Genesis 47:13-26

13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine.14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.”

16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.

18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”

20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.

23 Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground.24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.”

25 “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

26 So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.
(Genesis 47:13-26 NIV)

In our last time together, Joseph introduced his family to Pharaoh.  Joseph brought his father and a few of his brothers to meet the king.  After the introductions, Joseph settled his family in the land of Goshen, where they earned a living as shepherds.

As we pick up today’s story, we see Joseph is back at his job, running the country during a five-year famine.  In verses 13-15, Moses reminds us that the famine was across both Egypt and Canaan.  If Jacob and his family would have stayed in Canaan, they would have been destitute, as the famine wiped out everyone’s financial resources.

When the Egyptians’ money was all spent on buying grain, the people came back to Joseph and demanded food so they did not starve to death.  Joseph wisely did not give them food as a handout.  Rather, he gave them food in exchange for their livestock.

After that year had passed, the Egyptians came back and demanded food again.  This time, they approached Joseph with a little more humility.  Since their money and livestock were gone, all they had left was their land and themselves.  Joseph did not turn them away; instead, he exchanged food for their land and their servitude.

Since the Pharaoh now owned everything, Joseph gave the people seed to plant crops.  At harvest time, they were to give Pharaoh one fifth (20%) of the crop, and they could keep four fifths (80%) as theirs.  Verse 25 tells us that the people were grateful for Joseph’s compassionate arrangement, as they would have starved to death otherwise.

Moses notes that the only group that did not sell their land was the Egyptian priests, as they were given an allocation of food from Pharaoh.  Moses also notes that Joseph’s 20%/80% crop share arrangement was still in effect in his day, many centuries later.

It is interesting that historians seem divided over Joseph’s plan.  Detractors claim that Joseph was opportunistic and greedy, taking everything from the people and reducing their way of life to being servants of Pharaoh.  Supporters claim that Joseph was being compassionate by giving the people the ability to exchange what they had (money, livestock, land, themselves) for what they needed (food).

Personally, I am supportive of Joseph’s plan.  He did not let people starve to death, and he allowed them to retain their homes and families.  He also made a provision for them to keep 80% of their crop, so they had incentive to work hard and keep the majority of their crop to meet their own needs.

May we see God’s hand in this plan.  The Lord had predicted that this famine would not only wipe out the country’s reserves, but also their memory of former “good times”.  Through Joseph, the Lord preserved an entire nation and caused that nation to be grateful for their blessings through hard times.

May we thank God in both times of plenty and in hard times.  He is our life-giver and sustainer through all of life’s ups and downs.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 47:1-12

47 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.

Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?”

“Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?”

And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” 10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12 Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.
(Genesis 47:1-12 NIV)

As we ended Chapter 46 last time, we saw Jacob and his family arrive in Egypt.  Joseph was reunited with his father in a tearful, joyful time for both of them.

Joseph then spent some time instructing his family on what to say when Pharaoh and others asked about their occupation.  They were shepherds, keepers of livestock.  While this was certainly an honorable profession, it was loathsome in the Egyptians’ eyes.  Joseph was not trying to make his family look bad in front of Pharaoh – he was protecting them from the undue influence of Egyptian culture by creating a boundary around them.

In today’s passage, Joseph introduces a few of his brothers and his father to Pharaoh.  Joseph knew Pharaoh well, and knew that Pharaoh would ask about their occupation.  Right on cue, the brothers answered as Joseph had instructed.

Scholars take two different positions on the selection of 5 brothers to bring before Pharaoh.  Some scholars say that Joseph brought the best and brightest of his brothers before Pharaoh.  Other scholars (many from Jewish background) suggest the opposite – that Joseph brought the youngest and the least physically desirable of his brothers before Pharaoh so that Pharaoh would not draft them into his army.

Notice how Joseph’s brothers addressed Pharaoh as “your servants”.  They showed honor to Pharaoh and willingly put themselves under his authority with their reference.  In verses 3-4, they referred to themselves as Pharaoh’s servants 3 times.  The brothers don’t thank Pharaoh for his hospitality and invitation to come to Egypt; they humbly admit that they are starving in Canaan and throw themselves on Pharaoh’s mercy, not assuming anything.  The brothers’ statements also reflect the permanency of their stay – they were here to settle, not to just wait out the famine.

Pharaoh granted their request, and ordered Joseph to settle them in Goshen, the best of the pasture land in Egypt.  Pharaoh also told Joseph to put the best shepherds among his brothers in charge of Pharaoh’s livestock.

After Joseph introduced his brother to Pharaoh, he then introduced his father.  Normally the person of lower rank is silent until the person of higher rank speaks to them.  In this case, Jacob spoke first, blessing Pharaoh.  Moses does not record the specifics of the blessing, only that Jacob blessed him.

Jacob’s blessing may have included a typical Old Testament blessing found elsewhere in Scriptures – something like “O king, live forever” (Nehemiah 2:3, multiple references in the book of Daniel).

After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh only had one question for Jacob – “how old are you?”  Moses does not capture the nature of Pharaoh’s question – it may have been  because Jacob looked ancient already, or because asking his age was Pharaoh’s way of returning the honor to Jacob.

In any case, Jacob answered Pharaoh’s question, and used the opportunity to provide a brief autobiography of his life.  Life had been hard, and Jacob admitted that neither the quality nor the quantity of his years measured up to that of his father or grandfather.  Jacob then blessed Pharaoh a second time before leaving.

After the meeting with Pharaoh, Joseph settled his father and brothers in Goshen, deeding them property on which to live and call their own.  Joseph also set them up with food rations, according to the number of persons in each family unit.

May we see the meta-narrative in this story – the bigger picture – that of God going ahead of them and providing for them through Joseph – decades in advance.  Truly God’s sovereignty, omniscience, and love was at work – summed up in what many people call God’s Providence.

And as we recognize God’s Providence, may we humbly bow in worship, thanking God and giving Him the glory for His provision, protection, and love.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 46:28-34

28 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29 Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time.

30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”

31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”
(Genesis 46:28-34 NIV)

In our last time together, we saw Jacob and all his family pull up roots in Canaan and begin the journey to Egypt.  Jacob stopped at Beersheeba to worship the Lord, and the Lord reassured Jacob that this was part of His plan to care for him and his family.

As we pick up today’s text, we see Jacob sending Judah ahead to get directions to where they are to settle.  Joseph had told them to settle in Goshen; Jacob wanted to make sure they went to the correct place Joseph had reserved for them.

When Joseph heard of his family’s impending arrival, he went by chariot to Goshen and met them.  They family reunion between Jacob and Joseph was overwhelming and joyful at the same time.  When Joseph reintroduced himself to Benjamin, he embraced him and wept tears of joy; when Joseph saw his father again, he embraced him and wept tears of joy for a long time.

Jacob’s comment to Joseph said it all – his life was fulfilled, having now seen his son whom he thought was dead and gone.

After the family reunion, Joseph knew that he needed to inform Pharaoh that his family had arrived.  This was no clandestine sneaking in of his family to provide for them.  Pharaoh had invited Joseph’s family to come live in Egypt; Joseph wanted to let Pharaoh know they had arrived.  Joseph gave his father and brothers clear instructions on what he would tell Pharaoh, and what they were to say to Pharaoh when asked about their occupation.

Joseph’s message and theirs were to be one and the same – their family’s occupation was and is that of shepherds – keepers of livestock.

Joseph wanted his family to identify as shepherds for several reasons:

  1. Because that is what they did for a living
  2. Because they would not be a threat to the Egyptians or their way of life
  3. Because they would be left alone and not integrated into the Egyptian culture
  4. Because they could then freely worship their God and not be forced into pagan worship of the Egyptian gods
  5. Goshen was closer to Canaan, and was likely less populated than the rest of Egypt
  6. Goshen had better pastures for their flocks than any other area in Egypt
  7. Because they could have dignity in what they did for a living, even as lowly shepherds

Joseph knew that living separately from the Egyptians was important to preserve their culture and faith walk with God.  Thus, he made their calling and occupation the central part of the message to Pharaoh, knowing that Pharaoh would gladly agree to send them off to Goshen to live and work, as shepherds were repulsive to Egyptians.

May we identify with our true calling, with what the Lord has put before us to do, whether that calling might be.  If God calls us to a humble post, may we be satisfied with that post and serve Him with all our might, even if the world looks down on us.  If God calls us to something greater, may we serve Him equally well with all our might, and not look down on others serving the Lord as He has called them.

The ground at the foot of the cross is level – we are all sinners, equally guilty before God’s righteousness, except for the blood of Christ that wiped away our sins and provides the way for us to come before God.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 46:1-27

46 So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan.Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.

These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt:

Reuben the firstborn of Jacob.

The sons of Reuben:

Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi.

10 The sons of Simeon:

Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman.

11 The sons of Levi:

Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

12 The sons of Judah:

Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan).

The sons of Perez:

Hezron and Hamul.

13 The sons of Issachar:

Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron.

14 The sons of Zebulun:

Sered, Elon and Jahleel.

15 These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all.

16 The sons of Gad:

Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.

17 The sons of Asher:

Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah.

Their sister was Serah.

The sons of Beriah:

Heber and Malkiel.

18 These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah—sixteen in all.

19 The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel:

Joseph and Benjamin. 20 In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.

21 The sons of Benjamin:

Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.

22 These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob—fourteen in all.

23 The son of Dan:

Hushim.

24 The sons of Naphtali:

Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem.

25 These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel—seven in all.

26 All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. 27 With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.
(Genesis 46:1-27 NIV)

As we finished Chapter 45, we saw Jacob’s sons return home and share the news that Joseph was still alive.  Jacob did not believe his sons – how could this be?  After so many years of living with the belief that Joseph was dead, this seemed like an impossibility.

But hearing all his son’s stories, and seeing the Egyptian carts that Pharaoh and Joseph had sent to bring them to Egypt, Jacob was convinced that their stories were true and he could see his son Joseph before he died.

As we begin Chapter 46, we see Jacob and all his family – his sons and their wives and children, all begin their migration from Canaan to Egypt.

In his younger days, Jacob had dreams from the Lord about the future; now as an old man, he has a direct encounter with God when he stops to worship the Lord on his way to Egypt.  The Lord assures him that he will see his son Joseph before he dies, and instructs him to not fear going to Egypt.  The Lord is going before him, and will one day bring him and his descendants back to the land that He had promised as their earthly home for all their generations to come.

Strengthened from the visit from the Lord, Jacob and all his family took one last look around their homeland and began their caravan to Egypt.

Moses then provides a genealogy of Jacob and his descendants that left Canaan and moved to Egypt.  Verses 26 and 27 tell us that there were 66 direct descendants in the caravan, and 70 total (including Jacob, Joseph, and Joseph’s two sons) that moved to Egypt.

While that genealogy and count seems immaterial at this point, the Lord knew its importance far into the future.  Four hundred plus years later, Jacob’s little tribe of 70 would grow into a mighty people that the Egyptians would fear because of their sheer numbers.  God’s promise to Jacob to make his descendants into a might nation (v. 3) would, and did, come true.

May we learn to trust the Lord with the future of our family, especially for future generations that go far beyond our lifetime.

May we pray for the future of our family, that future generations would walk faithfully with the Lord, and that the Lord’s Divine Providence would go before them as He did for and through Jacob and Joseph.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 45:16-28

16 When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. 17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, 18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’

19 “You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come.20 Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’”

21 So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22 To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!”

25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
(Genesis 45:16-28 NIV)

In the beginning of Chapter 45, Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers.  Scripture records that the brothers were terrified – most likely, they were fearing for their lives.  Joseph quickly addressed their fears, letting them know that what they meant for evil so many years ago, God was orchestrating for the good of the whole family.  There would be no paybacks, no retribution.

As we noted last time, the news quickly spread to Joseph’s Egyptian counterparts, and all the way up to Pharaoh himself.

In today’s passage,  we Pharaoh’s response to the news of Joseph’s brothers.  Pharaoh summoned Joseph and told him to invite his whole family to move to Egypt.  Pharaoh promised them land and provision for all of Joseph’s family – his brothers and their families, as well as his aged father.  Pharaoh even sent provisions and carts to make the journey easier for the women, children, and Joseph’s father.

Joseph arranged for all the provisions as Pharaoh had commanded.  Joseph’s last admonition before the brothers left Egypt was to get along – no quarreling on the way!  Joseph knew his brothers all too well – sibling rivalry was still strong among his brothers.

When the brothers arrived home, they told their father that Joseph was still alive.  Imagine Jacob’s shock and disbelief as he heard this news.  In fact, verse 26 records that Jacob did not believe them!

I find it ironic that Jacob immediately jumped to worst-case scenario and assumed Joseph was dead back in Chapter 37 when the brothers presented Joseph’s multi-colored coat to Jacob and asked if it belong to Joseph, and now, when the brothers tell the truth, Jacob does not believe them.

But the brothers prevailed by telling their father everything that Joseph had said to them, and by the evidence of the Egyptian carts that were ready to take them to Egypt.

Verse 27 says that the brothers told Jacob everything that Joseph had said to them.  I wonder if they came clean about their hatred and evil deeds so many years ago, or if they simply said that God sent Joseph ahead to provide for them?  After so many years, did it even matter any more?

Upon hearing from his sons and seeing the carts, Jacob was convinced that his sons’ message was true.  Verse 28 records Jacob saying, “I’m convinced!”  The literal translation from the Hebrew is actually Jacob saying, “Enough!”  Jacob had heard all he needed to hear, and stopped the conversation.  Jacob’s mind was made up; he was ready to go see his long-lost son Joseph before he died.

Interestingly, today’s text refers to Jacob as both his old name (Jacob) and his new God-given name (Israel).  Indeed, transformation was still taking place in Jacob’s life, even in his old age.

May we allow God to transform our hearts and minds, no matter how old we are, or what life has thrown at us.

May we rejoice at good news, and look forward to experiencing what God in His Providence has been knitting together for His glory and our good so many years ago.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 45:1-15

45 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping.But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.
(Genesis 45:1-15 NIV)

As we ended Chapter 44, Judah had just finished a lengthy discourse to remind Joseph (whom he only knew as the second-in-command of all Egypt) of their obedience to his orders, and the terrible consequences of going back home without Benjamin.  In the end, Judah offers himself as servant in Benjamin’s place so Benjamin can safely return home to their father.

Joseph had arranged this final test to see if his brothers would be loyal to Benjamin or not.  Judah had passed the test – he had a humble, self-sacrificing heart toward others.

Chapter 45 is a continuation of the same story and the same meeting.  Now it is Joseph’s time to talk to his brothers.

Joseph’s heart must have been leaping out of his chest at this moment.  The first thing Joseph did was to order all his Egyptian officials, attendants, and workers out of the room.  Joseph wanted to be alone with his brothers when he revealed his identity.

Verse 2 paints such a vivid picture – decades of emotion came pouring out as Joseph prepared to reveal who he was to his brothers.  The Egyptians heard Joseph weeping, and news of the event quickly traveled all the way up to Pharaoh himself.

Finally, Joseph speaks through his tears with a statement and a question:

  • “I am Joseph!”
  • “Is my father still living?”

Imagine, for a moment, if you were one of Joseph’s brothers, learning that the ruler standing in front of you was your long-lost brother that you had helped sell into slavery so many years ago.  What would be your first thought?  Repentance?  Fear of retribution or retaliation?

The text says that the brothers were completely speechless and physically immobile – they were terrified; their worst nightmare had just come true.

Joseph breaks his brothers’ “deer-in-the-headlights” response by ordering them to approach him, to come closer to him.  The brothers approach Joseph, and he then began talking to them.

In verses 4 – 8, Joseph repeated his revelation as their brother, then proceeded to tell them not to be distressed or angry with themselves, for God had a bigger plan to preserve the entire family during the famine.  This was not their plan, but God’s preparation for this time and this place.

In verses 9 – 23, Joseph quickly laid out what their future would look like.  They would go back to Canaan, retrieve all their father and all their family members and possessions, and move to Egypt where Joseph would take care of them.  Joseph did not want his brothers to over-think this command, so he created a sense of urgency for them to obey him. They wouldn’t have time to think, just to obey.

Joseph knew his father was old, so he wanted to ensure that his brothers moved to Egypt quickly so he could see his father before he died.

Finally, Joseph approached his brothers, weeping for joy over them – Benjamin, his full blood brother first, then the rest of his half-brothers (vv. 14 – 15).  Relieved to know that their lives were not in danger, Joseph’s half-brothers finally began talking to Joseph.

The key to this story is seeing Joseph give God the glory for all the events that had taken place over so many years.  God had taken the horrible acts of jealousy, selfishness, lying, and deceit on the part of the half-brothers and redeemed them into a path forward to save the entire Jewish race.

Where in your life have you seen God take something devastating and awful and supernaturally transform it into something for His glory and your good?

May we learn to hold our circumstances lightly, knowing that God transforms our brokenness and hurts into something amazing when we let Him, when we surrender our desire to retaliate or become a victim or to try to control the circumstances or the outcome.  When we allow God to take control, he transforms the worst into the best, for both Himself and for us, as only He can do.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 44:18-34

r18 Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’

21 “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ 22 And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ 23 But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 24 When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said.

25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ 26 But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’

27 “Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. 29 If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.’

30 “So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life,31 sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32 Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’

33 “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.”
(Genesis 44:18-34 NIV)

As we began Chapter 44, Joseph gave his brothers one final test to see how much they had really changed. Did they really care about their half-brother Benjamin, or would they give him up as they had given up Joseph so many years ago? The test would feel extremely ominous, but in the end, pose no real threat to Benjamin.

Joseph worked through his house steward to set up the test.  The house steward returned each man’s money in their grain sack, and put Joseph’s silver cup in Benjamin’s grain sack.  The men departed, then the house steward chased down the men after they left town and accused them of stealing Joseph’s silver cup.  The men vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and said if one of the brothers had Joseph’s cup, they must die.  The house steward fit the punishment to the crime; if the cup was found in one of the men’s sacks, then that man must become Joseph’s slave.

Upon inspection of each man’s sack, the men discovered their money returned, and Joseph’s cup in Benjamin’s sack.  The brothers tore their clothes, signifying deep sorrow and pain.  They knew that they could not go home without Benjamin, as the news would kill their father.  They quickly went back to Egypt and went before Joseph to explain and make amends.

As we pick up the story today, Judah becomes the family spokesman and recounts their full history with Joseph.  Judah focuses on the relationship between his father and Benjamin, and the devastating effect it would have on their father if Benjamin were held captive and not allowed to return home.  Judah repeatedly refers to himself and his family as “your servants”, showing proper respect to Joseph and putting themselves under his authority.

In the final two verses, Judah pleads with Joseph to allow himself to be made Joseph’s slave in place of Benjamin.  Judah had given his word to his father that he would safely return Benjamin home or take the blame for not doing so.

In this passage, we see Judah’s humility and integrity come out.  Judah did not abandon ship and look out for his own interests when faced with an insurmountable challenge.  Instead, he offered himself in place of his brother, standing in the gap, just as he had promised his father he would do.

We also see Judah engaging Joseph’s heart, pleading with Joseph to not break his father’s heart by detaining Benjamin as a slave.  His offer of substituting his life for Benjamin’s shows the extent to which he knows and believes the devastation that would take place in his father’s life if Benjamin did not safely return home.

This is a vastly different Judah than the one we saw back in Chapter 37 who sold his brother Joseph to the slave traders.  We can’t speak for the other brothers, but Judah passed Joseph’s character and loyalty tests with flying colors.

When faced with difficult and seemingly insurmountable circumstances, may we stay true to the Lord and His Word, even if, like Judah, it requires us to lay down our own life and deny ourselves.

Blessings,
~kevin