"Great Catch of Fish," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Genesis 37:3-8, 17b-22, 26-34; 50:15-21 Commentary
by Jacqueline E. Lapsley
The story of Joseph and his brothers is a timeless story of preferential parental love and sibling rivalry.
As so often in life, in the story sibling rivalry eventuates in discord and eventually violence. The conflict escalates in three phases: first, the teenager Joseph brings a “bad report” about his brothers to their father, Jacob (Genesis 37:2). The NRSV has it that Joseph is “a helper to” his step-brothers, but the Hebrew says that Joseph was shepherding with his brothers. A subtle difference perhaps, but we should not be too quick to think of Joseph as a Cinderella-figure, the “good” son working under the thumb of his evil brothers. We do not know whether his “bad report” is the result of poor social skills, in which case his tattling on his brothers to the father who prefers him is more a sign of whininess, or whether Joseph is justified in his complaint, or perhaps, as is often the case in life, a mixture of both.
The narrator then reveals that Jacob loves Joseph more than his other sons (Genesis 37:3). We might surmise that Jacob loves ...
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2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL233: Joseph's Dream
September 25, 2016
This Narrative Lectionary podcast discusses Genesis 37:3-8, 17b-22, 26-34; 50:15-21, the reading for Sept. 25, 2016.