After the detailed genealogy of chapter 36, we don’t hear a lot more about Esau. With chapter 37 begins “the Joseph stories.” I am tempted to jump straight to Genesis 50:20 and simply observe that, though his brothers meant their actions for evil, God was not to be thwarted, his purpose to save a people would not fail; in fact, out of the bad God made good. But there are details, here, important details.
Joseph’s brothers already hated him but when he reported to them his dream about their sheaves bowing in obeisance to his their hatred grew. Out of hatred and envy, the brothers threw Joseph into a pit, sold him to traders on their way to Egypt, and lied to their father that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. When you think about it, that might have been the high point of these early stories. Things just go downhill from there: falsely accused by Potipher’s wife, imprisoned, and forgotten, it appeared Joseph’s life was at an end. Dreams and interpretations later, “Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt’” (41:41). Then, with famine striking, “all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth” (41:57). It appears that the stage is set for something big. Even if the players are not aware of how this ends, there is One who knows! Though written by Joachim Neander in the 17th century, they could be the words of Joseph.
Praise to the Lord, who will prosper your work and defend you;
surely his goodness and mercy shall daily attend you.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
if with his love he befriends you. -- Joachim Neander (1680)