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Risking It All — Genesis Chapter 43

This blog post will cover the devotionals #179, 180 for Genesis Chapter 43.

Please note that this devotional book is for sale as a physical (paperback) &/or digital (PDF) book on my website.

[179] Genesis 43:1-14

Joseph’s family had been in Canaan a while after their first trip for food, and they were now out of corn once again. His brothers waited silently in hopes of Jacob changing his mind about sending their youngest brother. They knew they couldn’t convince him and that it’d be pointless to return to Egypt without him. Once again, their camp grew dark with apprehension, and picking up on that fact, Jacob told them to return for more food. Judah strongly reminded him of the fact that the governor had sworn not to see them again unless they brought their youngest brother back with them. Thus, they refused to go back if Jacob continued to refuse to send Benjamin with them. Jacob recognized the predicament he was in, and cried out the ‘what if’ scenario. “Why have you dealt so ill with me, to tell the man whether you had yet another brother?” They told him that the governor had asked directly about their state, family, and if their father was still alive. They told Jacob they'd answered honestly because how could they have possibly known that he’d require them to bring Benjamin there? Now that Jacob appeared to be struggling to resist, Judah again petitioned his father to send Benjamin with them, promising that if he did, their whole family would survive—and that he (Judah) would himself be responsible for him (his safety or the guilt of his loss if anything happened to him). He then showed Jacob how they could’ve gone a second time and returned with Simeon and more food by then if Jacob had allowed them to take Benjamin sooner. Would Jacob budge this time? He responded to his original hesitation in a very similar way to how Esther had responded to hers (“If I perish, I perish.”). “If I am deprived of my children, I am deprived.” These were his last words before sending them away (just as Esther had spoken her last words before approaching the king). Jacob finally felt compelled, despite his intense fear of loss, to send Benjamin with them. If he sent him, he risked losing him. If he didn’t, he risked losing their whole family (to slavery, starvation, and/or death). This is again, just like Esther. If she went before the king unsummoned, she risked death. If she didn’t, then she still risked losing her people, as well as her own death (either by her Hebrew nationality—which had been condemned to slaughter, or by the natural consequences that come from disobeying God). Thus, as Esther surrendered, Jacob surrendered, instructing his sons to return with what meager gifts they could attain in their current state of famine—balm, honey, spices, myrrh, and nuts. This was an attempt to seek favor with Joseph. They were also to take double the money, as well as the money that was originally returned to them—in case it was simply an oversight. This wouldn’t only be the right thing to do, but also a safeguard against their risk of punishment for returning home with it the first time. He then consented to release Benjamin to them, praying God would allow the governor to be merciful and release both Simeon and Benjamin to return home.

[180] Genesis 43:15-34

Joseph’s brothers did as Jacob instructed, taking the gift, Benjamin, and double the money, and returned to Egypt. When Joseph saw them, and recognized Benjamin, he told his estate manager to take them all to his home and prepare a feast. They’d be his lunch guests. When his brothers realized they were being taken to the governor’s house, they got scared. They recalled their fear of the possible consequence for their original payment and said he’d discovered the matter (or would follow through with his evil plan) and would now enslave them and take their donkeys and goods. They were so worried about what might happen that they spoke with Joseph’s estate manager at the front door and explained everything, and that they brought the money back to return it to him. They stated they had no clue how the money ended up in their sacks. He calmed their fears, saying they should be at peace, because their father’s God had put treasure in their sacks, and that he had their money. At that point, Simeon was also released to them, and they felt immense gratitude for God’s mercy—and that their father had prayed for that very thing. Joseph was given two different dreams that meant the same thing (two times signified importance)—but it’s interesting that the thing depicted in the dreams happened more than once. They bowed down to him when they first arrived in Egypt, and they bowed down to him again twice more when they arrived before him the second time. When the men were eased of their fears, they were given water to cleanse their feet, and food to feed their donkeys. They prepared their gift for Joseph for noon, and offered it upon his arrival, bowing down to the ground before him. He proceeded to inquire of their well-being, and if their father was alive and well. They answered that he was, and again, bowed down to him. Joseph looked up and saw Benjamin and was moved nearly to tears. He asked if this was the younger brother they’d told him about, and then said to him, “God be gracious unto you, my son.” Joseph quickly departed to his bedroom so that they wouldn’t see or hear him weep (like the last time). Once he was finished, he composed himself, washed his face, and went back out for lunch. He called for the bread to be served. In keeping with his disguise, he didn’t sit at the same table with them to eat—as it was a known fact that Egyptians considered it an abomination to eat with Hebrews—in fact, they were forbidden by their laws to eat at the same table with people of any other nation. The other Egyptians that were present were also given a separate table to eat at. Interestingly, Joseph seated his brothers in a particular order. They quickly recognized they’d been ordered at their table from firstborn to the youngest (missing, of course, only Joseph). How could that be a coincidence, considering there were eleven of them? “What were the odds of that happening?”, they marveled amongst themselves. This was even more shocking because it was a tradition for people to be placed in order of age—in the instances where the diners’ ages were known. They knew the governor couldn’t possibly know all their ages. From there, Joseph continued testing them. He sent platters of food to each brother, but when Benjamin’s arrived, it was five times bigger than the rest of theirs. He did this as a special love offering for his brother, but also because he wanted to see if they’d show the same jealousy toward their younger brother that they’d shown towards him. He still communicated to them through an interpreter because he knew they’d speak openly in front of him as they had before—and this'd be the greatest way to determine their true feelings. However, they drank together only joyfully. The envy was apparently gone. However, as we’ll see in devotional #181, he still wasn't through testing them.

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