Genesis 42 (ESV)
When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” 2 And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” 3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. 5 Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6 Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. 7 Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” 8 And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 9 And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. And he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.” 10 They said to him, “No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.” . . . Continue Reading
Grain, Grain, Go Away
Genesis 42 opens with Jacob learning that there was grain for sale in Egypt and asks his sons, “Why do you look at one another? . . . Go buy grain for us there that we may live and not die” (Genesis 42:1-2). Famine in Jacob’s day was deadly not only because of the shortage of food but it took away their means to provide for themselves. Because their work literally dried up, many of their investments in livestock did as well. It’s not as if they could just get another job or pre-packaged food made in a factory. Many people died during a famine and Jacob being a man of wealth was able to respond to these desperate times with action.
Jacob sends all of his sons (except Benjamin) to Egypt to buy grain. He did not allow Benjamin to go with them so if harm came to them while on their journey, Jacob would still have a son left. They had no idea what was about to happen to them as they head to Egypt.
Joseph, the brother they threw into a pit in the wilderness without water (Genesis 37:24) and who they sold to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver (Genesis 37:28) was now the governor of over the land of Egypt (Genesis 42:6). He was given this position because Pharaoh recognized the Spirit of God was with him (Genesis 41:38) when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream (Genesis 41:29-36).
Joseph, recognizing his brothers, decides to not reveal himself to them. When they approached him, they “bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground” (Genesis 42:6). This was the fulfilling of the dream that Joseph had back in Genesis 37:5-11 and what caused Joseph to end up in Egypt to begin with.
Joseph decides to treat them as strangers and speak roughly to them (Genesis 42:7) and accuses them of being spies. They tell Joseph who they are and that they have a brother back home in Canaan and a brother who is “no more” (Genesis 42:13). Joseph holds them in custody for three days then tells them to bring their youngest brother Benjamin to prove their story and save their lives (Genesis 42:20). Joseph’s brothers realize their guilt concerning him. Rueben, the brother who convinced his brothers not to kill Joseph in Genesis 37:21-22), says, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood” (Genesis 42:22).
Joseph heard them say this and turned away from them and wept. After composing himself he takes Simeon from them and binds him while giving orders to fill their bags with grain and replace every man’s money in his sack (Genesis 42:24-25).
As they stopped at a lodging place on their way home, one of the brothers realizes his money has been put back in his sack. They trembled and said, “What is this that God has done to us?” They didn’t say, “What is this that God has done FOR us?”
When they returned home and told they father Jacob what happened, they emptied their sacks and realized they all had bundles of money in them. Jacob is grieved at the thought of allowing them to take Benjamin to Egypt and refuses to let him go.
Isn’t it interesting how God uses affliction to move us where He wants us to go? If we have a comfortable place to exist, we can stay there forever and not experience all that God has for us. But when a “famine” comes, it can be an opportunity for us to see God work in ways that are beyond anything we could have imagined while staying in our comfort zone.
Father, help me to live outside of my own personal comfort. Help me to walk in faith in the middle of my personal famines so that your will is made complete in my life and your name is known to those I would never have met while living in my own little world. Amen.
Thank you for reading my daily online journal today. Far from commentaries these are just my initial thoughts after reflecting on what I’ve read from a chapter in God’s Word each morning. This not only helps me apply what I’ve read because I’m reflecting and sharing instead of only reading but it also allows me to encourage others to prayerfully consider doing the same.
In His Care,