a question about Genesis 46-47

From: PHSEELY@aol.com
Date: Sun Jan 27 2002 - 15:31:49 EST

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    Helen wrote,

    << Joseph said to the brothers in Genesis 46:34
     "That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our
     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
     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.

    The word "cattle" in 46:34 is better translated "livestock" (as the New
    Revised Standard, New King James, and NIV versions do translate it) and I
    will translate it that way in the passages following. Gen 47:17 brings this
    broad meaning out in the Hebrew which reads, "They brought their livestock to
    Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread for the horses and for the livestock of
    the small cattle (sheep and goats) and for the livestock of the large cattle
    (ox and cow) and for the asses; and he supplied them with bread for all their

    Also, Joseph has already told Pharaoh (Gen 46:32) "the men are shepherds of
    small cattle (sheep and goats) for men of livestock they have been, and their
    small cattle (sheep and goats) and their large cattle (ox and cow) they have

    In 46:34 Joseph tells them, to say "Thy servants are men of livestock from
    our youth unto even now, both we and our fathers…" In 47:3 when they
    actually talk to Pharaoh, they say, "Thy servants are shepherds of small
    cattle (sheep and goats) both we and our fathers…"

    The brothers were not disobedient for both shepherds of sheep and tenders of
    oxen/cow are equally "men of livestock" and as 47:17 shows even horses and
    asses are subsumed under the term "livestock."

    That leaves the phrase "for an abomination to the Egyptians is every shepherd
    of small cattle (sheep and goats)" which is variously explained because it
    clashes with the fact that both Joseph and the brothers tell Pharaoh openly
    that they are "shepherds of small cattle (sheep and goats)." Various
    explanations have been suggested, but which one if any is _the_ explanation I
    do not know; so thank you for simply asking if the brothers were disobedient.


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