Reading through the narrative in Genesis 37-50, using the English Standard Version and the New International Version, it is easy to see the significance of Genesis 37 to the entire narrative. There are many key features in Genesis 37 that are of importance. In verses 7 and 9, Joseph’s dreams are allegorical as they represent the rest of Joseph’s narrative in symbolizing Pharaoh’s dream about the famine that is ahead shown in Genesis 41 and then in 41:53 when the famine occurs over the entire land. The dreams also represent how Joseph’s brothers would in fact bow down to him one day when he was governor over Egypt during the famine.
In the two dreams we see Joseph’s brothers bowing to him, and the theme is presented that Joseph is going to play a significant role in the narrative. We see this theme at the beginning of Genesis 37 as well in verse 3 that “Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age.” The theme of Joseph’s importance flows right into another theme that the author intended to present as significant in the hatred and jealousy that Joseph’s brothers had for him. In verses 4, 8, 11 and 18 we see the repetition of the brother’s hate for Joseph, which creates foreshadowing of events to come in later chapters. The author’s intention for the audience is for them to know of Joseph’s significance to the narrative, as well as the trouble that is ahead for him. Through the repeated theme of his brother’s hate for him in the first half of Genesis 37, the audience knows that something is going to happen to him. All of this plays into helping to understand the high level of significance of Joseph, and Genesis 37 ends with the audience wanting to know what will happen to him.
Check back tomorrow for more about Genesis 37 as we learn what happened to Joesph, what the author intended for the audience then and what we can learn now.