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Genesis 44:12, 3234; 45:19, 1415comment (0)

May 8, 2008

By Jay T. Robertson

Related Scripture: Genesis 44:12, 3234; 45:19, 1415

Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Genesis 44:1–2, 32–34; 45:1–9, 14–15

During the time that began with Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery, God was with both Joseph and his brothers. God was with Joseph to bless him, and He was with his brothers convicting their consciences. During the brothers’ first visit to Egypt, God worked in their hearts to produce guilt, godly fear and sorrow. During their second visit, the brothers experienced an unexpected shower of mercy as Joseph’s steward greeted them with peace, assured them that their God had put treasure in their bags and released Simeon to them. Joseph greeted them with peace and feasted with them long into the night.
God was with Joseph and his brothers in their encounters, directing them with grace and mercy.

In today’s lesson, we will see a life-changing transformation of the brothers that will involve conscience, repentance, compassion, intercession, sacrifice and substitution. God directed Joseph to reconstitute the temptation to which the brothers yielded when they sold him into slavery. The temptation was a test and a path to transformation.

Seeking Confirmation (44:1–2)
While the brothers were sleeping, Joseph commanded his steward to fill the men’s bags with as much food as they could carry and return their silver in each of their bags. He was also instructed to put Joseph’s silver cup in Benjamin’s bag. The repeated references to silver in these verses contribute to the 20 appearances of the term in Chapters 42–45, recalling for us the 20 pieces of silver for the purchase of Joseph.

With the rising of the sun, the brothers were sent off to Canaan. How relieved they must have felt. They had bulging bags of grain, plus Simeon and Benjamin. Soon the pyramids of Egypt would be far behind them. But the brothers had not traveled far out of the city when Joseph ordered his steward to pursue his brothers and deliver an accusation. He charged them with stealing his silver cup. The brothers were so certain of their innocence that they declared that whoever had the cup would die and that the rest would be Joseph’s slaves. The steward replied that only the one who had the cup in his possession would become his lord’s slave. The steward searched each man’s sack, from the oldest to the youngest, and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. The brothers tore their clothes and returned to the city.

Receiving Verification (44:32–34)
Joseph announced that he was going to keep Benjamin as his slave and the rest were free to go. At this critical moment, standing before Joseph, Judah stepped up to plea for Benjamin. Judah pleaded for Benjamin’s release, first by reciting the history behind Benjamin’s presence in Egypt and second by predicting what would happen if he were not allowed to return home. Judah passionately argued that it was due to Joseph’s persistence that Benjamin had been brought down to Egypt in the first place. He also recounted his father’s fear of losing his youngest son.

Joseph learned for the very first time what had happened at home 20 years ago when his brothers had returned to Jacob without him. He learned that Judah and his other brothers had come to terms with Jacob’s favoritism for Joseph and now Benjamin. That the sons of Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah had come to terms with their father’s special love for Rachel and her two sons was amazing. Judah’s pleading for Benjamin’s freedom on the basis of his favored-son status indicated that he had undergone a transformation in his soul. Judah offered himself as a sacrificial substitute in place of Benjamin.

Making Reconciliation (45:1–9, 14–15)
Joseph could not control himself any longer. He sent all of the Egyptians out of the room, and then he revealed himself to his brothers. He sought to comfort their transformed, but trembling, hearts by telling them that God had sent him to Egypt in order to save them. The doctrine of providence is such a sweet truth. Joseph was reconciled with all his 11 brothers. All the guilt was gone. Joyous love enveloped them all.

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