Evil Deeds, Divine or Otherwise (Gen. 37-50)

We’ve already talked a bit about Joseph here on HoleyBooks, but I think there’s one more issue worth mentioning. As the story goes, Joseph saves the day with his food storage program, and forgives his brothers for selling him into slavery. That’s quite an admirable gesture. During their reconciliation, Joseph claims that God acted through their evil deeds so that lives could be spared from the famine (Gen. 45:5-9). Later, after Jacob’s death, Joseph again reassures his brothers that although their intentions were evil, God’s intentions were good, and that through them this good was possible (Gen. 50:19-20). This seems completely reasonable given the outcome, but if true, creates some problems.

If God used Joseph’s brothers as a tool to reach a certain end, God would be violating human free will. If that’s the case, how do we know when someone is acting on their own or when God is acting as puppeteer? Perhaps this is why we should forgive those who sin against us, because, really it might not be their fault. Yikes.

If God is acting through Joseph’s brothers, and that action is immoral, he is (by the power of the transitive property!) acting immorally. This actually makes things easier. If God isn’t, by definition, perfectly good, then that whole origin of evil problem gets a little less difficult.

Lastly, as the Almighty, if you’re goal is to get your nation to move down to Egypt, which is easier to pull off: manipulate a family so that they betray a brother and sell him into slavery, orchestrate the rise of that brother to the highest power (short of Pharaoh) in the most dominant civilization in the area, warn the brother about the famine you’re about to cause so he can be the hero, cause the famine, and finally, sit back and watch as your nation moves into Egypt to avoid starvation; or, simply come down for lunch one day and tell the nation to move to Egypt in person?

Each of the above problems certainly warrant more discussion. For HoleyBooks, I think it’s enough to point out that this seemingly innocent ending, when read critically, tears more holes, that aren’t easily patched, in the sails of a narrative that already lets most of the breeze through.



This entry was posted in Blog Post and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.