Yesterday we read the account of God renaming Jacob as Israel. Although Jacob's name was initially changed during his encounter with God described in Genesis 32, this is the formal point of transition where Jacob truly becomes Israel. This new name is the name which will identify the covenant people of God, so as we continue our bible reading, the names Jacob and Israel will be used to refer to the individual person as well as the corporate identity of God's people. When the kingdom of Israel divides into two kingdoms under the reign of Solomon, the northern kingdom will retain the name Israel, while the southern kingdom will take the name Judah.
Today the narrative of Genesis turns to the story of Joseph, which tells the story of how God's people ultimately become enslaved in Egypt. We once again see the pattern of hostility between brothers repeated (Cain and Abel / Jacob and Esau). The sons of Israel are angry with their brother, Joseph, because of his various dreams, which suggest that Joseph will one day rule over his elder brothers. His brothers are envious of Joseph, who is loved greatly by his father. Here is a simple timeline that helps me remember the story of Joseph:
Through the gift of dreams, God gives Joseph a PROMISE that one day he will be placed in a position of authority and power. The brothers of Joseph are greatly angered by Joseph's visions.
His brothers conspired to kill Joseph, but Reuben dissuades them and they throw Joseph into a PIT. In order to make some cash, Joseph's brothers sell him to the Ishmaelites, who are traveling to Egypt. (It is interesting to note that the Ishmaelites are the descendants of Ishmael.)
Once in Egypt, Joseph was purchased by Potiphar, an officer of Pharoah. Joseph was falsely accused of attempted rape by Potiphar's wife and thrown into PRISON. Again, Joseph's gift of dreams enables him to assist Pharoah, which ultimately brings about his deliverance.
Pharoah places Joseph in a position of power and authority within the land of Egypt. Joseph dwells in the PALACE of the Pharoah of Egypt and enjoys seven years of prosperity.
Due to a severe famine in the land, Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain. (Remember: Both Abraham and Isaac were forced to relocate due to famines in the land). Joseph's brothers come to Egypt, but do not recognize Joseph. Ultimately, Joseph and his brothers are reconciled and the family of Joseph settles in Egypt.