#70. Is Rachel dead OR alive when Joseph has his dream? (Gen 35:19 vs Gen 37:11)


And Joseph had a dream… and told it to his brothers. And he said… “here were the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowing down to me.” And he told it to his father and brothers. And his father was annoyed at him and said to him: “What is this dream that you’ve had? Shall we come, I and your mother and your brothers, to bow to you to the ground?” (Gen 37:5-10)

Joseph’s dream is apparently part of the Yahwist version of the Joseph story. At any rate, Jacob’s response to Joseph’s dream implies that Joseph’s mother, Rachel, is still alive. That is, the interpretation of the dream is that the sun and the moon are Joseph’s father and mother, and eleven stars his eleven brothers.

Yet this narrative, which implies that Rachel is still alive, contradicts the Elohist story of Genesis 35:16-20 which narrates her death on the road to Bethlehem, an event that has already happened! (also see #66).

5 thoughts on “#70. Is Rachel dead OR alive when Joseph has his dream? (Gen 35:19 vs Gen 37:11)

  1. Good job by akanimo, 4/27. That is biblical scholarship when one uses the Bible to find something that is hidden from sight of the natural man. This is not possible using this critical theory that blinds minds instead of enlightening them to the truth. Joseph was especially moved by his first encounter with his younger brother, who was not a 1/2 brother like the others and was unknown to Joseph apart from his questioning the others. Benjamin was still quite young. Joseph had been in exile approximately 13-15 years.

  2. Rachel died after Joseph was sold. The dream he had which his father scolded him by asking him if his mother and him will bow down to him is proof that Rachel was still alive when Joseph had those dreams. Also, remember when father and son finally reunited and on his dead bed, he gave a brief history of his mom’s, Rachel’s death, to Joseph. Prior to that, when his brothers visited him from their homeland and bowed to him, Joseph recognized them and remembered the dream of seeing his siblings bow to him. Then he furthermore questioned them about their family background, like if they had another brother (Jacob was upset at his sons for telling the ruler of Egypt that they had another brother) and his son’s defense was that the ruler probed them about their family, asking them if they had a brother and they ignorantly replied in the affirmative. My guess is that Joseph really wanted to see his brother, perhaps to confirm that the dream was indeed true because he must have reasoned to himself that in his dreams, 11 bowed to him. The dream itself was a foreshadowing of what was going to take place in the future. Yes, Rachel was still alive when Joseph was sold and Benjamin was born during his slavery.

  3. When Jacob rebukes Joseph, he is allowing us to see his pagan influences by claiming the Sun to be the father and the Moon the mother. Our mindset is also focusing on identifying a female as the moon. Rachel died in childbirth with Benjamin, and Leah died before the family moved to Egypt.

    Who was the moon? Jacob
    Who was the sun? Israel

    This is the beginning where Jacob and Israel will be used together to mean two different aspects of the same person / nation. When God created the sun he called it the greater light; the moon the lesser light. Jacob was referred to as the lesser man, and Israel the greater man.

  4. This question is discussed in the Babylonian Talmud, and this is Rabbi Berekiah’s solution:

    R. Berekiah said: While a part of a dream may be fulfilled, the whole of it is never fulfilled. Whence do we know this? From Joseph, as it is written, And behold the sun and the moon [and eleven stars bowed down to me,] and at that time his mother was not living.

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