The Life of Joseph - Lesson 22, Continuing the Life of Joseph in Egypt.
Review verses: Genesis 42:1-6, Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him. And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan. And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
This weeks verses: Genesis 42:7,8, And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.
And Joseph saw his brethren, he saw ten brethren.
Where was Benjamin?
Had they murdered him or had they too sold him into slavery?
Don't you suppose Joseph expected his brothers to come to Egypt?
Don't you suppose that Joseph saw the working of the Lord in his becoming the second in command in Egypt especially concerning the collecting of food and its distribution.
Joseph has the big picture and his brothers had no picture at all.
I think Joseph saw the Lord's working in his life to bring to fruition his dreams as he saw the famine conditions spread far from Egypt and the various countries that were represented at the market that he governed.
Joseph knew that this famine would include his family and I think that he expected to see his brothers come to him in fulfillment of his dreams.
I think that Joseph was ready to receive his brothers but he would not let his emotions govern his reaction to them.
He would only receive them as repentant sinners so therefore he tested them.
He placed in their way experiences that would reveal their heart and give opportunity for repentance.
He intended to put pressure on them to bring them to repentance or further rebellion.
So he concealed his identity from them and he also spake harshly and with suspicion of their motives so he could bring about these experiences and opportunities.
This too is a principle that Christians should observe.
It usually requires stepping on toes in order to invoke repentance.
So Joseph had planned this reunion and in his wisdom knew that he must treat his brothers roughly in order to get a glimpse of their heart.
He also must discover the state of his father, and of Benjamin.
Genesis 42:9-14, And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. We are all one man's sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies. And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not. And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies:
By Joseph remembering the dreams that included his brothers we see that Joseph has a mission to see to it that the dreams come about.
He knows where he is in this drama, he knows his part, now he must see to it that his brothers and his father perform their part.
They have bowed down to him but the fulfillment of his dreams will require that his entire family come to Egypt.
That is what he sees as his mission.
So he continues to treat them in a way so that they will do what he hopes they will so.
His intention is for them to recognize their sin and to repent of their sin.
So as he was falsely accused by Potiphar's wife he falsely accuses them.
He falsely accuses them of what was a real concern to the Pharaoh, that of spies coming into the land to see the nakedness of the land, the results of the famine.
Didn't they falsely accuse him of being a spy for his father as he visited them in Dothan?
He was putting them in the same places he had been. He was applying pressure to remind them of their crimes
But the difference was that his brothers were guilty and he had been innocent.
So not knowing where he was coming from their first response is one of innocence.
We are true men, meaning we are here with no hidden motives.
We come as we say we come, to buy food for our family and our flocks.
But Joseph is not satisfied with that answer for he knows that they are not true men.
They may come for food in innocence but they are not innocent or true men.
So he continues to prod them and disturb and accuse them of being spies come to see the nakedness of the land.
And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not. And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies:
Their argument that they were not spies concerns the fact that they are all one man's sons.
Who would risk the lives of all his children in such a dangerous business as spying out a country as Egypt?
So by continuing to accuse, Joseph is learning the state of his family.
He learns that his father is still alive, at this time 130 years old.
What good news that is, for it would be natural to think that one so aged would have died already.
What good news to know that Jacob will know that Joseph is yet alive before he dies.
He also learns that Benjamin is alive.
This reveals to him that his brothers did not continue their evil but murdering Benjamin, the only remaining son of Rachel.
The brothers do mention Joseph indirectly by saying "one is not" but by being so scanty in their reference to him they show their attempt to forget what they had done to Joseph.
At this point there is no confession of their wrongdoing to this one who is not.
But at least they mentioned him, however vaguely.
But Joseph was not satisfied, the test was not complete for he continues to accuse them of being spies.
And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies: The test continues!
Genesis 42:15-17, Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither. Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies. And he put them all together into ward three days.
So you say that you are true men.
I will put you to the test. Is your word true?
I will put you in prison and one of you will go to get your brother in order to establish your honesty and faithfulness.
He gave his brothers a taste of the prison life that he knew.
Perhaps they languished in the same prison in which he spent so much time.
In any case putting his brothers in prison for three days would have continued to work on their consciences and would give them a taste of what Joseph had suffered.
We also ought to put their three days in prison into perspective by remembering that Joseph had been enslaved or in prison himself for thirteen years.
In any case we can imagine what went through their minds during those three days.
How this must have convinced them of the long arm of God's justice after so many years since their transgression against their brother.
Genesis 42:18-21, And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God: (Eloheem) If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses: But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so. And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
Joseph had threatened to detain 9 brothers while the 10th returned to bring Benjamin and prove their truthfulness in saying that they were not spies.
But here he repents of that harsh judgment in contrast to his brothers who sold him into slavery and sat down to eat bread.
He plainly states that his repentance is based upon his fear of God.
Is not this a testimony that he too believes as they do in the one true God?
Is he telling them that he is no worshipper of Egypt's idols?
Joseph cannot cause his family to suffer by denying them the needed food of Egypt.
Immediately this testimony and this mercy extended by this appointed prince of Egypt pricks the hearts of his brothers.
And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
The time in prison had been well spent for their consciences were causing them to think of why this evil had befallen them.
The answer was not far from them for they immediately attach this evil to their treatment of Joseph.
The picture of Joseph in anguish so long ago is fresh upon their minds.
When he besought us, we would not hear!
It is almost as if they had been waiting all these years for this evil to happen to them for the conscience is given of God to bring to mind things long since said and done.
When the guilt of this sin of Joseph's brethren was fresh, they made light of it.
They simply sat down to eat bread; but now, long afterward, their consciences accused them of it.
How good are the afflictions that God brings for they often are the means of awakening conscience, and bringing sin to our remembrance.
Of the 10 only Reuben had something to remember in that he was the only one who defended Joseph.
He should have done more but at least he did something.