25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, 26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.
27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.”
Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”
29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30 “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’
33 “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.’”
35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”
37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”
38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”
(Genesis 42:25-38 NIV)
My apologies – I somehow skipped this passage last time, and jumped right to Chapter 43!
In the first part of Chapter 42, Joseph recognizes his brothers when they arrive in Egypt to buy grain. Joseph does not reveal his identity to them, but instead treats them as strangers and questions their motives for being in Egypt by accusing them of being spies.
Joseph inquires about the brothers’ family, and quickly learns that his father is still alive, as well as his younger full blood brother Benjamin. Joseph devises a plan to make the brothers bring his brother Benjamin to Egypt so he can see him again. Joseph holds Simeon as hostage until the other brothers bring Benjamin to Egypt.
In today’s passage, Joseph approves the sale of grain to the brothers, gives them provisions for their trip, then sends them on their way. In his desire to bless his brothers, he has secretly returned each brother’s money in the top of their grain sacks.
One of the brothers discovers the money in his sack when they stop overnight on their way home. The brothers automatically blame God for their predicament, and wonder what could have brought on this judgment from the Almighty.
The brothers arrive at home and tell all the details to Jacob, their father. Jacob listens as the brothers recount their stories. Everything is apparently fine until the brothers pour out the grain in their sacks, and discover that every man’s sack contains their money.
At this point, Jacob blames his sons for all his life’s misfortunes. Jacob’s assumption is that the brothers will be known as thieves in Egypt, and that he will never see Simeon again, as the brothers could never show their face in Egypt again because of their bad actions.
Reuben tries to console his father, but his offer is no offer at all in Jacob’s eyes and heart. To lose two sons (Joseph and Simeon) is bad enough; to lose two grandsons on top of his two lost sons is just as bad or worse.
Jacob also makes it clear that there is no way that he will ever allow Benjamin to go to Egypt under the current conditions. This is the only surviving son (or so he thinks) of his beloved and departed wife Rachel – he will not sacrifice or put Benjamin at risk in any way, shape, or form.
Jacob ends this section by telling his sons that if he were to trust them and send his son (their brother) Benjamin down to Egypt and something were to happen to Benjamin, that it would be like they were sending their father to a living hell (Sheol).
Joseph’s act of kindness (returning the money for each brother) creates a crisis of faith within the brothers and with his father. Will they trust God, or will they continue to react in fear?
How do we respond when we are faced with our own crisis of faith?
Do we make unholy agreements based only on what we know and respond out of fear or out of natural response?
Or do we go immediately to our Father in Heaven and ask for His assistance to understand, or how to proceed?
May we turn to our Heavenly Father for wisdom and next steps for all of life’s events.