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How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour

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Overview

A Guided Tour from Genesis through Revelation Reading the Bible need not be a haphazard journey through strange and bewildering territory. Like an experienced tour guide, How to Read the Bible Book by Book takes you by the hand and walks you through the Scriptures. For each book of the Bible, the authors start with a quick snapshot, then expand the view to help you better understand its key elements and how it fits into the grand narrative of the Bible. Written by two top evangelical scholars, this survey is designed to get you actually reading the Bible knowledgeably and understanding it accurately. In an engaging, conversational style, Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart take you through a given book of the Bible using their unique, progressive approach: * Orienting Data---Concise info bytes that form a thumbnail of the book * Overview---A brief panorama that introduces key concepts and themes and important landmarks in the book * Specific Advice for Reading---Pointers for accurately understanding the details and message of the book in context with the circumstances surrounding its writing * A Walk Through---The actual section-by-section tour that helps you see both the larger landscape of the book and how its various parts work together to form the whole. Here you are taken by the hand and told, Look at this How to Read the Bible Book by Book can be used as a companion to How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. It also stands on its own as a reliable guide to reading and understanding the Bible for yourself."

Details

  • SKU: 9780310211181
  • UPC: 025986211189
  • SKU10: 0310211182
  • Title: How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour
  • Qty Remaining Online: 56
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Date Published: Mar 2002
  • Pages: 448
  • Weight lbs: 0.80
  • Dimensions: 8.00" L x 5.40" W x 1.30" H
  • Features: Price on Product, Glossary
  • Themes: Theometrics | Academic; Theometrics | Evangelical;
  • Category: BIBLICAL STUDIES
  • Subject: Biblical Studies - General
NOTE: Related content on this page may not be applicable to all formats of this product.

Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

The Narrative of Israel (Including the Law) in the Biblical Story

We should begin by noting that the arrangement of the Old Testament books in the Hebrew Bible is a bit different from that in our English Bibles. Ours comes to us by way of the second-century B.C. Greek translation known as the Septuagint. The Hebrew Bible is divided into three parts: the Law (the Pentateuch, or "five books of Moses"), the Prophets (the Former Prophets, including Joshua through Kings [minus Ruth], and the Latter Prophets, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of the Twelve [the so-called Minor Prophets]), and the Writings (the Psalms [including Lamentations], the Wisdom books [Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs], Daniel, and the four narrative books of Ruth, Esther, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles). In this book we will follow the English order, except for Lamentations in the Old Testament, which is placed among the Writings, and Acts in the New Testament, which properly belongs with the Gospel of Luke.

As noted in How to 1 (p. 18), despite the way many of God's good people handle the Bible, it is, in fact, no mere collection of propositions to be believed and imperatives to be obeyed. Rather, the essential character of the Bible, the whole Bible, is narrative, a narrative in which both the propositions and the imperatives are deeply embedded as an essential part. And so the Bible begins with a series of narrative books-which is true even of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, which may appear otherwise because they are composed largely of laws, but which, in fact, cannot be properly understood apart from the narrative structure in which they are placed.

Thus the beginning of the biblical story takes root in the lengthy narrative that tells the story of God's chosen people, Israel. The first of the five books of Moses (Genesis) relates the beginnings of everything (Creation and Fall) and then focuses especially on God's call and covenant with Abraham and his seed, promising both to make them a numerous people and to give them the land of Canaan. After rescuing the people from slavery in Egypt (the exodus), God meets with them at Mount Sinai in the vast Sinai wilderness. Here he makes a second covenant with Israel that takes the form of "the law," which includes the building of a tabernacle (Exodus), the place where God will dwell among his people and where they are to worship him with proper offerings and sacrifices (Leviticus) as a part of the way they uphold their end of the covenant.

As the people prepare to leave Sinai and make their way to the promised land, the number of men twenty years old and older are counted (those who will be Israel's warriors) and placed around the tabernacle in battle formation (Numbers). Thus they are prepared to take their place in the holy war by which they are to gain the land God had promised to their fathers-Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Before they embark on this conquest, Moses gives them a review of this history, another overview of the law, and the blessings and curses (promises and threats) of a kind that accompany ancient covenants; in their case, disobedience to God's covenant meant exile, but with a promised, even more glorious restoration in the form of a new exodus (Deuteronomy).

After the story of the initial conquest and occupation of the land (Joshua) come stories of their failures to keep covenant with God, their true King (Judges). In this latter story (including Ruth), we are prepared for the next major turn in the main story line-that God will rule Israel through an earthly king. The books of Samuel thus tell the story of David, with whom God makes another covenant-that one of his sons will never fail to sit on the throne in Israel, as long as they keep covenant with God. As in many ancient kingships, David himself was also understood to embody the people, a key element in many of the psalms and in the final unfolding of the story of Jesus of Nazareth. But alas, the story of Israel repeats itself, as one king after another leads Israel astray to pursue other gods (1-2 Kings). Indeed, within two generations David's kingdom is divided into two parts. The northern kingdom (Israel; sometimes called Ephraim by the psalmists and prophets) falls to the Assyrians in 722 B.C. and for all practical purposes ceases to exist as a distinct entity. The southern kingdom (Judah) falls to the Babylonians in 586 B.C. In this case, the leading people carried into exile in Babylon thus form part of the remnant through whom God will still work out his redemptive plans.

The exile brought untold misery and trauma to God's people, since they lost their promised land and their temple-the primary evidence of God's special presence and of their being his people. Especially through the prophetic ministry of Ezekiel, the exiles were held together. Many, though by no means the majority, were finally restored to their land under the Persians and rebuilt the temple (Ezra 1-6); about a century later, Ezra and Nehemiah led a further return of exiles and were instrumental in bringing about a significant reform (Ezra 7-10; Nehemiah). During this same overall restoration period, the story of Judah is retold from a more positive perspective (1-2 Chronicles), while Esther tells the story of the Jewish exiles throughout the Persian Empire being saved from annihilation.

As you read through the books in this section of the Bible, you will find various threads that hold the larger narrative together: God'scovenants with his people; God's faithfulness to them despite their repeated unfaithfulness to him; God's choice of the lesser and the unfavored ones (his choosing the "weak to shame the strong" [1 Cor 1:27]); God's redeeming his people from slavery to make them his own; God'sdwelling among them in tabernacle and temple as the gift of his renewed presence on earth (lost in the Fall); God's gift of the law in order to reshape them into his own likeness; God's provision of a sacrificial system-the "red thread" of blood poured out for the life of another-as his way of offering forgiveness; God's choice of a king from Judah who would represent him on earth and thus prepare the way for his own coming in the person of Jesus. These are the matters that make the whole story hold together as one story. Be watching for them as you read.

Genesis

ORIENTING DATA FOR GENESIS

Content: the story of the creation, of human disobedience and its tragic consequences, and of God's choosing Abraham and his offspring-the beginning of the story of redemption

Historical coverage: from creation to the death of Joseph in Egypt (ca. 1600 B.C.?)

Emphases: God as the Creator of all that is; God's creation of human beings in his image; the nature and consequences of human disobedience; the beginning of the divine covenants; God's choice of a people through whom he will bless the nations

OVERVIEW OF GENESIS

For modern readers Genesis might appear to be a strange book, beginning as it does with God and creation, and ending with Joseph in a coffin in Egypt! But that strangeness is evidence that even though it has integrity as a book in its own right (careful structure and organization), it is at the same time intended to set the whole biblical story in motion. Indeed, its opening word (Bereshith = "in [the] beginning") both serves as its title and is suggestive as to what the book is about. Thus it tells of the beginning of God's story-creation, human disobedience, and divine redemption-while it also begins the Pentateuch, the story of God's choosing and making a covenant with a people through whom he would bless all peoples (Gen 12:2-3).

The narrative of Genesis itself comes in two basic parts: a "prehistory" (chs. 1-11), the stories of creation, human origins, the fall of humanity, and the relentless progress of evil-all against the backdrop of God's enduring patience and love-and the story of the beginning of redemption through Abraham and his seed (chs. 12-50), with focus on the stories of Abraham (11:27-25:11), Jacob (25:12-37:1), and Joseph (chs. 37-50). These stories are structured in part around a phrase that occurs ten times: "This is the account [genealogy/family history] of," a term which can refer both to "genealogies" proper (as with Shem, Ishmael, and Esau) and to "family stories." You will see that the major stries of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph in each case come under the family story of the father (Terah, Isaac, and Jacob).

The overall narrative of Genesis thus begins immediately after the prologue (1:1-2:3) with the first human family in the Garden of Eden and works successively from Adam's family through Noah and Shem to Terah and Abraham and finally through Isaac to Jacob (Israel) and thus to Joseph. At the same time, the family lines of the rejected sons (Cain, Ishmael, Esau) are also given so that the "chosen seed" and the "rejected brother" are set off in contrast (the one has a story, the other only a genealogy). Finally, watch for one further framing device that holds the major part of the book together: God's use of Noah to preserve human life during the great deluge (chs. 6-9) and of Joseph to preserve human life during the great drought (chs. 37-50).

SPECIFIC ADVICE FOR READING GENESIS

As you read this first book in the Bible, besides being aware of how the narrative unfolds according to the family stories, also be watching for both the major plot and several subplots that help to shape the larger family story, the story of the people of God.

The major plot has to do with God's intervening in the history of human fallenness by choosing ("electing") a man and his family. For even though the families of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the major players, you are never allowed to forget that God is the ultimate Protagonist-as is true in all the biblical narratives. Above all else, it is his story. God speaks and thereby creates the world and a people. It becomes their story (and ours) only as God has brought this family into being and made promises to them and covenanted with them to be their God. So keep looking for the way the major plot unfolds and for how the primary players become part of God's ultimate narrative.

At the same time, keep your eyes open for several subplots that are crucial to the larger story of the Old Testament people of God-and in some cases of the people constituted by the new covenant as well. Six of these are worthy of special attention.

The first of these-crucial to the whole biblical story-is the occurrence of the first two covenants between God and his people. The first covenant is with all of humankind through Noah and his sons, promising that God will never again cut off life from the earth (9:8-17). The second covenant is with Abraham, promising two things especially-the gift of "seed" who will become a great nation to bless the nations, and the gift of land (12:2-7; 15:1-21; cf. 17:3-8, where the covenant is ratified by the identifying mark of circumcision). The second covenant is repeated to Isaac (26:3-5) and Jacob (28:13-15) and in turn serves as the basis for the next two Old Testament covenants: the gift of law (Exod 20-24) and the gift of kingship (2 Sam 7).

The second subplot is a bit subtle in Genesis itself, but is important to the later unfolding of the theme of holy war (see glossary) in the biblical story. It begins with God's curse on the serpent, that God "will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [seed] and hers" (3:14-15). The crucial term here is "offspring" (seed), picked up again in 12:7 with regard to the chosen people. This curse anticipates the holy-war motif that is accented in Exodus in particular (between Moses and Pharaoh, thus between God and the gods of Egypt; see Exod 15:1-18), is carried on further in the conquest of Canaan and its gods (which explains the curse of Canaan in Gen 9:25-27), and climaxes in the New Testament (in the story of Jesus Christ, and especially in the Revelation). Although in Genesis this motif does not take the form of holy war as such, you can nonetheless see it especially in the strife between brothers, between the ungodly and godly seed (Cain/Abel; Ishmael/ Isaac; Esau/Jacob), where the elder persecutes the younger through whom God has chosen to work (see Gal 4:29).

God's choice of the younger (or weaker, or most unlikely) to bear the righteous seed is a third subplot that begins in Genesis. Here it takes two forms in particular that are then repeated throughout the biblical story. First, God regularly bypasses the firstborn son in carrying out his purposes (a considerable breach of the cultural rules on the part of God): not Cain but Seth, not Ishmael but Isaac, not Esau but Jacob, not Reuben but Judah. Second, the godly seed is frequently born of an otherwise barren woman (Sarah, 18:11-12; Rebekah, 25:21; Rachel, 29:31). As you read through the whole biblical story, you will want to be on the lookout for this recurring motif (see, e.g., 1 Sam 1:1-2:11; Luke 1).

Related to this theme is the fact that the chosen ones are not chosen because of their own goodness; indeed, their flaws are faithfully narrated (Abraham in Gen 12:10-20; Isaac in 26:1-11; Jacob throughout [note how dysfunctional the family is in ch. 37!]; Judah in 38:1-30). God does not choose them because of their inherent character; what makes them the godly seed is that in the end they trusted God and his promise that they would be his people-an exceedingly numerous people-and that they would inherit the land to which they first came as aliens.

A fourth subplot emerges later in the story, where Judah takes the leading role among the brothers in the long Joseph narrative (chs. 37-50). He emerges first in chapter 38, where his weaknesses and sinfulness are exposed. But his primary role begins in 43:8-9, where he guarantees the safety of his brother Benjamin, and it climaxes in his willingness to take the place of Benjamin in 44:18-34. All of this anticipates Jacob's blessing in 49:8-12, that the "scepter will not depart from Judah" (pointing to the Davidic kingdom and, beyond that, to Jesus Christ).

A fifth subplot is found in the anticipation of the next "chapter" in the story-slavery in Egypt. Interest in Egypt begins with the genealogy of Ham (10:13-14; Mizraim is Hebrew for "Egypt"). The basic family narrative (Abraham to Joseph) begins with a famine that sends Abraham to Egypt (12:10-20) and concludes with another famine that causes Jacob and the entire family to settle in Egypt, whereas Isaac, while on his way toward Egypt during another famine, is expressly told not to go there (26:1-5).

Continues.

Excerpt


Chapter One

The Narrative of Israel (Including the Law) in the Biblical Story

We should begin by noting that the arrangement of the Old Testament books in the Hebrew Bible is a bit different from that in our English Bibles. Ours comes to us by way of the second-century B.C. Greek translation known as the Septuagint . The Hebrew Bible is divided into three parts: the Law(the Pentateuch, or "five books of Moses"), the Prophets(the Former Prophets, including Joshua through Kings [minus Ruth], and the Latter Prophets, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of the Twelve [the so-called Minor Prophets]), and the Writings(the Psalms [including Lamentations], the Wisdom books [Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs], Daniel, and the four narrative books of Ruth, Esther, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles). In this book we will follow the English order, except for Lamentations in the Old Testament, which is placed among the Writings, and Acts in the New Testament, which properly belongs with the Gospel of Luke.

As noted in How to 1(p. 18), despite the way many of God's good people handle the Bible, it is, in fact, no mere collection of propositions to be believed and imperatives to be obeyed. Rather, the essential character of the Bible, the whole Bible, is narrative , a narrative in which both the propositions and the imperatives are deeply embedded as an essential part. And so the Bible begins with a series of narrative books-which is true even of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, which may appear otherwise because they are composed largely of laws, but which, in fact, cannot be properly understood apart from the narrative structure in which they are placed.

Thus the beginning of the biblical story takes root in the lengthy narrative that tells the story of God's chosen people, Israel. The first of the five books of Moses (Genesis) relates the beginnings of everything (Creation and Fall) and then focuses especially on God's call and covenant with Abraham and his seed, promising both to make them a numerous people and to give them the land of Canaan. After rescuing the people from slavery in Egypt (the exodus), God meets with them at Mount Sinai in the vast Sinai wilderness. Here he makes a second covenant with Israel that takes the form of "the law," which includes the building of a tabernacle (Exodus), the place where God will dwell among his people and where they are to worship him with proper offerings and sacrifices (Leviticus) as a part of the way they uphold their end of the covenant.

As the people prepare to leave Sinai and make their way to the promised land, the number of men twenty years old and older are counted (those who will be Israel's warriors) and placed around the tabernacle in battle formation (Numbers). Thus they are prepared to take their place in the holy war by which they are to gain the land God had promised to their fathers-Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Before they embark on this conquest, Moses gives them a review of this history, another overview of the law, and the blessings and curses (promises and threats) of a kind that accompany ancient covenants; in their case, disobedience to God's covenant meant exile, but with a promised, even more glorious restoration in the form of a new exodus (Deuteronomy).

After the story of the initial conquest and occupation of the land (Joshua) come stories of their failures to keep covenant with God, their true King (Judges). In this latter story (including Ruth), we are prepared for the next major turn in the main story line-that God will rule Israel through an earthly king. The books of Samuel thus tell the story of David, with whom God makes another covenant-that one of his sons will never fail to sit on the throne in Israel, as long as they keep covenant with God. As in many ancient kingships, David himself was also understood to embody the people, a key element in many of the psalms and in the final unfolding of the story of Jesus of Nazareth. But alas, the story of Israel repeats itself, as one king after another leads Israel astray to pursue other gods (1-2 Kings). Indeed, within two generations David's kingdom is divided into two parts. The northern kingdom (Israel; sometimes called Ephraim by the psalmists and prophets) falls to the Assyrians in 722 B.C. and for all practical purposes ceases to exist as a distinct entity. The southern kingdom (Judah) falls to the Babylonians in 586 B.C. In this case, the leading people carried into exile in Babylon thus form part of the remnant through whom God will still work out his redemptive plans.

The exile brought untold misery and trauma to God's people, since they lost their promised land and their temple-the primary evidence of God's special presence and of their being his people. Especially through the prophetic ministry of Ezekiel, the exiles were held together. Many, though by no means the majority, were finally restored to their land under the Persians and rebuilt the temple (Ezra 1-6); about a century later, Ezra and Nehemiah led a further return of exiles and were instrumental in bringing about a significant reform (Ezra 7-10; Nehemiah). During this same overall restoration period, the story of Judah is retold from a more positive perspective (1-2 Chronicles), while Esther tells the story of the Jewish exiles throughout the Persian Empire being saved from annihilation.

As you read through the books in this section of the Bible, you will find various threads that hold the larger narrative together: God's covenantswith his people; God's faithfulnessto them despite their repeated unfaithfulness to him; God's choice of the lesserand the unfavoredones (his choosing the "weak to shame the strong" [1 Cor 1:27]); God's redeeminghis people from slavery to make them his own; God's dwellingamong them in tabernacle and temple as the gift of his renewed presence on earth (lost in the Fall); God's gift of the lawin order to reshape them into his own likeness; God's provision of a sacrificial system -the "red thread" of blood poured out for the life of another-as his way of offering forgiveness; God's choice of a kingfrom Judah who would represent him on earth and thus prepare the way for his own coming in the person of Jesus. These are the matters that make the whole story hold together as one story. Be watching for them as you read.

Genesis

ORIENTING DATA FOR GENESIS

Content:the story of the creation, of human disobedience and its tragic consequences, and of God's choosing Abraham and his offspring-the beginning of the story of redemption

Historical coverage:from creation to the death of Joseph in Egypt (ca. 1600 B.C.?)

Emphases:God as the Creator of all that is; God's creation of human beings in his image; the nature and consequences of human disobedience; the beginning of the divine covenants; God's choice of a people through whom he will bless the nations

OVERVIEW OF GENESIS

For modern readers Genesis might appear to be a strange book, beginning as it does with God and creation, and ending with Joseph in a coffin in Egypt! But that strangeness is evidence that even though it has integrity as a book in its own right (careful structure and organization), it is at the same time intended to set the whole biblical story in motion. Indeed, its opening word ( Bereshith= "in [the] beginning") both serves as its title and is suggestive as to what the book is about. Thus it tells of the beginning of God's story-creation, human disobedience, and divine redemption-while it also begins the Pentateuch, the story of God's choosing and making a covenant with a people through whom he would bless all peoples (Gen 12:2-3).

The narrative of Genesis itself comes in two basic parts: a "prehistory" (chs. 1-11), the stories of creation, human origins, the fall of humanity, and the relentless progress of evil-all against the backdrop of God's enduring patience and love-and the story of the beginning of redemption through Abraham and his seed (chs. 12-50), with focus on the stories of Abraham (11:27-25:11), Jacob (25:12-37:1), and Joseph (chs. 37-50). These stories are structured in part around a phrase that occurs ten times: "This is the account [genealogy/family history] of," a term which can refer both to "genealogies" proper (as with Shem, Ishmael, and Esau) and to "family stories." You will see that the major stries of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph in each case come under the family story of the father (Terah, Isaac, and Jacob).

The overall narrative of Genesis thus begins immediately after the prologue (1:1-2:3) with the first human family in the Garden of Eden and works successively from Adam's family through Noah and Shem to Terah and Abraham and finally through Isaac to Jacob (Israel) and thus to Joseph. At the same time, the family lines of the rejected sons (Cain, Ishmael, Esau) are also given so that the "chosen seed" and the "rejected brother" are set off in contrast (the one has a story, the other only a genealogy). Finally, watch for one further framing device that holds the major part of the book together: God's use of Noah to preserve human life during the great deluge (chs. 6-9) and of Joseph to preserve human life during the great drought (chs. 37-50).

SPECIFIC ADVICE FOR READING GENESIS

As you read this first book in the Bible, besides being aware of how the narrative unfolds according to the family stories, also be watching for both the major plot and several subplots that help to shape the larger family story, the story of the people of God.

The major plothas to do with God's intervening in the history of human fallenness by choosing ("electing") a man and his family. For even though the families of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the major players, you are never allowed to forget that God is the ultimate Protagonist-as is true in all the biblical narratives. Above all else, it is his story. God speaks and thereby creates the world and a people. It becomes their story (and ours) only as God has brought this family into being and made promises to them and covenanted with them to be their God. So keep looking for the way the major plot unfolds and for how the primary players become part of God's ultimate narrative.

At the same time, keep your eyes open for several subplots that are crucial to the larger story of the Old Testament people of God-and in some cases of the people constituted by the newcovenant as well. Six of these are worthy of special attention.

The first of these-crucial to the whole biblical story-is the occurrence of the first two covenants between God and his people. The first covenant is with all of humankind through Noah and his sons, promising that God will never again cut off life from the earth (9:8-17). The second covenant is with Abraham, promising two things especially-the gift of "seed" who will become a great nation to bless the nations, and the gift of land (12:2-7; 15:1-21; cf. 17:3-8, where the covenant is ratified by the identifying mark of circumcision). The second covenant is repeated to Isaac (26:3-5) and Jacob (28:13-15) and in turn serves as the basis for the next two Old Testament covenants: the gift of law (Exod 20-24) and the gift of kingship (2 Sam 7).

The second subplot is a bit subtle in Genesis itself, but is important to the later unfolding of the theme of holy war(see glossary) in the biblical story. It begins with God's curse on the serpent, that God "will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [seed] and hers" (3:14-15). The crucial term here is "offspring" (seed), picked up again in 12:7 with regard to the chosen people. This curse anticipates the holy-war motif that is accented in Exodus in particular (between Moses and Pharaoh, thus between God and the gods of Egypt; see Exod 15:1-18), is carried on further in the conquest of Canaan and its gods (which explains the curse of Canaan in Gen 9:25-27), and climaxes in the New Testament (in the story of Jesus Christ, and especially in the Revelation). Although in Genesis this motif does not take the form of holy war as such, you can nonetheless see it especially in the strife between brothers, between the ungodly and godly seed (Cain/Abel; Ishmael/ Isaac; Esau/Jacob), where the elder persecutes the younger through whom God has chosen to work (see Gal 4:29).

God's choice of the younger (or weaker, or most unlikely) to bear the righteous seed is a third subplot that begins in Genesis. Here it takes two forms in particular that are then repeated throughout the biblical story. First, God regularly bypasses the firstborn son in carrying out his purposes (a considerable breach of the cultural rules on the part of God): not Cain but Seth, not Ishmael but Isaac, not Esau but Jacob, not Reuben but Judah. Second, the godly seed is frequently born of an otherwise barren woman (Sarah, 18:11-12; Rebekah, 25:21; Rachel, 29:31). As you read through the whole biblical story, you will want to be on the lookout for this recurring motif (see, e.g., 1 Sam 1:1-2:11; Luke 1).

Related to this theme is the fact that the chosen ones are not chosen because of their own goodness; indeed, their flaws are faithfully narrated (Abraham in Gen 12:10-20; Isaac in 26:1-11; Jacob throughout [note how dysfunctional the family is in ch. 37!]; Judah in 38:1-30). God does not choose them because of their inherent character; what makes them the godly seed is that in the end they trusted God and his promise that they would be his people-an exceedingly numerous people-and that they would inherit the land to which they first came as aliens.

A fourth subplot emerges later in the story, where Judah takes the leading role among the brothers in the long Joseph narrative (chs. 37-50). He emerges first in chapter 38, where his weaknesses and sinfulness are exposed. But his primary role begins in 43:8-9, where he guarantees the safety of his brother Benjamin, and it climaxes in his willingness to take the place of Benjamin in 44:18-34. All of this anticipates Jacob's blessing in 49:8-12, that the "scepter will not depart from Judah" (pointing to the Davidic kingdom and, beyond that, to Jesus Christ).

A fifth subplot is found in the anticipation of the next "chapter" in the story-slavery in Egypt. Interest in Egypt begins with the genealogy of Ham (10:13-14; Mizraimis Hebrew for "Egypt"). The basic family narrative (Abraham to Joseph) begins with a famine that sends Abraham to Egypt (12:10-20) and concludes with another famine that causes Jacob and the entire family to settle in Egypt, whereas Isaac, while on his way toward Egypt during another famine, is expressly told notto go there (26:1-5).

Continues.

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