Joseph in Egypt (January 29, 2021)

When Joseph had been taken down to Egypt, Potiphar, Pharaoh’s chief officer, the commander of the royal guard and an Egyptian, purchased him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man and served in his Egyptian master’s household. Potiphar thought highly of Joseph, and Joseph became his assistant; he appointed Joseph head of his household and put everything he had under Joseph’s supervision. From the time he appointed Joseph head of his household and of everything he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s household because of Joseph.

Joseph in Egypt (January 29, 2021)

Genesis 39:1–41:57, CEB

When Joseph had been taken down to Egypt, Potiphar, Pharaoh’s chief officer, the commander of the royal guard and an Egyptian, purchased him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man and served in his Egyptian master’s household. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made everything he did successful. Potiphar thought highly of Joseph, and Joseph became his assistant; he appointed Joseph head of his household and put everything he had under Joseph’s supervision. From the time he appointed Joseph head of his household and of everything he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s household because of Joseph. The Lord blessed everything he had, both in the household and in the field. So he handed over everything he had to Joseph and didn’t pay attention to anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome.

Some time later, his master’s wife became attracted to Joseph and said, “Sleep with me.”

He refused and said to his master’s wife, “With me here, my master doesn’t pay attention to anything in his household; he’s put everything he has under my supervision. No one is greater than I am in this household, and he hasn’t denied me anything except you, since you are his wife. How could I do this terrible thing and sin against God?” Every single day she tried to convince him, but he wouldn’t agree to sleep with her or even to be with her.

One day when Joseph arrived at the house to do his work, none of the household’s men were there. She grabbed his garment, saying, “Lie down with me.” But he left his garment in her hands and ran outside. When she realized that he had left his garment in her hands and run outside, she summoned the men of her house and said to them, “Look, my husband brought us a Hebrew to ridicule us. He came to me to lie down with me, but I screamed. When he heard me raise my voice and scream, he left his garment with me and ran outside.” She kept his garment with her until Joseph’s master came home, and she told him the same thing: “The Hebrew slave whom you brought to us, to ridicule me, came to me; but when I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment with me and ran outside.”

When Joseph’s master heard the thing that his wife told him, “This is what your servant did to me,” he was incensed. Joseph’s master took him and threw him in jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were held. While he was in jail, the Lord was with Joseph and remained loyal to him. He caused the jail’s commander to think highly of Joseph. The jail’s commander put all of the prisoners in the jail under Joseph’s supervision, and he was the one who determined everything that happened there. The jail’s commander paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s supervision, because the Lord was with him and made everything he did successful.

Some time later, both the wine steward and the baker for Egypt’s king offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief wine steward and the chief baker, and he put them under arrest with the commander of the royal guard in the same jail where Joseph was imprisoned. The commander of the royal guard assigned Joseph to assist them. After they had been under arrest for some time, both of them—the wine steward and the baker for Egypt’s king who were imprisoned in the jail—had dreams one night, and each man’s dream had its own meaning. When Joseph met them in the morning, he saw that they were upset. He asked the officers of Pharaoh who were under arrest with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so distressed today?”

They answered, “We’ve both had dreams, but there’s no one to interpret them.”

Joseph said to them, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Describe your dreams to me.”

The chief wine steward described his dream to Joseph: “In my dream there was a vine right in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. When it budded, its blossoms appeared, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, so I took the grapes, crushed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and put the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”

Joseph said to him, “This is the dream’s interpretation: The three branches are three days. After three days, Pharaoh will give you an audience and return you to your position. You will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just the way things were before when you were his wine steward. But please, remember me when you are doing well and be loyal to me. Put in a good word for me to Pharaoh, so he sets me free from this prison. I was stolen from the land of the Hebrews, and here too I’ve done nothing to be thrown into this dungeon.”

When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “It was the same for me. In my dream, there were three baskets of white bread on my head. In the basket on top there were baked goods for Pharaoh’s food, but birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”

Joseph responded, “This is the dream’s interpretation: The three baskets are three days. After three days, Pharaoh will give you an audience and will hang you from a tree where birds will peck your flesh from you.”

The third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a party for all of his servants. Before all of his servants, he gave an audience to the chief wine steward and the chief baker. He returned the chief wine steward to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. But the chief baker he hanged, just as Joseph had said would happen when he interpreted their dreams for them. But the chief wine steward didn’t remember Joseph; he forgot all about him.

Two years later, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing near the Nile. In front of him, seven healthy-looking, fattened cows climbed up out of the Nile and grazed on the reeds. Just then, seven other cows, terrible-looking and scrawny, climbed up out of the Nile after them and stood beside them on the bank of the Nile. The terrible-looking, scrawny cows devoured the seven healthy-looking, fattened cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. He went back to sleep and had a second dream, in which seven ears of grain, full and healthy, grew on a single stalk. Just then, seven ears of grain, scrawny and scorched by the east wind, sprouted after them, and the scrawny ears swallowed up the full and well-formed ears. Then Pharaoh woke up and realized it was a dream. In the morning, he was disturbed and summoned all of Egypt’s religious experts and all of its advisors. Pharaoh described his dreams to them, but they couldn’t interpret them for Pharaoh.

Then the chief wine steward spoke to Pharaoh: “Today I’ve just remembered my mistake. Pharaoh was angry with his servants and put me and the chief baker under arrest with the commander of the royal guard. We both dreamed one night, he and I, and each of our dreams had its own interpretation. A young Hebrew man, a servant of the commander of the royal guard, was with us. We described our dreams to him, and he interpreted our dreams for us, giving us an interpretation for each dream. His interpretations came true exactly: Pharaoh restored me to my position but hanged him.”

So Pharaoh summoned Joseph, and they quickly brought him from the dungeon. He shaved, changed clothes, and appeared before Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, but no one could interpret it. Then I heard that when you hear a dream, you can interpret it.”

Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It’s not me. God will give Pharaoh a favorable response.”

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile. In front of me, seven fattened, stout cows climbed up out of the Nile and grazed on the reeds. Just then, seven other cows, weak and frail and thin, climbed up after them. I’ve never seen such awful cows in all the land of Egypt. Then the thin, frail cows devoured the first seven, fattened cows. But after they swallowed them whole, no one would have known it. They looked just as bad as they had before. Then I woke up. I went to sleep again and saw in my dream seven full and healthy ears of grain growing on one stalk. Just then, seven hard and thin ears of grain, scorched by the east wind, sprouted after them, and the thin ears swallowed up the healthy ears. I told the religious experts, but they couldn’t explain it to me.”

Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh has actually had one dream. God has announced to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven healthy cows are seven years, and the seven healthy ears of grain are seven years. It’s actually one dream. The seven thin and frail cows, climbing up after them, are seven years. The seven thin ears of grain, scorched by the east wind, are seven years of famine. It’s just as I told Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are now coming throughout the entire land of Egypt. After them, seven years of famine will appear, and all of the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. The famine will devastate the land. No one will remember the abundance in the land because the famine that follows will be so very severe. The dream occurred to Pharaoh twice because God has determined to do it, and God will make it happen soon.

“Now Pharaoh should find an intelligent, wise man and give him authority over the land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh should appoint administrators over the land and take one-fifth of all the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. During the good years that are coming, they should collect all such food and store the grain under Pharaoh’s control, protecting the food in the cities. This food will be reserved for the seven years of famine to follow in the land of Egypt so that the land won’t be ravaged by the famine.”

This advice seemed wise to Pharaoh and all his servants, and Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man with more God-given gifts than this one?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, no one is as intelligent and wise as you are. You will be in charge of my kingdom, and all my people will obey your command. Only as the enthroned king will I be greater than you.” Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Know this: I’ve given you authority over the entire land of Egypt.” Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, he dressed him in linen clothes, and he put a gold necklace around his neck. He put Joseph on the chariot of his second-in-command, and everyone in front of him cried out, “Attention!” So Pharaoh installed him over the entire land of Egypt. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh; no one will do anything or go anywhere in all the land of Egypt without your permission.” Pharaoh renamed Joseph, Zaphenath-paneah, and married him to Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera the priest of Heliopolis.

Then Joseph assumed control of the land of Egypt. Joseph was 30 years old when he began to serve Pharaoh, Egypt’s king, when he left Pharaoh’s court and traveled through the entire land of Egypt. During the seven years of abundance, the land produced plentifully. He collected all of the food during the seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt, and stored the food in cities. In each city, he stored the food from the fields surrounding it. Joseph amassed grain like the sand of the sea. There was so much that he stopped trying to measure it because it was beyond measuring. Before the years of famine arrived, Asenath the daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis, gave birth to two sons for Joseph. Joseph named the oldest son Manasseh, “because,” he said, “God has helped me forget all of my troubles and everyone in my father’s household.” He named the second Ephraim, “because,” he said, “God has given me children in the land where I’ve been treated harshly.”

The seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. The famine struck every country, but the entire land of Egypt had bread. When the famine ravaged the entire land of Egypt and the people pleaded to Pharaoh for bread, Pharaoh said to all of the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. Do whatever he tells you.” The famine covered every part of the land, and Joseph opened all of the granaries and sold grain to the Egyptians. In the land of Egypt, the famine became more and more severe. Every country came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because in every country the famine had also become more severe.

Job 16:1–22, MEV

Then Job answered:

“I have heard many such things;

miserable comforters are you all!

Will windy words have an end?

Or what provokes you that you answer?

I also could speak as you do,

if your soul were in my place.

I could heap up words against you

and shake my head at you;

but I would strengthen you with my mouth,

and the moving of my lips would relieve your grief.

“Though I speak, my grief is not relieved;

and though I stop, how am I eased?

But now He has made me weary;

You have made desolate all my company.

You have filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me;

and my leanness has risen up and bears witness to my face.

He has torn me in His wrath, and He has carried a grudge against me.

He has gnashed me with His teeth;

my enemy sharpens His gaze upon me.

They have gaped upon me with their mouth;

they have struck me upon the cheek with reproach;

they have gathered themselves together against me.

God has delivered me to the ungodly

and turned me over into the hands of the wicked.

I was at ease, but He has shattered me.

He also has taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces,

and set me up for His target.

His archers surround me;

He splits open my kidneys and does not pity;

He pours out my gall upon the ground.

He pierces me with thrust after thrust;

He rushes upon me like a warrior.

“I have sewn sackcloth over my skin

and thrust my horn into the dust.

My face is inflamed with weeping,

and on my eyelids is the shadow of death,

though not for any violence in my hands,

and my prayer is pure.

“O earth, do not cover my blood,

and let my cry have no resting place.

Also now, look, my witness is in heaven,

and my record is on high.

My friends scorn me;

my eyes pour out tears unto God.

Oh, that one might plead for a man with God,

as a man pleads for his neighbor!

“For when a few years have passed,

I will go the way from which I will not return.

Isaiah 21:13–22:14, NLT

This message came to me concerning Arabia:

O caravans from Dedan,

hide in the deserts of Arabia.

O people of Tema,

bring water to these thirsty people,

food to these weary refugees.

They have fled from the sword,

from the drawn sword,

from the bent bow

and the terrors of battle.

The Lord said to me, “Within a year, counting each day, all the glory of Kedar will come to an end. Only a few of its courageous archers will survive. I, the Lord, the God of Israel, have spoken!”

This message came to me concerning Jerusalem—the Valley of Vision:

What is happening?

Why is everyone running to the rooftops?

The whole city is in a terrible uproar.

What do I see in this reveling city?

Bodies are lying everywhere,

killed not in battle but by famine and disease.

All your leaders have fled.

They surrendered without resistance.

The people tried to slip away,

but they were captured, too.

That’s why I said, “Leave me alone to weep;

do not try to comfort me.

Let me cry for my people

as I watch them being destroyed.”

Oh, what a day of crushing defeat!

What a day of confusion and terror

brought by the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

upon the Valley of Vision!

The walls of Jerusalem have been broken,

and cries of death echo from the mountainsides.

Elamites are the archers,

with their chariots and charioteers.

The men of Kir hold up the shields.

Chariots fill your beautiful valleys,

and charioteers storm your gates.

Judah’s defenses have been stripped away.

You run to the armory for your weapons.

You inspect the breaks in the walls of Jerusalem.

You store up water in the lower pool.

You survey the houses and tear some down

for stone to strengthen the walls.

Between the city walls, you build a reservoir

for water from the old pool.

But you never ask for help from the One who did all this.

You never considered the One who planned this long ago.

At that time the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

called you to weep and mourn.

He told you to shave your heads in sorrow for your sins

and to wear clothes of burlap to show your remorse.

But instead, you dance and play;

you slaughter cattle and kill sheep.

You feast on meat and drink wine.

You say, “Let’s feast and drink,

for tomorrow we die!”

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has revealed this to me: “Till the day you die, you will never be forgiven for this sin.” That is the judgment of the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Matthew 11:25–12:21, The Bible for Everyone: A New Translation

At that time Jesus turned to God with this prayer: ‘I give you my praise, father, Lord of heaven and earth! You hid these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to children! Yes, father, that’s the way you decided to do it! My father gave me everything: nobody knows the son except the father, and nobody knows the father except the son—and anyone the son wants to reveal him to.

‘Are you having a real struggle? Come to me! Are you carrying a big load on your back? Come to me—I’ll give you a rest! Pick up my yoke and put it on; take lessons from me! My heart is gentle, not arrogant. You’ll find the rest you deeply need. My yoke is easy to wear, my load is easy to bear.’

At that time Jesus went through the cornfields on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck ears of corn and eat them. When the Pharisees observed this they said to him, ‘Look here! Your disciples are doing something that’s not permitted on the sabbath!’

‘Did you never read what David did?’ replied Jesus. ‘When he and his men were hungry, they went into God’s house and ate the holy bread which neither he nor his men were allowed to eat—only the priests had that right. Or didn’t you read in the law that the priests in the Temple do things on the sabbath which are against sabbath law—and they aren’t guilty? Let me tell you this: something greater than the Temple is here. If you’d known what this saying means:

Mercy, not sacrifice, is what I really want—

you wouldn’t have passed judgment on blameless people. Yes, you see: the son of man is master of the sabbath, too.’

He left the place and went into their synagogue, where there was a man with a withered hand.

They put the question to him: ‘Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath?’

(They asked this so that they could frame a charge against him.)

‘Supposing one of you has just one sheep,’ replied Jesus, ‘and it falls into a ditch on the sabbath. You’ll grab it and haul it out, won’t you? Well then, think how much more important a human being is than a sheep! So, you see, it is permitted to do good on the sabbath.’

Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch your hand out.’ He stretched it out, and it was restored to health, just like the other one. But the Pharisees went off and plotted against him, with the intention of doing away with him.

Jesus discovered the plots against him, and left the district. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them all, giving them strict instructions not to tell people about him. This was so that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might come true:

Look! Here’s my servant, whom I chose;

my beloved one, my heart’s delight.

My spirit I will place on him,

and he’ll announce true judgment

to the whole wide world.

He will not argue, nor will he

lift up his voice and shout aloud;

nobody in the streets will hear

his voice. He will not break the damaged

reed, or snuff the guttering lamp,

until his judgment wins the day.

The world will hope upon his name.

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