Posted by: Pauline | August 13, 2017

Scriptures for Sunday August 20

Genesis 45:1-15

Joseph’s brothers have reason to be afraid of him, this powerful ruler over Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh. Then when they find out he is their brother Joseph, they still have reason to be afraid, because of what they did to him back when he was a teenager.

Joseph does not want them to go on living with the guilt of what they had done, however. He sees the hand of God in what happened, turning their attempt to get rid of their brother into the means of saving the lives of their family and the entire land of Egypt.

Psalm 133

This psalm extols the excellence of brothers dwelling in unity – perhaps because it seems to appear so rarely in Scripture. Joseph and his brothers certainly did not get along well. David, to whom this psalm is attributed, had plenty of conflict in his family, first with his own brothers, and then among his sons. In a larger context, the people of Israel, all descendants of Jacob, often had conflicts among the different tribes.

We need some cultural context in order to understand why unity among brothers is compared to oil running down someone’s beard or to dew from Mount Hermon winding up near Jerusalem. But these are clearly superlatives intended to show just how wonderful unity is, and our own experiences of family – in unity or disunity – confirm the psalmist’s elevated praise for living in harmony.

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