Wednesday, August 1, 2012

XXVII - Chapters 44 and 45 - All Twelve Brothers Together Again

Chapter 44  -  After all we've seen thus far, Joseph is still not ready to reveal his true identity to his family.  They've all finished their meal and the brothers are ready to return home to Jacob their father, especially since they will be bringing home good news.  But Joseph is not finished with them.  He instructs his steward to load up as much grain as their animals can carry, put their silver back into their pouches, and hide Joseph's silver cup in Benjamin's pouch.

The brothers left early the next morning (vs 3).  But shortly after they left, Joseph instructed his steward to catch them and accuse them of stealing Joseph's silver cup.  When the steward and his armed men caught them and accused them, the brothers desparately denied having stolen anything.  They went so far as offering to put do death anyone found with the silver cup.  To prove their innocence, (vs 11) they each pulled their sacks and pouches to the ground so the steward could search them.  Then, sure enough, the cup was found in Benjamin's possession.  All of the brothers tore their garments in grief and fear.  Grief because their main promise to their father Jacob was to bring Benjamin back safely.  Fear because they would probably to be put to death or, at the very least, enslavement for the rest of their lives.

Vss 14--> They were brought back to Joseph's house and Joseph was waiting for them.  Joseph accused them and scolded them, telling them that nothing can be hidden from him.  Judah stepped forward and admitted they didn't know how to prove their innocence and submitted all eleven of them to be their slaves.  {Judah says in vs 16 that God has uncovered their guilt.  I believe that Judah and and his brothers considered this God's punishment for what they did to their brother Joseph 15 years ago, and they were ready to accept it.}  But Joseph said he wanted only to punish the guilty one, who would be Benjamin.

{Comment:  As a reader and student of God's Holy Scripture, you may be saying to yourself:  Golly!  Enough is enough!  Why does Joseph continue to torment these men?  It seems cruel.  And it seems so out-of-character for a fine servant of God such as Joseph.  As the writer of this post, I have had those thoughts myself every time I have read these passages.  I would offer you an opinion, but I have none that I would feel confident to submit.}

Vss 18-32  -  Judah humbly approaches Joseph in a state of desparation.  Judah recounts the entire series of events surrounding their father Jacob, Benjamin, Rachel, Joseph, and the journeys back and forth to Egypt.  Judah tries to appeal to Joseph's compassion for their aged father Jacob.  Then in vs 33 Judah offers to take the place of Benjamin in slavery, just to save his father from dieing of bereavement.  {Try to place yourself in Judah's mind for a moment.  I'm not suggesting Judah has always been a stand-up guy all these years.  He wasn't.  But at this very moment, he gets my respect.  It's very unselfish of Judah to offer to take Benjamin's place as a slave in order to spare his father so much grief.  Judah knows he's not his father's favorite.  Benjamin is.  Just like the day before, when Benjamin got a larger portion to eat than Judah and the rest of his brothers, Benjamin probably has always gotten favored in all such matters.  Still and yet, Judah is willing to send Benjamin back to the cuddling arms of his father and take his place in a foreign land, enslaved in who-knows-what kind of horrible situation.  Kinda what Jesus did for us.  agree?  So, Judah is not so bad, after all.}

Chapter 45 - Vss 1-->  Judah's eloquant plea was too much for Joseph.  He could contain himself no longer.  He sent away everyone from his presence except the Hebrews, and then made himself known to them.  He wept so loudly that his entire household heard it and the word spread even to Pharaoh's palace.  His brothers were dumbfounded by this and confused.  They could not take all of this in.  When his brothers actually realized that it was really Joseph, they were once again frightened, thinking this might be the day of reckoning; the time for Joseph to exact revenge on them for their evil deed.  But Joseph was quick to relieve their fears (vs 5) by telling them that it was all by the hand of God and all is forgiven.  Joseph goes on to say that God made it all happen so Jacob and all of Israel would be saved from the famine.  Vs 8:  "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God".

So Joseph tells them to hurry and go back to Jacob their father and give him the news that all of his sons are alive.  And bring Jacob down to Egypt where I have the best spot (Goshen) picked out for all of you to live near me.  They must go to Egypt because Joseph knows God has another 5 years of famine, and Egypt is the only place Israel can survive.   Look at vs 15 - Joseph kissed all his brothers and wept over them.  Afterward his brothers talked with him.  That would have been interesting to sit in their midst as they talked with each other , brother to brother, as equals, and telling of their lives.  Bound to have lasted for hours.

Vss 16-->  The news of this reunion reached Pharaoh.  So highly did Pharaoh think of Joseph (wouldn't you?), that he added to everthing that Joseph had already promised them.  Pharaoh ordered carts to be sent with all necessary items plus some.  He also sent wagons for the return trip to Egypt to provide comfort to Joseph's family for the journey.  Also Pharaoh instructed them not to bring anything because he would provide everything they needed when they arrived in Egypt.  As Jacob had sent to Egypt the best Canaan could offer, Pharaoh was not to be out-done.  He sent gifts to Jacob, "ten donkeys loaded with the BEST things of Egypt".  Notice as they left (vs 24) Joseph said to them, "Don't quarrel on the way!"  (Seems like a strange thing to say.)

Be sure to read vss 25-28.  So wonderful was the news to Jacob, he didn't believe a word they were telling him until he saw the carts and donkeys sent with them from Pharaoh.  And when he realized that his son Joseph was still alive, his spirit revived.  {Their father Jacob has had a rough few years.  He lost Joseph and thought he was torn to shreds by a wild animal.  He lost Rachel whom he loved so dearly.  He has been beaten down by two years of drought and famine with no end in sight.  He risked the lives of the rest of his sons by sending them to a probable hostile situation in Egypt.  He has lost a large portion of his herds and flocks by now.  Being the head of the family and estated, he probably blames himself for his family and servants being on the brink of starvation.}  So the man's "spirit" could use lifting.  In the last verse of chapter 45 Joseph says, "I'm convinced!  My son Joseph is alive.  I will go and see him before I die." 

Jacob and the twelve tribes of Israel leaving the promised land in Canaan.  Seems like quite a detour.  But we'll see how this is all in God's plan for His chosen people as we continue our journey through His Holy Scripture.

Next post  -  Jacob goes to Egypt

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