|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #47, 48 and 49|
20 September, 1992
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
During past weeks we have been examining in this series of Bible studies the course of events as recounted in the Book of Genesis, wherein Almighty God deals with the Patriarchs and their descendants. We have seen through that account something of the life of Joseph in relation to his family, and we have arrived at the point wherein Joseph has revealed his identity to his brothers, and by their hand has sent great wealth, and the means of conveyance to his father Jacob, to bring the whole family down to Egypt; thus to escape the famine years yet to come.
It is important that, at some convenient point we should take a step aside, so to speak, to compare the patterns which Joseph's life provides us with the pattern to be found in the life of Jacob, and also with that of the whole Nation of Israel, and thirdly with that of Jesus Christ as kinsman-redeemer to His people.
If we can find such a prophetic pattern in regard to the first two, it will be quite clear that it has not come about as a conscious production of man, attempting to "fulfil prophecy", for it should be quite manifest that the participants do not have the ability to perform this, nor, at crucial points would they wish to do so.
We should begin by observing that there are certain principles which form the foundation plot of a good story, and an author who seeks to succeed in attracting a readership should not neglect these elements. If it is to be a success story telling of some accomplishment, the main plot should contain three parts: "The Vision" which provides the direction of interest, "The Impediment" which provides the suspense, and "The Attainment" which supplies a satisfactory conclusion. If the story is to be a love story, it has been said that it should contain these elements in the forms: "Boy meets Girl", "Boy loses Girl", and "Boy gets Girl". A tragedy involves the first two parts but lacks the third.
In the life of Joseph, there exist, I believe, the main elements of such a successful plot, but there is more. I think that, as we examine the life of this great Biblical personage, we can see that the second of these three stages actually should be sub-divided into five parts. There are thus actually seven sub-divisions within the story of Joseph's life, and these seven divisions can be shown to express a very impressive stamp of prophecy, in that they form a rather striking parallel to similar elements in the life of Jacob, in the history of the whole nation of Israel, and also in the life of Our Lord Himself!
Perhaps it will help if I begin by listing those seven divisions which I think find parallels in the lives of each of those persons and in the nation. For each division I will suggest a one word title, and, as it happens, all of these begin with the letter "E".
1. The beloved receives a birthright or is accredited so "Elected."
2. Hatred or bloodshed involving Ishmael or Esau yields "Envied."
3. Removal, persecution and departure; thus "Ejected."
4. Preparation, perhaps through pressure or punishment means "Examined."
5. Promotion to some new estate, possibly unrecognized or "Exalted."
6. Granted great estate and authority is "Empowered."
7. Reconciliation with family points to "Embraced."
These stages, then, are: "Elected", "Envied", "Ejected", "Examined", "Exalted", "Empowered" and "Embraced". Now let us see how these emerge in Joseph's own life.
First, he was Jacob's favourite, receiving from him the coat of many colours and God imparted to him dreams which pointed to his future importance.
Second, sibling envy culminated in the desire to kill him, placing him, stripped of the coat, in a dry pit, and then sale to Ishmeelite slavers.
Third, Judah moved to sell him for pieces of silver and as he departed in a caravan of spices, the coat was bloodied indicating to his father that he was dead; a state his brothers later also took for granted.
Fourth, Joseph was tested in service to Potiphar, and by the craving of Potiphar's wife, in learning a new language, and then by twelve years of prison.
Fifth, Pharaoh promoted him with royal signet, chariot, apparel, a new name and a wife, while the public was told to bow the knee before him.
Sixth, Joseph was empowered over the land of Egypt, holding authority to judge, to bind and to teach Pharaoh's officers and senators.
Seventh, he tested, then embraced his family with great honours and blessings.
If we now examine the sequence of Jacob's life, we may find surprising elements of similarity. Jacob also was loved by his mother especially, and Paul quoted Malachi 1:2-3 in Romans 9:13, stating: "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated", so Jacob was elected, and further, Jacob bought Esau's birthright and gained his blessing. Second, Esau envied and hated Jacob, which amounted to purposing his death. Third, this caused Jacob's departure, so he was ejected, and his mother never saw him alive again so to her, he was as good as dead.
Fourth, Jacob was tested in serving Laban who was not adverse to cheating him, so he was examined. Fifth, Jacob was, by God's assistance, able to breed cattle to advantage, and with great wealth, wives and children, he emerged from this experience, so he was exalted. Sixth, at the Brook Jabbok, God gave Jacob a new name of Israel "for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men and hast prevailed", so he was empowered. Seventh, he met Esau and his four hundred men, and they embraced.
Now let us move to compare the experiences which Joseph had with those of the whole nation of later centuries. While we may not finish this second part of our study on today's programme, we should at least make a start on it. Let us scan the history of Israel, to find out if some similar prophetic sequence may be determined therein. We cannot press this particular parallel too closely, of course, for the history of a nation is more awkward to match, but some elements appear consistent with the plan. First, by the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 15, Abraham's seed were described in verse 14 in terms which could only apply to Israel's descendants, and as Israel emerged as a nation with the Passover and the Exodus, we find them officially constituted God's peculiar nation with God as King and Law-giver at Mount Sinai. They are defined in Exodus 19:5-6 as treasure, a kingdom of priests and an holy nation, so they were an elect nation "married" to Him.
Second, the first enemy whom Israel faced in battle (Exodus 17:8) was Amalek, descended from Esau, and with Amalek the LORD stated (verse 16) he would have war from generation to generation, and Israel was also pressed by other surrounding peoples as the tribes moved to take possession of their birthright, so they were envied.
Third, in The Promised Land, they were induced by integrated and surrounding strangers to depart from God, and furthermore, their leaders sold themselves to do evil, often involving silver and gold idols, so the Northern tribes, and also the great majority of Judah, had to depart from that land into the Assyrian captivity. Thus they were ejected. The remnant of the Southern Kingdom followed a similar pattern later.
In their previous national form, the children of Israel disappear from history at this point, like Joseph into prison. Although Joseph was innocent of the charge of whoredom while the nation was guilty, we may see in his prison punishment on that charge a pointer to an identification with the national experience. Thus was the nation examined.
The nation's sentence was for a period of seven times, or 2520 years, of punishment. At this point, the British-Israel viewpoint makes a valuable contribution, for to follow pattern, Israel's descendants, headed up by those of Joseph's two tribes, Ephraim, the birthright tribe, and also Manasseh, must emerge in the latter days from their "prison experience", having suffered their time of trial or examination in parallel to the experience of Joseph himself.
Indeed, we find that II Esdras 13:39-45 contains an attestation to their resolution to "leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt, That they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land."
Indeed, we believe that they did emerge from their splintered segments and braid their migratory routes across Europe, un-recognized as Israel. Joseph's two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, answering to type, should be found possessing great power and wealth and enjoying the capacity to assist others with food and plentious blessings. They must, further, display all the other marks which scripture records as Israel's alone in the last days. Great Britain, the British Commonwealth, and the United States of America, along with the kindred Anglo-Celto-Saxon peoples of North-West Europe certainly answer to all the required prophetic marks. Thus would the pattern of exaltation and empowerment in Joseph's own experience be matched.
When we come to examine the third set of parallel prophetic circumstances, those pertaining to the life of Christ, I think that we shall see that Joseph, in relation to his brethren, provides an anti-type to which Jesus Christ is the matching type as Redeemer and Saviour to the nation of Israel.
At the Second Advent we should, then, hope to see a fulfilment of Joseph's mercy to his family. The Throne in Great Britain, with the Coronation Stone, or Jacob's Pillow, is attested to be David's Throne. The angel Gabriel told Mary in Luke 1:32-33, remember, that "the Lord God shall give unto him (Jesus) the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever."
We shall examine the third of our prophetic parallels on our next programme.
27 September, 1992
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
Recently, in this series of Bible studies, we have been examining the course of events as recounted in the Book of Genesis, wherein Almighty God deals with the Patriarchs and their descendants. We have followed the life of Joseph to the point at which he has revealed his identity to his brothers, and by their hand has sent great wealth to all the members of his family, and the means to convey his father Jacob and the tribe down to Egypt in order thus to escape the five famine years yet to come.
On our last programme, we briefly reviewed the whole course of events and experiences which mark the life of Joseph to this point in the Biblical account. There appear to be seven significant stages in the life of Joseph, and seven words, all starting with the letter "E" were suggested in order to name these stages. Those seven words were: Elected, Envied, Ejected, Examined, Exalted, Empowered and Embraced. It is in light of these headings that I think our examination of today's study will be best facilitated.
Guided by those seven headings, we noted on our last programme that there were some remarkable parallels in Joseph's life with the pattern of experiences seen in the life of his own father, Jacob. As Jacob was loved by God, and obtained both the birthright and blessing, thus was young Joseph loved, and thus received that coat of many colours. The intense anger of Jacob's brother, Esau, against Jacob corresponded to that of Joseph's brothers against him, which led to the Ishmeelite transaction. As Jacob had to leave home for an extended period, so did Joseph, in the slave caravan. As Jacob obtained wives and wealth after testing, so Joseph received a parallel promotion. As Jacob was re-named Israel, so Joseph was re-named Zaphnath-pa-aneah. As Jacob was reconciled to his brother, so was Joseph to his brothers.
We then proceeded to note some prophetic parallels in Joseph's life to the various stages which eventually occurred in the subsequent history of the whole Israel Nation, unfolded on a longer time scale. Israel's Sinai experience was one of election marked by God's benevolence. It was followed by the envy and opposition of Amalek, Midian, Moab, Amon, the Philistines and many other nations in the Wilderness and Canaan. Israel eventually "sold themselves" to the false gods of these neighbouring peoples and were ejected from their land, suffering deportation by Assyria. Israel was thereafter to be tested or examined, like the potter's clay, to be refashioned as another vessel suited to The Lord's use (Jeremiah 18 and Hosea 1 and 2).
British-Israel teaching points to the later Cinderella-like emergence of descendants of Israel, promoted or exalted but un-recognized by the world at large, under another name and with a change of language, as the main stock of the British Commonwealth, the U.S.A., and kindred peoples, empowered and willing to be a means of blessing. Thus we find further parallel to Joseph's own experiences. I think that we cannot help seeing this whole pattern as prophetic and God guided. It is more than chance would allow.
Today, I want to review Joseph's life pattern once again, but this time it is being done in order to note how closely the symbolism of Joseph's experience pre-figured the pattern of Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, as kinsman-redeemer to His people. It would seem that God, through Joseph's life pattern, was providing a sort of "living picture", a prophetic life, so to speak, in order to assist His people to understand what God, Himself, was undertaking for them throughout history.
We begin once again by remembering that, at the start of his life, Joseph had been the beloved of his father, Jacob. This stage in Joseph's life, which I have termed "Election", was symbolically demonstrated in those prophetic dreams of future supremacy and the provision of that "coat of many colours" which may have signalled to the rest of the family, Jacob's intention to impart to Joseph the birthright position among his brothers as it was apparently a vesture signifying rank and authority in the family.
How does that first stage in Joseph's life parallel that of Our Lord? All of Christ's life was one continuous fulfilment of prophecy. The Thompson Chain Reference Bible, on pages 246 and 247 of the Condensed Cyclopedia of Topics and Texts, provides a brief study of 38 of the most outstanding examples which substantiate this fact. Also, if we turn to John 5:20 we find Christ's words "For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel." The works of Christ were a stamp of His authority, as they came from God the Father, much as that coat of many colours was to Joseph.
Second, murderous envy by Christ's enemies was apparent in the savage slaughter of the babes in Bethlehem, David's royal city and thus David's descendants, by Esau's descendant, the Idumaean (Edomite), Herod. Apparently, those who opposed Christ during His ministry were in many cases of the same origin. For example, those opponents mentioned in John 8:33 stated "We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man...". In verse 37 Christ acknowledged that they were Abraham's seed, and, by Genesis 21:12 and Romans 9:8 this excluded all but descendants of Isaac's sons, Esau and Jacob. Jacob's descendants suffered Egyptian bondage, so those who claimed no bondage experience must have been of Esau. Probably their forefathers had become Jews a few generations before under compulsion by John Hyrcanus.
Further parallel experiences of Election, Envy, Ejection, Examination, Exaltation, Empowerment and Embracing are indicated in the following account of the lives of Joseph and Christ:
3. Both held a special relationship to their father.
4. Both raised antagonism among brethren by speaking honestly.
5. Both displayed apparent evidence of special divine authority (Joseph's dreams and Jesus' miracles).
6. At the command of their father, each went in search of a flock.
7. In each case, the flock had been led from a designated field to strange pastures by those in charge. (Jacob's flock was supposed to be at Shechem, the name of a later city of refuge and the first residence of the kings of Israel, but the flock was shifted to Dothan, which means "double feast".)
8. Their brother Israelites conspired to slay each.
9. Both were sold through the commercial activity of one bearing a variant of the name "Judah."
10. Both were sold for an agreed sum of pieces of silver.
11. In each case blood, evidence of death, was associated with their claim to special relationship with their father, so each was ejected.
12. Both were placed in a waterless pit or grave and had to remain there during a meal or feast day. (In John 19:28 Christ said "I thirst", and after death, He was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea - a curious identification of name.)
13. In both cases they were raised from the pit or grave. In the temptation (Luke 4:1-13), and also in that He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15), Christ had been "examined", and His perfection was certified, [in the sense that it was not possible that death should hold Him (Acts 2:24)], by Resurrection from the grave. Joseph's examination took thirteen years.
14. In both cases, their departure was associated with spicery, balm and myrrh.
15. In both cases they had to depart from the sight of their brethren.
16. The departure of both was facilitated by the cruel hands and agency of a foreign authority that trafficed in distant lands.
17. Both were absent for many years and were counted as dead by their relatives.
18. In each case some of the family mourned for the departed one.
If all these points express a prophetic match, we are I believe, entitled, to match New Testament statements with the further prophetic design:
19. Both, while absent, receive great power and chief authority in a kingdom. (Christ, in Luke 19:11-27, gave us the parable of the nobleman who went into a far country to receive a kingdom and to return. In Matthew 28:18, the risen Christ says "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth", and in Revelation 5:12-13, Christ, the Lamb is accorded such power.)
20. Both, while absent, prepare a place of salvation and plenty for their family. (In John 14:2-3, Christ says to His disciples "I go to prepare a place for you").
21. The former appearance of each is not recognized by their kinsfolk when next seen in glory, but both recognize their brothers. [The appearance of Christ on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:16) and on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:12) was not, at first, recognized by His disciples. John, in exile on the Isle of Patmos, as shown in Revelation 1:12-18, was given verbal assurance as to the identity of the gloriously radiant being "like unto the Son of man" who gave him the visionary Revelation.] Incidentally, it is interesting to note that, prior to reconciliation, the hidden identity of Joseph was that of a saviour, while the hidden identity of his brothers had been that of liars!
22. Each sits in judgment and evaluates their kinsfolk at an appropriate time of assessment. (In II Corinthians 5:10, Paul says "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ...".)
23. In exalted estate, each receives a bride of priestly lineage. [Joseph received Asenath, daughter of Potipherah, priest of On; Israel is to be a "kingdom of priests" (Exodus 19:5-6, I Peter 2:5 and 9). Revelation 21:2 describes the New Jerusalem as "a bride adorned for her husband".]
24. Each makes intercession for his brethren. In Genesis 46:31, Joseph does this before Pharaoh, while Hebrews 9:24 shows us that Christ now appears "in the presence of God for us".
With such prophetic indications, we should realise the implication. The Almighty God has planned both the lives of individuals and of nations. All history is working towards a mighty plan, and we are all a part of this process. Such knowledge is humbling, but ought to provide us with the utmost assurance of God's reality, His power, and loving providence. May we, who observe our connection with Israel of old, take the lesson seriously to heart as we contemplate the implications for our future both as individuals, and as the modern national descendants of God's people, Israel.
4 October, 1992
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
We have seen how Joseph, as a prophetic anti-type of Our Saviour, has arranged to bring his aged father, Jacob to the land of Egypt in order to escape the five years of famine yet to occur. Today we pursue the story of Joseph in the reading found in Genesis 46, which includes the account of the family membership. The New Bible Commentary states "The epochal import of the emigration to Egypt for the history of Israel and the promises...called for a formal catalogue at this point."
1. And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.
2. And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.
3. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:
4. I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.
We should not be surprised that assurance would be sought by the aged Patriarch, in this manner. Beersheba, you may remember, was in a rather arid southern district of Palestine, and on a trade route to Egypt. It was the site of several wells, and the name, according to the New Bible Dictionary, means "The well of the seven", a reference to seven lambs mentioned in Genesis 21:31, which Abraham gave in covenant to establish his ownership.
Beersheba was the location from which Abraham had set out to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Isaac dwelt here when Jacob set out for Haran, and it was thus the place where Jacob parted from his mother, Rebekah, for the last time. Thus many family memories hovered near as Jacob departed the land of Canaan for the last time. The non-Biblical Book of Jasher indicates that at Joseph's invitation, Jacob only intended to visit Joseph in Egypt and then to return home in order to maintain occupancy and thus claim to the land of Canaan, but the assurance here given by God was designed to make his move and that of the whole family a complete one for a number of generations.
Apparently Israel's ownership of Canaan, in God's eyes, would be assured regardless of his tribe's physical removal in this manner, and God here gives confirmation in the words "I will also surely bring thee up again" that He will bring Jacob back to the land. This was to find fulfilment in Jacob's state burial procession from Egypt, and in the Exodus of his descendants many years later.
The Companion Bible notes that, in repeating Jacob's name twice, God was thus emphasizing to him what he was and had been, in contrast to what God would make him. That reference points out the six similar occasions when God thus repeated the names of notable Biblical figures at significant moments in their lives.
Abraham's name was twice repeated when he was prevented from sacrificing Isaac (Genesis 22:11). God repeated Moses' name twice at the burning bush when calling him to confront Pharaoh (Exodus 3:4). Young Samuel's name was repeated twice as God called to him at night in the temple (I Samuel 3:10). Martha, cumbered about in her serving, sought Mary's help (Luke 10:41) but Jesus repeated Martha's name in calling her to more heavenly consciousness akin to that of Mary. Christ repeated Simon Peter's name when stating that Satan had desired to have him but He had prayed for him (Luke 22:31). Saul, on the Damascus Road, was thus addressed in his conversion experience (Acts 9:4).
The same reference also mentions that the words "shall put his hand upon thine eyes" mean "shall close thine eyes in peace". In other words, Joseph would be the one to perform that respectful symbolic act of closing Jacob's eyes at Jacob's death.
5. And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.
6. And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:
7. His sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.
Can we, for but a short moment, imagine ourselves joining the company of Jacob's clan as they examine all the riches which Joseph has sent to each of them, and then, the joy with which they made preparation for that journey. They had been all but starving for the second year in a row, short months before, and now they were blessed beyond belief. Those wagons would have drawn forth comment as they were examined, for Pharaoh's wagons, conveyances sent for this purpose, would not be ordinary farmers' carts. This was to be a move in first-class luxury! The whole procession would be filled with anticipation, and no doubt would have been viewed with some longing envy by others in the land.
Mention of those cattle which were being taken to Egypt reminds me of a significant statement made to Pharaoh generations later, when Israel was demanding to leave that land. In Exodus 10:24-26, Pharaoh had been pressed by the plagues to the point of letting the Israelites go, but not their cattle. At that dramatic confrontation, Moses' reply was to be given in the stirring words "there shall not an hoof be left behind"! At times of such a large-scale movement of the people, the Bible takes occasion to list the prominent names of the clan. It happened at the time of the Exodus, and also when the Jews returned from Babylon. At this point, as Israel enters Egypt, we learn the names of Jacob's extended family. Continuing at verse 8:
8. And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn.
9. And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.
10. And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman.
11. And the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.
I might mention here that Numbers 26:59 adds Jochebed, Levi's daughter, whom the Book of Jasher, (Ch. 59:9) tells us, was born on the journey to Egypt. Such details become important to those who attempt a strict accounting of numbers in an attempt to find scriptural contradictions.
12. And the sons of Judah; Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Pharez, and Zerah: but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Pharez were Hezron and Hamul.
13. And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.
14. And the sons of Zebulun; Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel.
15. These be the sons of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob in Padanaram, with his daughter Dinah: all the souls of his sons and his daughters were thirty and three.
16. And the sons of Gad; Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.
17. And the sons of Asher; Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister: and the sons of Beriah; Heber, and Malchiel.
18. These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and these she bare unto Jacob, even sixteen souls.
19. The sons of Rachel Jacob's wife; Joseph, and Benjamin.
20. And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.
21. And the sons of Benjamin were Belah, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.
22. These are the sons of Rachel, which were born to Jacob: all the souls were fourteen.
We might note in passing that one of Benjamin's sons was named Rosh. That fact might be of significance as the Russ, relatives of the Normans who invaded Britain, used to traffick the Russian river system linking Scandinavia with the Black Sea.
23. And the sons of Dan; Hushim.
24. And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.
25. These are the sons of Bilhah, which Laban gave unto Rachel his daughter, and she bare these unto Jacob: all the souls were seven.
26. All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six;
27. And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.
We should not be disturbed to find that the numbers listed above total sixty-six (or seventy when Jacob himself, Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh are included), while Stephen, in Acts 7:14 mentions seventy-five.
A note in the Companion Bible tells us that the words "out of his loins" are used to distinguish the numbers sixty-six and seventy from Stephen's seventy-five, in Acts 7:14, which includes Jacob as well as "all his kindred" (which are not included in the direct descendants of this verse).
The New Bible Commentary says that Stephen followed the Septuagint in reckoning nine sons to Joseph. The extra nine are made up in part by the five mentioned in I Chronicles 7:14-20, which lists the children of Manasseh (Machir and Gilead), and of Ephraim (Shuthelah, Tahath and Eladah), and others of the family.
In conclusion, we might contemplate the fact that all this movement was a prophetic enactment of the blessing which Christ will provide for His family upon His return.
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