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The Missions of Joseph and David

The Missions of Joseph and David

One of the most fascinating ways to study bible is to compare and contrast similar stories and texts. Both Joseph and David were sent by their respective fathers to visit brothers

who hated them. The story of Joseph’s mission led to his becoming the viceroy of Egypt, saving his family and preparing the land for the more tan two century stay of Israel in Egypt. David’s mission brought him to the glorious battle against Goliath and to the attention of King Saul and all the people of Israel. It led to his first public steps toward becoming king.

The story of Joseph is in this week’s portion, Vayeishev, Genesis 37:12-14. The story of David’s mission is in Samuel I, 17:12:18.
In both stories a father sends a son to visit his brothers and report back on their situation. Both stories begin with the brothers leaving, either to take care of their flocks or to go into battle. David’s brothers were in danger. They were in a war. We can understand why Jesse wanted David to find out how they were doing. It is more difficult to understand why Jacob needed a report on his sons who were simply shepherding the family’s flocks. Can you think of any reason that Jacob feared for their safety? (See Rashbam, Genesis 37:13)
The brothers in both stories hate the brother who is sent to visit with them. We know that Joseph’s brothers hated and were envious of him. See Samuel I 16:5-13 to learn more about the relationship of David and his brothers. Consider that the family continued to send David to shepherd their flocks even after the prophet Samuel had anointed David as the next king.
Compare the reaction of Joseph’s brothers to his visit, Genesis 37:18-19, and David’s brother, Eliab, in Samuel I 17:28.
Compare the reactions of Joseph and David to their respective receptions; Genesis 45:5-9 and Samuel I 17:30-32.
In both stories the families knew that the younger brother was destined for an important leadership role. Did Jacob and Jesse consider the destinies of their sons when they sent them on their visits?
Can you find similarities in the two texts? For example: The Hebrew word for “go”, “HLC”, appears numerous times in both stories. Consider the numerous mentions of the phrase, “your brothers” in both stories.
Is it possible that Jesse had the story of Joseph in mind when he sent David to the battlefield?
Were their respective missions important for their development as leaders?



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