Saturday, January 23, 2010

Story Time: Jospeh, Part 2 - Crazy Dreams

Time for part two of my retelling of the Joseph story. When we left Joseph last time we had learned about his siblings (all 11 of them) and the conflicts that existed between Jacob’s wives. We also learned that Joseph and his brother Benjamin were Jacob’s favorite sons.

Part 2
Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons. We know that Jacob played favorites with his wives, so it’s no surprise that he also played favorites with his sons. He was very obvious about his favoritism and really didn’t try to hide it. One day he gave Joseph a beautiful coat. The Bible says that it was richly ornamented. Traditionally we called it a coat of many colors. The exact specifications of this coat are unimportant. What is important is that it was a very clear indication that Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons. To make matters worse, Joseph was a bit of a tattletale. There is nothing like tattling to make your siblings hate you. Trust me on this one…I’ve only got half as many siblings as Joseph, but I know a thing or two about tattling and sibling rivalry. So, after Joseph tattled on his brothers shepherding skills, they were all hanging out around the “base camp”. Joseph started having dreams. Today there are a variety of views on the importance of dreams. Some people think we can actually learn stuff from the dreams others believe they are just the by-products of our imaginations. However, in Joseph’s time, dreams were mucho-important.
Joseph has this dream and decides to tell his brothers about it. Imagine this: They are all sitting out in the sheepfold, maybe around a small fire for warmth (it gets cold in the desert at night). The conversation lulls a bit as they all drift off to that land that is half way between sleeping and being awake. The time that is perfect for deep, intellectual conversation. The flames of the fire play across their faces. Joseph speaks. “Hey guys. I had this dream the other night. Wanna hear about it?” His brothers grunt noncommittally as boys are apt to do. Joseph takes the noncommittal grunts as an affirmative and begins to tell about his dream. “So, we were all out harvesting the grain one day. All 12 of us were there. We were binding the grain into sheaves (a sheath of grain is basically just a bundle of grain tied around the middle with a piece of fiber. In groups of three or more they can be made to stand upright like little tiny haystacks. Sheaves are then stacked into bigger piles to store for the off season). All of a sudden my sheath left my hands, moved away from me and stood upright. All by itself. Then, the sheaves that each of you were working on also left you and came over by mine. Instead of standing up though, they bowed down to my sheath. It was weird.”
His brothers are more awake now. Their indignation rang out. “What!??!” “You think we are going to bow down to you?” “If we bowed to anybody it would be Reuben. He’s the oldest” “You’re such a dreamer.” “Go to sleep you little twit and don’t get any grandiose ideas about yourself.” Slowly, after making snide comments to each other, silence settles back over the group and one by one they drift off to sleep.
The next night the same thing happened. They were sitting around the fire, drifting off to sleep when Joseph decided to tell them about his other dream. This time, instead of being out in the field binding grain they were up in the heavens. Joseph himself was some sort of celestial body, his brothers were stars and his parents were the sun and moon. Once again everything bowed down to Joseph. Once again his brothers ridiculed him and called him names.
The next morning he decided to tell Jacob about the dream. His father loved him very much. Surely he would not ridicule him for his dream. Wrong. Jacob flipped out. His blood pressure rose. “What are you talking about Joseph? This dream of yours? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you? You are talking crazy. Stop this foolishness.”
His brothers who had overheard this exchange shot self-satisfied looks to each other. Their father agreed. This was foolish talk. His father however tucked this away into the recesses of his mind. He’d seen some pretty crazy stuff. Heck, he’d even wrestled with YHWH himself back in the day. Anything was possible.
Some time passed and Jacob sent his sons, except for Benjamin and Joseph, out to a place called Shechem to find better pasture for the sheep. This added to the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers. They had to go work and Joseph got to stay home. Such a pet.
Some time later Jacob decided to send Joseph to Shechem to check up on his brothers and the flocks. He gave him some provisions for the journey and supplies to bring to his brothers and Joseph went on his way.

That’s all for now.  :) More later.

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