When Was Joseph Sold? -- By: Smith B. Goodenow
BSac 44:175 (July 1887) p. 553
When Was Joseph Sold?
A Critical Study Of Genesis 37.
Without troubling ourselves concerning the “higher criticism” of Genesis, we all have long acknowledged that its events are not in all cases recorded in exact chronological order. In Gen. 37:2, 14, “Joseph being seventeen years old,” Jacob “sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.” I judge that this account of Joseph belongs directly after 33:18, with only 35:1–5, (9–15), 27 between. The writer at 33:18, having mentioned “Shechem,” thinks best to go on and tell all about the residence there at a later date, leaving the account of Joseph’s departure to come near to the whole story of his life, as a closing-up of the book.
Order Of Events.
The real order of events seems to be this: Jacob found the vicinity of Shechem to be a good country for his flocks, and therefore, either at first or afterwards, he “bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent” (33:19), for a residence there. But he now tarried not long, for he must reach his father Isaac, whom he had not seen for so long. So he passed on to Bethel (35:1–5), where God appeared to him again (9–15); and he soon reached his father at Hebron (27). Isaac seems to have moved thither from Beer-Sheba, farther south, where Jacob left him in going to Haran (28:10). Here Jacob resided near his father for some years, but sent his flocks back (more or less) to the better pasturage about Shechem, where, in charge of his sons, a part of the flocks may have lingered even from the first. When Jacob had been from Haran ten or twelve years, the departure of Joseph to Shechem from “the vale of Hebron” took place, as in chapter 37. Soon after the loss of his son, Jacob himself seems to have moved to Shechem, where he had already bought a home (as we saw), in order to be near the flocks, and nearer his sons who were getting settled in life; perhaps, also, with a secret hope of yet finding Joseph, who had been so mysteriously lost in the wilds near Shechem (33:18–20). But the trouble that there occurred about his daughter Dinah (chapter You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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