How did Joseph cope with treachery and accusations from a sexual predator?
Role-reversal stories help us break down our stereotypes and cultural bias. As a boy, I was warned against seductive females like Potiphar’s wife, but I don’t remember being warned against mistreating women as the men of Genesis did: Pharaoh (Genesis 12:15), Abimelek (20:2; 26:8), and Hamor (34:2).
Maybe the real issue is power rather than gender. Those three guys were all kings or princes. And Potiphar’s wife held all the power while Joseph was merely a slave.
Women are devalued in patriarchal society. Judah’s mistreatment of Tamar isn’t resolved until he realizes that, even though she used her sexuality against him, She is more righteous than I (38:26).
So, rather than treating gender as the problem in the conflict between male and female, could we make some progress by identifying abuse of power as the real issue? The role-reversal story of Genesis 39 suggests that might be a productive approach.
What happens when the woman has all the power, and the male is her slave?
Continue reading “Finding God in an unjust world (Genesis 39)”
Why interrupt Joseph’s story with the scandal of Judah and Tamar?
Judah is quite the cad in Genesis 38. But why interrupt the story of Joseph with a scandalous story about Judah?
That’s the puzzle for modern readers. As one of them said, All commentators agree that ch. 38 clearly interrupts the flow of the Joseph story (Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, NICOT, 2:431).
It makes more sense if we listen to the narrator who labelled Genesis 37–50 as the generations of Jacob, not Joseph’s story. Jacob was setting up his family, and he intended Joseph to rule.
But wasn’t Judah supposed to rule? King David descended from Judah. Didn’t Jacob intend the lion from the tribe of Judah to receive the ruler’s sceptre? (49:9-10)
Yes, but let’s not jump there too quickly. There are issues with Judah’s character, issues that call into question whether Judah is fit to rule. Would you trust a leader who would sell his brother into slavery? (37:26). Genesis 38 gives us more reason to question Judah’s character.
Continue reading “Was Judah fit to rule? (Genesis 38)”
God’s government arrived with an empty tomb.
I doubt any of Jesus’ followers could sleep after his crucifixion. The men kept a low profile, fearing for their lives. If the leader had been crucified, what would they do to his followers? Their best chance was blending into the crowds returning to Galilee when the festival was over.
The women had watched from a distance (27:55). Those horror scenes would haunt them. Sleepless in Jerusalem, they rose while darkness still enveloped them to make their way to the only thing they had left: a tomb. The tombs of the prophets enshrined Jerusalem’s tragedies.
What they found
This tomb had been disturbed. It was no longer the final resting place they had watched as Jesus was buried (27:61). The tomb’s mouth gaped open. The stone was rolled to one side. And someone was sitting on the stone: not a gardener or a guard, a messenger in a glistening white uniform.
Continue reading “Risen and reigning (Matthew 28:1-10)”
Open Exodus 2:1-10.
In the opening chapters of Exodus, it’s the women who are the heroes:
- Shiphrah and Puah (midwives) feared God rather than Pharaoh, disobeying the king of Egypt (1:17).
- Jochebed (Moses’ mother) dared to disobey Pharaoh by floating her baby in a basket on the Nile (2:1-3).
- Miriam (Moses’ sister) watched over the baby to guard his life. She approached the princess, and negotiated for their mother to raise Moses (2:7-8).
- Pharaoh’s daughter changed the course of history by defying her father and rescuing a helpless Hebrew baby from his water-borne basket.
- Zipporah (Moses’ wife) later recognized his life was under threat, and took action to save him (4:24-26).
Continue reading “Strong women of Exodus (Exodus 2:1-10)”
If the king says so, you have a place in his family.
Joseph was absent from Jesus’ adult life, so responsibility for the family fell to the oldest son. Jesus was firstborn, but he’d been travelling instead of looking after his family.
Suddenly they turn up: Continue reading “Belonging to the royal family (Matthew 12:46-50)”
Should women be leading churches if Jesus appointed no women among his apostles?
Open Matthew 10:1-4.
Fact: All twelve apostles appointed by Jesus were male.
Question: Is that a pattern for the leadership of the church? Should the church follow Jesus in appointing only males to positions of authority? Continue reading “Why no women among Jesus’ apostles? (Matthew 10:1-4)”
Does God have a gender? Is he male?
“Does God have a gender? Like, is he male?” I’d already dismissed the class for the night, but her question was important. How would you have answered her? Continue reading “Is God male?”
How would the story of Genesis 24 have felt from Rebekah’s point of view?
Rebekah is caught up in a romantic mystery beyond her wildest dreams. She’s a beautiful girl who has kept herself pure. A wealthy traveller has turned up in her corner of the world. After showing him hospitality, she learns he’s not really a stranger but the servant of a long-lost relative. Apparently Abraham has been very successful, and is seeking a suitable bride for his son who will inherit his good fortune. The guest showers her with expensive jewellery and dresses suitable for a princess. It’s all very sudden and unexpected, but it might be the opportunity of a lifetime. Continue reading “Rebekah’s romance (Genesis 24:22-67)”
Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:9-27). What relevance does it have today?
As God Shaddai establishes his covenant with Abraham for the generations to come, he asks for a response. All the males are to be marked as belonging to him, and it is a very personal marking: circumcision (17:10). It’s the sign of the patriarchal covenant (17:11).
We’ve seen the Hebrew word ʾôṯ (sign) three times: Continue reading “The sign of the covenant (Genesis 17:9-27)”
When humans attempted to oust God and decide good and evil for themselves, they could not have imagined the chain of conflict their rebellion would unleash. Genesis 3:9-19 is the transcript of the investigation of their crime. The sovereign’s words are presented in poetic form: it slows down the narration so we hear him.
By any measure, their sovereign is absurdly lenient with these rebels. His judgement is not so much a punishment as it is an explanation of the trouble (curse) they have brought on themselves. In each case, he explains what conflict/struggle they will face as a result of introducing rebellion into his realm: Continue reading “What changed with the rebellion? (Genesis 3:15-24)”
We saw that Genesis 1 reveals our sovereign establishing two realms: heaven and earth. The first half of this narrative (Days 1-3) culminated with the sovereign placing lights in the sky as signs that earth is under heaven’s rule. The second half (Days 4-6) also culminates with the sovereign installing images of his reign.
Continue reading “Who are we? (Genesis 1:20-31)”