Genesis chapter 42
MONDAY, APRIL 6
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 42
Author: Jeremy Witt
Happy Monday of Holy Week! I encourage you to read the Gospels for the week leading up to Resurrection Sunday.
We begin the reunion of Joseph and his brothers in our reading. The drought/famine has fully begun. Grain was one of the top commodities people sought after during this time. It lasted longer than vegetables, milk products, meat and could be dried and stored longer. Grain was even used as money in desperate times like those in chapter 42 and in other circumstances.
Joseph’s father, Jacob/Israel, heard that Egypt had grain and sent his 10 oldest sons to buy grain. However, he kept his youngest son, Benjamin, at home. Benjamin was his father’s favorite as Joseph had been. Why? He was Joseph’s full brother, and he was the son of Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife. Ben was also born to Jacob at an older age.
After the brothers’ journey to Egypt, they approached Joseph. Notice how they acted when they came before Joseph in verse 6. It was a fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams from chapter 37:6-9. In Genesis 42:7, we read that Joseph recognized his brothers instantly while they did not. Remember that Joseph is in Egyptian clothing and probably does not have facial hair or any hair on his head. His brothers have aged, but Joseph most likely has their faces burned into his memory. Put on your “movie imagination glasses.” Joseph is being sold to the Ishmaelites. He is being dragged probably tied up. He is kicking and screaming looking into his brothers’ eyes. His eyes stay on theirs hoping that one of them at least will step in, stop this, and save them. With each step further, his hope turns to despair. As he is loaded up, he continues watching them and this memory plays back to him years after the event.
Now, these brothers are bowing to him. How should he react? What should he say? He chose to play the angry man, which probably didn’t require much to do. I wonder how many flashbacks or memories came rushing to the front of his mind. As he questioned them, he accused them of spying which of course they denied. Then in verse 13, they begin to tell their history and even acknowledge Joseph’s little brother, Benjamin. Joseph took this information to make his brothers bring back Benjamin to him. He put his brothers in prison (do you see the irony here?) and sent one back to get his brother. After 3 days, he released all but one brother, Simeon, and sent the others back to Jacob. While they were talking, Joseph overheard them speaking about when they sold Joseph into slavery. He heard his big brother, Reuben, telling them that this is their judgment for what they did. If you remember, he was the only one who was against selling Joseph. He was trying to protect him. Reuben took this moment to say to his brothers, “I told you so.” I am sure he had done this before, but this time carried a greater weight to his brothers.
Guilt for our past can be a weight that is overwhelming. Years have gone by and the brothers know that what they did was wrong. They saw what it did to their father. Now, this Egyptian leader was demanding them to bring the favorite son to them. It will crush their father. Their past was haunting them. They were carrying the weight. They were living with this weight. It was affecting their daily lives.
APPLICATION: we do this too, don’t we? We can be Christ-followers and carry this weight for our past. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things for us to do. However, forgiving ourselves may be the most difficult thing for many of us. This is one of my great struggles. I think we see this in the Apostle Paul’s life too. We are never told of what his “thorn in the flesh” was, but some think that this thorn was his past sins of killing and persecuting Christians.