Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
I’d like to point out something about the first reading from Chapter 37 of Genesis. It tells the story of how Joseph came to be carried off to Egypt. But actually it tells two stories of how it might have happened.
Both versions of what happened tell how when the brothers saw Joseph coming, filled with jealousy over his being their father’s favorite, they talked about killing him. His brother Reuben, however, suggested throwing Joseph into the depths of a dried up cistern there. His brothers wanted him to starve to death down there, but Reuben had the intention of pulling him up later. Then, they went off, and sat down to eat. From that point on we have two different stories.
In one version of what happened, Joseph’s oldest brother, Reuben, planned on coming back to pull Joseph up, but while they were eating, some Midianite traders, coming by, and hearing Joseph call, pulled him up. They took him off to Egypt, then, when Reuben came back, looking for him, Joseph was gone, and it wasn’t till years later that they learned what had happened to him.
In the other version of how Joseph was carried off; the brothers had thrown him into the cistern, then sat down to eat. However, they saw some Ishmaelites coming by on their gum laden camels. It was Joseph’s brother Judah who suggested keeping Joseph alive by selling him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.
Which ever way it happened, it occurred before 1700 B.C.. Then, in 580 B.C. when the tribes came together in Babylon, and sitting down to put their history into writing; the oral historians from the tribe of Reuben remembered how their ancestor had tried saving Joseph; while the oral historians of the tribe of Judah had passed down the story of how it had been their ancestor Judah who had tried to save Joseph.
There were two opposite stories of how it might have happened. That tells us that the Bible stories needn’t be accurate.