presence of Joseph’s faith or action.  Joseph appears genuinely vulnerable and could have failed even with God’s presence and the divine intention for success.  Joseph’s success depends not simply on his own devices,, but on God’s engagement in the situation.”


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