Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Genesis 44:1-13

As Joseph’s brothers prepared to head back home, Joseph ordered his steward to pack a surprise in Benjamin’s sack of grain:

Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said. (Gen 44:1-2)

This same steward had done this trick once before, but, as Beth Moore points out, the first time he was asked to do it he probably assumed that Joseph was being generous when he asked the steward to put the silver back in the brothers’ sacks. This time Joseph also tells him to plant the silver cup in one. Beth writes, “Surely the steward’s eyebrows were pinned to his hairline as Joseph issued his orders. Nevertheless, he obeyed them.” (The Patriarchs, P. 213)

Not long after they took off, Joseph told the steward to go after them and falsely accuse them of theft. Hmmm... Joseph was also falsely accused once, but now he was willing to do the same to his brothers. Can we see there was still some conflict in Joseph’s feelings at this moment? The brothers were so taken aback and so confident of their innocence that they made a rash oath:

"If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.” (vs.9)

When the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack their reaction became a literal turning point in the family dynamics:

At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city. (vs. 13)

Finally, the brothers were united in their purpose: to protect their little brother. They would all stand before Joseph together. Remember that they were only too happy to leave Simeon behind! I love how Beth Moore describes this change:

“Up until this point, Jacob’s family has been characterized by fragmentation. The only we’ve seen toward solidarity were for wrongful purposes, Joseph’s harm for example. Yet suddenly, the brothers unit all for one. The band that would hold them through four hundred years in a strange land first tightened here. If the silver cup was a test, the u-turn back to Egypt was a passing grade that would mark them for centuries.” (The Patriarchs, P. 214).

Tomorrow we’ll look at Judah’s role in this drama, as we get closer to the end of Joseph’s masquerade. Again, the miraculous changes in this family can’t be overemphasized. I’m hoping we’re all paying attention!


No comments:

Post a Comment