DAY 14Two weeks! We'll be done with the book of Genesis is a couple of days.
In today's reading, Joseph reveals to his brothers his identity. Who would have ever thought things would turn out the way they did. I wonder if this scenario ever crossed Joseph's mind when he first interpreted Pharaoh's dream.
The tests of Joseph seem exaggerated, but they will show his brother's newfound concern for each other. Joseph will know for sure what he needs to know about who his brothers are now.
Let's get reading.
DAILY READINGSGenesis 43-45 & Psalm 14
DAILY NOTESGenesis 43:2
- It was Jacob's (Israel) idea for the brothers to go to Egypt the first time. Now that their provisions were running low again, presumably, he recommends they make another trip. There is no mention of the lost brothers. It seems strange their only intent would just be to go buy more food.
- Judah repeats the interaction they had with Joseph. Before, Reuben had promises to take responsibility for Benjamin. Now, Judah, whose idea it was to sell Joseph into slavery, offers to bear the guilt and shame if something happens to the younger son.
- Perhaps the realization that not allowing Benjamin to go with them will bring more harm to more of the family is what motivates Jacob to finally agree. Judah will suggest that Reuben's further suffering is because of Jacob's delay.
- Remember when Jacob sent gifts beforehand to his brother Esau? He was all but sure he would face Esau's wrath. So, he sent gifts to soften him up. Now, "if it must be so," shows that he knows he has no control of the situation. All he can do is try to make a good impression to "the man."
- The brothers are sure they have been counted as thieves. Why else would they be invited into the man's house? Why would they be treated to such an invitation?
- The brothers try to make sure the steward knows they are innocent. To him, their story doesn't make sense because his accounts were reconciled. The only rationale reason he can think of is that God has intervened.
- Now that they have been put at ease, they are ready to bring the gifts to Joseph.
- The brothers bow before Joseph once again.
- Seeing his younger brother is too much for Joseph to handle. That he is "overcome" with affection for his brother seems to indicate 1) a love for him and 2) a response to everything that has transpired. He has wept twice now, both times having to hide from his brothers. One can only imagine all that he feels.
- Hebrews are not allowed to eat with Egyptians. The irony, of course, is that Joseph is a Hebrew.
- Since his brothers hated him before, is this the first time they have enjoyed each other's company?
- Joseph still has another test.
- It's hard to tell for sure if Joseph practiced "divination." The claim seems to elevate the value of the cup and the severity of the crime of stealing it.
- The brothers have no reason to believe they steward's accusation. But they also can't explain how their money return to their sacks the first time. Brother after brother, the same way they were arranged at the table in the last chapter, is shown to have nothing of Joseph's. It is isn't until they opened Benjamin's bag that they found the cup.
- Tearing clothes brings us back to Jacob tearing his clothes and the brothers tearing Joseph's clothes.
- How could they know if he was so wise as to be able to use divination?
Genesis 44:16 & 23
- Judah takes responsibility for the brothers' crime. He recounts the scenario and declares that Benjamin's safety is his life's duty. He is willing to take Benjamin's place as a slave to the man.
- Joseph is no longer able to keep his emotions in check. He is now able to tell his brothers who he is and share his emotions.
- He had already asked about his father.
- The brothers were troubled, flustered and/or dismayed to learn about Joseph. What do you say to someone you hated and sold into slavery?
- "Yourselves." Joseph knew they would immediately blame themselves. He will show them, however, that it was God who set everything into place. It was God's doing that transformed their evil intentions into a life-saving plan.
- You can't help but think of the people of Israel when you hear the word remnant. That will be a theme for future generations.
- The brothers share a deep embrace and weep together. Afterwards, they can share in "talk." Do the brothers want to know what happened to Joseph? Does he ask about the rest of the family? Home? What they've endured?
- "The Egyptians" heard Joseph crying, but we are not given any indication of what they thought. Here, after hearing about the family reunion, they are pleased. What do they think of Joseph's Hebrew family?
- Pharaoh offers the brothers gifts to take home with them.
- Joseph knew that when the brothers learned his identity they would blame themselves. Now, he seems sure they would have quarreled on the way home. Would they have played the blame game? Would they have argued about punishing each other? How would they tell Jacob?
- The brothers don't feel the need to fill in the blanks of what happened to Joseph. Their father only needs to know he is alive.
- At first, he couldn't even believe what they were saying. He had not expected to hear that news. He was worried he would lose another son.
- Jacob doesn't need to hear anymore about Joseph. He must see him!
- The psalmist believes there are a lot fools in the world.
- For the psalmist, fool is the same as wicked.
- God will deliver the righteous from the evil ways of the fools of the world.
OTHER OBSERVATIONSWe actually know what is in the hearts of all the brothers. Emotion runs through the entire story. Hatred, regret, loss and now renewal come through.
The tests Joseph sets up for his brothers reveal their true feelings about their family. Joseph's weeping shows he is not bitter or angry. He seems to want to be reconciled, but just needs to know his efforts will not be wasted because he is ruler in Egypt.
What might it say bout Joseph that he was able to accept his brothers? What might is say about the brothers they they are now willing to give their life for each other? You can see that each of the brothers has changed.
It makes me think of John Newton's words about his life's journey: “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”