These chapters include a record of the descendants from Jacob, aka Israel, and his twelve sons. I wonder what these names meant to those who heard them in ancient times. What did it mean if your people were from the tribes of Gad, Asher, Dan or Naphtali–the children born of the slaves of Laban sent along as handmaidens of his daughters. Even among the sons of Leah you have the major four sons: Reuben, Simeon, Judah, and Levi. Issachar and Zebulun sort of fall in the also mentioned camp. Were you among the elite if you were among the children of Joseph & Benjamin, from Jacob’s favorite wife? (Actually, things do not go well for the descendants of Benjamin, as I recall.)
Gen. 46:8-26 goes on to list the next generation. Presumably meaningful to the ancient hearer.
In chapter 47 we sort of add another layer to the claim of Joseph’s greatness in Egypt. Not only did he save the from famine, but he is personally responsible for setting up the feudal system where the Pharaoh owns everything and receives 20% of the lands produce. Gen. 47. Sort of a big finish of a “And that’s why to this day …” type of story.
Question: What were the ancient Hebrews, my spiritual ancestors, doing differently from all of the other ancient religions/cultures? Does the book of Genesis provide a story of human behavior to be proud of? Or is it not a matter of pride but of recognizing the faith that gave rise to the faith that I practice today?