Genesis 43: The Return to Egypt


Some time had passed, but there is no indication of how much. The return to Egypt was inevitable. Jacob told his sons to go to Egypt, seemingly ignoring or forgetting the circumstance, of which Judah was quick to remind him. (Notice how Jacob failed to make any action to get Simeon returned in the meantime.) The Egyptian ruler (Joseph) frightened Judah enough that he would not test him. He would not risk going back to Egypt without Benjamin, which would put them and Simeon in danger. He believed Benjamin was needed to prove they were not spies and secure the release of Simeon.

Jacob again rebuked his sons for mentioning Benjamin to the ruler.  This was an emotional reaction based on his partiality to Benjamin. Jacob was a man who preferred to control his circumstance.

Judah took control of the debate. He offered to take responsibility for Benjamin personally. Benjamin was still young, because Judah called him “boy”. Judah was the one who proposed the sale of Joseph– this weighed on his heart.  Judah also recognized the need for urgency. They needed the grain to survive, and they were only wasting time, especially since Simeon was still in an Egyptian prison.

Jacob relented, but said they should take gifts with them, to show respect and humility. The famine had spared some vegetation. Pistachios and almonds for instance, considered delicacies, thrive in hot, dry conditions.  The brothers also brought extra silver to return what they found in their sacks. Jacob suggested that it may have been a mistake, but he was unsure.  Jacob blessed them,  calling upon God for mercy, that both Simeon and Benjamin return. Jacob believed Simeon to be alive. He submitted to God’s will concerning Benjamin. God has pushed Jacob to depend on him completely in this matter.

At the sight of them, Joseph was excited. He instructed his steward to have a meal prepared and bring them to his house. However, the brothers were frightened, thinking it was on account of the silver in their bags that they were taken inside Joseph’s house. Twenty years ago they had attacked Joseph and sold him into slavery when he was alone and unprotected. The brothers realized they were at the mercy of this “ruler”, and feared he would attack them, and take them as slaves. They approached the stewart, before entering the house, about the silver. They asked for his pardon, they spoke honestly and humbly, a trait absent in them before. The steward assured them that the silver was a gift from their God, the God of their father- not just a generic “god”, but the God of Jacob. This had been related to the steward by Joseph. The steward told the brothers he received their silver for the grain, meaning that Joseph had compensated the treasury for the cost.

Simeon was released as promised, much to the relief of his brothers. He had not been spared his discipline.

The men were offered customary hospitality, with a place to clean up and food for their donkeys. When they were told they were going to eat there, they prepared their gifts to make them more presentable. When Joseph returned from whatever business he was conducting that morning, the brothers presented the gifts, and bowed before him in humility. Again, Joseph’s dreams were fulfilled. Joseph asked about Jacob, they spoke and bowed down again. They referred to Jacob as his servant,to indicate that Jacob was aware of the circumstance and also asked for his mercy.

Joseph blessed his brother Benjamin. Benjamin was the only other son born of his mother Rachel, and it moved him emotionally to see him. Benjamin reminded him of his mother Rachel. He was glad  that Benjamin was alive and had not suffered as Joseph did. He could not contain himself and hurried to his room to weep. He composed himself, as not to reveal himself.

The prejudice of the Egyptians kept them from eating with Joseph or the brothers. Joseph ate by himself to keep up his appearance as an Egyptian and ruler. Joseph arranged for the brothers to be seated  by order of age, which surprised them. The portions were served from Joseph’s table, to show he was providing for them. Benjamin’s portion was biggest, as to test the reaction of the others. The brothers ate and drank, and were glad in their hearts to be together again.  Who would have imagined they would be dining in the company of the Egyptian Governor? They felt relieved of their troubles, and amazed at their now fortunate circumstance.

We should not wait to address our troubles or attempt to test those who hold our debts. Our greatest debt was held by God, but was paid by the blood of Christ, should we accept him as our savior. Otherwise, we test the truth of God’s judgment, which is perilous to our souls.  We should always advise others to resolve their personal matters honorably. We must resist the urge to blame others for circumstance that is out of our control. We should approach God first in times of trial, not as our last option. Even in difficult times, God does not leave us with nothing. Gifts out of respect are not bribes.  Bribes seek favor out of selfish pride. It is fair to seek one’s favor in our own humility. We approach our Lord humbly, and submit to him with the gift of our hearts. It is right to anticipate the need for compensation and prepare for it. We should prepare our hearts before our meeting with God. We are to show kindness and mercy to those who have wronged us, so they may see the love of Jesus.  A guilty conscience fears even the good done to them is a trap for evil.  A relieved conscience in Christ is free to welcome the blessings of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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