Peace be with you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money. -Genesis 43:23 (NKJV)
In our last installment, Joseph’s brothers were sent by Jacob/Israel to Egypt to buy grain, since the famine had begun. The brothers didn’t recognize Joseph, but he recognized them. And over the next three chapters (Genesis 42-44), he puts them through the wringer!
The tables are turned
Knowing who they are, Joseph accuses his brothers of being spies, but they protest, saying they are honest sons of one man, though the youngest is not with them, and one brother was no longer with them. Can you imagine how this would sound to your ears if you were Joseph? At one point, he had to turn away and weep.
Joseph throws them in jail for three days, then releases them, demanding that they bring the youngest of their brothers back to him. They have to leave one brother behind, however, so Joseph keeps Simeon in Egypt. Per Joseph’s order, the brothers are sent back with the grain they came to buy, but they don’t realize till they’re headed home that Joseph had put their money back in their sacks as well! When they see the money, they panic and despair:
So he [one of the brothers] said to his brothers, “My money has been restored, and there it is, in my sack!” Then their hearts failed them and they were afraid, saying to one another, “What is this God has done to us?” -Genesis 42:28 (NKJV)
The brothers go back and tell their father what happens, and Jacob is not happy. After some convincing by Reuben and Judah, Jacob allows Benjamin to go back with them to Egypt to get more grain. Jacob also has them bring the best fruits they have–and double money–as a present to this man in Egypt, in the hopes Jacob won’t lose two more sons.
Upon seeing Benjamin with his brothers, Joseph has the steward of the house take the men to his home to dine with them. You can imagine the fear in his brothers’ hearts, to be taken to his house! They were sure they would be assumed thieves because of the money still in their sacks, but the steward assured them they were fine.
So, Joseph learns from his brothers that his father is alive and well. (The brothers must be wondering why he’s asking about their father?) And upon seeing young Benjamin, Joseph is overwhelmed and temporarily steps away to weep, because he and Benjamin are both sons of Rachel, unlike his half-brothers.
So, they all dine at separate tables (Egyptians wouldn’t be caught dead eating with Hebrews), with Benjamin getting five times as much food as anyone else!
Joseph sends all of his brothers home, with as much food as they can carry, their money in their sacks…and Joseph’s own silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. Why? Find out in the next installment!
Conviction and grace
It’s often said that Joseph is a Jesus figure, and we can see how: God casts light onto our sins and we are convicted, and must face them. The brothers have shouldered the burden of their sin for about 20 years now, and with it brought to light, they despair.
But, like Jesus, Joseph supplies them their need, which they cannot buy with money. That is how God’s grace works! And it only gets better. Stay tuned for the next installment!
Sidewalk Prophets’ “Change This Heart” asks God to take on the burdens of guilt we’ve brought on ourselves, and with His grace, heal our hearts and take it away.