Genesis 37 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Chs. 37 50 (JE.) The Narrative of Joseph and his Brethren
The remaining chapters of the book, with the exception of chap. 38, deal with the story of Joseph. In its way this story is probably unsurpassed. Its vividness of narrative is extraordinary. It contains scenes of great pathos. In the delineation of character, it exhibits strength and simplicity of portraiture. Joseph’s career is dramatic in its vicissitudes. Throughout all the events of his chequered life, God’s overruling Providence is seen to be guiding him. He is led by the discipline of sorrow and misfortune to the position in which he is ultimately to prepare a home for his father and his brethren. His generous magnanimity recompenses with complete forgiveness the men who had basely plotted his death.
The Joseph section, 37 50, is denoted by P “These are the generations of Jacob” (Gen 37:2), just as the story of Jacob had been introduced by the summary description of P, “these are the generations of Isaac” (Gen 25:19).
The story of Joseph was deservedly a favourite among the Israelites. It was current in slightly different versions. The two versions of J and E have been combined by the Compiler. A superficial reader, perhaps, will not recognize the slight discrepancies which have survived in the composite narrative. A careful study, especially in chap. 37, enables us to distinguish the different treatment of the story. The main difference appears in the crisis of the narrative.
According to E, Joseph’s brethren, offended at his dreams, resolved to slay him, and cast his body into a tank. Reuben, secretly anxious to rescue him, prevails on his brethren to abstain from bloodshed, and to cast him alive into a tank and leave him there to his fate. A passing caravan of Midianites pull Joseph out of the tank, kidnap him (cf. Gen 40:15), and carry him away to Egypt. Reuben, on finding the tank empty, is overwhelmed with distress: see Gen 37:19-20; Gen 37:22-23 b, 24, 28 ac, 29, 30, 31 b, 34.
According to J, Joseph’s brethren, who hate him because of his father’s preference, on seeing a caravan of Ishmaelites, determine, at the urgent advice of Judah, to sell Joseph. They draw him out of the tank and sell him for 20 pieces of silver: see Gen 37:18 b, 21, 23 a, 25 27, 28 b, 31 a, 32, 33, 35.
1, 2 a (P). From P, as is shewn by the word “sojournings,” and the phrase “these are the generations,” and the mention of Joseph’s age.
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".