January 15: Good morning! Ready for a little more Joseph?? Yesterday we read how Joseph’s fortune took him from dungeon to palace, and today in chapters 42-43 we see how this leads to reunion with his brothers (though they don’t know it yet).
The two main scenes where conversation and activity happen are with Jacob’s family in Canaan, and the palace in Egypt. Genesis 42 begins when Jacob sends all of his sons to Egypt except the favored youngest, Benjamin. In Egypt, Joseph recognizes his brothers when they come before him to buy grain, yet they don’t know the powerful figure who is in a place to decide their fate. Joseph interrogates the brothers about their motives, then gives them a three-day taste of the imprisonment he suffered at their hands. Yet righteousness changes his mind and he frees all but Simeon, with the command that they return with their youngest brother to prove their innocence. Joseph understands the Semitic tongue by which the brothers discuss how this is divine punishment for selling their younger brother years earlier, which makes this exchange all the more touching. Before they leave with grain, Joseph secretly refunds all their money. When they discover it, they must surely wonder if the universe is conspiring against them.
Knowledge of their undeserved good fortune makes the brothers reluctant to return to Egypt and face Joseph without the company of young Benjamin, but Jacob demurs. The famine finally gets so bad that they must go back for more food. Jacob consents, instructs his sons what to bring to make a good second impression, and resigns himself to the possibility that BOTH children of his beloved Rachel might be lost. When the brothers arrive in Egypt, Joseph sets in motion a plan to spend more time with them. The men share with Joseph’s steward the mystery of the wealth returned to them, but he tells them it’s a gift from God. The banquet that Joseph gives for all the brothers is an opportunity to learn more from them about Jacob, and connect with his younger brother Benjamin. The meal reveals Joseph’s tender heart (he cannot remain in harsh aloofness), surprises the brothers at how Joseph knows their birth order, and gives Joseph a chance to shower Benjamin with favor. As this section concludes, all seems to be mended. But still more turns of fortune await in tomorrow’s passage (Genesis 44-45). Happy reading!
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