Genesis Day 67: Transition Points: Settling the Family
Today, perhaps, we are more used to blended families. At least we would like to think we are more accepting.
I am not sure whether we are or are not. My dad once told me that when Italians and Irish and Polish men stood shoulder to shoulder in a foxhole, or when they were firing a 16-inch shell from a battleship, they didn’t much care what each other’s ethnicity was. (My mind goes to how we segregated African Americans for many years, but for now I want to stay on point with today’s text.)
We are naturally proud of our heritage. And it’s good to celebrate our differences, what makes us unique. However, too often our pride turns to prejudice.
What can we do when these so-called divisions enter our family?
One suggestion is to not emphasize the difference, but instead, to emphasize the unity of family.
Today Jacob is dealing with an important family matter—Joseph’s two Egyptian sons.
Recall how many times we have read how this clan of Abraham was concerned with intermarriage. If I were in the fourth generation (one of Joseph’s brothers), I am sure this family ideal would have been drummed into me, over and over.
Again, if I were one of Joseph’s brothers, I would find myself in the middle of a series of conflicting thoughts and emotions. First, he has saved me, and all my family. This brother who I threw into a pit and sold into slavery. He seems to have forgiven me, but I am having trouble accepting it. I find myself in a foreign nation, that he oversees. He in fact has taken a foreign wife. How would I feel about his children?
I find myself with a flood of emotions.
Watch what Jacob does. He holds a ceremony and welcomes Joseph’s two sons into the family.
5 And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. 6 And the children that you fathered after them shall be yours. They shall be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance.
The text says that for Jacob (Israel) to do this, he mustered all his strength. At the end of his years, he no doubt has people attending to him. They summon Joseph and the boys…Jacob warmly welcomes them with a kiss and a blessing—this family ceremony leaves no doubt—they are family. This is no secret meeting. This is Jacob publicly proclaiming the family’s unity—and the blessing he pronounces is beautiful.
In the chapter right before, we enter this time of transition. New land. New neighbors. New nephews. New everything. That’s why it matters how Jacob and his family get started.
God has blessed Jacob with wisdom. He has been to see Pharaoh, even pronouncing God’s blessing on him. Now, he has poured out his love, his acceptance, and his blessing on his two newfound grandsons.
When we are in transitions—how we start matters. And the leaders set the tone, don’t they!? I love looking at Joseph, Pharaoh and Jacob’s actions here from a leadership standpoint.