christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

genesis 41:1-37, the answer of peace

"God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace."

Genesis 41:16

Read Genesis 41:1-44:17 at Bible Gateway.

teaching tools of scripture

outline of genesis according to its hebrew paragraph divisions

Torah portion miketz is a single weak paragraph according to the Hebrew paragraph divisions:

Gen 41:1-44:17 {s} Joseph the overseer

The single chiastic structure formed by miketz is posted here. Normally an annual torah portion is subdivided by its paragraphs and strong themes. We don’t have that this week, but miketz is subdivided by its ancient triennial cycle torah portion divisions:

Gen 41:1-37, triennial cycle miketz, “at the end”
Gen 41:38-42:17, triennial cycle hanimtza, “can we find”
Gen 42:18-43:23, triennial cycle vayomer eleichem, “he said to them”
Gen 43:24-44:17, triennial cycle vayavei ha-ish, “then the man brought”

Gen 41:1-37 makes an interesting pair of chiastic structures:

Gen 41:1-15
1) Gen 41:1-7, Pharaoh dreamed two dreams in one night;
2) Gen 41:8, He sent for the magicians and wise men, but none could interpret the dreams;
3) Gen 41:9-13, The chief butler told Pharaoh about Joseph who interprets dreams;
central axis) Gen 41:14, Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon;
1) Gen 41:15a, And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream;
2) Gen 41:15b, And there is none that can interpret it;
3) Gen 41:15c, And I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.

Gen 41:16-37
1a) Gen 41:16, Joseph answered Pharaoh, God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace;
1b) Gen 41:17-24a, Pharaoh relates his dreams;
central axis) Gen 41:24b, I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me;
2b) Gen 41:25-32, Joseph relates the interpretation;
2a) Gen 41:33-37, Joseph’s wise counsel is God’s answer of peace.

I was struck by the A pair. Here was Joseph, wrongfully enslaved, wrongfully accused, living in the midst of a pagan land who does not know God. In fact, Joseph was living in the land Scripture identifies as a type of kingdom of darkness. He is taken before the ruler of that land, who believed himself to be the voice and embodiment of their sun god for that generation. The dreams themselves are dreams of destruction. They do not have a happy end.

So what does Joseph say? “God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” And then, through Joseph’s wise counsel, God gives Pharaoh an answer of peace, an answer to the destruction and the doom and gloom. I just wonder if one of us were in Joseph’s shoes, would we say to “Pharaoh” in the nation’s capital, “God shall give you an answer of peace?” I can’t think of many that would.

Perhaps God is more generous than we are giving Him credit for. When we were His enemies, ignorant, and lost outside of the covenant of promise, He loved us and gave us an answer of peace, and caused us to be reborn into His family, rather than destroyed as an outsider. We deserved wrath, and He gave us peace instead. As long as it is still called “Today,” not the Day of the Lord, perhaps God yet has an answer of peace for us and for our country. I believe He does.


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