Genesis 43 (ESV)
Now the famine was severe in the land. 2 And when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.” 3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. 5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’” 6 Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?” 7 They replied, “The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions. Could we in any way know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?” 8 And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. 9 I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. 10 If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.” . . . Continue Reading
His Compassion Grew Warm
The previous chapter ended with Jacob refusing to send Benjamin to Egypt with his other sons to rescue the brother Simeon from imprisonment. They were forced to leave him behind until they brought their youngest brother to Joseph to “prove they were not spies.” Of course, Joseph recognized them as his brothers and knew they were not spies. But this was his way to see if his brothers were repentant for what they did to him all those years ago. Perhaps Joseph wanted to physically see if Benjamin was still alive since they treated him so badly by throwing him into a pit and selling him. Maybe he knew that Benjamin being the youngest son would be special in his father’s eyes and he wanted to make sure they didn’t kill him or sell him.
Chapter 43 begins with a reminder that the famine was in full swing. It wasn’t until they had eaten the grain they brought from Egypt that their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food” (Genesis 43:2). Judah, the brother who convinced his other siblings to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver (Genesis 37:28), reminded his father that they couldn’t return without Benjamin. In Genesis 43:11-12, Jacob finally agrees to allowing Benjamin to go with them back to Egypt but tells them to “take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry a present down to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. 12 Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks. Perhaps it was an oversight.”
It’s clear by Jacob’s prayer in Genesis 43:14 this decision was difficult for him to make. He prays for them saying, “May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” Even though he is afraid, he accepts the outcome even if it means they die. In their minds, it looks like they stole food because they still had all their money in their sacks. Jacob wants to make sure they take double the money to pay for the food they received before and to buy more as these were desperate times.
I wonder if the famine was over if they would have gone back to Egypt for Simeon?
So Jacob’s sons took the presents, money and Benjamin and went to Egypt and stood before Joseph (Genesis 43:15). Seeing that Benjamin was with them, he invites them into his house to have lunch. This makes the brothers afraid that Joseph was doing this to assault them, make them servants and seize their donkeys because of the money that was in their sacks (Genesis 43:18). But Joseph’s servants set them at ease when he tells them “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money” (Genesis 43:23).
Then they brought Simeon out to them and they got ready to have lunch with Joseph. When they entered Joseph’s house, they gave him the present and “bowed dow to him to the ground (Genesis 43:26). Joseph asks them about their father and confirming he is alive and well, they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves. This was as Joseph had dreamed many years ago and was part of the reason his brothers sold him.
When Joseph sees Benjamin and asks them if this is their youngest brother, he says to him, “God be gracious to you, my son!” Overcome with emotion, Joseph “hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there” (Genesis 43:30). He washed his face, composed himself and went out to have lunch. The brothers looked at one another with amazement. Portions of food were taken to them from Joseph’s table but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else.
And they drank and were merry with him.
Now Joseph can be sure they didn’t sell Benjamin into slavery or kill him and they were no longer the brothers they were when they sold him.
Father, help me to be reminded today that I am not who I was many years ago. At times I see him lurking in the shadows. Other times he wants to buy airtime in my life. But you have delivered me from the person I was and made me a new creation in Christ. Help me to be like Joseph who does not carry around hurt feelings and bitterness from what has happened to him in his life. Empower me to reflect your love, forgiveness, mercy and grace to others that are unable to let go of their pasts. For your sake and in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 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, Scott Quillin