Sunday, March 30, 2014
Genesis: Chapter 47
Bonds of belonging
let us live and not die!
We are the land
Do not bury me here!
[For full chapter, click here
Tensions of belonging.
Are you a sojourner /stranger (ger) or are you settled (yoshev)?
Joseph continues his battle to redefine possession. As in the case of his brothers, the tension between money, and the food needed for life. "Why should we die before you?" demand the Egyptians. First Joseph "gathers" (a play on his name Yosef--"God has gathered my shame") all the money to Pharaoh, yet the word used, "liket," is a cognate with "leket"--the leftover wheat over which one has no ownership. "Money becomes worthless" (afes ha-kesef) "the money was gone" (va-yitam ha-kesef). We move into more intimate possessions: from non-specific money, to the mikneh, the belongings and animals to which one has a relation. Finally possession is reduced to the most basic bond of belonging: the very earth (adama) from which humanity (adam) "was taken." Humanity and humous become one: "Nothing is left but our bodies our lands"; "why should we collapse, us and our land?" "Buy us and our land" "give us seed, that we may live and not die, and the land will not be desolate".
Joseph recreates his own sale, as all of Egypt become "servant/slaves" (avadim) to Pharaoh. But it is not an exchange of commodities, but of lives. The bonds of exchange have become existential and relational: "You have given us life (he-heyetanu). Let us find favor in your eyes..."
In the context of this recreated relation of man to the "earth from which you were taken," Jacob begs: Do not bury me here. Let my dust indeed return to the earth from which I came. Bury me with my fathers]