RAF: It appears the presence of foreign gods here would be related to verse 29 of the previous chapter where the Shechemite women and children were taken captive.
2 – “While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it. Jacob had twelve sons:” (Genesis 35:22, NIV)
RAF: As Jacob did nothing upon the news of the rape of Dinah, so he did nothing here either. The unresponsiveness of fathers to the sins of their children is a recurring theme throughout Bible. This pattern will be repeated in Eli, Samuel and David – each time with disastrous results. We must learn that no response is in fact a response, and does not clear us of responsibility. Doing nothing in the face of evil, whether at home, or in society, is to give tacit approval.
Note sons: For this sin, though Jacob took no action here, Reuben lost the position of the firstborn among his brethren. Sin unaddressed by human hands, will still be addressed by God. Non “gets away with it”. God is a God of justice.
3 – “Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, “Lie with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so he put him to death also.” (Genesis 38:6-10, NIV)
RAF: Little is more repugnant than when one living in rank disobedience themselves demands that someone else ought to do what’s right. This is often why the world charges Christians with hypocrisy when we revile them for their sins – and leave our own unaddressed. In addition, with Er having been so wicked, why in the world ought he to have had offspring raised up to honor his name?
4 – “Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.” (Genesis 38:11, NIV)
RAF: Isn’t it interesting that he places the blame for his son’s deaths on Tamar – as though she is “bad luck” when these are the offspring of a marriage that should not be (their mother was a Canaanite) and when the brothers are explicitly called wicked!
5 – “Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.” (Genesis 38:26, NIV)
RAF: We must understand Judah’s words comparatively here. Tamar is not being held up as an example before us to follow. As a pagan, she responded to the sin of one who was supposed to be a Godly man, in a pagan, sinful manner. Yet, the again responding as such, is less evil in comparison to one who supposedly knows God’s ways, and violates them all over the place. Our concern here is how our sins effect others. How Judah’s sin contributes to the further sin of this Canaanite woman. And how he then gets his Adullamite friend involved in it too. It is no small thing for us to involve the lost in our sins – when our course of life is meant to show them the way to Christ and freedom from sin.
6 – “But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”” (Genesis 39:8-9, NIV)
RAF: Sin is a complex thing. Here, we see that Joseph understood that sin against man, is sin against God too. We might add that it is also true in the inverse. When we sin against God, we sin against man in obscuring God’s image to them. No sin is without its dual crime. Oh what a great Christ we serve, who deals with the whole of our sin, and not just a part of it. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.
7 – “She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.” (Genesis 39:12, NIV)
RAF: Here is one of the most important lessons anyone can learn in dealing with temptation and sin – it cannot be reasoned with, it must be fled from.
1Cor. 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
1Cor. 10:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
1Tim. 6:11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
2Tim. 2:22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
8 – “When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison,” (Genesis 39:19-20, NIV)
RAF: In fact, this was a very moderate response. Egyptian law punished attempted adultery with 1000 blows according to some commentators. Even when we are falsely accused, and suffer for it, grace attends us.
9 – “ When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile,” (Genesis 41:1, NIV)
RAF: Note the ever present reality of both God’s providence and man’s action. The Cup Bearer had forgotten to speak on Joseph’s behalf, but God had also waited these 2 years to give the dream to Pharaoh.
10 – ““And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:33, NIV)
RAF: While Joseph understands God’s sovereignty, he is not a fatalist. He does not say: “God has ordained a famine, I guess we’ll all die.” He does not just throw up his hands and say “so be it” – que sera sera – whatever will be will be. No, he acts on the information revealed. Ours is not to simply endure, but to respond in a Godly fashion to the things He has appointed. Some things we may impact greatly. But ours is not simply to say “so be it.” Ours is to say “God has ordained it – and now let us use His wisdom to respond to what His hand has ordained. Many a Christian treats God’s providences as though we are to have no role in them. This is a false view and damaging. When it takes hold, we grow indifferent to human suffering – it is God’s will, so be it. No. It is God’s will the circumstance exist, and it is also God’s will we respond rightly to it. So later, when Daniel in the Babylonian captivity reads Jeremiah and determines the 70 years are nearly at an end – uses that as his impetus to give himself to prayer and confession – rather than simply saying “oh good, the 70 years is up. We can go home now.” God give us great wisdom to act WITHIN the context of the circumstances your sovereign hand ordains.
11 – “This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”” (Genesis 41:36, NIV)
RAF: Note that this massive, forced governmental tax and social welfare program was meant to be temporary. To address the crisis. Not to create a new societal structure. When such programs are not managed as temporary measures, they inevitably become a form of slavery.
12 – “Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:45, NIV)
RAF: By constraint, he must marry a pagan idolater, and his name translated becomes “savior of the world”, or, “sustainer of life.” What a type of Christ.