Genesis 37:1-4, 12-282018-08-02T20:30:44+00:00

Biblical Commentary
(Bible Study)

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

GENESIS 29-50: THE CONTEXT

The background of this story begins with Jacob’s great love for Rachel—and Laban’s deception—and Jacob’s marriage to Leah and Rachel—and Laban’s marriage gifts to his daughters, the handmaids Zilpah and Bilhah—and Jacob’s fathering children by all four women (chapters 29-30). Jacob’s children by his respective wives were as follows:

LEAH, Jacob’s first wife, bore Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah.

ZILPAH, Leah’s maid, bore Gad and Asher.

RACHEL, Jacob’s true love, bore Joseph and Benjamin. She died in childbirth with Benjamin.

BILHAH, Rachel’s maid, bore Dan and Naphtali.

In situations such as this, there are always tensions among the women for the attention of the man, and those tensions are directly transferable to the children. As we will see below (v. 2b), the tensions in this story are quite high.

The story of Joseph proper begins with chapter 37 and continues until his death in chapter 50. Chapter 38 digresses to tell the story of Judah and Tamar. The story of Joseph picks up again with his sale to Potiphar and the treachery of Potiphar’s wife and Joseph’s imprisonment (chapter 39). It continues with the dreams of two of Joseph’s fellow prisoners and his ability to interpret those dreams (chapter 40)—his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream and his rise to power (chapter 41)—the visits of Joseph’s brothers to Egypt (chapters 42-44)—Joseph’s revelation to his brothers (chapter 45)—Jacob bringing his family to Egypt (46:1 – 47:12)—the famine in Egypt (47:13-26)—Jacob’s preparations for death (47:27-31)—Jacob’s blessing of Joseph’s sons (chapter 48)—Jacob’s last words and death (chapter 49)—and Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers and his death (chapter 50).

What we have in the reading for this week, then, is just the beginning of an extended account of God’s providence. Through Joseph, a young and flawed man, God chooses to save Jacob and his family—and thereby to set the stage for the founding of the nation Israel. It is also a story of God redeeming his people—a story that must have given the Israelites comfort during their many trials—and a story that should give us comfort when things are going badly for us. It tells us that God is at work behind the scenes shaping the lives of his people (and we are, after all, God’s people)—and thereby shaping history. When the night is darkest, this story holds out the promise of the dawn.

GENESIS 37:1-4. THE GENERATIONS OF JACOB

1Jacob lived in the land of his father’s travels, in the land of Canaan. 2This is the history (Hebrew: toledot) of the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. Joseph brought an evil report of them to their father. 3Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age, and he made him a coat of many colors. 4His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, and they hated him, and couldn’t speak peaceably to him.

“Jacob lived in the land of his father’s travels, in the land of Canaan” (v. 1). Because of a famine, Isaac settled in Gerar, a city near Gaza in the southern reaches of Canaan (26:1-6; see also 10:19). He later moved to Beer-sheba, a few miles east of Gerar (26:23). He spent the rest of his life in that area.

“This is the history (toledot) of the generations of Jacob” (v. 2a). This word toledot recurs a number of times in Genesis, in each occasion introducing a major figure (Adam, 5:1; Noah, 6:9; Shem, 11:10; Terah, 11:27; Ishmael, 25:12; Isaac, 12:19; and Esau, 36:1) and initiating a transition into a new chapter of Hebrew life.

This verse speaks of the toledot of Jacob, but it really introduces the story of Joseph, who will be the key figure from this point forward.

“Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers” (v. 2b). Joseph was the eleventh of Jacob’s twelve sons (only Benjamin was younger, 35:16-20). This mention of “seventeen years old” raises at least two issues. First, seventeen is a sophomoric age (sophomore means “wise fool”). Seventeen year old boys are often know-it-all’s. As we will see, that is how Joseph’s brothers experience him. Second, as the youngest of the brothers who are shepherding this flock, Joseph is clearly a junior partner—the kind of young man who is expected to be seen but not heard.

Older brothers are often protective of younger brothers, but only if the younger brothers are careful to acknowledge their subordinate status. Joseph will prove quite indiscreet in this regard.

“He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives” (v. 2c). As noted above, Bilhah was Rachel’s handmaiden and Zilpah was Leah’s handmaiden. Bilhad was the mother of Dan and Naphtali. Zilpah was the mother of Gad and Asher. While each of these four sons will father a tribe of Israel, none of those tribes will be especially distinguished (except that Jesus will grow up in Nazareth in the land of Naphtali).

Jacob loved Rachel (29:18). He married Leah first as a result of Laban’s trickery, but continued to love Rachel more than Leah (29:21-30), which caused Leah a good deal of pain (29:32). Leah’s ability to bear children caused barren Rachel a good deal of envy (30:1). We don’t know whether Jacob loved Bilhah and Zilpah more than Leah, but he clearly loved them less than Rachel. This is a family fraught with jealousy and striving. We should expect that the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah would have little use for the younger but more-favored Joseph.

“Joseph brought an evil report of them to their father” (v. 2d). We know nothing of the specifics of this report. We don’t know if Joseph accused his brothers of poor shepherding practices—or wasting money—or dalliances with young women from neighboring tribes. Nor do we know if his report was warranted. If Joseph had observed genuine malfeasance on the part of his brothers, he was probably duty-bound to report it to Jacob. However, given his immaturity and insensitivity (which we will soon see manifested when he tells his dreams to his brothers), it seems possible—perhaps even likely—that his report exaggerated any shortcomings that he might have observed.

Whether his bad report was warranted or not, we can be sure that Joseph’s brothers would regard him as tattler and a nuisance.

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children” (v. 3a). Jacob and Israel are two names for the same man, and the two names are used interchangeably in this account.

• Jacob was the name given to him at birth (25:26), and means “grasps the heel.” Jacob was Esau’s twin and was born second (giving Esau the advantage of the firstborn), but Jacob came out of the womb grasping Esau’s heel—demonstrating his ambitious and grasping nature.

• God gave him the name Israel after Jacob wrestled with God at Peniel. God said, “Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have fought with God and with men, and have prevailed” (32:28).

Jacob loved Joseph because he was the son of Jacob’s beloved Rachel. Rachel had another son, Benjamin, but she died in childbirth with Benjamin (35:16-18). That probably accounts for the fact that Jacob loved Joseph more than Benjamin.

“because he was the son of his old age” (v. 3b). As noted above, Joseph was the eleventh of Jacob’s twelve sons. Only Benjamin was younger. Younger children often receive less discipline than older children and are often favored.

“and he made him a coat of many colors (Hebrew: ketonet passim) (v. 3c). The NRSV says “a long robe with sleeves.” The KJV translated ketonet passim, “a coat of many colors,” and that translation has been embedded in our minds ever since. That translation was based on the LXX (the Septuagint—the Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures) and the Vulgate (the Latin translation that took its cue from the LXX). We know that ketonet is a long robe with sleeves. The meaning of passim in this context is uncertain.

What we know of this robe is established more by the context than by a study of the Hebrew words. The context makes it clear that it is a special robe—a robe that bespeaks Jacob’s special love for Joseph and the special status that Joseph enjoys with their father. It is almost certainly a dressy robe, unsuitable for the kind of manual labor that Joseph’s brothers are doing. While Jacob is obligated by custom to bestow a special measure of inheritance and a blessing on his firstborn, Reuben, the gift of this robe shows his true affections.

Jacob should be wise to the potential for disaster created by his favoritism. His father loved Esau best and his mother loved Jacob best—and the favoritism of the parents contributed to a great deal of tension in the family.

“His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, and they hated him” (v. 4a). The brothers had other reasons for hating Joseph as well. He had given a bad report of them to Jacob. Jacob had given Joseph a special robe. As we will see shortly, Joseph will have two dreams that suggest that he will rule over his brothers (vv. 5-11). But they can trace all their hatred to a single source—Jacob’s favoritism toward Joseph.

The fact that his brothers hate Joseph is repeated in verses 5 and 8. They really, really hate him.

“and couldn’t speak peaceably to him” (Hebrew: salom) (v. 4b). There can be no peace in this family as long as the brothers hate Joseph.

GENESIS 37:5-11. JOSEPH DREAMED A DREAM

5Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brothers, and they hated him all the more. 6He said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: 7for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and behold, your sheaves came around, and bowed down to my sheaf.”

8His brothers said to him, “Will you indeed reign over us? Or will you indeed have dominion over us?” They hated him all the more for his dreams and for his words. 9He dreamed yet another dream, and told it to his brothers, and said, “Behold, I have dreamed yet another dream: and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down to me.” 10He told it to his father and to his brothers. His father rebuked him, and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Will I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves down to you to the earth?” 11His brothers envied him, but his father kept this saying in mind.

These verses are not included in the lectionary reading, but the preacher needs to be aware of them. If the sermon is to be based on the Joseph story, it would be a good idea to include these verses in the reading.

In Joseph’s first dream, he sees eleven sheaves bowing to his sheaf. The symbolism is obvious, and his brothers understand it immediately. The eleven sheaves represent Joseph’s eleven brothers and the single sheaf represents Joseph. The dream depicts the brothers (the older, more mature brothers) bowing down to the young whippersnapper Joseph. When Joseph tells his brothers of this dream, they are amazed and offended.

In his second dream, Joseph sees the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing down to his star. Again the symbolism is obvious. The sun and moon represent Jacob and Leah (Rachel has already died), and the eleven stars represent the eleven brothers. The dream, then, pictures the whole family constellation bowing down to Joseph.

Joseph describes this dream, not only to his brothers, but also to Jacob. Even Jacob, who loves Joseph above all his sons, is deeply offended by Joseph’s dream. He rebukes Joseph for suggesting that he (Jacob) would have to bow down to Joseph. (We have no account of Jacob ever bowing down to Joseph, but Joseph will clearly have the power of life or death over Jacob and his brothers when he comes to power in Egypt.)

GENESIS 37:12-14a. SEE WHETHER IT IS WELL WITH YOUR BROTHERS

12His brothers went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. 13Israel said to Joseph, “Aren’t your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them.” He said to him, “Here I am.”

14aHe said to him, “Go now, see whether it is well with your brothers, and well with the flock; and bring me word again.” So he sent him out of the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

“His brothers went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem” (v. 12). As we will see in verse 14, Jacob and Joseph are near Hebron, approximately 34 miles (55 km.) south of Shechem, so Joseph will have to travel north at least one day—perhaps two.

Jacob passed through Shechem (the city) when fleeing Laban and returning to Gerar/Beer-sheba. While there, Shechem (a young man) raped Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter. Shechem loved Dinah and wanted to marry her, and Shechem’s father, Hamor appealed to Jacob to allow Shechem and Dinah to marry. Jacob’s sons agreed to the marriage provided that “every male of you be circumcised.” Hamor and Shechem complied with that requirement, but Jacob’s sons had no intention of honoring their agreement. While the men of Shechem were still hurting from their circumcisions, Simeon and Levi killed all the men of Shechem and Jacob’s other sons joined Simeon and Levi in looting the city of Shechem (chapter 34).

It seems strange, then, that Jacob’s sons would be pasturing their father’s flock near Shechem, because there would be lingering animosities there against them.

“Israel said to Joseph, ‘Aren’t your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them'” (v. 13a). Jacob is apparently oblivious to the hatred of the older brothers for Joseph—or, if he is aware of the tension, he cannot imagine that the older brothers would harm Joseph. Jacob would never knowingly send Joseph into a dangerous situation.

“He said to him, ‘Here I am‘” (v. 13b). Joseph appears as oblivious to the danger as Jacob.

“He said to him, ‘Go now, see whether it is well with your brothers, and well with the flock; and bring me word again.’ So he sent him out of the valley of Hebron” (v. 14a). Perhaps Jacob considers this to be a routine status check—or he might be concerned that the populace of Shechem will turn against his sons.

GENESIS 37:14b-17.  JOSEPH WENT AFTER HIS BROTHERS

14b and he came to Shechem. 15A certain man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field. The man asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16He said, “I am looking for my brothers. Tell me, please, where they are feeding the flock.” 17The man said, “They have left here, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.'”

Joseph went after his brothers, and found them in Dothan.

“and he came to Shechem. A certain man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field. The man asked him, ‘What are you looking for?'” (vv. 14b-15). When Joseph arrives in Shechem, his brothers are nowhere to be found.

We don’t know who the mysterious man is. Jewish tradition considered him an angel (Mathews, 695). In any event, the mysterious man initiates the conversation.

“He said, ‘I am looking for my brothers. Tell me, please, where they are feeding the flock'”(v. 16). Joseph states his mission—the mission that Jacob assigned him—and asks for help finding his brothers.

“The man said, ‘They have left here, for I heard them say,“Let us go to Dothan”‘”

(v. 17a). The mysterious man (or angel) tells Joseph that the brothers have gone to Dothan, a town that is approximately 14 miles (22 km.) north of Shechem. This requires that Jacob travel even further from home—approximately 48 miles (77 km.) from Hebron.

GENESIS 37:18-24.  THE DREAMER COMES

18They saw him afar off, and before he came near to them, they conspired against him to kill him. 19They said one to another, “Behold, this dreamer comes. 20Come now therefore, and let’s kill him, and cast him into one of the pits, and we will say, ‘An evil animal has devoured him.’ We will see what will become of his dreams.” 21Reuben heard it, and delivered him out of their hand, and said, “Let’s not take his life.” 22Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him”—that he might deliver him out of their hand, to restore him to his father. 23It happened, when Joseph came to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him; 24and they took him, and threw him into the pit. The pit was empty. There was no water in it.

“They saw him afar off” (v. 18a). How do they recognize him from a distance? Almost certainly by his distinctive robe. It is not the kind of garb that working shepherds wear.

“and before he came near to them, they conspired against him to kill him” (v. 18b). The brothers reach their decision as a group. We won’t hear any dissent until verse 21 when Reuben hears of the scheme. They make a quick decision to kill Joseph. Probably one brother suggests murder and the others quickly accept his proposal. The fact that the proposed action is so extreme and there is no dissent tells us the depth of animosity that the brothers feel toward Joseph.

“They said one to another, ‘Behold, this dreamer comes'” (v. 19). A literal translation is “master of dreams.”

“Come now therefore, and let’s kill him, and cast him into one of the pits, and we will say,‘An evil animal has devoured him'” (v. 20a). The brothers move to the next step—developing a plan to carry out the murder. They decide to kill Joseph, throw him in a pit, and blame his death on a wild animal. It seems like a foolproof plan—assuming that all of the brothers can keep their mouths shut.

“We will see what will become of his dreams” (v. 20b). It isn’t just the dreamer that the brothers want to kill, but also the dream. The dream points to a future that they don’t want, but the dream can’t come true if Joseph is dead.

“Reuben heard it, and delivered him out of their hand, and said, ‘Let’s not take his life'” (v. 21). Reuben is the oldest brother and is therefore responsible to Jacob for the welfare of his younger brothers—and also for their actions. It is Reuben who will have to break the news of Joseph’s death to Jacob. It is Reuben who will have to explain what happened. It is Reuben who will have to tell Jacob why none of the brothers could have saved Joseph. It is Reuben who will have to help Jacob make funeral plans. It is Reuben who will have to help Jacob through his grief. It is no wonder that Reuben balks when he learns of the plan to kill Joseph.

Reuben’s ploy might also have something to do with the guilt that he bears by virtue of sleeping with Bilhah, his father’s concubine—something of which his father is aware (35:22). Reuben might be trying to make up for his grievous sin—or to avoid sinking further in his father’s esteem.

We have no indication here that Reuben loves Joseph—or even that he hates Joseph less than the others. Nor do we have any indication that Reuben’s protest arises out of ethical concerns. As we will see in verse 22b, Reuben does intend to rescue Joseph, but we cannot know for sure whether Reuben cared about Joseph or was just trying to avoid the difficult position that he would find himself in if Joseph died.

“Reuben said to them, ‘Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him'” (v. 22a). When Cain slew Abel, God said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground” (4:10).

God said to Noah:

” Whoever sheds man’s blood,
his blood will be shed by man,
for God made man in his own image ” (9:6).

Later, the Ten Commandments will prohibit murder, but long before these brothers determine to kill Joseph, God has made himself clear on this subject.

Reuben’s proposal is a halfway measure. He doesn’t propose giving Joseph a chance to live. He instead asks only that his brothers avoid killing Joseph violently. Throwing him into a pit and leaving him to die is just a slower way of achieving the same purpose. However, it will avoid bloodshed in a technical sense.

“that he might deliver him out of their hand, to restore him to his father” (v. 22b). Reuben’ proposal is devious. He has given his brothers the impression that he supports the idea of killing Joseph by leaving him to die, but his true purpose is to delay Joseph’s death so that he can rescue Joseph from the pit later and bring him home to Jacob.

Years later, when Joseph has risen to a position of power in Egypt, Reuben will speak thusly to his brothers, unaware that Joseph can understand him:

” Didn’t I tell you, saying, ‘Don’t sin against the child,’
and you wouldn’t listen?
Therefore also, behold, his blood is required” (42:22-23).

To the best of our knowledge, Joseph did not know until that time of Reuben’s efforts on his behalf.

“It happened, when Joseph came to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him” (v. 23). Upon Joseph’s arrival, they strip him of his robe—the symbol of his special status—the symbol of Jacob’s favoritism—the hated robe. We aren’t told whether they give him an ordinary robe to cover his nakedness. In that climate—hot during the day and cold at night—proper clothing can literally be a matter of life and death.

“and they took him, and threw him into the pit” (v. 24a). We aren’t told what kind of pit this is. If it is a cistern, cut into rock to gather water, it is bottle-shaped with a narrow neck. There is no way for Joseph to escape.

“The pit was empty. There was no water in it” (v. 24b). If this is a cistern, it would be usable (would contain water) only on a seasonal basis. The fact that the pit is dry is both good and bad news. The good news is that Joseph won’t drown. The bad news is that he will die of thirst after a few days—a truly miserable way to die.

The willingness of Joseph’s brothers to throw him in the pit rather than to kill him outright suggests that they think the pit to be escape-proof.

GENESIS 37:25-28. WHAT PROFIT IS IT IF WE KILL OUR BROTHER?

25They sat down to eat bread, and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing spices and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. 26Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27Come, and let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not let our hand be on him; for he is our brother, our flesh.” His brothers listened to him. 28Midianites who were merchants passed by, and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. They brought Joseph into Egypt.

“They sat down to eat bread” (v. 25a). This small detail reveals their hate and cold-bloodedness. Most people, having participated in an act that would result in another person’s death, would be sufficiently disturbed that they would have little appetite for food. These men are completely unaffected by the impending death of their brother.

“and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead” (v. 25b). Gilead is a region to the east of the Jordan River and to the south of what will later be known as the Sea of Galilee. Later, when the twelve tribes of Israel occupy that area, Gad and either Reuben or Manasseh will occupy that area. Gilead is known for plants from which valuable incense and medicines are made. The caravan is traveling from Gilead to Egypt.

There is a textual problem here. The people of the caravan are called Ishmaelites here and in verse 27. Ishmaelites are also mentioned in verse 28, as are Midianites. They are called Midianites again in verse 36.

Ishmael, of course, was Abraham’s son by Hagar, Sarah’s maid (chapter 16). Midian was Abraham’s son by Keturah (25:1-6).

The mixing of these two names, Ishmaelites and Midianites, has caused scholars to believe that the person who wrote or edited this account intermixed material from two sources, J and E. This possibility is reinforced by the fact that Reuben is named as trying to save Joseph in verses 21-22, but Judah is named as doing the same in verses 26-27.

Other scholars have suggested that Ishmaelites and Midianites are interchangeable words for the same people—or that one is a subset of the other. That seems less likely, given the separate histories of Ishmael and Midian. However, Judges 8:22-28 also intermixes Ishmaelites and Midianites, so it is possible that these are interchangeable words.

“with their camels bearing spices and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt” (v. 25c). Gum, balm, and resin are materials that would be associated with Gilead. They are products of various plants, and are valuable as incense or medicine.

“Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood?” (v. 26). When Reuben persuaded his brothers to throw Joseph into a pit instead of killing him outright, he had an ulterior motive—to rescue Joseph so that he could return him to Jacob. It is possible that Judah has a similar motive—to sell Joseph into captivity so that he won’t die in the pit. However, the narrative mentions only the prospect of profit as Judah’s motive, which makes it appear that Judah’s motive is selfish rather than altruistic.

“‘Come, and let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not let our hand be on him; for he is our brother, our flesh.’ His brothers listened to him” (v. 27). The two parts of Judah’s proposal reveal the tension under which the brothers are operating. On the one hand, selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites is engaging in slave trade. On the other hand, selling Joseph into slavery is less terrible than leaving him to die in the pit. The fact that he is “our brother, our flesh” heightens the tension.

“Midianites who were merchants passed by, and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. They brought Joseph into Egypt” (v. 28). Once again, we are presented with the intermixing of Ishmaelites and Midianites. Whoever they are, they pay twenty pieces of silver for Joseph—the going price for a slave in that time and place.

GENESIS 37:29-36. I SHALL GO DOWN TO SHEOL MOURNING MY SON

29Reuben returned to the pit; and saw that Joseph wasn’t in the pit; and he tore his clothes. 30He returned to his brothers, and said, “The child is no more; and I, where will I go?” 31They took Joseph’s coat, and killed a male goat, and dipped the coat in the blood. 32They took the coat of many colors, and they brought it to their father, and said, “We have found this. Examine it, now, whether it is your son’s coat or not.”

33He recognized it, and said, “It is my son’s coat. An evil animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces.” 34Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. 35All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. He said, “For I will go down to Sheol to my son mourning.” His father wept for him. 36The Midianites sold him into Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, the captain of the guard.

These verses are not included in the lectionary reading, but the preacher will do well to know them. It is worthy of note that Reuben, who proposed throwing Joseph into the pit so he (Reuben) could save Joseph, was not present when the other brothers sold Joseph into slavery. Once again, he is faced with the prospect of breaking the bad news to his father and comforting his father while all the time deceiving his father. However, having no good alternatives, the brothers revert to the earlier suggestion that they claim that a wild animal has killed Joseph.

When the brothers tell Jacob that Joseph is dead, Jacob accepts their story, but is inconsolable.

The last verse, which tells of the Midianites selling Joseph to Potiphar, “an officer of Pharaoh’s, the captain of the guard,” sets the stage for the next act of this lengthy drama.

SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

COMMENTARIES:

Brueggemann, Walter, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching: Genesis (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982)

Fretheim, Terence E., “The Book of Genesis,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 1: General Old Testament Articles, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994.

Greidanus, Sidney, in Van Harn, Roger (ed.), The Lectionary Commentary: Theological Exegesis for Sunday’s Text. The First Readings: The Old Testament and Acts (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001)

Hamilton, Victor P., The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995)

Hartley, John E., New International Biblical Commentary: Genesis (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000)

Kidner, Derek, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Genesis, Vol. 1 (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1967)

Mathews, Kenneth A., The New American Commentary, Genesis 11:27-50:26, Vol. 1b (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005)

Newsome, James D., in Brueggemann, Walter; Cousar, Charles B.; Gaventa, Beverly R.; and Newsome, James D., Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV—Year A (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995)

Roop, Eugene F., Believers Church Bible Commentaries: Genesis (Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 1987)

Towner, W. Sibley, Westminster Bible Companion: Genesis (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001)

Tucker, Gene M., in Craddock, Fred B.; Hayes, John H.; Holladay, Carl R.; Tucker, Gene M., Preaching Through the Christian Year, A (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International, 1992)

Wenham, Gordon J., Word Biblical Commentary: Genesis 16-50 (Dallas: Word Books, 1994)

DICTIONARIES, ENCYCLOPEDIAS, LEXICONS & ATLASES:

Aharoni, Yohanan and Avi-Yonah, Michael, The Macmillan Bible Atlas (New York: Macmillan, 1993)

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Fohrer, Georg, Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary of the Old Testament (SCM Press, 2012)

Freedman, David Noel (ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, 6 vol. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007)

Freedman, David Noel (Ed.), Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000)

Lockyer, Herbert, Sr. (ed.), Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986)

May, Herbert G. (ed.), Oxford Bible Atlas (Third Edition) (New York, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1984.

Mounce, William D., (ed.), Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2006)

Myers, Allen C. (ed.), The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987)

Pfeiffer, Charles F., Baker’s Bible Atlas (Grand Rapids:  Baker Books, 2003)

Rasmussen, Carl G., Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1989.

Renn, Stephen D., Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words: Word Studies for Key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2005)

Richards, Lawrence O., Encyclopedia of Bible Words (Zondervan, 1985, 1991)

Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob (ed.), The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 5 vol.  (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2008)

VanGemeren, Willem A. (General Editor), New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, 5 vol., (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997)

Copyright 2008, 2018, Richard Niell Donovan