The Land of Goshen
The older I get, the more mysterious the Word becomes. After reading scripture, in fact the same book for forty years, one would think it would be exhausted of any new benefit to the reader. I must admit, that most books seem to me worthy of one read at best, and then only if I am captured within a few chapters. Herein lies the mystery of the Bible. I have read large portions of other sacred texts, but none come near the wonder I find in this one book of books. Of course, the critic might warn that I read too much into my morning sessions with this literary companion. Perhaps my approach is less scholarly than necessary, being ill trained to interpret, though I do hold three degrees? LOL, grace is a wonderful thing!
The beauty is the encouragement I have found for my life journey. Often, when I would rather just read the newspaper in the morning, I am compelled to pick up this leather book that sits beside my favorite chair. Not in a religious or guilt laden way, but more the way one is inclined to begin talking to a close friend who happens to walk into the same room. Its a natural thing.
This morning, as in years past, I was again warmed by the story of Joseph, as he makes himself known to the brothers (with which I can so identify). Sub-consciously aware of what they had done to their younger brother, they are totally unaware that this national leader for whom they must now depend upon for food in time of famine, is actually that brother. If you have never read the story you should.
Joseph is a Christ type, sovereignly moved to a place of intercession, though the means God used for His perfect will were the very character flaws resident in each brother (hello). “But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Gen 45:7 NIV. What to them seemed sin, was to Joseph providence. He saw clearly what they saw dimly or not at all. In fact, they were at first terrified when Joseph revealed that he was the one they had earlier sold into slavery, though now holding the power of life and death. They had not been with him when he stepped out of the room, overcome with joy upon seeing all his brothers in the same room, after all their years of separation.
“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have.” Gen 45:8-11 NIV.
Again, being less scholarly than most of my readers, I did a quick Google search: Goshen, “which in its Hebrew form has no known meaning, may mean “cultivated”—comparing the Arabic root j-š-m, ‘to labor.’ Though many have searched for an Egyptian meaning to Goshen, it seems that there is only meaning through Hebrew, as if it were a word meaningful only to the Hebrews who settled there. The ancient rabbis who divided the Torah into weekly portions emphasized that they saw the name Goshen as connected to the verb NaGaSh (נִגַּשׁ), to approach. The Torah portion (Genesis 44:18—47:27) in which Goshen is first mentioned is known by its first Hebrew word, vaYi(n)gash, וַיִּגַּשׁ , “Then Judah approached(Joseph)…” You gotta love Wikipedia!
If Joseph was a type of Christ, then is Goshen symbolic of the Kingdom of God? Is this that wardrobe veiled place that C.S. Lewis attempted to communicate, where we may approach the King…our brother? A real place of habitation for us, our children and grandchildren, yet far enough removed from Egypt that it prevents our becoming a part of that culture? So as not to be offend my Egyptian friends, perhaps symbolic of our co-dependence upon materialistic things? Is Goshen, a place where our lives are individually cultivated for such a time that we will be taken elsewhere, collectively from all tribes and nations, brought into a new land, once this time of “famine” is over?
Beulah land, I’m longing for you!