Friday, March 15, 2013

Genesis 43:1-45:28


Genesis 43 opens with Joseph's brothers back in Canaan with their father. The food they brought back from Egypt is running out. There is a tense exchange between Jacob and his sons. They must return to Egypt for food, and they must take their youngest brother Benjamin with them. The sons report dialogue they had with Joseph which we were not privy to before.

Judah was the brother who suggested selling Joseph into slavery rather than leaving him in a well, probably to die. It is Judah who now promises to take responsibility for Benjamin's safety.

Judah also gets my favorite line in this dialogue. Essentially he says, "Let's quit wasting time. We coulda been there and back two times by now."

Jacob's sons, this time with Benjamin in tow, set out for Egypt once again. They carry with them gifts (bribes?) and enough money to repay what was left in their feed sacks.

When Joseph sees his brothers, he welcomes them with a feast. The brothers, still not recognizing Joseph, are understandably nervous. Joseph, as he has throughout the story, attributes all good fortune to God including the fact that the brother's money was found in their sacks.

Is Joseph lying or does he believe that God was working through his own hands?

When Joseph meets Benjamin, his only full brother, he weeps for the second time. Benjamin gets special treatment at Joseph's table. The favoritism that so upset the other brothers is still in play.

In chapter 44, we find that Joseph is not quite done messing with his brothers. Apparently as a test, he has his own silver cup hidden in Benjamin's sack. When it is "discovered" there, Joseph threatens to enslave Benjamin. Brother Judah cowboys up again, offering to take Benjamin's place. In his conversation with Joseph, Judah repeats some of the dialogue that we had not heard before it was recounted to Jacob at the beginning of chapter 43. Since it is spoken in Joseph's presence, and since Joseph would have known what was said, we can assume that it is an accurate report.

In chapter 45, after witnessing Judah's willingness to take Benjamin's place, Joseph breaks into tears for a third time. He reveals his identity to his brothers and is reconciled to them. There are strong echoes of Jacob's reconciliation with Esau in this story.

A positive theological assertion from this story is that God can bring good from evil. What do you think? Is this true? Have you ever experienced it?

With promises of land and support through the remaining years of famine, Joseph sends his brothers to fetch their father and their families from Canaan. The brothers receive gifts from Pharaoh and, once again, Benjamin receives the most.

What do you make of this favoritism?

Do you believe that God plays favorites?

When Joseph sends his brothers off, he tells them not to quarrel on the way. It's an odd thing to say. What do you think the brothers might quarrel about? A traditional explanation is that Joseph wants them to be reconciled and not to blame one another for the way they treated him.

The chapter ends with the brothers in Canaan once more. They tell their father the incredible good news that Joseph lives. Jacob does not, at first, believe their report. They have to tell him everything that Joseph said.

I wonder if they told Jacob that they were the ones who had sold Joseph into slavery. I wonder if they told Jacob that they deceived him into thinking his beloved son was dead. Perhaps it would be kinder if they didn't.

Next: Genesis 46-47

No comments:

Post a Comment