So Joseph puts his brothers to the test, to see if they have learned anything about loyalty in his absence. Apparently they have, because not only do they return the money that was put back in their bags, they don’t get vengeful when Benjamin is given favorable treatment and Judah offers himself in his brother’s place when Benjamin is framed for stealing.

Speaking of stealing, let’s talk about this cup. It’s Joseph’s cup that he used for divination. Presumably this means scrying, though I supposes it could also involve the reading of the dregs of some drink. I don’t know, though, if tea or coffee or any similar beverage would have been drunk in Egypt, and I tend to think of scrying as a more ancient art, so let’s go there.

Divination is not usually something one thinks of with regards to the Bible. In fact, it’s generally  considered to be something antithetical to it. Yet  here’s Joseph with his divinatory cup.

Fascinating.

At any rate, Joseph is a far better person than I would be, and forgives his brothers, finding God’s will in their treachery. For he has done well in Egypt and is able to ensure his tribe will not suffer in the famine. So the whole lot of them make their way to Egypt.

There is one more interesting warning at the end. That they are not to tell the Pharaoh that they are shepherds, because shepherds are abhorent.

This is one of those kind of random lines that intrigues me to no end. So, my Bible notes in footnotes that there is no other evidence to support this statement. However, my book on prehistoric textiles (Yes, I own a book on prehistoric textiles. And I’ve read it cover to cover.) notes that Egyptians primarily used flax in weaving, even after other cultures had moved to wool. Flax makes sense for the climate of Egypt, but it’s also more difficult to prepare, as the fibers must go through a series of steps to be spun. Wool of course also requires preparation, but if I recall, there are fewer steps and some of the processes for flax are more complicated. Flax is also made of long, thin fibers that tangle easily. So, it’s possible that the Egyptians would have turned their noses up at at wool simply because they’d have seen it as a less skilled enterprise.

Moving forward somewhat in time, however, Herodatus noted in his histories that Egyptians considered garments made of wool to be ritually impure. Assuming that this is not new at the time of Herodatus’ writings, I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that this impurity could have extended to sheep and shepherds. Though it still leaves me with the question as to why — I may never find an answer, but I admit that part of me wants to chase that one down.

At any rate, that is where we are left, and as a knitter, I have to give the Bible points for being pro-sheep where Egypt is not.

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