This reading continues the story of the characters from the last few posts, with a focus on Joseph, so check those out if you you’re not caught up (or just need a refresher).
Genesis 42: Joseph and His Brothers Meet in Egypt
Remember that one time Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery? Not surprisingly, that’s coming back.
Everyone in surrounding lands heard that Egypt had plenty of grain. Joseph’s father and brothers back in Canaan were struggling to survive, so the brothers headed to Egypt—all except the youngest, Benjamin.
They ended up in front of Joseph since he was in charge of the grain. They bowed at his feet. Joseph knew they were his brothers, but they didn’t recognize him.
Joseph pretended not to know them and accused them of being spies. The brothers denied that and explained that their situation. Joseph decided he was going to imprison the brothers until the youngest brother came to prove they were telling the truth.
The brothers talked among themselves that this situation was probably repentance for how they treated Joseph, of course not knowing he was in the room with them. The brothers also didn’t realize that Joseph could understand them because he was using an interpreter.
Joseph told the brothers that all of them but one could go ahead back to their land to get Benjamin and gave them grain to take along. On their journey, the brothers discovered their pouches of silver in the sacks of grain. (I had to look this up…it was the silver they had used to pay for the grain. Joseph sneakily gave it back to them.)
The brothers were “frightened” when they saw the silver. I’m not sure why frightened was the emotion that came up.
And, at this point, I don’t know which brother stayed behind.
The brothers asked Jacob—their father and, of course, the father of Joseph—to let them take Benjamin to Egypt. But Jacob said:
“My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left.”
This confused me at first because there are a dozen sons, but then I looked back and saw Benjamin and Jacob are the only two sons of Rachel, the wife Jacob loved most. And I’m now realizing why Joseph so badly wants Benjamin to come to Egypt.
This was one of the hardest chapters for me to follow. It’s poorly written, nonsensically repetitive, and incredibly unclear. I’m not sure if this is due to translation issues or not, but it took me a really long time to get through and piece together what was happening.
Genesis 43: The Second Journey to Egypt
Eventually, the family runs out of the grain they brought back from Egypt. Jacob tells the brothers to go buy more. But the brothers remind Jacob that they need to take Benjamin with. Judah, one of the brothers, finally convinces Jacob to let Benjamin go. He sends them with gifts and double the silver to pay for the grain.
Jacob also mentions that a brother is still in prison in Egypt, but there’s no reference to which brother that is.
When the brothers got to Egypt, Joseph had his servants prepare a meal for them. They were scared when Joseph took them to his house. They thought they were in trouble. But he reassured them they were blessed.
Joseph asked the brothers about their father. They, of course, didn’t know their father was his father at this point. Joseph also met Benjamin and had to excuse himself to weep.
When Joseph composed himself, all the men ate.
“They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. The men had been seated before him in the order of their age…when portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much…they feasted and drank freely.”
Did they eat with him or not? It sounds like maybe they ate at the same time, in the same room, but at different tables. Maybe? In one sentence it says they ate by themselves, in the next it says they were seated before him. This is just a singular example of how confusing some of the writing in the Bible can be.
I’m not even going to mention the unnecessary comma before “because.” Oh, oops. I mentioned it.
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