About the Life of Joseph and His Stewardship, Essay Example
It is about the life of Joseph and his stewardship. This is not just his stewardship of finances but also about possibly his dreams, his grace toward his family, his handling of the prison and or Potifers household.
Joseph is a great patriarch and probably one of the most important characters in Genesis. He has been given the maximum amount of space, and his charisma has been well highlighted in the book. Also his life, philosophy and his ideas portrays the link between the Genesis and the Exodus, and gives a clear understanding of the rise of the Hebrews from a small group to a large nation. This paper would focus on the life of Joseph and his stewardship; not just his stewardship of finances but also about possibly his dreams, his grace toward his family, his handling of the prison and or Potifers household. God is shown to have been instrumental in the Joseph’s life and decisions and helped him to be one of the pioneers for the edification of Christianity.
Early life of Jacob: Joseph was the son of Jacob and Rachel. The couple lived with their uncle Laban, but due to strained relationship they finally had to leave his house. Joseph was born after his father had left the house of his uncle, and had the privilege to grow in peace and in an environment of harmony; while his brothers were not quite so lucky. They had witnessed the conflict and had been affected deeply. Joseph found spiritual bereavement from his father, and gained the immense strength and wisdom in his character. He also gained immense faith and confidence in God. The spiritual enlightenment between the father and the son made his brothers jealous of Joseph, and soon he realized that they were vehemently against him and his actions. Genesis 37:3 says, “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children.” His brothers hated Joseph because of the special affiliation he got from his father- like a special coat was gifted exclusively to Joseph by his father. Moreover, Joseph often had spiritual dreams that deemed him to be the ruler of his family. This made his siblings angry- as a consequence they ridiculed and despised his existence. However, this did not deter Joseph’s love for his family and his heart kept on loving them till eternity.
Joseph and His Dreams
Joseph had some dreams which revealed that he would be an important man one day. In the first dream he saw that he and his brothers were tying together bundles of wheat in their fields. Then, while they were tying these bundles, Joseph’s bundle of wheat rose up and stood straight, while their bundles bowed down to his bundle (Gen. 37:6-8).
In Joseph’s second dream, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to him (Gen. 37:9). He told this second dream to his brothers and his father. Joseph’s father said: “Do you expect your whole family to come and bow down before you?”
Genesis 37:10 So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?”Joseph accepted his dreams gracefully. His intuition of Godly presence in his life made him observant and patient, and he was confident that nobody could deter his pursuit for the realization of the vision assigned by God. We will see later in the story of Joseph that these dreams did come true (see Gen. 42:6; 43:26; 44:14). Joseph would later become prince among his brothers (Deut. 33:16). He would also receive the right of the first-born (1Chro. 5:2)
Joseph and His Family
According to Genesis, one day Joseph’s brothers were tending flocks in the field. His father was worried and asked Joseph to find them. Joseph went in search of them in the wilderness. However, when his brothers saw Joseph approaching, they were so bound in anger and vehemence that they planned to kill him. At the advice of Reuben, they throw him in a pit, and finally he is sold as an Egyptian slave. His brothers conveyed the message to Jacob, saying that Jacob had been killed by a wild animal. So it was perhaps the will of God, that he was separated from his father and left an alien and harsh world, to live and work as a slave. Thus the evil deeds of his brothers were a contemplation of God, as Joseph says, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Joseph was sold to an Egyptian named Potiphar. Joseph marveled with his great knowledge, wisdom and charismatic self; which subsequently made him the overseer in Potiphar household. However, soon Joseph had to bear the grunt of evil in his household. Joseph was lured with illicit sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife (A lesson to many Christians how temptation can be dealt with). When he rejected her advances, she lied to her husband about Joseph. Her false claims put Joseph in prison and he had to bear the agony, in spite of being innocent. But Chapter 39 of Genesis revealed that God has always been by his side even during his very worst days. Even here evil was used for doing well for Joseph’s life and purpose. This is partly what the apostle meant in 1 Peter 1:6-9 when he said that trials are necessary, for they produce a purity of faith and result in the praise and glory of God. Thus it shows that the easier way to get success in the Potipher household would have been to consent in the illicit relationship and enjoy a congenial life. Yet, Joseph resented and accepted the hard course of life- only because he knew the will of God, he knew what was wrong, and against the wishes of God. He wanted to abide by his allegiance to God and in the process had to face the severe consequences of being in prison. This testifies his immense love and obedience towards God; and goes ahead in the dream that God had exclusively framed for him. Thus Joseph taught us that it would always be good to follow the path of God, in spite of the varied temptation and sufferings that cross our path. It is mostly choosing between what we want to do and what we ought to do. Thus Joseph seems to qualify in all the tests that came his way.
The dark and dingy prison could have despised Joseph, and could make him depressed. Yet he shined and found glory in prison- he accepted the challenge with a positive attitude and became the head trustee in prison. He knew that God had always been with him and found pleasure even in the prison, accepting it as a will of God. He neither clamoured nor cursed God for his agony…but accepted it as a decision of God. The character sketches of Joseph show that he had immense confidence in God. When he was at the peak of alienation and ridicule, he remembered the teachings of his father Jacob.
In the jail he earned the confidence of the jailor and was entrusted to take care of two prisoners. These two men, one being the cupbearer of Pharaoh and the other his baker had simultaneous dreams. One night the cupbearer and the baker tell Joseph of their dreams to which he says, “Do not the interpretations belong to God?” (Gen. 40:8) Joseph contemplated and deciphered their dreams. It shows that even during the harsh of times, Joseph did not stop helping others. The interpretation of the dreams was absolutely identical- the cupbearer regained his position while the baker was hanged. The cupbearer promises Joseph, to tell the Pharaoh about him. Joseph knew that God would finally use the cupbearer and release him from the jail. After two years,
Pharaoh himself had a dream and the cupbearer remembered the Hebrew in prison who could interpret dreams. Thus Joseph was brought before the Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. All this while God went on testing the zeal and patience of Joseph and prepared him for the Pharaoh’s court. James 1:12 puts it this way, “Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” So God was in the process of making a great man out of Joseph. He posed difficulties in his stride to emanate the spirit of Joseph that would finally bring tremendous glory to God. God gave Joseph the power to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh, and in the process he became very close to the Pharaoh and was promoted to the next second position of the land.
Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream – he said that there would be simultaneous seven years of fruitful harvest followed by seven years of famine. Now, it was the onus of Joseph to provide food to the country during the times of famine. His stewardship and faith in God helped him to gather all his energy to manage the task that had been assigned to him by God. Moreover, the knowledge that he gathered from the Potipher household and times in prison helped him to devise strategies to help him combat the famine. He built stocks and granaries that would not let the people die out of starvation. Truly, in the course of time, the famine came and affected large parts of the country including Canaan, where his family lived. It was most appropriately the plan of God, as he had promised Abraham to reap a nation from his seed. In the providence of God, the famine and the difficult situations forced Abraham to send his sons to Egypt.
God perhaps wanted to unite his brothers with Joseph. When his brothers arrived and could not recognize Joseph, he falsely implicated them as spies, bound Simeon and put the rest of them in prison. They were held in prison for three days, and during this time they said to each other, “this is happening to us because of how wickedly we treated our brother.” (Gen. 42:21) Joseph continued to captivate his brother Simeon, and send the message across to his elder brothers to come and plead for his innocence. This attitude of Joseph shows that in spite of being hurt and badly treated by his brothers, he still wanted to help them. It also shows that though he may appear hard and harsh, but his heart still loved them with full of forgiveness and love. At least once he had to leave the room as he could not stop weeping in love for them. Thus the character of Joseph as regards to his family bondage shows the symbolism of our heavenly father. Many times God is stern and harsh on us – only to teach us a lesson. He may punish us but his ever forgiving heart always yearns for instances to help us out of the situation. Jacob was disheartened when he heard that his son Simeon was held captive and also fearful of the thought when he came to now that the Pharaoh wanted to even coerce Benjamin to Egypt. But the incessant famine forced Jacob to send his son Benjamin. After the brothers arrived in Egypt, Joseph invited them for food in his house. He secretly had his cup placed in the bag of Benjamin while they were loading food in their bag for taking home, and send a servant behind them. They caught the brothers on their way, and asked, “Why have you returned evil for good,” (Gen. 44:4) for they were saying that one of them had taken their masters cup. “The brothers protested this but the cup was found in Benjamin’s bag.” While they were going back to Egypt, they were really afraid, “What would the lord of the Egyptians require of Benjamin since the cup was found in his bag?” They pondered on the fact that if they could not return to their father with Benjamin, he would be angry and disown them. Moreover it would add to the grief of his father after losing Joseph.
Joseph wanted to keep Benjamin as a slave but his brothers broke down in tears. Judah, one of the brothers said that he would be slave in place of Benjamin because otherwise his father would die in grief. Joseph could no longer control his emotion and finally conceded to the fact of being their brother. He also told his brothers not to be guilty, as they had acted on what God had destined for Joseph. He also told them that God had a predestined mission for Joseph for the preservation of life. He showered love on them and invited them to come and live in Egypt with the entire family. Eventually, Joseph is united with his family and they live happily together. However, another important trait of Joseph was that he never let his influence fetch high ranks for his brothers in the Egyptian government. He let them flair and gain pursuits according to their sincere efforts and hard work.
Joseph is characterized by immense intelligence and high levels of wisdom. His stewardship is of immense gratification and knowledge. God entrusted him with a vision, and he contemplated all obstacles to be reunited with his cause. Immense dangers and difficulties had crossed his way, but he none could stop his galore and his spirit of fulfilling the dream of God. To me he is the perfect apostle or messenger of God. He knew that God has always been with him and his faith help him to concede all his difficulties. In his intuitive insight he slowly forgave his brothers and reunited with his family. He could punish his brothers for their naivety, but instead he helped them to realize their mistakes and took them back to their life. The importance is to forgive and make people realize their mistakes. His patience is also remarkable- never for once he lost his faith in the powers of Gods in spite of the erroneous troubles that catapulted his life. Thus our study reflects the significant character traits in his life: starting from his childhood, slavery, Potipher’s house, imprisonment and the relation with the pharaoh. His characters shows the traits of being a loving son, forgiving brother, patient and ardent follower of God…a strong man with a soft and emotional heart. But above all is his deep love and affixation in the faith of God- he believed that is life is guided by the trust of God- his valued stewardship that gave a new dimension and basis for the rise of a new genre and nation. He followed strictly the spiritual principles of God, his perseveration in the trails of life, even in the instance when it seemed that God had almost forsaken him. He continued to be faithful, resisting all temptation and knew that God would finally help him to envisage his dream and promise to Abraham.
King James Version, (1999) Genesis: The Holy BibleGenesis 37. Genesis 39
Genesis 40., Last retrieved on December 20 from ,http://bible.thelineberrys.com/GEN/GEN40.HTM
Genesis 41. Last retrieved on December 20 from http://bible.thelineberrys.com/GEN/GEN41.HTM
Genesis 42-45. Last retrieved on December 20 from http://bible.thelineberrys.com/GEN/GEN42.HTM
Genesis 46-47. Last retrieved on December 20 from http://bible.thelineberrys.com/GEN/GEN46.HTM
Genesis 48. Last retrieved on December 20 from http://bible.thelineberrys.com/GEN/GEN48.HTM
Genesis 49. Last retrieved on December 20 from http://bible.thelineberrys.com/GEN/GEN49.HTM
Frank Moore Cross, The Priestly Work, in “Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic”
Shira Schoenberg, Last retrieved on December 20 from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Joseph.html
“Joseph” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Judaica. “Joseph”. CD-ROM Edition, Judaica Multimedia (Israel) Ltd. The World Book Encyclopedia. “Joseph”. Vol. 11, 1988 Edition
Richard Elliott Friedman, “The Bible With Sources Revealed”, Harper San Francisco, (2003)
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