Lent blog: 16 – ISRAEL IN EGYPT

Published Fri, 05/03/2021 by

The author of the Joseph cycle in the Book of Genesis is a wonderful storyteller.  If you’ve been following the suggested daily readings in the parish bulletin you will by now be deep into this enthralling story (Genesis chapters 37-50).  Alternatively, you could set aside an hour or two and easily read it in at a single sitting. 

The Joseph cycle is a fitting climax to a book of so many memorable stories.  In the figure of Joseph, the Church sees foreshadowed that of Christ.  Look at the parallels: Joseph was his Father’s beloved son; was jealously misunderstood by his brothers; rejected; sold; treated harshly; subject to unjust accusations despite his upright behaviour; imprisoned.  Though thought to have died, in God’s providence Joseph has actually gone on ahead of his family, so that he can help them survive in their time of need.  In Joseph’s wise provision of food, we see a prefiguring of Christ’s gift to the Church of the Eucharist, which sustains his spiritual family as we hunger for the bread of life.

As the book of Genesis ends, the stage is set for the escape of Israel from the oppression which ensues after Joseph’s death (typologically, the persecution of the early Church) in the dramatic events related in the first part of the next book of the Bible, Exodus.  These chapters lie at the very heart of the Church’s liturgies on Holy Thursday and at the Easter Vigil.  Every Christian should be familiar with them.  In this Year of Scripture we have the ideal opportunity to ponder them afresh.

MICHAEL KIRKHAM