Summary: The Life of Joseph Reunion and Reconciliation in Egypt Genesis 42-47
The Life of Joseph
Reunion and Reconciliation in Egypt
November 20, 2016
We finish up our series on “The Life of Joseph” next week and start our Advent series, “Rediscovering Joy” during the month of December. Today’s message, “Reunion and Reconciliation in Egypt,” we look at Genesis chapters 42-47. Last week, we saw Joseph go from prison to the palace in a matter of hours. Life has finally turned sweet for Joseph, he is now the prime minister of Egypt, married, and has two sons. The first, Manasseh, meaning God has made him forget all his hardships and all his father’s house and the second, Ephraim, meaning God has made him fruitful in the land of his affliction (41:51-53). And Egypt is experiencing just what Joseph predicted, the seven years of prosperity are over and they are into two years of famine. But the famine includes all the surrounding lands (41:54) who must come to Egypt seeking grain for survival (41:54-57).
When Jacob learns that there is grain in Egypt he sends all the brothers to buy grain except Benjamin because He fears for his life (42:1-4). I think deep down he does not trust the brothers because he suspects they were behind Joseph’s death. So, the brothers go to Egypt and must see Joseph who is in charge of selling grain. And when they do, they bow before the second most powerful man in Egypt, not realizing he is Joseph because everything about him is Egyptian, his looks, his mannerisms, and his dress. But Joseph recognizes them. He acts rough toward them, accusing them of being spies but they defend themselves, stating that they are honest men! Joseph is testing them; he does not trust them after what they did to him. He needs to find out what kind of men they are twenty years later. He inquiries about Benjamin and Jacob and tells them that if they are honest men, leave one brother in Egypt and bring back their other brother when they return. Their guilt causes them to interpret their circumstances as punishment for selling Joseph into slavery sin (42:21). Joseph turns away, weeping because of the emotion of this encounter and his brother’s words (42:24). They leave to return home so Joseph’s steward puts their money back in their sacks which they find on their trip home. They obviously fear for lives, believing that God is behind the money being there (42:28). Those who do evil cannot escape punishment forever.
When they get low run on grain again they make plans to return to Egypt to buy grain but they must take Benjamin with them. Jacob is very uncomfortable with this as he cannot bear the possibility of losing Benjamin so Judah guarantees Benjamins return with his own life (43:8-9). Jacob finally concedes, trusting God’s sovereignty despite not trusting the brothers (43:14). So the brothers take a second journey to Egypt and come before Joseph again. When he sees Benjamin with them he has his steward take them into his house and prepare a meal for them (43:16-17). They are afraid that he has it in for them because of the money in their sacks so they question the steward and explain to him about finding the money in their sacks and that they brought it back, along with more money to buy grain. But the steward tells them not to fear, your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you (43:18- 23). What does this tell us about Joseph? Though he left his family, he has not left God. The mission of God was central to his life, even in Egypt. When Joseph arrives, the brothers give him the gift they brought and bow down before him, fulfilling the first dream (43:26). Then they sit down to eat, he at one table and they at another as Egyptians did not eat with Jews (43:32). They are seated in birth order (43:33) with Benjamin getting five times as much food as the rest (43:34). He is testing his bothers to see how they will react to the youngest being favored. Will they respond the same way they did toward him so many years before? Joseph did not know this yet but the brothers will need to be united for the nation of Israel to become strong and God is ensuring this unity through Joseph. God is using Joseph to accomplish this purpose.
The brothers are going to return home so Joseph tells his steward to fill their bags as full as he can and to put their money back in again along with his silver cup in Benjamins sack (44:1-2). The next morning the brothers leave and Joseph sends his steward to accuse them of stealing his cup (44:3-7) and when he searches, the steward finds the planted cup in Benjamins sack. They return to Joseph and bow down before him again in fulfillment of his dream (44:8-14). His plan is to keep Benjamin there and send the rest home (44:17). But even though they are innocent of stealing the cup they recognize God is holding them accountable for selling Joseph into slavery (44:16). There is a scriptural principle, you reap what you sow (Gal 6:7). Judah, the one with the idea to sell Joseph into slavery now defends his brothers and pleads on behalf of Benjamin (44:18-23). He is seeking to protect both Benjamin and his father. Twenty years ago, he did not care about his brother or his father but now you see great love and concern for his brother and his father, evidences of God’s grace in his life. He is willing to sacrifice himself, substitute himself, to save both Benjamin and his father’s life (44:33-34).