The Bible

Joseph's Unique Place in Genesis

The central, overarching story in Genesis is the account of the fathers of Israel, which contains the individual stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and finally Joseph. Although each account is compiled together, there is a fundamental shift in the authors' presentation of God once the narrative of Joseph's life begins. God is an active player, who speaks and even physically intercedes, in the lives of the first three Patriarchs as he directs their lives with his commands and promises. Within the story of Joseph's life, however, from chapters thirty-seven through fifty with the exception of chapter thirty-eight, God is not an active character in the narrative. Divine influence on this fourth generation Hebrew is undeniable, since he is able to accurately interpret dreams and seems to innately know God's will, but the deity never makes himself known to Joseph as he does to the man's three predecessors. This shift in the role of God may simply indicate an author who is speaking from a tradition separate from the J or Priestly traditions, or it may be symbolic in that Joseph, while blessed, is not as close to God as his fathers. Regardless of the historical reasons, the story of Joseph's life in the text of...

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