Today we wrap up Genesis with the ending of Jacob/Israel and Joseph’s stories.
Once again the theme is driven home of the younger brother being held up over the older. There’s no discernible reason for this, but I can only imagine that it ties back to the idea of a ‘younger’ culture or religion taking precedence over older, existing ones.
Then we see the longer version of the blessing. I found this more interesting, because for the first time we see reasons for the elder brothers being passed over, and the younger favored. Reuben laid with his father’s concubine, Simeon and Levi got a little sword-happy in defense of their sister. Jduah, on the other hand, previously showed a certain amount of character in offering to be enslaved over his brother Benjamin. (We’ll leave out for the moment the whole selling-Joseph-into-slavery bit on the grounds that all the brothers were equally culpable there.)
For the first time in this narrative, it’s a blessing that actually has some connection to behavior. Inheritance rules are always somewhat arbitrary. Strict primogeniture depends on the luck of the draw when it comes to birth order. But dividing things up among siblings also depends on the will of a parent — and simply liking one child over another isn’t necessarily going to be based on anything other than personality.
But this is specific — it’s behavior. It’s how one has lived and conducted oneself and I think it’s interesting to see that emerge.
Genesis has been an interesting book to read through. Even though I haven’t read the Bible through before and have (large) gaps in my church-going years, I was familiar with the better part of it. It seems most of the Bible stories that people are familiar with originate here, so it’s been at times difficult to find things to say. Some details have surprised me, as have things that parents and teachers conveniently left out due to age-appropriateness. But that means I come to them with some degree of interpretation already defined in my head, even with my best efforts to look at things with fresh eyes and decide for myself.
Next up: onward into Exodus!