וַיִּמְצָאֵהוּ אִישׁ וְהִנֵּה תֹעֶה בַּשָּׂדֶה וַיִּשְׁאָלֵהוּ הָאִישׁ לֵאמֹר מַה־תְּבַקֵּשׁ 37:15
Gene. 37:15 And a man found him and behold, he was wandering in the field. And the man asked him, saying, “What would you desire?”
וַיֹּאמֶר אֶת־אַחַי אָנֹכִי מְבַקֵּשׁ הַגִּידָה־נָּא לִי אֵיפֹה הֵם רֹעִים 37:16
Gene. 37:16 And he said, “I am seeking my brothers. Tell me, please, where they are tending the flock.”
וַיֹּאמֶר הָאִישׁ נָסְעוּ מִזֶּה כִּי שָׁמַעְתִּי אֹמְרִים נֵלְכָה דֹּתָיְנָה וַיֵּלֶךְ יֹוסֵף אַחַר אֶחָיו וַיִּמְצָאֵם בְּדֹתָן 37:17
Gene. 37:17 And the man said, “They left from here for I heard them saying, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan.
This sequence of verses (vss. 37:15-17) is typical of where it might be assumed that the scribe has omitted unessential details. Obviously, the man did not know Joseph. So one would think that Joseph would have had to describe his brothers to him before he would understand who they were. But no, there is nothing stated about this possible exchange of information. Only that the man knew who he was talking about. This kind of omission has occurred already several times and will continue to occur. Because these three verses are distinct and succinct, this is an ideal place to discuss this situation.
Do you think the scribe decided that the intimate details of the verbal interchange were unnecessary? I wouldn’t hazard a guess, but there might also be another explanation. There is throughout the bible either the implication or the deliberate description of God’s intervention in human interactions. One might conclude, with some justification, that where the scribe left out mention of God’s intervention, he assumed that it was understood, and did not have to be explained. And it may be that some other scribes of parts of the bible considered it essential to explicitly mention God’s intervention. As for this scribe, we might examine the many situations of odd occurrences and conclude that he is of the former ilk, in that he may have assumed our understanding of God’s working on earth.
Consider the peculiarity of this situation. Joseph is apparently wandering about searching blindly for his brothers. He sees no one and asks no one how he might find them. Suddenly a man finds him and questions him. And this man had been near his brothers and knew where they went. Is that not remarkable? I believe that God works subtly when necessary to bring about His desired result. And in this case, God has something quite stunning in mind for Joseph. And when a turn of events is not going in the right direction, He might nudge his servants a bit.
Some scholars suspect that the man who spoke to Joseph was an angel. I doubt it. The bible scribes are usually quite careful to identify angels in the text. [Back]