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Joseph entertains his brothers
Scripture in focus: Genesis 43
43:1-2 > The famine wore on in Canaan and the food eventually ran out due to the size of Jacob’s family (children, grandchildren, and servants). Jacob commanded his sons to return to Egypt to purchase more food.
43:3-5 > Judah tries to convince his father to send Benjamin with them on the journey. Joseph is referred to as “the man” for Judah did not know who he was.
43:6 > Jacob doesn’t want to let go of Benjamin for he was the child of his beloved Rachel and he was afraid that he’ll never see him again. He was very angry that the brothers told the man that they had another brother.
43:7 > Judah explains to his father why they had to tell the man that they indeed had another brother. One can feel the yearning in Joseph’s questions.
43:8-14 > Judah takes responsibility for Benjamin by putting his own life on the line and Jacob finally caves in. In the previous chapter (42:37-38), Jacob rejected Reuben’s offer to see Benjamin safely to Egypt, but in verse 11, he finally accepted Judah’s offer because of the intense famine in the land. And not only that, he sends presents for the man hoping that Simeon will be released from prison and Benjamin returns safely to Canaan (as we see in verse 14). This takes me back to the time when he showered his twin Esau with gifts in 33:10-11 when they finally reunited.
43:15-18 > The brothers return to Egypt with Benjamin and Joseph is excited to see them once again especially his little brother. He invites them to dine with him, but they were afraid when they were brought to Joseph’s house assuming the worst: the Egyptian official (Joseph) was going to imprison them for stealing money from him.
43:19-23: Before the brothers venture into the house, they explained about the money to the steward of Joseph’s house perhaps hoping that the steward will pass it on to Joseph, but the steward said “fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks“. It was because of the goodness of God, they had the money back, but the brothers were so preoccupied with thoughts of making things right, they missed the steward’s reference to God, for Egyptians did not recognize God. Some Bible scholars say that the steward was Manasseh, Joseph’s eldest son.
43:24-25 > The steward treats them as honored guests and they made ready to present the gifts to Joseph when he came home.
43:26-28 > Remember 37:9? Remember how Joseph said eleven stars bowed down to him? His eleven brothers were now together and they were bowing to him. His boyhood dream came full circle when he enquired of Jacob’s well being and the brothers made obeisance on their father’s behalf for Jacob probably sent his salutations. Jacob represents the sun; the brothers, the eleven stars.
43:29-30 > Joseph speaks a blessing to Benjamin and overcome with emotion at the joy of seeing his full brother, he quickly fled the room and into his private chamber to weep. He didn’t want to give himself away as yet in front of his brothers for it was not time to reveal his true identity.
43:31-32 > After his cry, he washes his face and went out to dine. The tables are segregated for Egyptians and Hebrews never ate at the same table together. Due to his rank, Joseph ate alone at one table (despite his power, he still couldn’t sit with the real Egyptians), the Egyptians at another, and Joseph’s brothers at another table. The Egyptians considered themselves superior for they came from gods and it was an abomination to socially mix with foreigners.
43:33 > Joseph sits his 11 brothers according to birthright from youngest to eldest. The brothers were surprised, but they still didn’t have a clue as to who Joseph was. As far as they know, Joseph was dead (44:20). But so MANY clues were given! I guess God had blinded them to the obvious clues for it was not time yet.
43:34 > “Benjamin’s mess”: Favoritism. Joseph remembers that his brothers had resented him for their father had favored him the most so he decides to test his brothers by showing favoritism to Benjamin by giving him five times portion more than his brothers. However, the brothers passed this test showing that they were not jealous of Benjamin, but Joseph was not done testing them as we’ll see in the next chapter.
Joseph further tests his brothers
Scripture in focus: Genesis 44
44:1-2 > Joseph commanded his trusted steward to fill his brothers’ sacks with food and to give every man back his money. He also instructed the steward to place his special silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. The test here was to see how his brothers will react towards Benjamin in a sticky situation; to see how they felt about him.
44:3-6 > The next morning, the brothers set out for home, but their joy is shortlived when Joseph’s steward (with a small army of men perhaps) comes after them and accuses them of theft. Verse 5: whereby indeed he divineth. The purpose of a silver cup/chalice/goblet was used by Egyptians for divining, meaning to call on an evil spirit for advice. It is not certain that Joseph practiced divination; the statement could’ve been made to make his brothers think he was an Egyptian for a true man after God’s heart would not divine a cup.
44:7-10 > The brothers claim that they are innocent of thievery. They were also confident that one of them had the cup that they declared the thief to be put to death and the rest of them be taken as slaves.
44:11-13 > The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack where the steward had placed it of course. The brothers’ reaction was instantaneous: they tore their clothes in mourning portraying the pain they felt in their hearts. They were certain that Benjamin was going to be sentenced to a life of slavery in Egypt if not death. When Joseph was taken as a slave, the brothers involved batted their eyes and allowed it to happen, now, they were willing to stand with Benjamin as they returned with him to the city. What a significant change in character!
44:14-15 > They returned to Joseph’s house where Joseph was waiting and fell in total submission before him to plead for Benjamin and Jacob. Joseph, still in disguise as an Egyptian in front of his brothers continue his act.
44:16-17 > “God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants” Judah, as the family spokesman, admits that they had truly sinned when they had stolen Joseph’s freedom. He did not shift any of the blame to Benjamin showing Joseph how much their hearts had indeed changed. Joseph tells them that they can go on home except for Benjamin who was going to be his servant. He just wanted to keep Benjamin.
44:18-32 > Judah intercedes for Benjamin. He also mercifully pleads for his father speaking of Jacob’s delight in Benjamin. Judah tells Joseph the story in its entirety from the beginning reminding Joseph that he was the one who wanted to set his eyes on Benjamin when they returned to Egypt for food hence the reason why Benjamin accompanied them. Judah’s compassion shows Joseph that his brothers’ hearts were turned around for the best and it overwhelms him.
44:33-34 > Judah lays down his life for Benjamin and his father out of love proving that he was not the same man twenty years earlier (37:26-27). This display of sacrificial love foreshadows what Jesus Christ eventually did for the entire world. Here, Judah was a type of Christ, from whose tribe he sprung. And just as Christ forgave all of us, Joseph eventually forgives his brothers.
Up next: Joseph makes himself known
^ Part of God’s plan was for Israel to be in Egypt for 400 years and it’s no coincidence that it started with Israel/Jacob entering into Egypt with his family. As we see in chapter 43, the Egyptians did not mix with foreigners. Before Genesis comes to an end, God took Israel and his family out of the corrupted Canaan and placed them among racially so-call superior people who did not see any reasons to mingle with them. However, God had sent Joseph on ahead to make the arrangements for this destined time during which His people increased to millions.
^ In 43:12, Jacob instructs his sons to take double money with them. There’s a Math problem in there somewhere. If ten brothers went to Egypt and they took double money with them, how much units of money were there? Answer: 20 units. Does this lead somewhere? Yes. Silver and money are the same interchangeably, and this answers EXACTLY to the 20 pieces of silver they sold Joseph for in 37:28 (blueletterbible.org). Our God is not a God of coincidence. He is very detailed when it comes to His plans.
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