Sunday, October 16, 2011

Genesis 43:24-34

In the last entry, I purposely left out the last part of verse 23. Here’s the verse in its entirety:

“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.

The steward brought Simeon out from prison and returned him to his brothers. Time for some family rejoicing? Apparently not! There is no mention of any reaction whatsoever. Is this another example of their dysfunction?? We are just told what happens next. Joseph’s brothers, in his own home, were shown hospitality by the steward, who provided them water for washing their feet (aaahhh...), and food for their donkeys. They waited anxiously, with gifts ready, to meet the second-in-command in Egypt. I wonder what Simeon was thinking. . .

When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground. He asked them how they were, and then he said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?”

They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed low to pay him honor.
(Gen 43:26-28)

Don’t you wish you had been there?? They were completely fulfilling the vision God had given the teenaged Joseph by bowing low to him. Yet, there is no indication that Joseph enjoyed this. We can see that he was still in emotional conflict, worried about his father, then anxiously looking about for Benjamin:

As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.” Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there. (vs.29-30)

Oh, this just brings tears to my eyes! He must have wanted so desperately to just grab hold of Benjamin and not let go! But he sensed that the timing wasn’t quite right yet. I’m thinking that God must have truly been holding Joseph back for there was work to be done in the hearts of these brothers!

After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, “Serve the food.” 

They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him. (vs.31-34)

This is an interesting picture of Joseph, setting his emotions aside and coming out to eat at his own table by himself. He was supposedly “Egyptian” in the eyes of his brothers - and Egyptians would not eat with the Hebrews. I happen to be studying Acts 10 this week in Bible Study Fellowship. In this chapter, God tells Peter that nothing He created is “unclean” and that Peter should fellowship with and give out the gospel to the household of Cornelius, a Roman centurion - a Gentile. There is so much bigotry in our world, isn’t there? The Jews wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles, the Egyptians wouldn’t eat with the Hebrews, and whites wouldn’t eat with the blacks in the south (just watched the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in DC). . . we could go on and on! The Bible proclaims with clarity that God is no respecter of persons, but we continue in our mistrust of anyone different from us!

At this point, Joseph’s separation actually increases the amazement of the brothers, who can’t figure out how they were seated in birth order, or why Benjamin gets all of the extra food! But they put aside their questions, because the food and drink made a terrific feast! The way to a man’s heart. . .     :)  Joseph watched in silence while he set in motion the next portion of his (God’s) plan. This is going to be another great week in God’s Word!


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