Genesis Overview: Joseph l-n

l) The Blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh ( 47.28-48.22 in JEP)

The interlocking of sources complex:

The redactor wishes the final sections to emphasise that this is a Jacob story; all three sources tell the same story. The narrative is critical to a later understanding of the role of the houses of Ephraim and Manasseh.

47.27-28: According to P Jacob lived in Egypt 17 years, in je a much shorter time. Here P is dry and terse.

47.29-31: "WE do not know whether the Yahwist thought of the cave of Machpelah as the grave of  the fathers ... But in ch. 50.5 mention is made of a grave which Jacob himself dug," (p414).

48.1-7: The narrative is disrupted by E in 48.1-2 and P in 48.3-6. Verse 48.7 is indeterminate.

48.8-13: From 48.8 the JE text is more or less even except for the P intervention in 48.16-17. This scene must take place shortly after Jacob's arrival, not 17 years later. cf. 47.28 in P the boys would have been about 20. In spite of inconsistencies in 48.9, 13, the narrative is satisfactory.

48.13-14: Blessing was powerful and irrevocable.

48.17-19: The one who blesses is God himself. Where God is concerned there can  be no legal restriction; the etiology is secondary. "It is certain that no reader in the post-Solomonic era could hear this story without thinking at the same time of its actual background in tribal history; ... what happens here  ... is only an example , a typical precedent for what happens again and again in Israel through God's guidance." (p416).

48.15-16: The redactor wanted to keep both blessings, cf. 15-16, 20, particularly the former, even if it interrupted the narrative flow, because it is theologically iconic, particularly the third part: "... the angel who has redeemed me from all evil", angel being God's earthly presence, redeem being not legal (as in the redemption of slaves) but, in this oldest of such passages "In his covenant Yahweh had offered himself as redeemer; he is the closest relative, prepared to redeem man." (p418). The term appears later, markedly in Deutero-Isaiah in an eschatological context, cf. Isaiah 48.20, 41.14, 43.1, 44.22 &c. "The theological differentiation in the two statements about God, v. 15a, v. 16, is therefore very remarkable. While the former refers to the blessings of universal providence and divine preservation and guidance, ... the last predication is much more concerned with God's saving rule as Jacob has experienced it." (p418).

48.20-22: The second blessing in J is the first to mention the nation of Israel (apart from the anachronistic 34.7). There is a very different Shechem tradition from Chapter 34 and implies Jacob's death took place in Palestine not Egypt.

m) Jacob's Blessing (49.1-28a)

This is not a compact poem as in Judges Chapter 5 but a collection. The scene in 49.1-2 is not adhered to. Content of the aphorism about Simeon and Levi are 300 years separated from that about Judah. The list is not historical but it is organised and is an older tradition than J, cf. Numbers 26, Deuteronomy 33. Frequently attributed to J - who is not even the author of the prose narratives attributed to him - but he could only be the collator; the text is seriously damaged and some is not understandable.

49.1-2: 49.1 is P and links with 49.28b-33, 49.2 is the redactor (J?). Some texts are prophetic, others not.

49.3-4: The tribe of Reuben disappeared early in the period of the Judges; it appears to have committed a great crime but we know no more.

49.5-7: To hamstring an ox was a very serious crime which may symbolise a  more serious crime; the tribe of Simeon soon disappeared. This text and Chapter 34 consider Levi as an ordinary tribe, not of priests.

49.8-12: The most important word in this section, silo, (p424), cannot be translated. Judah, which moves from obscurity to centrality in the OT, is depicted in paradisical fertility.

49.13: In a fragment of the original tradition, Zebulun's territory only reached the sea in historic times but its territory was never as wide as that described.

49.14-15: Isachar also started inland but when it reached the sea it became a Canaanite vassal and object of derision.

49.16-18: Daniel respected for a legal tradition.

49.19-21: Gad, Asher and Naphtali are granted brief references, the last incomplete.

49.22-28: Problems with text, both in terms of translation and syntax.

n) Jacob's Death and Burial and Joseph's Forgiveness (49.28b-50.26 in JE with P)

49.28b-33: As noted, P continuation of 49.1a which is concluded in 50.12 f. 1-14 are essentially J, 15.26 E.

50.1-14: Jacob is mourned as a king.

50.15-21: All that the narrative requires is a settlement and forgiveness of issues in Chapter 38. Joseph's central point is that God has spoken and acted. J, the plain describer, pays no attention to theology which is left to E.

50.22-26: In spite of his great age, Joseph was the first of the brothers to die. The promise of land has been forgotten.

KC VI/14

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