Genesis 37

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

2 These are the births of Jacob. Joseph, a son of seventeen years, was pasturing the flock with his brothers; and he was a lad with the sons of Bilhah and with the sons of Zilpah his father’s women; and Joseph brought an evil report of them to their father.

3 And Israel loved Joseph more·​·than all his sons, for he was a son of old·​·age to him; and he made him a tunic of various colors.

4 And his brothers saw that their father loved him more·​·than all his brothers; and they hated him, and were· not ·able to speak to him for peace.

5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brothers, and they added yet to hate him.

6 And he said to them, Hear, I pray, this dream which I have dreamed;

7 and behold, we were sheaving sheaves in the midst of the field, and behold, my sheaf arose, and also stood·​·up, and behold, your sheaves came·​·around, and bowed· themselves ·down to my sheaf.

8 And his brothers said to him, Reigning shalt thou reign over us? Or ruling shalt thou rule over us? And they added to hate him still more on·​·account·​·of his dreams and on·​·account·​·of his words.

9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and recounted it to his brothers, and said, Behold, I have dreamed yet another dream, and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed· themselves ·down to me.

10 And he recounted it to his father, and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him, and said to him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Coming shall I and thy mother and thy brothers come to bow·​·down to thee to the earth?

11 And his brothers were·​·envious of him, but his father kept the word.

12 And his brothers went to pasture the flock of their father in Shechem.

13 And Israel said to Joseph, Do not thy brothers pasture the flock in Shechem? Go, and I will send thee to them. And he said to him, Behold, me.

14 And he said to him, Go, I pray, see the peace of thy brothers, and the peace of the flock, and return with word. And he sent him out·​·of the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

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

16 And he said, I am seeking my brothers; tell me, I pray, where they are pasturing the flock.

17 And the man said, They have journeyed from this place, for I heard them saying, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brothers, and found them in Dothan.

18 And they saw him from far·​·off, and before he came·​·near to them, they plotted against him to put· him ·to·​·death.

19 And they said, a man to his brother, Behold, yonder· comes ·this master of dreams.

20 And now, go and let us kill him, and cast him into one of the pits, and we will say, An evil wild·​·animal has devoured him; and we shall see what his dreams will be.

21 And Reuben heard, and rescued him from their hand, and said, Let us not smite him, the soul.

22 And Reuben said to them, Shed no blood; cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but put·​·forth no hand upon him; so·​·that he might rescue him out·​·of their hand, to return him to his father.

23 And it was, when Joseph was come to his brothers, and they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of various 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 saw, and behold, a traveling·​·band of Ishmaelites came from Gilead, and their camels bearing aromas and balm and stacte, going to bring· them ·down to Egypt.

26 And Judah said to his brothers, What gain is it if we kill our brother, and cover his blood?

27 Go 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 brothers hearkened to him.

28 And there passed·​·by Midianite men trading, and they* drew and brought· Joseph ·up from the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they brought Joseph to Egypt.

29 And Reuben returned to the pit, and behold Joseph was not in the pit, and he rent his garments.

30 And he returned to his brothers, and said, The child is not; and I, whither do I come?

31 And they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood;

32 and they sent the tunic of various colors, and they brought it to their father, and said, This have· we ·found; recognize, we pray thee, whether it be thy son’s tunic or not.

33 And he recognized it, and said, It is the tunic of my son; a bad wild·​·animal has devoured him; Joseph being·​·torn is·​·torn.

34 And Jacob rent his raiment, and set sackcloth on his loins, and mourned over his son many days.

35 And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to comfort himself, and he said, For I shall go·​·down to my son, mourning, to the underworld*. And his father wept for him.

36 And the Midianites sold him into Egypt* to Potiphar, a chamberlain of Pharaoh, prince of the guards.

  

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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Thanks to the Kempton Project for the permission to use this New Church translation of the Word.


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