Part One

"And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: for God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction." (Genesis 41:50-52) Imagine this. Joseph, with his unparalleled backstory, has been brought out into "a large room" (Psalm 31:8). He hasn't forgotten God, no. But he has indeed forgotten all the past misery and affliction. His brothers having dipped his coat of many colors in the blood of a goat (see Genesis 37). That always stood out to me. All that aside, he names his first son "Manasseh" meaning in the Hebrew "causing to forget" (Strong's). Again, you can imagine the stigma of being the second-to-last son of Israel. The first born himself, of Rachel. The one to whom God "hearkened...and opened her womb". (Genesis 30:22). He and his younger brother Benjamin (after whose pregnancy, Rachel passed away) may have been seen with a kind of reverse nepotism by the other ten brothers--if that makes sense. So it's Joe and Ben. And the other brothers are jealous and so they tear the former away from the latter and also all that he had ever known (you have to remember that Jacob wanted Rachel more than he wanted Leah). I don't have any (human) children but I can imagine when Joseph looks into the eyes of his son, he sees an opportunity to escape the horror of the past twenty (?) years. Praise God. But even through all this, he hasn't forgotten the God of his fathers. The blessing of Abraham is coursing through his spirit and God is using him to wrench from Egypt the sustenance needed to in turn come back and gift his brothers with the opposite of what he received. That is what Jesus would do, ladies and gentlemen. And Joseph is about to get another son.

"Lord, Thou hast heard the desire of the humble: Thou wilt prepare their heart, Thou wilt cause Thine ear to hear: To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress." (Psalm 10:17-18)

Interesting how the psalmist describes God's attributes (i.e. hearing) as something He can turn on and off at will. I suppose we could do the same, the difference between hearing and listening. Anyways. And before I go any further, before we forget about Manasseh, and his inherent (positive) forgetfulness, have you ever had a mediocre day, only to encounter a potential setback that throws you for an even greater loop? And when the "setback" is cleared away, you actually feel better about the whole of your day, the false alarm being a somewhat inverted buoy? God is cool that way. Okay. Son number two. Joseph names his second born "Ephraim". His name means "double fruit" in Hebrew. We make the jump (yes, because this is part and parcel of Judeo-Christian heritage--there is more than homiletical reason for the content of our Old and New testaments) from "forgetting those things which are behind" to "reaching forth unto those things which are before" (Philippians 3:13). Remember, God gave Job "twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10) so why wouldn't He rinse and repeat with with Joe, er, Joseph (excuse me). Why indeed.

"And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb." (Genesis 25:23-24)

So what's the point to all this? Look at the duality that turns around Jacob. Himself, a twin, the second born at that, who wanted to be first. He struggles with Esau and tricks him out of his birthright. Did God's prophecy to Rebekah in the above passage more than presage, but either cause if not, sanction the outcome of, not just, Jacob's but also Joseph's life? I don't know. I don't think so. I suppose the point, in closing part one, would be, that from so simple and quiet a beginning, the most polarizing of events can occur. And (and) that God can bring beauty out of the midst.