Is it just me, or does last weekend feel like a really long time ago? Ah, lockdown… you ruin my body clock (and calendar) again.
Last week I left off recounting Joseph’s life in Genesis, just as his brothers, who sold him into slavery, turned up on the scene wanting to buy their share of food from Egypt. With the entire ancient world in severe famine, it was Egypt you needed to head to if you wanted any food.
Reason being that God had sent Joseph there and raised him up for that specific task of collecting and sharing food. However, just because he’s God’s man, doesn’t mean he’s not going to be a bit of a punk. His brothers have no idea who he is at this point in time.
Here’s some more of my reflections…
Joseph’s brothers arrive to get grain and he begins pranking them. Fair enough, really.
How empowering for Joseph to be able to trouble those who have troubled him. God allows him to take the revenge which is fascinating.
Joseph puts them in jail for 3 days. Then he shows them compassion. The whole thing is totally “punked”. They get a taste of what Joseph endured.
The brothers knew (or seemed to know) that their behaviour with Joseph was in some way connected to their current treatment. We’re told that earlier Joseph pleaded with them but they were heartless.
The brothers return home and ask what God is doing to them. There is clear family tension and Leah’s sons* are somewhat disowned by their father, Jacob. “My son” is used to describe Benjamin, as though others are not sons. “He is the only one left”.
Joseph has questioned them about their family and now they have the dilemma of what to do with Benjamin in order to get food.
They all return to Egypt and take Benjamin with them. When Joseph sees them there with Benjamin he tells his servants to prepare a feast. The brothers are worried but are told by one of the servants that there’s nothing to worry about. Joseph then checks that his father is still alive, which he is.
Joseph’s love for Benjamin is evident in this account. It seems so bizarre that they all eat separately but is this just ancient racial segregation – maybe? NIV study notes suggests it’s for religious reasons.
Joseph sets up another prank to rebuke his brothers and puts his cup in Benjamin’s sack. Joseph just keeps pranking and they keep putting their foot in it. There is a level of comedy.
Joseph shocks them all by uncovering Benjamin’s ‘guilt’. Then Judah stands up and considers his father’s wellbeing and gives a strong ‘speech’ to Joseph who lets him share it all.
“And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him and Pharaoh’s household heard about it”. Joseph sees the bigger picture and understands God’s rationale: “it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you… preserve a remnant…save your lives by a great deliverance”.
The brothers are in shock, so clearly Joseph must have looked very different.
“It was not you who sent me here, but God.” Joseph attributes everything to the hand of God. Joseph tells his brothers to get his father to come and live in Goshen. He evidently considers Benjamin his only true brother. In v8: not sure why Joseph describes himself as father to Pharaoh?
Pharaoh offers all of Egypt’s best to Joseph’s family. He sends his brothers off to get Jacob. Jacob’s spirits revive knowing this his son is still alive. He knows his age and wants to see him swiftly. Jacob is given reassurance in a dream. So he continues on his way to Egypt.
The genealogy of Jacob’s family begins. There is a large number of Israelites who go to Egypt. No wonder they were enslaved later. Would have made a great work force for the next Pharaoh who didn’t know how indebted to Joseph the Egyptians were previously.
The big reveal. The hand of God. An almighty plan.
God uses Joseph to rescue the ancient world from famine. Joseph was a man with integrity but I think I actually like him more for the pranks that he pulls too.
In the end, an emotional reveal leads to an even more emotional reunion with his father.
And the plans of God continue as Jacob, also known as Israel, brings the Israelites into Egypt, where in the future they will develop into a great nation and be rescued out of Egypt by God’s powerful work.
The plans of God continue, but this blog post won’t.
Yours in the reveal,
*Jacob’s children don’t all have the same mother