Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 36-38.
Today’s passage starts with an account of the descendants of Esau, including a list of some of the early kings of Edom. I do not know what the significance of this is for us today. From there the passage goes on to tell us about Joseph. From this passage we learn that Joseph was a naive, spoiled young man. Jacob loved Joseph more than his other sons, and Joseph loved his father more than his brothers. This combination led to Joseph’s older brothers hating him, but it does not appear that Joseph realized this. When I consider the dreams which Joseph related to his brothers and father, I go back and forth about what I think Joseph meant by telling them the dreams. Sometimes I think that Joseph thought of the dreams as really strange dreams and told his brothers about them in order to have a topic of conversation. Other times I think that he told them about the dreams as a sort of “Well, you can treat me like this now, but one day…” In either case, telling his brothers about his dreams exacerbated their anger towards him. The combination of their resentment of the special treatment Joseph received and of the fact that he told their father about the previous misdeeds of some of his brothers led his brothers to be convinced that he was coming to spy on them (which was at least partially true, although not a concern if they were not doing anything wrong). It is interesting that neither Reuben nor Judah wished to kill Joseph.
After Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers we have the story of Judah and Tamar. This story highlights why God sent the descendants of Jacob into Egypt. We see here that Jacob’s sons were becoming assimilated into the culture of Canaan, at least Judah, but I think we can figure that the rest of them behaved similarly. Judah married a local woman and had children with her. He arranged for his sons to marry local women. His best friend was a local and Judah practiced the local worship, at least to the extent of consorting with temple prostitutes. All of these things indicate that Judah, and probably his brothers, were gradually assimilating into the local culture. Something which both Abraham and Isaac sought to keep from happening.