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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Daily Devotion for September 28, 2012

Overbeck, mural, Joseph Sold into Slavery in the Bible
Joseph Sold into Slavery by His Brothers, mural by Friedrich Overbeck c. 1816



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lessons and scripture
Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


This gorgeous old Mennonite hymn is sung by the Lebanon Valley Youth Choir

Lord, Bless My Enemies

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Enemies have driven me into Thy embrace more than friends have.

Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.

Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Thy tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

They have punished me whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.

They have tormented me whenever I have tried to flee torments.

They have scolded me whenever I have flattered myself. They have spat upon me whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.

Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.

Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.

Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.

Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.

Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.

Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Thy garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:

so that my fleeing to Thee may have no return;

so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;

so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

ah, so that I may for once be freed from self deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.

It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.

Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand.

But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

endless knot

I thank God for most this
day; for the leaping greenly
spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything
which is natural, which is
infinite, which is yes.

e. e. cummings

Blue Latin Cross

Genesis 37:25-36

Joseph Sold by His Brothers [2]

Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.”

And his brothers listened to him. Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.

When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?”

Then they took Joseph's robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son's robe or not.” And he identified it and said, “It is my son's robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.”

Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.

Notes on the Scripture

The brothers have second thoughts about murdering their own flesh and blood, and so they dispose of Joseph by selling him into slavery. They cover up the crime, as planned, by covering the coat of many colors with goat's blood and telling Jacob that they had found it thus. Jacob swears he will mourn his beloved son until his death.

Notice that Jacob does not even know the concept of heaven. The early Hebrews had a vague concept that their souls would go somewhere mysterious and not necessarily pleasant, Sheol, which is sometimes compared to Hell. At the time of Abraham and Jacob, they conceived that both the righteous and the unrighteous would still exist, but in a world of darkness and without form or personality, cut off from God.

The reference to Ishmaelites takes us back to Abraham. Remember that Ishmael, Abraham's elder son by his wife's maid (Hannah) was not cursed, even though Abraham expelled him in favor of Isaac. Ishmael prospered and had twelve sons, who became a sizable nomadic tribe ranging from the borders of Egypt north all the way to Assyria. They would have been third cousins (really, half-second-cousins) to Jacob's sons.

The Midianites, similarly, are descendants of Abraham, but through his later wife (after Sarah's death). Most likely they were centered in the northern Arabian peninsula (although some scholars place them in the Sudan). Like the Ishmaelites, they are nomads and, as can be seen here, traders. They have a caravan transporting gum, probably referring to mastic gum, which had many uses in medicine and as the base for cosmetics; myrrh, another sort of gum used to embalm corpses; and balm, yet another gum made from tree sap — no doubt the "balm of Gilead" mentioned several times in the Bible. All three were precious.

The traders have money and can pay twenty shekels for a healthy young male slave — 7 or 8 ounces of silver. While it is very difficult to evaluate ancient prices, this amount would be roughly the cost of four sheep or one cow.

Devotional painting of Jacob
Joseph's Coat Brought Back to Jacob by Jules Naudin, c. 1841

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Memory Verse

Exodus 20:17: You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

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