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No. 113: The Structure of the Joseph Narrative

BIBLICAL Horizons, No. 113
Copyright (c) 1999 Biblical Horizons
January, 1999

The Structure of the Joseph Narrative
(Genesis 37:2 – 50:26)

Propounded by the Theologogic James B. Jordan

A. Generations of Jacob, 37:2a

B. Joseph hated by brothers, 37:2b

C. Jacob’s discriminatory blessing, 37:3-4

D. Rule over family: vision, 37:5-11

E. Joseph seeks brothers, 37:12-17

F. Joseph "killed," 37:18-36

G. Judah’s sin, ch. 38

H. Imprisonment, though undeserved, ch. 39-40

I. Famine and Pharaoh, 41:1-45

J. World rule, 41:46-57

I’ Famine and Jacob, 42:1-4

H’ Imprisonment, though undeserved, 42:5-38*

G’ Judah’s righteousness, 43:1-15**

F’ Benjamin "killed," 43:16–44:34†

E’ Joseph saves brothers, 45:1–46:28

D’ Rule over family: fulfillment, 46:29-31‡

C’ Jacob’s discriminatory blessings, ch. 48-49

B’ Joseph feared by brothers, 50:1-21

A’ Death of Joseph, 50:22-26

*Just as Joseph was put in prison for nothing he had done wrong, so the "tyrant" Joseph puts the brothers in prison, though they had done nothing.

**Judah had been unwilling to give up his son (G.), but now gives his sons as surety for Jacob’s giving up his (G’). The theme of surety is also a parallel between these two sections.

†Joseph sets things up so that Benjamin is favored as he was, and then threatened as he was, to see if the brothers have repented.

‡Earlier the brothers had bowed to Joseph; now his father does so, fulfilling the vision fully.