Food for Thought: Joseph, his brothers, and more tears…
Several years of famine is brutal. Things by chapter 43 haven’t improved, and if anything the situation doesn’t seem to be improving. Jacob and all of his household are nearing the bottom of the grain container, and so Jacob instructs his sons to go back to Egypt to purchase more grain. Jacob’s sons remind Jacob of the governor’s explicit command about only returning with the youngest son. Jacob is grieved that his youngest son is requested, but Judah steps up and offers to lead the expedition into Egypt and back again, ensuring the safety of his youngest brother. Judah offers his life for the life of his brother. This is an extraordinary moment for Jacob’s sons, for many centuries later another son of Jacob, an eventual son of Judah will also offer himself as a ransom for the safe return out of “Egypt/sin, separation from God.”
The brothers still acutely aware of the return of their silver from the last trip to Egypt, bring double the amount this time. They said they were honest men, and they intend to live by the word. They also bring some of the best products of the land of Canaan – a little balm, a little honey (this was after all a land flowing with milk and honey), some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nut and almonds. Notice again that once the brothers arrive in Egypt and come before Joseph we see them bowing down to him (cf. Gen 37:5-11). This time instead of accusations of secret covert operations in the land, Joseph invites them over for a dinner at his house (43:16-17). Instead of hospitality they brothers are thinking the reason for this dinner invite is to come clean about the silver from the last visit, as well as thinking they about to be stripped of their possessions. In a moment that they probably weren’t expecting, the steward shares these words, “It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.” They were expecting a beating, but instead received a two-fold blessing. The steward recognizes the work of God in their visit and giving back to them their silver, and Simeon was returned them! In other words, what they steward’s words reveal was the hand of a gracious God for his people. He is committed to the descendants of Jacob. He is their provider. The same God, who sustains and provides for Israel, is the same God who sustains and provides for us. Come famine or abundance, He is the same yesterday, today and forever!
The brothers finally get to the meal, and have a conversation with Joseph about the health and vitality of their father (43:27-29), and once he is able to fully identity the well-being of his brother Benjamin he is overwhelmed once again and departs to a private room to weep. Joseph it would seem is releasing the purposes and the plan of God are bigger than he could have ever imaged but before he is ready to make known his identity or the plan of God we have to wait till chapter 45.
1. What stood out to you today?
2. What is one thing you can take away from this chapter?