Genesis Overview: Joseph (b-d)

b) Joseph's Temptation (39 in J)

39.1-6: The story resumes in J (Ishmaelite), contradicting the previous E (Midianite) account. Compare the young Joseph with the young Samuel, cf. 2 Samuel 16.18, with both of whom Yahweh was present. Joseph was responsible in the house for everything but the kitchen.

39.7-9: A wrong against the husband would be a "direct sin against God", the predominant theme, but it also breaches codes of decency and trust. Adultery was a very serious offence, cf. Exodus 20.14; Leviticus 18.20; Deuteronomy 22.22 for which the penalty was death.

39.10-19: Joseph would have been wearing a long shirt tied at the waist and would have fled into a courtyard, not the street. The change from love to hate, cf. 2 Samuel 13.15. The woman has great presence of mind to turn the situation.

39.20-23: Joseph's punishment, particularly as a slave, is very lenient, explained by Yahweh's closeness and the requirements of the subsequent narrative. "... the way he (the narrator) combines emphatic belief in God's protection and presence with the 'permission' of severe afflictions is amazing." (p367).

c) The Interpretation of the Dreams in Prison (40 in E)

The bridge passage between 39 and 40 transfers from the Ishmaelite in J to the Midianite in E (cf. 40.15) where Joseph is subservient rather than dominant. Dreams are very important in E. It seems obvious that E did not know about the temptation narrative. A confusion about Potiphar, variously  Joseph's purchaser but also his prison governor (e); the narrative can be made consistent with the rejection of 39.20 as an addition to the original J.

40.1-4: Joseph as a slave to prisoners was in the lowest possible position.

40.5-23: "Interpretations belong to God" contradicts the belief that interpretation was a science, cf. Daniel 2.26 f. The dreams are straightforward, as is the interpretation.

d) Interpretation of Pharaoh's Dreams and Joseph's Elevation (41)

40 is an exposition for 41. The narrative is E up until at least 41.30 after which it is mixed. cf. 37.2f, 13 years between Joseph's humiliation and elevation.

41.1-25: Joseph rejects Pharaoh's idea that his skill is scientific.

41.25-36: Nothing symbolic in the dreams or interpretation; the exposition is: "... simple, clear, and sober." (p376). Because God has determined the future, action is required. "We have here a good example of the goal towards which all training and education in Israel during the royal period directed a young man of good standing. He must be able to speak publicly and in significant situations and he must be able to give advice." (p376).

41.37-45: 41.34b speaks of one fifth, 41.35 the whole harvest; differences in J and E. Joseph's appointment to high office in 41.41 and 41.40-42. The chariots were made of a platform on two wheels. Marriages to foreigners only became forbidden with Ezra and Nehemiah after the exile.

41.47-57: 41.55, 41.56b conflict with 41.54b, 41.56a, 41.57.

KC VI/14

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