Read Genesis 37:1-40:23 at Bible Gateway.
teaching tools of scripture
outline of genesis according to its hebrew paragraph divisions
This Torah portion forms its own chiastic structure:
Gen 37:1-40:23 p+s+p+p
1a) Gen 37:1-4, The history of Jacob: Jacob loved Joseph and honored him;
1b) Gen 37:5-11, Joseph had two dreams;
1c) Gen 37:12-27, Joseph’s advancement and debasement:
– 1c.1) Gen 37:12-17, Jacob sent Joseph to his brothers as his overseer;
– 1c.2) Gen 37:18-23, Joseph’s brothers conspired against him;
– 1c.3) Gen 37:24-27, Joseph cast down into a pit;
1d) Gen 37:28-36 p, The Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potipher, an officer of Pharaoh;
central axis) Gen 38:1-30 s, Judah among the Canaanites;
2d) Gen 39:1, Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potipher, an officer of Pharaoh, bought him of the Ishmaelites;
2c) Gen 39:2-23, Joseph’s advancement and debasement:
– 2c.1) Gen 39:2-6, The LORD was with Joseph, and Potipher put him over all his house;
– 2c.2) Gen 39:7-19, Poitpher’s wife conspired against Joseph;
– 2c.3) Gen 39:20-23 p, Joseph cast down into prison;
2b) Gen 40:1-22, Joseph interprets two dreams;
2a) Gen 40:23 p, The chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.
The weak paragraph of the central axis also forms its own chiastic structure with an unusual central axis itself:
Gen 38:1-30 s
1a) Gen 38:1-10, Two sons of Judah by the Canaanite woman;
1b) Gen 38:11, Judah promised Shelah to widowed Tamar;
1c) Gen 38:12-18, Tamar conceives by ‘harlotry’;
1d) Gen 38:20, Judah could not find the ‘harlot’;
central axis) Gen 38:21, “Then he asked the men of that place, saying, ‘Where is the harlot who was openly by the roadside?’ And they said, ‘There was no harlot in this place.’”
2d) Gen 38:22-23, Judah could not find the ‘harlot’;
2c) Gen 38:24-25, Tamar found with child by ‘harlotry’;
2b) Gen 38:26, Judah acknowledged that he broke his promise to Tamar;
2a) Gen 38:27-30, Two sons of Judah by Tamar.
That makes Gen 38:21 the central axis of the whole Torah portion. You know, this makes no sense to human logic. But Tamar was labeled as someone she was not. Judah in fact, saw himself as someone he was not, because I believe he departed from his brothers to dwell among the Canaanites, because he had a guilty conscience for selling his brother into slavery. By departing from his brothers and living among the Canaanites, he was removing himself from the promise and inheritance of Abraham. I believe he felt he was not worthy of God. Joseph, also, was labeled as someone he was not. Slave and criminal was not his true identity.
In the end, God revealed the true identities of all three as his own. Tamar is forever honored as one of only four foremothers (of all the righteous foremothers from Sarah down) in the genealogy of Jesus. Each time worship is given to King Jesus, the Lion of Judah, Judah, His father in the flesh, is honored. And Joseph’s true identity and destiny is about to be revealed, which is not as a slave or a criminal. *smile*