Skip to main content

Jospeh's Bones (Genesis 5:24-25)

I've been thinking this week about the bones of Joseph. There is a strange little bit at the end of the book of Genesis where Joseph tells his family that when the time comes for Israel to return to the land of Canaan he wants his bones taken with them (Gen 50:24-25). I've read it many times and not given it much thought. But this week I was struck by the fact that this is really strange.

Think about it for a second. Joseph has seen four generations of his children born in Egypt (50:23). He was given the highest non-hereditary office in the land of Egypt (41:41-3). He married into a high status family in Egypt (41:45). He became the saviour of Egypt and surrounding lands during a terrible famine (41:56-57). So in Egypt he has family, wealth, success, prestige and honour, everything that the world could offer. What better resting place could there be for his bones? Why would he want his bones taken back to Canaan, the land of his childhood where he was a spoilt brat hated by his brothers?

But it is not nostalgia that motivates Joseph. He does not call Canaan "the land of my childhood", but "the land that God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." Jacob's motivation is not in the past but in the future. Even after all he had in the land of Egypt his heart was in the promises of God for the future. What a challenge to us! How attached are we to this world and what it gives us? Is our heart really in the future promised by God or are we happy for our "bones" to rest for ever in the blessings of this world? For as Jesus said, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt 6:21).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

That one time Jesus got the Bible wrong

It's so typical isn't it? You are preaching all day long, training your disciples, sparring with the Pharisees, encouraging the poor and down trodden, healing the sick and casting out demons, all day, day after day, and even when you go up a mountain to get a rest the crowds hunt you down and follow you up, and then the one time you get a bit muddled up with some of the details of a biblical text . . . that is the one they write down in the first gospel - verbatim. At least Matthew and Luke had the good sense to do some editing. But Mark, he always had his eye on giving the public the "historical Jesus" whoever that is supposed to be . . . warts and all. Thanks a lot Mark!

Some think I made the mistake on purpose, just to show the Pharisees up.

For some there is no mistake worth mentioning, only a slightly ambiguous turn of phrase.

Others think I am doing something tricky with Abiathar's name, getting him to figuratively stand in for the priesthood.

It really has…

Thor Ragnarok and Parihaka: Postcolonial Apocalypse

Thor: Ragnarok is a riot of colour, sound, violence, humour, sci-fi and fantasy. As a piece of entertainment it is the best Marvel has produced so far. As in many of Taika Waititi's films the plot often seems secondary to the humour and a number of quirky moments seemed only to serve for a quick giggle. I left the theatre overwhelmed by the sensory experience, but ultimately unimpressed by any deeper meaning.

It wasn't until the second morning after my trip to the movies that I woke to the realisation that the movie could function as a profound postcolonial metaphor (I do some of my best thinking while alseep, also it can take me a while for the penny to drop). Unfortunately a quick google showed me that I was neither the first, nor the second to have this thought.

[Spoiler Alert!]

It's easy to miss with all the other stuff going on but Thor undergoes a postcolonial awakening during the film as he slowly realises that his beloved Asgard and its dominion of the nine realms …

Dale Martin does Mark

Dale Martin is an important and frequently controversial NT scholar. Those of us who can't make it to Yale to hear him teach can access some of his lectures, in fact his entire introduction to the NT course, through the magic of the internet.

Here he is holding forth on Mark . . .