If you recognize the title of this week’s blog, then you’ll also know the subject matter. Joseph. No, not that Joseph (as the person behind us at Sunday night’s performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat corrected her seatmate). The other Joseph – the son of Jacob, the great-grandson of Abraham. That Joseph.
Joseph’s story appears in the final chapters of Genesis. Thirteen chapters in fact. As much space as the story gives to his father and more than to his great-grandfather. Yet Joseph’s story ends when Genesis ends. The attention given him suggests he is the fourth patriarch and his biography fits the pattern well: a younger son, someone who experiences dreams and visions, a boy who grows into manhood and also into maturity in a foreign land where God has sent him to save his family.
But… nothing. We hear about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but Joseph is not added to the formula. If fact, when the twelve tribes of Israel are listed Joseph’s name disappears. His two sons are each remembered as half-tribes. Joseph is mentioned in Hebrews 11 among the roll of the faithful (11:22). But as far as I can see he disappears.
I love the story of Joseph. One of my treasured passages of Scripture comes from the mouth of Joseph:
“ But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19-20 NIV)
My affection for this dreamer is the reason I love the Broadway show so. And his life is one to which I constantly return for inspiration in my own walk of faith. So I am distressed at his seemingly being written out of the story.
Perhaps Joseph is a reminder (not unlike the Joseph who is father to Jesus) that our place in God’s narrative begins and ends. Others will follow. Even the most important of us fade into the background of divine purpose and providence. We matter but not as much as we might assume or our pride expects.
In the words of the fictional Joseph –
“If my life were important I
Would ask will I live or die
But I know the answers lie
Far from this world.” “Close Every Door”
“Close Every Door”
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat