The stories about the last Patriarch Joseph.docx - The...

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The stories about the last Patriarch form a coherent whole, leading some to dub it a “novella.” It stands well onits own, although it has been consciously and artfully woven together into both the Yaakov cycle and the entirebook.Initially the tale is one of family emotions, and it is in fact extreme emotions which give it a distinctiveflavor. All the major characters are painfully expressive of their feelings, from the doting father to the spoiledson, from the malicious brothers to the lustful wife of Potifar, from the nostalgic adult Yosef to the grief-strickenold Yaakov. It is only through the subconscious medium of dreams, in three sets, that we are made to realize thata higher plan is at work which will supersede the destructive force of these emotions.For this is a story of how “ill”—with all its connotations of fate, evil, and disaster—is changed to good.Despite the constant threat of death to Yosef, to the Egyptians, and to Binyamin, the hidden, optimistic thrust ofthe story is “life,” a word that appears in various guises throughout. Even “face,” the key word of the Yaakovcycle which often meant something negative, is here given a kinder meaning, as the resolution to Yaakov’s life.A major subtheme of the plot is the struggle for power between Re’uven and Yehuda. Its resolution hasimplications that are as much tribal as personal, for the tribe of Yehuda later became the historical force inancient Israel as the seat of the monarchy.Although many details of the narrative confirm Egyptian practices, those practices actually reflect an Egyptconsiderably later than the period of the Patriarchs (Redford). Of interest also is the prominence of the numberfive in the story, a detail that is unexplained but that gives some unity to the various sections of text.In many ways the Yosef material repeats elements in the Yaakov traditions. A long list could be compiled,but let us at least mention here sibling hatred, exile of the hero, foreign names, love and hate, dreams, anddeception—even so detailed as to duplicate the use of a goat-kid. But its focusing on a classic rags-to-richesplot, with the addition of a moralistic theme, make the Yosef story a distinctive and always popular tale,accessible in a way that the more difficult stories of the first three parts of Genesis are not.1The Story of Joseph1Fox, E. (1995).Vol. 1:The five books of Moses : Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy ; a new translationwith introductions, commentary, and notes. The Schocken Bible (Ge 37:1). New York: Schocken Books.
The story of Jacob does not end in the chapter 35. Although the following chapterof Genesis 37-48, focus on the person of one of his sons, Joseph, they remain only a subport of the larger portrait of Jacob and his twelve sons. In concluding, Genesis 48—50return to the final days of Jacob. There is also room for other additions along the way.

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The Bible, Book of Genesis, Yahweh

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