Genesis 50:15-21

Genesis 50:15-21
Ordinary A42


15 RealizingA that their father was dead, Joseph’sB brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudgeC against us and pays us back in fullD for all the wrongE that we didF to him?” 

Notes on verse 15

A “realizing” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
B “Joseph’s” = Yoseph. From yasaph (to add, increase, continue, exceed). This is Joseph, meaning “he increases” or “let him add.”
C “bears a grudge” = satam. 6x in OT. 2x in the Joseph cycle – Gen 49:23 in Jacob’s blessing they shot at Joseph and pressed him hard & Gen 50:15 when the brothers wonder if Joseph still bears a grudge against them; also Genesis 27:41 where Esau hated Jacob. This is to have a grudge or hate. Properly, it means lying in wait for so to persecute or oppose.
D “pays us back in full” = shub + shub. This is to turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.” The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”
E “wrong” = ra’. From ra’a’ (to be evil, bad, afflict; properly, to spoil – to destroy by breaking into pieces; figuratively, to cause something to be worthless; this is bad in a physical, social, or moral sense; that which displeases, to do harm or mischief, to punish or vex). This is bad, disagreeable, that which causes pain, misery, something having little or no value, something that is ethically bad, wicked, injury, calamity. This refers to anything that is not what it ought to be – a natural disaster, a disfigurement, an injury, a sin.
F “did” = gamal. This is how one deals with someone whether positively or negatively – so to reward, requite. It can also mean to wean or the work that goes into something ripening.

16 So they approachedG Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instructionH beforeI he died, 

Notes on verse 16

G “approached” = tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).
H “gave…instruction” = tsavah. Same as “approached” in v16. See note G above.
I “before” = paneh. Literally “before the face of.” From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.

17 ‘Say to Joseph: I begJ you, forgiveK, L the crimeM of your brothers and the wrongN they did in harmingO you.’

Notes on verse 17a

J “beg” = annah. 13x in OT. 13x in OT – 4x for beg, beseech, entreat; 9x for Alas, O, Ah. Perhaps from ahabah (love); {from aheb (to love, beloved, friend; to have affection for sexually or otherwise)} + na (I or we pray, now; used to ask for something). This word is oh, I ask you, now.
K “forgive” = nasa. This to lift in a broad sense, literally and figuratively. So it could be to carry, take, or arise. It could also be bring forth, advance, accept.
L {untranslated} = na. Related to “beg” in v17. See note I above.
M “crime” = pesha. From pasha (to rebel, offend, quarrel; making a break from proper authority so can also refer to an apostate). This is transgression, rebellion, or sin. It could be a revolt on a national scale or an individual moral one.
N “wrong” = chatta’ah. From chata’ (to miss or go wrong and so to sin, bear the blame; it can also include the sense of forfeiting or lacking). This is sin itself as well as punishment for sin. It is sometimes used specifically to refer to sin that is habitual.
O “harming” = ra’. Same as “wrong” in v15. See note E above.

Now therefore pleaseP forgive the crime of the servantsQ of the GodR of your father.” Joseph weptS when they spokeT to him. 

Notes on verse 17b

P “please” = na. Same as {untranslated} in v17. See note K above.
Q “servants” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.
R “God” = Elohim.
S “wept” = bakah. This is to weep, complain, or lament.
T “spoke” = dabar. This is generally to speak, answer, declare, or command. It might mean to arrange and so to speak in a figurative sense as arranging words.

18 Then his brothers also wept,U fell down beforeV him, and said, “WWe are here as your slaves.” 

Notes on verse 18

U “wept” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
V “before” = paneh. Same as “before” in v16. See note I above.
W {untranslated} = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!

19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid!X Am I in the placeY of God? 20 Even though you intendedZ to do harm to me, God intended it for good,AA in order to preserveBB a numerousCC people,DD as he is doing today. 

Notes on verses 19-20

X “be afraid” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
Y “place” = tachat. This is below or instead of.
Z “intended” = chashab. This is properly to braid or interpenetrate. Literally it is to create or to wear. Figuratively, it can mean plotting – generally in a negative sense. More broadly, this can also mean think, consider, or make account of.
AA “good” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.
BB “preserve” = chayah. This is to live or keep alive in a literal or figurative sense. So, it an be revive, nourish, or save.
CC “numerous” = rab. From rabab (increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.). This is abundance, many, elder, exceedingly, great. It refers to abundance of amount, rank, or status.
DD “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.

21 So have no fear; I myself will provide forEE you and your little ones.”FF In this way he reassuredGG them, speaking kindly to them.HH

Notes on verse 21

EE “provide for” = kul. This is to hold in. So, it can be to contain, measure, guide, or feed. It can also mean to be able to or sustain.
FF “little ones” = taph. From taphaph (walking along with small, tripping steps like children do). This is little ones, children, families.
GG “reassured” = nacham. Properly, this is a strong breath or a sigh. This can be to be sorry, to pity, console. Comfort, or repent. But, one can also comfort oneself with less righteous thoughts, so this can also mean to avenge oneself.
HH “kindly to them” = al + leb. Literally “to their heart.” Leb may be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.

Image credit: “Benjamin Returns to Egypt” by Owen Jones from “The History of Joseph and His Brethren,” 1869.

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