Judah and Joseph
Just the gist (for small children and others with tiny attention spans):
Judah is the brother from which the line of kings will come, including the most important king of all.
Joseph was favorited by his father Jacob so much so that his father gave him a beautiful coat of many colors. Joseph’s brothers were not down with the favoritism and sold Joseph into slavery. While captive in Egypt, he translated the Pharoah’s dreams that predicted seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Impressed, Pharoah made Joseph second in charge of Egypt in order to prepare the country for the seven years of famine during the seven years of plenty. Joseph forgave his brothers and brought his whole family into Egypt so that they wouldn’t starve.
For those that can handle just a bit more:
Most Jesse Trees I’ve come across have Joseph in the tree, so I was surprised to find out that Jesus is not a descendant of Joseph but of his brother Judah. Then I read the story of Judah in Genesis Chapter 38 and could see why Joseph is the preferred story to tell at Christmas time. Judah’s story is not Christmas talk.
There are two important things to know about Judah for our story:
- Judah had a son named Perez who is a genealogical step closer to the promised savior
- Judah received this blessing from his father Israel: Judah’s tribe would be the royal tribe in Israel and important kings would descend from him. Including the most important one of all, whom we’ll meet on Day 25.
And now for the story of Joseph, the story that is Christmas talk.
Joseph was Jacob’s first born by his wife Rachel (Judah’s mother was Leah). Not only did he have dreams of ruling over his brothers and then tell them about said dreams he also tattled on them to their father (Genesis 37:2). In addition, he was Jacob’s obvious favorite. So favorited was Joseph that Jacob got out the ole sewing machine and stitched together a lovely robe of many colors for Joseph.
The combination of these things made his brothers hate him so much that they plotted his murder, but settled on selling him into slavery and convincing their father he had been torn to pieces by a wild animal. (Someone being torn to pieces normally isn’t Christmas talk, but since it wasn’t real, I’ll allow it).
Joseph was sold to Potiphar, the captain of Pharoah’s guard and did well in his position, for God was helping him along by making everything that Joseph did prosper. Potiphar took notice and ended up making Joseph his consigliare.
Apparently, Joseph was attractive because the Bible described him as both handsome and good-looking. (Genesis 39:6) Normally this would be a good thing, but not when you’re a slave and your master’s wife keeps batting her eyelashes at you.
The ensuing events aren’t really Christmas talk, but know that it ended with Potiphar’s wife lying and Joseph finding himself in prison. (Genesis 39:7-20)
Sometime later, the butler and the baker both made the king mad and found themselves imprisoned with Joseph. Both had dreams and were troubled that there was no one to decipher them. Joseph interpreted their dreams and asked them to remember him with Pharoah (well, one of them. The other one became indisposed in a non-Christmas talk kind of way [Genesis 40:22]).
The butler forgot until Pharoah started having weird-o dreams that no one in the kingdom could explain. It was then that he told Pharoah about Joseph, the imprisoned dream interpreter, whom Pharoah sent for immediately.
Pharaoh spoke to Joseph of fat cows followed by gaunt cows who ate the fat cows but still looked gaunt (The diet industry has been trying to replicate this ever since). He then dreamed of fat ears of grain followed by sickly ears of grain that ate up the fat ears.
Joseph said, “The seven fat things are seven years of plenty and the seven not-so-fat things are seven years of famine that will consume the land. And that you dreamt twice about this means that God wanted to send the message that this is for realsies. Pharoah, you’re going to need to appoint an overseer to store up food during the years of plenty in order to prepare for the years of famine so that your kingdom won’t die out.”
“Sounds like you’re the man for the job,” Pharoah said. Since God was obviously with Joseph, Pharoah decided to make him second in charge of all of Egypt. He also gave him a bunch of nice clothes and a wife (Genesis 41:39-45). Not too bad for an ex-con.
During the seven years of plenty, Joseph worked hard to make sure gobs of food was stored so that when the seven years of famine started, Egypt would have a massive food surplus from which to eat. People from all over the known world journeyed to Egypt to buy grain, including Joseph’s brothers who had been sent by Israel (Jacob). Joseph engaged in some shenanigans with them (Genesis 42), but in the end, he invited Israel and all his family out to Egypt to live. He forgave his brothers and the Israelites lived happily ever after in Goshen, Egypt. For a little while.
Christmas for Beginners is now available in book form! Click here to take your Advent readings Old School.