We have been taking an in-depth look at the life of Joseph throughout the summer. And it’s taken us a little while to get through it all… there’s a lot of information to cover – and a lot of good lessons to be learned from Joseph and from his family. However, we are nearing the end, and today, we’ll cover a lot of ground – probably about a chapter & a half.
Now even if you haven’t been with us for the last little while, I’m going to assume that most of you have heard at least the Sunday School version of Joseph’s story – so I’m not going to recap things from the very beginning, but I will just quickly help you get your bearings for where we are today.
Because of a wide-spread famine, Joseph’s brothers have just come to Egypt to buy food, but unknown to them, Joseph (whom they had sold into slavery many years before) had risen to be the second-in-command over all of Egypt – and it was from him that they would have to buy grain.
Of course, they didn’t recognize him, (it had been about 20 years since they saw him last) but he certainly recognized them and instead of immediately revealing his identity, he decided to take advantage of this opportunity and put them to the test. We don’t fully know his motivations for why he decided to test his brothers, but we kinda assume it was to see what kind of men they had become in the years since they had sold him as a slave. Were they still heartless and cruel (men who would plot to kill their own brother) – or had they changed?
So to find out, this is what he did. First of all, he accused them of being spies and threw them all in prison for three days. (What youngest sibling hasn’t wanted to do that to their older brothers at some pointing their life….?)
After those three days, he brought them out and told them that he would continue to hold one of them (Simeon) as his prisoner, while the other brothers were to take food home for their starving families. In order to prove their innocence and to prove their story of all being brothers from one family, they would have to bring their youngest brother back to Egypt with them when they returned the next time – or else Simeon would remain in prison and the brothers would not be allowed to buy any more grain in Egypt.
And Joseph comes across as being very harsh with them, but we can tell that he still cared very much about his family – as he sent them home with both the grain they bought for their families, as well as secretly giving them all their money back.
But of course, the brothers had not idea about this money – but when they discovered this it on their way home, they concluded that God was trying to frame them as thieves as punishment for what they had done to Joseph years ago and they were totally terrified about what would happen if the Egyptians though they were not only spies, but thieves too!
When they finally arrived home, and told their father, Jacob, about what had happened and what the governor had said, and Jacob certainly wasn’t happy either – as he had no intentions whatsoever of letting his youngest son Benjamin go with the rest of the brothers to Egypt. You see, Benjamin was Jacob’s favorite son, and he would not allow him to be put in any sort of risky situation.
And that’s about where we left off last time. Simeon is in prison, the famine is still devastating the land, and the food is very limited. But the brothers don’t dare go back to Egypt without Benjamin – and Jacob is absolutely refusing to let Benjamin go. It seem like they’re at a bit of an impasse – but something’s got to give! So we’re going to continue reading today in Genesis chapter 43, verse 1 to see how this all pans out.