Home > Bible Journal > January 29th, Genesis 42-44: Joseph tests his brothers

January 29th, Genesis 42-44: Joseph tests his brothers

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

You know, we test people all the time, whether we mean to or not. We test people’s loyalty, faithfulness and courage all the time. Our daily conversations are full of subtle hints and contexts about what we want others and what others want from us. Rarely are we in a position of power to go as far as Joseph did.

Genesis 42 tells us that Jacob learned about grain in Egypt, so he sent ten of his sons to obtain it, except for Benjamin who he did not wish to see harmed. So Israel’s sons went to buy grain, for the famine had hit Canaan as well.

Joseph recognized his brothers, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke to them harshly, accusing them of being spies. He put them all in custody for three days. Then he gave them an ultimatum, he would hold one of his brothers while the rest went back and got their youngest brother Benjamin.

Genesis 42:21-22 says:
21 They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.”

22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.”

Joseph turned away and began to seep, but then turned and spoke to them again. Simeon drew the short stick and remaind in prison.

The brothers solemnly loaded the grain on their donkeys and headed home. On the way back, they discovered that their silver had been returned to their sacks. Jacob declared that he would not allow Benjamin to leave for Egypt.

But Genesis 43 tells us that the grain they had brought from Egypt was running out. So Judah guaranteed Benjamin’s life at the cost of his own to assure his father that nothing would happen to Benjamin.

At Jacob’s advice, his sons returned with double the amount of silver, and Benjamin, also. When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he told his steward to slaughter an animal and prepare food for his guests. They were afraid, and confessed to what happened the previous time they were here, with the silver mysteriously returned to their sacks. But the steward said it was all right, and Simeon joined them.

Joseph asked his brothers about his father, to which they replied Jacob was alive and well. Joseph then recognized Benjamin, and at that point he hurried to his private room so he could weep out of sight.

They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves. Egyptians did not eat with Hebrews because Egyptians were detestable beings. To their astonishment, the brothers were seated in order of their ages and Benjamin got a portion that five times that of a normal serving. And so they feasted.

Genesis 44 tells us that Joseph tests his brothers by instructing his servant to put his cup in Benjamin’s sack. When accused of thievery, of course the brothers refused and have no idea. But when the cup was revealed in Benjamin’s cup, they ore their clothes. They loaded all their donkeys and returned to the city.

Judah begged for Joseph to spare Benjamin’s life. Their father Jacob would die if Benjamin did not return. He offered himself up in exchange for Benjamin.

Question: Have you ever felt like you were getting your just punishment for something you did in the past? In what ways have you tested your friends?

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