Genesis 37

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1 And Jacob dwelt in the land of his father's sojournings, in the land of Canaan.

2 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and he was a lad with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought the evil report of them unto their father.

3 Now 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.

4 And his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren; and they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.

6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

7 for, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves came round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.

8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? Or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it to his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed yet a dream: and, behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars made obeisance to me.

10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren; and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

11 And his brethren envied him; but his father kept the saying in mind.

12 And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem.

13 And Israel said unto Joseph, Are not thy brethren feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.

14 And he said to him, Go now, see whether it is well with thy brethren, and well with the flock; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

15 And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?

16 And he said, I am seeking my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they are feeding [the flock].

17 And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.

18 And they saw him afar off, and before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.

19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.

20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into one of the pits, and we will say, And evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

21 And Reuben heard it, and delivered him out of their hand, and said, Let us not take his life.

22 And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood; cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but lay no hand upon him: that he might deliver him out of their hand, to restore him to his father.

23 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him;

24 and they took him, and cast him into the pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.

25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.

26 And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood?

27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother, our flesh. And his brethren hearkened unto him.

28 And there passed by Midianites, merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they brought Joseph into Egypt.

29 And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.

30 And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?

31 And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a he-goat, and dipped the coat in the blood;

32 and they sent the coat of many colors, and they brought it to their father, and said, This have we found: know now whether it is thy son's coat or not.

33 And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat: an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces.

34 And Jacob rent his garments, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.

35 And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down to Sheol to my son mourning. And his father wept for him.

36 And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, the captain of the guard.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Genesis 37      

Napsal(a) Joe David

The stories in the Old Testament foreshadow future events -- not so much historical events, but changes in the spiritual states of humankind.

In the inner meaning, the story of Jacob, and his twelve sons, and Joseph and his dreams, deals with people's eventual rejection of the Divine truths that they would receive from the Lord in the Christian church, and their acceptance of falsities instead.

Specifically, this chapter is about the way that some theologians in the Christian church developed the idea of salvation by faith alone, when the Lord really wants us to conjoin faith and charity in our lives.

This seems like a stretch - that a story from 3500+ years ago could be foreshadowing modern theological arguments. And yet, human beings, as partly-spiritual creatures, are always players in a big, long spiritual story - and the Old Testament stories are archetypes for things we wrestle with in our own lives. For the details of this story's meaning, look at Arcana Coelestia 4665, and the following passages.

Here is an excerpt from Swedenborg's "Arcana Coelestia" that helps start explain the inner meaning of this chapter:

"The subject treated of in this chapter in the internal sense is the Divine truths which are from the Lord‘s Divine Human, that in course of time they have been rejected in the church, and that at last falsities have been received in their stead. Specifically, those are described who are in faith separate from charity, in that they are against the Lord’s Divine Human." AC 4665.

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