Saturday, December 20, 2008

Joseph's Dream and Psalm 126

we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves came round about, and bowed down to my sheaf

My friend Alex recently pointed out that there are only two places in the Bible where the Hebrew word Aluma (sheave) is used. The first time is in Joseph's first dream (Genesis 37:7) and the second time is Psalms (126:6).

I love textual parallels, and I wonder if this one is significant. Joseph's life is perhaps the classic story of holding onto faith. Betrayed by his brothers, jailed by his master, Joseph rises to win
Pharaoh's trust and becomes his most powerful advisor. Then, in Genesis 45:8, during an emotional reunion with his brothers, he tells them not to fear his retribution because

it was not you that sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and ruler over all the land of Egypt

At a moment where Joseph could be forgiven for feeling at least some animosity towards those same brothers who sold him into slavery, he reassures them: God did this, not you. God's hand was in my life, from the very start to the present.

This is a deep faith.

Perhaps this is also the faith echoed in Psalm 126, that other reference to sheaves. Here, we sing

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Though he goes on his way weeping carrying the seed bag, he shall come home with joy, bearing his sheaves.

I cannot help wonder - did the Psalmist have Joseph's faith in mind?

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