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Joseph.

Joseph.

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Published by glennpease
BY ALEXANDER GARDINER MERCER, D.D.


GENESIS XXXVII.

We have in this chapter an interesting picture of
human life, — of the human heart. It is the beginning
of the tale of Joseph, which is the best known and
perhaps the most interesting of all the early tales of
the world.
BY ALEXANDER GARDINER MERCER, D.D.


GENESIS XXXVII.

We have in this chapter an interesting picture of
human life, — of the human heart. It is the beginning
of the tale of Joseph, which is the best known and
perhaps the most interesting of all the early tales of
the world.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 14, 2014
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JOSEPH. BY ALEXADER GARDIER MERCER, D.D. GEESIS XXXVII. We have in this chapter an interesting picture of human life, — of the human heart. It is the beginning of the tale of Joseph, which is the best known and perhaps the most interesting of all the early tales of the world. This beginning groups together the past, the present, and the future : the past in the figure of Jacob the father, — a glimpse backward into the wonderful years of his life ; the present, in the picture of his grown sons ; the future, in the boy Joseph, and in the glimpse of anticipation into' his high life and history. The patriarch appears here as the figure of a man who after a life of trouble seems about to begin an old age of comfort, surrounded by children. But now, in fact, was about to begin (and such is often the case in human life) that second era of troubles, the troubles which were to come to him through his own offspring. The record of the patriarchs just as fathers is curious to read. Abraham, a strong character, seemed to over- shadow and repress his son Isaac ; the good, but some- what weak Isaac was a tool in the hands of his wife 55 $6 BIBLE CHARACTERS. Rebekahy and of his crafty son Jacob; and Jacob, in has turn, suffered from his own large household of bad or
 
indifferent sons. Of the three patriarchs, Abraham seems the only good father, and yet his was too power- ful a nature to allow the proper growth of his son ; he was like a tree of heavy and thick shade, under which Isaac could not flourish. So we see the difficulties of being a good parent, since the extremes of repression on one side, and of indulgence on the other, equally injure. As an instance of the effect of parental weakness, as opposed to the parental force of Abraham, see here the fact, that the second era of the troubles of Jacob was to spring out of his love, his weak, ill-regulated love, as rich a source of woes as hate is. Such an indifferent brood of sons as he had could hardly have been matured under a wise discipline. ay, we have a small instance of the weakness of Jacob's love before us, — small, but of dire effect. ''ow Israel loved Joseph more than all his children/' and, knowing what Joseph was, we cannot consider it blamable that his father should love him most. But parental partiality, though often a virtue rather than *a vice, cannQt be too carefully guarded, or bitter fruits will be reaped in the hearts of children. Jacob's pride in Joseph made him imprudent in the showing of it, and imprudence jrou know b punished in this world often more heavily than crime. It was certainly so in Jacob's case. The old man, in the fondness of his heart, made JOSEPH. 57 Joseph " a coat of many colors,*' and decked the beautiful lad in this gay and splendid garment. This lavish pride and preference he seems to have shown in many ways. " And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.*' This feeling was much increased by Joseph himself ; for he " dreamed a dream,'* and told it unto his brethren. It was the dream
 
of the sheaves. And again he told them how, in an- other dream of his, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars made obeisance to him. ow there are a great many things well enough for us to know, but not to tell, especially things which look conceited. Prudence is a great virtue. I don*t know, however, what it was that led Joseph to tell his dreams. Just as in life a man's acts and character may well mean either one of two things, so here. Perhaps it was a youthful conceit in Joseph, and antagonism toward his brethren, and if so he was punished. But I suppose it was not this. I see nothing of this kind in his noble character. The telling of his flattering dreams seems rather like a mark of special innocency, and the absence of the very conceit it looked most like. He either told them in a thoughtless way, or, if he considered the dreams a prophecy of his great future, he felt about it all as if it were a divine fact which was far from rousing pride in him, and so he just went and told his brethren all about it. 58 BIBLE CHARACTERS, Have you never seen such unconscious and innocent natures ? The greatest egotism, in appearance, is often shown where there is the most beautiful freedom from it, and where there is only a simple-hearted and quite unselfish interest in the proud fact. Many, perhaps all, the Old Testament heroes, viewed in a vulgar way, are g^at egotists. Paul also showed gr^at egotism in the same style, — speaking high things of himself just as a matter of fact. But in this case of Joseph, it certainly did seem to be such an excess as shocked even old Jacob, and it completed the jealous hate of the brothers. On a certain day when there was a chance, these brothers, being filled with rancor, designed Joseph's

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