Here we have Jacob’s final message to his sons: an individual blessing for each son. According to the NASB’s subject heading, it’s also a prophecy. Jacob himself describes his message as “what will befall you in the days to come,” literally “the end of the days” (1). I sense that there’s a lot going on underneath the surface here, but here’s what I’ve got.
Some people think the Bible isn’t a funny book. They’re right. We’re not reading The Big Christian Joke Book here. The Bible is, however, a book with funny parts. Perhaps none of it strikes you as particularly amusing, and I certainly can’t fault you for such a reading of it, but there are certain passages that can be humorous when viewed in a certain light. Take, for example, a scene from today’s chapter.
The life of Joseph is a real riches-to-rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches story. He goes from the son of a prosperous owner of livestock to a commodity in human trafficking, to the chief steward for the captain of Pharaoh’s bodyguard to a prisoner in Pharaoh’s jails, to–well, let’s not spoil the surprise. But this chapter covers several of those moves in the ebb and flow of Joseph’s fortunes, so pull down that lap bar tight across your lap and lock in, because the metaphors we’re mixing today are not only personal economies and tidal phenomena, but also a roller coaster.
The genealogies of the Bible, particularly those in Genesis, get a bad rap as containing little action and entirely too many hard-to-pronounce names. But while today’s chapter isn’t a genealogy and has no shortage of action, it’s still packed to the gills with people and places with names like Chedorlaomer and Zeboiim. Honestly, as I read these lists of kings at war and their home nations, my eyes gloss over and in my head I start thinking, “In the days of Guy king of Place, and Different Guy king of Other Place…” and if you do the same, I wouldn’t blame you. But that’s what we get for not possessing a native-level familiarity with the ancient Hebrew language.
We’re not done with you yet, Jonah. Astute readers may have noticed the word “thanksgiving” at the end of Jonah’s poetic prayer in chapter two, so for this installment of Totally Hip Gratitude, we’re rewinding back into the belly of the big fish. Jonah was pleased with the shade-plant that God provided in chapter four, but he’s actually grateful for his divinely-appointed piscine rescuer. What can Jonah’s words tell us about thankfulness?
The home stretch of the book of Psalms is full of songs of praise, and Psalm 147 is no exception. Brueggemann’s classification scheme designates it as a psalm of new orientation, in which the formerly oppressed and wounded of Israel praise God for coming to their aid. Having been lifted out of the pit of suffering, Israel now worships God in song for his protection and provision.
How are you sleeping these days? Lately I’ve been waking up too early and having trouble going back to sleep. I think the experience of perturbed sleep is common to man: we all have times when the demands of life interrupt the regularity of our sleep. I have a lot of respect for people whose jobs require them to keep odd hours, working at night and sleeping when the sun comes up. You know: police officers, night janitors, the third shift of the Levitical priesthood.