a question about Genesis 46-47

From: SatTeacher@aol.com
Date: Sun Jan 27 2002 - 07:51:43 EST

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    I am teaching a Bible Study at the local YMCA once a week and a question
    arose. I was wondering if any of you could help me with it.

    Joseph said to the brothers in Genesis 46:34
    "That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our youth
    even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land
    of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians."

    Notice that Joseph uses the word "cattle."

    Now in Genesis 47 when the brothers respond to Pharaoh, they say in verse 3
    "And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said
    unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers."

    The brothers use the word "shepherds."

    When I checked Strong's concordance, I learned that two different Hebrew
    words are used.

    I do not know hebrew and never studied it so this might be my problem.

    When I was a child, I asked my father, a farmer, why the cattlemen and the
    sheep ranchers did not like each other in the old western cowboy movies I saw
    from time to time on TV. He responded that "sheep and cattle graze
    differently. Sheep eat the grass down to the roots and cows do not and are
    not able to do so. If sheep graze in a field, then the grass is too short
    for cattle to graze in that field."

    I am sure that Joseph was aware of the difference because it seems that his
    family had both cattle and sheep.

    Therefore my question is as follows:
    "Were the brothers being disobedient to Joseph when Joseph said to focus on
    the cattle and they said that they were shepherds?"

    From Genesis 46:32, Joseph planned to be totally honest with Pharoah so I do
    not think that Joseph wanted his brothers to tell a lie. But, was Joseph
    urging them to focus on the cattle even thought Pharoah would already know
    that they were shepherds also? Why were two words used in Hebrew if cattle
    tending and shepherds meant that the brothers were tending those types of
    animals in general?

    Perhaps I am making too much out of my question but I appreciated you
    thoughts and would appreciate any further thoughts you might offer.

    Thank you,

    Helen Martin

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