Thursday, October 6, 2011

Genesis 42:1-17

When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”

Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him. So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for the famine was in the land of Canaan also. (Gen 42:1-5)

The narrative that begins with this chapter would make a good nighttime soap opera! Think Dallas with 12 brothers instead of just JR and Bobby! The dynamics of this family are clear in the first verse, when Jacob, thoroughly disgusted with his sons, basically said, “You idiots! We are in trouble here! Why are you all just standing around with your hands in your pockets? Get down to Egypt and get us some grain - NOW!” Apparently their relationship with their father never improved after they got rid of the competition!

And, you have to figure that Jacob suspected their involvement in the disappearance of Joseph so many years ago, because he refused to send Benjamin, the baby, with the others, because he was afraid that harm would come to him. He had no problem with sending the other ten into harm’s way! Jacob had learned nothing about the problem of showing favoritism!

So the ten older brothers headed down to Egypt, along with throngs of others who were seeking relief from the famine.

Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. (vs.6-7)

Wow! Wouldn’t you love to have been the fly on the wall to witness this? This is one of those Biblical scenes that you hope are on God’s DVD player! It’s not until verse 9 that we’re told Joseph remembered his dreams, but they were finally fulfilled - the brothers were bowed down before Joseph.

While he recognized them immediately, his initial reaction was to act like they were strangers, but we can only imagine what was going on inside his brain! He had made a decision to forget them, but here they were actually in his face. He decided to mess with them! Hmmm... he doesn’t immediately run to hug and kiss and forgive? I love that Joseph was so real! He is not at the place of forgiveness yet, and all of those feelings of hurt, betrayal, and abandonment came bubbling up from within. After charging his brothers with spying, and their protests of innocence Joseph exacts a little revenge:

Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” And he put them all in custody for three days. (vs.14-17)

So now who’s in prison? Imagine the brothers’ terror! This man had complete power over their future - and they knew their entire family was depending on them to keep them from starvation. What would their father think? It would kill him to let Benjamin go! You just know that on a TV soap opera, the episode would end with the closing of the prison doors and a long camera shot of their faces!

Joseph gave them three days to stew in fear, while he most likely had to get himself together and figure out what he should do. I imagine their was a lot of inner turmoil - and yet, because we know that Joseph had great character, and because we know that God was with Him, we can also be assured that Joseph would have been in prayer. I can’t wait for the next episode!


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